Editorials: Is the Ghana Electoral Commission prepared for the 2012 Election with Biometric Voter Registration | myjoyonline

Ghana’s 2012 General Election is just around the corner barely Fifteen months from now. Electronic Registration is fast becoming a preferred method of voter registration in many countries. The multi-million questions that many Ghanaians are contemplating about the Electronic Voter Registration day-in, day-out, among others are;

-Is the Electoral Commission facing serious set-backs with regards to the Electronic /Biometric Voter Registration, if no, what is preventing them from starting the exercise now.

-Is the Electoral Commission’s Budget for the 2012 General Elections being met by the Government?

Editorials: Democracy Under Attack; Another State Dismantling Voting Rights Act of 1965 | Rolling Out

Perhaps we now know why the earth rumbled beneath the Eastern Seaboard then sustained the wrath of Hurricane Irene as she barreled ashore — in the same area and in the same week. The spirit of Martin Luther King Jr., who was immortalized with a memorial on the National Mall, may have been aroused to anger as yet another state, this one Arizona, is tampering with the Voting Rights Act, one of the measures for which he and others selflessly sacrificed their lives.

Republican attorney general Tom Horne, obviously executing the whims of powerful GOP operatives, has decided to challenge Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a measure that was implemented specifically to protect the rights of the minority electorate. This is a bold and obvious move to further bolster conservatives’ obsession with making President Obama a one-term president.

The same body of individuals has doubtlessly ordered a systematic challenge to this law across the country after the U.S. Supreme Court mysteriously ruled that voting districts could be exempt from the federal law if they can show they’re no longer engaged in race discrimination.

Editorials: Colorado Congressman Coffman’s attack on voting rights | The Denver Post

Rep. Mike Coffman’s intent to repeal the language assistance provisions of the Voting Rights Act is not only ill-conceived but places the rights of millions of U.S. citizens in jeopardy.

In 1975, Congress expanded the Voting Rights Act by adding language assistance amendments. The effort was spearheaded by Sen. Walter Mondale, D-Minn. Congress added Sections 203 and 4(f) to provide targeted oral or written language assistance to American citizens of voting age who were not fluent in English after finding that the denial of the right to vote among limited English-proficient citizens was “directly related to the unequal educational opportunities afforded them, resulting in high illiteracy and low voting participation.” According to the 2000 Census, three-quarters of all voters covered by Section 203 were native-born, voting-age citizens.

Section 203, the part of the act that Coffman wants to remove, is based on the 14th and 15th Amendments, which guarantee “equal protection and the right to vote without regard to race, color, or previous conditions of servitude.” Consistent with our constitution, Section 203 “prohibits discriminatory practices and procedures that effectively exclude language minorities from participating in the electoral process and provides for appropriate remedies.”

Editorials: Vote efforts seen as not enough | San Antonio Express-News

When Victoria Faz registered to vote, no political party operative ushered her there. No governmental public service announcement prodded her, and neither a candidate nor a campaign signed her up on her 18th birthday.

Watching the junior senator from Illinois address the Democratic National Convention in 2004 did make an impression, but the 20-year-old political science major at UTSA was motivated most by another reason. “I wanted to do it for me,” the San Antonian said.

She’s a rarity in a state with dubious voter registration and turnout rates and one that political scientists view as dependent on largely ineffective ways to get voters registered and to the polls.

Editorials: A Poll Tax by Another Name | John Lewis/NYTimes.com

AS we celebrate the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, we reflect on the life and legacy of this great man. But recent legislation on voting reminds us that there is still work to do. Since January, a majority of state legislatures have passed or considered election-law changes that, taken together, constitute the most concerted effort to restrict the right to vote since before the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Growing up as the son of an Alabama sharecropper, I experienced Jim Crow firsthand. It was enforced by the slander of “separate but equal,” willful blindness to acts of racially motivated violence and the threat of economic retaliation. The pernicious effect of those strategies was to institutionalize second-class citizenship and restrict political participation to the majority alone.

We have come a long way since the 1960s. When the Voting Rights Act was passed, there were only 300 elected African-American officials in the United States; today there are more than 9,000, including 43 members of Congress. The 1993 National Voter Registration Act — also known as the Motor Voter Act — made it easier to register to vote, while the 2002 Help America Vote Act responded to the irregularities of the 2000 presidential race with improved election standards.

