Colorado: State overhauled how candidates qualify for ballot after fraud stained 2016 election | The Denver Post

Inside a secure, nondescript office building in Pueblo, a team of state officials spends 17 hours a day combing through voter data as part of a new effort to prevent election fraud. The nerve center is responsible for verifying voter signatures that political candidates collect to qualify for the 2018 ballot in Colorado — a process corrupted by forgery and felony charges two years ago. “This is all new,” said Secretary of State Wayne Williams, as he gave The Denver Post an exclusive tour of the facility. In prior elections, he continued, “there was zero checking done on the signature. This is the first year we’ve ever checked the signature component.”

Michigan: Complaint claims state elections bureau illegally assisted redistricting group | MLive

A Republican strategist has filed a complaint against Michigan’s Bureau of Elections alleging state officials acted improperly when advising the group pushing for an independent redistricting commission on the 2018 ballot. Robert LaBrant, who currently serves as counsel for the Lansing-based Sterling Corporation, submitted the complaint Thursday. He wrote the bureau’s review of the petition language submitted by the group Voters Not Politicians was a “misplaced, over-zealous attempt at being customer friendly even though the service the bureau provided VNP is illegal.” 

Oregon: Legality of Oregon Secretary of State Richardson’s election rule change questioned | The Register-Guard

A change in the rules for collecting initiative petition signatures in Oregon, proposed by Secretary of State Dennis Richardson, may be on shaky legal ground, according to a preliminary analysis by the Legislature’s lawyers. Richardson, a Republican, wants to let the backers of initiative petitions start gathering signatures before their ballot title — the neutral, summarized descriptor of what the measure would do — is finalized. Under current practice, backers must wait until their ballot title is approved by either the Oregon attorney general or the state Supreme Court, a process that can be lengthy due to legal disputes about what wording is the most accurate and fair.

United Kingdom: Second EU referendum petition to be debated in Parliament after receiving more than 4 million signatures | The Independent

A House of Commons debate on a petition calling for a second EU referendum will take place on Monday, 5 September. The Commons Petitions Committee confirmed the record-breaking online petition, signed by more than four million people, will be put forward for debate. The petition, which was set up by a Brexit supporter before the referendum was held, called for the Government to annul the results if the Remain or Leave vote won by less than 60 per cent on a turnout of less than 75 per cent. A House of Commons spokesman said in a statement: “The Committee has decided that the huge number of people signing this petition means that it should be debated by MPs. “The Petitions Committee would like to make clear that, in scheduling this debate, they are not supporting the call for a second referendum.

United Kingdom: Second referendum petition: Inquiry removes at least 77,000 fake signatures, as hackers claim responsibility for ‘prank’ | Telegraph

Parliamentary authorities have removed around 77,000 allegedly fake signatures from an online petition which calls for a re-run of the Brexit referendum – with hackers taking responsibility for adding thousands of counterfeit names. It follows a formal inquiry launched less than three hours earlier, amid claims some of the more than three and a half million signatures it has gained since Friday may be fraudulent. A statement posted on the House of Commons’ petitions committee Twitter account on Sunday afternoon said: “We are investigating allegations of fraudulent use of the petitions site. Signatures found to be fraudulent will be removed”.

Michigan: Governor signs law restricting citizen petitions | WLNS

106,000: that’s how many more signatures the Michigan Bureau of Elections says a ballot drive needs to put legalizing marijuana up for a state-wide vote. This comes just six days after a pro-legalization group submitted more than 350,000 signatures to the state; but because MI Legalize collected a portion of them more than 180 days before filing the petition, the petition will likely not pass. This hadn’t been formally engrained in law—but today Governor Snyder changed that. That new law says petition signatures older than 180 days cannot be counted. “This clearly was a result of us trying to improve Michigan’s election system,” argues MI Legalize Executive Director Jeffrey Hank.

Colorado: Denver, unlike the rest of the state, is able to verify signatures on ballot petitions | KMGH

Forged signatures that Denver7 uncovered on petitions for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jon Keyser would have likely been caught by Denver election workers if he had been running for local office. The Secretary of State’s Office only verifies that the name and address on candidate petitions match the name and address on file with the voter’s registration. State law does not allow the Secretary of State to verify the actual signature. Denver’s charter requires Denver election workers to verify the cursive signature on a petition with the cursive signature on file on multiple databases.

