National: Technology could supplant voter IDs at polls, but registration problems remain | MinnPost

New technology can make voting a very efficient matter, making it possible to verify a voter’s identity at the poll even without a photo ID.  But the new electronic wizardry does little to eliminate problems some voters face in registering to vote in the first place. Electronic poll books, which contain computer software that loads digital registration records, are used in at least 27 states and the District of Columbia. Poll books are emerging as an alternative to photo ID requirements to authenticate voters’ identity, address and registration status, when they show up at polling places to vote. Voting is the same, but signing in with electronic poll books is different. Poll workers check in voters using a faster, computerized version of paper voter rolls. Upon arrival, voters give their names and addresses, or in some states, such as Iowa, they can choose to scan their photo IDs.

National: Key swing states tinker with Election 2012 rules | CSMonitor.com

The ruling by a Pennsylvania judge Wednesday to allow a controversial voter identification law to go into effect puts a sharp focus on hyperpartisan voting rights battles heating up in key battleground states ahead of what could be a tight November election. Pennsylvania Republicans passed a law earlier this year on a straight party-line vote that requires voters to produce a state-issued identification. Civil-liberties groups sued the state, claiming the law would disenfranchise minorities who would have difficulty producing documents like birth certificates to secure a state ID. But a Monitor/TIPP poll shows public opinion generally supports such laws, and Pennsylvania Republicans have refused to back down, contending that voter fraud constitutes the bigger threat to the integrity of the election system. Judge Robert Simpson of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania did not rule on the merits of the case, and he refused to issue an injunction. The American Civil Liberties Union and other litigants vow to ask the state Supreme Court to overturn the decision before November.

National: You Can Now Register to Vote at 35,000 Feet | US News and World Report

If on-demand movies, a 4,000 song playlist and onboard video games aren’t enough to keep guests entertained on a Virgin America flight, the airline is now offering a complimentary new service to get passengers engaged before the November election — voter registration at 35,000 feet. Starting Tuesday, guests can register to vote on all of Virgin America’s flights, about 1,000 flights a day. The voter registration drive is in cooperation with “Rock the Vote,” a non-partisan voter registration organization targeted at young voters, that hopes to get 1.5 million new voters engaged in time for the 2012 election.

National: Will new photo ID laws keep down the black vote in the South? | Open Channel

Raymond Rutherford has voted for decades. But this year, he doesn’t know if he’ll be able to cast a ballot. The Sumter, S.C., resident, 59, has never had a government-issued photo ID because a midwife’s error listed him as Ramon Croskey on his birth certificate. It’s wrong on his Social Security card, too. Rutherford has tried to find the time and money to correct his birth certificate as he waits to see if the photo voter ID law is upheld by a three-judge U.S. District Court panel, scheduled to convene in Washington, D.C., in late September. In June, South Carolina officials indicated in federal court filings that they will quickly implement the law before the November election if it is upheld. Voters without photo ID by November would be able to sign an affidavit explaining why they could not get an ID in time. An estimated 81,983 voters in South Carolina do not possess a government-issued photo ID, mainly because of missing or inaccurate personal documents. These are mostly elderly, black longtime residents.

National: Twitter and other social media will make the next close presidential election much worse than Florida in 2000 | Slate Magazine

The tweets were full of rage. As officials began to tally the results of the tight ballots, many voters suspected fraud. After all, there had been allegations of election misconduct before, as well as lost-and-found votes. Trust in government officials didn’t run high. By late in the evening, one opposition party leader came forward, accusing a local election official of “tampering with the results.” Fears of a political backlash rose. Soon there were even suggestions of violence. The scene wasn’t the site of some Arab Spring-inspired revolution. It was Wisconsin in August 2011. Wisconsin residents had just voted on whether to recall a number of state senators, with the potential to flip the legislative body from Republican to Democratic hands. The vote totals were rolling in from polling places across the state, and I was following the reaction of hundreds of political junkies tweeting about the results using the hashtag #wirecall. That evening provides a window into what the world could look like should we be unlucky enough to have our next presidential election as close as the 2000 presidential election. Wisconsin could be our future, and it’s not a pretty picture.

