The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights led a coalition of voting rights organizations, including Verified Voting, in releasing an election protection smartphone app. Under pressure from the Department of Justice, Florida released the list of names on it’s ‘voter purge’ list, while everal organizations have sued to block a similar voter purge in Iowa. Four former staffers from Thad McCotter’s office were charged in connection with false nominating petitions. The Minnesota Post recaps the arguments over a Voter ID amendment in the state Supreme Court and The Nation reviews the legal challenge to Pennsylvania’s Voter ID law. USA Today fact-checked claims that the Obama campaign is trying to limit military voting and Canada’s NDP has given up on identifying the perpetrators of a denial of service attack on their online election last Spring.
- National: Civil Rights Groups Release New Voter Protection App | Huffington Post
- Florida: State releases obsolete list of possible noncitizen voters | Miami Herald
- Iowa: Groups sue to block Iowa voter purge, fraud rules | Quad City Times
- Michigan: ‘Criminal acts were committed’ by McCotter aides forging election petitions | Detroit Free Press
- Minnesota: A recap of the Supreme Court argument over the voter ID amendment, and why it matters | MinnPost
- Ohio: Fact check: Obama not trying to curb military early voting | USAToday.com
- Pennsylvania: Ten Takeaways From Pennsylvania’s Voter ID Trial | The Nation
- Canada: NDP gives up: convention cyber attacker remains a mystery | CBC News
Defenders of the right to vote have a new high-tech weapon in their arsenal. A consortium of civil rights groups unveiled a smartphone application Thursday as part of a comprehensive strategy to combat what it called a nationwide effort to disenfranchise minority and youth voters. ”The Election Protection smartphone app is a dynamic tool that will educate voters on their rights and empower them to take action so they can vote,” said Barbara Arnwine, executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, on a Thursday conference call with other organizations that developed the app. The free app is a “critical tool in our fight against voter suppression,” Arwine said, referring to recent state voter identification laws that aroused concerns among civil rights advocates. The tool gives voters the ability to digitally verify their registration status, find their polling place, encourage their friends and family to vote, fill out voter registration forms, and contact election protection officials, amongst other means to encourage voting.
Around the country, state governments have pursued voter identification laws and other legislative initiatives that civil rights activists – and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder – have labeled a type of “poll tax” that suppresses the vote, similar to historical efforts to disenfranchise minority voters during the Jim Crow era. ”There are efforts across the country to suppress the vote and these efforts have disproportionately affected Latino voters, which is why the NALEO educational fund is proud to join in this effort,” said Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Appointed and Elected Officials Education Fund, on the call. Vargas said that a Spanish version of the app is expected to be released in coming weeks.
Full Article: Civil Rights Groups Release New Voter Protection App.
- Voter ID Laws May Affect Young Voters | Fox News
- Voter ID laws spark heated debate before U.S. election | Reuters
- When Voter Registration is a Crime | TIME.com…
- Larry Maggi, Pennsylvania Congressional Candidate, Could Lose Vote Under Voter ID Law | Huffington Post
- Voter registration the target of latest round of voting related litigation | kvue.com…
It took weeks and weeks, but the state of Florida on Thursday finally released a list of 180,506 voters whose citizenship is in question, based on a cross-check of a database of Florida drivers. But state officials called the list ”obsolete” and said they would not use it to “purge” anyone from the right to vote this fall — leaving open the possibility that some noncitizens could cast ballots. The list includes voters’ names, dates of birth, and their nine-digit voter ID numbers. Information on voters’ race, party affiliation home address was not included, and the state said that data was not part of the information the state used to create the list. An initial review by the Times/Herald showed that people with Hispanic surnames have a strong presence on the list, including 4,969 people with the first name of Jose; 2,832 named Rodriguez; 1,958 named Perez and 1,915 named Hernandez.
The now-discredited list was compiled last year by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles by cross-matching people identified as noncitizens with the state’s voter registration database. The process began after Gov. Rick Scott had asked then-Secretary of State Kurt Browning if any noncitizens were registered to vote in Florida.
About 1,400 of the names on the latest list were also included in a list of 2,600 voters released in April, which triggered purge efforts by county election supervisors and several lawsuits. The state said it released the list only because news organizations and voter advocacy groups had demanded it under Florida public records law.
