Voting Blogs: Back to Two-Track? Tenth Circuit Reverses on Arizona, Kansas Proof-of-Citizenship | Election Academy

Back in August, I blogged about the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals’ apparent skepticism about the case involving proof-of-citizenship requirements and the federal registration form in Kansas and Arizona. Two-and-a-half months later, the judges handed down a unanimous decision reversing a lower court and prohibiting the two states from imposing proof-of-citizenship on the federal form. … This decision reignites a series of conflicts:

1. The ruling doesn’t invalidate the imposition of proof-of-citizenship on state forms (the court specifically notes that it is not ruling on that issue) so, for the time being, two-track registration could be back on the table in Kansas and Arizona – perhaps with those states’ courts being asked to rule on its constitutionality;

Alaska: Uncounted votes grow in Alaska Senate race | Alaska Dispatch

The number of uncounted votes in Alaska’s tightly fought U.S. Senate race grew by 21,000 between Wednesday and Friday — and more than 5,000 of those were votes that hadn’t been predicted in early accounts of the number of ballots outstanding. After election night on Tuesday, incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Begich trailed Republican challenger Dan Sullivan by 8,000 votes, or 3.6 percent, and both campaigns have been closely watching as state elections officials collect additional ballots cast by mail, or at more than 200 so-called “absentee in-person voting locations” around the state, where people could vote early. More than 40,000 ballots will likely be counted starting Tuesday, though the number will probably climb even more before then. To win, Begich would have to reverse election night trends and win a substantial majority — though his allies have pointed out that in the count following Election Day in 2008, Begich overcame a 3,000 vote deficit to Republican Ted Stevens and ultimately won by 4,000 votes. The spike between Wednesday and Friday was a reflection of state elections officials’ new accounting for more than 13,000 provisional ballots, 2,200 absentee ballots submitted by fax, mail or email, and some 5,200 ballots cast early at the in-person absentee voting locations across the state.

Arizona: Barber-McSally race heads toward potential recount | The Arizona Republic

Arizona could be headed toward its first congressional recount ever, as Republican challenger Martha McSally’s lead over incumbent Democratic Rep. Ron Barber dwindled to only 179 votes Monday. A mandatory recount will occur if either candidate wins the race by fewer than 200 votes. There are still about 6,000 provisional votes left to count in Pima County, although not all of those votes will be in Barber and McSally’s 2nd Congressional District race. There are another 150 early ballots still to be processed and 300 “conditional provisionals” where a voter showed up to the polling place with no identification, said Pima County Registrar of Voters Chris Roads. Both candidates have started fundraising for legal bills for a potential recount, which election observers and campaign officials increasingly see as a possibility. “We’re down into Florida 2000 territory with this,” said Tempe pollster Michael O’Neil, referring to the historic standoff in the presidential race between George W. Bush and Al Gore. “With a margin potentially in the two digits.”

Arizona: Judge Denies Team McSally’s Motion, Allows Vote Count To Continue in Hotly Contested Race | Tucson Weekly

A Pima County Superior Court judge has denied an effort by Republican Martha McSally’s congressional campaign to stop counting a group of ballots in Democratic precincts in her hotly contested race against Democratic incumbent Ron Barber. Superior Court Judge James Marner said that he would not issue a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction to stop the count of provisional ballots that were missing a signature from a poll worker. The race remains extremely tight, with McSally leading Barber by 341 votes. County officials say there are an estimated 9,300 provisional ballot awaiting tabulation in Pima County, where Barber ran ahead of McSally. An unknown number are in Congressional District 2. Pima County Election Director Brad Nelson said ballot counting would resume this afternoon but he did not expect the complete the count of the provisional ballots. Lawyers for both campaigns, as well as a deputy county attorney, were in court this morning to debate whether the questioned ballots should be set aside until a substantive argument could be made as to whether they are valid.

Connecticut: Election Day snarls may prompt legislative action | Associated Press

It was an Election Day scene in Connecticut that officials and voters hoped would never again happen. But four years after voting in Bridgeport was snarled by a lack of ballots, long lines and confusion, voters in Hartford were told at several polling stations early Tuesday morning that voter lists critical to Election Day procedures were not available. A judge extended voting by a half-hour in the evening to compensate for the delay. Local officials blamed budget cuts and other issues for the problems, but Secretary of the State Denise Merrill called the lack of voter lists “unconscionable” and referred the matter to the state Elections Enforcement Commission to determine if state election laws were violated. Merrill called it “apparent gross dereliction of duty by Hartford’s registrars of voters.”

