National: Budget Cuts Mean Voting Could Get Ugly in 2012 |

Election Day is more than a year away, but Zachary Klutz is already bracing for the worst. Klutz, a Republican member of the Allen County, Ind. elections board, is fighting budget cuts he says would result in an ugly day at the polls: more mistakes by election workers, longer lines for voters, and lots of frustrated, angry people. That’s because next year — a presidential election year — the county is set to allocate to the elections department 18 percent less than what it gets this year.

To Klutz, the plans are perplexing, since turnout in the 2012 presidential election is expected to be almost 90 percent higher than that of this year’s municipal election, in which the biggest race on the ballot is for mayor of Fort Wayne. “We can’t conduct a full election like that,” says Klutz. “I don’t know what to do.”

For now, the office is pleading with the county to provide $90,000 more than what’s already been allocated, even though that’s still well-below what the office says it needs to run the 2012 election. With those extra funds, election officials would still use 200 fewer machines and 240 fewer poll workers than what they say is really needed. “I’m all for cutting government spending,” says Klutz. “But there has to be a responsible balance between cutting government spending and conducting duties that are necessary in a democratic society.”

National: Legal Battles Loom In Fight Over Voter ID Laws | TPM

Conservative “investigative reporter” Matthew Vadum caused a real stir last week. As one of the many individuals who proselytizes about the threat of voter fraud and the need for restrictive measures to protect the ballot box, he’s generally expected to stick to a predictable script.

The argument usually goes like this: everyone should be able to vote and that voter ID isn’t supposed to make it harder for anyone to vote. Also, voter ID efforts aren’t partisan, but rather about good government, and that if you have to show your ID to buy liquor or rent a movie from Blockbuster you should have to show it to vote.

But Vadum — who wrote column upon column and even a book about the community organizing group ACORN — published a piece last week that really gave away the game, writing that groups that want to register poor people are un-American and are essentially “handing out burglary tools to criminals.”

National: Dick Durbin To Chair Hearing Examining Voter ID Laws | TPM

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) will chair a hearing next week examining the rash of voter ID laws passed by state legislatures this year amidst concerns that such laws could suppress Democratic turnout across the country.

Durbin, who chairs the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, announced Friday that the Sept. 8 hearing will feature testimony from Judith Brown Dianis, the co-director of the Advancement Project; Loyola Law School Professor Justin Levittl; and former Bush-era Justice Department official Hans van Spakovsky, who’s now with the Heritage Foundation. It’s titled “New State Voting Laws – Barriers to the Ballot?”

National: Repealing the Voting Rights Act | Technorati

The State of Arizona and its Republican Governor Jan Brewer received a lot of negative press and garnered national attention last year over its immigration legislation that allowed for racial profiling. It also drew the attention of the Obama administration and the Department of Justice (DOJ). Last week, Arizona filed a lawsuit challenging the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA). Arizona’s Republican Attorney General Tom Horne said that the requirement for the state to get prior approval from the DOJ for any changes to the state’s election laws is unconstitutional.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder responded to the Arizona suit that the Voting Rights Act is vital to ensure that “every American has the right to vote and have that vote counted.” Holder added, “The provisions challenged in this case, including the preclearance requirement, were reauthorized by Congress in 2006 with overwhelming and bipartisan support.” Holder said the DOJ “will continue to enforce the Voting Rights Act, including each of the provisions challenged today.”

National: Republicans Make Drive to Tighten State Voting Rules Before 2012 Elections | Bloomberg

With Republicans taking control of most U.S. capitols this year and a presidential race looming, states have passed the most election-related laws since 2003 in a push to tighten voting rules. Forty-seven states have enacted 285 election-related laws this year, and 60 percent were in states with Republican governors, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Democrats are pushing back by vetoing photo- identification laws in five states and trying to repeal other voting laws in Maine and Ohio, where President Barack Obama’s campaign is promoting the effort.

It’s the “battle before the battle” as both parties fight for what they think are the most advantageous and fairest rules, said Doug Chapin, director of an elections-administration program at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

“We’re at a level of activity that I don’t think I’ve ever seen,” Chapin said in a telephone interview. “You’ve got the combination of a fiercely divided nation, uncertainty about what the rules are and a belief that every single vote counts.”