- Voter purge explained | The Washington Post
- Voter Purge In Limbo As County Officials Await State Response To DOJ | TPM
- Justice Department Demands Florida Stop Purging Voter Rolls | TPM
- Broward Supervisor of Elections: Gov. Scott’s Voter Purge Will Remove Eligible Voters From Rolls | Think Progress
- DoJ seeks Florida voter-purge records | TBO.com…
Civil rights activists filed a lawsuit Wednesday seeking to block Iowa’s Republican secretary of state from enacting rules to purge foreign nationals from Iowa’s voter registration list and make it easier to file allegations of voter fraud. The American Civil Liberties Union and the League of United Latin American Citizens accused Secretary of State Matt Schultz of abusing his power in a plot to disenfranchise Latinos and other voters ahead of the presidential election in Iowa, a key battleground state. ”To begin a purge of registered voters so close to the fall elections is unconscionable,” said Joseph Enriquez Henry, state director of LULAC, a Latino and Hispanic civil rights and advocacy group. “We urge Mr. Schultz to cease his political activity and to keep politics out of the elected office that he holds.”
Schultz issued emergency rules on July 20 _ without any public notice or input _ giving his office authority to compare Iowa’s list of 2.1 million registered voters against lists of foreign nationals living in Iowa obtained from unspecified state and federal agencies. The rules say any matches should be turned over to investigators to determine whether they are the same person and whether they are still non-U.S. citizens who should be ineligible to vote.
If they are thought to be ineligible voters, Schultz’s office will send notice telling them they may be illegally registered, a class D felony, and should cancel their registrations immediately. They would be given 14 days to dispute the notice; if they fail to do so, Schultz’s office would take steps to remove them from the list. The rules instruct local elections officials to challenge any absentee ballots filed by such voters and to send in their prior voting histories to Schultz’s office. The second rule allows individuals to report allegations of voter fraud to Schultz’s office and says all complaints “shall be forwarded to the appropriate agency for further investigation and follow-up as deemed necessary.”
Full Article: Groups sue to block Iowa voter purge, fraud rules.
- Secretary of State wants to purge voter rolls of non-citizens | Radio Iowa
- State releases obsolete list of possible noncitizen voters | Miami Herald
- Election law challenge gets hearing | Miami Herald
- Agent hired to chase voter fraud | San Francisco Chronicle
- Activists, some Democrats criticize Iowa’s voter purge process | The Des Moines Register
Four staffers of former U.S. Rep. Thad McCotter, R-Livonia were charged today in connection with the false nominating petitions that led to McCotter’s departure from Congress. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette described the four as “not simply Keystone Kops running amok … criminal acts were committed.” He said the petition forgeries and cut-and-paste jobs on the petitions “would make an elementary art teacher cringe.” Schuette said the McCotter staffers also likely did the same thing in the 2008 elections, using 2006 petition signatures. … ”Let me tell you this, we find any other evidence, we’ll review it in the same painstaking … thorough fashion,” Schuette said at a late-morning news conference. Schuette blasted McCotter for being “asleep at the switch,” and providing no guidance to his staffers. ”They acted above the law as if it didn’t apply to them,” Schuette said.
But there is no specific evidence that McCotter was involved in the petition fraud, so the former congressman, who resigned in July, was not charged. ”Their motive is immaterial,” Schuette said. “They set a standard of conduct that is disgraceful.” McCotter this afternoon released a statement saying, “I thank the Attorney General and his office for their earnest, thorough work on this investigation, which I requested, and their subsequent report. For my family and I, this closure commences our embrace of the enduring blessings of private life,” McCotter said, adding that he would not make himself available to answer any questions from the media at this point. According to the investigator’s report obtained by the Free Press, the four were a “dysfunctional congressional staff that had completely lost its moral compass” and were “indifferent to the requirements of the law.”
