While the debate over voter ID requirements in many states continued this week, the Defense Department Inspector General found that many military installations lack offices where soldiers can register to vote. Two and half months before the November election, outside spending has already exceeded the record total from 2008. The Department of Justice accepted Florida’s early voting plan for five counties covered by the Voting Rights Act. A Federal Court has reinstated Nevada’s “none of the above” option and Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has rescinded a directive that had blocked county boards from setting in-person early voting hours on the weekend prior to Election Day. The Fifth Circuit Court granted a stay of a decision that had barred enforcement of a Texas that placed restrictions on voter registration drives and today’s election in Hong Kong marks a step toward universal suffrage in the former British colony.
- National: Voter ID Wars | NYTimes.com
- National: Defense Department inspector General questions military voting | Politico.com
- National: Ten Weeks Out From Election Day, Outside Spending Exceeds 2008 Total | OpenSecrets
- Florida: Justice Department OKs Florida early voting plan for 5 counties | www.wdbo.com
- Nevada: Nevada’s ‘none of the above’ voting option not dead yet | The Associated Press
- Ohio: Secretary of State rescinds order blocking early voting hours on three days leading to election day | cleveland.com
- Texas: Abbott wins round in battle over tougher voter signup rules | San Antonio Express
- China: Sunday’s Election Key in Movement Toward Universal Suffrage in Hong Kong | VoA News
Sep 08, 2012
National: Voter ID Wars | NYTimes.com
If you’ve only got 30 seconds to make your case in the debate over photo ID laws — which require voters to show up at the polls with a government-issued photo ID — it’s much easier to argue in favor of the laws.“You need a photo ID to get on an airplane or rent a movie from Blockbuster. Get over it!” While investigating voting in America for the documentary film “Electoral Dysfunction,” I heard versions of this line over and over from the laws’ backers. The message is clear: “If you’re too lazy to get a government-issued photo ID, then you probably don’t deserve to vote. And please, let’s not forget 9/11.” (The airplane reference is a handy conversation-stopper.) But voting rights are worth at least 60 seconds of our attention. So here’s why these laws hurt more than they help: The only crime these laws address is voter impersonation — someone showing up at the polls and claiming to be someone else in order to cast a fraudulent vote. (I know, sounds almost delightfully madcap.)
There are so many problems with the way we run elections in this country. Voter impersonation is not one of them. Indiana, one of the first states to pass a strict photo ID law, has never convicted anyone for it. Ditto Pennsylvania, which passed an even stricter law. It’s an extremely rare crime — 10 cases nationwide over a 12-year period during which hundreds of millions of votes were cast — and for good reason. The penalty is severe — up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine — and the perpetrator nets only one vote. If you’re going to steal an election, there are far better options. (Hire a 16-year-old to hack into the computer touch-screen voting system — the one without a paper trail — in use in about a third of American states.)
These laws are a solution in search of a problem. Why not a law criminalizing child abduction by space aliens? Well, can you prove it isn’t happening? But even if these laws prevent only a tiny number of fraudulent votes, aren’t they worthwhile? No.
Full Article: Voter ID Wars – NYTimes.com….
- Justice Department upholds Virginia voter ID law | The Washington Post
- I Have Photo ID, Therefore I Am | The Nation
- Tough, new voter ID law tackles first legal challenge amid debate over voting rights | The Washington Post
- Voter Suppression Returns: Voting rights and partisan practices | Alexandar Keyssar/Harvard Magazine
- A Ballot Box Tactic With Deep Historical Roots | The Root
Many military installations across the globe lack offices where troops can register to vote and obtain absentee ballots, the Defense Department’s inspector general concludes in a newly released report. Investigators attempted to contact 229 voting-assistance offices and were able to reach just 114 — about 50 percent. Under the 2009 Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act, all military installations are required to have such offices. The report could inflame tensions between the Obama administration and House Republicans, who have accused the White House of moving too slowly to implement the law, which also requires states to mail absentee ballots to service members at least 45 days before an election.
Advocacy groups have already warned that turnout could be low among service members in this election cycle. The Military Voter Protection Project, for instance, released a report last month, noting the low number of absentee ballot requests in swing states. In Florida, 37,953 service members had requested absentee ballots this year, compared with 86,926 in 2008, according to the report. And in Virginia, 1,746 service members had requested ballots, compared with 20,738 in 2008. Of course, with two months left before Election Day, both states could still reach or exceed their 2008 totals.
