Candidates in close races who find themselves contemplating whether to seek a recount of the ballots — and the resolution of related questions about the quality and character of the initial count — need to have some standard for determining when it is reasonable to make the demand. Certainly, if the difference is a handful of votes, no one would argue with seeking a recount. But what about when the margin is larger, such as the 7,316-vote difference between Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg and Justice David Prosser in the hotly contested race for state Supreme Court? Was it unreasonable for Kloppenburg to seek a recount? Not if you ask a Republican.
Back in 1960, when the closest presidential race in modern American history was decided for Democrat John Kennedy, the Republican National Committee and state Republican parties sought recounts in 11 states, including Texas. Kennedy’s advantage over Republican Richard Nixon in Texas in the initial count was 46,000 votes. While Democrats objected that Kennedy’s margin was too large to be overturned, Republicans argued that allegations of voting irregularities in a number of Texas counties justified the demand. Similarly, in the 1976 presidential race, after Democrat Jimmy Carter beat Republican Gerald Ford in Ohio by more than 9,000, Republicans sought a recount of the votes in that state. And just last year in Minnesota’s gubernatorial race, Democrat Mark Dayton led Republican Tom Emmer by a little less than 9,000 votes. A hand recount of the state’s ballots confirmed Dayton’s winning margin was 8,770 votes. Emmer’s campaign and the state Republican Party continued to wage court fights and challenge ballots until more than a month after the election, when Emmer finally conceded. In all three cases, Republicans made reasonable requests for recounts, even if those requests failed to overturn the results.
But Wisconsinites know that recounts can alter results. Full Article
If anyone needs a clue as to why the state’s Republican-dominated Legislature is making proposals that puts early voting in its cross hairs, one place to look might be Time magazine’s Oct. 30, 2008 issue. In it was a piece titled “How Early Voting Could Cost McCain Florida.” It detailed how early-voting Democrats, many of them energized by the candidacy of Barack Obama, were outnumbering Republicans at early voting sites by more than 20 percentage points. One professor talked about how early voting rewards campaigns that are better organized because it requires more refined voter-mobilization efforts, and how it makes it easier for everyday people, such as hourly workers, to participate without having to worry about taking time off on Election Day. Indeed, McCain lost Florida. Another presidential election is around the corner. The GOP doesn’t want to risk a repeat of 2008, it seems. That’s the only plausible explanation why lawmakers would concoct laws that are aimed at improving their political fortunes, but not at improving the fortunes of Floridians who are struggling to find jobs in an atmosphere of double-digit unemployment. And it’s shameful. If the Legislature gets its way, the state’s early voting period would be whittled from two weeks to one. It also wants to shorten from 10 days to two days the time in which groups holding voter registration drives can submit new paperwork to the state, and it wants to change a four-decade-old law that allows people who changed their name or address by updating their information at the polls on Election Day. That law makes it easier for college students, as well as poor people who move around a lot in search of jobs and affordable housing to vote. But election supervisors say that the change proposed by the Legislature would leave them inundated with provisional ballots, something that could lead to longer wait times for counting ballots and other problems. Clay County Elections Supervisor Chris Chambliss told The Times-Union that he’s baffled by that proposal, especially since there is a statewide voter database available to track where a person last voted. Full Article
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy used the Citizens’ Election Program to great advantage in his winning race for governor last year. Strange, then, that he would preside over the destruction of the landmark program and its host agency, the venerable state Elections Enforcement Commission. That’s what will happen if the state budget as currently written becomes law. Mr. Malloy had been a strong supporter of Connecticut’s voluntary program to publicly finance state elections since it was created by statute in 2005. But a handful of lawmakers’ terrible decision to eviscerate the enforcement commission, scatter its parts and place administration of the public financing of elections in a partisan elective office — the secretary of the state — will undermine public trust in the Citizens’ Election Program. Read More
Georgia’s election law should be changed to allow more third-party candidates, voting machines with paper records and vetting of presidential hopefuls, according to 19 witnesses at Wednesday’s initial meeting of the Georgia Election Advisory Council. Secretary of State Brian Kemp, whose office oversees elections, conceived the council and appointed it 15 members of legislators, academics and elections officials. When he first announced it, he said its goal would be to find ideas to save money and improve efficiency. The witnesses said they were looking for more substantive changes. “A lot of these things are going to depend on the will of the legislature,” Kemp said. A handful of witnesses railed against the state’s electronic voting machines because they don’t have a paper record that can be audited in a recount. While they have often raised the same complaint in various forums since the machines were first used 10 years ago, they may get more attention from the commission this year, according to commission member Mike Jablonski, attorney for the Democratic Party of Georgia. That’s because the machines are going to be close to the end of their useful life, and the commission could make recommendations on their replacements for when the state budget allows the upgrade, he said. Read More
