The Alaska Senate State Affairs Committee on Tuesday advanced a bill allowing felons the right to vote, despite concerns from one lawmaker. Republican Sen. Cathy Giessel of Anchorage says her constituents were concerned that the bill would absolve felons of their crimes before they had fully paid their debt to society. Read More
More than 11,000 registered Colorado voters were not U.S. citizens at the time they obtained a driver’s license, according to a review by Secretary of State Scott Gessler. The department is certain that 106 of these voters were improperly registered because they presented the state Department of Revenue with a noncitizen document after the date they registered to vote. Gessler and Rep. Chris Holbert, R-Parker, are pushing legislation that would allow the secretary of state to check the statewide voter database to determine whether registered voters are in fact citizens. Read More
On March 8, U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell, an Obama appointee, ruled against the Libertarian Party, which was seeking a court order to require the Election Board to count write-in votes for Bob Barr in the November 2008 election. Barr was the only presidential candidate who had filed a declaration of write-in candidacy. Judge Howell upheld the constitutionality of refusing to count the write-ins for a declared write-in presidential candidate, unless the vote-counting computer believes that a write-in candidate might have won the election. Here is the 23-page opinion. In 1972, supporters of Benjamin Spock, presidential candidate of the Peoples Party, had filed a lawsuit to obtain write-in space for president on general election ballots in the District of Columbia. That case was called Kamins v Board of Elections, and was in the D.C. Court system, not the federal court system. The D.C. Court of Appeals said, “The Board was in error when it failed to count appellant’s vote…The fundamental nature of the right involved persuades us that construction of the statute in favor of the franchise is the course which we must follow.” On remand to the D.C. Superior Court, that lower court wrote, “Ordered, that the Defendant Board of Elections count the names of write-in candidates for President and Vice-President, provided said write-in candidate has a qualified slate of electors whose names and affidavits have been filed with the Defendant Board of Elections.” Notwithstanding that court order, the D.C. Board of Elections has never tallied the write-in votes for any write-in presidential candidate in the general election. After the Kamins decision, the Board passed a regulation saying only the total number of all presidential write-ins must be counted, and that no count need be made of how many write-ins any individual candidate received, unless the total number of write-ins showed a write-in candidate might have won. Read More
On the whole, Tuesday’s city election went off without a hitch, with results rolling in 20 minutes after the polls closed and one clear winner in District 3. But the District 2 race, determined by a mere 11 votes, triggered an automatic recount, and with it swirling skepticism over minor hiccups at the polls. Commissioner Richard Clapp, who apparently lost to challenger Paul Caragiulo, wants to make sure every vote is counted as the city prepares for a recount Friday. “If the numbers come back like they did last night, there’s probably not much question,” Clapp said, noting he would prefer a hand recount because of rumors that some scanners had malfunctioned. Read More
Florida Gov. Rick Scott and other Cabinet-level officials voted unanimously Wednesday to roll back state rules enacted four years ago that made it easier for many ex-felons to regain the right to vote. Now, under the new rules, even nonviolent offenders would have to wait five years after the conclusion of their sentences to apply for the chance to have their civil rights restored. The vote carries national political implications. Many GOP leaders never forgave then-Gov. Charlie Crist for his move to make civil rights restoration almost automatic for most ex-felons. Read More
Already facing multiple felony counts in Hamilton County, Secretary of State Charlie White is facing yet another investigation. At the heart of the matter is a massive 265-page report compiled under then-Secretary of State Todd Rokita allegedly detailing evidence against White. Special prosecutors John Dowd and Dan Sigler called for the Indiana Inspector General’s office to investigate whether White improperly accessed the file after he took over the office in January. Read More
Two former Clay County election officials received long prison sentences Tuesday for their roles in a vote-buying conspiracy that a federal judge said was astonishing in its scope. U.S. District Judge Danny C. Reeves sentenced Charles Wayne Jones, 71, to 20 years in prison and William E. Stivers, 58, to 241⁄3 years. Those decisions signal the potential for similar long sentences for some of the six others convicted with Jones and Stivers last year. Read More
A former school superintendent and a former county clerk were sentenced to federal prison Wednesday their roles in a conspiracy to control local politics through buying and stealing votes. U.S. District Judge Danny C. Reeves sentenced Doug Adams, the former superintendent, who was convicted of money laundering and racketeering, to 293 months — more than 24 years — in prison. Reeves said Adams was clearly a ringleader in the vote-buying enterprise. Freddy W. Thompson, the former county clerk, was sentenced to 12½ years in prison. Read More