Editorials: Voter ID debate needs to go away | Greensboro News-Record

The partisan battle over a voter ID bill didn’t end when Republican legislators failed to override a veto by Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue. The bill is still alive in a House committee, thanks to a deft and perfectly legitimate parliamentary maneuver by the majority leader, Rep. Paul Stam. It can be brought up for another override attempt anytime before the 2011-12 General Assembly session adjourns next year. It could happen when legislators return to Raleigh for a few days next month.

An override requires a three-fifths vote of members present, so the time to return a measure to the floor is when several opponents are absent. Democrats should take that as a warning against letting down their guard. News & Record Raleigh reporter Mark Binker also noted rumors that Republicans might try to pass voter ID requirements through a series of local bills, each one applying to a specific jurisdiction. The governor can’t veto local bills.

Editorials: Canada isn’t ready for online voting | National Post

Elections Canada intends to seek approval to implement a system of online voting, according to a report released Wednesday.

Let me say first that, on the one hand, it’s positive that an organization that is as culturally-conservative and traditional as Elections Canada is even pondering exploring alternate methods of service delivery. Some years back I interviewed their chief information officer a few weeks into the job. He’d come from the private sector and was amazed at the degree of institutional resistance to even minor technological advancement. They had their way of doing things. It was all laid out step-by-step in a big binder.

On the other hand, while voter registration seems like an obvious step, I’d have a very hard time trusting Elections Canada to devise a secure and reliable system for online voting when every time I try to use their online contributions database, I want to cry over how unnecessarily complicated and cumbersome even simplest tasks is.

But online voting is one of those things that sounds great in theory — vote easily and quickly wherever you are, you don’t need to travel or wait in line — but, upon further reflection, loses some of its lustre.

Editorials: Is ‘open primary’ system for Mississippi? | Desoto Times Tribune

Once again, Mississippi voters, frustrated by not being able to cross party lines to cast ballots for their favorite candidates, are excited about installing an “open primary” election system that neighboring Louisiana has had since 1975.

Not that the Legislature hasn’t tried to scrap the state’s traditional closed primary system. In fact, four times since 1966, lawmakers have passed legislation to put candidates for all parties (and independents) on the same primary ballot without party designation and require a runoff between the two highest finishers.

For various reasons, none of the bills have become law. Mostly it’s been the Justice Department disapproved Mississippi’s proposed changes under Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Blacks objected it would block them running as independents in general elections after being historically shut out of the closed Democratic primaries.

Editorials: Court made the right call on Saguache ballot battle | The Denver Post

A recent court ruling that paves the way for a public examination of the ballots in a controversial Saguache County election is the right legal call and appropriate public policy.

At the heart of the matter is a messy election in which the Saguache county clerk, in charge of tallying votes in the November contest, was losing her own race on election night but then prevailed the next day after she retabulated the votes. The outcome of another race changed as well.

The dramatic turn of events drew attention, as you might imagine, and accusations of “stolen” elections. Inquiries ultimately found that procedural problems did not affect the outcome of the election. Nevertheless, acrimony remained. This was the backdrop for a proposal earlier this year by Secretary of State Scott Gessler, a Republican, who planned to hold a public review of the ballots in an effort to rebuild confidence in the system.

Editorials: A Solution to Recidivism: Let Ex-Offenders Vote | The Crime Report

According to a recent report by The Florida Parole Commission, “the overall three-year recidivism rate based on all released inmates” was 33..1, while the recidivism rate for released prisoners who were given their civil rights back and were allowed to vote stood at 11 percent.

These findings were not generated by a progressive organization such as The Sentencing Project, the ACLU, or the NAACP, but by a state governmental body utilizing exacting scientific methodologies. The inescapable conclusion has to be that allowing formerly incarcerated persons to more fully participate in society will result in a reduction of crime and recidivism.

Editorials: Gessler Prevails | The Pueblo Chieftain

Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler has won his lawsuit over the manner in which Saguache County conducted its 2010 election. We’re happy he prevailed.