National: Governments, IOC and UN hit by massive cyber attack | BBC News

IT security firm McAfee claims to have uncovered one of the largest ever series of cyber attacks. It lists 72 different organisations that were targeted over five years, including the International Olympic Committee, the UN and security firms.

McAfee will not say who it thinks is responsible, but there is speculation that China may be behind the attacks. Beijing has always denied any state involvement in cyber-attacks, calling such accusations “groundless”.

Speaking to BBC News, McAfee’s chief European technology officer, Raj Samani, said the attacks were still going on. “This is a whole different level to the Night Dragon attacks that occurred earlier this year. Those were attacks on a specific sector. This one is very, very broad.”

National: Latest counterfeit IDs are so good they’re dangerous | The Washington Post

When the fleeing motorcycle hit the curb, scraped past a utility pole and hurled 20-year-old Craig Eney to his death, a bogus South Carolina driver’s license was in the hip pocket of his jeans. He spent the final hours of his life trading on that phony license to buy shots for his buddies at two downtown Annapolis bars, places so popular among underage drinkers that bouncers are stationed outside to check everyone’s ID. Yet scores of young people flash fake driver’s licenses and waltz on by to the bar.

The days when faking driver’s licenses was a cottage industry — often practiced in college dorm rooms by a computer geek with a laminating machine — have given way to far more sophisticated and prolific practitioners who operate outside the reach of U.S. law enforcement.

In an era when terrorism and illegal immigration have transformed driver’s licenses into sophisticated mini-documents festooned with holograms and bar codes, beating the system has never been easier. Just wire money to “the Chinese guy.”

National: The new Jim Crow? – Democrats in Congress urge the Justice Department to look into new, GOP-authored voter ID laws |

This week over 100 House Democrats wrote to the Department of Justice urging an investigation into whether new voter identification laws — passed in seven states already this year and under consideration in many more — violate the Voting Rights Act. 16 Democratic senators made the same request of Attorney General Eric Holder earlier this month.

The laws, which marginally differ from state to state, require that voters will have to bring photo ID — for the most part government issued — to the polls next year. Stricter voter ID requirements at the polls have been passed by Republican-controlled state legislatures claiming to promote honest elections. Democrats, alongside groups including the NAACP, have called foul on the new laws, arguing they disenfranchise minorities, students, the poor and disabled (for the most part, groups with Democratic voting tendencies).

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.

National: Security company infects client’s network with ‘Trojan mouse’ | InfoWorld

Security consulting company NetraGard has demonstrated that something as seemingly innocuous as a USB mouse, along with tidbits of information freely available on the Internet, can provide a hacker quick and easy access to a seemingly secure IT environment.

In a blog post on the company’s website, NetraGard founder Adriel Desautels explained that his company was hired to test the security of a client’s network while adhering to some very stringent restrictions: The NetraGard team could target only one IP address, offering no services, bound to a firewall. Further, the team couldn’t even use social engineering tactics, such as duping an employee to reveal information over the phone or via email. They couldn’t even physically access the client’s campus.

NetraGard’s solution: Transform a Logitech USB mouse into an HID (hacker interface device) by installing on it a mini-controller and a micro Flash drive loaded with custom malware. The blog post goes into explicit detail of the painstaking process of operating on the mouse.

National: Will the Roberts Court Kill the Voting Rights Act? | ACS

Speaking before a joint session of Congress on March 15, 1965, LBJ urged support for the Voting Rights Act (VRA). He implored all members to get behind it or risk being on the wrong side of history. He asserted that “Experience has clearly shown that the existing process of law cannot overcome systematic and ingenious discrimination. No law…can ensure the right to vote when local officials are determined to deny it.”

That was then, and Justice Clarence Thomas (among others) and his assertion that the time for the Voting Rights Act has indeed come and gone, is now. But before we throw dirt on the VRA once and for all, a bit of context is in order.

