With more confusion at the latest round of caucuses in Missouri, 2012 continues to be the year of the caucus meltdown. Andrew Cohen surveyed the raft of new voter ID laws and Doug Chapin considered the dilemma faced by St. charles County MO is upgrading their voting systems. Voter ID laws were blocked in Texas, by the Department of Justice and in Wisconsin by two courts even as Pennsylvania Governor Corbett signed a law creating similar restrictions on voting. Rick Hasen suggests that the Texas decision could be headed to the Supreme Court. And while initial reported results appeared to give the right wing ARENA party a narrow victory over the currently ruling FMLN, a lack of transparency in vote counting procedures has cast doubts on the integrity of the outcome.
- National: 2012: Year Of The Caucus Meltdown | TPM
- Editorials: How Voter ID Laws Are Being Used to Disenfranchise Minorities and the Poor | Andrew Cohen/The Atlantic
- Blogs: Monopoly or Broken Market? Either Way, St. Charles, MO Can’t Buy New Voting Machines | Election Academy
- Pennsylvania: Voter ID becomes law in Pennsylvania, opponents vow legal fight | chicagotribune.com
- Editorials: Texas voter ID law may be headed to the Supreme Court | Rick Hasen/Star Telegram
- Wisconsin: Judge rules voter ID law unconstitutional | JSOnline
- El Salvador: No Official Results in El Salvador Elections | Prensa Latina
Mar 17, 2012
National: 2012: Year Of The Caucus Meltdown | TPM
With wild lead changes and candidates crashing spectacularly only to come back from the dead, nobody would call the GOP presidential race a smooth ride to the nomination. But it’s been almost as turbulent behind the scenes, where the actual process of coordinating and carrying out certain contests has hit snag after snag. Republicans around the country are struggling with an array of problems in states that use a caucus to determine their delegates this year, battling problems from low turnout to mysteriously missing votes. Caucuses, which require citizens to actively participate in a mini-convention with their neighbors in which supporters of each candidate make the case for their vote, are hailed by supporters as a way to energize the grassroots with a more involved approach than primaries. But they’re more time-consuming and complicated than simply dropping off a ballot, setting up more barriers to participation and creating more potential for things to go awry.
The next caucus state is Saturday in Missouri, where already state officials are struggling to explain a mess of rules that will likely leave the winner unclear for weeks after the initial vote. This week voters at county caucus will directly select delegates, bound to no candidate, who will in turn elect delegates at a future district-level convention in April to attend a state-level convention in June to finally pick the state’s choice of delegates to attend the Republican national convention in Tampa. All this after the state already has held one non-binding straw poll vote already, back in February.
After a contentious GOP caucus and recount process, Maine Republican leaders are looking to return to a primary the next time around. It’s one of several states where faulty caucuses have led Republican critics to call for ditching the format for good.
Mitt Romney finished on election night with a small lead over Ron Paul, but various issues with the process prompted a much-disputed recount before Romney could be confirmed as the winner. In the most egregious case, the state party chair claimed that some votes weren’t initially counted because the e-mailed counts ended up in his spam folder. Maine State Senate President Kevin Raye (R) is now pushing a bill that would switch to a more simple primary format. The state’s governor, Paul LePage (R), supports the move as well.
Full Article: 2012: Year Of The Caucus Meltdown | TPM2012.
- Guam and Saipan Make Tempting Targets for Delegate-Hungry GOP Candidates | The Daily Beast
- Romney Wins GOP Caucus In US Territory Of Guam | Fox News
- A caucus for concern? Problems in several caucus states reignite caucus vs. primary debate | electionlineWeekly
- Voters rebelling against caucuses – Weaknesses of system exposed | Washington Times
- Could Typo Rewrite Caucus History? | KCCI Des Moines
First, let’s call it what it is. The burgeoning battles over state redistricting and voter ID laws — and the larger fight over a key part of the Voting Rights Act itself — are all cynical expressions of the concerns many conservatives (of both parties) have about the future of the American electorate. The Republican lawmakers who are leading the fight for the restrictive legislation say they are doing so in the name of stopping election fraud — and, really, who’s in favor of election fraud? But the larger purpose and effect of the laws is to disenfranchise Hispanic voters, other minorities, and the poor — most of whom, let’s also be clear, vote for Democrats. Jonathan Chait, in a smart recent New York magazine piece titled “2012 or Never,” offered some numbers supporting the theory. “Every year,” Chait wrote, “the nonwhite proportion of the electorate grows by about half a percentage point — meaning that in every presidential election, the minority share of the vote increases by 2 percent, a huge amount in a closely divided country.” This explains, for example, why Colorado, Nevada, and Arizona are turning purple instead of staying red. “By 2020,” Chait writes, “nonwhite voters should rise from a quarter of the 2008 electorate to one third. In 30 years, “nonwhites will outnumber whites.”