National: State Laws Vary Widely on Voting Rights for Felons | New America Media

Josh and Katy Vander Kamp met in drug rehab. In the seven years since, they have been rebuilding their lives in Apache Junction, Ariz., a small town east of Phoenix. He’s a landscaper; she’s studying for a master’s degree in addictions counseling. They have two children, a dog and a house. Their lives reveal little of their past, except that Katy can vote and Josh can’t because he’s a two-time felon. She’s been arrested three times, but never convicted of a felony. By age 21, Josh was charged with two — for a drug-paraphernalia violation and possessing a burglary tool. “I didn’t do anything that he didn’t do, and he’s paying for it for the rest of his life,” Katy said. With voting laws a heated issue this election year as civil rights groups and state legislatures battle over photo ID requirements in this election year, felon disenfranchisement laws have attracted less attention despite the potential votes at stake.

National: Voter fraud found to be rare, survey indicates | KansasCity.com

A new nationwide analysis of more than 2,000 cases of alleged election fraud over the past dozen years shows that in-person voter impersonation on Election Day, which has prompted 37 state legislatures to enact or consider tougher voter ID laws, was virtually nonexistent. The analysis of 2,068 reported fraud cases by News21, a Carnegie-Knight investigative reporting project, found 10 cases of alleged in-person voter impersonation since 2000. With 146 million registered voters in the United States, those represent about one for every 15 million prospective voters. The News21 report is based on a national public-records search in which reporters sent thousands of requests to elections officers in all 50 states, asking for every case of alleged fraudulent activity — including registration fraud; absentee-ballot fraud; vote buying; false election counts; campaign fraud; the casting of ballots by ineligible voters, such as felons and non-citizens; double voting; and voter impersonation.

National: New voting rules make getting Latinos to polls harder than ever | Tucson Sentinel

Every month for the next two decades, 50,000 Latinos will turn 18 years old. With that many new eligible voters and dramatic population growth expected, Latinos could dominate voting in the Southwest, particularly Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center. Every year, 600,000 more Latinos become eligible voters, making them a potentially potent voting force. However,  Latinos have a historically low turnout at the polls: Only around 30 percent of eligible Latinos vote, according to the non-profit Washington, D.C.-based Pew Hispanic Center. Advocacy groups see the national push toward more stringent voter identification laws as a way to suppress an already apathetic Latino vote. Of the nation’s 21.3 million eligible Latino voters, only 6.6 million voted in the 2010 elections, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. White and black voters had higher turnout — 48.6 percent and 44 percent, respectively.

National: Two Dark Money Groups Outspending All Super PACs Combined | ProPublica

Two conservative nonprofits, Crossroads GPS and Americans for Prosperity, have poured almost $60 million into TV ads to influence the presidential race so far, outgunning all super PACs put together, new spending estimates show. These nonprofits, also known as 501(c)(4)s or c4s for their section of the tax code, don’t have to disclose their donors to the public. The two nonprofits had outspent all other types of outside spending groups in this election cycle, including political parties, unions, trade associations and political action committees, a ProPublica analysis of data provided by Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group, or CMAG, found. Super PACs, which do have to report their donors, spent an estimated $55.7 million on TV ads mentioning a presidential candidate, CMAG data shows. Parties spent $22.5 million.

National: Early Voting in 2012: What to Expect | Huffington Post

Early voting in recent American elections has skyrocketed, reaching a record thirty percent of all votes cast in the 2008 presidential election, remarkably higher than the twenty percent cast in 2004. All indications are the record will be shattered again in 2012, with somewhere around thirty-five of the vote cast prior to Election Day. States vary their early voting options. Some states like Indiana and Texas allow persons to vote early at special polling locations. Some like Oregon and Washington, and some local jurisdictions, run all-mail ballot elections. Some like California and Colorado allow persons to request that they vote by mail in all future elections. Some like Ohio allow persons to request a mail ballot for any reason. Then there are a handful of holdouts like Pennsylvania and Virginia have traditional absentee balloting laws that extend early voting only to those who provide a valid excuse. Complicating definitions is that some states like Florida and North Carolina allow both early voting at special polling locations and no-fault absentee balloting. And where mail balloting is the primary method of early voting, voters can vote in-person at an election administration office. (I recommend seeking up-to-date voting information from state and local election officials.)

National: Election Day impersonation, an impetus for voter ID laws, a rarity, data show | The Washington Post

A new nationwide analysis of more than 2,000 cases of alleged election fraud over the past dozen years shows that in-person voter impersonation on Election Day, which has prompted 37 state legislatures to enact or consider tougher voter ID laws, was virtually nonexistent. The analysis of 2,068 reported fraud cases by News21, a Carnegie-Knight investigative reporting project, found 10 cases of alleged in-person voter impersonation since 2000. With 146 million registered voters in the United States, those represent about one for every 15 million prospective voters. The News21 report is based on a national public-records search in which reporters sent thousands of requests to elections officers in all 50 states, asking for every case of alleged fraudulent activity — including registration fraud; absentee-ballot fraud; vote buying; false election counts; campaign fraud; the casting of ballots by ineligible voters, such as felons and non-citizens; double voting; and voter impersonation.

