National: How the fight over mail-in ballots threatens to undermine the votes of American troops | James Clark/Task & Purpose

Marine Corps flying missions in support of ground forces and convoys overseas. “I was thinking the other day about some other elections, and talking to some friends,” said Cooper, a former Marine aviator who retired from the Corps in 2013 as a lieutenant colonel, and went on to found Veterans For American Ideals, a non-partisan political advocacy group. “You know, the most significant election in my own lifetime was in December 2005. And that wasn’t an American election. It was the Iraqi election.” When Cooper was deployed to Al Anbar province in Iraq with VMAQ-1, a Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron, the elections were overshadowed by fears of violence, concerns that Iraqi citizens would denounce the results as fraudulent, and worries that voters wouldn’t have the patience to see the process through. “How ironic is it that I feel those same three things today?” Cooper said. This time around, it’s the U.S. election that’s been shadowed in doubt and uncertainty, following a presidential race that has been defined by its hyper-partisanship and long-held norms of peaceful transition of power and mail-in voting being called into question or politicized.

Full Article: Will military absentee votes matter in the 2020 election? – Task & Purpose

Illinois: Special election for Schock seat could be in August | Quad City Times

A special election to replace Aaron Schock in Congress will be later in the summer than expected after the federal government stepped in to ensure military voters have a chance to cast ballots. In action Tuesday, Gov. Bruce Rauner set the dates for the 18th Congressional District primary for June 8, but he acknowledged that it could be late June or early July once negotiations with the U.S. Department of Justice conclude. The Republican governor set the general election for the post for July 24 but said it could be late August before balloting actually occurs.

Alaska: Judge rules Walker-Mallott ticket can stand | Alaska Dispatch

An Alaska Superior Court judge Friday morning denied a complaint brought by a Republican Party official that could have unraveled the “unity” ticket of gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker and his running mate, Byron Mallott. Steve Strait, an Anchorage district chair of the Alaska Republican Party, said he will decide over the weekend whether to appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court. Judge John Suddock said the lieutenant governor and the Division of Elections acted appropriately when they issued an emergency regulation Sept. 2 allowing the merger of the “nonparty” ticket, though primary voters had previously chosen Mallott as the Democratic nominee for governor. In a lengthy explanation of his decision, Suddock said he was constrained by three decades of precedent, including a Supreme Court ruling, attorney general opinions, similar decisions by past lieutenant governors, and numerous Legislatures that had “OK’ed this kind of monkey business after the primary” by not creating a statute to address such situations.

Editorials: Room for ballot error? | The Wichita Eagle

Though much of the uncertainty about the U.S. Senate race stems from Democrat Chad Taylor’s last-minute decision to withdraw, Secretary of State Kris Kobach and his appointed county election commissioners must ensure there will be no doubt about the final tally in that or other contests. Confidence already is wobbly, including in Sedgwick County.

Some reasons for worry:

▪ Kobach ordered Friday that more than 500 ballots be mailed by the next day, as per federal law, to overseas civilians and military personnel. But he included a disclaimer that new ballots would be printed if the courts agreed with his position that Democrats must name a replacement for Taylor.

That scenario looked less likely Tuesday; the Kansas Supreme Court ordered that the voter’s lawsuit that could lead to such a ruling be transferred to Shawnee County District Court for what could be time-consuming fact-finding.

National: Voting form downloads decrease from 2010 | Marine Corps Times

The number of military and overseas voters who have downloaded Federal Post Card Applications from the DoD website is down by more than half compared the 2010 midterm elections, Defense Department officials said. But that’s not necessarily an indication that voter turnout among the military and overseas absentee voter population will be low, officials said. For one thing, the number of troops deployed has decreased, which reduces the number of absentee voters. Other factors are in play as well. In the past, the rate of military voter registration and election participation has been higher than in the general population, noted Matt Boehmer, director of the Federal Voting Assistance Program.

