Press Release: Monongalia County First In Nation To Have Every Voter Use ExpressVote And DS200 Technology To Cast Votes | Election Systems & Software

Election Systems & Software (ES&S) hit two milestones on July 2 thanks to a unanimous decision by the Monongalia County Commission. Monongalia will be the first county in West Virginia to purchase our ExpressVote® Universal Voting System as well as DS200® in-precinct vote scanners and tabulators, furthering their reputation as a technological leader in the state. This county will also be the first in the nation to have every voter use an ExpressVote when marking their vote selections. ExpressPoll® Electronic Pollbooks will also be used, although Jackson County, West Virginia precedes them in this purchase area. While our ExpressVote and DS200 in-precinct voting system configuration is the most widely used in vote centers and on Election Day, most customers use the ExpressVote as their ADA compliant voting solution. Monongalia will blaze the trail as the first to implement our visionary voting approach for every eligible voter from start to finish. Voters will check-in on ExpressPoll tablets and receive a paper activation card. Once inserted into the ExpressVote, each voter will use the touch screen interface to mark and confirm their selections, receiving a verifiable paper record upon completion. This record has printed text, identifying a voter’s selections, as well as an optical scan barcode that contains each selection. From there they simply feed their paper record into the DS200, where they receive on-screen confirmation that their vote has been cast.

National: The gerrymandering jig should be up | The Washington Post

The 3rd congressional districts in Maryland and Virginia are roughly 200 miles apart — depending on which part of their ungainly boundaries one takes as a starting point — and, on the surface, seem to have little in common. Virginia’s 3rd stretches from Norfolk to Richmond. Maryland’s 3rd, with contours often likened to a blood spatter, incorporates parts of Baltimore City, as well as parts of Anne Arundel (including Annapolis), Baltimore, Howard and Montgomery counties. What they share is a genesis in bald-faced gerrymandering contrived by politicians intent on manipulating electoral maps to their advantage by hand-picking their own voters. Democrats are the culprits in Maryland’s case; Republicans did the deed in Virginia. Encouragingly, there are signs that the jig may be up, or that at least it is facing more pressure than ever before.

National: Voter ID, registration and early voting laws vary widely across America | Winston-Salem Journal

Across the United States, eligible residents have the opportunity to join voter rolls and vote, but they don’t all have the same options or ease of access. Voting laws vary widely from state to state. “There are certain federal requirements that limit state discretion,” said John Dinan, a political science professor at Wake Forest University. “For instance, states cannot set a registration closing deadline of greater than 30 days before an election. But for the most part, states have significant discretion in how they provide for voting to take place.” For example, about two-thirds of the states allow in-person early voting, but the early voting periods range anywhere from four to 45 days. About two-thirds of states currently require voters to present identification of some kind at the polls, but they vary greatly in what kind of documents they require and what they do if a person doesn’t provide it. “Some states have certainly made it easier than others,” said Jason Husser, assistant professor of political science at Elon University.

Voting Blogs: Campaign Finance and Issue Advocacy: The Fight About Wisconsin | More Soft Money Hard Law

The Wisconsin Supreme Court was badly divided on the “coordination” question that it resolved in favor ending an ongoing criminal investigation. The majority and dissents expressed their disagreement in harsh terms, and there was a similar outbreak of ill-will or impatience among experts and seasoned observers trading views on the election law list serv. Dividing the camps for the sake of convenience into progressives and conservatives: the former were appalled by the case and the latter overjoyed, and neither could believe how the other was reacting. The case was either a nightmare for desperately needed reform, or a vindication of the rule of law in a struggle with political persecution and police state tactics. But are the issues being fairly brought out amid all this vitriol, and is it necessarily true that the opinions on the coordination issues in Wisconsin must always and inevitably fall out along ideological and party lines?

California: Voter in school board race wins $25,000 for casting a ballot | Los Angeles Times

Ivan Rojas didn’t recognize the phone number when his cell woke him up one recent morning. So he went back to sleep. Later, when he listened to the message, he decided it must be a crank call or a scam. “Nowadays, you can’t trust anybody,” he said. What else would explain someone telling him that he’d won the grand prize, $25,000, for a contest he did not knowingly enter? And all because he voted. An experiment in boosting chronic low-turnout local elections ended Friday when Rojas, a 35-year-old security guard, received a check for winning a lottery that included every voter in District 5 for the Los Angeles Board of Education. “I was shocked,” Rojas said. “I still can’t believe it.” The contest comes as officials are trying to get voters to the polls. In Los Angeles County only 31% of registered voters cast ballots in the November 2014 statewide election. Turnout was particularly low among Latinos, at only 23%. Figures for local elections are more anemic. Last year, L.A. City officials talked about giving out prizes in hopes of increasing turnout.

