Ohio: Hold On Ohio, Rhode Island’s Voter ID Bill Isn’t the Same | Rock the Vote Blog

Today’s Columbus Dispatch suggests that there are efforts to revive the strict photo ID bill in Ohio in a special legislation session next week. Some Republican leaders are trying to push fellow Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted, who has beenopposed to the photo ID legislation, and members of the Ohio Senate to accept the bill. Their rationale is that Rhode Island, which has a Democratic legislature and an independent Governor, passed legislation that implements new voter ID requirements at the polls.

… Let’s be clear: the newly enacted Rhode Island law is different from the Ohio proposal in many important ways.

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.

Rhode Island: New Law: Hobbits Cannot Vote in Rhode Island | Rock the Vote Blog

Rhode Island’s Governor Lincoln Chafee signed the latest photo ID legislation into law on Saturday, adding Rhode Island to the onslaught of restrictive voting policies.

Under the new law, poll workers will ask voters for identification beginning in 2012, but a number of non-photo documents such as a Social Security card, debit card, or birth certificate will suffice for identification. In 2014, however, all identification will need to include a photo. All college, Rhode Island and federally issued IDs will be accepted under the new law. The state will provide free photo ID starting in 2012.

While the Rhode Island Tea Party is praising the Democratic-led General Assembly and Republican-turned-independent Governor Chafee for requiring voters in future elections to show identification at the polls, opponents were taken aback by the bipartisan support of the measure. The novel push by Democrats in Rhode Island came in the wake of Democratic governors in New Hampshire, North Carolina, Missouri, Montana and Minnesota all vetoing similar legislation for fear of disenfranchising student, elderly and minority voters.

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.

Connecticut: Audit Report: Flawed by lack of transparency, incomplete data, and assumed accuracy | CTVotersCount.org

Last week, the University of Connecticut released its official post-election audit report on the November 2010 election, just short of seven months after the election: Statistical Analysis of the Post-Election Audit Data, 2010 November Election <read>

Like previous reports, this official report fails to provide confidence in the post-election audit process and in the accuracy of the election itself.

National: New study examines the impact of on-campus voter registration efforts on college student turnout | Election Updates

A paper was just published in PS: Political Science & Politics by Stacy G. Ulbig and Tamara Waggener, “Getting Registered and Getting to the Polls: The Impact of Voter Registration Strategy and Information Provision on Turnout of College Students.” Here is the study’s abstract:

Each election year, colleges and universities across the nation witness a plethora of on-campus voter registration activities. The results of these drives are most often assessed by tallying the number of voter registration cards collected. Little has been done, however, to more carefully investigate these results. As a first attempt to examine postdrive results more thoroughly, we ask two questions.

National: An Independence Holiday Reflection: IP Reform and Innovation in Elections Technology | TrustTheVote

On this Independence Day I gave some reflection to the intentions of our founding fathers, and how that relates to our processes of elections and the innovations we should strive for to ensure accuracy, transparency, verification, and security.  And as I thought about this more while gazing out at one of the world’s most precious natural resource treasures and typing this post, it occurred to me that innovation in elections systems is largely around the processes and methods more than any discrete apparatus.

That’s when the old recovering IP lawyer in me had an “ah ha” moment.   And that’s what this long-winded post is about—something that actually should matter to you, a reader of this forum about our on-going effort to make elections and voting technology critical democracy infrastructure.

You see, in America, innovation has long been catalyzed by intellectual property law, specifically patents.

National: 26th Amendment and #WhyUVote | Overseas Vote Foundation

Forty years ago – on the 1st of July 1971 – the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, lowering the voting age from 21 to 18, and forever changing the face of the American electorate.

Overseas Vote Foundation (OVF) honors this historical milestone and salutes America’s young people by engaging U.S. voters around the world in a dialogue about “why you vote” – in 140 characters or less.

Due to popular demand, we’ve decided to extend this event throughout the 4th of July weekend!

National: Doubling Down on Dubious Claims of Voter Fraud | Brennan Center for Justice

As the push for restrictive voter ID legislation in the states continues, so too does the rhetoric surrounding voter fraud. Last week, New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna Duran doubled down on her previous claims of voter fraud in her state. Not only did the number of the suspected cases of voter fraud balloon from 37 to 64,000, but Duran went a step further in turning over the alleged 64,000 cases to New Mexico State Police for investigation. Noting that law enforcement will be investigating what may largely amount to data entry errors, some have questioned if investigating 64,000 cases —5 percent of registered voters in New Mexico — is a wise use of state resources.

