The Minnesota Legislature is poised to vote on a proposed Constitutional amendment that would replace same-day voter registration with a new election system called provisional voting. Not only would this new system cost local governments tens of millions in new tax dollars, it would delay the reporting of election results while we all waited for 500,000-600,000 provisional ballots to be processed. Since one-third of all provisional ballots nationwide are never counted, this could reduce our overall vote count by up to 200,000, knocking us out of our position as the state with the highest voter turnout in the nation. Given that over half-million Minnesotans normally use same-day registration in big election years, this kind of radical change should not be taken lightly.
Voting Blogs: New York Times article on Florida third party voter registration misses the big story | Election Updates
Today’s New York Times article on the effect of HB 1355 on the activity of third party voter registration groups misses the most important voter registration story in Florida. The more important story is the fact that voter registration from all sources has crashed, from the heights leading up to the elections of 2000 and 2004. Maybe HB 1355 is seriously restricting the ability of third party groups to register voters. But, why not an article about why the number of voter registrations in Florida over the 2005-08 cycle fell 54% compared to the 01-04 cycle, or 36% compared to the 97-00 cycle? Here are the basic patterns, gleaned from a great set of reports on the Florida Elections Division web site.
Florida, which is expected to be a vital swing state once again in this year’s presidential election, is enrolling fewer new voters than it did four years ago as prominent civic organizations have suspended registration drives because of what they describe as onerous restrictions imposed last year by Republican state officials. The state’s new elections law — which requires groups that register voters to turn in completed forms within 48 hours or risk fines, among other things — has led the state’s League of Women Voters to halt its efforts this year. Rock the Vote, a national organization that encourages young people to vote, began an effort last week to register high school students around the nation — but not in Florida, over fears that teachers could face fines. And on college campuses, the once-ubiquitous folding tables piled high with voter registration forms are now a rarer sight.
The opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) has accused the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the Electoral Commission of manipulating the ongoing voter biometric registration in certain parts of Accra to favour the ruling party. The Greater Accra NPP branch is alleging that new registration centres have been created in the region without their knowledge, “contrary to the agreed number of registration centres.”
In my last blog I said that Georgia has a unique situation in terms of its voter ID law, which was put into effect in 2007. As is often cited by photo voter ID law proponents, voter turnout did in fact increase between the 2004 presidential elections, which did not feature a photo voter ID mandate, and the 2008 presidential elections, which did. The numbers on this can not be refuted, and Heritage Foundation’s Hans Von Spakovsky often excitedly refers to the Georgia case when making his pro-voter ID arguments and did so in a recent blog. Citing recent voter turnout data released by Georgia Secretary of State Brian P. Kemp in a presentation he made before the Conservative Leadership Conference of the Civitas Institute on March 2 to rally North Carolina up for passing a voter ID bill:
Tomorrow marks the start of the Biometric registration. The exercise is to replace the existing voters register and by implication nullify previous ID cards. The Electoral Commission says it is adequately prepared to start the biometric registration. The Head of the Public Affairs of the Commission, Christian Owusu Parry told Radio Ghana that, all registration officers have been trained and materials needed for the exercise, have also been dispatched to all districts across the country. Mr. Parry said the commission has met with all political parties to deliberate on major issues ahead of the start of the exercise.
Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney has survived the heated GOP nominating contest so far without attracting significant attention to what may become a general election issue: allegations that he committed voter fraud in 2010. In January 2010 the former Massachusetts governor proudly cast a ballot for Republican Scott Brown in the special election to replace the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. He didn’t own property in the state at the time, and had registered to vote listing his son’s unfinished basement as his residence. Massachusetts law defines a residence for voter registration purposes as “where a person dwells and which is the center of his domestic, social, and civil life.” Anyone found guilty of committing voter fraud faces up to five years behind bars and a fine of $10,000.
Town and city clerks ask: who better to consult on election laws than the people who work closely with them every election day? That is why they are advocating for bills that they believe will make voting easier. City and town clerks from across the state gathered at the Massachusetts State House Monday to support a bill that creates an Election Laws Task Force. The task force would undertake a study of Election Day registration, and put clerks in a prominent position to comment on how elections are run. Clerks are also supporting a bill that eliminates check out tables at voting centers and allows people to vote without photo ID after voting for the first time at any election.