Mr. Gessler sued County Clerk and Recorder Melinda Meyers after she refused to turn over ballots from the election and argued that a public review would violate the secrecy of the ballot. Reflexively, many of the state’s county clerks backed her argument.

But District Judge Martin Gonzales ruled that Ms. Meyers had not established that ballots contained information which would identify a voter. He further ruled that requesting the ballots for review was within the powers of the secretary of state — the state’s top elections official.

Editorials: Two-timers in North Carolina | NewsObserver.com

The arrest warrants for nine people in Wake County charged with felonies for voting twice in the 2008 election were barely dry when the state Republican Party came to its fanciful conclusion that its stymied campaign for requiring photo identification of all voters would have thwarted these people. The problem is, it wouldn’t have.

Wake District Attorney Colon Willoughby (yes, a Democrat) says voter IDs would have made no difference in these cases. This was about people voting twice, perhaps by absentee and then at the polls. And it should be noted that nine people were charged, and that’s out of a huge 2008 turnout. There were more voter fraud cases statewide than usual in that year, more than 200, out of over 4 million votes cast.

Which is to say, nine is not many, and there probably would have been nine with or without voter ID.

Editorials: Dean C. Logan and R. Michael Alvarez: Let’s bring registration online now | LA Daily News

The world looks to California for 21st century innovation, especially for the application of technology that makes life less costly and more efficient.
Californians are well into the 21st century, working in the cloud, using smart phones and tablet computers, and getting their entertainment on demand by satellite. But when it comes to voter registration, California seems to be stuck in the 18th century. State law won’t allow eligible citizens in our state to register online until at least 2015 — and maybe much later.

Fortunately, Californians may not need to wait much longer. SB 397, a bill that would allow for online voter registration as soon as 2012, has now been approved by the state Senate and passed through the Assembly Policy Committee. Since the bill’s introduction by Sen. Leland Yee in February of 2011, SB 397 has continued to garner legislative support by adding a number of coauthors.

Editorials: What’s the rush? One major election change is enough for Kansas counties to handle this year | LJWorld.com

If there was reason to believe that Kansas has a serious problem with noncitizens voting in its elections, it might make sense to rush into a voter registration system designed to stem such abuse.

However, because there is little evidence that such a problem exists, it only makes sense for the state to take a little time to implement the requirement that Kansas residents show proof of citizenship when they register to vote.

The county clerks who actually have to run the elections are saying they have enough changes to deal with in the coming year without adding the proof-of-citizenship requirement. Secretary of State Kris Kobach should respect their opinion.

Editorials: Total recall no instant cure for cranky voters | Sydney Morning Herald

During the final year of the Labor government in NSW there was an outpouring of frustration from an electorate that had clearly made its mind up to throw it out, but was powerless to do so. The reason was NSW’s system of four-year fixed parliamentary terms.

What emerged was a proposal to introduce US-style ”recall” elections, whereby a government can be dragged to the polls early if enough of the electorate desires it. The same mechanism helped Arnold Schwarzenegger to the governor’s mansion in California in 2003.

In the heat of a looming election – and after much coverage of the idea by the Herald – both Kristina Keneally and Barry O’Farrell declared the idea worthy of consideration. O’Farrell has made good on his word and has convened an expert panel to consider how it might work in NSW.

Editorials: Wake County voter fraud not linked to ID | WRAL.com

The big story today was the arrests of four people in Wake Co. for voter fraud. Three are accused of having cast double ballots in 2008 – first during early one-stop voting, and then again at their local precincts on Election Day. (Two of them deny any criminal intent.) The fourth person was arrested for double-voting in 2010.

Backers of this year’s Voter ID legislation, which was vetoed by Gov. Bev Perdue – one of the few vetoes that hasn’t yet been overturned – heralded the news as proof that Perdue’s position was wrongheaded. Whether that’s true in general depends on your views on Voter ID. But in fact, the Voter ID bill supported by Republican lawmakers this year wouldn’t have prevented the double voting.

The Voter ID bill, H351, would require voters to produce a photo ID to prove they are who they say they are – if they vote on election day. But according to what we know tonight about the charges, these four voters didn’t claim to be anyone else – they voted twice under their own names, and the system didn’t catch it.