- 4 GOP Congressional Staffers Indicted in “Blatant and Disgraceful” Election Fraud | Politics365
- Criminal charges coming Thursday in allegedly fraudulent McCotter petitions | Detroit Free Press
- Special election to replace McCotter could be shelved | Detroit Free Press
- Thad McCotter’s problems mount | The Washington Post
- Court overrules election challenge | The Associated Press
I grew up with an eye on Minnesota politics and spent summers interning at the state capitol watching the floor debates on TV; but on July 17th in Saint Paul I had a front row seat. The Minnesota Supreme court heard a challenge to a proposed constitutional amendment that would require valid, state-issued photo identification for voting in Minnesota, and I was courtside. The room was abuzz and the Justices were beyond well-prepared. The lawyers on both sides had barely introduced their arguments when the storm of questions rained down from the bench and struck to the core of the issue. It was intimidating. At trial was whether the amendment question, as it is being put to the voters, is misleading. The lawsuit, brought by the League of Women voters and a coalition including Jewish Community Action (where I am on staff as an organizer), was argued by Bill Pentalovich and a team from Maslon Edelman Borman & Brand. The last case that I heard Bill Pentalovich argue was a mock trial of Abraham held at Adath Jeshurun’s Shabbat Morning Program when I was a bar mitzvah student. Abe didn’t stand a chance. To bring down photo ID, the team from Maslon argued that the discrepancy between the ballot question and the actual amendment is deceptive and should be struck from the ballot. The short ballot question does not accurately reflect the drastic impact that the amendment will have on our voting system.
One in six Minnesota voters would likely be affected by this change, including the elderly, service members oversees and communities of color that have been historically excluded from voting. If passed, an entirely new system of provisional balloting would need to be enacted. Our same-date voter registration system, the reason that Minnesota has the highest voter participation in the country, will be upended.
The cost to the state is estimated at millions of dollars up front, with more in the future, and it will likely lead to an increase in property taxes. And most astonishing of all, we will not know exactly what we are voting on, as it has been left to the 2013 legislature to determine what a new system will look like. The language that voters will see on the ballot won’t reflect any of that. We won’t know what we are voting on.
- Snyder vetoes controversial voter ID, registration bills | The Detroit News
- Between Voting Rights and Voting Wrongs | NYTimes.com…
- LWV, AARP and other organizations oppose Michigan voter ID bill | thenewsherald.com…
- Size of voter ID budget debated | The Times-Tribune
- Voter ID Laws May Affect Young Voters | Fox News
Mitt Romney wrongly suggests the Obama campaign is trying to “undermine” the voting rights of military members through a lawsuit filed in Ohio. The suit seeks to block state legislation that limited early voting times for nonmilitary members; it doesn’t seek to impose restrictions on service members. In an Aug. 4 Facebook posting, Romney called the lawsuit an “outrage,” and said that “if I’m entrusted to be the commander-in-chief, I’ll work to protect the voting rights of our military, not undermine them.” He painted the court filing as an attack on the ability of service men and women to vote: “The brave men and women of our military make tremendous sacrifices to protect and defend our freedoms, and we should do everything we can to protect their fundamental right to vote.” Conservative blogs and opinion pieces have also misrepresented the case, claiming in headlines that President Obama was suing to “restrict military voting.” A fundraising email appeal from a group called Special Operations Speaks — which wants to “remove Barack Obama from the White House” — wrongly says that Obama “deploys army of lawyers to suppress military’s voting rights,” claiming that “Obama needs the American military to not vote, so he has set out to make it as difficult as possible for them to do so.” But that’s not what the Obama lawsuit aims to do at all.
The lawsuit, filed by the Obama campaign, Democratic National Committee and Ohio Democratic Party in July against Ohio’s secretary of state and attorney general, asks for an injunction to block implementation of state laws that modified in-person early voting regulations. In the last presidential election, all Ohio residents — military and otherwise — could cast their votes in-person early up through the Monday before Election Day. But contentious legislation passed by Ohio’s GOP-controlled Legislature in 2011 limited early voting for nonmilitary residents, giving them a deadline of 6 p.m. Friday before the election. Military members and overseas civilians could still vote through Monday. Both parties havesquabbled, with Democrats saying the law is a suppression of nonmilitary votes and Republicans arguing that they are just easing a burden on polling places and guarding against fraud. (Mail-in absentee ballots are not affected; the new regulations affect in-person early voting.) Contrary to conservative claims, the Democratic lawsuit seeks to restore early voting “for all Ohio voters.”
- Should We Have VIP Lanes for Military Voters? | Diane Mazur/Election Law Blog
- Military Groups’ Argument About Obama Voting Lawsuit “Extremely Misleading,” Prof Says | BuzzFeed
- Veterans: Romney Lying About Obama Suit’s Effect On Military Voters | TPM
- Romney Would Restrict Voting Right For 900,000 Ohio Vets | ThinkProgress
- Obama, Democrats suing to block military voting in Ohio? Update: No | Hot Air
The two-week trial challenging the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s voter ID law ended today. Here’s what we learned from the proceedings. Suffice to say, Pennsylvania Republicans didn’t come out looking very good. 1. A lot of voters don’t have valid voter ID. University of Washington political scientist Matt Barreto, a witness for the plaintiffs (the suit was brought by the ACLU, the Advancement Project and other voting rights groups), found more than 1 million registered voters in Pennsylvania—12.8 percent of the electorate—don’t have sufficient voter ID. Moreover,379,000 registered voters don’t have the underlying documents, such as a birth certificate, needed to obtain the right ID; 174,000 of them voted in 2008.