New Jersey: Bill could allow overseas soldiers and diplomats to vote online | Burlington County Times

New Jersey lawmakers have advanced legislation that could pave the way for soldiers and diplomats serving overseas to vote completely online. New Jerseyans serving in the military or foreign service are permitted to request and return mail-in ballots by fax or email, but the process isn’t completely private and can still be difficult because service members also must complete and mail ballots to their county boards of election. Legislation penned by Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, D-4th of Washington, seeks to move the process exclusively online to a secure and private system. Moriarty’s bill would require the New Jersey secretary of state to pursue such a system and implement it as a pilot program, if it is feasible. “For those who defend our freedoms as well as others who serve overseas, we should make it easier for them to exercise their own freedoms and have their votes counted,” he said Thursday during a hearing on the measure before the Assembly Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. “The technology is there, and it’s being used around the world. I think the time is right for a pilot program.”

South Dakota: Election changes win Senate’s OK | Capital Journal

The state Senate unanimously approved two sets of important reforms for South Dakota elections Tuesday. One would allow members of the armed forces to vote with digital technology rather than by U.S. mail. The other would establish a backup system for spring elections interrupted by bad weather or some other emergency. The two measures, SB 34 and SB 35, now go to the House of Representatives for consideration. They are proposed by the state Board of Elections, including Secretary of State Jason Gant.

Georgia: Governor Deal signs bill moving elections to May | The Augusta Chronicle

A Georgia House bill with the effect of moving Augusta mayor and commission elections to May 20 is the first signed by Gov. Nathan Deal this year. “The General Assembly acted swiftly on this issue, and I have as well, so that local election officials and candidates can prepare,” Deal said in a statement. House Bill 310 aligns state and local nonpartisan elections, such as the mayor and commission races and two state court judgeships, and state party primaries, with the May 20 date of the federal primary, which was set by a federal judge to accommodate military voters.

Connecticut: Merrill Sees Dramatic Improvement in Military Voter Participation | Stamford Plus

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill today released a report submitted to the Connecticut General Assembly detailing ways to improve voting for military voters stationed overseas. In the report, Secretary Merrill noted a dramatic improvement in the voter participation by absentee ballot of men and women in uniform serving abroad during the 2012 presidential election, the latest year for which statistics are available. During the 2012 Presidential election, some 94% of absentee ballots requested by Connecticut military personnel serving overseas were returned in time to be counted by election day, a nearly 30% improvement over the same numbers for the 2010 state and federal election. The statistics are contained in the report submitted January 1, 2014 to members of the Connecticut General Assembly committees on Government Administration and Elections, and Veterans’ Affairs. Secretary Merrill was required to submit the report and select a method for more timely return of military ballots by Public Act No. 13-185 “An Act Concerning Voting by Members of the Military Serving Overseas,” enacted in 2013 by the General Assembly and Governor Dannel P. Malloy.

Florida: Bills aim to expand voting rights of military members away from home | BizPac Review

Americans in uniform who are putting the most at risk to defend the country might have the least say in how the home front is governed under current election law. Two bills, SB 486 filed Monday by Florida state Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker, and HB 215 filed earlier by state Rep. Doug Broxson, R-Midway, are aiming to change that. The bills would enable Florida election supervisors to count the absentee votes of members of the military on non-candidate elections, such as ballot initiatives, constitutional amendment proposals and judicial retention. The bills are part of a natural evolution to “fully enfranchise” members of the military who are serving away from home, said Okaloosa County Elections Supervisor Paul Lux. Before 2010, members of the military using federal absentee ballots were restricted to voting in federal elections: president, Senate, and House of Representatives.

National: Cornyn introduces bill to end disenfranchisement of military voters | KETK

U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) joined with Senate colleagues today to introduce The Safeguarding Elections for our Nation’s Troops through Reforms and Improvements (SENTRI) Act, S.1728. The bill will expand access to voting for military voters and improve voting assistance opportunities. “It is unacceptable that our service members and their families are facing hurdles when attempting to exercise one of the most fundamental rights they fight and sacrifice to protect—the right to vote.