Which is why “whites,” and especially white men, seem so determined this election cycle to make it harder for nonwhites to exercise their right to vote. The news from the front this week is telling. On Wednesday, in Pennsylvania, GOP Governor Tom Corbett raced to sign a bill that requires photo identification of voters. The day before, in Texas, GOP Attorney General Greg Abbott amended the Lone Star State’s complaint against the federal government to seek to strike down the pre-clearance section of the Voting Rights Act, which had in turn been used by the Justice Department to block Texas’ recent efforts at a stringent new voter-ID law.
In Wisconsin, meanwhile, a state court judge on Monday blocked the state’s new voter ID law, ruling that it unconstitutionally created a new (and lower) class of citizen-voter. Even the Human Rights Council of the United Nations has been dragged into the controversy, by the NAACP, to the great consternation of conservative bloggers and conspiracy theorists. It’s all happening because lawmakers are dissatisfied with less onerous identification requirements — like those just enacted in Virginia — which allow registered voters to produce a wide range of documentation to establish that they are who they say they are.
Even though the Justice Department acted first in December in blocking a South Carolina voter-ID law, election law experts seem to agree that the Texas case is going to be the tip of the spear. Here’s how the Justice Department responded when it reviewed Texas’ new voter-ID law.
- The Past is not Past – Why We Still Need Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act | Jonathan Brater/Boston Review
- Cuccinelli says Virginia’s voter ID bill has ‘50-50’ chance surviving federal review | The Washington Post
- House passes voter ID bill | philly.com…
- State Attorney General Seeking to Challenge Voting Rights Act | ABC News
- Justice Department Blocks Texas Law on Photo ID for Voting | NYTimes.com…
The St. Charles, MO County Executive recently vetoed a $1.2 million contract for new voting machines requested by the elections director and approved by the county council. Unlike his counterparts in some other county governments, he isn’t unhappy with the performance of the election director. Nor does he appear to have any issue with the new voting machines being sought or the company providing them under the contract. Rather, he is concerned that the County only got one bid for the new machines, saying “[a]nytime we have $1.2 million in expenditures and only one bid, I’m going to be very suspicious.” Normally that would make sense, but here’s the problem: only one vendor (the one who got the contract – the contract that got vetoed) is certified to do business in the State of Missouri.
As a result of the various layers of certification and testing required by the federal and state government – combined with the consolidation in the market as federal dollars for new equipment have dwindled – many states’ only choice is to work with a single vendor or keep the old machines. To his credit, the County Executive understands this; he just doesn’t like the outcome:
Apparently, the federal government and secretary of state certification requirements have created a situation where a single provider is available to bid. As a result, the competitive bid process, designed to guarantee the taxpayers do not overpay, did not provide the necessary competition.
This case is absolutely chock-full of fascinating issues like the cost/benefit of certification and testing programs and the interplay of federal and state requirements, but I think the biggest takeaway from this story is the near-total lack of transparency in the voting technology market.
- Online Voting: Just A Dream Until Security Issues Can Be Fully Addressed, Experts Say | Courant.com…
- South Jersey voting-machine incident makes waves | Philadelphia Inquirer
- Counting the Vote – Some Say South Carolina’s Outdated Machines Cause for Concern | Free Times
- Questions linger in US on high-tech voting | physorg.com…
- Los Angeles County crowdsources ideas for new voting system | 89.3 KPCC
A requirement that voters show photo identification at the polls became law in Pennsylvania on Wednesday, the latest in a spate of Republican-led efforts to impose stricter controls at the ballot box. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed the act into law, saying it set a “simple and clear standard to protect the integrity of our elections. I am signing this bill because it protects a sacred principle, one shared by every citizen of this nation,” the Republican governor said. “That principle is one person, one vote.” Opponents, who say the measure seeks to suppress voter turnout, vowed to challenge it in court.
Pennsylvania joined several Republican-governed states, including Texas, Kansas and Wisconsin, that have adopted stricter voter identification laws, arguing they were needed to prevent ballot box fraud. Supporters say the laws are no different from needing identification to board an airplane or obtain a library card.
But some civil rights groups say such laws discriminate against the poor who may not be able to pay fees for copies of legal documents such as birth certificates, and that they could suppress minority votes. Democrats say voter identification measures are aimed at squeezing out university students and senior citizens who tend to vote for Democrats. Andy Hoover, legislative director for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Pennsylvania branch, said there was no evidence of voter impersonation fraud in the state.
- How Voter ID Laws Are Being Used to Disenfranchise Minorities and the Poor | Andrew Cohen/The Atlantic
- Strict voter ID law passes in battleground Pennsylvania | CBS News
- Tough voter ID bill heads to 3rd day of debate | Coshocton Tribune
- Voter ID bill faces final vote | The Times-Tribune
- Bad News for Voting Rights in Swing States | The Nation
On Monday, the Justice Department blocked implementation of Texas’ new voter identification law. Texas said the law is a necessary measure to prevent voter fraud. Justice responded that the law is unnecessary and will have a disproportionate impact on Hispanic voters who are less likely to have identification. The issue is heading to federal court, and it could well be the U.S. Supreme Court that weighs in, just months after it intervened in Texas’s redistricting dispute. So who’s right? As I explain in The Fraudulent Fraud Squad sneak preview of my forthcoming book The Voting Wars, Republican claims of a serious problem with voter impersonation are bogus. Many Republican legislators and political operatives support voter ID laws for two purposes: first, to depress Democratic turnout, and second to gin up the Republican base. But Democrats and those on the left sometimes inflate the potential negative effect of voter identification and other laws on voter turnout, especially among poor and minority voters. Just as Republicans use the scare of voter ID laws as a wedge issue to boost Republican turnout, Democrats use the scare of voter suppression to boost Democratic turnout.
