Media Release: Verified Voting announces appointment of John DeCock as new Executive Director

Verified Voting, the nation’s leading election integrity organization, today announced the appointment of John DeCock as our new Executive Director.

“We are delighted to have John join our team,” said Verified Voting President Pamela Smith. “John’s appointment signals an important step in our efforts to safeguard elections and to support each voter’s right to cast an effective ballot. John’s exceptional skills and experience will support our outreach and ability to share our resources with a broad range of communities, from voters to policymakers to election officials and more. Working together with John, I am certain that we will continue making vital contributions towards achieving reliable and publicly verifiable elections.”

“There is nothing more fundamental to our Democracy than the right to vote and the knowledge that each vote matters and will be properly counted,” said DeCock. “I am looking forward to working with the talented staff and board at Verified Voting, as well as with the many experts who have collectively achieved so much. There still is much to do to improve the systems by which we cast our votes and to guarantee that every voter knows that his or her vote is counted as cast.”

Editorials: Loosening money’s grip on elections | Rick Hasen/New York Daily News

Forty years ago today, the Supreme Court decided Buckley vs. Valeo, a case that has distorted our thinking and talking about money in politics for nearly two generations and that has taken this country down a perilous path on campaign finance. We should no longer mince words about the consequences for our representative government. Buckley, and its better-known offspring, 2010’s Citizens United vs. FEC, are leading us to plutocracy, a country in which those with the greatest wealth have a much better chance to influence elections and public policy than the rest of us. Despite that bleak assessment, there’s a small window for change opening.

Arizona: House panel OKs change in redistricting process | Arizona Daily Star

A House panel approved a change in the redistricting process that, if ratified by voters, could have the lines for future legislative and congressional elections drawn only by Republicans. The 4-2 vote by the Elections Committee would keep the Independent Redistricting Commission that voters created in 2000 to wrest control of the process from the Legislature. Proponents say it would help remove the politics from the decennial process. But HCR 2009 takes the chore of appointing its members from legislators from each of the two major parties and instead has commissioners running for office like any other politician. Rep. Ken Clark, D-Phoenix, said that, given the GOP voter registration edge, it is virtually certain to produce a commission of five Republicans.

Kansas: Minority groups push for same-day voter registration | Lawrence Journal World

Minority leaders in Kansas and other voting rights advocates are pushing for passage of a bill this year that they say would dramatically increase voter turnout by allowing people to register to vote on Election Day and still have their vote counted. “Same-day registration” is already allowed in 10 states and the District of Columbia, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and Hawaii will become the 11th state in 2018. “We really believe everybody should have access to voting anytime, not just a few days out of the year. As long as they come with ID, why shouldn’t they be able to vote?” said Rep. Gail Finney, D-Wichita, who recently introduced a same-day registration bill in the House. Rep. Gail Finney, D-Wichita, is sponsoring a same-day voter registration bill that would allow people to register to vote on Election Day. Supporters argue that it would increase voter turnout, especially among young and minority voters. But some skeptics fear it could open the door to widespread voting fraud.

Voting Blogs: Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Vote in Kansas… | Project Vote

Project Vote was part of the landmark case in which Kobach got whacked down by the U.S. Court of Appeals, when he tried to force the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to add Kansas and Arizona’s state proof-of-citizenship requirements to the federal voter registration form. The Court of Appeals rightfully ruled in 2014 that the NVRA preempted those draconian state laws, and added that Kobach and company “have not provided substantial evidence of noncitizens registering to vote using the Federal Form.” … Today, in a bizarre turnaround, the EAC—without any public process of review—suddenly decided to do what Kobach and Co. have been asking all along. They just added proof-of-citizenship requirements to the instructions on the federal form for residents of Kansas, Georgia, and Alabama.

Kentucky: Powers’ spirit invoked in renewed effort to restore felons’ voting rights | WAVE

A House panel took less than 10 minutes to approve unanimously, a bill that would allow those convicted of non-violent felonies to regain their rights to vote. Supporters have invoked the name of the first woman and first person of color to serve in the Kentucky Senate, who died Jan. 30 at the age of 92. “Georgia Powers, she said it best,” Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D-Lexington) told the House Committee on Elections, Constitutional Amendments and Intergovernmental Affairs on Monday. “Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude and right now, Kentucky is failing!”

Missouri: House voter ID begins journey in Senate | The Missouri Times

Every year since 2008, the House has passed a bill requiring photo voter identification and each year, it has failed to reach the governor’s desk after being stymied in the Senate. This year’s iteration of those bills have begun their journey, and many Republicans are hoping to see those laws come into effect before this year’s general election. Reps. Justin Alferman and Tony Dugger presented their bills, HB 1631 and HJR 53 respectively, to the Senate Financial and Governmental Organizations and Elections Committee Monday afternoon. Alferman, as he noted during debate in the House believes this bill will be different than past bills.

North Carolina: Voter ID trial ends; decision is now up to federal judge | Winston-Salem Journal

In closing arguments Monday, North Carolina’s photo ID requirement was described by attorneys for the North Carolina NAACP as a racially discriminatory law that places unconstitutional burdens on blacks and Hispanics. Attorneys representing Gov. Pat McCrory and state elections officials called the change in the law a mere inconvenience, saying it would affect a small group of people. Penda Hair, an attorney for the N.C. NAACP, said evidence presented during the trial clearly shows that the photo ID requirement would make it harder for blacks and Hispanics to cast ballots in this year’s election. It’s undisputed, she said, that blacks disproportionately lack the kinds of photo IDs that they would need to show when they come to the polls.