Idaho: Republican Party Pushes for Recount | Associated Press

The Idaho Republican Party is encouraging two of its candidates to ask for recounts in elections that they narrowly lost to their Democratic challengers in the Nov. 4 election. Republican state Rep. Thyra Stevenson of Lewiston lost to Democrat Dan Rudolph by 26 votes. Meanwhile, in the same legislative district, fellow Republican Mike Kingsley lost to House Minority Leader John Rusche by 48 votes. Idaho Republican Party’s Executive Director David Johnston told the Lewiston Tribune in a story that ran Saturday that the narrow margins in both races warrant a recount.

Iowa: ACLU lawsuit challenges Iowa voting rules | Associated Press

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit Friday challenging Iowa’s tough policies that bar felons from voting, seeking to restore the right to thousands of former offenders before the 2016 presidential election. The case aims to end confusion over rules that followed a 2011 policy change by Gov. Terry Branstad and a criminal investigation into people who improperly voted. Iowa is among three states where felons cannot vote after completing their sentences unless their rights are restored by the governor. “The widespread denial of voting rights on the basis of a felony conviction is the single biggest denial of civil rights in Iowa. It has kept thousands of Iowans from voting,” ACLU attorney Rita Bettis said. “We’re very excited about this case and its potential to right a tremendous wrong.” One of them, stay-at-home mother Kelli J. Griffin of Montrose, is the plaintiff in the lawsuit. “I believe I am a productive member in society and that I deserve to vote,” she said. “So do other felons who have turned their lives around.”

Kentucky: Paul still faces ballot quandary in Kentucky | Associated Press

The Republican tidal wave that swept Democrats out of office nationwide didn’t solve U.S. Sen. Rand Paul’s potential quandary in Kentucky, where the tea party favorite could become entangled in a state election law if he decides to run for president and another Senate term in 2016. Legislation tweaking the once-obscure law to ensure Paul could appear on Kentucky’s ballot running for both offices simultaneously easily passed the GOP-led Kentucky Senate this year. But it died across the Capitol in the House, where Democrats remain in charge. This fall, Republicans seemingly had their best chance in decades to gain control of the House in a state where President Barack Obama is deeply unpopular. Had Republicans consolidated their power in the legislature, it seemed almost certain they would deliver on Paul’s request to change the law. But Democrats hung on to their majority, leaving the first-term senator and his supporters looking for other potential options.

Louisiana: Mixed results in suit over voter registration | Shreveport Times

A federal appeals court order dealing with Louisiana’s enforcement of a national law on voter registration was mostly a victory for the state. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed complaints that the state wasn’t providing required voter registration forms to people applying for government benefits by Internet, telephone or mail. It also rejected an argument that the state violated a law requiring that registration forms be provided to people who don’t explicitly reject — in writing — the opportunity to register. The appeals court did rule that the Secretary of State’s office has the power to make other state agencies comply with the federal act. Secretary of State Tom Schedler said Thursday he disagrees with that part of the ruling, saying it conflicts with the state’s constitution.

Michigan: Old technology blamed for drip-drip election results | The Macomb Daily

The extremely slow Macomb County election returns on Tuesday night are blamed, in part, by county officials on outdated technology. Despite mediocre voter turnout typical of a midterm election, many Macomb County voters went to bed on Election Night with no idea who had won the races in their community. Three of the county’s largest towns — Warren, Sterling Heights and Shelby Township –- kept voters in the dark until well after midnight. The lack of results also delayed an outcome in numerous races for the state Legislature and county Board of Commissioners that extend beyond the borders of those three municipalities. The county’s cities and townships rely upon election tabulators – the polling place machines that swallow up each voter’s ballot – which run on technology from 10 to 15 years ago. In addition, each voting precinct’s computerized results are transported by an analog line – a modem – to the county Clerk’s Office. The final step involves putting the election updates on the county’s heavily traveled election returns website.