National: Student ID Cards Far From Sure Ticket to the Voting Booth | News21

Morehouse College students can use their ID cards to buy food and school supplies, use computer labs and get books from the library, but they can’t use ID from the historic Atlanta school to vote. A few miles away, Georgia State University students use their ID in the same way, but their cards allow them to vote. Across the country, college students are facing new questions about their voting rights. In some states, communities are debating whether students can vote as state residents or vote absentee from their hometowns. In others, legislators have debated whether student IDs can be used at the polls. In Georgia, the debate started with the state’s voter ID law, which accepts student IDs from state colleges but not private institutions such as Morehouse. College students, who led a record turnout among 18- to 24-year-old voters in 2008, could play a major role in this November’s elections, but their impact could be blunted by states’ voter ID requirements.

National: Civil Rights Groups Release New Voter Protection App | Huffington Post

Defenders of the right to vote have a new high-tech weapon in their arsenal. A consortium of civil rights groups unveiled a smartphone application Thursday as part of a comprehensive strategy to combat what it called a nationwide effort to disenfranchise minority and youth voters. “The Election Protection smartphone app is a dynamic tool that will educate voters on their rights and empower them to take action so they can vote,” said Barbara Arnwine, executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, on a Thursday conference call with other organizations that developed the app. The free app is a “critical tool in our fight against voter suppression,” Arwine said, referring to recent state voter identification laws that aroused concerns among civil rights advocates. The tool gives voters the ability to digitally verify their registration status, find their polling place, encourage their friends and family to vote, fill out voter registration forms, and contact election protection officials, amongst other means to encourage voting.

National: Study shows voters with disabilities face access barriers | USAToday.com

As many as 3.2 million Americans with disabilities are “sidelined” on Election Day despite 20 years of laws seeking to boost their access to the polls, a new study shows. Voter turnout for people with disabilities is 11 percentage points lower than non-disabled, a number that “doesn’t appear to be shrinking significantly,” said Lisa Schur of Rutgers University, co-author of the study in Social Science Quarterly. “If we could decrease the gap — I’m not saying we could totally close it — it could affect the November election, especially if it’s close,” Schur said. One problem is a motivation gap by many eligible disabled voters, who are often socially isolated and disinterested in politics. But scholars and advocates say there are still barriers for those who want to vote.

National: Rep. Hank Johnson Introduces Legislation for Election Accuracy | Tucker, GA Patch

Congressman Hank Johnson (GA-04, which includes parts of Tucker) has introduced the bipartisan Verifying Official Totals for Elections or VOTE Act, H.R. 6246, which would require jurisdictions using electronic voting machines for federal elections to deposit the software or source code in the National Software Reference Library at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). In the case of a contested election and or recount, the VOTE Act would allow qualified persons to review the source code to ensure its accuracy and reliability.

National: Obama Campaign App Raises Privacy Concerns | CBS DC

A new app released by President Obama’s campaign team has raised privacy fears. The free Obama for America app – which can be downloaded for the iPhone and Android – gives users the first name, last initial, gender and addresses of registered Democrats. “Sign up to canvass—then get started right away with a list of voters in your neighborhood. Access scripts and enter feedback and responses in real time as you go,” the campaign states on its website. The app has raised the ire of privacy advocates. “It doesn’t make it right just because it’s legal,” Shaun Dakin, CEO and founder of The National Political Do Not Contact Registry, told The Washington Post. “Anybody can get this. There’s no way to prevent anyone from downloading this.” Justin Brookman, a consumer privacy expert at the Center for Democracy and Technology, told Reuters that people with bad intentions can easily access the app. “The concern is making it available to people who may have bad intent and that fear could deter people from giving money,” Brookman explained to Reuters.