Crow Wing County commissioners heard a request for a special prosecutor Tuesday. The county took no action on the request but listened to several people who spoke on the issue during the open forum. Alan Stene said his son, James, a Clark Lake Homes resident, was taken by the group home staff to vote this past fall. Stene described his 35-year-old son as a vulnerable adult who suffered a traumatic brain injury after a near-drowning when he was 12. Stene said his son’s mental capabilities are between the ages of 10-15 and a voter fraud crime was committed using his son. In December, Crow Wing County Attorney Don Ryan said he did not find evidence supporting a claim of voter fraud. At Tuesday’s board meeting, Stene said the county’s investigation focused on the voter fraud and closed prematurely. He said his son’s case was not unique and other individuals were involved. Read More
A late-breaking bill requiring voters to present photo identification is as good as dead, a key legislator said today. “I don’t think there’s enough time,” said state Rep. Mary Helen Garcia, a Las Cruces Democrat who chairs the Voters and Elections Committee. Garcia’s 13-member panel was to hear the bill today. That did not happen because the sponsor, Rep. Cathrynn Brown, filed a substitute Monday night, Garcia said. Read More
Villages that run their own elections can continue to use mechanical-lever voting machines until the end of next year, under legislation signed last week by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Villages asked for more time to switch over to the state’s new voting system of paper ballots and optical scanners. The new equipment was in use statewide for the first time last year. The law does not apply to villages whose elections are run by county boards of election, and Monroe County already provides machines and workers to run village elections. But other villages that run their own elections faced obstacles switching to the new technology. Read More
On March 9, Warren Redlich and Mark Axinn filed a lawsuit in state court against the New York State Board of Elections, over the ballot format in November 2010 and many previous elections. The lawsuit points out that section 7-104(3)(c), which describes the general election ballot format, says each party is to have its own column or row. However, in 2010, the Libertarian Party was squeezed into the same column or row as another political party. The lawsuit, called Redlich v New York State Board of Canvassers, also explains that 7-104(3)(c) has not been followed in the past because the mechanical voting machines didn’t have enough space to give each party its own column or row. But, the lawsuit then explains, New York no longer uses mechanical voting machines, and therefore the ballot format used in November 2010 was illegal and the illegality had no justification. New York used paper ballots in November 2010. Read More
The Tennessee legislature is poised to un-do a measure it passed three years ago to increase confidence in the state’s balloting system. In 2008 and 2009, grassroots activists began to complain that no one could be sure in a computerized voting system that his or her vote counted. Eventually those activists were joined by public interest groups like Common Cause. They talked Tennessee lawmakers into enacting a system where voters would mark paper ballots, which would then be read by optical scanners. If an election was contested, the paper ballots could be audited. It was called the Voter Confidence Act. Dick Williams of Common Cause is frustrated at the latest delay. “We of course think the cost is much less than they’re touting it is, and we think it’s certainly worth it whether it’s state or local government to fund it, to have the confidence that this legislature passed almost unanimously in 2008.” Read More
Those opposed to the voter ID measure, mostly Democrats, say forcing Texans to show a valid I.D. at the polls will keep many citizens from voting. They say this group includes the elderly, the poor and certain minority groups. Supporters say it’s an ideal way to cut down on fraud. “Lots of states have been going to it for the last several years and I think it’s just a ripple effect from other states,” says Lubbock County elections administrator Dorothy Kennedy. “There has been some situations of voter fraud in other counties and things, so I think it’s been something they’ve been waiting to do.” The bill would require educating the public about the changes, with individual counties sending out notifications. Read More
When voters head to the polls in November 2012, they will see some major changes. For starters, they will see the City Council and School Board candidates on the ballot for the first time since the city began voting for city offices. But they’ll also see new voting machines. As the result of recent action in the Virginia General Assembly, Alexandria is required to return to optical-scan voting technology — the same method that was used before the current technology in 2004. Moving back to the old way of voting will cost taxpayers $270,000 to purchase new machines for each precinct. Each precinct would have at least one of the rotary dial machines currently in use, which allow voters with disabilities to cast a ballot without assistance. “So we’re going to go back to what we had before?” asked Vice Mayor Kerry Donley during a budget work session last week. “That’s the legal requirement,” said Budget Director Bruce Johnson.
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