National: Every vote counts? For military members, only if they plan ahead | NBC

Members of the armed forces face a unique set of logistical challenges when serving in other states or countries: many lack the ability to simply go to the DMV to renew their driver’s licenses, filing taxes can be complex and voting in elections can be even more confusing. “It is critically important to ensure that every voter entitled to an absentee ballot is given every chance to receive one,” said John Conklin, a spokesman for the New York State Board of Elections.

New York: State now allows online voter registration through DMV |

New York is joining 13 other states that allow voters to register online in an effort to improve voter turnout and save money. The initiative announced Thursday also expands opportunities for voters to register in languages other than English. In addition, voters will be able to update their addresses and party enrollments online. Ten states have had online voting dating back to 2001: Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. California, Connecticut and South Caroline have passed laws, but haven’t started online registration yet. Arizona reports more than 70 percent of voter registrations are done online since the state made the move in 2003, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Arizona’s registrations claimed 9.5 percent from 2002 to 2004, while saving money on staff and paper registrations and increasing accuracy, the national conference said.

Pennsylvania: PennDOT’s ‘Unwritten Exceptions’ Allow Lead Voter ID Plaintiff To Get ID | CBS

The lead plaintiff in the voter ID case got a photo ID last week, just one day after Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson refused to block the voter ID law.  PennDOT said they gave Viviette Applewhite, 93, a non-driver photo ID even though she did not have the required Social Security card, because she fell within one of the agency’s unwritten exceptions.  So what are these exceptions?  And who can qualify? Applewhite said she took her raised-seal birth certificate and other government correspondence with her to PennDOT last Thursday when she got her ID. “I took about 10 or 15 documents with me and that lady sat there and read every one of them,” she said.  Even though she had no social security card, her Medicare information did the trick. “I was so glad, I didn’t know what to do,” said Applewhite.  She said she’s tried several times to get an ID after her purse was stolen eight years ago, but was unsuccessful.

Voting Blogs: No ID? The Marginal Cost Of Voting In Pennsylvania | The Faculty Lounge

In my recent post about the new PA voter ID law, I noted that a very, very significant number of registered voters – up to 18% of all registered voters in Philadelphia (home to half of the state’s African-American population) – may not currently possess an identification card that will allow them to vote in November. Supporters of these laws argue that requiring people to get an ID is a small price to pay in order to prevent voter fraud.  It seems worth figuring out what the actual supplemental cost of voting is for those who currently lack required ID. I therefore present may totally back-of-the-envelope calculation of the poll-tax assessed by PA’s voter ID law.  I use the working assumption that time is worth 7.25/hour.  This is a fiction if the preparation time does not actually displace paid labor, but does allow us to monetize the cost of voting to be allocated to ID acquisition.  I assume that photocopies cost .15 per page and that all mailings can be done for .45 first class postage.  I also assume that this is all occuring in Philadelphia County, where there is public transportation to help you get to one of the five DMV locations in the county.  In other counties, a person without a driver may have to spend even more to get cab service.  Of course, some people will be able to get a ride – but given gas prices (and the cost of parking in cities), it seems unlikely that the effective cost of such travel will be less than the SEPTA public transit fare of $2 each way.   More elaborate details on my calculations appear at the bottom of the post.  And yes: I recognize that some people miss work, school or other activities in order to vote.  I assume, however, that this cost is borne by all voters.

Wisconsin: Voter ID Law Causes Concern For Seniors | WISN

Advocates for seniors are holding education seminars for senior citizens to help educate them about Wisconsin’s new voter ID law, but some are concerned that effort may not be enough. “Every opportunity we get to get the word out, we’re doing that,” said Sue Edman of the Milwaukee Election Commission. Edman heads a panel for seniors trying to educate them about Wisconsin’s new voter ID law.

Wisconsin: Obstacles to voting are becoming apparent | Jim Bowman/Appleton Post Crescent

Wisconsin citizens who may be turned away from their polling places in the next election are beginning to share their stories. Ruthelle Frank has voted in every election since 1948 but she’s no longer eligible. Wisconsin’s voter ID law requires a photo ID for voting and a birth certificate is needed to obtain the photo ID.

Born in 1927, Ruthelle has never had a birth certificate. Her name was misspelled at birth and, to obtain a correct birth certificate, she must petition a court at a cost over $200. On her limited income, she can’t afford this amount.

