Liberal and conservative groups are mobilizing armies of poll watchers to battle over the enforcement of voter ID laws on Election Day. The Democratic Party has more to lose if turnout is low on Nov. 4. Liberals want to ensure that the young, black and Latino voters who form a key part of the party’s electoral base are not kept from the polls. Conservatives insist that they just want to uphold the integrity of the electoral process by making sure that all votes cast are legitimate. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) has state directors stationed across the country for its Voter Expansion Project. They help train poll workers, and work with local election officials to clarify how laws will be implemented. “This has been a really big effort,” DNC spokesman Michael Czin said.
The movement in a number of states including Wisconsin to require voters to prove eligibility by presenting a photo of themselves when they try to vote has placed an undue burden on the right to vote. Wisconsin’s statute permits voters to use only a Wisconsin driver’s license or Wisconsin state card, a military or tribal ID card, a passport, a naturalization certificate if issued within two years, a student ID (so long as it contains the student’s signature, the card’s expiration date and proof that the student really is enrolled in a school), or an unexpired receipt from a driver’s license/ID application. Wisconsin does not recognize military veteran IDs, student ID cards without a signature and other government-issued IDs. A recent national survey found that millions of American citizens do not have readily available documentary proof of citizenship. Many more — primarily women — do not have proof of citizenship with their current name. The survey also showed that millions of American citizens do not have government-issued photo identification, such as a driver’s license or passport. Finally, the survey demonstrated that certain groups — primarily poor, elderly and minority citizens — are less likely to possess these forms of documentation than the general population. … Consider the effect of strict voter ID laws on lawful turnout. The panel opinion does not discuss the cost of obtaining a photo ID. It assumes the cost is negligible. That’s an easy assumption for federal judges to make, since we are given photo IDs by court security free of charge. And we have upper-middle-class salaries.
Democrats and Republicans battling in close contests for the governor’s office and U.S. Senate in Colorado are wading into new territory with the advent of Election-Day voter registration and ballots being mailed to every registered elector. The changes passed by Democrats who control the Colorado Legislature mean campaigns are making their final arguments to voters weeks in advance of Nov. 4, and they’re sprinting to the very end to get every possible voter registered and voting. It has also prompted concerns from Republicans about greater chances for voter fraud — a worry that Democrats don’t share. Already, 518,610 people have voted since ballots were mailed early last week. Last year, in an election with only two statewide ballot measures, there were 1.4 million votes. In the 2012 presidential year, nearly 2.6 million people voted. At the current pace this year, a big portion of the Colorado vote will likely be in before Nov. 4.
While Florida’s relationship with early voting is still relatively new, the honeymoon may already be over. But to understand the hot and cold affair, it is helpful to look back on the couple’s history. Former Governor Jeb Bush first signed early voting into Florida law in 2004, providing early voting fifteen days before an election, eight hours per weekday and eight hours per weekend. Only a short year later, Bush and a Republican legislature cooled on the partnership, dropping the last Monday of early voting before a Tuesday election. The relations heated up again when former Governor Charlie Crist signed an executive order mandating that early voting be extended in response to overwhelming voter turnout for the 2008 Presidential election. Under the leadership of Governor Rick Scott, Florida again turned its back on early voting in 2011 by passing a controversial law that reduced early voting to eight days before an election for a minimum of six hours and a maximum of twelve hours per day. The 2011 spat resulted in Florida’s embarrassing performance during the 2012 Presidential elections, where hundreds of thousands of Florida voters were discouraged by long lines and polling stations remained open hours after they were scheduled to close. All of which brings us to our most recent development, in which Rick Scott has given the reigns of the rocky relationship to county election supervisors. This newest law allows early voting to range from eight to fourteen days before an election, for a minimum of eight hours a day and a maximum of twelve hours a day. Of course, these extremely wide bounds left open the question of how early voting would actually be implemented on the ground. As we complete primaries ahead of the 2014 round of elections, the results are finally in.
A Georgia state judge is weighing whether it’s appropriate for him to intervene in a dispute over more than 50,000 voter registration records in one of the nation’s most politically contested states. Lawyers for the NAACP and a voter registration group that recruited new minority voters allege that elections officials have misplaced or mishandled more than half of the 86,000 voter registration applications that they collected ahead of an Oct. 6 deadline. Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp and elections officials in several counties — most of them majority Democratic — say they are correctly processing all the forms. Attorneys for the groups said they feared that would-be voters, several of whom attended Friday’s hearing, would not have their ballots counted, and they asked Fulton County Superior Court Judge Christopher Brasher to compel the counties and Kemp to confirm the voters’ registration or explain any denials. “What does the law require that they haven’t done?” Brasher asked, noting that Georgia election law doesn’t set specific deadlines for county elections boards to process applications.