Voting Blogs: The Impact of the Electronic Transmission of Blank Ballots in 2012 | Overseas Vote Foundation

Approximately 10 years ago, states began to explore using electronic transmission methods, such as fax and email, to transmit blank ballots to military and overseas voters. At that time, 24 states allowed a blank ballot to be sent to voters via fax only and three states, Florida, Wisconsin, and Virginia, also permitted email transmission in limited cases. Gradually, additional states continued to implement electronic transmission methods in 2006 and in 2008. In 2009, the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act formalized the use of electronic technology in the military and overseas voting process by mandating the use of electronic transmission of election materials to UOCAVA voters with options for the electronic delivery of blank ballots. As states became compliant with MOVE, the use of electronic transmission methods for the delivery of blank ballots increased sharply. For example, in 2010, 47 states and the District of Columbia provided for the transmission of a blank ballot via email or Internet download, up from 20 states in 2008. Only two states, Alaska and Rhode Island, offered blank ballots via fax as their method of electronic delivery in 2010. Several states, however, placed restrictions on the use of email for delivery of blank ballots. For example, Colorado only allowed military voters to receive ballots via email and not overseas civilians.

National: New Schumer bill would improve military access to voting | Staten Island Live

A bi-partisan bill to streamline voting and voter registration for service members and their families has been announced by U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer. The legislation, to be introduced by Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), would also address delays in ballot distribution for military voters and civilians living aboard. The Safeguarding Elections for our Nation’s Troops through Reforms and Improvements Act — “SENTRI Act” — aims to enhance the senators’ MOVE Act of 2010 that improved access to voting for military personnel.

Oklahoma: Hurry up and wait: Tulsa’s new election process frustrates candidates, voters | Tulsa World

After a frantic eight weeks of campaigning leading up to the June 11 nonpartisan mayoral election, now comes the dead of summer and the long, seemingly endless march to the Nov. 12 general election between former Mayor Kathy Taylor and incumbent Dewey Bartlett. Why, one might wonder, is there five months between the primary and the general election? Or, worse yet, seven months between the April filing period and the November general election. And then there is this possibility: If one mayoral candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote in the June primary, that candidate becomes mayor but doesn’t take office until the first week of December. How did this happen?

National: Senators aim to enhance voting rights for military | Associated Press

Two senators said Wednesday they want Congress to improve voting opportunities for hundreds of thousands of U.S. military personnel stationed abroad by tightening rules on states for getting absentee ballots to them. Ahead of the Fourth of July holiday, Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, said they want to eliminate waivers for states that that fail to mail ballots overseas 45 days before an election. States that miss the deadline would be required to mail the ballots express mail, despite the much higher expense. The measure would toughen a 2010 law governing absentee voting in the military and the counting of those ballots. A congressional report estimated that 25 percent of ballots cast by military and overseas voters in the 2008 presidential election went uncounted.

Egypt: Military set to vote by July 2020 | Ahram Online

The Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee of the Shura Council (the upper house of parliament endowed with legislative authority until the election of the House of Representatives) agreed Sunday to grant Egyptian military and police personnel the right to vote in elections by July 2020. Deputy Defence Minister Major Mamdouh Shahin asked the committee to exclude army and police personnel from the upcoming election voter lists, asserting that disclosing personal information of military personnel in voting databases would be a threat to national security. Shahin submitted an amendment to the Shura Council which proposes exempting army and police personnel from automatic updates of voting databases and establishing a different system for adding their information – to be agreed upon by the armed forces and police authorities – which takes into account the information’s confidential nature.

Wisconsin: Elections board agrees to ask lawmakers for absentee voting rule changes | Associated Press

Wisconsin election officials on Tuesday agreed to ask the Legislature to revamp the state’s absentee voting regulations by streamlining request deadlines, expanding electronic ballot access for overseas voters and implementing other changes. The state Government Accountability Board agreed after only brief discussion to make the recommendations at the request of a municipal clerk task force. That panel contends the state’s absentee voting requirements have grown too complicated and confusing over the years.

Kentucky: Special election first test of military voting law |

A special legislative election in central Kentucky could be the first test of the state’ new military voting law passed earlier this year to help ensure soldiers deployed to foreign countries get to cast ballots back home. Gov. Steve Beshear set the election for June 25 to replace former state Rep. Carl Rollins, who resigned earlier this week to become executive director of the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority. The election date, some two months off as required now, will allow more time for county clerks to send absentee ballots to military personnel and others serving overseas.