A new campaign aims to encourage homeless people to sign up to vote in this year’s council elections. Housing and homeless charity Shelter Scotland has teamed up with the Electoral Commission for the initiative. As well as urging homeless people to register to vote, it will encourage those in temporary accommodation and people renting properties to put their name on the electoral roll. Research by the Electoral Commission last April found only 56% of those living in rented accommodation were registered to vote, compared with 88% of owner occupiers. Andy O’Neill, head of the Electoral Commission in Scotland, said people living in temporary accommodation may not realise they can still register to vote using their temporary address.
An election commission in Indianapolis ruled Thursday that Sen. Richard Lugar is ineligible to vote in his former precinct, a blow to the Republican who has been battling residency questions amid a primary battle for reelection. The Marion County Election Board voted 2-1 against Lugar and his wife in a vote along party lines, according to Angie Nussmeyer, a spokesperson for the board. Democrats who voted against Lugar determined he no longer resided at the home address listed on his voter registration. Lugar has lived in McLean, Virginia since the sale of his Indianapolis home in 1977. Lugar’s campaign characterized the decision as an attempt to infringe upon Lugar’s right to vote.
For the moment, Dick Lugar can’t even vote to save himself. A local election board ruled Thursday that the six-term senator has abandoned his Indiana home and cannot cast a ballot in the state he represents. The Indiana Republican is up for re-election this year and faces a conservative challenger in the state’s May 8 primary. “I don’t want to cast aspersions on anyone,” Lugar told reporters on Capitol Hill Thursday, “but there has been a rather concerted campaign by self-appointed persons who believe this is the best way to settle the Indiana election.” The two-to-one party-line decision by the Marion County Election Board has important legal implications, but also resurrects the crippling narrative that Lugar is disconnected from Indiana, where he hasn’t owned a home in more than three decades.
As part of a new campaign, dozens of citizen groups around the country are searching voter registration lists, looking for problems. They’re also training poll watchers to monitor this fall’s elections. Leaders of the effort — spawned by the Tea Party movement — say they want to make sure that elections are free from voter fraud. But critics say it’s part of a campaign to suppress the votes of minorities, students and others who tend to vote Democratic. Cathy Kelleher and Cathy Trauernicht say that’s not true. They’re founders of Election Integrity Maryland, one of the groups involved. They call themselves concerned citizens.
Former U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis is suing the state, claiming that he and thousands of other Tennesseans were illegally taken off voter rolls in a recent purge of old registrations. Davis filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court Monday that says state election officials broke the law by not requiring more than 70,000 voters to be notified that their registrations had been canceled. Davis decided to sue after he and his wife were turned away at the polls when they attempted to vote in the Fentress County Democratic primary last Tuesday. “We’re seeing what I believe (is) an attack on individuals’ opportunity to be able to vote,” Davis said.
Confusion is the constant in Texas’ presidential primary election this year. Delayed more than two months because of political wrangling, the primary is now scheduled to be the second major election day in May, calling voters back to the polls just more than two weeks after they cast ballots in city and school district elections. New voter registration cards – which will tell residents whether there’s been any changes in their precincts and local, state and federal political districts – likely won’t be sent out until late April, after the overseas and military ballots are sent out. “I’m sure there will be some confusion,” Tarrant County Elections Administrator Steve Raborn said. “We’re having these leapfrog elections, and runoffs, and in some cases polling places will be different, and some early voting sites will be different. “There’s so many things that are changing, moving.”
The state’s contested voter ID law could provoke widespread complications in the upcoming presidential elections, with as many as 18 percent of all registered voters across Texas apparently lacking state government-issued photo IDs to match their voter registration cards, according to records obtained by the Houston Chronicle. Texas secretary of state officials did not find matching 2012 driver’s licenses or state-issued photo IDs for 2.4 million of the state’s 12.8 million registered voters, though all but about 800,000 of those voters supplied a valid identification number when they first registered to vote. The findings come from documents submitted by the state to the U.S. Department of Justice as part of an ongoing review of the new voter ID law.
The Virginia House on Thursday gave final approval to a voter ID bill that Republicans said would bolster the integrity of elections but Democrats have compared to Jim Crow-era attempts to suppress the Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment, Jr. ( R-James City) rear, and Sen. Stephen H. Martin (R-Chesterfield) watch during debate in the Senate on Martin’s voter ID bill. (Bob Brown – AP) minority vote. The bill, which now heads to Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, requires voters to show identification before their ballots will be counted. But it also greatly expands the types of ID accepted at the polls. McDonnell has not taken a position on the measure, one of the most hotly contested of the General Assembly session. “He will review the legislation when we receive the bill,” McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said.