Editorials: Bill Gardner: The Ballot Steward | The Boston Globe

IN 2003, a University of New Hampshire poll asked respondents if they thought their vote was counted accurately. Compared to other states, New Hampshire polled exceptionally high. Elections are complex; there is no simple formula for capturing integrity in balloting rules. But if the recipe for the Granite State’s success were boiled down to two words, they would be “Bill Gardner.”

For someone who has held elected office for 35 years, New Hampshire’s Secretary of State is remarkably uninterested in publicity. A Democrat, he was first elected in 1976 when the state House handed him a surprise victory over an old-guard Republican. Every two years since, however, legislatures led by both Republicans and Democrats have found at least one thing they agree on: Gardner’s unparalleled stewardship of the office.

So when Gardner voiced concerns about a voter identification law moving through the New Hampshire legislature, both sides of the aisle took note. Governor Lynch vetoed the bill, but with 27 states now requiring voters to show ID at the polls, this is an issue whose time has come. On its face, voter ID adds a level of integrity to the system. If ID is required to board a plane or cash a check, why not to verify one’s status on election day?

Editorials: Their View: Proving the unprovable: Voter fraud in New Mexico | Las Cruces Sun-News

One of the most thoroughly documented histories of voter fraud was recently presented by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Republican. Over a span of 13 years (1997 – 2010), there were 221 instances of alleged voter fraud reported in Kansas. Of these, 30 individuals were prosecuted and seven were convicted. One was convicted of electioneering (advocating someone’s election too near a polling place) while the other six were convicted of double voting. Comparing the conviction number with the number of eligible voters in Kansas, we arrive at a “fraud index” of ~ 0.00033 percent. Keep in mind that this is over a span of 13 years so the yearly index would be ~ 0.000025 percent. As one can readily see, this number is vanishingly small. The data used for his report was provided to the public by Kobach’s office.

In response to this small-time epidemic, Kobach and the Republican-controlled legislature, passed a very restrictive voter-ID measure which was signed into law by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback. Incidentally, Kobach also drafted Arizona’s SB 1070 immigrant identification law.

While the Kansas fraud index is quite small, it mirrors data from other states. According to the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law, the accumulated rate of voter fraud in the states with documented cases is minuscule, with overall rates of 0.0003 percent in Missouri, 0.0002 percent in New Jersey and 0.000009 percent in New York.

Editorials: States’ Rights Redux: Voting Rights Act + 46 | Jackson, Arnwine, Mathis/Politico.com

States’ rights is code for discrimination. A century and a half ago, some states asserted the right to leave the union. We fought the nation’s bloodiest conflict, then admitted the traitors back into the country on generous terms. Though our Confederate brothers and sisters died defending the enslavement of African-Americans, we did this in the name of peace and forgiveness.

Fast forward, to the 1960’s, all Americans were free from legalized slavery — but blacks were still routinely denied the ballot. Some states blocked access to the ballot with the same ferocity, and on the same grounds, that they stood in schoolhouse doors with ax handles — states’ rights. Denial of the ballot was based on the right of states to control all election procedures.

By eradicating widespread disenfranchisement in Dixie and in urban areas outside the Old South, the Voting Rights Act – enacted Aug. 6, 1965 – proved one of the most powerful pieces of federal legislation. It ranks with the 14th Amendment and the Commerce Clause in changing the lives of Americans everywhere — for the better.

It ushered in what we call “King Democracy” as in Martin Luther King Jr., on the way to forging a more perfect union and putting “Jeffersonian Democracy,” where democracy coexisted with slavery and then legal segregation, behind us.

Editorials: Making an end run around Justice | MiamiHerald.com

If Gov. Rick Scott and his administration are so convinced that major changes to election laws indeed will eliminate voter fraud (or the potential of it) — not merely make voting difficult for minority and poor people — he’d seek an imprimatur of fairness from the federal Department of Justice.

What could be better proof than an OK from an agency perceived by his administration to be in thrall to the political opposition?