Charlie White is asking a Marion County judge to temporarily stop Democrats’ challenge to his eligibility to serve as secretary of state. If his request is granted, Democrats’ plan to oust White through a civil complaint could be derailed. They claim he wasn’t legally registered to vote at the time he declared his candidacy and wasn’t eligible to run. In a motion filed today, White says the civil challenge should be stopped until a criminal case pending in Hamilton County is resolved. White faces seven felony charges, including three counts of voter fraud. Since both cases involve the legality of his voter registration, allowing the civil case to proceed could jeopardize White’s right to not incriminate himself, according to the motion. If the judge declines to wait until the criminal case is resolved, White is asking that the civil complaint be stopped at least until the Indiana Court of Appeals can hear his appeal in the civil case. Read More
Nevada’s special election law passed in 2003 asked the secretary of state to promulgate regulations, which were never enacted by then SOS Dean Heller, whose impending appointment to the U.S. Senate will spark the first such balloting in state annals. That’s just one of the many twists in the coming chaos, which will have the nation focused on Nevada as the first test for the House matrix going into 2012. I have already given you some of the background here: CD2special The bill, passed in 2003, is here: TEXT AB344 You can see that the process is relatively clear – a free-for-all, not using the party committees – but Section 7 is important: “The Secretary of State shall adopt such regulations as are necessary for conducting elections pursuant to the provisions of sections 2 to 7, inclusive, of this act.” That was never done, so here we are, with other statutes calling for the party committees to be involved in vacancies, although – and I’m no lawyer – this one is specific to House vacancies. Read More
Two bills that would close loopholes and increase transparency in Nevada’s election and campaign finance laws won approval in the Assembly today with no time to spare. Secretary of State Ross Miller is seeking the bills restricting the use of multiple political action committees to bypass campaign contribution limits and requiring electronic filing of campaign contribution and expense reports by most candidates. Today was the deadline for the bills to win Assembly approval or see no further consideration in the 2011 legislative session. They will now be considered by the Senate. Assembly Bill 452 contains the provisions requiring most candidates for public office to file their campaign reports electronically so the data can be entered into a searchable database. The bill also requires the reports to be filed before early voting so voters can see who gave money to candidates and where they spent their funds. Assembly Bill 81 contains a provision restricting the creation of political action committees to circumvent limits on how much money can be contributed to a campaign as is now being reviewed in Rory Reid’s failed gubernatorial bid. Read More
Heading into a presidential election in which North Carolina could be pivotal, a new Republican-backed bill would curtail early voting in the state and bar new voters from registering at the polls. The Senate bill introduced last week would shrink the early-voting period by at least a week, end it on Sundays and stop so-called “same-day registration.” “We were just trying to minimize the time early voting polls were open … so the expense is not so great for local election boards,” Sen. Jim Davis, a Macon County Republican who sponsored the bill, said Monday. “Everybody who wants to vote still can vote.” It’s unclear how much support the bill has, even among Republicans. The bill is still in a Senate committee and has a long way to go before it could become law. Read More
Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus has recused herself from overseeing the Supreme Court recount set to begin statewide Wednesday. Nickolaus requested to be replaced from overseeing the recount in a letter to County Executive Dan Vrakas, chief of staff Ellen Nowak said. Vrakas appointed retired Circuit Court Judge Robert Mawdsley to oversee the recount. Nickolaus came under fire after disclosing that she failed to report votes from the City of Brookfield on election night. The campaign of JoAnne Kloppenburg requested a recount after the official tally shows Kloppenburg lost to Justice David Prosser by 7,316 votes – less than 0.5% of the 1.5 million votes cast in the race. The election initially appeared much closer, with Kloppenburg up by 204 votes, before Nickolaus announced her initial, unofficial tally failed to include the 14,315 votes from the City of Brookfield. Nowak said Nickolaus participated in Monday’s planning meeting with the Government Accountability Board, a teleconference held with county clerks, and submitted her letter afterward. Read More
The recount of the votes in the recent Wisconsin Supreme Court race is the right thing to do. Challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg, who trails incumbent Justice David Prosser by 7,316 votes, requested the statewide recount recently. “Wisconsin residents must have full confidence that these election results are legitimate and that this election was fair,” she said. She’s absolutely correct. It’s easy to say that Kloppenburg is motivated by sour grapes and that taxpayers should not have to pay for a recount that could cost more than $1 million and in all likelihood not change the outcome of the race. Even Prosser jumped on that bandwagon by releasing a statement that accused Kloppenburg of “wasting taxpayers’ hard-earned money.”