Mississippi: Hinds election chief broke law, she admits | Jackson Clarion-Ledger

Hinds County Election Commission Chairwoman Connie Cochran admitted Tuesday that she broke the law by not ordering the required number of ballots for last week’s general election. Cochran also said that election officials were still tallying affidavits and absentee ballots, and the Hinds County election results would likely not be certified until Friday — the maximum 10 days after the election, as set forth by state law. The secretary of state’s office confirmed that state law requires election commissioners to order enough ballots for 75 percent of registered voters to cast votes. In Hinds County, there are 155,912 registered voters, so the total number of printed ballots required by law was 116,934. Last week, Cochran said she only had 58,350 ballots on hand — less than half of what was required by law.

Nebraska: Some ponder all mail-in elections for Nebraska | Associated Press

With election officials in Omaha scrambling to count thousands of ballots days after the polls closed, some election officials say Nebraska should consider joining Colorado, Oregon and Washington state in all mail-in voting. Douglas County Election Commissioner Dave Phipps said he and his counterparts in Nebraska’s larger counties have mulled such a change. Phipps believes the move would not only save taxpayers money by cutting the need for poll workers and polling place equipment, but would have averted the problem his office had in Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District race this week when thousands of voters either mailed in their early ballots or dropped them off Monday and Tuesday. Early ballots — even those of voters who walk in — are sealed in signed envelopes that must be matched to voter paperwork for verification, then removed from the envelope for counting. Because so many came so late, it was impossible for election workers to process them all by late Tuesday, or even early Wednesday.

New Jersey: What triggered Monmouth County election glitch? Four laptops | Asbury Park Press

A glitch triggered by the failure to remove a previous program from computers during an upgrade in September delayed the results from the Monmouth County election on Nov. 4, County Clerk M. Claire French said. Four laptops used to create 916 cartridges that tallied the results in the voting machines were the source of the problem, French said. The previous system was not uninstalled from those four computers, she said. French said it was not the fault of the vendor, Dominion Voting Systems Inc. of Denver, nor did the blame fall on any one individual. “We let the public down on this, and I am personally disappointed,” French said. “It shouldn’t have happened, and it will not happen again.”

South Dakota: Human error, not new high-tech ballot machines, to blame for Pennington’s late election results | Rapid City Journal

The Pennington County Auditor’s Office used a $232,000 federal grant on two new high-tech ballot-counting machines this year to increase the speed and accuracy of its elections. So, how did it work? As with any new technology, there was a learning curve and bugs in the system that led to a long night for Auditor Julie Pearson and her staff, forced a tedious process of recounting or re-creating thousands of ballots on the fly and produced election results two hours later than usual. And yet, the problems ultimately had nothing to do with the new Election Systems & Software DS850 ballot machines, but rather were due to human error and inexperience with the technology, Pearson said on Friday. “The technology did exactly what it was supposed to do,” Pearson said. “We just had to change our processes.”

Australia: Victorian state election: 200,000 eligible voters missing in action | The Age

On the last day that Victorians could enrol to vote, staff from the Victorian Electoral Commission were desperately trying to make voting seem fun to persuade holdouts to register. More than 200,000 citizens were not yet registered to vote in the final hours: numbers that could have been seriously influential. Free frisbees, stress balls and water bottles were used all day to lure passing potential voters into an inflatable marquee at City Square that had a passing resemblance to a bouncy castle. “The Victorian election is looking like it’s going to be a close one and the message of our campaign this year is that every vote does count and some elections are won on a very small number of votes,” said VEC representative Lawson Fletcher.

Romania: Foreign minister resigns in election row | Reuters

Romanian Foreign Minister Titus Corlatean resigned on Monday after thousands of people rallied at the weekend in support of compatriots abroad who were turned away as they tried to vote in the first round of a presidential election. Corlatean had been told by leftist Prime Minister Victor Ponta to ensure the Nov. 16 runoff vote ran smoothly or risk losing his job after Romanians living abroad complained of long queues at embassy polling stations and shortages of a form that had to be signed before a ballot could be cast in the Nov. 2 vote. Ponta won the first round of the election by a 10 percentage point margin over Klaus Iohannis, an ethnic German mayor backed by two center-right opposition parties. Ponta is likely to win the runoff vote, opinion polls showed. On Saturday, as thousands of people rallied in cities across Romania, Corlatean said there would be no increase in the number of polling stations abroad. Some protesters called on Ponta to resign, saying he had failed to ensure all citizens could exercise their right to vote.