Voting Blogs: Wisconsin’s Voter ID Law goes through the wringer | State of Elections

Like many other states, Wisconsin has recently enacted a voter ID law. After winning both the state legislature and the governor’s office in 2010 (a wave year for Republicans), the Wisconsin GOP quickly acted to restrict voting. Governor Scott Walker quickly signed the bill, claiming it was about the integrity of our electoral process, saying “to me, something as important as a vote is important … whether its one case, 100 cases  or 100,000 cases.” Voting rights groups, on the other hand, pointed out that in-person voter fraud (what the law claims to address) is exceedingly rare. They claimed that the real purpose of the law was to discourage voting among constituencies which tend to vote Democratic. ACLU Voting Rights Project Director Dale Ho has been at the forefront of the fight against Wisconsin’s law. Ho said that 300,00 or more Wisconsin voters lack the required ID, and that to allow them all to vote 6,000 IDs would have to be issued every day, a practical impossibility. The Advancement Project agreed that getting all the required IDs out would be “mathematically impossible.” While many states are in the midst of litigation over voter ID issues, the Wisconsin case is especially pertinent, since it involves a hotly contested gubernatorial race and could the ID rules in place could sway the election.

Mozambique: Polls close with opposition crying foul | AFP

Mozambicans voted Wednesday in a closely-fought test for the ruling Frelimo party, which has run the southern African country since independence from Portugal in 1975, with opposition parties crying foul. Frelimo is facing growing discontent over a wealth gap that persists despite huge mineral resources, with fast economic growth sidestepping the bulk of a population that is among the world’s poorest. But members of the two opposition parties later claimed they had discovered attempts to stuff ballots by the ruling party. “A young man was shot (in the feet). He tried to stop the Frelimo (local) secretary from stuffing boxes,” in central Sofala province, said Sandes Carmona, spokesman for the fledgling MDM opposition party.  In northern Nampula province, riot police used teargas to disperse a crowd that had gathered at a polling station to watch the counting, claimed the MDM representative in the area, Elias Nquiri. Main opposition Renamo spokesman, Adriano Muchunga, claimed police opened fire in Nampula, the largest electoral province.

Arizona: Maricopa County elections officials dealing with 2nd ballot blunder | KPHO

For the second time this election season Maricopa County could be dealing with a ballot blunder. Monday night on CBS 5 News at 10 we told you about a voter who received two ballots in the mail. Now, voters are getting ballots with the wrong names on them. Early voters need to pay close attention to two areas on the front of their ballot envelope and make sure the two addresses match. In some cases they don’t. George Irrgang had already sealed his early ballot and was prepared to mail it back until we suggested he double check that ballot was in fact his. “I looked at it pretty carefully I thought,” Irrgang said. However, even though the ballot was addressed to him it actually belongs to someone else. “Yea, someone named Gwendolyn,” Irrgang added. After our story about two ballots delivered to a voter, more viewers hit our action button, alerting us to their own erroneous ballots.

California: Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters Admits More Mistakes for Mail-in Ballots | San Jose Inside

Just weeks after the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters re-printed a slew of sample ballots missing entire races and candidate info, the agency has to deal with another batch of faulty election literature. Earlier this month, the county had to re-print and re-mail 100,000 sample ballots because of entire sections missing candidates from the Gavilan Joint Community College District and Santa Clara Unified School District races. The county corrected the slip-up and alerted voters by snail mail, email and phone calls. But the printing company for absentee ballots used proofs from those older samples, running off 1,007 mail-in ballots missing the same information. Voters have already received those faulty ballots.

Editorials: End Exemptions To Connecticut’s Post-Election Audits | Luther Weeks/CT News Junkie

When auditing town expense accounts, would it make sense to exempt some departments? When inspecting trucks, would it make sense to exempt school buses? When inspecting restaurants, would it make sense to exempt diners? Any exemption is an opening for errors to go undetected and an opportunity for fraud. Equally it doesn’t make sense that the Connecticut’s post-election audit law exempts all votes on questions, election day registration, originally hand-counted ballots and absentee ballots from our post-election audit.  Election integrity and public confidence demand that all ballots be subject to random selection for audit. Exempt ballots already determine many elections, while the number and percentage of exempt ballots is growing. Currently about 9 percent of ballots are absentee ballots, many elections and primaries are decided by much lower margins than 9 percent. If the State enacts early voting, following other states those numbers will almost certainly rise to over 30 percent within a few years. Compare that to the race for governor in 2010, which was officially decided by about 0.6 percent—more than triple the 2000 vote margin necessary for a recanvass. Since Connecticut recently initiated Election Day registration, we can anticipate those votes to reach 10 percent of votes in a few years, which will further add to the totals exempt from the audit.

District of Columbia: Election officials say they’ve addressed delays | The Washington Post

Elections officials in the nation’s capital say they’ve addressed computer glitches that led to major delays in counting votes during the April 1 primary, but critics say the process of identifying and fixing the problem was slow and insufficiently transparent. The vote totals will be closely watched in November, with the District of Columbia on track for its most competitive general election for mayor in 20 years. In April, it took nearly four hours after polls closed for results sufficient to call the winner to be made available. D.C. Councilmember Muriel Bowser defeated scandal-plagued Mayor Vincent Gray in the Democratic primary, making her the favorite to win the general election in the overwhelmingly Democratic city. According to the D.C. Board of Elections, a widespread network connectivity error led to the delays in counting votes. It’s since been repaired, the board said last month. That was different from the explanation the elections board offered on the chaotic primary night, when it blamed a handful of malfunctioning electronic machines.

