During a presidential election in Florida, thousands of provisional ballots are left uncounted. In some cases, that’s because voters forgot to sign them. And Sen. Audrey Gibson (D-Jacksonville) has a bill to do something about that. “It’s a very simple bill it just allows a voter who casts a ballot, but fails to sign his or her name to be able to cure that deficiency just like a voter can cure that deficiency on a vote by mail ballot,” Gibson says. A vote by mail ballot, or absentee ballot allows someone to request that a ballot be mailed to their home then they mail it back or drop it off at the supervisor of elections office. And sometimes voters make mistakes when filling out those ballots –like forgetting to sign them. But Gibson says there’s a plan in place to address that. And she wants that same plan to apply to provisional ballots—or a ballot that’s voted in person at a polling location, often when there are questions about a voter’s eligibility.Full Article: Lawmaker Looks To Ensure Provisional Ballots Are Counted | WFSU.
Nearly 12 percent of absentee and provisional ballots rejected by Ohio elections boards in 2014 and 2015 general elections were bounced for technical issues, according to documents filed in federal court Thursday. Those technical issues — names that don’t exactly match voter records, missing or incorrect dates of birth, improper voter ID or conflicts in voters’ addresses — are the target of a lawsuit. The suit claims that state rules enacted in 2014 violate constitutional rights and disproportionately hurt African-American, Latino and poor voters. In addition to identifying 4,105 ballots disqualified for technical errors, data collected by the plaintiffs show that the rate of disqualification varies widely from county to county. In the 10 largest counties, that rate was as low as 1 percent and as high as 24.8 percent. Unless the boards of elections are able to contact a voter to get a ballot corrected, the voter’s ballot may not be counted and the voter may never know.Full Article: 4,100 Ohio ballots tossed in 2014-15 for technical errors, lawsuit says | cleveland.com.
Attorneys representing Ohio Democrats in a legal dispute over changes to the swing state’s voting laws said Monday that a federal judge should strike down the adjustments because their burden on voters outweighs any benefit to the state. But lawyers for the state claim the voting changes were minor and argue that Ohio offers many opportunities for its residents to vote. At issue in the case are a series of Republican-backed changes that Democrats allege disproportionately burden minority voters and those who lean Democratic. Among the policy changes was elimination of a week of early voting in which Ohioans also could register to vote, known as “golden week.” U.S. District Judge Michael Watson heard opening statements in the trial that began Monday and is expected to stretch into next week. The case is being tried before Watson instead of a jury. The case also challenges rules related to absentee and provisional ballots, and limitations to in-person, early voting locations. Democrats want Watson to block the policies from being enforced.Full Article: Federal judge hearing dispute over Ohio’s voting rules - Break News - Ohio.
The launch of Hamilton County’s new electronic voter sign-in system hit some snags Tuesday as voters and poll workers in several polling locations struggled with the technology. The trouble was severe enough in 10 of the county’s 364 polling places that workers had to resort to the old paper poll books to sign in voters. The problems were not isolated to those locations, however, as voters in several other spots around the county complained they were given provisional ballots when their names did not appear on the electronic registry. “That’s unacceptable,” said Joseph Brotzge, a Loveland man who voted provisionally after poll workers could not find his name at the polling place where he has voted for 30 years. “It tells me they did poor planning. This is not the type of experience one wants to have.” … Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said the problems were likely the result of human error, rather than the fault of the new technology. Husted, who stopped by one of the county’s busiest polling places in St. Bernard early Tuesday, said the new system is working well overall and voters are generally happy with it.
The voter ID provision of North Carolina’s controversial Voter Information Verification Act (VIVA) will be the subject of a hearing in federal court next week. Lawyers for both sides will return to court on October 23 to update U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Schroeder on negotiations meant to settle legal challenges to VIVA’s voter ID provision out of court, the Winston-Salem Journal reports. The photo ID requirement is one of the most controversial provisions of VIVA, a comprehensive overhaul of North Carolina voting law signed into law by Governor Pat McCrory on August 12, 2013. In its original form, the ID provision required voters to present one of eight state-approved photo IDs before casting a ballot, starting in 2016. Critics of the law have argued the photo ID requirement unfairly burdens poor, elderly, minority and student voters who are more likely to lack one of the eight approved IDs.Full Article: Voter ID law goes back to court in North Carolina.
Within the first week of early voting in Memphis, a couple said they had issues with their ballots. Their ballots said they lived in District 7, but they actually live in District 5. Shelby County Election Commission Chairman Robert Meyers said they learned about the issue on Friday and found those voters did in fact get the wrong ballot. “This particular incident I believe that they were very close to the line and so that just didn’t appear as clearly as perhaps we would’ve liked for it to,” Meyers said.Full Article: Election Commission On Voting Error - Story | Midsouth - Memphis | LocalMemphis | WANT, WLMT and WJKT.