Missouri: Senate Moves To Ease Foreign Voting | Ozarks First

The legislature is moving to make it easier for Missourians overseas to vote in state elections.  The sponsoring senator is his own example. Senator Will Kraus of Lee’s Summit defended our right to vote by flying Army helicopters in Iraq and 2003 and 2004.  But when he wanted to vote, he had to start applying for his absentee ballot about nine weeks before the election.  He says he downloaded the application off the internet but then had to use regular mail to send it in-a process that took two to three weeks.  It took about that long to get the ballot  and about that long to send it in in time to be counted.

Kentucky: Deal Reached on Military Voting Legislation, Passes in Final Minutes of Session | WFPL

Kentucky military personnel serving overseas will be able to get ballots electronically under legislation approved late Tuesday in the Kentucky General Assembly. How they send them back is still to be determined. Working until the last minute of the 2013 session, legislators went back to the original Senate version of the military voting bill that allowed for electronic sending of ballots to overseas military, but snail mail return of the ballot. The legislation also establishes a task force to study electronic returns—the preferred method of Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. The task force will address safety concerns with that option.

Editorials: Internet voting for overseas military puts election security at risk | Pamela Smith/Hartford Courant

Connecticut lawmakers are considering legislation to allow military voters to cast ballots over the Internet. The intention of this legislation is well-meaning — Connecticut does need to improve the voting process for military voters — but Internet voting is not the answer. Every day, headlines reveal just how vulnerable and insecure any online network really is, and how sophisticated, tenacious and skilled today’s attackers are. Just last week, we learned that the U.S. has already experienced our first-ever documented attack on an election system, when a grand jury report revealed that someone hacked into the Miami-Dade primary elections system in August 2012. A chilling account in The Washington Post recently reported that most government entities in Washington, including congressional offices, federal agencies, government contractors, embassies, news organizations, think tanks and law firms, have been penetrated by Chinese hackers. They join a long list that includes the CIA, FBI, Department of Defense, Bank of America, and on and on. These organizations have huge cybersecurity budgets and the most robust security tools available, and they have been unable to prevent hacking. Contrary to popular belief, online voting systems would not be any more secure.

Florida: Partisan divisions return as Senate panel OKs voting bill | Miami Herald

It was bound to end sooner or later, and it did on Monday. The bipartisan cooperation that marked early work on an elections bill vanished as Democrats on the Senate Ethics & Elections Committee repeatedly forced roll-call votes on amendments the Republican majority opposed. The GOP prevailed on a series of 8-5 votes and on final passage of the bill (SB 600), sponsored by Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, the panel’s chairman. A visibly peeved Latvala at one point said he would consider giving way on a point the Democrats wanted, “but not now,” he said, and he quickly left the hearing without speaking to reporters. With other Republicans rallying around Latvala, the GOP-crafted bill has two major provisions that worry election supervisors: a requirement that anyone voting absentee must have an adult witness their signature, and a requirement that anyone who wants an absentee ballot mailed to an address other than their voting address must fill out an affidavit.

Florida: Legislature tries fixing loophole preventing some servicemembers from voting |

Following a 10 News Investigators report that drew national headlines, lawmakers in the state capital are trying to close a legal loophole that prevented dozens of active servicemembers from casting votes last fall. In November, 10 News reported how routine maintenance of the voting rolls was removing servicemembers overseas. Because many of the voters hadn’t cast a ballot or been in contact with supervisor of elections offices in four years, they were un-enrolled, as required by the law, which is designed to prevent voter fraud. But if a military veteran requests a mail ballot prior to the election and discovers he or she has been removed from the rolls, the person is allowed to re-enroll up to five days before election day.