Consider if the roles were reversed. What if Prosser had won by a narrow margin and a Democratic county clerk with a history of state political connections and a questionable track record of counting ballots suddenly announced she forgot to count more than 14,000 votes and Kloppenburg emerged as the victor? Would everyone still feel the same about whether the recount was needed? Prosser’s campaign spokesman Brian Nemoir stated that the only thing Kloppenburg will accomplish by the recount is to challenge and disenfranchise thousands of Wisconsin’s citizens. He’s wrong because the opposite may indeed occur. If we do not, through a painstaking recount process, ensure our citizens that we can trust our ballot process, then that will disenfranchise our citizens. Read More
The state Supreme Court recount got off to a wobbly start here Wednesday. After more than a half-hour of meticulous instructions and ground rules relayed by Waukesha County’s chief canvasser, retired Judge Robert G. Mawdsley, questions were raised about the very first bag of ballots to be counted, from the Town of Brookfield. As canvassers and tabulators compared a numbered seal on a bag with the number recorded for that bag by a town election inspector who prepared the paperwork on election night, the numbers didn’t match. “What a great way to start,” one official tabulator said. Observers from the campaigns of Justice David Prosser and JoAnne Kloppenburg both agreed, however, that the error seemed to be in the inspector’s use of a “2” instead of a “3.” Numbers on the sealing tag and on the bag did match. Both sides and the Board of Canvassers agreed that the bag should be opened and the votes counted. Mawdsley, who retired in 2009 as a judge after 21 years on the bench and now does mediation work, was tapped last Friday to sit in as chairman of the canvass board for the recount after Nickolaus recused herself. In her letter announcing the decision to County Executive Dan Vrakas, Nickolaus said that the state’s elections chief, Kevin Kennedy of the Government Accountability Board, “reminded me of the appropriateness of this method under the current circumstances.” The state board is investigating Nickolaus’ election collecting and reporting procedures after her 14,000-vote mix-up and will report findings within 60 days. Read More
The third statewide election recount in Wisconsin history began Wednesday morning with Dane County’s clerk expressing doubt that she will have time to tabulate the county’s more than 182,000 ballots by the May 9 deadline. “We only have 13 days, and I believe ours will take longer,” said clerk Karen Peters. Each of the state’s 72 counties is recounting ballots in the April 5 state Supreme Court election, which saw Justice David Prosser defeat challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg by less than half of 1 percent of the 1.5 million votes cast. Kloppenburg said last week when she asked for the recount that there were widespread reports of “anomalies” in the election and she wanted to make sure that votes were counted fairly. Prosser’s camp has said that his 7,316-vote margin of victory was too great to overcome. In Dane County, Peters said the county Board of Canvassers will work from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. today, and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day thereafter until the job is done. The state Government Accountability Board, which oversees elections, set the deadline but left open the possibility that it could be extended for some counties. Read More
Less than a year before the 2012 presidential voting begins, Republican legislatures and governors across the country are rewriting voting laws to make it much harder for the young, the poor and African-Americans — groups that typically vote Democratic — to cast a ballot. Spreading fear of a nonexistent flood of voter fraud, they are demanding that citizens be required to show a government-issued identification before they are allowed to vote. Republicans have been pushing these changes for years, but now more than two-thirds of the states have adopted or are considering such laws. The Advancement Project, an advocacy group of civil rights lawyers, correctly describes the push as “the largest legislative effort to scale back voting rights in a century.” Anyone who has stood on the long lines at a motor vehicle office knows that it isn’t easy to get such documents. For working people, it could mean giving up a day’s wages. A survey by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law found that 11 percent of citizens, 21 million people, do not have a current photo ID. That fraction increases to 15 percent of low-income voting-age citizens, 18 percent of young eligible voters and 25 percent of black eligible voters. Those demographic groups tend to vote Democratic, and Republicans are imposing requirements that they know many will be unable to meet. Read More
Across the country, Republican lawmakers are resurrecting one of their party’s favorite but most cowardly tactics to quote, win elections. They are seeking to create new barriers to voting by passing stricter voter ID laws intended to prevent the very electoral segments who helped to elect President Obama in 2008 from receiving ballots in 2012, particularly the young, poor and elderly, according to voting rights groups. “Touted under the guise of addressing so-called ‘voter fraud,’ the proposals are part of a quiet but coordinated effort to reduce the voting strength of minority voters who saw greater turnout in 2008,” reads the Advancement Project’s new report, “What’s Wrong With This Picture: New Voter ID Proposals Part of a National Push to Turn back the Clock on Voting Rights.” “The 2008 elections saw record turnout by black and brown voters, offering a glimpse of what a more equitable voter participation might look like. The photo ID proposals are part of a concerted effort to turn back the clock on voting rights.” The Advancement Project, a non-profit voting right law firm, said there were bills or new laws in 32 states requiring voters to present specific forms of government-issued photo IDs to get a ballot. Most states now require voters to show ID to vote, but those can range from driver’s license to bank statements to utility bills. In contrast, the proposed or just-passed bills–in Texas, Missouri, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina, Minnesota and Ohio — would only accept non-expired photo IDs from the federal government or state in which they vote. Read More
Voting News archives here at http://votingnews.blogspot.com/
Also at Twitter http://twitter.com/VotingNews
Subscribe to Voting News at this link: http://tinyurl.com/votingnews
The Voting News is a free service made possible by the Verified Voting Foundation. You can help support the Voting News by sending a check to Verified Voting Foundation, PO Box 4104, Carlsbad, CA 92018. Be sure to note “for Voting News” in the memo line of your check! Your contribution is tax deductible to the extent permitted by law.
Donate online at this link: http://tinyurl.com/donate-vn
Disclaimer: Articles and commentary included in “Voting News” do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors of Voting News,or its allied organizations. Articles are selected for inclusion to inform subscribers’ability to draw their own conclusions based on noteworthy and credible news,research, legislation, and debate bearing on the integrity of elections.