The state Supreme Court on Friday upheld the dismissal of Chris McDaniel’s lawsuit over his June GOP primary loss to incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran. The court ruled four to two, upholding a lower court decision that McDaniel waited too long to file the challenge of his loss. Three justices did not participate. McDaniel in statement said, “Republicans are still left wanting justice” by the decision and said he hopes “conservatives in Mississippi will view this decision as a driving factor to get involved in Republican politics.”
Five days after Hurricane Sandy demolished the Eastern Seaboard on Oct. 29, 2012, and left the state of New Jersey in particularly horrific disarray, an exhausted Christopher Durkin listened in on a conference call while sitting in his black 2010 Chevy Malibu, charging his cell phone outside his darkened, juice-less home. Durkin was one of 21 county clerks who had been urged to join the hastily arranged call by Robert Giles, the state’s director of elections, who had promised an important announcement. Giles gave many of them a preview of what the coming days would be like, shortly before the lieutenant governor, Kim Guadagno, came on the line. “Put your phones on mute,” he said, according to several clerks on the call. “The lieutenant governor will not entertain questions.” The week, no doubt, had been grueling for all. And it was about to get even more challenging. Guadagno, in her dual role as the New Jersey secretary of state, spent her few minutes on the line rewriting the rules for the Nov. 6 general election, which was only three days away. She had, in those traumatic days after the storm, made a number of emergency changes to voting procedures. Because some 900 of the state’s 3,500 polling places had been destroyed or otherwise rendered unusable as of Friday, Nov. 2, clerks’ offices around the state were open for long hours all weekend to give residents a chance to vote in person using absentee ballots, a practice known in New Jersey as “vote by mail.” Another option was for voters to visit any polling place on Election Day and vote in the federal races — president and U.S. Senate — via provisional ballots, which would be sent to their county and tallied if the local board of elections decided the voter was properly registered and hadn’t already cast a ballot. Similar measures were taken in New York and Connecticut, states that had also suffered major damage that made the coming election a logistical nightmare.
A federal appeals court has ruled that organizations conducting voter outreach did not have the right to sue the State of Ohio on behalf of voters arrested and jailed the weekend before election day. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati on Friday overturned the decision of a federal judge, who ruled that voters jailed the weekend before the election must be given a chance to case an absentee ballot.
Republican state officials working to pass a voter photo ID law in 2011 knew that more than 500,000 of the state’s registered voters did not have the credentials needed to cast ballots under the new requirement. But they did not share that information with lawmakers rushing to pass the legislation. Now that the bill is law, in-person voters must present one of seven specified forms of photo identification in order to have their votes counted. A federal judge in Corpus Christi has found the law unconstitutional, but the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the state can leave it in place for the November election while appeals proceed. The details about the number of voters affected emerged during the challenge to the law, and were included in the findings of U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos. During the 2011 legislative struggle to pass the voter ID law, she wrote, Republican lawmakers asked the Texas secretary of state, who runs elections, and the Texas Department of Public Safety, which maintains driver’s license information, for the number of registered voters who did not have state-issued photo identification. The answer: at least a half-million.
Voting Blogs: Virgin Islands Supreme Court ignores federal court on election dispute | Excess of Democracy
I blogged earlier about the extraordinary dispute in the United States Virgin Islands, in which the Virgin Islands Supreme Court ordered a sitting senator off the ballot because it concluded she had committed a crime involving moral turpitude that rendered her disqualified for office. In response, the governor pardoned her, and an ensuing case in federal court resulted in an order to get her back on the ballot. I thought that would end the matter. It didn’t. The case has become even more surreal.
Virginia’s busiest elections office, which will compile vote tallies for hundreds of thousands of Fairfax County ballots Nov. 4, has struggled for years with infighting and high staff turnover, according to interviews, e-mails and documents obtained by The Washington Post. The discord is casting a pall over the office tasked with protecting the integrity of elections in Virginia’s most populous jurisdiction, prompting calls for improvement from top county officials. Some critics say the turmoil adds to the challenge of training precinct workers to use new, more customer-friendly voting machines and implement a statewide voter ID law on Election Day.