Colorado: Election officials admit mistakes, pledge changes after voter fraud controversy | The Denver Post

Colorado’s top elections chief acknowledged Thursday that state officials made mistakes in reviewing possibly fraudulent signatures on petitions for U.S. Senate candidate Jon Keyser and pledged to overhaul the process. The new policies will feature better public notice and escalate questions about signatures more quickly to top-level management, including Secretary of State Wayne Williams, who can refer the issue to investigators for review. The secretary of state’s office disclosed Tuesday that petition supervisors in his office knew about questionable voter signatures on Keyser’s petitions for the Republican primary — including one from a dead person — a month before the controversy erupted.

Colorado: Election officials knew of possible forged signatures on Keyser petition for a month | The Denver Post

The Colorado secretary of state’s office first learned about the possibility of fraudulent signatures — including a dead voter — on U.S. Senate candidate Jon Keyser’s petitions in April but did not refer the matter to investigators. The revelation adds a new layer of culpability to the controversy surrounding the Republican primary and raises additional questions about how Keyser qualified for the ballot. The missed opportunity was revealed by Secretary of State Wayne Williams, who said in a statement that he didn’t know his staff was warned about the questionable signatures until Tuesday.

Colorado: Drama continues in Colorado Senate race | Colorado Springs Gazette

The Republican bid for Colorado’s U.S. Senate seat is getting more convoluted. Denver’s 7News reported this week that reporter Marshall Zelinger found 10 likely forged signatures on petitions to put Jon Keyser on the June primary ballot. When confronted about the suspect signatures at a candidate event Thursday, Keyser refused to address the issue. Instead, Keyser repeatedly asserted, “I’m on the ballot. It’s done.” The former state representative from Morrison was placed on the ballot after collecting 1,500 signatures from each of Colorado’s seven congressional districts. Yet the Secretary of State’s Office ruled he fell 86 signatures short in one district. Keyser petitioned the court to consider evidence that many signatures were incorrectly invalidated. Denver District Court Judge Elizabeth Starrs agreed that a petition gatherer was indeed a registered Republican, as required by law, and that the signatures he collected should be counted. The ruling put Keyser on the ballot.

California: Elections are a bonanza for signature-gatherers | Associated Press

Steve Kriston is accustomed to insults from shoppers. Some tell him to get a job when he solicits signatures to qualify measures for California’s ballot. This is my job, he responds. It’s a banner year for paid signature-gatherers like Kriston, who came to San Diego after three months working in Orlando, Florida, on state ballot measures there. He is weighing offers to move to Missouri and Minnesota after California’s season ends. The Hungarian immigrant now makes more than the $1,200 to $1,500 a week he earned as a truck driver. In California, always a hotbed for voter initiatives, sponsors are paying up to $5.50 a signature, well above the $1 to $3 in previous statewide elections. “No one has ever seen prices anywhere in this ballpark,” said Steven Maviglio, a longtime political consultant in California.

Montana: Ted Cruz questions signatures that put Kasich on ballot | Associated Press

Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign is trying to knock opponent John Kasich off Montana’s primary by questioning signatures the Ohio governor’s campaign submitted to qualify for the ballot — another subplot in the unfolding political drama to derail Donald Trump’s presidential bid. Emails obtained by The Associated Press show Cruz campaign officials have raised questions about the 622 signatures submitted by the Kasich campaign. A minimum of 500 valid signatures is required for a presidential candidate to qualify for the Montana ballot. The Cruz campaign asserts Kasich’s petition contains signatures with invalid notaries, improper dates, mismatched phone numbers and illegible names, among other potential discrepancies.

Pennsylvania: John Kasich: The 13 minutes that could make — or break — his campaign | CNN

That amount of time may be the saving grace for John Kasich’s presidential campaign strategy, one that relies heavily on the state of Pennsylvania — a state where Kasich’s lawyers are battling to keep him on the ballot. Central to that battle is a missed deadline by a Marco Rubio supporter in the state who objected to hundreds of signatures filed by Kasich’s campaign to get onto the state’s ballot. The deadline was missed, according to Kasich’s legal team, by all of 13 minutes, making the petition void. Yet even seizing on that technicality hasn’t led to a simple resolution of the issue. As both sides prepare to file new briefs in the case Monday, no less than Kasich’s entire post-Ohio primary strategy is at stake.