Florida: August session planned to draw new districts | Politico

Legislative leaders Monday announced a mid-August special session to redraw the state’s congressional districts, a process that will include a handful of transparency measures, after the Florida Supreme Court ruled the last version were illegally drawn for partisan advantage. Deliberations during the August 10 through 21 special legislative session will begin from a “base map” drawn by legislative staff and legal counsel. Elected officials will not be involved in that initial process. The Senate redistricting committee will be led by Senate Majority Leader Bill Galvano of Bradenton, while state Rep. Jose Oliva of Miami will chair the House committee. He replaces state Rep. Richard Corcoran of Land O’Lakes, who led the House redistricting committee during a special session last summer that was required after the court tossed lawmaker’s first congressional map.

Indiana: High court denies Charlie White appeal |

Former Secretary of State Charlie White is planning to appeal his felony convictions for vote fraud, theft and perjury to the highest court in the country after the Indiana Supreme Court refused to hear his case. In a one-page order issued late Thursday, Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush denied White’s request to review a Dec. 29 Court of Appeals ruling that affirmed three of the six guilty verdicts against him. The decision to deny transfer was 4-0 with Justice Mark Massa not participating, likely due to his role as attorney to Republican former Gov. Mitch Daniels prior to the 2010 elections where Hoosiers overwhelmingly picked White to serve as Indiana’s chief elections officer.

Editorials: Minnesota should pursue reasonable strategies to make voting easier | Minneapolis Star Tribune

Minnesotans who defeated a proposed photo ID amendment to the state Constitution in 2012 may be following a North Carolina voting rights trial with a certain degree of smugness. They may think that democracy-loving Minnesotans wouldn’t stand for the moves that have landed the North Carolina Legislature in federal court, accused of suppressing the African-American vote. We’d like to think so, too. But we must note that while North Carolina lawmakers shaved a week off that state’s early voting period, Minnesota does not permit early voting at all — though it does offer “no excuses” absentee voting, which is more administratively complex and prone to voter error than actual early voting. Minnesota also does not allow preregistration for 16- and 17-year-olds and “out-of-precinct” voting, both of which North Carolina allowed, then dropped in 2013. Minnesota 17-year-olds are allowed to register only if they will be 18 on Election Day.

North Carolina: Ex-College Democrats president: Election law intimidated college students | Winston-Salem Journal

The former president of the state chapter of the College Democrats testified today that North Carolina’s new election law made it much more difficult for college students to vote. Louis Duke, a graduate of Campbell University in Harnett County, took the witness stand in a closely watched trial in U.S. District Court in Winston-Salem. Several groups, including the N.C. NAACP and the U.S. Department of Justice, are suing the state and Gov. Pat McCrory over House Bill 589, which became law in August 2013. The law eliminated same-day voter registration, reduced the days of early voting from 17 to 10 and prohibited out-of-precinct provisional voting, among other things. Duke said that after the law, known as the Voter Information Verification Act, was passed, many students across North Carolina were confused and misinformed about what the law required. Duke said he helped organize voter registration drives for college students. The elimination of same-day voter registration made such efforts more difficult because there was a shorter amount of time to get students registered, Duke said. In North Carolina, the deadline to register to vote is 25 days before the election.

North Carolina: County replies in Greensboro council redistricting lawsuit | Greensboro News & Record

The Guilford County Board of Elections filed its reply brief Monday in the federal lawsuit over the Guilford County redistricting. Federal Judge Catherine Eagles set a hearing for Thursday on both the temporary restraining order and the preliminary injunction, which would prevent the new law from going into effect this election cycle. The board was the subject of the lawsuit as the arm of government that must implement the new redistricting law, passed earlier this month by the N.C. General Assembly.

Pennsylvania: Luzerne County’s handling of write-ins comes under fire | Times Leader

Luzerne County’s approach to tallying write-in votes has come under fire, prompting a lengthy debate at last week’s county council meeting. West Hazleton Borough Councilman James Bucky Kulaga raised the issue along with several council members, questioning why the the county election board didn’t declare him a Democratic write-in winner in the borough council race after the May 17 primary. Kulaga, who won one of the four Republican nominations, said 10 Democratic write-in votes were required to receive that party’s nomination.

Tennessee: Voting machines sealed by state | The Leaf-Chronicle

Tennessee voters may have voted “Yes on 1” in the November 2014 state election, but opponents of the amendment to the state Constitution that allows the state Legislature to make laws regulating abortion have filed a federal lawsuit, claiming that the votes were tabulated incorrectly. The upshot of the lawsuit is that all voting machines used in that election are sealed until the matter is decided, or until other arrangements can be made. Anderson informed the Election Commission of this at the July 13 meeting.

