Charlie Webster sounds a lot like LeRoy Symm. Symm, the registrar of voters in Waller County, Texas, had a special questionnaire he used for college students. It included questions such as: Do you own property in the county? Where did you attend church? What are your job plans?
If Symm and his deputies knew a voter by name and face, they were simply registered. College students had to pass Symm’s test. The U.S. Supreme Court in 1979 said this violated the Constitution, thereby establishing the practice of allowing college students to list their dormitory as their residence for the purposes of voting.
Three decades later, the ruling has not deterred Webster, the Maine Republican Party chairman, who weeks ago brandished a list of more than 200 college students he said likely engaged in voter fraud. Read More
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.” Read More
As the nation gears up for the 2012 presidential election, Republican officials have launched an unprecedented, centrally coordinated campaign to suppress the elements of the Democratic vote that elected Barack Obama in 2008. Just as Dixiecrats once used poll taxes and literacy tests to bar black Southerners from voting, a new crop of GOP governors and state legislators has passed a series of seemingly disconnected measures that could prevent millions of students, minorities, immigrants, ex-convicts and the elderly from casting ballots. “What has happened this year is the most significant setback to voting rights in this country in a century,” says Judith Browne-Dianis, who monitors barriers to voting as co-director of the Advancement Project, a civil rights organization based in Washington, D.C.
Republicans have long tried to drive Democratic voters away from the polls. “I don’t want everybody to vote,” the influential conservative activist Paul Weyrich told a gathering of evangelical leaders in 1980. “As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.” But since the 2010 election, thanks to a conservative advocacy group founded by Weyrich, the GOP’s effort to disrupt voting rights has been more widespread and effective than ever. In a systematic campaign orchestrated by the American Legislative Exchange Council – and funded in part by David and Charles Koch, the billionaire brothers who bankrolled the Tea Party – 38 states introduced legislation this year designed to impede voters at every step of the electoral process. Read More
Last fall’s general election in sparsely populated Saguache County already is one of the most scrutinized in Colorado history, having prompted a report by the secretary of state, a statewide grand jury investigation and at least three lawsuits. Yet this week Saguache is setting a new precedent for election transparency in Colorado, playing host to what state officials believe is the first public review of voted ballots and other election materials of its kind.
And when the days-long recount of the approximately 2,500 ballots is complete — possibly late today, maybe Thursday — absolutely none of last fall’s results will change. That’s OK with Steve Carlson, the 2010 Republican candidate for county commissioner who went home on election night thinking he’d won, only to have the results flipped a few days later. While his race is one of the two controversial races being recounted, Carlson insists what’s at play here is something more important than a commissioner’s seat. Read More
According to District Judge Martin Gonzales, Saguache County Clerk Melinda Myers must allow Secretary of State Scott Gessler to have access to Saguache County’s voted ballots from the November 2010 election. 31. He plans to recount them the end of August. As promised prior to the hearing,
Myers has agreed to follow the Judge’s ruling and turn over ballots. But even as the Clerk and Commissioners sought clarity on the ballot issue, a group of citizens calling themselves the Committee to Recall Melinda Myers as County Clerk and Recorder continue to gather signatures on a recall petition. They hope to put the recall on the ballot in a special election, probably after the November 2011 regular election. Read More
The Wisconsin state bar civil rights section’s chairwoman wants the U.S. Department of Justice to review the state’s new voter photo identification law and monitor its implementation.
In an Aug. 26 letter to Attorney General Eric Holder released Wednesday, Sally Stix says the law could potentially suppress the vote of thousands of Wisconsin residents without solving any voter fraud problems. Read More
Maine college students are under attack by the chairman of the state’s Republican Party who recently “brandished a list of more than 200 college students he said likely engaged in voter fraud.”
The problem? There’s no evidence that any of the 206 young people who voted in recent elections did anything wrong.
Republican Party chair Charlie Webster is attempting to challenge students’ right to register and vote where they attend school, indicating some had registered in their home state and then re-registered on campus, according to a report this week from the Bangor Daily News. Read More
Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie today (Tuesday, Aug. 30) announced that his office is currently seeking grant proposals from cities, townships and counties for accessibility improvements to polling places in Minnesota.
The approximately $400,000 in Federal Election Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities (EAID) grants are provided through the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002. Funds must be used to improve polling place accessibility for voters with disabilities and cannot be used for general improvements to structures. Read More
Gov. Nikki Haley’s invitation Wednesday to voters who lack the photo ID necessary to vote under South Carolina’s new law echoed a rental car slogan. “We’re picking you up,” she said.
The Department of Motor Vehicles has set aside Wednesday, Sept. 28, for anyone who needs a ride. Voters who lack transportation can call a toll-free number to arrange a pickup from a DMV employee, Haley said.
… Democratic Party Chairman Dick Harpootlian called it a lame attempt to quiet critics. “This is ridiculous. One day to get this done for 178,000 people is dishonest and cruel. This is a useless gesture,” he said. “This is not even a good PR stunt.” Read More
The state, not the counties, will pay the $539,137 cost of the Sept. 13 special congressional election spawned by disgraced John Ensign’s decision last spring to quit the U.S. Senate. After bickering about the cost Wednesday, members of the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee agreed unanimously to take the money out of their contingency fund, rather than making counties pay for the election.
Secretary of State Ross Miller, the state’s chief election officer, said that the counties had no time to prepare for the special election and that forcing them to cover costs out of their current budgets would pose a hardship. Counties typically pay their own election costs. The election would have cost Clark County about $33,000, according to a June estimate by the elections department. Read More
Liberian voters have rejected a raft of highly contested constitutional changes at a referendum, the electoral commission announced Wednesday. The stickiest proposed change was to shorten from 10 to five consecutive years the amount of time that presidential and vice-presidential candidates would be required to have lived in Liberia.
The existing clause was suspended in 2005 elections as most candidates had just recently returned from post-war exile. While more of those who turned out to vote in the referendum on August 23 backed the move than opposed it, by 292,318 votes to 246,473, the measure was nonetheless defeated as the ‘yes’ vote fell short of the necessary threshold of two-thirds of votes cast. Read More
Ghana’s 2012 General Election is just around the corner barely Fifteen months from now. Electronic Registration is fast becoming a preferred method of voter registration in many countries. The multi-million questions that many Ghanaians are contemplating about the Electronic Voter Registration day-in, day-out, among others are;
-Is the Electoral Commission facing serious set-backs with regards to the Electronic /Biometric Voter Registration, if no, what is preventing them from starting the exercise now.
-Is the Electoral Commission’s Budget for the 2012 General Elections being met by the Government? Read More
Cameroon will hold its presidential poll October 9. The country’s longtime president, Paul Biya, is expected to seek re-election despite calls to step down. Voter registration closes Wednesday in Cameroon, just one day after President Biya signed a decree setting the poll date for October 9.
The 78-year-old president has not yet said whether he will seek another seven-year term. Ruling party officials have urged him to run. Biya’s party, the Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement, or CPDM, will choose its candidate at a congress on September 15 and 16 in the capital Yaounde. Journalist Christopher Ambe in Cameroon says some want Biya to step aside. Read More