Editorials: ID-ing the problem in North Dakota’s Voter ID law | Tom Dennis/Grand Forks Herald

For the past week in North Carolina, that state’s new Voter ID law has been argued in federal court. Among those testifying against the law was Rosanell Eaton, a black woman who, at 94, still can remember having to recite the preamble to the U.S. Constitution before voting under the state’s old Jim Crow laws, and who last year had to make 10 trips to various state offices to get an ID that complies with North Carolina’s new law. But guess what? North Carolina’s Voter ID law—the one that landed the state in federal court, in a case that’s being called a national Voter ID battleground—is less restrictive than is North Dakota’s Voter ID law. In North Carolina, among other differences, a voter can sign an affidavit swearing that he or she faced a “reasonable impediment” to getting an acceptable ID. In North Dakota, a voter in that situation is out of luck.

Rhode Island: Bill on online voter registration to be heard this week | Associated Press

Making it easier to vote in Rhode Island is the aim of two bills moving through the state’s General Assembly. The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote Wednesday on a bill to allow online voter registration. Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea says it makes registering to vote more convenient. A similar measure had wide support from lawmakers last year but they were unable to pass it before the end of the session in June.

Utah: Bipartisan effort to end straight-ticket voting nears committee hearing | The Standard Examiner

Three years ago, an effort to end straight-ticket voting in Utah was defeated in the House Government Operations Committee, falling by a 4-3 vote. That bill’s sponsor, Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Salt Lake City is trying again this year with House Bill 119, Straight Ticket Voting Amendments. And the bill will return to the same committee that once killed it. On Tuesday, Feb. 2, the House Government Operations Committee will decide if the latest effort to end straight-ticket voting makes it to the floor. And Arent has a Republican co-sponsor to help move it forward. Rep. Jeremy Peterson, R-Ogden says he’s working to persuade colleagues to support HB119. “The committee members individually have been very receptive to the reasons for bringing this issue forward. I look forward to making the case at the committee meeting,” Peterson said.

Wisconsin: State’s low-key educational effort on new voter ID requirement irks critics | Wisconsin State Journal

The state’s low-profile effort to educate voters about Wisconsin’s new voter ID requirement has critics fearing some voters will be caught off-guard when they head to the polls. The voter ID requirement takes effect this year, starting with the spring primary election on Feb. 16 and followed by the spring election and presidential primary on April 5. The voter ID law was enacted in 2011 and briefly took effect for the 2012 spring primary election until court challenges halted its implementation. Wisconsin’s voter ID requirement is among the most restrictive of any state. Voters must come to the polls with one of a list of approved photo IDs that include their signature, such as a Wisconsin driver’s license, U.S. passport or U.S. military ID. Some student and tribal IDs qualify if they’re not expired. Student IDs also must be accompanied by a separate document that proves enrollment, such as a tuition statement.

Australia: Official says prime minister is considering an early election | Associated Press

Australia’s prime minister told government colleagues Tuesday that an early general election within weeks was “a live option,” an official said. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull alone decides the timing of the next election. He has maintained that he plans for his government to run a full three-year term which would make the election due around September. But he told his colleagues at their first meeting at Parliament House for the year that the election could be called much sooner, a government minister said. Turnbull said he could call a double dissolution election, so-called because both the House of Representatives and the Senate are dissolved.

Canada: Dropping Nova Scotia’s voting age? Change proposed by Liberal advocates |

Encouraging youth to get out and vote is something Canada has been trying to do for years, but one group in Nova Scotia is hoping they can change the rules to get people as young as 16 out casting ballots in provincial elections. Evan Price is president of the Truro Liberal Association, a group lobbying to drop the voting age in Nova Scotia from 18 to 16 years old. “This is a conversation that’s revisited now and again and I think it’s time we take another look at it,” Price said.

Haiti: Opposition Alliance Declining to Meet With OAS Mission | Associated Press

A Haitian opposition alliance is declining to meet with a regional mission that traveled to this troubled Caribbean nation to help ease a political crisis that has postponed elections indefinitely. Samuel Madistin, spokesman for the “Group of Eight” that includes second-place presidential candidate Jude Celestin, asserted Monday that the Organization of American States’ mission was “not welcome” and was “unable to play any role as a mediator. The OAS doesn’t help Haiti come out of crisis. They create more crisis,” Madistin said, pointing to its role in 2010 elections that saw Celestin get eliminated from a runoff after his reported second-place finish was challenged by foreign observers complaining of irregularities.

United Kingdom: David Cameron’s hopes of early EU referendum recede after talks with Tusk | The Guardian

David Cameron’s preferred option of an early referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU edged further away after he failed to broker a deal with the president of the European council, Donald Tusk. The two men had hoped to finalise a renegotiation of Britain’s relationship with Brussels over dinner at Downing Street so that it could be put to other EU leaders on Monday ahead of a crucial summit in less than three weeks. An early deal would allow Cameron to call a referendum on the UK’s EU membership before the summer. But a Downing Street source said that none of the four key areas under negotiation have been agreed. Instead, further negotiations will be left to diplomats or “sherpas” in Brussels on Monday, in the hope that a deal will be put to EU member states on Tuesday.

Vanuatu: After election, parties, independents scramble to form coalitions to form viable government | ABC

Vanuatu’s Electoral Commission has confirmed the major political parties have been largely wiped out following the country’s snap election. The official results show 17 parties had been elected, but none had secured more than six seats in the 52-seat parliament. Caretaker Prime Minister Sato Kilman is the only member of his People’s Progress Party remaining in parliament following the January 22 polls. Former prime minister and National United Party leader, Ham Lini, narrowly won his seat after a recount of the votes. The elected parties and eight independent members have three weeks to negotiate to form a coalition government.