Voting Blogs: Exposing California’s Deceptive New ‘Internet Voting’ Ballot Initiative Scheme | Brad Blog

On today’s BradCast, we expose a dangerous, deceptive new scheme to hoax California voters into allowing Internet Voting across the entire state. …First I explain the newly proposed California ballot initiative describing itself as the “Election Data Security & Military Ballot Access Act”. The initiative is nothing of the sort. It is little more than a very well-financed and completely deceptive scam to force Internet Voting into the Golden State by describing it as something other than it is. Rather than use the words “Internet Voting” or even “Internet” in any way, the 46-page initiative describes the proposed, dishonest new scheme as “electronically delivered vote-by-mail”! Who’s behind it? We still don’t know. But it was submitted recently to the state Attorney General by the high-priced Sacramento law firm of Olson Hagel & Fishburn LLP and needs to be, at the very least, retitled before it ends up on the state ballot.

Voting Blogs: The Politician and the Gift | More Soft Money Hard Law

A number of political candidates over the years have recounted the experience of raising too much money, too much of the time, for their campaigns. They find it awkward and embarrassing to ask for the money, and the pace and intensity of this fundraising consume too much time that could be diverted to more productive uses. They understand the suspicions it raises in those looking on from the outside. Congressman Steve Israel is the most recent to write about experience, and he is a respected elected official whose contribution to this narrative will not be ignored. Israel is not talking about fundraising events to which tickets are sold, or about appeals on line or in the mail. It is about the person asked for money face to face, or ear to ear: the direct “ask”, which will be answered positively, negatively, or somewhere in between. It is a personal appeal, but one that is managed and strained: the candidate crammed in the cubicle with a phone, staff at his side, reading off notecards with bits of data about the fundraising target on the other end of the line.

Voting Blogs: EAC hosts 2016 swing state roundtable | electionlineWeekly

You’ve planned for it, you’ve dreaded it, and now it’s finally here. 2016. There’s no going back and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission kicked things off this week with a roundtable discussion of elections officials from nine of the battleground states. “Even though from the public perspective, it may seem like election season is just beginning, for the election officials, we’ve been preparing for a number of months, even a number of years,” said Moderator Merle King of Kennesaw State University. “The election cycle is the apex. The finish line.” The roundtable was held in the Washington, D.C.-area and streamed live on the Internet. The wide-ranging conversation covered everything from social media to emergency contingency planning to technology to media relations to setting standards.

Voting Blogs: Working Group Offers Meaningful Ways to Make Military Voting Easier | Democracy Fund

One of the many strengths of our military is that our service members come from all across the country, from rural counties to densely packed cities and everything in between. However, the geographic diversity of our military can also present unique challenges to service members’ ability to understand and quickly navigate voting rules. Most people are unaware of the confusing system our service members and overseas voters face when trying to request and cast their absentee ballot. A patchwork of state rules means that there isn’t one standardized process for this group. Yet many of these voters compare voting information with one another, often close to election deadlines when they have very little room for error. Unfortunately, well-meaning fellow voters from different parts of the country might assume requirements are the same for all and pass along bad information.

Voting Blogs: EAC Wants YOU to Help Develop New Voting System Guidelines! | Matthew Masterson/EAC Blog

Recently, the EAC and NIST rolled out a new approach to developing the next set of Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG). Since the creation of the public working groups, EAC and NIST have been working to recruit as many election officials, information technologists, accessibility professionals and virtually anyone else ready, willing and able to help to join the working groups. Earlier this month, we introduced the next phase of the project with a kick-off conference call and the creation of the public working group Twiki site. We were overwhelmed with the response as over two hundred people participated in the call.

Voting Blogs: The Risk of Another Disputed Presidential Election is Higher than Most Think | Ned Foley/Election Law Blog

Throughout American history, there has been an important interplay between institutions and individuals in terms of the capacity to resolve vote-counting disputes in accordance with a basic standard of fairness and integrity. Insofar as the institutions for adjudicating these disputes have been weaker than desirable (in large part because of the oversight at the Founding, as described in the first post), the political system inevitably places greater reliance on the ethical judgments of individual politicians who play critical roles in the handling of these disputes. Conversely, to the extent that institutional improvements occur that increase the capacity for impartial adjudication of these disputes, there is correspondingly less dependence upon the particular character and virtue of individual politicians.