As was the case when Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler unveiled his findings of alleged voter fraud in his state, the conclusions drawn here are questionable. While Duran has not released her methodology and analysis, her description in March of how she and her staff discovered 37 cases of possible voter fraud is of great concern. As previously discussed, Duran claimed to have found 37 possible cases of voter fraud by “matching” the names and birthdays from voter registration lists with a list of foreign nationals. She further claimed to have uncovered 117 individuals whose social security numbers did not match their name. Duran has not explained how this number suddenly ballooned to 64,000.

Ohio: Go Jon Husted! | Rock the Vote Blog

Strange things are afoot in Ohio right now, and Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted is looking like he could be the hero. The elections chief, breaking with the leadership of his party in the General Assembly, just put out a statement blasting the state legislature for trying to impose a rigid photo ID requirement for voting. … Secretary Husted’s full statement:

“I want to be perfectly clear, when I began working with the General Assembly to improve Ohio’s elections system it was never my intent to reject valid votes. I would rather have no bill than one with a rigid photo identification provision that does little to protect against fraud and excludes legally registered voters’ ballots from counting.

“It is in the hands of the General Assembly.”


National: House Votes Not to Confer More Power on Feckless FEC | Campaign Legal Center

Yesterday afternoon, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on H.R. 672, a bill rather inappropriately named the “Election Support Consolidation and Efficiency Act.”  The legislation would dismantle the Election Assistance Commission and transfer some of its most important functions to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) – an agency hardly known for its efficiency (or effectiveness).  Fortunately, enough Representatives saw past the name to the damage it would have done to the administration of our elections, and the bill failed to receive the votes needed to pass.

But H.R. 672’s consideration by the House — and the gnashing of teeth over its defeat that will surely follow in the coming days– should not pass by without pausing to examine the folly of putting even more responsibility on the shoulders of the FEC at a time when it is incapable of carrying out its most basic functions.

Indiana: Secretary of State Seeking ‘Use Immunity’ in Bid to Undermine His Own Prosecution for Voter Fraud | The Brad Blog

Having failed to prevent Tuesday’s scheduled hearing before the Indiana Recount Commission on a Democratic Party complaint that he was illegally registered to vote at the time he declared his candidacy and thus, ineligible to have been elected as Indiana’s Sec. of State, Charlie White has filed a motion [PDF] to compel a grant of ‘use immunity’ in exchange for his and his wife’s testimony before the commission.

Separately, White is facing seven felony counts, including three for voter fraudrelated to his having been registered to vote at a house where he did not live, while serving as a member of a town council in a town where he also didn’t live. Trial in that criminal case is scheduled to commence on Aug. 8. The two special prosecutors assigned to the case have declined to provide the Whites with use immunity — with good reason. They no doubt want to avoid what happened to the Iran/Contra independent counsel when, for example, an appellate court ruled in United States vs. Col. Oliver North that a grant of use immunity to North shifted the burden to the independent prosecutor to “demonstrate an independent source for each item of evidence or testimony.”

Granting use immunity to White would make the job of the prosecutors in the criminal case that much more difficult.

National: Phish and Chips: Why Cyber Attacks Are So Difficult to Trace Back to Hackers | Scientific American

Cyber attacks may not be a new phenomenon but the recent successes scored against high-profile targets including CitiGroup, Google, RSA and government contractors such as Lockheed Martin underscore the targets’ current failure to block security threats enabled by the Internet. Malicious hackers use the very same technology that enables online banking, entertainment and myriad other communication services to attack these very applications, steal user data, and then cover their own tracks.

One common practice that attackers employ to evade detection is to break into poorly secured computers and use those hijacked systems as proxies through which they can launch and route attacks worldwide. Although such attacks are an international problem, there is no international response, which frustrates local law enforcement seeking cooperation from countries where these  proxy servers typically reside.

New York: Kavanaugh bill in New York state assembly would make ballots easier to read and use | Civic Design

Add your comments to a posting on the web site for WNYC’s radio show, “It’s a Free Country,” that presents a proposed redesign for the New York ballot.
The Brennan Center for Justice worked with Design for Democracy and theUsability in Civic Life project to develop an updated best practice ballot design that takes into account the particularities of voting in New York state.

On the show, which aired on June 9, 2011, New York state assemblyman Brian Kavanaugh and Larry Norden of the Brennan Center for Justice discuss how important design is to successful voting and elections. On the show, Larry runs through the proposed design improvements and why they’ll make a difference. There are images of a redesigned ballot on the site, as well, and the show invites your comments.

