A Baltimore jury Tuesday found Paul Schurick, former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.’s campaign manager, guilty of election fraud and related charges for his role in an Election Day 2010 robocall. The jury found Schurick guilty on all four counts, including election fraud and failing to include an Ehrlich campaign authorization line on the calls. After the verdict was read, Schurick clutched his wife, who burst into tears.
Prosecutors said the call, which was made as Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley swept to a re-election victory, was designed to suppress black votes. Schurick maintained a solemn face after the hearing, comforted distraught family members and friends and declined to comment on the verdict. His attorney, A. Dwight Pettit, called himself “disappointed” and vowed to appeal on First Amendment grounds that the call was protected, political speech. “The attempt for the state to regulate political speech is unconstitutional,” he said. Read More
According to a survey completed for the website www.GetvoterID.org, those attempting to obtain a copy of their birth certificate to prove name and birth date to then obtain a voter photo ID may encounter a confusing application process. Many counties are directing applicants to a mail-in form which incorrectly informs applicants they need a copy of their photo ID prior to requesting the copy of the birth certificate. Applicants attempting to obtain voter photo IDs are instructed they need their birth certificate to get a voter photo ID, which results in a frustrating cycle with the potential to deter those trying to obtain IDs to vote in 2012.
Confused yet? State law does NOT require applicants to present identification when the copies of birth certificates are mailed to the applicant. However, since the form wasn’t properly updated, the Election Division of the Government Accountability Board, the Department of Health Services, the Wisconsin Register of Deeds Association and 48 Wisconsin counties all post a link to this outdated and confusing form. Read More
Prospective Michigan voters might have trouble getting their ballots after the state Senate votes on two bills that would change the procedures for voter registration, absentee ballots and required identification. One of the changes proposed by S.B. 754 is a requirement that anyone holding a voter registration drive would have to register with the Michigan Secretary of State and complete a training. It would also require that registration forms be turned in further in advance.
Several groups, including the League of Women Voters, have spoken out in opposition to the bills and what they say are the exclusionary restrictions they would put on voting and registration.
“Requiring state certification and training of third party agencies will make it more difficult for League members to register people to vote,” the League of Women Voters of Michigan wrote, according to the Kalamazoo Gazette. “The requirements placed on groups that register people to vote are excessive and will reduce registration opportunities for citizens, as some groups will not be able to meet the requirements.” S.B. 751 would require photo identification for in-person and absentee voting. Read More
No charges will be brought against two groups that were accused of election law violations in the run-up to the August recall election of Sen. Alberta Darling, according to a statement released this morning.
“It is unclear, at best, whether an offer to pay persons to gathers absentee ballot applications on a quota basis comes within the scope of the Election Bribery statute,” wrote Asst. Dist. Atty. Bruce Landgraf, the lead prosecutor on the case for Milwaukee County. “The statute as currently written does not give much guidance to those who wish to follow the dictates of the law, especially in the area of absentee voting.”
Wisconsin Right to Life gave campaign workers $25 gift cards for every 15 voters sympathetic to the anti-abortion cause that were enlisted for absentee voting. Wisconsin Jobs Now, a community and labor group, held five block parties on the northwest side of Milwaukee. They provided food, prizes and a lift to Milwaukee City Hall where voters could cast absentee ballots. Read More
Ever wonder why Americans pick their president on a Tuesday? The short answer is that it’s the law: In 1845, Congress voted to standardize Election Day as the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. (They included that “after the first Monday” part to make sure the election wouldn’t be held on November 1, the date of the Catholic holy day known as All Saints Day.) Lawmakers chose Tuesday in order to give voters one travel day after the Sunday day of rest to get from their farms into town to vote.
It’s a system that is hopelessly outdated today, argues Jacob Soboroff, executive director of a group called “Why Tuesday,” which is trying to boost voter participation by moving Election Day to the weekend.
“In 2011, coming onto 2012, we will be voting on a day and in a way that was set for an agrarian society 160-something years ago,” he said in an interview with Hotsheet. (See at left.) “Frankly it literally is just silly that we’re still voting on this day when so many Americans are working two jobs, don’t necessarily have time to make it to the polls before or after work.” Read More
The European commission could be empowered to impose austerity measures on eurozone countries being bailed out, usurping the functions of government in countries such as Greece, Ireland, or Portugal. Bailed-out countries could also be stripped of their voting rights in the EU, under radical proposals being discussed at the highest level in Brussels before this week’s crucial EU summit on the sovereign debt crisis.
A confidential paper circulated to EU leaders on Tuesday by Herman Van Rompuy, the EU council president who will chair the summit on Thursday and Friday, says that eurobonds or the pooling of eurozone debt would be a powerful tool in resolving the crisis, despite fierce German resistance to the idea. It calls for “more intrusive control of national budgetary policies by the EU” and lays out various options for enforcing fiscal discipline supra-nationally.
The two-page paper, obtained by the Guardian, is to be discussed on Wednesday among senior officials in an attempt to build a consensus ahead of the summit. It may instead set off an explosive rebellion by eurozone countries balking at the options outlined by Van Rompuy, who heavily emphasises the need for a new punitive regime overseen by EU institutions that would be given new powers of intervention. Read More
Issuing new warnings to two U.S. partners Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton criticized Russia for a parliamentary election she said was rigged and said election gains by Islamist parties must not set back Egypt’s push toward democracy after the fall of autocrat Hosni Mubarak this year.
