Secretary of State Beth Chapman released her legislative wish list today highlighting her top two priorities: military voting and photo voter identification. Chapman is continuing her fight to expedite military voting in Alabama and has a proven electronic system used successfully by another state’s pilot program in the last election. “The process my staff, the military votingtask force and I have been advocating for has been tested and proven to work. It has the instant ability to increase the number of military and overseas voters’ ballots returned to our state by fifty percent or more,” Chapman said. The number of military absentee ballots requested in Alabama in the most recent election was 4,875; the number returned was only 1,125. That is a 23% return rate. Chapman says this is a problem nationwide, but is a worse problem in Alabama due to the length of time required by state law to receive ballots by U.S. Postal Service only. Read More
The often overlooked role of Connecticut’s Registrars of Voters, the people who oversee elections, was put into sharp focus when the state waited two weeks until a winner in the race for governor was declared last November. So the Channel 3 Eyewitness News I-Team started asking questions about registrars: how they get their jobs, how they do their jobs and what training do they receive for a job some call one of the last bastions of political patronage in our state.Connecticut has a new governor, but who that governor was going to be was in doubt for two long weeks in November, and at the center of the controversy was the registrars of voters.In Bridgeport, one of Connecticut’s largest cities, registrars did not order enough ballots, so photocopies were provided and polling hours were extended. There were also challenges to the ballots that were cast and recounts.”That usually seems to be a problem in the bigger cities for whatever reason,” said John Daly, of Manchester. Read More
Lawmakers in Idaho are considering a measure to require people carrying out official election duties, such as poll watching, to be registered voters in the state. The measure is being introduced in the Idaho Legislature a year after state lawmakers passed a law requiring voters to provide photo identification to cast their ballots. Read More
Gov. Mitch Daniels signed a bill into law Tuesday authorizing the continued use of vote centers in Indiana. Early work on the legislation ensured it did not get caught up in the legislative rancor that led to Tuesday’s boycott by Democratic House members. “This is the first bill in the current session to be approved by the Senate, passed out of the House of Representatives and signed into law by Gov. Mitch Daniels,” said Sen. Ron Alting, R-Lafayette, author of the bill.Vote centers were first used in 2007 elections in Tippecanoe, Cass and Wayne counties. They gained popularity with voters because of their convenience and accessibility — and with county officials because of their cost savings. Read More
A voting bill sought by Secretary of State Kris Kobach has been approved by a Kansas House committee. The House Elections and Local Government Committee amended the bill Monday to clarify documents that voters could use to prove citizenship when registering to vote. It also sets a process for first-time voters to prove citizenship if they lack documents when they initially register. Kobach says the changes are necessary to prevent voter fraud and to preserve the integrity of the election process. Democrats on the committee voted against the bill, saying the changes will disenfranchise voters by requiring extra steps to vote. Read More
Election Day would no longer be a holiday for state employees under a bill passed by the House on Tuesday. House Bill 435, by Rep. Keith Regier, R-Kalispell, passed on a 64-35 vote. It faces a final House vote before going to the Senate. It would end state holidays on the day of the November general election every other year. “My constituents have expressed frustration at state government being closed that day,” he said. Rep. Diane Sands, D-Missoula, opposed the bill, saying that many state and local government employees now use the day off to work as local election judges. Ending the holiday would make it harder for election officials to find judges, she said. There was little debate on the bill.
Even the sponsor of a bill that would require voters to show photo identification at the polls says it needs further study. Rep. Richard Drisko testified Tuesday before a legislative committee and asked that his bill be held so lawmakers could examine approaches taken in other states. The bill would require New Hampshire residents to have a valid driver’s license or a non-driver’s photo ID to get a ballot, something not currently mandated. However, Drisko said the bill accomplishes a concern that wasn’t addressed in a similar bill that failed last year. Drisko’s bill would create a state fund to pay for a photo ID for voters who don’t have one. But his bill doesn’t address concerns like same-day voter registration, which is allowed in New Hampshire. Read More
A controversial bill that would require all registered voters to show a photo ID before they vote is being debated on Capitol Hill. The bill has already passed the Senate, now it’s up for debate in the House. Supporters said it could cut down on voter fraud. But opponents, like the AARP, are now coming out against it. They said it could lead to voter disenfranchisement. They believe requiring a photo ID could lead to an unnecessary obstacle to voting. “You have to know our senior citizens, not all of them have that,” said Senator Thelma Harper. Read More
Things get a little heated at a Senate committee hearing Tuesday afternoon. Committee Chair Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) refuses to let missing senator Jon Erpenbach vote on the controversial photo ID bill. The Middleton Democrat had fled the state with other Senate Democrats to avoid a vote on Governor Walker’s budget repair bill. The New Berlin Republican scolds Erpenbach for not being present. “I’ll wait an hour.” She says, “If you are in Illinois you can be here in two hours; I can wait.” While phoning-in from an undisclosed location, Erpenbach chimes in, “Mary, I’m here now. I’m ready to vote.” Erpenbach asks Lazich to extend a courtesy allowing him to cast his vote via phone, just as he had done for her. Lazich says considering the “Call of the House,” his absence is “unethical” and no courtesies will be extended. Read More
The trial of Russian citizens Artyom Breus and Ivan Gaponov charged in connection with the December 19 anti-Lukashenka demonstration in Minsk. The government has fully met its target for the conversion of companies into stock corporations but fallen behind its plan to sell shares into private hands, Ryhor Kuznyatsow, chairman of the…” The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) on February 22 published its final report on Belarus` December 14-19 presidential election, reiterating that the government has a considerable way to go to meet its OSCE commitments for democratic elections, BelaPAN said. There was a lack of independence and impartiality of the election administration, an uneven playing field and a restrictive media environment, as well as a lack of transparency at key stages of the electoral process, the ODIHR concluded in its final report. “Election night was marred by the detention of most presidential candidates and hundreds of citizens, among them journalists, human rights activists and other civil society representatives,” the ODIHR says, noting that dozens of them, including former presidential candidates, continue to be detained. “Overall, these circumstances undermined confidence in the election,” the Office stresses. It says that despite significant improvements introduced to the Electoral Code a year earlier, the country’s legal framework “still does not fully comply with OSCE commitments and other international standards, and continues to contain serious shortcomings.” Local election commissions were dominated by members supportive of the incumbent president, which calls into question their impartiality, the ODIHR notes. Read More
Mizoram opposition leader and former Chief Minister Zoramthanga has blamed the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in the last Assembly election as a reason for his party’s defeat in the hands of the Congress. The last Mizoram Assembly was held in 2009 and the Mizo National Front (MNF) was defeated by the Lal Thanhawla-led Congress party. Zoramthanga, a former militant leader and also the former Chief Minister said that experts have proved that there were some errors in using EVMs. Read More
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