Time to stop calling the gang running Florida’s government conservative. They’re busy concocting a liberal dose of new regulations that would serve their fortunes first, and Floridians dead last. It amounts to their ripping apart election laws that have made it easier for Floridians to vote, and replacing them with laws that could stack the deck — election outcomes — in the Republicans’ favor. Forget for the moment that Republicans already control two-thirds of the Legislature. And the governor’s office. And the Cabinet. And 19 of Florida’s 25 congressional seats. The Legislature has forgotten all of that. If Republican lawmakers manage to reconcile the House elections bill that passed on Thursday with the Senate elections bill that’s expected to pass next week, they’ll have pressed their advantage by giving Floridians… Far less time to vote. By most measures, the state’s two-week early voting procedure has been fabulously successful, with about one-in-five voters opting for it. Full Article
House Speaker Kurt Zellers found himself in a constitutional bind on Thursday after saying that voting was a privilege, not a right. The Maple Grove Republican made the comment Wednesday night during a local radio show, “The Late Debate.” He recanted his words on Thursday, saying he had misspoken. The gaffe came amid a discussion of legislation that would require voters to show photo identification at the polls. That bill is nearing a vote after months of hearings. “When you go to even a Burger King or a McDonalds and use your debit card, they’ll ask you to see your ID,” Zellers said sometime after 11 p.m. “Should we have to do that when we vote, something that is one of the most sacred — I think it’s a privilege, it’s not a right. Everybody doesn’t get it, because if you go to jail or if you commit some heinous crime your rights are taken away. This is a privilege.” The right to vote is explicitly referenced in several constitutional amendments, in addition to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. “I fully understand it’s a right we all have,” Zellers said on Thursday. “I probably should have said it a little bit better at that late hour at night.” His comments drew a quick rebuke from DFLers, some of whom believe the voter ID legislation will hinder seniors and college students from voting. Full Article
Florida lawmakers passed a dramatic overhaul of state election law Thursday night, a move that GOP legislators say will bring integrity to the process and one that Democrats counter will disenfranchise voters across the state. The measure, a major rewrite to the laws that govern the state’s elections, passed 79-37. Among other things, the measure (HB 1355) would limit voters’ ability to change their address at the polls, change third-party voter registration rules and make it more difficult for citizen groups to put amendments on the ballot. It also sets up a committee that will decide when the state’s 2012 presidential primary will take place. Read More
The Florida House passed a sweeping overhaul of election laws Thursday that Republicans say will streamline voting machinery and Democrats say will make it harder for people to vote in the nation’s biggest battleground state in 2012. Passage on a 79-37 party-line vote followed two days of intensely partisan debate — a harbinger of next year’s presidential election when Florida’s newly increased 29 electoral votes and all 160 legislative seats will be at stake in a pivotal reapportionment year. But the closest that any Republican lawmaker came to stating the obvious — invoking President Barack Obama’s name — was a passing reference to preventing “the Chicago method” of voting more than once. In another sign of the muscle-flexing power of Republican supermajorities in both houses, the GOP is making changes to voting laws for the next election, and the vastly outnumbered Democrats are powerless to stop it. “This is a great country. Our vote is precious, and we’re going to protect it,” said Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, sponsor of the bill, HB 1355. Neither Florida’s election supervisors nor the secretary of state requested the most controversial changes, which are among the most hotly debated since the aftermath of the 2000 presidential recount. The House bill eliminates a four-decade-old provision that allows voters who have moved to update their legal addresses at the polls on Election Day. Unless those voters have moved within their home county, they must file provisional ballots that are reviewed after the election. Republicans said the change is needed to prevent people from voting twice, but Democrats say there’s no evidence of voter fraud and the change will hurt mobile college students and military personnel the most. Read More
It’s still a year and a half until the presidential election, but members of Florida’s Legislature are already jockeying over who will be able to vote and how. Republicans — who control both Florida’s House and Senate — are sponsoring bills that would restrict the ability of third-party groups to conduct voter registration drives. Another measure would slash the number of days allotted for early voting. Democrats and independent voter groups say it’s all about politics. Read More