National: Spending Reported by Nondisclosing Groups Well Ahead of 2010 | OpenSecrets

As of today, spending reported to the Federal Election Commission by groups that aren’t required to disclose the sources of their funding has nearly tripled over where it stood at the same point in the 2010 election cycle, according to research by the Center for Responsive Politics. By Aug. 6, 2010, groups registered as social welfare organizations, or 501(c)(4)s, as well as super PACs funded entirely by them, had reported spending $8.5 million. That figure has soared to $24.9 million in this cycle. In 2008, nondisclosing groups reported spending $8.3 million at this point in the campaign season. In addition, the numbers show a clear break from those of previous cycles in that independent expenditures (ads explicitly calling for the election or defeat of a particular candidate) make up the vast majority of the spending reported by nondisclosing groups. Spending for electioneering communications — “issue ads” that name a federal candidate and are run within a 60-day window before a general election, or 30 days before a primary or a national party nominating convention — has fallen as a share of the total.

National: Voter ID lawsuits could delay election results again | CNN.com

Partisan legal showdowns in battleground states over a spate of new voting laws could turn the 2012 elections into a repeat of the 2000 presidential vote recount saga, political experts say. “Whenever you change the rules by enacting new laws, it triggers a round of litigation. I don’t think we’ll see an end to this anytime soon,” said Dan Tokaji, an Ohio State University law professor. “It could come down to the states counting of absentee ballots. … We could see a replay of the 2000 election, where we don’t have a winner for weeks.” This year’s fight has gotten ugly, especially in the hotly contested states of Florida and Pennsylvania, where there are high-profile fights over new voter identification laws, and Ohio, where President Barack Obama’s and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s campaigns are locked in a showdown over early voting. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, a legal think tank at the New York University School of Law that has criticized the increase in what it sees as prohibitive voting laws, 16 states have passed measures “that have the potential to impact the 2012 election.” The endgame, political experts say, is all about parties crafting laws to help ensure that their side wins.

National: Schumer: GOP Threatening IRS To Block Campaign Finance Oversight | TPM

A battle between leaders of the two parties over campaign finance rules intensified this week as Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) accused Republicans of flat-out threatening the Internal Revenue Service after they warned the agency not to tighten oversight of anonymous money groups misusing the tax code. The squabble is about how forcefully to crack down on groups approved under special 501(c)(4) tax status by claiming to primarily engage in “social welfare,” but which pour significant resources into political activities. Democrats want a strict cap on how much money they may spend for politics; Republicans prefer the ambiguity of the status quo. Beneath the issue is a sea of anonymous spending in which pro-GOP groups are drowning Democrats. By using 501(c)(4) status, these “political charities” are allowed to keep their donors anonymous, leaving voters unable to evaluate which interests might be funding ads or what their motives are.

National: U.S. voting rights under siege | CNN.com

Viviette Applewhite, a 93-year-old African-American woman from Philadelphia, suddenly cannot vote. Although she once marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. for the right to do so, and has dutifully cast a ballot for five decades, in this election year she may be denied this basic right. Under Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law, Applewhite is no longer considered eligible. The Pennsylvania law requires that citizens present a state-issued photo ID card before voting, which, in Applewhite’s case, required that she first produce a birth certificate. After much trying, and with the help of a pro bono attorney, she was finally able to obtain her birth certificate — but on it, she is identified by her birth name Brooks, while her other forms of identification have her as Applewhite, the name she took after adoption. Because her 1950s adoption papers are lost in an office in Mississippi, and the state is unable to track them down, Applewhite still can’t get a Pennsylvania photo ID. She is therefore barred from voting in the November elections. Such stringent obstacles, particularly for African-Americans, were not so long ago the accepted rule. Despite the 15th and 19th amendments to the U.S. Constitution, which extended the vote to black men and all women, respectively, election officials used poll taxes, literacy tests and other methods to deny this legal right. Then came the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

National: In Ohio and elsewhere, battles over state voting laws head to court | The Washington Post

There were 13 lawyers filling the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley last week, arguing over a sliver of a slice of the millions of votes that Ohio will count in the 2012 presidential election. Or, more precisely, those that Ohio plans to not count. The state’s lawyer, Aaron Epstein, told Marbley that “by any metric,” the number of potentially discarded ballots at issue was too small to warrant intervention by the federal courts. Marbley was skeptical. “While we might not look for perfection,” he told Epstein, “if your vote is the vote not being counted, it’s a bad election, agreed?” Such is the state of play in this Midwestern swing state with a reputation for close elections, messy ballot procedures and litigious politicos. “Will Ohio count your vote?” blared a recent headline in the Cincinnati Enquirer. Closing the deal with voters is only the beginning for President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, and not just in Ohio. In courthouses across the country, lawsuits are challenging state laws that dictate who may vote, when they may vote and whether their ballot will be counted once they have voted.

