Maine: Early voting backers seek statewide vote to amend Maine Constitution | Bangor Daily News

It will take a state constitutional amendment to allow Mainers who vote early to place their ballots directly into a ballot box or voting machine rather than placing an absentee ballot into an envelope that’s sealed until Election Day. Advocates for that change gathered Wednesday at the State House to urge passage of LD 156, a bill that would trigger a statewide referendum to change language in the Maine Constitution to allow early voting. The bill would require two-thirds majority votes in both chambers of the Legislature. Early voting, which takes place in 32 other states, differs from in-person absentee ballot voting, which Maine now allows without proof of hardship by the end of a municipality’s business day on the Thursday before Election Day.

Missouri: Photo Voter I.D. Questions Remain | CBS St. Louis

Even if photo voter I.D. legislation finally passes in the Missouri Legislature this session there may still be court challenges at the federal level. That, from professor of Constitutional Law at Washington University, Greg Magarian. Lawmakers in Jefferson City are currently working on a Voter I.D. law that would require a constitutional amendment and be approved by voters. “That would clear Missouri courts” says Professor Magarian but there would still be questions that the U.S. Supreme Court might raise. “How easy or difficult is it to get a necessary form of I.D., what findings are there about how many people this would effectively block out from voting.” said professor Magarian.

Arkansas: State Senate Panel Approves Voter ID Bill But Democrats Cry Suppression | Arkansas Business News |

Arkansas voters would be required to show photo identification before casting a ballot under legislation advanced by a Senate panel Thursday, but Democrats question the cost of the requirement and whether it’s aimed at suppressing votes. The chamber’s State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee endorsed the voter ID bill on a voice vote, with the three Democrats on the Republican-controlled panel objecting. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill next week. Arkansas poll workers already are required to ask voters for identification, but voters can still cast a ballot if they don’t show one. Past efforts to require photo ID have failed in the Arkansas Legislature, but Republicans believe they have votes for it now that they control the House and Senate.

Florida: GOP proposal: Give Gov. Scott power to remove county election supervisors if problems arise | Palm Beach Post

Targeting five counties that saw the worst problems during the 2012 elections, Florida legislators are considering giving Gov. Rick Scott and his administration broader power to remove elections supervisors or put them on probation. Some critics say the move is an attempt to scapegoat supervisors for long lines caused mainly by legislators, who shortened early voting and lengthened the ballot with 11 proposed constitutional amendments. The proposal came from Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, a Miami Republican who sponsored the 2011 election bill (HB 1355), signed into law by Scott, that critics say made voting more arduous last year. Diaz de la Portilla’s latest measure would require supervisors to issue reports to the Florida secretary of state three months before an election, attesting to their readiness.

Editorials: Partisanship raises stakes of Supreme Court statutory rulings | FierceGovernment

Partisanship within Congress has raised the stakes for Supreme Court statutory law rulings, since bipartisan legislative overrides of Supreme Court interpretations have greatly diminished and partisan overriding is much rarer, argues a paper from University of California-Irvine law professor Richard Hasen. In a paper to be published in the Southern California Law Review, Hasen also warns that a similarly politically polarized Supreme Court in combination with a highly partisan Senate could make a future court nomination a major political crisis and ultimately diminish the public legitimacy of the court. Hasen’s analysis of congressional overrides of Supreme Court interpretation of federal statues–something that requires a new federal law, as opposed to a constitutional override, which requires a new constitutional amendment–shows they fell to 2.8 overrides every 2 years on average from 2001 through 2012 from a recent peak of 12 overrides every 2 years on average from 1975 through 1990.

Florida: Pasco County elections supervisor supports change |

When Pasco Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley first accepted chairmanship of a committee tasked with reviewing state voting laws, he “thought it would be a fairly low-key” assignment. Then the 2012 general election garnered media coverage over long delays in the Florida vote count, Corley said. The Pasco vote tally went smoothly, but a handful of larger counties experienced snags. “I’ve been a busy boy,” Corley said. He has been leading the Florida State Association of Supervisor of Elections committee that came up with suggestions for changing state elections laws. Corley is the association’s secretary.

Minnesota: How to Vote Down Voter ID | American Prospect

In late October, two weeks before the election, amid the glut of attack ads, a TV commercial appeared in Minnesota that grabbed everyone’s attention. It opens on former Governor Arne Carlson, a Republican, who is a familiar and beloved figure in the state, looking into the camera. “This voter-restriction amendment is way too costly,” he tells viewers. An image of $100 bills flashes to his right. Carlson’s jowls quiver as he solemnly shakes his head. An American flag hangs behind his shoulder. Fade and cut to Mark Dayton, the state’s current governor, a Democrat, on the right half of the screen. “And it would keep thousands of seniors from voting,” Dayton continues, his Minnesota accent especially thick. As he speaks, a black-and-white photo of a forlorn elderly woman appears. In a year when the two parties seemed to agree on little except their mutual distaste for each other, here was a split-screen commercial with a Democrat and a Republican, the only bipartisan TV spot Minnesotans would see. The two trade talking points, Carlson focusing on the financial burden, Dayton highlighting the various groups who would be disenfranchised, until the split screen vanishes, revealing the two governors side by side in front of a painting of the Minnesota Capitol. “If you’re a Democrat, Republican, or independent please vote no—this is not good for Minnesota,” Carlson closes.

