The Gusciora case was filed in 2004 by the Rutgers Constitutional Litigation Clinic on behalf of Reed Gusciora and other public-interest plaintiffs. The Plaintiffs sought to end the use of paperless direct-recording electronic voting machines, which are very vulnerable to fraud and manipulation via replacement of their software. The defendant was the Governor of New Jersey, and as governors came and went it was variously titledGusciora v. McGreevey, Gusciora v. Corzine, Guscioria v. Christie.
In 2010 Judge Linda Feinberg issued an Opinion. She did not ban the machines, but ordered the State to implement several kinds of security measures: some to improve the security of the computers on which ballots are programmed (and results are tabulated), and some to improve the security of the computers inside the voting machines themselves. Read More
While campaigning to become Kansas’ secretary of state, Kris Kobach held a press conference to make the case for a photo ID requirement at the polls. In his argument, he noted that a man named Alfred K. Brewer, who died in 1996, had voted in the 2010 primary. There was just one problem with that: Brewer wasn’t dead.
Shortly after the press conference, Brewer’s wife received a call regarding her husband’s “passing.” And she says, ‘Well, why do you want to talk to me? He’s out raking leaves,'” Brewer says.
It turned out the voter rolls Kobach referenced had the birth date for Brewer’s father, who had the same name. Despite the mistake, Kobach was trying to make a serious point. He’s part of a growing number of Republican lawmakers trying to crack down on voter fraud. Read More
In the 1964 presidential elections, a young political operative named Bill guarded a largely African-American polling place in South Phoenix, Arizona like a bull mastiff. Bill was a legal whiz who knew the ins and outs of voting law and insisted that every obscure provision be applied, no matter what. He even made those who spoke accented English interpret parts of the constitution to prove that they understood it. The lines were long, people fought, got tired or had to go to work, and many of them left without voting. It was a notorious episode long remembered in Phoenix political circles.
It turned out that it was part of a Republican Party strategy known as “Operation Eagle Eye”, and “Bill” was future Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist. He was confronted with his intimidation tactics in his confirmation hearings years later, and characterised his behaviour as simple arbitration of polling place disputes. In doing so, he set a standard for GOP dishonesty and obfuscation surrounding voting rights that continues to this day.
This week, in one of its greatest acts of elective chutzpah yet, Republicans in the state of Pennsylvania set forth a plan to split the state’s electoral votes for president proportionally by congressional district. This is not illegal, or even unprecedented. Two other states have this system. And some people have been arguing for years that the whole country should abolish the Electoral College altogether in order to avoid such undemocratic messes as the 2000 election. Many of them have settled on the idea of all states simultaneously adopting the system of alloting electoral votes proportionally instead of winner-take-all as a sort of compromise. But that’s not what’s happening here. Read More
As partisan conflict over jobs, taxes and a host of other issues has intensified in the last several months, so too has the conflict over election policy – in particular, voter ID.
I’ve already made it pretty clear that I don’t buy the dominant narrative – namely, that election policy debates are purely partisan fights aimed at creating favorable conditions for the 2012 Presidential election. I believe that those debates are more about the different policy views held by the parties and that by recognizing this we can identify and seize opportunities to make changes to our election system that serve voters while at the same time respecting the deeply-held views of both major parties.
If that’s the least bit intriguing to you, then today is your lucky day.
At 10am this morning (Monday, September 19), the American Enterprise Institute will co-host an eventwith my former colleagues at the Pew Center on the States entitled “Bringing Voter Registration into the 21st Century.” Read More
Most political observers have little doubt three ballot initiatives to amend the Mississippi Constitution will pass on Nov. 8, but there’s debate over whether they will drive higher voter turnout or give the GOP an advantage.
With elections drawing near, the initiatives don’t appear to have drawn the public fervor many expected a year or more ago during petition drives to get them on the ballot.
With court challenges cleared — at least for now — over two of the initiatives, voters will decide:
• Personhood: Whether to define life as beginning at conception
• Eminent domain: Whether to prevent government from taking someone’s private property and giving it to another for development
• Voter ID: Whether to require a person to submit a government-issued photo ID to vote Read More
Partisan sparring by state lawmakers about proposed congressional district changes and moving the state’s 2012 primary from March to May is making it difficult to administer an effective election, Ohio’s secretary of state said Thursday.
“The political infighting that’s going on right now between the two parties is beginning to affect the effective administration of elections,” Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said during an interview with CentralOhio.com on Thursday. “This is a major concern to me.”
House legislators passed a bill Thursday to move the 2012 primary election from March to May, although it wouldn’t take effect immediately. The redistricting map cleared the Ohio House on Thursday by a 56-36 vote that included several “yes” votes from Democrats. Read More
With a close 2012 presidential race approaching, Republican-dominated legislature is now looking to deliver a big blow to President Obama’s electoral strategy. The state is debating whether to switch its allocation of its Electoral College votes from the winner-take-all system used by nearly every other state to the congressional district-based system of dividing votes.
The result of such a switch could seriously damage Obama’s chances of reelection. He won 21 electoral votes in Pennsylvania in 2008. Under the district-based system, he would have only won 11. But the effect on 2012 is not the real problem with such a switch — instead it could cause a quadrennial havoc and serve as another body blow to any public confidence in the electoral system.