National: Outdated and Failing: Modernizing Our Voting System for the Rising Electorate | Rock the Vote Blog

Day after day, from college campuses to high school classrooms, we hear stories about needless bureaucratic barriers that prevent young people from voting. For young Americans, the greatest barrier to participation is the out-dated process itself. Our complicated registration process varies state-by-state, and our country’s antiquated, paper-based electoral system is riddled with restrictive rules and red tape that don’t reflect advances in technology or meet the needs of modern life.

You’d think that the most basic element of our democracy – the very right to participate in our government that is guaranteed to all of us – would be something we would constantly work to improve. Yet somehow voting is an archaic ordeal, inconsistently implemented from place to place, and disturbingly, manipulated by whether people in power want someone like you to show up at the polls.

It doesn’t need to be this hard to vote.

National: Debunking Misinformation on Photo ID | Brennan Center for Justice

Last week, the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed (“The Case for Voter ID”) by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.  In the piece, Kobach touts restrictive voter ID bills, including the Kansas “Secure and Fair Elections Act,” which he drafted and Governor Sam Brownback signed into law a few weeks ago.  Kobach argues that (1) voter ID laws will not actually prevent any eligible citizens from voting; and (2) they will prevent in-person voter fraud, which he claims is a substantial problem.

But his arguments are built on inaccuracies, unsupported allegations, and flawed reasoning.  Because Kobach takes direct aim at the Brennan Center in this op-ed, we thought a thorough review of his claims was in order. We sent a letter to the editors at the Journal rebutting some of his claims, but the paper did not publish it.

National: New Research Result: Bubble Forms Not So Anonymous – Princeton researchers deanonymize optical scan ballots| Freedom to Tinker

by Will Clarkson Today, Joe Calandrino, Ed Felten and I are releasing a new result regarding the anonymity of fill-in-the-bubble forms. These forms, popular for their use with standardized tests, require respondents to select answer choices by filling in a corresponding bubble. Contradicting a widespread implicit assumption, we show that individuals create distinctive marks on these forms, allowing use of the marks as a biometric. Using a sample of 92 surveys, we show that an individual’s markings enable unique re-identification within the sample set more than half of the time. The potential impact of this work is as diverse as use of the forms themselves, ranging from cheating detection on standardized tests to identifying the individuals behind “anonymous” surveys or election ballots.

If you’ve taken a standardized test or voted in a recent election, you’ve likely used a bubble form. Filling in a bubble doesn’t provide much room for inadvertent variation. As a result, the marks on these forms superficially appear to be largely identical, and minor differences may look random and not replicable. Nevertheless, our work suggests that individuals may complete bubbles in a sufficiently distinctive and consistent manner to allow re-identification.

Nevada: Las Vegas Mayoral Candidate Sees Own Vote Flipped to Opponent on Touch-screen Voting Machine | The Brad Blog

It took two tries, but Carolyn Goodman, candidate for Mayor of Las Vegas, and wife of current Mayor Oscar Goodman, was finally able to vote for herselftoday on Nevada’s illegally-certified, 100% unverifiable Sequoia AVC Edge touch-screen voting machines. At least she thinks she did. Whether her vote will actually be counted for her is something that nobody can ever know.

…  As we revealed in our investigative exposé in the 2008 book Loser Take All: Election Fraud and the Subversion of Democracy, 2000-2008, and summarized in our article on the Reid/Angle election for U.S. Senator just before Election Day last year, Nevada’s Sequoia touch-screen voting machines were illegally certified in 2004 by then NV Secretary of State, now NV’s recently-appointed (to take the place of disgraced Sen. John Ensign) Republican U.S. Senator Dean Heller.

National: Students in Crossfire in Battles Over Voting Rights | Brennan Center for Justice

Voting is a fundamental right for all American citizens over 18.  Some states — including Arizona and New York — have prioritized voting rights, with student engagement policies that should serve as models for other states.  Yet even as we should be encouraging the next generation to be civically engaged, in many states students are being targeted by bills that make it harder to register and to vote.

In the current legislative cycle, a majority of state legislatures have explored increasingly restrictive voter ID legislation.  College students are particularly impacted by many of these voter identification proposals, especially when student IDs do not qualify as photo identification for voting.  But even more disturbing is a new trend of bills that seek to explicitly make voting more difficult for college students.  The most notable recent example was New Hampshire House Bill 176, which would have created a special voter residency standard for students and members of the military who lived elsewhere—including elsewhere in the state—prior to matriculating or being stationed in New Hampshire, thereby preventing students from voting in state or local elections.  The Brennan Center forcefully opposed this bill, and argued that it would likely be unconstitutional.  Fortunately, after college students of all political stripes banded together to voice their opposition, the bill died on the House floor.