A number of organizations are saying a series of bills designed to close loopholes and prevent voter fraud will interfere with the right to vote. State Senate Bills 751 and 754 call for new photo identification requirements for voter registration and absentee voting. SB 754 also regulates groups that register people to vote. SB 751 requires voters to show photo identification to obtain an absentee ballot. Currently, a range of documents are accepted as proof of identify and residency, such as a Social Security card, paystubs, utility bills and bank statements. The laws are part of a package of bills called Secure and Fair Elections initiative designed to strengthen campaign finance laws, create new policies and the expand the use of technology.
A recent story out of New Mexico has made Buddy, pictured above, the latest (would-be) four-legged cautionary tale about the nation’s registration system. Buddy’s owner was walking across campus a while back at the University of New Mexico when he saw a voter registration booth. He said he decided to “test” the system by submitting an application for Buddy using a fake birth date and Social Security number. A short time later, he had a voter registration card for Buddy in hand – and took his story to the media to “expose” the flaws in the state’s election system, saying “[t]hey should verify. Somebody should have verified this information and somebody should have come out and took a look at exactly who it was.” Let’s go ahead and set aside this notion of in-person followup visits – can you imagine this person’s reaction had he received such a visit in response to a legitimate application? – and focus instead on this notion of “testing” the system to expose its perceived flaws.
The Justice Department objected late Friday to new provisions of Florida election law which place strict regulations on third-party voter registration groups and cut down on the early voting period. DOJ alleged in a court filing that Florida was unable to prove the new provisions were not discriminatory under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. “As to the third-party voter registration and early voting changes enacted… respectively, the United States’ position is that the State has not met its burden, on behalf of its covered counties, that the two sets of proposed voting changes are entitled to preclearance under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act,” according to a court filing.
A Republican man in New Mexico wanted to show how easy he thought it was to commit voter fraud. So the Albuquerque man did just that: committed voter registration fraud by registering his dog, Buddy, to vote. Local news station KOB Eyewitness News 4 in New Mexico reported on the man’s stunt this week. “They should verify. Somebody should have verified this information and somebody should have come out and took a look at exactly who it was,” the unidentified man told the news station. “But I made up a birth date, and I made up a social security number and I had a voter registration card in my hand for Buddy two weeks later.” The news station interviewed the man on camera but granted the dog owner anonymity, and faded out any personal information, though it’s wasn’t clear why. Danielle Todesco, the reporter who put the piece together, said in an email to TPM that she discussed the decision to grant the man anonymity with her news director.
The husband of a campaign staffer for a Republican candidate for Senate in New Mexico is under investigation for allegedly committing a felony by registering the couple’s dog to vote as part of a stunt to show how easy it could be to commit voter registration fraud. The anonymous man in the sweatshirt and hat playing with his Labrador Buddy in a local television piece? That’s Thomas Tolbert. He’s married to Heather Wade, a staffer for former Rep. Heather Wilson’s senate campaign, as first revealed by the liberal group ProgressNow NM. The Smoking Gun got a hold of the voter registration card belonging to “Buddy” and said the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office was focusing on Tolbert. Bryce Dustman, Wilson’s campaign manager, said in a statement to TPM that they learned about the allegations from the media.
A total amount of GH¢243,528,305 is needed for the conduct of Ghana’s 2012 general elections, according to the Electoral Commission’s (EC) budget estimate for the exercise. The money is meant for voter’s registration and both the presidential and parliamentary elections in December 2012, said the Commission’s Chairman Dr K. Afari-Gyan at a meeting organised by the Editors Forum, Ghana (EFG) in Accra February 15, 2012.
Today, the Pew Center on the States released a report detailing some of the serious flaws in our voter registration systems, the lynchpin of election administration. Their study reaffirms what election administrators and voter advocates have known for a long time — that the voter rolls are filled with errors, and an unconscionable percentage (almost a quarter, according to Pew) of American citizens who are eligible to vote are not registered. The flaws identified in the Pew study are the result of an outdated, paper- based voter registration system that is not only inefficient and costly, but prone to inaccuracy. Worse, the clunky system leaves off millions of eligible voters or contains errors in their records that could prevent them from voting effectively. The question is no longer whether we should upgrade the system, but how we should do so. Recent technological innovations point the way to the solution: modernizing the system.
