Ohio: Potential voter fraud cases from 2012 election often dropped as simple mistakes, elderly confusion | cleveland.com

Despite concerns by some Ohio lawmakers about voter fraud, most of the voting irregularities that elections officials reported during the 2012 general election did not result in criminal charges, the Northeast Ohio Media Group has found. Prosecutors in counties large and small told the media outlet their investigations typically concluded that the irregularities resulted from confusion by voters or mistakes by elections officials rather than from people trying to game the system. And while Republican lawmakers have introduced bills aimed at curbing voter fraud, some Republican prosecutors joined their Democratic counterparts in reporting no evidence of a widespread problem.

Alabama: State reaches agreement on voter registration | Associated Press

Alabama could see more low-income citizens signing up to vote now that voter rights groups and state officials have reached an agreement ensuring people who apply for social services also receive voter registration applications. The Alabama State Conference of the NAACP and others announced the agreement Tuesday. It calls for the state Medicaid Agency and the state Department of Human Resources to automatically distribute voter registration applications to people when they apply for social services, renew the services or file a change of address. Citizens whose transactions are completely remotely, such as by computer, will be mailed voter registration applications.

Alaska: Election Law Revision Before Assembly | Alaska Public Media

A new version of Anchorage Election law, or Title 28, will be before the Assembly at their next meeting. Officials began reviewing the law after problems with an election in 2012. The rewrite comes after polling places ran out of ballots in 2012, even though the turnout was expected to be high and extra ballots had been printed, but not quickly distributed to polling sites. The result was long delays or citizens being turned away. Deputy Clerk Amanda Moser says the clerk’s office worked closely with the election commission along with the department of law for about a year to streamline the voting process.

California: Anaheim settles minority voting rights lawsuit; residents will weigh in on electoral changes | Associated Press

Anaheim on Tuesday approved a settlement in a voting rights lawsuit that challenged its citywide elections as unfair to the city’s Hispanic majority. Under the settlement, the plaintiffs’ claims will be dismissed and Anaheim residents will vote in November on whether to change the city charter to a district system, which supporters and judges have said is more fair to minority voters, the city announced in a statement. The city didn’t admit in the deal that its current system violates the California Voting Rights Act, under which the American Civil Liberties Union brought the lawsuit on behalf of three residents. City Attorney Michael R.W. Houston said it will allow changes to the system to be decided by voters, “not through court-ordered mandates and judicial oversight of the City’s electoral system.”

Iowa: Felon question taken off Iowa voter forms | The Des Moines Register

Iowa is moving to revise its voter registration application to help clear up widespread confusion over felons’ voting rights, according to an administrative rule published Tuesday. The change, adopted by a bipartisan commission, would remove a question that some voters have erroneously marked indicating they are felons without the right to vote. Another revision would explain that convicted felons aren’t qualified to vote until they have their rights restored by Gov. Terry Branstad. Prospective voters still would have to attest that they are not felons without voting rights when signing the application. If the changes go into effect, as expected, a new application will be in use starting April 9. The state will gather public comment on the proposed changes through Jan. 28, and a legislative rules committee will review them in February.

Missouri: Voting Bill Shows Need For New Election Machines, Franklin County Clerk Says | The Missourian

Franklin County Clerk Debbie Door said a voting bill in the upcoming legislative session regarding paper ballots demonstrates the need for the county’s new election equipment. There has been a push in recent years to go to paper ballots, but finding the funding has been a problem, she said. With the county’s new machines, there will now be paper ballots for all the election results, Door said. The county commission recently purchased new election machines for $414,322 after Door said the equipment was needed. Paper ballots are useful when it comes to auditing elections, officials say.

Editorials: Election dates create confusion, no representation | The-Dispatch.com

Taxpayers want the government to use their money wisely, so efforts to save money or reduce spending usually receive high marks. However, sometimes spending extra money can be justified. That was the case with the special election to fill the remaining time in the term of U.S. Rep. Mel Watt. Watt, a Democrat, resigned his seat representing North Carolina’s 12th District, which includes part of Davidson County, on Monday to become director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Later that day, Gov. Pat McCrory announced the dates for the special election to fill Watt’s term. Rather than set a date as soon as possible, McCrory decided to overlap the special election with the electoral dates already set for 2014: May 6 for a primary, July 15 for a run-off and Nov. 4 for the general election. McCrory cited logistical issues with the special election along with costs for setting the schedule he did. He estimated it will save $1 million statewide.

