In the year since the Supreme Court ended close federal oversight of elections in Alabama and some other states, discrimination against minority voters has crept back into place, voting rights advocates say. “The result of that decision is that minority voters have been left without critically needed voting protections for an entire year,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear testimony Wednesday that, because the Justice Department is no longer looking over their shoulder, several local and state governments around the country have restricted some people’s access to the ballot box.
National: NCSL Launches Elections Administration Research Database | National Conference of State Legislatures
What is the impact of major court rulings on voter ID laws? How are states ensuring voter registration lists are accurate? Which new voting system designs are being developed for the marketplace? Finding these answers and other information about elections policy can quickly eat up the kind of time that a lawmaker, legislative staffer or elections administrator can hardly afford to spend. But that was life before the Elections Administration Research Database, a new tool launched today by the National Conference of State Legislatures. The database brings together more than 1,900 reports that, altogether, address a wide range of elections topics. It is supported by generous funding from The Pew Charitable Trusts.
California: Recount possibility looms in California controller’s race after canvass | The Sacramento Bee
They’ve been counting votes for three weeks in the race for California controller, and Democrat Betty Yee has gone from second place to third place, to fourth place and back to third. As of Tuesday afternoon, she was again clinging to second place, ahead of former Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez by a mere 865 votes. Whoever survives gets a spot in the Nov. 4 runoff against Republican Ashley Swearengin. “I get text messages from people who’ve been following this much more closely than I am,” said Yee, a member of the state Board of Equalization, downplaying any anxiety as officials finish processing more than a million vote-by-mail, provisional and damaged ballots by next Tuesday’s canvassing deadline.
Kansas would end strict enforcement of a proof-of-citizenship requirement for new voters under proposals outlined Tuesday by the presumed Democratic nominee for secretary of state. Democrat and former state Sen. Jean Schodorf outlined a plan for fixing what she called problems with the state’s voter registration system. But conservative Republican incumbent Kris Kobach said Schodorf is promising to ignore the proof-of-citizenship requirement if elected secretary of state, making the office “lawless.” Schodorf would allow prospective voters to cast ballots even if their registrations are on hold because they’ve not yet documented their citizenship for election officials. She also proposed that Kansas stop requiring proof of citizenship from new residents who’ve had valid voter registrations in other states and allow anyone using a national voter registration form to vote in all state and local elections — though the form doesn’t instruct voters to provide citizenship documents.
A lawsuit aimed at stopping crossover voting in Mississippi was dismissed by a judge in the state on Tuesday. The race has been caught up in controversies about the practice of “crossover voting,” in which some outside groups are accusing Sen. Thad Cochran’s (R-MS) campaign of encouraging Democrats and African-American voters to support him in the runoff. The lawsuit, by Ronald W. Swindall, a supporter of Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) was filed on Monday. McDaniel is facing Cochran in the runoff for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate.
A WIS Twitter fan tweeted us an image of an absentee ballot categorizing the document as ‘lazy’ and questioning whether or not it is legal. The ballot was mailed to Twitter user Ryan Brown so he could vote for this Tuesday’s runoff races in Richland County. Questioning the ballot, @ryabro wrote: “Really Richland County?” with the hashtags #lazy and #cantbelegal. The races that had been decided during the June 10 primary election has been crossed out with black marker using an “X.” Meanwhile the contests that are to be decided Tuesday were edited to only show those candidates who are part of the run-off.
Editorials: Do South Carolina pollworkers know the law they’re enforcing? | Cindi Ross Scoppe/The State
I got an email early this morning from John Schafer, who reported that when he asked the poll workers at his Spring Hill precinct in the Richland County portion of Irmo what happened if he didn’t have a photo ID, “The two ladies said, simultaneously, ‘Then you can’t vote.’ ” He continued: “Since I was the only voter in the poll at the time, I let them expand on their answer before I corrected them and they eventually got around to the provisional ballot. I politely told them I had my ID, but I was quizzing them. They told me they were only responding as they were trained. The precinct manager was nowhere in sight, so I did not have a chance to talk with him.” Mr. Shafer had also contacted me two weeks ago to report a similar encounter, and I had heard similar stories from others since South Carolina’s photo ID law took effect last year, so I decided to conduct my own test when I went to the Meadowfield precinct near the VA hospital to vote for Molly Spearman and Henry McMaster.
Six days before Virginia’s new voter ID law goes into effect, the State Board of Elections essentially froze one of the law’s key regulations. Earlier this month, the board had determined that expired but otherwise valid forms of identification permitted under Virginia’s new photo voter ID law will be accepted at the polls. But after the sponsor of the photo ID law — Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg — voiced his concern with this regulation, the board in a meeting Tuesday voted to re-open the public comment period for an additional 21 days and explore whether the agency has legal authority to determine what forms of ID are valid. In a June 16 letter to board members, Obenshain wrote that he is concerned that the definition of “valid” that was adopted by the board conflicts with state law.