Instead, Gov. Scott’s appointed secretary of state, Kurt Browning, is making an end run around Justice and seeking “preclearance” on those changes from the federal district court in Washington. The 1965 Voting Rights Act provides for preclearance from Justice or from the federal court for changes in states and counties with a history of discrimination. Justice usually is the venue for preclearance, and Mr. Browning first applied to Justice.

Editorials: The myth of Florida voter fraud | themorningsun.com

The foundation of Florida’s election-law changes — the bedrock belief that spurred major reforms this spring – was the notion that voter fraud is rampant. So the Legislature passed and Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a bill that limits early voting, makes it harder for some groups to register voters and will cause headaches for voters who’ve recently moved. Their ballots might not even be counted.

And guess what? We’ve known for months the “voter fraud” excuse was phony.

Okaloosa County Supervisor of Elections Paul Lux and Susan Blackwell, president of the Okaloosa chapter of the League of Women Voters, said that instances of fraud are rare. It just isn’t a big problem. Richard Means, a former Illinois prosecutor, wrote an essay denouncing some states’ new “voter ID” requirements. Those laws, too, were applied after lawmakers raised the specter of voter fraud.

Editorials: Identity Crisis: New voter ID laws subvert democracy and Catholic teaching | America Magazine

Photo ID, please.” An increasing number of Americans will be hearing these words when they show up to vote on election day. In a trend that has gained strength over the last several years and received a boost after the 2010 midterm elections, a growing number of states are passing laws requiring specific forms of photo identification for citizens to cast ballots at their local polling places. While this may strike some as a relatively minor technical adjustment in voting security, what is really going on is far more significant and deeply at odds with Catholic social teaching.

Over the past half-century the Catholic Church has emerged as one of the strongest voices on behalf of democracy in the political realm. Its core social teaching documents, from “Pacem in Terris” to “Centesimus Annus” to “Caritas in Veritate,” strongly endorse fundamental political and civil rights, the rule of law, regular elections and an open political system. The tradition points especially to a need for broad participation in the democratic process on an equal basis for all citizens and warns against the political exclusion of the socially marginalized, especially the poor and racial, ethnic or religious minorities.

Editorials: Voters astute enough to reinstate same-day registration | The Portland Press Herald

Maine has taken a step backward on voters’ rights. Along with five other concerned Mainers, I filed paperwork with the secretary of state to overturn legislation that eliminated Election Day voter registration.

For 38 years, Maine has allowed voters to show up on Election Day, register and then cast their ballots. It’s a system that has worked remarkably well, helping Maine to become a national leader in voter participation.

The legislation changing that was developed and passed, based largely on myth. But I am convinced that Maine voters can discern fact from fiction and will support our efforts to restore Election Day voter registration. The League of Women Voters of Maine, which I represent, is a nonpartisan organization committed to protecting voting rights and the integrity of elections at the local, state and federal levels.

Editorials: Polls: Voting problems inexcusable | The Clarion-Ledger

The types of problems experienced by voters at the polls Tuesday – machines not working, names missing from the ballots, lack of workers – are inexcusable. Mistakes happen and that seems to be the attitude of party officials in charge of the primary election. Well, no. They shouldn’t happen, not with elections.

Finding out at 7 a.m. on Election Day that a voting machine is not working properly or there is a malfunction that can’t be immediately fixed simply shows lack of preparation and ability to properly conduct an election. Not having enough poll workers or, worse, no poll workers to staff a precinct shows an inability to do the job.

Editorials: Turning away college students in Maine | Bangor Daily News

Here’s a great economic development strategy for the oldest state in the nation — treat college-educated young people as pariahs.

Rather than encourage these people to begin to put down roots and get involved in the local community, ensure that you are as unwelcoming as possible. Accuse them of fraud. Blame them when local elections didn’t go the way you wanted. Put up barriers making it harder for them to vote locally.

Earlier this week, Charlie Webster, head of the Maine Republican Party, held up a list he said showed 206 college students from other states have illegally voted in Maine.

Editorials: North Carolina Voter ID bill down, but not out | The Asheville Citizen-Times

North Carolina is safe, for the moment, from what appears to be little more than an attempt to disenfranchise people who might vote Democratic. But, as Andrew Jackson once put it, “eternal vigilance by the people is the price of liberty.”