National: Florida, Texas and Alabama Challenge 1965 Voting Rights Act | WUSF News

A landmark federal law used to block the adoption of state voter identification cards and other election rules now faces unprecedented legal challenges. A record five federal lawsuits filed this year challenge the constitutionality of a key provision in the Voting Rights Act. The 1965 statute prevents many state and local governments from enacting new voter ID requirements, redistricting plans and similar proposals on grounds that the changes would disenfranchise minorities. The plaintiffs, which include Alabama, Florida and Texas, are aiming for the Supreme Court because some justices in a previous ruling openly questioned the continued need for parts of the Voting Rights Act. The high court recently received two of the cases on appeal and could take them up in the fall term. The three states, and two smaller communities in Alabama and North Carolina, want to regain autonomy over their elections, which are under strict federal supervision imposed by the Voting Rights Act to remedy past discrimination. The complaints ask the courts to strike down the central provision in the law, known as “pre-clearance,” which requires governments with a history of discrimination to get federal permission to change election procedures. Pre-clearance is enforced throughout nine states and in portions of seven others. Most of the jurisdictions are in the South.

National: Voter ID Laws May Affect Young Voters | Fox News

The same state voter ID laws that have drawn criticisms from Latino groups and immigrants are now taking heat from young voters. Gone are the days when young voters weren’t taken seriously. In 2008, they helped propel Barack Obama into the Oval Office, supporting him by a 2-1 margin. But that higher profile also has landed them in the middle of the debate over some state laws that regulate voter registration and how people identify themselves at the polls. Since the last election, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Wisconsin and Texas and other states have tried to limit or ban the use of student IDs as voter identification. In Florida, lawmakers tried to limit “third party” organizations, including student groups, from registering new voters.

National: US election: How can it cost $6bn? | BBC

The estimated price tag for the US elections in November is almost $6bn (£3.8bn). Why so much? “The sky is the limit here,” says Michael Toner, former chair of the US Federal Election Commission. “I don’t think you can spend too much.” In a time of general belt-tightening, it may sound like a surprising argument, but Toner believes there should be more – not less – spending on US elections. Anything that engages voters, and makes them more likely to turn out is, he says, a good thing. “It’s very healthy in terms of American politics… it’s a symptom of a very vigorous election season, there’s a lot at stake here.” … New figures just released by the Center for Responsive Politics, an independent research group which tracks money in politics, estimate the total cost of November’s elections (for the presidency, House of Representatives and Senate) will come in at $5.8bn (£3.7bn) – more than the entire annual GDP of Malawi, and up 7% on 2008. It makes UK election spending look microscopic by comparison. A total of £31m ($49m) was spent by all parties in the last general election in the UK two years ago – making US spending 120 times as much, and 23 times as much per person.

National: Dark Money Groups Gone Wild | Mother Jones

You couldn’t devise a better political hit-and-run. In the summer of 2010, an unknown group called the Commission on Hope, Growth, and Opportunity asked (PDF) the Internal Revenue Service to grant it 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status. The organization told the IRS it didn’t plan to spend a penny on politics. Once the IRS gave CHGO the green light, however, the group plunged into the 2010 political season. It would ultimately raise $4.8 million—$4 million of that from a single anonymous donor—and spend $2.3 million on TV ads attacking 11 House Democrats running for reelection. (Ten of them lost.) Later, on its 2010 and 2011 tax returns, CHGO claimed it hadn’t spent money on politics. Watchdogs filed complaints against CHGO alleging it had flouted tax and election laws. But sometime in 2011, after the Republicans’ 2010 “shellacking,” CHGO quietly disappeared. The group, and the anonymous individuals behind it, has yet to face any punishment.

National: Federal Voting Commissioners AWOL As Election Approaches | Huffington Post

As local officials gear up for a national election where razor-thin margins could tip the balance of power, the federal agency established after the Florida ballot disaster of 2000 to ensure that every vote gets counted is leaderless and adrift. There are supposed to be four commissioners on the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), but right now there are none. The last executive director resigned in November, and the commissioners must vote to appoint a new one. President Barack Obama nominated two new Democratic commissioners last year, but congressional Republicans are trying to defund the agency entirely — which means for now no Republican nominations and no confirmation of the Democrats’ candidates. “If it is still as toothless by November 6 as it is today, I would have every expectation that things will fall through the cracks,” said Estelle H. Rogers, legislative director at Project VOTE, a nonpartisan group that supports voting accessibility. Rogers said the EAC has provided important assistance to local officials with respect to registration forms, poll worker training and issue alerts. “It is kind of disgraceful that we’re headed into a major election and the only federal agency that’s devoted to election administration has zero commissioners,” said Lawrence Norden, a lawyer at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University.