Editorials: GOP’s voter fraud humiliation: Turns out Wisconsin’s worst case is a Republican | Joan Walsh/Salon
It’s always seemed strange that Wisconsin Republicans like Reince Priebus and Scott Walker would insult their own state by claiming that it has a problem with voter fraud and needs tougher laws to prevent it. Wisconsin has traditionally been known for an uncommonly clean political culture (until recently, anyway), and I’ve never quite understood why conservatives would want to impugn it. Can you say “projection”? Now we learn about the curious case of Robert Monroe, a 50-year-old health executive who is accused of voting a dozen times in 2011 and 2012, including seven times in the recalls of Scott Walker and his GOP ally Alberta Darling. Wisconsin officials say it’s the worst case of multiple voting in memory. Oh, and, did I mention he’s a Republican? Monroe got my attention because he’s from the Milwaukee suburb of Shorewood, where I went to high school. Television coverage of the case focused on Shorewood’s quaint Village Hall, where I registered to vote at 18, and where Monroe allegedly filled out an absentee ballot for his son, who voted in person a few towns away, which helped trigger the investigation. Monroe lives six blocks away from where I grew up.
Two weeks ago, Matthew Prince, the chief executive of San Francisco tech company CloudFlare, had no clue that people in Hong Kong were preparing to hold a controversial online referendum on democratic reforms. By Thursday night, half a world away from the southern Chinese city, he found himself on the front lines of a battle to defend the nonbinding, unofficial vote from sabotage. Amazon Web Services and Hong Kong’s UDomain had initially been onboard to support and protect the voting website. But at the last minute, both bowed out, saying the expected size of the cyberassault could affect their other customers. That was a somewhat worrying sign for Prince and team, whose small, 5-year-old company specializes in making websites run more quickly and smoothly and preventing disruptions and recently launched a pro bono service for situations just like this.
Polling is under way in Libya to elect a new national parliament despite much of the country being in the grip of the worst violence since the 2011 uprising. Polling stations opened at 6am GMT on Wednesday, with 1.5 million registered voters choosing from the 1,628 candidates contesting 200 seats in parliament. The vote is Libya’s third legislative election since the declaration of liberation that ended the 2011 uprising against the former Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi. The 200-seat House of Representatives will replace the General National Congress which has become deadlocked in recent months in disputes between Islamist members and their opponents. On June 21 and 22, 11,000 registered Libyan voters in 13 foreign countries cast their votes in 22 voting stations, according to the Higher National Elections Committee.
Parliamentary elections on Oct. 26 and a presidential poll a month later, another step towards full democracy in the country that toppled its autocratic ruler in 2011. Lawmakers approved for the first round of a presidential election to be held on Nov. 23 and a second round at the end of December.
Thousands of angry protesters marched on the Afghan president’s palace on Friday in support of candidate Abdullah Abdullah’s allegations that mass fraud had been committed during the presidential election by organizers and state officials. The run-off pitting the former Northern Alliance leader against ex-finance minister Ashraf Ghani on June 14 has fallen into deadlock over Abdullah’s decision to drop out last week. The impasse has revived longstanding ethnic tensions in Afghanistan because Abdullah’s base of support is with the Tajiks, the second largest ethnic group, while Ghani is Pashtun, the largest group. It also comes at a dangerous time, with the Taliban insurgency still raging and most NATO-led forces preparing to leave the country by the end of the year. Abdullah joined protesters aboard a small truck, driving alongside the crowd and waving a flag.
The full fury of the Internet attack started three hours before polls opened. As people in Hong Kong prepared to cast electronic ballots in an effort to show Chinese authorities their hunger for democracy, hackers opened fire with a potent effort to derail the vote. Suddenly, a flood of data swarmed the servers designed to handle the voting in a poll held by Occupy Central with Love and Peace, a burgeoning protest movement that has sought the right for Hong Kong people to nominate and elect their own chief executive, the territory’s most powerful position. But the informal vote on universal suffrage was attacked by at least 300 gigabits of data per second – and perhaps as high as 600, a level not before reached in a publicly disclosed hacking attack. The torrent reached 200 million packets, or tiny bits of data, per second. It was “just a stunning amount of traffic,” said Matthew Prince, chief executive officer of CloudFlare, the San Francisco-based Internet security company that managed to keep the website online.
After a two-year trial for Internet voting, Norway is pulling the plug. The country’s Office of Modernization said in a statement that there’s no evidence that online voting, tested in elections in 2011 and 2013, improved turnout. It also said that “political disagreement” over the issue, along with voters’ fear that ballots might not be secure, could undermine the democratic process. The office said it had “decided that the attempt with voting over the Internet should not be promoted.” The idea of online voting has been in the ether for as long as the Internet, so Norway’s experience might be relevant elsewhere. … David Jefferson, a computer scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, wrote in 2011 that “computer and network security experts are virtually unanimous in pointing out that online voting is an exceedingly dangerous threat to the integrity of U.S. elections. “There is no way to guarantee that the security, privacy, and transparency requirements for elections can all be met with any practical technology in the foreseeable future,” he says.