The House fell five votes short Tuesday of the three-fifths vote needed to override Gov. Bev Perdue’s veto of a bill requiring North Carolinians to show a photo identification in order to vote. But the GOP performed a parliamentary maneuver to keep the bill alive through the remainder of the 2011-12 session.

Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Cornelius, was unhappy. “I am hopeful that North Carolinians will continue to express their support for this critical issue and that their representatives will respond appropriately,” he said after the vote.

Editorials: Election certainty needs a put-it-on-paper foundation | Tri-State Defender

Recently, you ran articles of an interview with the Shelby County Election Commission’s Chairman and Secretary in the Tri State Defender’s July 14, 2011 and July 21, 2011 editions. During those interviews, Chairman Robert Meyers, while admitting the voting machines are hackable, indicated that he did not believe that hacking or other manipulation was the case with the August 2010 elections. He stated that he believed that “demographics” explained the losses by those who were claiming something improper happened. The inference was that those nine Democrats who lost did so because the traditional Democratic voters did not turn out.

Further in the article, Secretary Norma Lester states that in essence since everything is politically balanced that it is very unlikely that any improper action would take place. As a former Election Commissioner (2 ½ years) and a plaintiff in both the 2006 and 2010 election contest challenges, I feel compelled to challenge these perspectives.

Editorials: Our View: Voter fraud: Lay it out in the open | Silver City Sun-News

When the state’s top election official makes a public allegation of criminal behavior during prior elections, it is something that should be taken seriously and looked at closely. Secretary of State Dianna Duran made just such an allegation in March during a legislative committee hearing. Duran told lawmakers she had uncovered evidence that 37 people who are not U.S. citizens had voted in New Mexico elections.

But, when the ACLU filed an open records request the next day to examine the registration records of the 37 voters highlighted by Duran during the public meeting of the Legislature, she refused to turn them over, hiding behind the weak and inappropriate excuse of “executive privilege.”

Executive privilege allows a president, governor or other member of the executive branch to confer with advisors in private, without divulging the nature of those discussions or the participants. For example, when Democrats wanted to know who had served on an energy task force several years ago, Vice President Dick Cheney claimed executive privilege in denying that request. It does not allow a member of the executive branch to conceal evidence of an alleged crime.

Editorials: Sen. Finney: Voter ID law needless ploy to disenfranchise voters | The Daily News Journal

It is a little over a year until the 2012 elections, and you’re eligible to vote for the first time. Maybe you’ve moved to another county, or maybe you haven’t voted in a while and need to know your precinct. You call your local election office, where someone tells you that you will need a photo ID to vote. You learn that you’ll need several pieces of documentation to prove your identity in order to receive the ID.

If you live in any of the 54 counties — yes, 54! — where there is no drivers license center, you’ll have to travel to a neighboring county to get the ID. Unfortunately, this will be the new norm.

Since coming to the Senate in 2007, each year my fellow Democrats and I have opposed efforts to place barriers between voters and the polling booth. Earlier this year, the Republican majority passed a law requiring photo identification to vote, despite warnings that it would hurt thousands of voters and potentially cost the state millions in federal lawsuits.

Editorials: The GOP’s state-by-state crusade to disenfranchise voters | The Washington Post

With only a week left before the United States of America could default on its debt, it’s easy to look at the federal government and wonder how we ever made it this far. Who would have guessed that a committed gang of extremists could bring down the economy? And yet, that’s where we find ourselves today, cornered by a manufactured crisis and running out of time. As Larry Sabato rightly tweeted over the weekend, “For anybody who teaches the American system and believes in it, this has been an extremely discouraging week.”

Unfortunately, the assault on our democracy is not confined to Congress or the standoff over the debt ceiling. It is also seeping into the states, where voting rights — the fundamental underpinning of any democracy — are being curbed and crippled.

In states across the country, Republican legislatures are pushing through laws that make it more difficult for Americans to vote. The most popular include new laws requiring voters to bring official identification to the polls. Estimates suggest that more than 1 in 10 Americans lack an eligible form of ID, and thus would be turned away at their polling location. Most are minorities and young people, the most loyal constituencies of the Democratic Party.