Pennsylvania: Texas consultant to Rand Paul loses election law challenge | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A federal judge has denied a temporary restraining order to a Texas man challenging Pennsylvania election law and seeking to circulate petitions for Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul. Texas resident Trent Pool, and his firm Benezet Consulting, LLC, allege that their First Amendment right to circulate nominating petitions for the April primary election ballot is unconstitutionally limited by three provisions in Pennsylvania election law.

Illinois: Early primary voting delayed by candidate ballot challenges | Chicago Tribune

Early voting in the DuPage County primary election will be delayed nearly two weeks due to pending petition objections in a judicial race in the county, in one at the state level, and to presidential candidates. Early voting was to begin Thursday at the offices of the DuPage County Election Commission, with early-voting satellite offices planned to open Feb. 29. Due to the challenges, voters will not be able to cast early ballots at the commission’s office in Wheaton until Feb. 17. By that date, the commission anticipates the ballot challenges will have been determined, said Robert Saar, executive director of the county election commission. The postponed early voting period also will mean a delay in ballots being mailed out, he said. However, at this point it does not appear there will be any delay in the start of early voting at the satellite sites, he said.

Maine: Municipal clerks’ offices swamped under flood of referendum petitions | The Portland Press Herald

Maine’s town clerks are keeping busy verifying signatures for petitions aimed at getting referendum proposals onto the November ballot. And soon state election officials will kick into high gear, as well, to validate the petitions. The campaigns have until Friday to get signatures delivered to local clerks. Then the petitions must be delivered to state election officials by Feb. 1. Signature-gathering has been taking place for a number of proposals, including for marijuana legalization, background checks for firearm purchases, ranked-choice voting, higher minimum wage, school funding and a GOP income tax cut/welfare reform proposal. Each proposal needs to have 61,123 valid signatures of registered voters to advance.

Utah: SB54 election law’s legality questioned over one signature limit clause | Standard Examiner

When legislators passed Senate Bill 54 almost two years ago, a process that allows dual ballot paths for candidates — signature gathering and caucus nomination — it was a compromise designed to end a petition effort from Count My Vote that, had it passed, would have ended caucuses. Before the bill was finalized, the lieutenant governor’s office asked for a clarification on some aspects, said Mark Thomas, Utah director of elections for the lieutenant governor’s office. One of the clarifications that legislators added late was a so-called “exclusivity clause.” It fixed a one-signature-for-one-candidate rule. That means if Candidate A gets a signature from Voter A, then Candidate B cannot use Voter A’s signature for his petition. This clause has fueled even more controversy over a Utah elections law change that has already divided the state Republican Party. Its harshest critics suggest the clause could make SB54 illegal. A larger number of detractors think the Legislature needs to go back and undo the exclusivity clause.

Utah: What you need to know about Utah’s new election process | KSL

Don’t be surprised if a petitioner knocks on your door in the coming weeks and months — almost 60 candidates have begun the new process to gather signatures to be on the 2016 primary election ballot. Here’s what you need to know about the new election law. SB54, passed in 2014, modified Utah’s primary process and changed how candidates are nominated and political parties are classified. Political parties have to choose which primary election process to follow by either gathering signatures, participating in a party convention or both. Mark Thomas, director of elections with Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox’s office, said this process is designed to get more Utahns involved in the voting process. “Time will tell whether this will be something that will hopefully get voters to be more civic-minded, to participate more in elections,” Thomas said.

Utah: GOP wants Utah to let judge settle election dispute | The Salt Lake Tribune

The Utah Republican Party is asking the Lieutenant Governor’s office to help hurry a dispute over how candidates are nominated to a court so a judge can rule on the matter because, as the party chairman put it, the top elections office is no longer an “honest broker” on the issue. State GOP Chairman James Evans cited comments by Mark Thomas, the state elections director, in which he characterized as “crazy stuff” Evans’ contention that the party can decide whether to let candidates gather signatures to get on the primary ballot. “We have decided it is in the best interests of the party to not seek the [lieutenant governor’s] interpretation of the law,” Evans said. “Instead, we want to proceed to court for a determination since we have lost confidence that we would get a fair hearing and that the LG’s office would be an honest broker.”