With the current redistricting cycle full steam ahead, the VRA becomes controlling  when plaintiffs seek to challenge newly drawn maps of legislative districts with sections (2) and (5) being invoked. Section 2 prohibits any “voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice or procedure” being imposed or applied to any State or political subdivision” that would “deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color” while Section (5) requires a DOJ or US District Court of DC “pre-clearance” when seeking to administer any voting qualification, procedure, standard, practice or procedure “different from that in force or effect November 1, 1964.”

National: Youth Vote Faces Challenges With Voter ID Legislation | The Nation

Voter fraud is an “epidemic.” It abounds, stealing elections from rightful candidates and places losers into unearned elected office. Republican dominated statehouses across the country are “combating” this problem through strict voter ID legislation, where a government-issued photo identification is required in order to vote. Seven states have already enacted legislation requiring state-issued photo ID at the polls and many more are pending.

One of the states, Wisconsin, enacted what Milwaukee Common Council Alderwoman Milele Coggs accurately called “the most restrictive voter ID legislation in the country.” It requires photo IDs issued by the state or federal government and only allows a forgetful voter’s provisional ballot to count if they return within three days with a proper ID.

College students are some of the unintended—or intended—citizens affected by the law. They broke for Barack Obama in 2008 by an astonishing 38 points and remained loyal to Democrats in 2010 by wide margins.

Editorials: States Dispute Criticism of New Voter Laws, Move to Offer Photo ID Free of Charge |

Election officers in states with newly approved voter ID laws are trying to make sure voters can meet the new requirements without much hassle, pushing back on complaints that the laws are tantamount to a “poll tax.”

Seven states this year have approved new laws requiring or urging voters to show photo ID before casting their ballots. Critics have assailed these measures as a partisan Republican scheme to skew elections by disenfranchising voters who might be inclined to vote for Democrats but lack the proper identification.

But officials in those states say the criticism is unfair. All seven states are moving to offer residents at least one version of a photo ID card free of charge. Local agencies are planning various outreach efforts to get the word out about the new requirements, and the new laws generally allow voters without photo ID to fill out a provisional ballot under certain circumstances.

National: House Dems say state voter-ID laws a GOP plan to suppress minority votes | The Hill

Several House Democrats argued on the floor Tuesday morning that the rise of voter-identification laws across many states is a coordinated attempt by Republicans to suppress minority and elderly votes.

“These new policies are a clear attempt to prevent certain pre-determined segments of the population from exercising their right to vote,” said Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio). “To be frank, Mr. Speaker, these efforts have an all-too familiar stench of the Jim Crow era.”

Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) said the voter-ID laws are a Republican response to President Obama’s election.

National: Cornyn faults Justice on efforts to enforce troops’ voting rights | Washington Times

A key Senate Republican on Tuesday pressed the Justice Department to step up its enforcement of a 2009 law that requires states to provide absentee ballots to military service members and their families 45 days before elections.

In a letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., Sen. John Cornyn said the department has provided “grossly inadequate enforcement” of the Military and Overseas Voter Empowering (MOVE) Act, citing what he called “the national disgrace” of disenfranchised military voters.

“In light of the Justice Department’s poor track record, I call on you to formulate and provide a comprehensive plan” for enforcing laws protecting the military’s right to vote “during the upcoming election cycle,” the Texas Republican said in the letter. Mr. Cornyn co-sponsored the MOVE Act.

National: Congresswoman Susan Davis Introduces Bill to End Abesentee Ballot Restrictions | East County Magazine

Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-San Diego) has introduced legislation, the Universal Right to Vote by Mail Act (H.R. 2084), that would end restrictions many states impose on a person’s ability to vote by absentee ballot.

Currently, 21 states restrict an eligible voter’s ability to vote by mail, also known as absentee.  The other states offer no-excuse absentee voting.  Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-San Diego) re-introduced her bill to end such restrictions and allow all eligible voters nationwide to vote by mail for any reason in federal elections.

National: The Politics Behind New Voter ID Laws | NPR

Voters going to the polls next year — and even some this year — will encounter lots of new rules. Photo ID requirements and fewer options for early voting are among the biggest changes. A voter casts a ballot in a Democratic primary on July 12, 2011 in Wisconsin, one of seven states to enact voter ID laws this year.