She acknowledged the success of Islamist parties in Egyptian parliamentary voting that the U.S. has praised as fair. But many of the winners are not friendly to the United States or U.S. ally Israel, and some secular political activists in Egypt are worried that their revolution is being hijacked. Islamist parties are among the better-known and better-organized in Egypt, and while they were expected to do well in last week’s first round voting, a hardline bloc scored surprisingly large gains. Read More
The Muslim Brotherhood said on Wednesday it had won most seats in an opening round of run-offs in Egypt’s staggered parliamentary vote, consolidating its lead over rival liberals and hardline Salafi Islamists.
The Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), which has promised to work with a broad coalition in the new assembly, secured 34 individual seats out of the 45 it contested in the run-offs on Monday and Tuesday, a party source told Reuters. Official results are not expected until Thursday.
A total 56 individual seats were up for grabs in the first round of the election, with others assigned to party lists. Two more rounds follow, with the last run-off set for mid-January. Salafis were the surprise runners-up in the opening stage of the ballot but the Islamist rivals are playing up their differences, giving liberals scope to take part in a post-election government and shape the future constitution. Read More
Police fired tear gas and rubber pellets on Tuesday to disperse about 500 protesters demanding an election recount in Guyana, a day after the home of a ruling party politician was reportedly firebombed. Leaders of the opposition Partnership For National Unity said eight people were slightly injured in Tuesday’s clash, including a 79-year-old woman, a retired army chief and the head of the party’s youth movement.
David Granger, a retired army officer who won a seat in Parliament, said the protest was peaceful and said police overreacted. “There’s no reason to use this level of force.” Read More
Kuwait’s ruler dissolved parliament on Tuesday and called for an election, state media said. The government was forced to resign last month in one of the deepest political crises in the oil-exporting state and the emir said this crisis was threatening the country’s interests.
Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah gave no date for the election but under the constitution it must be held within 60 days of parliament’s dissolution. The emir said in a decree read out on state television that the decision to dissolve parliament came after it became difficult to achieve progress. “This required going back to the nation to choose its representatives in order to overcome present difficulties,” the decree said. Read More
Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, yesterday cautioned counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) AB Mahmud (SAN) against delay tactics in the trial of a suit filed against the commission by Beddings Holdings Limited. Beddings Holdings accused INEC of infringing its patent right by contracting three companies to produce voters register for the 2011 general elections without first seeking and obtaining a written licence, consent and authority from it.
It claimed that it was the only company with the patent right to produce Electronic Collapsible Transparent Ballot Boxes, ECTBB, as well as the patentee in respect of Proof of Address System/Scheme, PASS, used for collation and collection of data. Read More
The shot opens at the top of a flight of stairs and zooms in shakily on a gray-haired man, who sits at a desk furtively checking off what appear to be ballots — a stack of them. The video is shot with the grain and chop of an amateur. But it is apparently sharp enough. “A big hello to you,” says the cameraman, Yegor Duda, a 33-year-old volunteer election observer. “This is a violation of the criminal code. The chairman of the electoral commission is filling out ballots. Everything has been captured on the video camera,” he said.
Mr. Duda raced home and uploaded the clip to YouTube. Though just three minutes long, it quickly became an election-day sensation, helping fuel a major demonstration of as many as 5,000 people on Monday evening in central Moscow. They chanted “Russia without Putin!” and “Putin is a thief.” Several hundred were arrested, including two major opposition leaders.
Valentin Gorbunov, the head of the Moscow City Elections Commission, confirmed the substance of the video and announced that Russian investigators had opened a case into ballot tampering by the head at Polling Place No. 2501, where the episode occurred, Russian news agencies reported Monday. Read More
The election official had a problem. Workers at his polling station had been stuffing ballot boxes with votes for Vladimir Putin’s party all day, he says, but when the votes were counted United Russia still didn’t have enough. So he huddled with the election commission he chaired at the Moscow precinct. The decision: Putin’s party would get the desired 65 percent. One member objected, but relented when the others tossed his Communist Party a few dozen votes.
The commission chairman spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity for fear of losing his job. He also said he could be punished for disobeying orders to report any contact with foreign observers or journalists to the FSB, the successor to the Soviet-era KGB.
His account closely matches reports by independent observers of rampant vote-rigging during Sunday’s election, in which United Russia maintained its majority in parliament. Amateur videos posted on the Internet also appeared to show falsified ballots spilling out of boxes at polling stations. Read More
Thousands of police and Interior Ministry troops patrolled central Moscow on Tuesday, an apparent attempt to deter any further protests day after a rally against vote fraud and corruption caught Russian authorities by surprise.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, called his party’s reduced number of seats in Sunday’s parliamentary election an “inevitable” result of voters always being dissatisfied with the party in power. Putin also dismissed allegations of corruption among his United Russia party members, calling it a “cliche” that the party had to fight. In neighboring Lithuania, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton again criticized the Russian election and urged that widespread reports of voting fraud be investigated. Read More