Ruthelle has served on the Brokaw Village Board since 1996. She has a baptism certificate, a Social Security card, a Medicare statement and a checkbook. Without a photo ID, however, Ruthelle can no longer vote and she finds the prospect of being turned away at the polls infuriating.

South Carolina: DMV reports flawed South Carolina voter ID list | Charlotte Observer

South Carolina election officials are using flawed data that include dead people as they deal with implementing a new state law requiring that people have photo identification when they cast ballots in person, according to an analysis by the Department of Motor Vehicles. The South Carolina State Election Commission and the DMV had matched data on licenses, ID cards and voter records as part of the new law, now under review by the U.S. Justice Department.

The election agency reported in October that nearly 240,000 active and inactive voters lacked South Carolina driver’s licenses or ID cards. The DMV’s analysis shows that more than 207,000 of those voters live in other states, allowed their ID cards to expire, probably have licenses with names that didn’t match voter records or were dead.

Wisconsin: More organizations agree that Wisconsin’s voter ID law is unconstitutional |

On December 16, 2011 the Milwaukee chapter of the NAACP and Voces De La Frontera, a Wisconsin group that fights for immigrant rights, filed a suit against the state of Wisconsin’s new voter ID law. The new law is Wisconsin Act 23 and will require voters to show photo identification at the ballots beginning in 2012.

Voces De La Frontera and the NAACP are challenging the law, saying that it is unconstitutional and is intended to marginalize voters. The two organizations’ challenges follow the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) that was announced on December 13, 2011. The ACLU is challenging the law because they say that it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment as well as the 24th Amendment which was enacted to protect against poll taxes.

Wisconsin: Yet another case shows how voter ID is hurting citizens | Cap Times

The reports of how the Republican-inspired voter ID law is disenfranchising Wisconsin citizens, particularly the elderly, keep coming in. Last week the Wausau Daily Herald ran a heart-rendering story about 84-year-old Ruthelle Frank of nearby Brokaw, who has not only voted in every election since she turned 21 in 1948, but has served on the Brokaw Village Board for the past 15 years.

Because of a paralysis she suffered at birth, Frank has never had a driver’s license. That being the case, she, like tens of thousands of other Wisconsin residents without licenses, needs to get a so-called state picture ID card so she can go to the polls to exercise what should be her right as an American citizen.

Under the onerous provisions of this new law, which was gleefully signed by Gov. Scott Walker earlier this year, she has to produce a birth certificate to get the ID. Ordinarily it cost her $20 to obtain a birth certificate since she doesn’t have one — something she finds “crazy.” She has a baptism certificate, a Social Security card, a Medicare statement, a checkbook. “I’ve got all this proof. You mean to tell me that I’m not a U.S. citizen? That I don’t live at 123 First St. in Brokaw?” she said. “It’s just stupid.” But, wait, there’s more to the stupidity foisted on Wisconsin citizens by this Republican-led Legislature.

Editorials: The Voting Poor | State of Elections

Initiatives aimed at registering poor Americans to vote is un-American, or at least that is the conjecture Matthew Vadum made early last month in acontroversial article published by American Thinker. Vadum, the author of Subversion, Inc.and Senior Editor for the non-profit watchdog group Capital Research Center, argues that leftist groups are trying to use the poor as a “battering ram” to advance redistributionist policies. The poor masses, Vadum suggests, are the tools with which Obama and like-minded organizations plan to drag America further from small government ideals. Vadum essentially asserts that voter registration is infringing on his American Dream.

The progressive radio host Thom Hartmann went toe-to-toe with Vadum shortly after the article was released. On the Thom Hartmann ProgramVadum defended the views he put forward in the article arguing that, given the chance, welfare recipients would vote for their own interests. Hartmann, expressing concern for the one in seven Americans below the poverty line, argued that everyone, not just the poor, votes for their own interests. Vadum had no substantive response to Hartmann’s prodding.

California: California comes online…sort of – Governor signs legislation allowing for online voter registration | electionlineWeekly

With the stroke of a pen from Gov. Jerry Brown, California recently once again legalized online voter registration providing an additional opportunity for more than six million residents of voting age to register to vote. California law already allows for online voter registration, however the process on the books before the new legislation was approved was contingent upon the completion of the state’s federally approved voter registration database — VoteCal.

While the state does have a statewide voter registration database, the current system does not make it possible to fully register to vote online. Tired of waiting for the state’s fully federally compliant statewide voter registration database to come online San Francisco Senator Leland Yee introduced SB 397 which would allow counties to offer online voter registration now.