Voting Blogs: The Great Dissenter in Plessy Anticipated the Role for Federal Courts Embraced in Bush v. Gore—But Will the Court Repeat that Role Next Time and, If Not, What Then? | Ned Foley/Election Law Blog

In the 1900s, even as state courts increasingly became the forum for resolving a major vote-counting dispute (as described in the previous post), there still was no role for the federal judiciary in these cases. That was because of Taylor v. Beckham, a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1900 growing out of Kentucky’s 1899 gubernatorial election—the one involving the assassination of a candidate because of the dispute over the counting of ballots (as also mentioned in the previous post). Taylor ruled that the federal judiciary was powerless to protect the integrity of a state’s electoral process, even in a case of demonstrated outright ballot-box stuffing.

Voting Blogs: Vermont Begins Online Voter Registration | State of Elections

Vermont voting has entered the twenty-first century with a new online voter registration system. On October 12, 2015, Vermont’s Secretary of State, Jim Condos, launched a new online voter software allowing eligible Vermont citizens to prepare for election day online. The system allows voters to register to vote, find their polling place, request an absentee ballot and track its status, as well as view sample ballots. The software also includes features to aid local election officials in processing ballots, entering election results, and registering voters. The new software cost Vermont $2.8 million. However, 70% of the funds came from the federal government through the Help America Vote Act.

Voting Blogs: Florida 2000 Was Not a Fluke | Ned Foley/Election Law Blog

The disputed presidential elections of 1876 and 2000 were not isolated, aberrational events in America’s political system. Instead, they are merely the two most prominent peaks in an entire range of disputed elections running through American history from the Founding Era to the present. Like geologists who can detect the plate tectonics that underlie a mountain range, we can employ the historian’s tool to see the structural forces that underlie the pattern of vote-counting disputes that have erupted periodically in the past. America’s difficulties in employing fair and predictable procedures to count ballots in close elections are rooted in beliefs held—and choices made—at the time of Founding. The Founders, as we know, abhorred political parties and they hoped to design a constitutional system that, by using separation of powers, would keep factionalism from developing into organized political parties. Well, we know the plan did not work out as intended.

Voting Blogs: In Kansas, 90 Days to Prove Citizenship | State of Elections

Is 90 days enough time to comply with proof-of-citizenship voter registration requirements? In Kansas, at least 31,000 presumably qualified electors who have attempted to complete applications to register to vote will see their applications deleted under new administrative regulations in the state. Most of these applicants failed to submit proof of their U.S. citizenship, to a county election official satisfactory which is required by the 2011 Kansas Safe and Fair Elections Act (“S.A.F.E. Act”). Such suspended voters are generally unable to cast ballots in local, state, or federal elections; however, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Arizona v. Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc., under the National Voter Registration Act (“NVRA”), any Kansan who applies to register to vote using the federal voter registration form is allowed to vote in federal elections, even if he or she does not include proof-of-citizenship. In order to be removed from the list of suspended voters and be added to the state’s voter rolls, applicants must provide proof-of-citizenship to their local county election official. Under the previous system, county election officials worked feverishly to contact all applicants on the suspended list repeatedly in order to help them complete the proof-of-citizenship requirement. Some argue these unending attempts to encourage applicants to comply with registration requirements were too onerous.

Voting Blogs: Virginia’s Ongoing Struggle to Ensure Proportionate Minority Representation | State of Elections

As of 2014, African Americans made up just under 20% of Virginia’s total population. Yet, of the eleven congressmen and women elected from Virginia, incumbent Bobby Scott is currently the only African American representing the state, and only the second to be elected in the state’s entire history. This means that, while amounting to almost 20% of the total population, only 9% of Virginia’s seats in the House of Representatives are held by African Americans. Statistics improve slightly when looking at Virginia’s General Assembly. Of the one hundred members of the House of Delegates, thirteen representatives are African American (13%); of Virginia’s forty senators, five are African American (12.5%). Ultimately, a total 12.8% of the Virginia’s legislators are African American, falling about 6% below the total African American population in the state.

Voting Blogs: Fusion Voting in Up Close: A Look at the Independence Party of New York | State of Elections

Last year Brad Smith provided this blog with a post that gives an overview of fusion voting laws in New York State. In this post I would like to look into a case study that, for some, sheds some doubt on the desirability of fusion voting laws. The Independence Party of the State of New York (IPNY) is a minor party that states on its website, “candidates and elected officials should be free to tell the voters what their views are, without dictates from political party bosses, special interest groups and restrictive party platforms.” With this in mind, in most elections the IPNY has preferred to endorse major party candidates under the fusion voting system, rather than nominate their own (they last endorsed Andrew Cuomo for governor, for instance).