They’re part of a wave of new laws enacted by Republican-controlled legislatures this year. Supporters say the rules are needed to ensure honest elections. But Democrats say it’s part of a concerted GOP campaign to suppress the vote. They say minorities, students, the poor and disabled — those most likely to vote Democratic — will be hurt the most.

Seven states so far this year have enacted news laws requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls. Ohio and Pennsylvania are considering similar requirements, and several other states already have them on the books.

National: GOP To Push Stronger Voter I.D. Laws, Says ‘Voter Fraud Is Real’ |

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus repeated his party’s commitment to stronger voter identification laws, saying that the GOP would not give up the fight against voter fraud.

“I think that we need to make it easy to vote, hard to cheat, and I think that that’s a mantra that we ought to shout from the rooftops all over the country as a Party,” Priebus told conservative bloggers on a conference call on Thursday.

Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA) Chairman David Norcross said that voter fraud issues were very real, despite complaints from liberals that it is largely a phantom problem. Cross cited several cases where states had found thousands of ineligible votes after elections were already over.

National: 24,000 Pentagon files stolen in major cyber breach, official says | The Washington Post

The Defense Department lost 24,000 files to “foreign intruders” in the spring in what appears to be one of the most damaging cyberattacks to date on the U.S. military, a top Pentagon official acknowledged Thursday.

Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III, who disclosed the March breach during a speech to roll out the Pentagon’s new cyber strategy, said the files were taken from a defense contractor. He did not say who was believed to be behind the attack or describe the nature of the files that were stolen.

But Lynn said that, over the past few years, all manner of data has been stolen, some of it mundane, some of it concerning “our most sensitive systems, including aircraft avionics, surveillance technologies, satellite communications systems, and network security protocols.”

Editorials: Carded at the Polls – Will the Justice Department stop the assault on voting rights for minorities, the elderly, and the poor? |

One consequence of Republican victories last November has been an onslaught of state legislation to require voters to show photo identification at polling places. This push builds on GOP efforts over the past decade to tighten ID requirements; at least 18 states have enacted more stringent rules since 2003, including, most recently, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.

Last week, 16 U.S. senators signed a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder calling on the Justice Department to investigate whether the new ID requirements comply with federal law. Representative Marcia Fudge of Ohio, a Democrat, is gathering signatures on a similar letter from House members and held a press conference Wednesday on Capitol Hill with civil-rights leaders, including the Reverend Jesse Jackson, to draw attention to her effort.

National: Congressional Leaders Speak Out Against Voter ID Laws at Press Conference on the Hill | Campus Progress

Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (D-OH) held a press conference on Capitol Hill today in opposition to the voter ID laws sweeping states across the country. The event featured statements from Reverend Jesse Jackson, the ACLU, the National Action Network, and other civil rights leaders, along with a host of congressional representatives.

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), Rep. Corinne Brown (D-FL), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), and Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) were among the leaders who spoke out in strong opposition to photo ID requirements at the polls, emphasizing the laws’ disproportionate effect on the elderly, students, low-income communities, and people of color. This week, Rep. Fudge and twenty congressional representatives signed on to a letter addressed to Attorney General Eric Holder, requesting that the Department of Justice investigate the constitutionality of voter ID requirements, which could possibly violate the Voter Rights Act of 1965. As Campus Progress previously reported, on June 29 Senator Michael Bennett (D-CO) circulated a similar letter to AG Holder which was signed by 15 Senators.

National: Flaws seen in absentee ballot program for military voters | Washington Times

The Justice Department’s program for handling military absentee ballots suffers from major flaws, and a survey revealed low turnout among military voters in the 2010 mid-term elections, according to a report by a private group made public on Tuesday.

Less than 5 percent of 2 million military personnel in states that are home to 80 percent of U.S. troops voted last year, the report by the Military Voter Protection Project (MVP) said. The low numbers were in part the result of complicated and mishandled federal enforcement, said Eric Loveland, MVP founder and author of the report.

“We’re 10 years into conflict now, and we still can’t seem to get the absentee voting things right,” Mr. Eversole said. “This needs to be a priority now. We can’t let our servicemen suffer another election.”