Canada: Voter ID, North and South of the Borders | The Thicket

In light of all the attention that American legislators have been giving voter identification, I wondered about what our North American neighbors, Canada and Mexico, do. What I learned is that American states fall somewhere in the middle, geographically and administratively.

Here is how the Voter ID page from Elections Canada reads:

To Vote, you must prove your identity and address. You have three options:

Option 1: Show one original piece of identification with your photo, name and address. It must be issued by a government agency. Example:  driver’s license.

Option 2: Show two original pieces of authorized identification. Both pieces must have your name and one must also have your address. Example:  health card and hydro bill.

Option 3: Take an oath and have an elector who knows you vouch for you. This person must have authorized identification and be from the same polling division as you. This person can only vouch for one person. Examples:  a neighbor, your roommate.

Maine: End of Election Day Registration in Maine? | Thomas Bates/Rock the Vote Blog

A bill pending in the Maine legislature (LD 1376) would eliminate Same Day Registration (SDR), which allows people to register to vote and cast their ballot on Election Day. The result will be decreased voter turnout and otherwise-eligible voters, especially young and first-time voters, being turned away at the polls on Election Day.

This latest unnecessary and insidious attack on youth voting rights is expected to come up for a vote in the state House any day now.

Voting Blogs: Kloppenburg Concedes Wisconsin Supreme Court Election, Cites ‘Widespread Irregularities’, Says Problems Found During ‘Recount Should be Wake-Up Call’ | The Brad Blog

Citing a “cascade of irregularities”, thousands of tabulation errors discovered during the statewide “recount”, and tens of thousands of ballots found to be unverifiable or otherwise having been in violation of the secure chain of custody, Wisconsin’s independent Asst. AG JoAnne Kloppenburg conceded the Wisconsin Supreme Court Election for a 10-year term on the bench to Republican incumbent Justice David Prosser this afternoon at a press conference held in Madison.

“Over 150 ballot bags containing tens of thousands of votes were found open, unsealed or torn. Waukesha County had twice as many torn, open or unsealed bags as every other county in the state combined. In many cases, municipal clerks in Waukesha testified the bags weren’t torn when they left cities, towns and villages so the security breaches occurred sometime when the bags were in Waukesha County’s custody.”

Voting Blogs: State Election Board Failed to Review Minutes from Waukesha County ‘Recount’ Before Certifying Wisconsin Supreme Court Election Results | The Brad Blog

Last Monday, May 23rd, Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board (G.A.B.), the state’s top election agency, officially certified [PDF] the controversial results of the extraordinarily close April 5th statewide Supreme Court election and its subsequent “recount”.

However, as The BRAD BLOG has learned, the agency certified those results without reviewing hundreds of official exhibits documenting wholesale ballot irregularities, on-the-record objections from the attorneys of the candidate who filed for the “recount”, and thousands of pages of official transcripts and minutes documenting the entire “recount” process from the election’s most controversial county.

Oregon: Why Return of Voted Ballots Should Not be Permitted via Email | Voting Matters Blog

Email voting?  Why not, one might ask?!  A lot of folks use the false analogy of  online banking to argue that email voting should be allowed for the convenience and accessibility of voters.  Not a moment of thought is given to the security risks involved.  So I’ve done a brief Fact Sheet summarizing the major arguments against returning voted ballots via email.  I’m OK with distribution of blank ballots via email but not the return of voted ballots by the same method.

Oregon, like many other states, considering authorizing email return of ballots — the bill is HB 3074 and this post is directed toward that proposed law, but could effectively be applied to a host of other states which are considering similar legislation (or perhaps need to review already adopted laws in light of these arguments).

Voting Blogs: Election Transparency Must be Apolitical | TrustTheVote

For those of you who have been following the recount saga in Wisconsin, here is a bit of news, and a reflection on that.

So, the news from a couple of days ago (I’m just catching up) is that the process of re-counting is complete, but the resolution of that close election may not be.  The re-counting did not change which candidate is leading, and apparently expanded the margin slightly.

Trailing candidate Joanne Kloppenburg explains her motivation for the recount in a newspaper letter to the editor, building on the old but true assertion that, “One may be entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts.”

Voting Blogs: SaveOurVotes: Flawed Wisconsin Race Proves Need for Transparency, Accountability in Election Procedures

When Wisconsin voters flocked to the polls on April 5, one of the factors driving the high turnout was the State Supreme Court contest between incumbent Justice David Prosser and challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg. Prosser, whose term ends July 31, often casts the deciding vote on the seven-member court. He is a conservative Republican former Speaker…