National: Voter Roll Purges Could Spread To At Least 12 States | Huffington Post

When John Rossler showed up at a mid-July gathering of the nation’s top election officials in San Juan, Puerto Rico, he delivered the kind of big election news that can easily get lost. Rossler is a U.S. Department of Homeland Security official who oversees a collection of immigrant information databases known as the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements program. Rossler told the group that he was prepared to grant access to SAVE, even though the system was not designed to help states verify voter eligibility. And, when the meeting in San Juan was over, two very different views of what happened emerged. In one, the bedrock of American democracy had suddenly been rescued from the threat of non-citizens on the nation’s voter rolls, several state election agencies said in interviews with The Huffington Post. In the other, voting rights advocates insist that as many as 27.4 million Americans in at least 14 states interested in accessing SAVE are suddenly facing the prospect of the kind of deeply flawed effort to identify voter fraud that drew national attention to Florida in June. Fourteen states have expressed interest in SAVE, and while most are developing plans to use it, two say they will not engage in a Florida-style voter purge.

National: Partisan Rifts Hinder Efforts to Improve U.S. Voting System | NYTimes.com

Twelve years after a too-close-to-call presidential contest imploded in a hail of Florida punch card ballots and a bitter 5-to-4 Supreme Court ruling for George W. Bush, the country’s voting systems remain as deeply flawed as ever with any prospect of fixing them mired in increasing levels of partisanship. The most recent high-profile fights have been about voter identification requirements and whether they are aimed at stopping fraud or keeping minority group members and the poor from voting. But there are worse problems with voter registration, ballot design, absentee voting and electoral administration. In Ohio, the recommendations of a bipartisan commission on ways to reduce the large number of provisional ballots and long lines at polling stations in 2008 have come to naught after a Republican takeover of both houses of the legislature in 2010. In New York, a redesign of ballots that had been widely considered hard to read and understand was passed by the State Assembly this year. But a partisan dispute in the Senate on other related steps led to paralysis. And states have consistently failed to fix a wide range of electoral flaws identified by a bipartisan commission led by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James A. Baker III in 2005. In Florida, for example, the commission found 140,000 voters who had also registered in four other states — some 46,000 of them in New York City alone. When 1,700 of them registered for absentee ballots in the other state, no one investigated. Some 60,000 voters were also simultaneously registered in North and South Carolina.

National: Wide Divide In States’ Voting Preparedness | CBS DC

Nearly four months before the 2012 national elections, a study on U.S. voting preparedness has found that some states are far more ready than others. Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio, Vermont and Wisconsin were all labeled as the “best prepared” states for voting problems and disenfranchisement protection. While on the other hand, Colorado, Delaware, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina are the six “least-prepared” states. The Rutgers Law School released the study that evaluates each state’s preparedness for the 2012 election. According to the study, computerized voting systems have failed in every national election in the past decade in some way: they haven’t started, they failed in the middle of voting, the memory cards couldn’t be read, or the votes were lost as a whole. The study used five categories of proven failures and successes as its basis for judgment in each state. They also protect against machine failures that can change election outcomes and disenfranchised voters.

National: Candidates Look Overseas for Campaign Cash | NYTimes.com

In the hunt for campaign money, no distance is too far to travel, especially when the race between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is tight and likely to stay that way into the fall. The Democratic president and his Republican challenger have been aggressively courting Americans living abroad at fundraisers held far beyond U.S. shores. Such efforts serve the dual purpose of raising money to pay for what may be the most expensive election in U.S. history, and galvanizing a largely untapped group of eligible voters. The practice is legal and has been used for decades, said former Federal Election Commission Chairman David Mason. Obama has raised nearly $600,000 from Americans abroad while Romney has brought in about $325,000, according to campaign finance records analyzed by the Center for Responsive Politics. Those figures don’t include sums raised overseas by both party committees or Romney’s take from a pair of fundraisers in London during his visit there last week. The sums are just a fraction of the more than $300 million Obama has raised overall and the $155 million raised by Romney, but every penny counts in a race that is neck and neck, as recent polls have shown.