The Defense Department’s inspector general has raised concerns about the requirements of the 2009 military voter act, pointing out that Congress didn’t provide additional funds to pay for the voting-assistance offices, which could cost the military more than $15 million a year, according to an estimate in the report.
- Military absentee voting looks weak this year | CNN
- Every vote counts? For military members, only if they plan ahead | NBC
- Fact check: Obama not trying to curb military early voting | USAToday.com…
- States praised, others faulted, for policies toward military voters | KansasCity.com…
- Department of Justice and Virgin Islands sign consent decree to fix absentee ballot procedures | Virgin Islands Daily News
With the end of the Democratic convention today, we’ve only just now reached the beginning of the traditional presidential election season, but that hasn’t stopped outside groups from unleashing a torrent of advertising on the political landscape early on in this election cycle. The amount spent by super PACs, political non profit groups and other non-political party entities on the presidential and congressional races, about $306.2 million as of Sept. 5, is already more than such groups spent during the entirety of the last presidential election cycle, about $301.6 million. And such estimates are surely conservative, as Center for Responsive Politics research only accounts for spending released by the Federal Election Commission, which doesn’t track so-called issue ads spent by political non-profit groups outside of 60 days of a general election or 30 days outside of a primary. Such groups are dropping tens of millions of dollars this cycle, hammering the airwaves with under the radar spending.
Traditionally, outside groups reserve the bulk of their spending for the two month period occurring between the party conventions and Election Day. We still may find that the case this cycle. But as OpenSecrets Blog reported late last week, the early growth of outside spending this cycle has indeed been extraordinary. Center for Responsive Politics research reveals that the pace of outside spending in 2012 through early September is nearly triple that of the same pace during the 2008 cycle.
- Using Super PACs to Get Rid of Super PACs | Roll Call
- Citizens Dis-United: Justices May Take Another Look at Campaign Finance Case | ABA Journal
- A Judge Turns on the Light on Campaign Finance | NYTimes.com…
- Federal judge rules Federal Election Commission overstepped authority in shielding ad donors | The Washington Post
- Million-dollar donation in Indiana race may skirt limits on corporate giving | iWatch News
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder agreed Wednesday to accept Florida’s revised early-voting plan for five counties covered by the federal Voting Rights Act. Holder filed his response with a three-judge panel in Washington, D.C. Last month, the panel ruled that a new Florida election law that reduced early voting to 8 days from as many as 14 violated the federal law in the designated counties because they could discourage minority voting. The judges, though, indicated they’d approve a plan that still provided 96 hours of early voting – the same as under Florida’s previous law. The state plan submitted by Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s administration meets that criteria with eight 12-hour days including 12 on a Sunday that weren’t previously offered.
That didn’t satisfy the head of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida. ”The rug is about to be pulled out from under the rights of minorities, especially black voters,” said Howard Simon, the group’s executive director. The ACLU is among several individuals and groups that intervened in the case against the early-voting limitation and other provisions in the election law passed last year by the Republican-led Legislature.
Justice Department or federal court preclearance is required for any changes in election laws affecting five Florida counties – Hillsborough, Collier, Hendry, Hardee and Monroe – due to past racial discrimination. ”I want voting in Florida to be easy and fair for everyone,” Scott said in a statement. “Today’s decision by the federal Department of Justice is an encouraging sign that we’re headed in the right direction, especially in light of a 52% increase in early voting compared to the 2008 election cycle.”
- Scott must figure out what to do with early voting | StAugustine.com…
- Election law challenge gets hearing | Miami Herald
- Justice Department Sues Florida Over Voter Purge | NYTimes.com…
- Florida to sue Department of Homeland Security in voter registration battle | The Hill
- U.S. judge dismisses ACLU challenge of Florida election law | Palm Beach Post
Nevada’s “none of the above” voting option will be on the November ballot following an emergency stay sought by the secretary of state’s office and granted by a federal appeals court. A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco blocked the injunction Tuesday and had strong words for U.S. District Judge Robert Jones, who last month declared the voting option unconstitutional and struck it from the ballot. One appellate judge accused Jones, chief judge in Nevada, of deliberate foot-dragging by delaying hearings in the case and not issuing a written order in time for state lawyers to appeal before ballots must be printed. ”His dilatory tactics appear to serve no purpose other than to seek to prevent the state from taking an appeal of his decision before it must print the ballots,” 9th Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote. He concluded, “Such arrogance and assumption of power by one individual is not acceptable in our judicial system.”