The nation’s voter registration rolls are in disarray, according to a report released Tuesday by the Pew Center on the States. The problems have the potential to affect the outcomes of local, state and federal elections. One in eight active registrations is invalid or inaccurate. At the same time, one in four people who are eligible to vote — at least 51 million potential voters — are not registered. The report found that there are about 1.8 million dead people listed as active voters. Some 2.8 million people have active registrations in more than one state. And 12 million registrations have errors serious enough to make it unlikely that mailings based on them will reach voters.
The nonprofit Voting for America filed a federal lawsuit Monday alleging Texas voter rolls have been actively suppressed by excessive restrictions on volunteers who conduct registration drives, aggressive purges of county voter rolls and poll workers who improperly requested identification from voters. “A developing body of state practices and provisions targeted at voter registration activities is endangering the rights of many Texas voters,” the lawsuit alleges. The group, affiliated with the Washington D.C.-based Project Vote, runs nonpartisan voter registration drives nationwide and has previously mounted legal challenges to state voter registration procedures in Missouri, Ohio, Indiana and New Mexico, among other states.
The Overseas Vote Foundation is launching a new domestic voter registration and absentee ballot site in this election season that aims to make it easy for voters to fill out and access state-specific election forms. OVF announced the new initiative, the U.S. Vote Foundation, at its summit at the end of January. The Overseas Vote Foundation, founded in 2005, has been dedicated to making the overseas registration process more accessible through its websites dedicated to military service members as well as the general population of Americans abroad. “We know that one of the things that election officials want the most is that voters use the forms that their state provides,” said Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat, OVF’s president and CEO. “Some states use the NVRA to send the voter yet another form.”
National: Project Seeks to Help Students Overcome Barriers to Voting | The Chronicle of Higher Education
A national advocacy organization that focuses on increasing voter registration for underrepresented groups announced on Wednesday a campaign to spur student participation in elections and to help students overcome voting barriers. The Fair Elections Legal Network kicked off its campaign, the Campus Vote Project, at George Washington University’s Law School. At the event, members of an advisory board on student voting met to talk about ways to create campuswide policies and programs that make voting more accessible for students. “Voting is a universal right,” said Victor Sánchez, president of the United States Student Association and member of the advisory board. “With help and guidance, there should be better ways to help go about increasing access to voter registration and increasing voters on campus.”
South Carolina: Bill in South Carolina House would add requirements to register voters | Aiken Standard
Advocates for the poor and minorities said Wednesday that a proposal to put new requirements on groups that register voters represents a bid to suppress voting among those most likely to vote for Democrats. But the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Alan Clemmons, contends it’s about holding third-party groups accountable for properly handling a person’s right to vote and applies to all groups spanning the political spectrum. The House measure requires any group that conducts voter registration drives to register with the state Elections Commission and turn in voters’ forms within five days of signing them up. Fines for not turning them in start at $50. Intentional violations would bring a maximum fine of $1,000. All employees and volunteers participating in voter drives must sign a statement swearing they will uphold state election laws.
Virginia: Newman amendment would ease voting ID requirements for Virginia students | The News & Advance
The politically charged voter identification bill passed by the state Senate this week was amended on the floor at the request of Sen. Steve Newman to make it easier for students at private colleges to vote. Newman, R-Lynchburg, asked for the list of approved voter identification to be expanded to include any valid student ID issued by a four-year college, public or private, in Virginia. Current state law only allows election officials to accept public university IDs, because state institutions issue them. Private university IDs did not make the grade. Under SB1, voters who do not present valid ID at the polls will be required to cast a provisional ballot and submit proper identification later to ensure their vote is counted. This has ignited a contentious debate in Richmond, with Democrats arguing it will suppress the vote of minorities, the elderly and poor.
The Colombian government plans to implement an electronic voting system for the 2014 elections,reports newspaper Vanguardia. Government officials made the announcement in collaboration with the Interior Ministry Sunday. A forum led by Senator Juan Manuel Galan Pachon outlined a number of implementations that would improve Colombia‘s electoral system, including electronic voting, a fingerprinting system, and voter registration. Pachon said that modernizing the electoral system would combat crimes like buying of votes, impersonation, identity theft, and ‘transhumance’ — a method of electoral manipulation where voters move to cities other than their place of residence in order to vote for a particular candidate.