The Indiana Senate has approved a measure that would allow Republican Governor Mitch Daniels to appoint a new secretary of state if current officeholder Charlie White is found to be ineligible. Democrats are calling it a blatant power grab. White, a Republican, is under indictment on voter fraud charges. Democrats are now challenging his eligibility. Current state law requires runner-up Democrat Vop Osili to take office if White is ineligible. The Senate voted 33-17 today to instead allow the governor to pick a new elections chief if the winner is ineligible. The provision is part of a larger election bill that now goes to the House for consideration. The move drew a Senate floor protest from Democrat Greg Taylor, who says Republicans are trying to change the rules of the game while its being played. Read More
Embattled Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White appealed a court ruling Thursday that sent a dispute about whether he committed voter fraud back to a state commission, with his attorney arguing that the board doesn’t have the power to make such a decision. His lawyer, Jim Bopp, also argued that a judge improperly directed the Indiana Recount Commission to consider issues that are already being decided in separate criminal case. “That is asking the recount commission to make the same determination the criminal court is being asked to make,” Bopp said. White, Indiana’s top elections official, is accused of committing voter fraud by listing his ex-wife’s address as his own on a voter registration form. White has previously acknowledged the voting error, chalking it up to his busy schedule and new marriage. Democrats argued that White wasn’t legally registered to vote and shouldn’t have been allowed to run for office in November. Democrats took the case to the commission, which dismissed the case in December. Marion Circuit Judge Louis Rosenberg ruled earlier this month that the commission’s December dismissal “was not in accordance with law.” Rosenberg remanded the case to the commission for proceedings “to be conducted as expeditiously as possible.” Read More
Secretary of State Ross Miller really can’t do anything until Gov. Brian Sandoval inevitably appoints Rep. Dean Heller to John Ensign’s soon-to-be vacant U.S. Senate seat. But after that happens on May 3, Miller will face an unprecedented situation that will leave him, just as inevitably, praised by some and criticized by others. History in other states shows that in these cases of first impressions, some unhappy would-be congressman will sue because the process isn’t what he or she would like. In Nevada, the problem is simple: The law is, as it sometimes is, clear as mud. And in this case, NRS 304.230 seems to take precedence, but other statutes could come into play. Read More
South Carolina voters will need to have photographic identification to vote under a deal reached by a House and Senate conference committee Wednesday. Three House members signed off on the deal while two of three senators did so. The House and Senate will decide whether to accept the compromise next week and send it to the governor’s desk. Republicans say the bill is about voter integrity. Democrats say it suppresses turnout by minority, disabled and elderly voters who lack a license and they argued educating people on the measure and supplying a free photo ID will be expensive. Democrats had been willing to go along in exchange for adding a new early voting process in South Carolina. But House Republicans, including state Rep. Alan Clemmons, insisted that the bill be stripped down to requiring photographic identification. “We will have cleaner elections. We will have solid elections coming out of this clean voter ID bill,” said Clemmons, a Myrtle Beach Republican who lead the House negotiators. Sen. John Scott, a Columbia Democrat, said scuttling early voting took too much away from voters. Read More
After announcing she would request a statewide recount in the Supreme Court election earlier this week, challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg and incumbent Justice David Prosser argued in court Thursday to reach a decision as to how the recount would be done. Dane County Circuit Court Judge Richard Ness approved a recount procedure that would include a hand recount in 31 counties and allow for electronic voting equipment for the rest of Wisconsin. Since declaring victory in the race Monday, Prosser’s campaign has been outspoken against having a recount. But Kloppenburg’s campaign manager Melissa Mulliken said she agreed with the judge’s decision. “We’re pleased the issue was resolved so quickly and believe it is a good outcome,” Mulliken said. “I don’t think any data has been or will be destroyed.” The Government Accountability Board, responsible for overseeing elections in Wisconsin, filed a petition Thursday morning with the circuit court to determine whether voting data in counties using electronic polling devices would have to be destroyed. The automated equipment saved voting data onto memory sticks, which Wisconsin law says cannot be erased until after a recount is finished. However, in order for recount officials to store recount polling data, GAB spokesperson Reid Magney said the memory sticks would have to be reused but not before they were erased first. A judge can grant permission to erase the memory sticks, but Ness instead allowed a hand recount to be done in those 31 counties that used Optech Eagle machines. The other 41 county recounts can be done using their existing electronic tabulating machines because those machines have replacement memory sticks available or have a different storage device all together, Mulliken said. Read More