Wisconsin: State high court: no reason to reconsider its voter ID ruling | Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
The state Supreme Court won’t reconsider its ruling last summer upholding the state’s requirement that voters show photo ID at the polls. The brief order issued this week by Wisconsin’s highest court denied a request by minority groups to block the voter ID law. Despite that ruling, the requirement won’t be in effect for the Nov. 4 election. That’s because the U.S. Supreme Court issued an order earlier this month temporarily blocking the law while lawsuits against it wind through the federal courts. After that setback from the high federal court, state Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said last week that he was giving up on his efforts to reinstate the law ahead of the upcoming election. Voters need a score card to track the dizzying rounds of litigation against the law and the dramatic reversals in those cases over the past two years. The request denied Wednesday by the seven-person state Supreme Court was made by two local minority groups who say the law violates their constitutional right to vote.
Brazil’s left-leaning President Dilma Rousseff was re-elected Sunday in the tightest race the nation has seen since its return to democracy three decades ago, after a bitter campaign that divided Brazilians like no other before it. With 99 percent of the vote counted, Rousseff had 51.5 percent of the ballots, topping center-right challenger Aecio Neves with 48.5 percent. Rousseff’s victory extends the rule of the Workers’ Party, which has held the presidency since 2003. During that time, they’ve enacted expansive social programs that have helped pull millions of Brazilians out of poverty and into the middle class.
Botswana’s ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) secured 33 of 57 parliament seats in national elections, initial results showed, putting President Ian Khama at the helm for a second five-year term. Residents of the southern African nation, who voted on Friday, re-elected the BDP party that has ruled the diamond-producing country since independence from Britain 48 years ago. Provisional results show the BDP’s main rival, the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), with 14 seats and the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) with two seats. Eight seats were yet to be declared. This will be Botswana’s most closely contested election, and is likely to see the BDP’s majority sharply reduced from the 79 percent of seats it won in the 2009 election.
It took just one typo in one line of code to elect a malevolent computer program mayor of Washington, D.C. In the fall of 2010, the District staged a mock election to test out a new online voting system, and invited hackers to check its security. A team from the University of Michigan took them up on the offer. They quickly found a flaw in the code and broke in. They changed every vote. Master Control Program, the self-aware software that attempts to take over the world in the film Tron, was a runaway write-in candidate for mayor. Skynet, the system that runs a robot army in the Terminator franchise, was elected to Congress. And Bender, the hard-drinking android in the cartoon Futurama, became a member of the school board. Incredibly, it took D.C. officials two days to realize they had been hacked. …The use of Internet voting is exploding. Nearly 100 Ontario municipalities are using it in Monday’s election – including one that will even ditch paper ballots entirely. Proponents contend it is not only more convenient, but more equitable, giving people who cannot get to physical polling stations the same opportunity to vote as everyone else. But the expansion of e-voting has also caused consternation for some security researchers and municipal officials. They worry that entrusting this pillar of democracy to computers is too great a risk, given the potential for software problems – or hackers determined to put beer-swilling robots on the school board.
Canada: Toronto still years from authorizing Internet voting, while Markham introduced digital ballots back in 2003 | National Post
While Toronto residents line up at the polls Monday, neighbours to the north could well choose to vote with their feet up on the couch at home. And it’s not a new option. Residents of Markham have been able to vote online from anywhere with WiFi for the last 11 years. The City of Toronto has taken baby steps in that direction, but don’t expect everyone to be able to do the same in 2018. In July, city council authorized the use of Internet and telephone voting during the advance vote period for the next municipal election. Council had previously decided to implement online voting for people with disabilities for the Oct. 27 election, but the project was cancelled due to time constraints and failure to provide a secure system. “Online voting has been very well received in Markham since we introduced it in 2003,” said Frank Edwards, the city’s elections co-ordinator. “The number of people who vote online has increased to almost 11,000 people.”
In a move that highlighted the difficulty of consolidating Hong Kong’s “umbrella movement,” protest leaders on Sunday scrapped plans to conduct a poll asking supporters to vote on what the democracy movement’s next move should be as the sit-ins entered their fifth week. The electronic vote was called off hours before it was to commence, with organizers citing differences of opinion among various protest subgroups and worries about the poll’s methodology and security. “There’s lots of conflict and lots of different opinions, and after talking with occupiers in different protest sites, we understand their point of view and would like to suspend the voting,” said Alex Chow, leader of the Hong Kong Federation of Students and one of the main protest organizers.