Texas: In Rio Grande Valley, Some Campaign Workers Are Paid To Harvest Votes | NPR

A new FBI anti-corruption task force is trying to clean up the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. According to the Justice Department, in 2013, more public officials were convicted for corruption in South Texas than in any other region of the country. One of the practices the task force is looking at is vote-stealing. They’re called politiqueras — a word unique to the border that means campaign worker. It’s a time-honored tradition down in the land of grapefruit orchards and Border Patrol checkpoints. If a local candidate needs dependable votes, he or she goes to a politiquera.

Wisconsin: GOP hopeful Scott Walker calls for dismantling of state elections board | Chicago Tribune

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Monday called for the dismantling of an independent state agency that oversees elections and that authorized an investigation into his 2012 recall campaign. Walker, who launched his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination last week, told reporters following a bill signing ceremony in Oshkosh that he wanted to scrap the Government Accountability Board and replace it with “something completely new that is truly accountable to the people of the state of Wisconsin.” Walker also called for an investigation into the board’s activities. He did not say who should lead the investigation. Walker’s comments come just four days after the state Supreme Court halted a board-approved investigation into whether conservative groups illegally coordinated with Walker’s 2012 recall campaign, saying the groups broke no laws. Republican state lawmakers have been talking for months about reshaping the board, and the Supreme Court’s ruling has only bolstered the calls for change.

Editorials: Little evidence suggests the GAB is out to get the GOP | Wisconsin State Journal

Citing a Wall Street Journal editorial last week, Republican state lawmakers renewed and intensified their claim that the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board is politically biased and unfairly targeting conservatives. Little evidence supports such allegations. Moreover, GOP leaders are ignoring key facts about the GAB as they try to weaken if not disband the independent and nonpartisan watchdog agency that oversees campaign finance, elections, ethics and lobbying laws. For starters, half of the retired judges who serve on the GAB were elected decades ago as Republicans to the Legislature, Congress or district attorney. Only one member of the GAB is a former Democratic district attorney from the 1970s, and he was appointed to the GAB by GOP Gov. Scott Walker. … Now comes a Wall Street Journal editorial critical of GAB director Kevin Kennedy. Citing anonymous sources and some quotes from emails, the Wall Street Journal questioned if Kennedy was coordinating state investigations of conservative groups with the IRS.

Burundi: Clashes rock Burundi′s capital on eve of presidential election | Deutsche Welle

Gunfire and explosions could be heard late Monday in Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura, on the eve of the country’s presidential election. The unrest comes amid tensions over incumbent President Pierre Nkurunziza’s controversial bid for a third term over objections by protesters and opposition politicians, who say he is flouting a constitutional ban. Witnesses in the capital’s northern Ngagara suburb said assailants had shot at police officers, who returned fire, while journalists from French news agency AFP heard three loud explosions and regular bursts of gunfire, though they could not say where the sounds were coming from. Explosions and shots were also heard in Nyakabiga, northeast of Bujumbura, and Kanyosha to the south, according to local residents.

Haiti: Avoiding a Democratic Disaster in Haiti | Foreign Policy

With no natural disasters or political violence afflicting Haiti for the past several years, it would be easy to assume that the country has finally achieved the level of relative stability that international donors and millions of Haitians have sought since the toppling of the Duvalier dynasty in 1986. Yet this perceived calm is belied by troubling signs that all is not well, as Haiti prepares for the first of up to three rounds of contentious elections. On July 15, the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, chaired by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), held a hearing on the run-up to the elections, with the State Department’s point man on Haiti, Thomas Adams. Adams admitted the elections were significantly underfunded. That made his rather sanguine attitude towards the whole process all the more surprising. With the first round of elections scheduled for August 9, he suggested that there is a “fairly good chance” they will go on as scheduled. But even as the Obama administration and the donor community focus primarily on the mechanics — voter education and registration, security, integrity of vote-counting — they are skirting important questions about just how free and fair the contest will actually be.

Myanmar: Opposition Recruiting Allies Ahead of Poll | VoA News

The main opposition National League for Democracy in Myanmar, also known as Burma, is reaching out to other activists to bolster its position ahead of elections later this year. In Myanmar, also known as Burma, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, right, receives flowers from supporters of her National League for Democracy Party, Yangon International Airport, June 10, 2015.In Myanmar, also known as Burma, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, right, receives flowers from supporters of her National League for Democracy Party, Yangon International Airport, June 10, 2015. The party, led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, has invited former student leaders and veteran politicians to join the NLD as candidates in November.

North Korea: Citizens forced to vote in North Korea’s version of democracy | CNN

It’s called the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. But any real notions of democracy end with the name. North Koreans headed to the polls at the weekend to cast their ballots in elections for local representatives on provincial, city, and county People’s Assemblies. Citizens were not asked to make a choice — the results had already been decided by Kim Jong Un’s central government. Voters were handed ballot papers but didn’t mark them. They would have instead deposited them in a ballot box, signifying their support for the pre-approved candidates. Defector Kim Kwang-jin explained that their most important job is to show up.