Attorneys on both sides of the lawsuits challenging the 2013 state election law overhaul are trying to find common ground on North Carolina’s voter ID law and plan to report the results of their efforts to a judge next month. Lawyers for the NAACP and others offered that detail in an update to the federal judge presiding over the cases that will determine which rules govern elections in North Carolina next year. They plan to report to the judge on Sept. 17 as part of a trial that could test the breadth of protections for African-Americans with claims of voter disenfranchisement two years after the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder presided over three weeks of arguments in July on parts of the challenge that did not include the requirement that N.C. voters show one of six photo identification cards to cast a ballot. The legislature amended that portion of the law on the eve of the trial, setting up a request from the challengers for deeper review of the broader implications of the changes.Full Article: Two sides negotiate voter ID provision | News & Observer.
The Ohio Democratic Party and two of its county organizations are seeking to join a federal lawsuit filed in May that alleges that election laws and rules in the political battleground state disproportionately burden Democratic-leaning voters. The Ohio Organizing Collaborative brought the case. But in court filings last week, the organization’s attorneys asked Magistrate Judge Norah McCann King to let it withdraw and substitute in its place the state’s Democratic Party and Cuyahoga and Montgomery county parties. “OOC is a non-profit organization with limited resources, and it does not have the institutional capability to remain as a plaintiff,” attorneys wrote in court documents.Full Article: Ohio Democrats seek to join lawsuit over voting changes - Fairfield Citizen.
North Carolina’s voter ID law will be the topic of discussion this week among attorneys on each side of the lawsuits challenging the 2013 state election law overhaul. Lawyers for the NAACP and others offered that detail in an update to the federal judge presiding over the cases that will determine which rules govern elections in North Carolina next year. They plan to provide a report of their efforts to find common ground in a report to the judge on Sept. 17 as part of a trial could test the breadth of protections for African-Americans with claims of voter disenfranchisement two years after the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder presided over arguments during three weeks in July on parts of the challenge that did not include the requirement that N.C. voters show one of six photo identification cards to cast a ballot. The legislature amended that portion of the law on the eve of the trial, setting up a request from the challengers for deeper review of the broader implications of the changes.Full Article: NC voter ID law topic of negotiations | News & Observer.
Recently passed Ohio voting laws create hurdles for minority voters casting absentee and provisional ballots, advocates argued in an updated federal lawsuit filed on Monday. The laws and similar orders by the secretary of state unconstitutionally permit absentee votes to be thrown out for ID errors, according to the lawsuit. Those mistakes could include putting down the wrong birth month on the absentee envelope even when a voter supplied the correct information when requesting the ballot, the lawsuit said. The laws also removed protection for voters casting provisional ballots by failing to provide the chance for voters to be notified of errors that could cause the ballot to be rejected, according to the lawsuit.Full Article: Ohio voting laws discriminate, lawsuit says | The Columbus Dispatch.
Recently passed Ohio voting laws create new hurdles for minority voters casting absentee and provisional ballots, election rights advocates argued in an updated federal lawsuit filed Monday. The laws and similar orders by the state’s elections chief unconstitutionally permit absentee votes to be thrown out for ID errors, according to the lawsuit. Those mistakes could include putting down the wrong birth month on the absentee envelope even when a voter supplied the correct information when requesting the ballot, the lawsuit said. The laws also removed protection for voters casting provisional ballots by failing to provide the chance for voters to be notified of errors that could cause the ballot to be rejected, according to the lawsuit.Full Article: Election rights advocates allege new voter ID violations - San Francisco Chronicle.
Waiting up late to see who wins on election night may be frustrating Tuesday. More municipal primary races than usual may remain undecided — for up to two weeks — because many ballots will still be in the mail. Most major Utah cities switched this year to voting primarily by mail, including seven of the eight Salt Lake County cities holding primaries Tuesday. Fourteen of the 16 cities in Utah’s largest county will also vote by mail in the Nov. 3 general election — all but Taylorsville and West Valley City. By-mail ballots must be postmarked by Monday, the day before the election. So they may trickle in over several days. State law prohibits updating vote counts publicly between election night and the final official vote canvasses by city councils — which must be held between seven and 14 days after the election.Full Article: New by-mail voting could mean election night mystery: Who won? | The Salt Lake Tribune.
Kansas residents can register to vote using a federal form without having to provide proof of citizenship under the June 29 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, but they won’t be allowed to vote in state and local elections, the state’s top election official said. The high court’s justices rejected an appeal from Republican officials in Kansas and Arizona who have sought force federal elections officials to change a national voter registration form so that it requires new voters in their states to submit a birth certificate, passport or other papers documenting U.S. citizenship. Last year, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the two states can not demand that the U.S. Election Assistance Commission help them enforce their laws. Most new Kansas voters use a state voter registration form requiring such documents. The federal form requires only that voters sign a sworn statement saying they are citizens.Full Article: The Legal Record - Online Edition.