Editorials: Rigging Democracy | In These Times

Many center-left political analysts tout Barack Obama’s re-election as affirmation that the unfolding demographic changes in the United States will inevitably vanquish the Republican Party as we know it. But before progressives sit back on their heels and wait for history’s just rewards, a deeper look at the 2012 election results is in order. Obama’s victory overshadowed the fact that Republicans maintain control of the House of Representatives and won dramatic victories at the state level that seem almost mathematically miraculous in how they flout majority rule. Most strikingly, Republican congressional candidates were able to convert their national 49 percent of the major-party House vote into 54 percent of seats. (Democrats received 51 percent of the major-party House vote and 46 percent of seats.) Republicans also increased the number of states over which they have monopoly control, securing the governorship and both legislative bodies of 26 states. This has national implications. The fact that Republicans have firm control over 13 Southern legislatures that make up more than one-quarter of states gives them veto power over any proposed constitutional amendment. Consequently, those seeking to overturn Citizens United by amending the constitution will need the support of at least one Republican-run legislature in the South.

Florida: Election supervisors want up to 14 early voting days | Tampa Bay Times

Hoping to avert future voting meltdowns, Florida election supervisors will urge the Legislature to restore up to 14 days of early voting and expand voting locations. They also want lawmakers to limit legislatively backed constitutional amendments to 75 words on the ballot, a requirement for citizen amendments. Lawmakers’ insistence on publishing the full text of several ballot questions, totaling more than 3,000 words, contributed to the longest ballot in Florida history and was a big factor in bottlenecks at the polls last fall.

Minnesota: Senate leader wants to put brakes on ballot questions |

Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk put his name on a bill that would make it tougher for lawmakers to put constitutional amendments on the ballot in Minnesota. The Iron Range Democrat decried the “sign wars” that marked an extraordinary election year in 2012, when voters in Minnesota were asked to decide two constitutional questions. “Minnesotans shouldn’t ever have to live through something like that again,” Bakk complained. His bill would require support from three-fifths of the members in both chambers of the legislature to approve a proposed constitutional amendment.

Virginia: Governor praised, panned on felons’ voting rights |

What’s wrong with this picture: Democrats leaping to their feet to give Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell a standing ovation. The ACLU praising him. Tough-on-crime GOP legislators denouncing perhaps the most significant criminal justice initiative of the final year of his term. Welcome to Virginia’s version of Bizarro World _ the 2013 General Assembly. McDonnell opened the session by advocating legislation that would allow nonviolent felons to regain their civil rights, including the right to vote, once they finish their sentences. By doing so, he co-opted a perennial Democratic issue and clashed with conservative Republicans bent on preserving their law-and-order credentials in an election year.

Florida: ‘Obvious’ Voting Problem, The Long Ballot, May Have No Easy Fix | WLRN

When Gov. Rick Scott recently listed ways he thinks Florida could reduce voting difficulties and long polling lines, he drew the most attention for a change of course in suggesting that more early voting might help. The 2012 ballot was several pages in many places, most notably in Miami where voters had to wade through 12 pages because of a number of local issues. It was lengthened by legislators, who put 11 constitutional amendment questions on it, some of them written out in full. “In Miami-Dade County, the ballot read like the book of Leviticus – though not as interesting,” said Senate President Don Gaetz. In short, “it was just too long,” Scott said late last year on CNN.

Editorials: A Constitutional Case Against Felony Disenfranchisement Laws | COLORLINES

In the movie “Lincoln”, there’s a scene where “Radical” Republicans are debating Democrats in congressional chambers over whether to abolish slavery with a new constitutional amendment. A speaker from the Democratic Party, arguing against abolition, delivers a rousing speech about how Negroes shouldn’t be emancipated because of the slippery slope of freedom. Once Negroes have freedom, he argued, then they’ll want the right to vote—the prospect of which caused a riotous but bipartisan chorus of disagreement from most of Congress. The bellowing response was only outdone by an even more clamorous round of disapproving shouts when the speaker mentioned giving women the franchise.

Virginia: Move to restore voting rights for ex-convicts |

Someone commits a crime and does their time. But when convicted felons in Virginia get out of prison, they lose their right to vote forever. That is, unless they petition the governor to get that right back. And it’s a slow cumbersome process. Sen. Chap Peterson (D – Fairfax County) has introduced a constitutional amendment to be considered during the 2013 General Assembly session that would give felons their right to vote back once they have completed their sentence.