Voting Blogs: Puerto Rico Might Expand the Franchise to Include Illegal Immigrants |

In January of this year, Puerto Rico’s Governor, Alejandro Garcia Padilla, made an announcement that would be political suicide for any politician in the mainland United States. Garcia Padilla, standing beside President Danilo Medina of the Dominican Republic, announced a proposal to broaden the voting franchise to include every resident of Puerto Rico, regardless of legal status. It is an established fact that illegal immigrants cannot vote in U.S. elections. This is also the current law in Puerto Rico. However, Garcia Padilla expressed his opinion that since every person who chooses Puerto Rico as his or her home is affected by the decisions that the government makes, all residents should have the right to participate in deciding who governs. So far, neither the Governor nor the members of his political party, the Popular Democratic Party (PPD), has drafted a bill on this issue. However, the Governor’s proposal sparked discussions about the constitutionality of giving illegal immigrants the right to vote, particularly given Puerto Rico’s relationship with U.S.

Voting Blogs: The Territorial American Exceptionalism to the Fundamental Right to Vote | State of Elections

Voting is one of the most fundamental rights of U.S. citizens. Congress explicitly states as much in the National Voter Registration Act. Chief Justice Warren invoked the principle when delivering the Reynolds v. Sims opinion in 1964, stating, “undoubtedly, the right to suffrage is a fundamental matter in a free and democratic society.” If you’re a U.S. citizen born and living in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Northern Marina Islands, or Guam, your right to vote in federal and presidential elections is a lot less fundamental than that of citizens living on the mainland. If you’re willing to move to one of the 50 states, you can join the franchise. Even if you move to D.C., you will still have a larger say on who the next president will be than you would if you live in the territories thanks to the 23rd Amendment.

Voting Blogs: Congo’s uncertain election | openDemocracy

Towards the end of last month, on 25 October, the voters of the Democratic Republic of Congo went to the polls and elected representatives to sit in the parliaments of each of the country’s 26 provinces. That Sunday two weeks ago was the firing of a starting pistol which has launched a mammoth exercise in democracy during which, over 13 months and six different dates, the Congolese people and their new provincial legislators will take part in 12 separate elections, some direct (provincial and national deputies), others indirect (governors and national senators). Having filled thousands of elected positions from town councillors to provincial governors, the culmination of this herculean process will take place on 27 November 2016 when, returning to the polling booth, the Congolese will choose their 500 national parliamentarians and a new president

Voting Blogs: Election Day 2015 had a little bit of everything: glitches, snafus, rats, successful pilots and unsuccessful pilots | electionlineWeekly

“There was no line at the polling place. The line was almost out the door at Starbucks.” — an email from a Kentucky voter to her daughter.

There was snow, there was rain, there were blue skies and warm temperatures. Poll workers overslept, stole voting equipment and didn’t know how to use new technology. Voting machines malfunctioned and ballot-counting machines chugged along. There were new voting systems that worked flawlessly and there were those that didn’t. Turnout out was historically low and turnout was relatively high. Oh and there were rats.

Voting Blogs: Argentina’s election: what kind of change? | openDemocracy

Argentina has crossed a political threshold into a new era. The presidential elections on 25 October 2015 represents a rejection of President Cristina Kirchner’s brand of Peronism that has dominated the country since 2003, and possibly ends her political relevance. But does this signal the end of Argentine populism? Across Latin America, and especially in Venezuela, populism as a form of authoritarian anti-liberalism is fading. A majority of Argentine voters rebuffed it and thus Daniel Scioli (the president’s chosen candidate) was unable to secure the presidency in the first round, meaning that Argentines face a run-off election on 22 November now for the first time in the country’s history. The significance of this run-off is immense. Voters wanted a change from the populist past. Some Peronists seem to have lost their so-called captive votes and they are now talking of “understanding the message sent by the ballots” and bipartisanship. Argentines now have the chance of substantially increasing the quality of their democracy.

Voting Blogs: Censorship and conspiracy theories rule the day in post-election Turkey | openDemocracy

Turkey reached the end of an early election period that saw bombings, mob violence, the burning of party offices, political arrests, a nationwide media clampdown and military curfew in the Kurdish region of the country. After failing to establish a majority government in the 7 June elections, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) won a landslide victory with 49 percent of the popular vote. Ranging from announcements of a “Ballot Box Revolution” to “Fear’s Triumph,” media responses differed drastically. TV coverage of joyful celebrations by AKP supporters on the streets were matched with a sense of shock and incredulity circulating through social media among the supporters of opposition parties. They have been sharply awakened from the dream of ending the AKP’s monopoly over state power and preventing the implementation of a ‘Turkish-style’ super presidency. In the wake of these general elections, what is it about Turkey’s media culture that it undergirds the formation of a society so divided, that people seem to inhabit parallel realities?