2. The state doesn’t know its own law very well. During the debate over the law in the state legislature, Secretary of the Commonwealth Carole Aichele repeatedly stated that 99 percent of Pennsylvania voters had the right ID. A subsequent study by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation found that 758,000 registered voters, 9.2 percent of the electorate, lacked a state-issued PennDot ID. During the trial, Pennsylvania State Department official Rebecca Oyler testified that she calculated the “99 percent have ID” figure in less than twenty-four hours while lacking sufficient data from the department of transportation. When pressed on the specifics of the law and the number of people who lack voter ID, Aichele responded: “I don’t know what the law says.” Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett was similarly clueless when asked what forms of ID besides state-issued ID are valid for voting purposes. “The other forms of ID can be student ID.” Corbett said. “We’ve been working with the nursing homes to get people new ID. It can be military ID. There’s two or three other forms—right now, off the top of my head, I don’t have it here in front of me.”
3. The state is unprepared to implement the law. Pennsylvania has allocated funds for only 75,000 “free” voter ID cards, even though the department of transportation found that ten times as many voters may lack valid ID. Nor is the state equipped to handle all of the people who will need to get ID. “There were 71 PennDot offices, but 13 of them were only open one day a week,” Slate’s Dave Weigel noted. “Nine Pennsylvania counties have no PennDot office at all.” Added the Philadelphia Inquirer: “In recent visits to the Department of Transportation’s offices, the witnesses said, they found long lines, short hours, and misinformed clerks, which made obtaining voter identification cumbersome, and in some cases impossible, for those who don’t have supporting documentation.”
- Expired licenses muddle Pennsylvania voter ID numbers | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
- Frankel Announces Package of Bills to Lessen “Damaging Effects” of New Voter ID Law | Essential Public Radio
- Bad News for Voting Rights in Swing States | The Nation
- Voter ID bill undergoes changes | PoconoRecord.com…
- Wisconsin’s photo ID law has big image problem | JSOnline
The source of the cyber attack that disrupted voting at the NDP’s leadership convention in March remains a mystery, and further investigation to find out who was responsible has been dropped. The NDP was the victim of what’s known as a distributed denial of service attack when thousands of members were trying to vote online throughout the day on March 24. These kinds of attacks result in websites crashing or slowing down because the server is flooded with bogus requests for access. Legitimate voters couldn’t access the NDP’s website to vote and organizers ended up extending the time allotted for each voting round, delaying the final result until hours after it was expected. Thomas Mulcair was finally declared the winner at about 9 p.m. Scytl Canada, the company contracted to run the voting, quickly detected what was going on soon after voting began that day and reacted accordingly. They were able to keep the voting going by increasing the system’s capacity and by blocking some of the bogus IP addresses. Scytl, an international company based in Spain, conducted a forensic analysis after the convention but came up dry when trying to pinpoint exactly who was behind the co-ordinated campaign. ”They weren’t able to locate the ultimate source of where this was all programmed,” said Chantal Vallerand, acting director of the NDP.
Scytl was able to determine that approximately 10,000 IP addresses were used in the attack and that each computer launched up to 1,000 requests per minute to the voting server. An IP address is a number assigned to an internet connection. An estimated 10 million bogus requests hit the server in addition to the legitimate requests from people trying to vote and jammed the system.
The attacks came from computers mostly across Canada, but some were from outside the country. The ones from outside Canada were literally spread around globe: China, New Zealand, Australia, United States, the Caribbean, India, and parts of Africa and Europe.
- Deliberate Denial of Service Assault Disrupts NDP Internet Voting | SPAMfighter
- Internet voting carries risk as show by NDP experience | thestar.com…
- NDP internet vote disruption worries experts | The Chronicle Herald
- More than 10,000 IP addresses used in attack on NDP vote | CTV Winnipeg
- E- Voting: Trust but Verify | Scientific American