Ohio: Libertarians win challenge to Ohio ballot limits | Associated Press

A federal judge on Tuesday blocked newly imposed Ohio limits to ballot access for minor parties, increasing the chances that Republican Gov. John Kasich will face a third-party challenger this fall. U.S. District Judge Michael Watson in Columbus issued his preliminary injunction in a constitutional challenge filed by the Libertarian Party of Ohio to a law that opponents call “The John Kasich Re-election Protection Act.” The legislation’s sponsor disputes the characterization. And Kasich has said he didn’t request the bill. The law, signed by the governor in November, established what qualifies as a political party and what percentage of the vote must be won to maintain that status. The previous qualifications were deemed unconstitutional in 2006, and third parties had been qualifying for the ballot at the secretary of state’s discretion.

Virginia: State Senate control hangs in balance as Democrat leads special election by 22 votes | The Washington Post

Control of the Virginia Senate hung by the narrowest of threads Tuesday night as a Democrat led by just 22 votes in a special election to fill the Hampton Roads seat of Lt. Gov.-elect Ralph S. Northam. Del. Lynwood W. Lewis Jr. (D-Accomack) led Wayne Coleman (R), the owner of a Norfolk shipping company, by just 0.1 percent with all precincts reporting. That margin is well within the range for the loser to demand a recount paid for by local governments, although the numbers will first be subject to a canvass by local election boards before they are certified by the State Board of Elections. The 40-member Senate has been evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, and Northam will serve as the tiebreaking vote for Democrats if it remains that way. But Northam’s victory and that of state Sen. Mark R. Herring (D-Loudoun) — who won the race for attorney general after a dramatic statewide recount — gave the GOP two chances to tip the balance.

Virginia: Elections board approves voter ID plan | Richmond Times-Dispatch

The Virginia State Board of Elections this morning approved the final phases of the implementation plan for the new voter ID law that will take effect July 1. In the coming months, election officials will work with vendors to create a photo ID card that will meet requirements under the new legislation and that will be provided to voters for free. They will also train staff at local registrars’ offices of the state’s 133 localities and launch a statewide campaign to inform voters of the changes in law. “I think we’ve received enough input from stakeholders and the board has reviewed the plan several times,” said Don Palmer, secretary of the elections board. … Under the new law, documents that do not contain a photograph of the voter are no longer acceptable forms of identification when a person is voting in person. However, the new law allows voters without photo ID to cast a provisional ballot on Election Day. The voter then has four days to present identification to their local electoral board for their vote to be counted.

United Kingdom: Voters ‘should be required to show photo ID at elections’, says watchdog | BBC

Voters should be required to show photo ID at polling stations in Great Britain to lessen the risk of fraud, the Electoral Commission has said. The elections watchdog said it planned to introduce the change in time for the 2019 local government and European Parliament elections. Although it has yet to confirm full details of the plan, it said it would be based on the Northern Ireland model, where voters already need photo ID. Campaigners No2ID condemned the plan. But Electoral Commission chairwoman Jenny Watson said most voters could use passports, driving licences or even public transport photocards to prove who they are at polling stations. Those without any of these documents could request a free elections ID card, she added.

Editorials: Why voter ID will disenfranchise minorities | politics.co.uk

Another day, another group trying to pass legislation on the basis of perception. The Electoral Commission is generous enough to preface its demand for voter identification at polling stations with the admission that there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud. But, in a now traditional refrain, it adds that something must anyway be done because “the public remain concerned that it is taking place”. That is not in itself problematic. Where confidence in the electoral system can be enhanced, one should be open to doing so. Unfortunately, the Commission’s proposal would further disenfranchise young people, women, the poor and minorities. Sometime before the 2019 European and English local elections the Commission will publish details of a proof of identity scheme and enact it. Its report makes frequent reference to Northern Ireland, where such a scheme is already in place. The most thorough data on the effect of voter ID comes from the US, where cynical Republicans have been deploying it to counter demographic changes which are not to their advantage. A particularly brutal example was recently introduced in Texas.

Virginia: Special Election in Virginia: Another Cliffhanger | Wall Street Journal

Tuesday’s special election in Virginia to fill a state Senate seat produced another cliffhanger for the commonwealth, with the two candidates just 22 votes apart. The stakes are high since the vote will determine whether Virginia’s new Democratic governor, Terry McAuliffe, will have a Republican-led state legislature. The seat was vacated by the new lieutenant governor, Democrat Ralph Northam, and if Democrats can hold it, the 40-member Senate will be split 20-20 between Republicans and Democrats – and Mr. Northam will serve as the tie-breaking vote. Democratic state Del. Lynwood Lewis Jr. led Republican B. Wayne Coleman by 0.1% of the vote with all precincts reporting, a margin close enough for Mr. Coleman to request a recount after the vote is certified by the State Board of Elections.