Voting Blogs: Plenty to watch during ‘off-year’ election – U.S. Postal Service may play biggest role in 2015 | electionlineWeekly

While the focus of many Americans — well, at least the American media — seems to be on the election that is still more than year away, elections officials across the country are gearing up for state and local elections next week on November 3. Just because this isn’t the big show 2016 will be doesn’t mean that there isn’t plenty to keep an eye on as voters in more than half of the states will head to the polls in some capacity on Tuesday. We’ve been watching the news in the months leading up to November 3 and these are some of the stories we think are worth watching. By far, we think the biggest story for the 2015 elections will be voting by mail—whether it’s casting an absentee ballot or a vote-by-mail ballot. In the days leading up to the election, the U.S. Postal Service and elections officials in numerous states have urged voters to get their mail ballots posted even before this newsletter hits your inbox.

Voting Blogs: The Good News, and Bad News, About Voting Rights in America | Project Vote

The year before a major election has brought about a flurry of legislative activity impacting voter eligibility and election procedures. Each week, Project Vote tracks such legislation and voting-related news throughout the country. Our biannual Legislative Threats and Opportunities report summarizes and highlights the information obtained from three areas: our ongoing bill tracking effort, our work with local advocates and officials, and a compilation of information on related factors like the partisan makeup of legislatures and state election officials. The report provides an important snapshot of activity by issue area and by state so we can reflect on current trends and prepare for the future. The good news: Recent policy trends favor voting rights expansion and election modernization over unnecessary restrictions that limit access to our democracy. Comparing the rates of both bill introduction and successful bill passage, proposals expanding voter access far outpaced those seeking to limit and restrict the right to vote. While positive legislation covered many areas, from restoring voting rights for disenfranchised felons to providing early voting, online registration and automatic registration dominated the year.

Voting Blogs: Lee v. Virginia Board of Elections: Wait, Virginians have to present a photo ID to vote? | State of Elections

In 2013, Republican majorities in both houses of the Virginia General Assembly enacted a “voter ID law” that significantly restricts accepted forms of identification that voters must present before casting a ballot on Election Day. Now, officers at the election booths will require voters to present one of the following forms of photo identification: (1) a valid Virginia driver’s license; (2) a valid United States passport; (3) any photo identification issued by the Commonwealth, one of its political subdivisions, or the United States; (4) a valid student identification card containing a photograph of the voter and issued by any institution of higher education located in the Commonwealth; or (5) a valid employee identification card containing a photograph of the voter and issued by an employer of the voter in the ordinary course of the employer’s business. Any voter that is unable to present an acceptable form of photo identification at the polls will be offered a provisional ballot, but the voter must deliver a copy of a proper form of identification to the electoral board by noon of the third day after the election. Provisional voters may submit copies by fax, e-mail, in-person submission, timely United States Postal Service, or commercial mail delivery.

Voting Blogs: Preparing Today to Meet and Manage the Challenges of Elections in 2016 | Democracy Fund

It’s 2015, months away from the first presidential primary and more than a year away from the presidential election. Election officials often hear, “Must be easy right now between elections, with nothing to do.” Guess again. This “off year” of 2015 will instead be a busy time for the more than 8,000 election officials across the US. Experience shows election officials that the more they prepare, the fewer problems they will encounter in the presidential election year. What happens when there’s failure to adequately prepare? Imagine the chaotic scene in Hartford, Connecticut, where hundreds of voters were turned away because election officials didn’t have registration rolls at polling places in time. Planning ahead to plan and reduce the likelihood of these preventable mistakes must happen now.

Voting Blogs: Wisconsin Government Accountability Board | State of Elections

In 2008, in the wake of a legislative caucus scandal and partisan rulings by the state’s Elections Board, Wisconsin announced the formation of a new non-partisan ethics and elections agency. The Government Accountability Board (GAB), formed from the merger of the Elections Board and Wisconsin’s Ethics Board, was intended to provide an independent body capable of investigating criminal and civil violations of the state’s ethics and election laws free from the partisan and financial pitfalls that wracked its predecessors. On Tuesday, Republican lawmakers held a hearing on a bill to scrap the GAB and replace it with a system similar to the one it replaced. Board members of the resulting Ethics and Elections Commissions would be appointed by state legislative leaders from both parties and the governor. The gubernatorial appointees to the Elections board would be former local election clerks. The proposed bill would also reverse the changes to the funding rules that were considered key to the GAB when it was formed.