National: New EAC Report Shows Increased Voter Registration Among Low-Income Americans | Project Vote

A newly released review of a June 27 report by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) shows that voter registration application rates at state public assistance agencies have risen sharply following National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) enforcement actions by advocacy groups Demos, Project Vote, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and others. In contrast, the overwhelming majority of states not targeted have continued to see a long decline in registration of lower-income residents.

The EAC report covers voter registration that occurred between the November 2008 and November 2010 elections.

National: Students claim ID rules make it harder to rock the vote | Merimbula News Weekly

A series of laws and proposals popping up across the United States this year to strengthen voter identification requirements is part of an effort to discourage voting by students, who turned out in large numbers for Barack Obama in 2008, the head of a youth lobby group told a conference of young liberals on Thursday.

”Under the radar, there [is] a set of people trying to make it harder for students to vote,” said the president of Rock the Vote, Heather Smith, at the Campus Progress National Conference, just one day after Rhode Island announced a new voter identification law requiring photo IDs.

National: New voter ID legislation sparks debate among younger voters |

A series of laws and proposals popping up across the country this year to strengthen voter identification requirements is part of an effort to discourage voting by students, who turned out in large numbers for Barack Obama in 2008, the head of Rock the Vote told a conference of young liberals on Thursday.

“Under the radar, there are a set of people trying to make it harder for students to vote,” said Rock the Vote president Heather Smith at the Campus Progress National Conference, just one day after Rhode Island announced a new voter identification law requiring photo IDs.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Rhode Island became the seventh state to have new or strengthened voter identification policies signed into law this year; several dozen more are considering or have considered similar proposals.

National: Bill Clinton: GOP War on Voting Is Most Determined Disenfranchisement Effort Since Jim Crow | ThinkProgress

Speaking yesterday at the annual Campus Progress convention, former President Bill Clinton called out the GOP’s state by state efforts to make it harder to vote— a war on voting designed almost entirely to reduce the number of Democrats who cast ballots:

I can’t help thinking, since we just celebrated the Fourth of July and we’re supposed to be a country dedicated to liberty, that one of the most pervasive political movements going on outside Washington today is the disciplined, passionate, determined effort of Republican governors and legislators to keep most of you from voting next time. There has never been in my lifetime, since we got rid of the poll tax and all the other Jim Crow burdens on voting, the determined effort to limit the franchise that we see today.

National: Bill Clinton: GOP Voting Crackdown Worst Since Jim Crow | TPMDC

Former President Bill Clinton weighed in on Republican efforts in several states to pass new restrictions on voting, comparing the measures to the Jim Crow laws of the past.

“There has never been in my lifetime, since we got rid of the poll tax and all the Jim Crow burdens on voting, the determined effort to limit the franchise that we see today,” Clinton said in a speech at a Campus Progress conference in Washington. He specifically called out Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) for trying to reverse past precedent and prevent convicted felons from voting even after they’ve completed their sentence.

National: Voter ID Supporters Need Statistics 101 | Brennan Center for Justice

Any good student of Statistics 101 will tell you that correlation does not imply causation. Apparently, many voter ID supporters never got the memo.

Two and a half years ago, Justin Levitt wrote on this  blog about how some proponents of voter ID requirements were asserting that stringent ID laws in Georgia and Indiana did not depress turnout in 2008. Those proponents thought they had found their magic bullet: turnout in Georgia and Indiana was higher in 2008 than in 2004, despite the implementation of strict ID laws in the interim.

Mr. Levitt gave them a simple statistics lesson. Even if turnout increases at the same time as the adoption of a new voter ID law, there may be something other than the voter ID law – Mr. Levitt identified campaign mobilization, in particular – that caused the turnout increase. In other words, correlation does not imply causation.

National: Senator Michael Bennet: The Right to Vote | Rock the Vote Blog

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the ratification of the 26th Amendment, a landmark achievement in our nation’s history that gave young Americans 18 and older the right to vote.

But this momentous occasion comes at a time when this right has come under assault, as lawmakers in states across the country push highly-restrictive voter ID laws that have the potential to disenfranchise countless Americans young and old.

These laws are a solution in search of a problem. Instead of protecting the integrity of our voting system, they can effectively drown out the voices of thousands of law-abiding, taxpaying American citizens.