Minnesota: Defeat of voter ID was team effort | Politics in Minnesota

At the end of April, the interfaith coalition ISAIAH held a daylong gathering for religious leaders to discuss the proposed constitutional amendment requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls. The event was organized in conjunction with Jewish Community Action and the StairStep Foundation, which works closely with predominantly African-American churches, and attracted 250 individuals. Out of that gathering the group selected anchor congregations — including St. Joan of Arc Church in Minneapolis and Progressive Baptist Church on the East Side of St. Paul — to help create a campaign opposing the proposed amendment. The group also identified 100 “voter restriction team leaders” from congregations across the state. Eventually ISAIAH, which works primarily on racial and economic justice issues, set a goal of speaking with 25,000 voters about why the photo ID requirement was a misguided idea.

Editorials: Florida’s election season chaos no joking matter |

Florida became a punch line after the 2000 presidential election when pregnant and hanging chad and butterfly ballots became household words. Evidently, Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-controlled Legislature reckoned late-night comics needed new material. Consider: In the early voting period before Election Day, Floridians languished in long lines. Ditto on Election Day; in Miami, some voters cast ballots well past the witching hour.

Minnesota: Even without photo ID, election system likely to see changes | Minnesota Public Radio News

The defeat of the voter ID constitutional amendment, along with the Legislature’s flip from Republican to Democratic control, is likely put that issue on indefinite hold. But it won’t end the debate over the need for some changes in state election law. DFL Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and key lawmakers are already talking about ways to alter the voting system during the 2013 legislative session. The campaign against voter ID relied heavily on a compelling television ad that featured DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and former Republican Gov. Arne Carlson.

Voting Blogs: Minnesota’s “NO” Vote on Voter ID: What It Means | Election Academy

On Tuesday, Minnesota voters rejected a constitutional amendment that would have required voters to show photo ID at the polls. The result marked the end of nearly two years of fierce partisan debate, including sharply divided legislative votes, a gubernatorial veto, and several court cases about the wisdom of voter ID, the language of the ballot amendment and the potential impact of voter ID on the state’s election system. What, then, is the significance of the defeat of voter ID?

Voting Blogs: How Minnesota’s Voter ID Amendment Was Defeated | Brennan Center for Justice

On Tuesday, Minnesota voters defeated a ballot initiative that would have amended the state constitution to require voters to present a photo ID at the polls in order to be able to vote. This was the latest in a string of pushback victories for voting rights, and the final verdict was squarely in the hands of voters. As recently as five months ago, the amendment appeared positioned for easy passage. Public Policy Polling’s first survey in June asking voters if they supported or opposed a constitutional amendment requiring voter ID, 58 percent supported the amendment and only 34 percent opposed it.

Montana: Voters’ Verdict: Supreme Court Was Wrong | WSJ

Five months after the Supreme Court threw out Montana’s 1912 campaign finance law, the state voted overwhelmingly to throw out the justices’ reasoning. Montana’s Initiative 166, which passed with 75% of the vote, disputes the high court’s constitutional analysis and directs the state’s congressional delegation to propose a constitutional amendment overturning the court’s 2010 Citizens United campaign finance ruling. What’s more, the state elected as governor Democrat Steve Bullock, who championed the state’s campaign-finance restrictions in his previous job as state attorney general.

Minnesota: Voter ID amendment defeated |

Minnesotans have rejected a constitutional amendment that would have required a photo ID before they could vote in future elections. With just less than 99 percent of precincts reporting Wednesday, Nov.7, support for the voter ID amendment was at 46.36 percent. “It’s starting to look like an insurmountable lead for the opposition on this,” said Dan McGrath, chairman of, just before midnight on Tuesday.

Minnesota: Voters turn back voter ID amendment | Duluth News Tribune

Minnesota voters on Tuesday turned back a proposed constitutional amendment to require a photo ID for voting, a measure that had once been seen as a likely winner. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, the amendment had 1,344,758 “yes” votes, or 46 percent. That was short of the 50 percent or greater total necessary for passage. “No” votes totaled 1,522,860, or 52 percent, with blank ballots – which count as “no” votes” – totaling 41,785, or 1 percent. The Minnesota vote went against a trend in other states to approve voter ID.

Minnesota: Minnesota voter ID amendment: Judge rejects GOP senators’ complaints on Ritchie’s comments |

An administrative law judge has dismissed a complaint filed by two Republican state senators that Secretary of State Mark Ritchie violated state law through his comments on the proposed voter ID constitutional amendment. Sens. Scott Newman of Hutchinson and Mike Parry of Waseca complained to the state Office of Administrative Hearings in October that Ritchie, a Democrat and amendment opponent, made false statements and improperly used his office to work against the amendment. The complaint focused on statements that Ritchie made on the Secretary of State website and through other communications.