Virginia: Presidential Campaigns Use Virginia Elections as Opportunity to Qualify for 2016 Primary | National Journal

After serving eight terms in Con­gress, Tom Cole­man got used to ask­ing people to vote for him. This Elec­tion Day, though, Cole­man camped out in front of a Vir­gin­ia pre­cinct ask­ing for sig­na­tures on be­half of an­oth­er can­did­ate. As voters ar­rived at Wash­ing­ton Mill Ele­ment­ary School in Al­ex­an­dria on a crisp fall morn­ing to vote in state and loc­al elec­tions Tues­day, Cole­man greeted them, hold­ing a clip­board with a stack of pe­ti­tions, a pen, and a blue “Kasich For Us” stick­er af­fixed to the back. His job—one that’s usu­ally re­served for vo­lun­teers and low-level staffers—was to col­lect as many sig­na­tures as pos­sible to help his one­time House col­league, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, qual­i­fy for the 2016 Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­en­tial primary in Vir­gin­ia. By 8:15 a.m., Cole­man was an hour in­to his day and had 15 sig­na­tures to show for it. “I had no idea if I’d even get one,” Cole­man joked, not­ing he had nev­er done this be­fore.

Utah: Election dispute likely headed back to court, unless lawmakers intervene | The Salt Lake Tribune

A clash between the head of Utah’s Republican Party and Republican elections officials over who can seek the party’s nomination for office appears likely to end up back in court if the Legislature doesn’t settle the matter in a special session first. Utah GOP Chairman James Evans contends that party officials have figured out a way to only allow its candidates to be nominated through party conventions — essentially gutting sweeping elections reforms the Legislature enacted in 2014 that allowed candidates to skip conventions and gather signatures on petitions if they want to seek office. But Republican Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox and the top elections officials in his office disagree. They argue that Evans and the GOP agreed in an August letter to the state to comply with SB54, and that includes allowing candidates to seek the party’s nomination through the signature-gathering route.

Pennsylvania: Minor parties get court win in Pa. ballot-access lawsuit | Associated Press

A federal judge threw out provisions in Pennsylvania law on Friday that he said make it unconstitutionally difficult for independent or minor political party candidates to get onto ballots because of the threat of costly court challenges. The decision was cheered by ballot-access advocates who regard Pennsylvania as harboring the nation’s toughest barriers to candidates who are not Republicans or Democrats. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Lawrence Stengel in Philadelphia targets the financial penalties that judges can impose on candidates who lose a court challenge to the validity of the signatures of registered voters on their nomination petitions.

South Dakota: Election reform measures headed to 2016 ballot | Argus Leader

South Dakota voters successfully referred two statewide laws passed by the Legislature earlier this year, meaning the laws will not go into effect until voters decide their fate in November 2016. The two laws would have become effective at midnight. One, Senate Bill 69, would have revamped a number of election-related matters and the other, Senate Bill 177, established a youth minimum wage that was one dollar less per hour than the minimum wage established by voters in the 2014 election. Corey Heidelberger, an Aberdeen-based political activist, sponsored both ballot drives. The state Democrats, which have found repeated success with statewide ballot measures, provided manpower to secure the 13,871 signatures needed to qualify for the ballot.

Michigan: Flint election-fix bill clears state Legislature, heads to Gov. Snyder |

A bill to fix Flint’s tangled 2015 election has cleared the state Legislature and is headed to Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk. Both the state House of Representatives and Senate on Wednesday, June 3, approved the legislation, which would allow the city to include the names of mayoral candidates on the August primary ballot even though they missed the April 21 deadline for filing nominating petitions. City Clerk Inez Brown’s office mistakenly told those candidates and candidates for two City Council seats the wrong filing deadline — April 28. Without a change in the law, Flint voters face a write-in-only campaign for mayor in November and no primary election.