“This is an important first step toward fully upgrading California’s voter registration, making use of better technological tools to make the voter registration process more accurate, less expensive, and more efficient,” said David Becker, director of the Pew Center on the States’ Election Initiatives.

California: California allows online voter registration | San Jose Mercury News

Californians will be able to register to vote online for the 2012 elections.
Gov. Jerry Brown announced Friday that he signed legislation that supporters say will modernize California’s election system.

The bill, SB 397, allows the state to begin registering voters online ahead of a new statewide voter database. It directs state election officials and the Department of Motor Vehicles to match registration information submitted online with DMV records containing an electronic copy of a voter’s signature.

Maine: State tells students: Register your car in Maine or don’t vote here | Sun Journal

Secretary of State Charles Summers has sent a letter to about 200 of the Maine university students cleared in a recent voter fraud investigation, advising them to either get a Maine driver’s license and register their vehicles in Maine or relinquish their right to vote here.

The one-page letter cites Maine election law, which requires that voters be Maine residents, and state motor vehicle laws, which require that new residents who drive get a Maine driver’s licence and register their vehicles here. In the letter, Summers requests that students “take appropriate action to comply with our motor vehicle laws within the next 30 days.” If students decide they aren’t residents after all, he asks them to fill out the enclosed form to cancel their Maine voter registration.

Summers said he sent the letters because he’s responsible for both election and motor vehicle laws as secretary of state, and he felt he had to follow-up on the approximately 200 people who said they lived here but who were not listed in the state’s motor vehicle database. “I’m made aware that there are people who may not be in compliance like everybody else in the state of Maine — that’s why I sent it out,” he said. But others say the letter was an attempt to intimidate the students and manipulate them into giving up their right to vote here.

Voting Blogs: States Ignore the Impact Photo ID Laws Could Have on Their Citizens | Project Vote Blog

“The U.S. Supreme Court upheld voter ID requirements in concept three years ago, but justices said then that they might reconsider if opponents could produce actual voters who had been turned away because they could not get ID,” the Tennessean reports. This may not be far off as more and more reports of voters without photo ID begin to emerge. Although officials in at least three states have attempted to help voters adhere to the law, voters and advocates caution that it’s not enough if voters are not “plugged in” in the first place.

To prevent the disenfranchisement of Tennessee’s 230,000 senior citizens who have non-photo IDs, state officials are planning a campaign to teach them about the new photo ID law that goes into effect during the 2012 election. The new voting law essentially overrides another law that makes it more convenient for drivers over age 60 to renew their driver’s licenses. That law allows seniors to renew driver’s licenses—without a photo—online through the mail.

Transportation for elderly people in assisted living homes as well as long waiting periods at the DMV for seniors with disabilities are major concerns for groups like Tennessee Citizen Action, reports Chas Sisk at the Tennessean.

Editorials: Voter ID controversy gets worse | Melanie Balog/The Post and Courier

It’s apparently more tricky than anybody thought to figure out how many South Carolina voters need photo IDs. This week, the State Election Commission released an updated estimate of how many registered voters don’t have photo IDs. The previous estimate was 178,000. On Thursday, they said it was probably 217,000 — or about 40,000 more.

Then Friday, the commission said that they may have further underestimated the numbers, by excluding more than 74,000 people who haven’t voted since 2006. The state attorney general’s office wants some more information about those newly discovered.

“We’re going to talk with the S.C. Election Commission and figure out what analysis they used to come up with their numbers,” said Deputy Attorney General Bryan Stirling. He said he expects that to happen early next week. Then they’ll either submit new information to the DOJ or ask that the Election Commission go back and recalculate, he said.

So, in one week we’ve gone from 217,000 to potentially more than 290,000 people. Of course, that’s minus the 21 people who signed up for rides to local DMV offices Thursday. If the DMV could register 21 people a day, every day of the year, it would take 38 years to get everybody covered.

Editorials: ‘I’m just wondering if it’s all necessary’ | The Item

Antonia Preston made a trip to Sumter’s branch of the Department of Motor Vehicles on Wednesday to get an ID but will have to go back today. The 89-year-old Sumterite doesn’t have a birth certificate, she said, and her current state ID expired.

The state DMV hosted “State Identification Card Day” on Wednesday in an effort to get people government-issued IDs so they’re able to vote after the Voter ID law takes effect in November.