Kentucky: Conway tries to preserve Kentucky electioneering law | Courier-Journal

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway turned to a federal appeals court Wednesday in his effort to preserve a state law that bans electioneering close to polling places, calling the buffer zone an important safeguard against Election Day shenanigans. With the general election less than three weeks away, Conway moved quickly with his motion to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in an effort to keep the law in place — pending an appeal — to insulate voters from campaign activities outside the polls. The filing came a day after U.S. District Judge William O. Bertelsman ruled that the law’s 300-foot anti-electioneering buffer violates First Amendment speech rights. The judge issued a permanent injunction blocking the law’s enforcement. Conway wants the appeals court to block Bertelsman’s ruling, which caught the attention of local election officials in Kentucky.

Texas: Voter ID case flies up to Supreme Court | McClatchy

The Supreme Court on Wednesday received several last-ditch pleas from opponents of the tough new Texas voter ID law. Acting one day after an appellate court effectively kept the Texas law in place, opponents including the Obama administration filed multiple emergency applications asking the high court to remove the lower court’s stay. “The need to ensure that hundreds of thousands of voters in Texas are able to exercise their right to vote, the need to stamp out intentional racial discrimination, and the need to ensure that elections are administered fairly, efficiently, and equitably, the public interest overwhelmingly favors vacating the stay,” attorneys wrote. The initial emergency application, signed by Houston-based attorney Chad W. Dunn, was submitted to Justice Antonin Scalia, who oversees emergency issues in Texas and other Fifth Circuit states. Scalia has the option of forwarding the application to all nine justices. Scalia gave Texas until 5 p.m. Thursday to respond.

Texas: State stopped issuing voter IDs while pushing to reinstate law | MSNBC

Texas’s strict voter ID law, struck down last week, is now back in place thanks to an appeals court ruling Tuesday. But while the state was pushing to get the law reinstated, it stopped issuing IDs. It said Wednesday morning that it has started again. The on-again-off-again schedule could add to the hurdles and confusion that voters face in obtaining an ID. And it offers a window into the GOP-controlled state’s approach to voting: In a nutshell, critics say, Texas jumped at the chance to stop issuing IDs, even though it was far from clear that a halt was required by law. From the start, voting rights advocates have noted in court and in the media that Texas’s efforts to make the special state IDs it created — known as Election Identification Certificates (EICs) — available to those who need them have been half-hearted at best. Among other things, they’ve charged that the mobile ID offices that the state created for distributing IDs were poorly publicized, and weren’t sent to nearly enough locations. Between June 2012 when the law went back into effect and the end of August, just 279 EICs were issued, the state has said.

Texas: Supreme Court to decide if Texas voter ID law can take effect | Los Angeles Times

The Supreme Court is set to decide whether Texas can enforce its new photo-ID rule in time for this year’s midterm election. The case reached the court Wednesday in an emergency appeal. Critics asked justices to block the rule, arguing it discriminates against minorities. Last week, a federal judge decided that the rule could prevent as many as 600,000 registered voters from casting a ballot and that Texas lawmakers who approved the law intended to make it harder for blacks and Latinos to vote. Texas Atty. Gen. Greg Abbott, who is running for governor, quickly appealed. On Tuesday, the 5th Circuit Court in New Orleans lifted the judge’s order and said the photo-ID law can be enforced in this year’s election for the first time. It “is virtually unheard of,” civil rights advocates complained, to permit a state to enforce a new election law “in a case where purposeful racial discrimination has been found in a final judgment after a full trial.”

Brazil: Presidential race heading for October 26 photo finish | Reuters

Brazil’s most unpredictable presidential election in a generation is heading toward a photo finish on Oct. 26 between leftist incumbent Dilma Rousseff and pro-business challenger Aecio Neves, a new poll showed on Wednesday. In an increasingly acrimonious campaign, the candidates traded accusations of lies, corruption and nepotism in a bruising television debate on Tuesday night that had no clear winner and saw more attacks than discussion of policy issues. Neves, the market favorite, has gained ground since his stronger-than-expected showing in the first-round vote on Oct. 5, when he bested environmentalist Marina Silva to place second behind Rousseff. But Neves has struggled to build on that momentum and has been running neck-and-neck with Rousseff in opinion polls for the last week.

Canada: Advance poll turnout in Toronto sets a first-day record | Toronto Star

Toronto voters flocked to advance polls Tuesday to record the highest-ever first day turnout, the city says. “I think we can say this is a municipal election campaign that has caught the attention of Torontonians and they want their voice to be heard,” said Ryerson University politics professor Myer Siemiatycki. The city said the tally far surpasses the 16,000 votes cast during the six weekdays of advance voting in the 2010 election. That year, some 77,000 votes in total were cast in advance. So just the first day of 2014 advance voting represents about 37 per cent of the 2010 total, with five days left to vote early, through Oct. 19. (Election day is Oct. 27.) On day one of voting in 2010 the total was just 2,690 — although direct comparisons may be somewhat misleading because the advance poll was held at only six locations that year, compared with 45 this year: one in each ward and one at city hall.

United Kingdom: Government pours cold water on e-voting | UKA

A switch to electronic voting has been ruled out by the government – just weeks after a Labour Party report said it backed the shake-up. Sam Gyimah, the constitution minister, told MPs that such a voting revolution was unwise because there was no way to “check an error”. …  At its autumn conference, Labour pointed to electronic voting as part of a package of reforms that could build on the excitement and record turnout at the Scottish referendum. Sadiq Khan, the shadow justice secretary, said: “Holding elections at weekends to raise turnout. Polling opened a week in advance to allow early voting. Electronic voting, making sure it’s affordable and isn’t open to abuse.”