Michigan: Judge says Flint mayoral candidate Eric Mays’ petitions fall short |

Eric Mays has found himself in the same boat as the other three candidates for mayor of Flint — needing a change in state law to see his name on the ballot later this year. Genesee Circuit Judge Archie Hayman on Monday, June 1, dismissed a lawsuit filed by Mays, which sought to show he filed at least 900 valid signatures by the April 21 deadline. Flint Clerk Inez Brown claimed Mays filed 854 valid signatures by the deadline. Hayman said his own count showed Mays had no more than 861, while Mays himself claimed he had as many as 889 valid signatures — and said he wasn’t finished counting.

Arizona: Election laws to favor major parties | Arizona Daily Sun

Elections are about to get easier for major party candidates — especially those who have access to big-dollar donors. And voters who want to craft their own laws will find new hurdles, as Gov. Doug Ducey on Monday signed three measures approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature, including:
– Sharply boosting the number of signatures minor-party candidates would need to qualify for the ballot;
– Allowing candidates to accept up to $5,000 from any one source, a 25 percent increase since the last election;
– Requiring judges to throw out citizen-sponsored initiative, referendum and recall petitions if there are technical flaws in the paperwork.
It is the measure on petition signatures, though, that could have the biggest impact.

Arkansas: Bill on petition process advances | Arkansas News

A Senate committee on Monday advanced a bill that would impose new restrictions on the petition process for ballot initiatives. The Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee gave a “do pass” recommendation to Senate Bill 860 by Sen. Jimmy Hickey, R-Texarkana. Under the bill, the sponsor of a statewide initiative or referendum would be required to obtain background checks of all paid canvassers, at the sponsor’s expense, and register the results with the Arkansas State Police. Each paid canvasser also would have to sign a statement swearing that he or she has never been convicted of a felony, a violation of an election law, fraud, forgery or identity theft.

Voting Blogs: Denver Elections Division creates app to streamline petition process | electionlineWeekly

Coffee stains, bad penmanship, rips, tears and lots of folds and crinkles. From elections office staff to candidates to campaign volunteers, anyone who has worked an election knows what a mess ballot petitions can be. That’s why the Denver Elections Division has come up with what’s believed to be a first-in-the-nation way to gather signatures that is fast, efficient and coffee stain free. Beginning with the qualifying process for municipal elections this May, the office is test piloting a program that allows candidates to use a tablet and stylus to gather ballot petition signatures. “This cutting edge application has the potential to transform the petition process – providing easier access to the ballot and efficiencies never seen before in this country,” said Denver Clerk & Recorder Debra Johnson. “For years the hallmark of Denver Elections has been innovation and progress – 2015 will be no different. This bold approach has one thing in mind: our customers.” eSign, as the office is calling new application, allows circulators to gather signatures on a tablet that is registered with the  Elections Division.

South Dakota: Legislature to consider tightening election laws | Rapid City Journal

The Legislature will be asked to strengthen South Dakota’s election laws regarding candidate-petition signatures, which made headlines several times last year. One major change calls for signatures to be spot-checked on candidate petitions for statewide offices, similar to the process already used for statewide ballot measures. On Monday, the state Board of Elections and Secretary of State Shantel Krebs endorsed the proposal. They plan to submit legislation for consideration in the 2015 session that opens Jan. 13. Their proposal calls for checking the validity of a random sample of 5 percent of the signatures on a petition. A would-be candidate found to have insufficient valid signatures after the spot check could appeal that adverse finding to circuit court.

Colorado: Town of Montezuma sues all of its voters over flawed election | The Denver Post

Voting is supposed be a right and a privilege. But in the pint-sized, high-mountain town of Montezuma it also has become grounds for a lawsuit. The town and its novice clerk have filed suit against every registered voter in the town, claiming that an election held last spring had numerous errors. The lawsuit filed in Summit County District Court last week lists errors that include numbers that don’t add up and mismatched ballots that had to be patched together with the clerk’s sewing machine. The lawsuit asks a judge to command all 61 registered voters in Montezuma to appear in court so the judge can sort out an election mess that the petition calls “fatally flawed.” “I have never heard of anything like this,” said Andrew Cole, a spokesman for the Colorado secretary of state’s office. “This is certainly an unusual step to take.”