Mississippi voters just approved a new law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls. But that law will not go into effect immediately, thanks to the Voting Rights Act. Instead Mississippi will get in line behind Texas and South Carolina as the Department of Justice examines each state’s voter ID laws, in a process known as “preclearance.”
The Justice Department will allow each law to go into effect only if the state can show its law will not have a racially discriminatory purpose or effect. Such proof may be hard to come by: a recent study by The Associated Press found that African-American voters in South Carolina would be much harder hit by that state’s ID law than white voters because they often don’t have the right kind of identification.Read More
An upstart political reform group called Americans Elect is looking to blow apart the Democrat-Republican duopoly that dominates American politics. Its imaginative scheme: nominating an independent presidential candidate over the internet. The group is on the ballot in a half-dozen states, and the national buzz surrounding its initiative is growing—but so too are the questions about who’s bankrolling this effort and the security of the outfit’s voting procedures.
Americans Elect rose from the ashes of Unity08, a group formed in 2006 to increase access to the electoral system for independent presidential candidates. Via Americans Elect’s website, registered voters can sign up as “delegates” and nominate “any American [they] believe can be a great leader.” (For reference, the site offers a lengthy list of current political figures.) In April, delegates will winnow the field of candidates to six finalists, each of whom will then select a running mate from another party (if a finalist decides not to run, he or she can decline). And in June, Americans Elect plans to hold an online convention to decide which candidate will appear on the Americans Elect ballot line.
To become certified as a political party, the group must first collect a certain number of signatures in each state. All told, Americans Elect plans to spend $10 million on this effort.So far the group has been certified in six states, including key swing states Florida and Michigan. Certification is pending in California. That’s an encouraging sign for a group hoping to starting an electoral revolution. Read More
“I’ve been doing elections for 33 years, and I think electronic poll-books have been the best advance in elections I’ve seen since we began computerizing many years ago,” says Wendy Noren, county clerk in Boone County, Mo.
What is an electronic poll-book? In Boone County, it is a system of networked computers in each polling place pre-loaded with data on registered voters. This system has shortened voter check-in time at polling places from 5 to 6 minutes to just 15 to 20 seconds, which everybody likes. That translates into huge savings; in 2012, Noren expects to hire 25 percent fewer poll workers, dramatically reducing one of her two largest expenses.
The other big expense? Training for poll workers. Here, too, electronic poll-books have provided savings. A well-designed, uncomplicated electronic poll-book reduces training needs and associated costs. Read More
The Indiana Elections Commission refused Friday to immediately approve Lake County’s purchase of remodeled electronic voting machines, which local officials say are crucial to reducing long lines of voters next year.
Sally LaSota, county elections director, said Friday more machines are needed before the 2012 primary election when President Barack Obama’s re-election bid is expected to bring out busloads of early voters. LaSota said she needs help handling the anticipated crowd and asked state elections officials to permit MicroVote, which has manufactured the 1,050 current machines, to provide more updated electronic voting stations. Read More
The Douglas County Board has unanimously voted to oppose a state lawmaker’s attempt to require stringent photo identification to vote in Nebraska elections. If passed, Legislative Bill 239 would require people to have valid state-issued photo identification to vote. At this week’s meeting, County Board member Mike Boyle cited the unknown costs of the bill, plus the adverse effect it would have on elderly voters and particularly Hispanics if it became law.
A valid state ID, under the proposed legislation, is one that is unexpired and provides a current address. State Sen. Charlie Janssen of Fremont introduced the bill. Adam Morfeld, executive director of Nebraskans for Civic Reform, said the County Board’s bipartisan opposition should signal that Janssen’s bill is a costly attempt to solve a problem that does not exist. Read More
New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna Duran said earlier this year that her state had a “culture of corruption” and referred 64,000 voter registration records to police that she thought were possible cases of voter fraud. Now a new report from her office proves she was completely right, 0.0296875 percent of the time.
Duran’s interim report now alleges that 104 voters — about one for every 10,577 on the rolls — were illegally registered to vote. Of that group, just 19 — or approximately one for every 57,894 registered voters — actually allegedly cast a ballot they shouldn’t have. Read More
In a trip through the archives yesterday, I mentioned the ongoing drama in New York State about whether or not the state’s September 2012 primary would be moved up to give military and overseas voters enough time to vote in compliance with the MOVE Act.
New York has always had its own timetable with regard to implementation of federal election laws; the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has taken the state to court numerous times to enforce the Help America Vote Act’s requirements for a statewide voter registration database and accessible voting technology. Read More
In Texas, one has to have a picture identification to buy beer, lottery tickets, cigarettes and spray paint, but efforts to require voters to meet those same requirements have been halted by the federal government.
Despite the efforts of Texas lawmakers to require voters to present picture identification in order to vote, on Nov. 16, the U.S. Department of Justice told state election officials that they have not provided enough information about racial statistics on Hispanics in each county for the law to receive preclearance. Read More
Texas provided “incomplete” information on the state’s voter ID law that does not enable federal officials to determine whether the new law would illegally discriminate against minorities, officials said this afternoon. That means that it will likely delay the scheduled Jan. 1 start of enforcement of the new law, which will require Lone Star voters to show an approved photo identification before they can cast ballots. However, the next statewide election is the March primary, and it was unclear if the delay would affect that election.
Justice Department officials have 60 days to decide whether the new law violates the Voting Rights Act, once they receives the information from Texas officials.The law was a hot-button issue for conservative Republicans that Gov. Rick Perry had elevated to an emergency issue to get it quickly passed into law last spring. Democrats, voting-rights advocates and minority groups had harshly criticized the law, but were unable to block its passage in the Republican-controlled Legislature.Read More
Egypt’s electoral system is “complicated and difficult for any ordinary Egyptian to comprehend and implement,” experts believe, as political powers remain optimistic that it will help them secure a place in a parliament long dominated by members of the former regime.
The first parliamentary elections following the ouster of president Hosni Mubarak are expected to attract an electorate that traditionally boycotted elections. Over 18 million Egyptians voted in a referendum in March, an indication of voter confidence in a new era free of the rigging and electoral fraud that tainted the previous one. However, voters are concerned that they will find it difficult to figure out the system, which could ultimately spoil their vote. Read More
Somaliland National Electoral Commission upheld the decision taken by Somaliland House of Representatives which said that the forthcoming local council elections will be held without voter registration. The Commission announced that they will abide by the decision made by Somaliland parliament.
The spokesman for Somaliland National Electoral commission Mr. Mohamed Hirsi Geele held briefing to local media in at his office in Hargeisa. Mr. Geele told the press the reasons attributed in declaring the voter registration null and void. He further pointed out that grave errors arise when it comes to the previous voter registration resulting that many people without registration. Read More