The Electoral College has already come under massive criticism following the 2000 presidential debacle, with numerous legislative attempts to revamp or junk the College. Whatever the merits of the complaints, one of the positives of the system is that most voters may view the Electoral College as a simple process — win a state, win its votes. However, the winner-take-all, also known as the “Unit Rule,” allocation method of the Electoral College is not mandatory. It is used by forty-eight states. But the other two, Nebraska and Maine, hand out two votes to the winner of the state, and give the rest of their votes (combined, they have nine) to the winner of each congressional district. And only once, in 2008 when Obama won one vote in Nebraska, have those two states split their vote. Read More
Of Beaufort County’s 92,879 registered voters, 9,674 or just more than 10.4 percent will not be able to vote in the next election unless they obtain a state-approved photo identification card. The United State Department of Justice is reviewing South Carolina’s new voter ID law, which was pushed by Republican state lawmakers and signed into law by Gov. Nikki Haley in May. For the law to go into effect, the federal justice department must issue a decision under the Voting Rights Act, given South Carolina and other southern states’ history of discrimination.
The governor, however, announced that Sept. 28 will be “Identification Card Day,” which will allow any citizen 18 or older who has no valid driver’s license or identification card to request state-sponsored transportation to an office of the Department of Motor Vehicles. Reservations must be made by Sept. 22.
Statewide the new law would bar 178,175 of the state’s 2.5 million registered voters from voting, unless they obtained identification. The affected population with no driver’s license or approved ID makes up 6.96 percent of the state’s registered voters. Under the new law, a military ID or passport would also be OK. Read More
The Justice Department will deliver its opening salvo today in Texas’ controversial redistricting case, laying out its initial argument on whether the state’s new Congressional map adheres to the Voting Rights Act.
The department’s legal brief will also give a hint as to how hard the Obama administration will fight for Hispanic voters in a proxy battle against one of the president’s potential opponents next year, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R).
“It’s a critical step in figuring where we end up in redistricting, especially Congressional redistricting,” said Michael Li, a Democratic election attorney in Dallas. “It’s the first time Democrats have controlled the Justice Department [during this process] in 40 years, since the Voting Rights Act was enacted. Everyone has been wondering how aggressive the Justice Department is going to be.” Read More
A municipal primary that may eliminate only one candidate from the field in setting the November ballot could cost a city as much as $50,000.
But other than being able to advance candidates to a November general election through a nominating convention — a process that Fruit Heights uses — the state election code offers little flexibility for cities trying to reduce election costs.
However, efforts are being made at the county level to consolidate municipalities’ polling locations, and there are rumblings at the state Capitol that lawmakers during the 2012 legislative session may look at changes in the state’s election code. “Cost is certainly an issue,” State Director of Elections Mark Thomas said of lawmakers’ interest in revisiting the code. “But it shouldn’t be the No. 1 issue.” Read More
When Voter ID became law last May, most student IDs were automatically excluded from acceptable forms of identification. This is no longer the case now that the Government Accountability Board has approved student IDs for voting, provided they have necessary stickers attached.
We endorse this decision as a whole. Yet even this seemingly straightforward directive is laden with conditionals. Rather than limiting ourselves to a blanket judgment, we will weigh in several particulars.
First, we believe that UW-Milwaukee should begin offering these stickers as soon as the law goes into effect. The GAB’s decision stopped short of mandating that colleges issue acceptable voter identification, leaving it to individual schools to pursue a sticker program if they so choose. However, it would be unconscionable for UWM to decline to provide makeshift voter IDs. Read More
Ahram newspaper reported on Saturday, the country’s first vote since a popular uprising toppled President Hosni Mubarak in February after 30 years of autocratic rule.
Al-Ahram quoted Egypt’s election commission head, Abdel Moez Ibrahim, as saying voting for the lower house, the People’s Assembly, will be held in three stages starting on November 21 and ending on January 3. Voting for the upper house, the Shura Council, will begin on January 22, 2012 and finish on March 4. Election commission officials were not immediately available to comment on the reports and an army source said the date would be announced in the coming days. Read More
A left-wing, pro-Russia party captured the most votes in Latvia’s parliamentary elections, marking a milestone for the tiny Baltic nation where parties distrustful of Russia have dominated all national elections since independence 20 years ago. With some 95 percent of ballots counted early Sunday, Harmony Center, a party catering to the country’s ethnic Russian minority, had 29.2 percent of the vote.
Since 1991, when Latvia regained its independence after the breakup of the Soviet Union, no such party had either won an election or been included in a coalition government, a streak that Harmony hopes to change after Saturday’s election. But other parties were already maneuvering to shut Harmony out of any coalition government. Read More
Yesterday’s early parliamentary elections in Latvia took place in a democratic and pluralistic environment and were marked by the rule of law, respect of fundamental freedoms, and functioning democratic institutions, observers from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) concluded in a statement issued today.
“This election has been run professionally and voters were provided a genuine choice between parties offering different platforms,” said Konrad Olszewski, the head of the ODIHR limited election observation mission. Read More