Minnesota: Voter fraud: Stuffing ballot boxes or the stuff of myth? |

A billboard along a busy interstate proclaimed the state “#1 in voter fraud.” A sitting governor fingered felons for tilting an election. A national pundit blamed fraudulent votes for the passage of national health-care reform. Could this be Minnesota we’re talking about? Once praised as the gold standard for ethics in government and election administration, Minnesota’s voting system is under fire from those who say the state’s election integrity is at stake.

Minnesota: Nations racial legacy shapes Minnesotas voter ID debate |

Josie Johnson gathered petitions against the Texas poll tax as a teenager in 1945 and worked for the right to vote in Mississippi in the violent “Freedom Summer” two decades later. Now, nearly a half-century after the Voting Rights Act was enacted to open the polls to all, the 82-year-old civil rights warrior is bringing those sad tales home to fight Minnesotas proposed photo ID requirement for voting.”Our ancestors died, young children were punished, homes were bombed, churches were bombed,” Johnson, the first black regent at the University of Minnesota, told a group of elderly voters, mostly black, at Sabathani Community Center last week. “People were denied the right that we take for granted. And well lose it, on Nov. 6, if we dont get out and vote no.

Minnesota: Voter ID would require new legislation to fill in the blanks | Post Bulletin

If Minnesota voters approve a constitutional amendment that would require voters to present photo identification at the polls, state lawmakers will still have to sort out many of the details needed to implement the new election system. The push for a voter ID requirement has been a deeply partisan battle, so much so that – if the amendment passes — many of the specifics in next year’s legislation could hinge on which party wins control of the House and Senate. The proposed amendment requires all in-person voters to show a “valid government-issued” photo ID before receiving getting a ballot. It also requires the state provide free identification. Not yet known is which IDs will be considered valid, how the state will distribute the free ones and how much that will cost.

National: Voter ID Laws, Registration Challenges Create Hurdles For College Students Ahead Of Election

College students who want to vote in the state where they go to school have some hurdles to jump. In Minnesota, for example, a proposed Voter Restriction Constitutional Amendment on the state’s November ballot would require a valid state photo ID to vote. Under the law, students in the University of Minnesota system would be able to vote with their U-Cards, issued by the school at voting booths on campus, according to the Twin Cities Daily Planet. However, the same is not true for students at private colleges in the state; they would be required to seek an ID from the Department of Vehicle Services stations. At Minnesota private schools like the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University or Concordia University, the 17 to 28 percent of students who come from out of state would find it harder to vote in local and federal elections in Minnesota. At the Minneapolis College of Art and Design the 42 percent out-of-state students would also need a Minnesota ID to vote.

Minnesota: Fine print to be determined in Legislature if Minnesota voter ID passes | Minnesota Public Radio

If Minnesota voters approve a constitutional amendment that would require voters to present photo identification at the polls, state lawmakers will still have to sort out many of the details needed to implement the new election system. The push for a voter ID requirement has been a deeply partisan battle, so much so that — if the amendment passes — many of the specifics in next year’s legislation could hinge on which party wins control of the House and Senate. The proposed amendment requires all in-person voters to show a “valid government-issued” photo ID before receiving a ballot. It also requires the state to provide free identification. Not yet known is which IDs will be considered valid, how the state will distribute the free ones and how much that will cost.

Minnesota: Veterans in thick of photo ID struggle | Marine Corps Times

Military veterans have moved front and center in the debate over Minnesota’s proposed voter ID constitutional amendment. For voter ID supporters, veterans are a symbol to sell their message of election integrity. Opponents have turned to veterans to point out the potential problems that soldiers could face when they try to vote. The pro-amendment campaign organization Protect My Vote started airing its first television ad last month. The 30-second spot features Robert McWhite of Minneapolis, a 91-year-old World War II veteran and former prisoner of war in Europe, who talks about defending the nation and its ideals. “Nothing is more central to America’s success than the right to vote,” McWhite says in the ad. “That’s why I’m supporting the effort to protect that right by showing photo ID.” Dan McGrath, chairman of Protect My Vote, told Minnesota Public Radio that the ad is certain to appeal to voters who respect the military.

Minnesota: Judge hears senator’s photo ID complaint against Minnesota Secretary of State Ritchie |

A state senator who sponsored the proposed photo ID constitutional amendment took his beef against Secretary of State Mark Ritchie to a judge on Friday. Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, filed a complaint accusing Ritchie, a DFLer who opposes the amendment, of using his website, staff and state resources to promote his political opposition to the measure. An Administrative Law Judge heard arguments in the case Friday without making a decision. Lawyers for the two sides are to submit further briefs before the judge, Bruce Johnson, decides if there is probable cause for the case to go forward.