Voting Blogs: Both Lawmakers and Citizens Push for Voting Reforms Before 2016 Election | Project Vote

In 2015, nonpartisan voting rights group Project Vote monitored 315 bills, introduced by state and federal lawmakers, that could change the way people vote in 2016 and beyond. “It was a historic year in voting rights. Not only did we mark the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, but we also saw citizens and advocates on the ground demanding that our elected leaders restore voting rights protections,” said Project Vote President Michael Slater. “Although there has been a rise in positive election reform proposals, we still have a long way to go, particularly when it comes to protecting voters from new laws that undermine access to the ballot.”

Voting Blogs: £2.6bn: the price of an unfair voting system | openDemocracy

The first past the post electoral system can result in undemocratic and potentially corrupted one-party councils. We need electoral reform for local government in England and Wales. For a long time it’s been clear that Britain’s first past the post voting system is hugely damaging for our democracy. But a new study has just shown that it’s damaging for our finances too – and poses big risks when it comes to corruption. Councils dominated by single parties could be wasting as much as £2.6bn a year through a lack of scrutiny of their procurement processes, according to a University of Cambridge analysis for the Electoral Reform Society.

Voting Blogs: Distance as Discrimination: Native Voting Rights in Rural Montana Litigated in Wandering Medicine v. McCulloch | The State of Elections

The seven Indian reservations that intersect with Montana’s massive counties face significant problems, including poverty, domestic violence, and obstacles to education. Native electoral representation, a tool essential for fixing these issues, is threatened by the thinly populated, hundred-mile distances between remote towns that stretch on bad roads through wild terrain. Distance motivated members of three tribes to file suit in U.S. District Court in Billings, Montana, in 2012. In their complaint, rural plaintiffs from the Fort Belknap, Crow, and Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservations alleged that three counties’ failure to create satellite offices allowing late registration and in-person absentee voting closer to Native population centers was unlawful discrimination under § 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Without satellite offices, plaintiffs argued, voting tribal members were forced to travel hundreds of miles round trip to the county seat, which constituted effective denial of the right to vote. Plaintiffs filed twenty-seven days before the 2012 general election, and requested a preliminary injunction requiring the counties to open satellite offices.

Voting Blogs: Online voter registration opens up access, but not always for all | electionlineWeekly

As of this week, 25 states and the District of Columbia have mechanisms in place to allow new voters to register to vote and existing voters to update their information all online — no printing, no stamps, no trek to the mailbox. By all accounts online voter registration has been wildly successful in the states where it has been introduced with statewide elections officials touting the large number of people registering and updating their information. While online voter registration has opened up access to the process to thousands — even hundreds of thousands — of people not previously engaged, one segment of the population is being left out of the online wave — voters with disabilities. A review by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Center for Accessible Technology (CAT) found that of the 20 OVR sites they visited in May 2014, only one — California’s — was completely accessible in the eyes of the review.

Voting Blogs: Certification Provides Critical Resources for Election Officials | Matt Masterson/EAC Blog

Last week I attended the Midwestern Election Officials Conference (MEOC) in Kansas City. It was a fantastic gathering of engaged election officials from across the Midwest focused on practical boots on the ground info to prepare for the 2016 election season. Prior to the start of the conference I had the pleasure of meeting with the leadership and staff at the Kansas City Board of Elections. Meetings like this are the best part of my job. I get to share what the EAC is doing while seeing local election offices and hearing from those who deal with the day to day work to prepare for the election. At the MEOC conference Brian Newby of Johnson County Kansas moderated a panel with all three EAC Commissioners. During that conversation Brian asked, “What does certification do for us?” After I answered the question and had a chance to reflect on my conversation with the KC staff I realized that many election officials must be wondering the same thing.

Voting Blogs: A case study on college poll workers – An in-depth look at the Chicago Program | electionlineWeekly

Elections officials looking to improve efficiency on election day should look no further than the nearest college, university or community college according to a recent study of the college poll worker program in Chicago. Among other things, the Student Leaders in Elections: A Case Study in College Poll Worker Recruitment found that recruiting college poll workers helps improve the transmission of election results, makes it easier to staff polling places in need because students aren’t married to a location and students who served as bilingual poll workers are more likely to serve in future elections. The U.S. Election Assistance Commission has long supported the practice of college poll workers and one of the recommendations of Presidential Commission on Election Administration was for jurisdictions to recruit more college students as poll workers.

Voting Blogs: Kyrgyzstan’s elections: a gentleman’s agreement | openDemocracy

Voters in Kyrgyzstan go to the polls this Sunday to elect a new parliament, with 14 political parties contesting the 120 seats in the Jogorku Kenesh. The ruling Social Democratic Party (SDRK), under its leader President Almazbek Atambayev, is set to keep its hold on government. But this time, other parties have also been given access to ‘administrative resources’ to help sway the voters, and Atambayev’s political competitors have been happily upholding the tradition of misusing them.