National: Internet Voting—Not Ready for Prime Time? | The Canvass

We transmit money, legal documents, medical reports and other sensitive information via the Internet. Shouldn’t we be able to vote over the Internet, too? “No,” say some observers. “Right now, there is no way to meaningfully secure an election by Internet voting, and we’d be inviting serious potential for fraud on a scale that’s never been experienced in election administration before,” says Doug Kelleher, co-chair of New York’s State Board of Elections. “Until methods can be designed to secure the election so that you know that every vote is being counted the way the voter cast it, I am opposed to Internet voting.” “Yes,” say others—including a group of seventeen computer scientists who signed on to a National Defense Committee statement in January, supporting more research on Internet voting specifically for military voters. “The only foreseeable option to allow military members to achieve first class voter status is through remote electronic voting that provides for electronic delivery of military members’ voted ballots,” says the statement. Still others might say “it depends on what you mean by ‘Internet voting.’” That term can be shorthand for at least three options, and we’ll look at each of them separately—and whether experts give them a green, yellow or red light (at least for now).

National: Internet and Federal Act Ease Overseas U.S. Voting |

Voting from abroad continued to become easier in last year’s U.S. election, thanks to the combined effects of federal law and Internet resources, according to a new study by the Overseas Vote Foundation, a nonpartisan voter-assistance group. Whereas a full half of expatriate American voters surveyed by the group after the 2008 election reported not receiving a ballot or receiving it too late, that figure declined to one-third for the 2010 election and to just one-fifth in last year’s presidential election. “The tipping point is in the use of technology,” said Claire M. Smith, research manager for the foundation. “There’s no going back.”

Kentucky: Electronic Voting for Military Chief Priority for Kentucky Senate | WKU

Giving Kentucky service members and their spouses the ability to cast absentee ballots electronically is the priority of the Kentucky State Senate heading into the 2013 legislative session, Senate President-elect Robert Stivers said on Monday. Stivers says he’s taking recommendations from Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes to allow electronic voting for overseas military personnel. The measure will be Senate Bill 1 — the title that usually goes to the chamber’s chief legislative priority every year. And Stivers says that if the legislation can be written in time, the Senate plans to pass it completely by the end of the session’s first week.

Florida: Active-duty service members disenfranchised by Fla. voter purge | CBS News

Tampa-area resident and Navy captain Peter Kehring has spent more than 30 years in the U.S. military. But due to Florida GOP Gov. Rick Scott’s recent purge of voter rolls, Kehring will not be able to cast a vote on Election Day, reports Tampa CBS affiliate WTSP. Florida state law requires county election supervisors to regularly update voter rolls to remove felons, deceased individuals, and those who have moved out of the county. Voters who miss two consecutive general elections (2008 and 2010, for example) are sent a letter warning them they will be removed from eligibility unless they contact county officials. Kehring, who has been serving in the military abroad for the last five years, never got his letter.

Voting Blogs: Matt Blaze: Voting by Email in New Jersey |

New Jersey was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, and many parts of the state still lack electricity and basic infrastructure. Countless residents have been displaced, at least temporarily. And election day is on Tuesday. There can be little doubt that many New Jerseyans, whether newly displaced or rendered homebound, who had originally intended to cast their votes at their normal neighborhood polling stations will be unable to do so next week. Unless some new flexible voting options are made available, many people will be disenfranchised, perhaps altering the outcome of races. There are compelling reasons for New Jersey officials to act quickly to create viable, flexible, secure and reliable voting options for their citizens in this emergency.

National: Absentee ballots may have been destroyed in crash |

Federal officials say that absentee ballots being sent to U.S. military serving in Afghanistan may have been burned in a plane crash. A top official in the Federal Voting Assistance Program this week notified election officials across the nation that a transport plane crashed at Shindad Air Base on Oct. 19. The crash resulted in the destruction of 4,700 pounds of mail inbound to troops serving in the area.

Virginia: Despite new law, military absentee ballot requests fall | HamptonRoads

In the hotly contested swing state of Virginia, where a small number of votes could tip the presidential election, requests for absentee ballots from military members are down sharply from 2008. The trend is raising concerns that despite a new law aimed at getting out the military vote, many of those serving will not be involved in choosing the next commander in chief. The Military Voter Protection Project released figures in August indicating steep declines in absentee ballot requests in five swing states, with Virginia lagging the farthest behind. Numbers in Virginia have rebounded somewhat since then – perhaps a result of a big final push by state, Pentagon and military officials to get service members registered before the Oct. 15 deadline. Still, State Board of Elections figures show a stark drop from 2008, with just 9,852 military voter absentee ballots requested this year, compared with 20,738 in 2008.