Just one week after it was introduced, a slightly pared down bill to overhaul New Jersey’s voting system began its legislative journey Monday. The Assembly Appropriations Committee voted 6-3 to approve the “Democracy Act” along party lines, with Democrats supporting it and Republicans opposing it. “We cannot afford to let our democracy sit with diminishing participation at the polls and do nothing about it, because democracy suffers,” said Deborah Cornavaca, legislative director for New Jersey Working Families, a progressive group that has been pushing the measure.Full Article: Same day voter registration nixed from N.J. 'Democracy Act' | NJ.com.
North Carolina Republicans did a startling and uncharacteristic thing last week: In the face of a potentially unfavorable legal outcome, they gutted a bad provision in a bad law. No, it wasn’t the state’s abortion ultrasound law, which finally died last week when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take it up. It also wasn’t the state’s same-sex marriage amendment, which is likely to be gone for good in the next week when those same justices decide on the issue for all states. It was another, very significant law: North Carolina’s Voter Information Verification Act (VIVA), which would have required voters to show a photo ID in order to cast a ballot beginning in 2016.Full Article: Did Republicans kill N.C. Voter ID? | The Charlotte Observer The Charlotte Observer.
Nearly two weeks before a federal trial is set to begin on the constitutionality of North Carolina’s voter ID rule and other election law changes made in 2013, the General Assembly has changed the rules. The N.C. Senate voted 44-2 Thursday to soften voter ID requirements set to go into effect next year, approving legislation that allows voters without photo IDs to cast provisional ballots. The House also approved the bill a few hours later in a 104-3 vote, sending it to Gov. Pat McCrory’s desk. The bill, similar to a South Carolina law that was allowed to take effect in 2013, sets up a process for voters to use a “reasonable impediment declaration” outlining why they couldn’t provide a photo ID at the polls. Voters could claim one of eight reasons, including a lack of transportation, disability or illness, lost or stolen photo ID, or a lack of a birth certificate or other documents to obtain a photo ID.Full Article: NC legislature votes to soften voter ID requirement | News & Observer News & Observer.
Legislation that seeks to boost voter turnout by making exercising this constitutional right more convenient in Pennsylvania is being pushed by two Democratic House members and several organizations. Same-day Voter Registration Could Increase Voter Participation, Supporters Say Lawmakers and others are calling for the passage of legislation that would allow voters to register at their polling place on Election Day and vote by provisional ballot. Their ballot t would only be counted after the Department of State approved their voter registration application. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie, and lists 28 Democrats as its co-sponsors, would allow voters to register to vote at their county courthouse or polling place on the day of the election.Full Article: Same-day voter registration bill pushed as way to increase turnout | PennLive.com.
A North Carolina elections watchdog group says changes to the state’s voting law in 2013 prevented thousands of ballots cast by residents across the state from counting in last year’s general election. A report out this month from Democracy North Carolina, a nonpartisan research organization, says the elimination of provisions allowing same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting required elections officials to eliminate more than 2,300 provisional ballots cast by voters in 2014. Before the General Assembly passed changes to the state’s law in 2013, which will also phase in photo identification requirements for voters in 2016, registered voters outside their assigned precincts could still have their top choices counted as long as they voted in their county. Same-day registration also allowed residents to correct problems before casting a ballot.Full Article: Thousands of ballots not counted under new voting law, watchdog group says :: WRAL.com.
When you’re out at the polls today, don’t just think about the candidates running for office, also keep in mind the the dedicated poll workers. After hours of training and — for many — more than 10 years of experience, poll workers flood into area voting sites at 5 a.m. to gear up for a 14-hour workday. While it pays well, anywhere from $95 to $175 for the day, the job involves a huge amount of responsibility as well as a deep knowledge of the election process and Indiana election laws. Poll workers are supplied to the election board thanks to the local political parties. Each party is responsible for providing poll workers.Full Article: Poll workers provide important yet often overlooked service to voters - News-Sentinel.com.
The counting and recounting is over, and the legal challenge to the election of Chula Vista City Councilman John McCann that ended this week didn’t change the outcome — McCann won the seat by an incredibly narrow margin of two votes. But the implications of the race, and how a handful of provisional ballots were handled by election officials, may extend far beyond Chula Vista, and McCann’s defeat of challenger Steve Padilla. The legal challenge filed by attorney and Padilla supporter John Moot failed when San Diego Superior Court judge Eddie Sturgeon ruled county Registrar of Voters acted properly when he excluded a handful of votes.Full Article: Chula Vista election dispute highlights broader issue | UTSanDiego.com.