A few thousand protesters allied with Haiti’s opposition marched through the capital on Sunday demanding the chance to vote in legislative and local elections that are three years late, among other grievances. Placard-waving demonstrators started their rally in the downtown slum of Bel Air, burning piles of rum-soaked wood and holding up their voting cards to show they were ready to cast ballots. Some carried placards showing the bespectacled image of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who is confined to his home in a Port-au-Prince suburb amid a war of wills with a Haitian judge investigating corruption allegations against him. Earlier this year, President Michel Martelly called for legislative and municipal elections overdue since late 2011 to take place on Sunday. But the vote has been postponed due to an ongoing stalemate over an electoral law between the government and six opposition senators.
Mozambique’s National Electoral Commission (CNE) has yet to officially endorse provisional results of the presidential vote. It shows governing FRELIMO party has won with about 57.2 percent and main opposition RENAMO in second place with 36 percent. The Mozambique Democratic Movement trails in third place with about 7 percent of the vote, according to Paulo Cuinica, spokesman for the electoral body. Cuinica said the provisional results could change since the electoral body is still working to confirm the outcome of the vote. “These are likely to change since the electoral commission is still working on the votes, [and] since there are no agreements from political parties over those votes,” said Cuinica. Cuinica said the CNE is waiting to confirm the official outcome of the presidential, parliamentary and provincial assemblies’ elections after resolving all complaints from the opposition parties. “The electoral commission is working hard to see if this announcement can happen [soon],” said Cuinica.
Tunisia has voted in historic elections to choose its first parliament since the overthrow of long-time ruler in 2011 that sparked the ‘Arab Spring’ protests. Votes were being counted across the country on Sunday as Tunisians cast their ballots in parliamentray elections, four years after the ouster of autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Many polling stations reported high turnouts and long lines early in the day, with an estimated 60 percent of the 5.2 million registered voters turning out to vote for the 217-seat parliament. “The spotlight is on us and the success of this [vote] is a guarantee for the future,” Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa said as he cast his ballot. US President, Barack Obama called the election an “important milestone in the country’s historic political transition”. “In casting their ballots today, Tunisians continued to inspire people across their region and around the world,” Obama said.
Pro-Western parties won an overwhelming majority in Ukraine’s Parliament, President Petro O. Poroshenko declared on Sunday, citing exit polls. With the country still on a war-footing with Russian separatists in the east, Mr. Poroshenko hailed Sunday’s vote as a resounding endorsement of his government’s efforts to break free of Kremlin influence and shift hard toward Europe. “I asked you to vote for a democratic, reformist, pro-Ukrainian and pro-European majority,” he said in a statement posted on his website after polls closed. “Thank you for having heard and supported this appeal.” Mr. Poroshenko said more than three-quarters of those who voted “powerfully and permanently supported Ukraine’s course toward Europe.” He called the result “a landslide vote of confidence from the people.”
As two of Ukraine’s best-known investigative journalists, Sergii Leshchenko and Mustafa Nayyem showed a boundless zeal for exposing corruption and hypocrisy at the highest levels of government. So it set heads spinning within the country’s political and media elite last month when they suddenly announced that they were not only jumping the fence to run for Parliament, but also joining the establishment as candidates of President O. Poroshenko’s coalition party. Or at least that’s how it seemed. In a sign of how hard it can be to kick old habits, Mr. Leshchenko and Mr. Nayyem have spent the final week of the campaign not working to promote themselves, but rather crusading to defeat a candidate from their own party — a former official in the Kiev city government, whose place on the ballot in this rural district 250 miles south of the capital, they say, was the result of corrupt back-room dealing approved by someone close to Mr. Poroshenko, if not by the president himself.
War may have ended the era when Ukrainians traded their votes for some cooking oil and flour. “I took the buckwheat but voted my heart,” reads an Internet meme of an elderly lady displaying a rude gesture on Twitter and Facebook from an Internet group called Our Guard. It’s urging voters not to exchange ballots for food before tomorrow’s general election. Parties have abandoned the pop concerts and pomp that accompanied past campaigns after more than 3,800 deaths in Ukraine’s battle against pro-Russian separatists and earlier protests in Kiev. President Petro Poroshenko, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and other contenders have instead signed military heroes and anti-graft activists to their voter lists. They’re trying to counter the electorate’s increasing frustration with the conflict, an outlook for a 10 percent economic contraction this year and corruption that’s worse than Russia’s and tied with Nigeria’s, according to Transparency International’s corruption perception index.