Proponents of the law say it’s needed to combat voter fraud, while detractors contend many elderly and rural residents will be disenfranchised because often their births weren’t registered with the state.

Wisconsin: Employee Fired After Voter ID Email: ‘I Felt People Should be Informed’ | Campus Progress

Did telling the truth about free voter ID cards get Chris Larsen fired? Larsen, who worked as a mail room employee at Wisconsin’s Department of Public Safety and Professional Services, was fired just hours after sending an email informing his colleagues about the Department of Transportation’s policy regarding free voter IDs. That policy? Only offer the free ID if someone asks for it—otherwise, charge the normal $28 fee.

Larsen described his firing to Campus Progress: “They asked why I sent the email. I said I felt people should be informed. They said it was inappropriate and [DSPS Secretary] Dave Ross would be upset, and they felt it was best if we parted ways.”

But John Murray, executive assistant at the DSPS, says Larsen “had a series of workplace violations, including inappropriate use of email resources” and that Larsen had been counseled on these violations.

Wisconsin: Wisconsin Employee Fired For E-Mail Defying Voter-ID Policy | TPM

Chris Larsen, a low-level Wisconsin state employee, was fired for the apparent cause of using his work e-mail to mock and disparage state policy to his co-workers, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. The policy in question: The state’s decision for DMV employees to not tell citizens about the availability of free photo identification to satisfy the state’s new Voter-ID law, unless they ask first.

Larsen, a limited-term employee at the state Department of Safety and Professional Services, sent this e-mail Thursday morning to colleagues, encouraging them to tell all their friends about the free ID cards:

“Do you know someone who votes that does not have a State ID that meets requirements to vote? Tell them they can go to the DMV/DOT and get a free ID card. However they must ask for the free ID. a memo was sent out by the 3rd in command of the DMV/DOT. The memo specifically told the employees at the DMV/DOT not to inform individuals that the ID’s are free. So if the individuals seeking to get the free ID does not ask for a free ID, they will have to pay for it!!


He was subsequently fired for misuse of e-mail.

Wisconsin: Memo To DMV Workers Re-Ignites Voter ID Controversy | WISN Milwaukee

People opposed to Wisconsin’s voter identification law are concerned about an internal memo circulated to Department of Motor Vehicles employees in July. WisDot Executive Assistant Steve Krieser said in an interview that the memo instructed customer service representatives to comply with state law and only issue a photo identification card for free if it was specifically asked for by the customer.

Read DOT Letter

Kreiser said the law states, “we have to charge people the regular $28 rate (for photo identification) unless customers come in and request it, and certify that they need it for the purpose of voting.”

Kreiser said customers have been purchasing photo identification long before the new law went into effect. He said those looking for the cards for any other reason besides voting need to pay the fee. He also said as long as a customer actively seeks a free photo ID, workers at the DMV will help them.

Wisconsin: Top DOT official tells staff not to mention free voter ID cards to the public — unless they ask |

An internal memo from a top Department of Transportation official instructs workers at Division of Motor Vehicles service centers not to tell members of the public that they can obtain voter identification cards free of charge — unless they know to ask for it.

The memo, recently obtained by The Capital Times, was written by Steve Krieser and sent to all state Department of Transportation and Department of Motor Vehicles employees on July 1, the same day employees were to begin issuing photo IDs in accordance with a controversial new Voter Photo ID law adopted earlier in the year.

As laid out in the memo, failure to check a box when applying for photo ID with the Division of Motor Vehicles will result in the payment of $28. Interviews conducted about the memo suggest the state is more interested in continuing to charge the fee, which is required for a photo ID used for non-voting purposes, than it is in removing all barriers and providing easy access to a free, photo ID.

Wisconsin: State puts brakes on plan to close DMV sites | JSOnline

Two weeks after announcing it would potentially close 16 Division of Motor Vehicles centers, the state reversed course Thursday and said it will maintain all of its licensing centers and will open four new locations.

The Legislature required the DMV this year to develop the most cost-effective program possible to implement a new law requiring people to show photo ID to vote and to ensure that voters will be able to obtain the state-issued photo IDs. The IDs will be required for voting starting in the spring.

Under an original proposal released July 22, the division said it may close 16 locations and open nine new ones, for a net loss of seven centers. The plan called for expanding hours at others. DMV Operations Manager Patrick Fernan said pressure from state lawmakers and citizens to keep the DMV accessible led to the decision not to close any branches. “It became clear that there was a strong desire to maintain service in all current locations,” Fernan said.