Petitions are filed now to recall eight state senators so far — five Republicans and three Democrats — in the battle over the budget repair bill. The cost of holding recall elections will land on the shoulders of the county. Already facing two — if not three — potential recall elections, Fond du Lac County Clerk Lisa Freiberg has a budget that’s about to see a dramatic shift. After having a $20,000 surplus last year, there’s now the potential to end in the red. “I was looking at that 20,000 for the recall elections. The recount kind of slipped in here now, so I don’t know if that 20,00 will be enough,” Freiberg said. Freiberg said the cost of printing ballots, database programming, and paying poll workers won’t be cheap. It’s the same story in Winnebago County, where a special election wasn’t in the budget. Read More
House Republicans are seeking to abolish the federal Election Assistance Commission — as if the nation is fully recovered from the hanging-chad nightmare of 2000. The 9-year-old commission was created in bipartisan Congressional resolve to repair the nation’s crazy quilt of tattered election standards and faltering machinery. The commission was charged with upgrading the mechanics of voting by certifying electoral equipment, channeling needed federal aid and guidance to states, and developing a national mail-in voter registration system. After a slow start, it has made progress as the 2012 elections loom. But there is still a lot more that needs repairing. Representative Gregg Harper, a Mississippi Republican and the elections subcommittee chairman, nevertheless insists that the commission “is no longer essential” and is leading the drive to flat-line it for a savings of $18 million. Surreally, a related Republican bill would transfer the agency’s mandate to the Federal Election Commission — Washington’s nonpareil in agency dysfunction. That would only invite partisan standoff and voting scandal. The Election Assistance Commission should have been focused earlier on pushing all states to require a paper trail with their post-chad electronic voting machines. But it has tested voting systems for accuracy, and it oversees the special requirements of military and disabled voters. It could make more progress if turf-minded state officials were more open to its valuable studies on better ballot design. Far from going out of the business, the commission needs renewed support from Congress. For the sake of credible elections, the House gambit should be rebuffed.
There may be lot of debate in India over efficacy of the Electronic Voting Machines but Egypt, which is holding elections after Hosni Mubarak’s ouster, is willing to try the “wonder machine — the EVMs” — in the country wide polls later this year. Egypt will not be the first country to use Indian Electronic Voting Machines. They have been successfully deployed in Afghanistan general elections. The Election Commission has also provided inputs to Nepal, Bhutan, Ethopia and Mexico on use of EVMs in making the election process more fair and transparent. Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi on Friday offered to provide EVMs to Egypt for conducting the elections. “India is glad to lend Egypt its machines since there is not enough time left before elections,” PTI quoted Quraishi as telling reporters in Cairo. This was after his meeting with Egyptian Minister of Justice and Communication. Read More
Returning Officer (RO) for N65 Senadin Chai Ko Het’s rejection of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR)’s request for a recount after the completion of the official addition of votes at the Centre for the Official Addition of Votes, was in accordance with the law. Chai was right when he acted in accordance with subregulation 23A (1), subregulation 25 (13) and subregulation 25D (5A) of the Elections (Conduct of Elections) Regulations 1981 (R81), said Sarawak Election Commission (EC) through a press statement signed by its director Datu Takun Sunggah yesterday. However the State EC advised that, any party who was still not satisfied with the decision of the RO could file an election petition in the High Court within 21 days of the date of the publication of the result of the election in the Gazette and in this case, the result of Senadin election which is won by Barisan Nasional (BN) Datuk Lee Kim Shin on the night of April 16. Read More
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