Given the exaggeration on both sides, one might be tempted to say that there’s not much harm in the laws and so they should stand. I disagree, for four reasons.
First, these tough new voter ID laws serve no purpose. Of course, some identification requirement is necessary to prevent voter fraud. But many states use signature matches or other tools (including the ability to have witnesses verify identity) besides a state photographic identification requirement. Further, the federal Help America Vote Act requires first-time voters anywhere in the country who register first by mail to provide identifying information.
There is no good evidence that impersonation voter fraud, the only kind of voter fraud an ID law can prevent, is a real problem. Impersonation fraud would be an exceedingly dumb way to try to steal an election because you would need a lot of people, could not verify how they voted, and they could easily be caught. People are prosecuted all the time for other kinds of voter fraud that do work, like manipulating absentee ballots.
- Voter ID cases could test Voting Rights Act | Facing South
- Democrats ask all 50 states to oppose new voter identification laws | The Washington Post
- Sen. Durbin raises alarm on state laws affecting voter turnout | The Hill’s Ballot Box
- Two-timers in North Carolina | NewsObserver.com…
- Big voter turnouts and perceptions of fraud | NewsObserver.com…
A Dane County judge struck down the state’s new voter ID law on Monday – the second judge in a week to block the requirement that voters show photo identification at the polls. ”A government that undermines the very foundation of its existence – the people’s inherent, pre-constitutional right to vote – imperils its legitimacy as a government by the people, for the people, and especially of the people,” Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess wrote. “It sows the seeds for its own demise as a democratic institution. This is precisely what 2011 Wisconsin Act 23 does with its photo ID mandates.” Niess’ eight-page ruling goes further than the one issued by another judge last week because it permanently invalidates the law for violating the state constitution. Tuesday’s order by Dane County Judge David Flanagan halted the law for the April 3 presidential primary and local elections, but not beyond that. Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen promised to quickly appeal the decision.
The latest order may make it harder for the state to put the voter ID law into effect before the April 3 election because it would have to win two appeals in less than four weeks. Kevin Kennedy, director of the state Government Accountability Board, said his election agency is telling local clerks to keep training to implement the law so they’re prepared to do so if it’s suddenly restored. ”We’ll just live with what is there,” Kennedy said.
Whether Wisconsin’s photo ID law will stand is widely considered likely to be decided by a higher court – a point the judge in the case made from the bench during a Friday hearing. There are four lawsuits pending against the law. The rulings come just weeks before recall elections for four Republican state senators. Recall elections are also likely for Gov. Scott Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, but they have not yet been ordered. Niess’ decision came the same day the U.S. Department of Justice blocked Texas’ voter ID law, which the agency said would disproportionately affect Hispanic voters because they are less likely to have appropriate identification.
- Government Accountability Board head backs recall election for 4 GOP senators | WiscNews
- Wisconsin DOJ plans to appeal controversial voter ID decision | The Badger Herald
- Judge bars Wisconsin voter ID law temporarily | Journal Sentinel
- Judge grants temporary injunction barring enforcement of Wisconsin voter ID law in April election | Wisconsin State Journal
- Government Accountability Board seeks more time to review Walker recall petitions | Journal Sentinel
The Salvadorian people on Thursday still awaited the official results of Sunday”s elections, but they have witnessed several allegations of irregularities that have followed the voting. The Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) has not so far issued detailed reports about the development of the process, which was delayed in its beginning and it is expected to end on Friday or Saturday. Vote counting is taking place at an exclusive hotel in San Salvador, and according to press reports, the contract will expire on Friday, forcing to move the process to the TSE building if it takes longer. The police have reinforced security in the hotel, in face of the arrival until Wednesday of many candidates to mayors, generally accompanied by followers, to present allegations of irregularities.
According to preliminary results, in some of 262 mayor’s offices, winners’ advantages are minimum, even in one is from one vote and in another, there is a tie between two candidates.
In the legislative elections, the Nationalist Republican Alliance preliminarily got 33 seats and the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, 31, in a parliament of 84 seats. The Grand National Alliance was third, with 11, Concertacion Nacional, six, Cambio Democratico and Esperanza, one, as well as a Concertacion coalition and the latter.
- Local Elections in El Salvador May Test FMLN Legislative Plan | AS-COA
- Right-wing party holds slim lead in El Salvador polls | The West Australian
- In Saguache, a vote for voters | The Denver Post
- GOP explains moving vote tabulation away from HQ | Politico.com…
- Ballot transparency a statewide debate | AspenTimes.com…