Jennifer Lopez, spokeswoman for the Nevada attorney general’s office, said Wednesday that the ruling means the choice that appears as “none of these candidates” in statewide races will be on the November 2012 ballot, though the court appeals will continue. A lawsuit backed by the Republican National Committee sought to get rid of Nevada’s unique “none” voting choice. The GOP fears “none” could siphon votes from the Republican candidates in what are expected to be tight presidential and U.S. Senate races.
- Federal judge strikes down “none of the above” voting option | The Washington Post
- Judge Slammed for Delaying Nevada “None of the Above” Appeal | Courthouse News Service
- In Nevada, ‘None’ a Fearsome Foe for the GOP | NationalJournal.com…
- Jane Ann Morrison: Anyone could have written better rules for special elections in Nevada | ReviewJournal.com…
- Voter ID Wars | NYTimes.com…
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted on Friday rescinded a directive that blocked boards of election from setting in-person early voting hours over the final three days leading up to Election Day. The Republican secretary’s decision was in response to a federal judge who this week ordered Husted to appear in his court on Sept. 13 because the directive appears to not adhere to a recent U.S. District Court ruling. On Aug. 30, Judge Peter C. Economus, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, ruled that a new state law – which would have shut down early voting after 6 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 2, until the polls opened on Tuesday, Nov. 6 – is unconstitutional. His written opinion added: “This court anticipates that defendant Secretary of State will direct all Ohio elections boards to maintain a specific, consistent schedule on those three days.”
The lawsuit was brought by Democratic President Barack Obama’s campaign and named Husted as a defendant. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, a Republican, has already said that the state will appeal. Husted responded to the court today, in light of Economus ordering the secretary to court next week, by dropping its directive that barred the 88 local boards of election from setting voting hours Nov. 3 thru 5. But Husted is not yet ready to comply with the judge’s order. Instead, he has asked for a stay of Economus’ ruling while the state appeal’s the decision.
“The secretary would never intentionally contravene an order issued by the federal district court or any other court — and this case is no exception. Therefore, the secretary has today rescinded,” read a court response filed by Husted’s attorneys. “The secretary respectfully requests that this court stay the order pending appeal.” By asking for a stay of the original ruling until the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decides whether to hear the case, Husted hopes to avoid having to set the voting hours for those final three days until after the appeal is resolved.
- Husted rescinds order against early-voting hours | Dayton Daily News
- Democrats, Republicans fight in federal court over voting rights | The Columbus Dispatch
- Justice Department OKs Florida early voting plan for 5 counties | www.wdbo.com…
- Non-Retrogression, Equal Protection, and Ohio’s Early Voting Case | Election Law @ Moritz
- Secretary of State Jon Husted must appear in federal court to explain delay in restoring early voting | cleveland.com…
Texas won a stay Thursday of a federal court decision that had barred enforcement of the state’s toughened voter registration law. Attorney General Greg Abbott described the development as a victory for voter integrity. The state had asked the 5th U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans to stay an order barring enforcement of several provisions of a 2011 law regulating third-party voter registration activities. The plaintiff was a nonprofit that Abbott said was linked to “notorious for voter registration fraud.” U.S. District Judge Gregg Costa of Texas previously ruled the law probably conflicted with federal rules and the Constitution, but the appeals court issued the stay pending appeal in a one-page order. “The majority will assign reasons as soon as possible,” the judges said, with one dissent.
David Hinojosa, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund regional counsel in San Antonio, said the case is not related to pending litigation over the state’s voter identification law, whose enforcement is blocked pending appeals.
The Republican-dominated Legislature passed several revisions in election law last year, imposing new requirements for third-party voter registrations by groups including plaintiff Project Vote/Voting for America Inc. The new rules included barring non-Texans from becoming volunteer deputy registrars, or VDRs; prohibiting them from accepting applications for residents outside the county in which they were appointed; requiring them to personally deliver rather than mail applications to election officials; and restricting their compensation.
- Judge denies state’s stay in voter registration case | The Statesman
- State wins stay of voter registration decision | Texas Redistricting
- Judge to Block Changes in Florida Voter Registration | NYTimes.com…
- State Supreme Court rejects challenge, leaves voter ID on ballot | Post Bulletin
- Ending the Voting Wars | Rick Hasen/TPM
Hong Kong voters go to the polls Sunday with their government mired in controversy, not least for the attempt this week to force “national education classes” on school children. With more seats in the legislature being decided on the basis of one-person-one-vote, the city’s pro-Beijing administration faces a challenging future as democrats look to make electoral gains before the anticipated introduction of universal suffrage in 2017. Sunday’s election in Hong Kong will see over half of the legislature’s 70 seats returned by universal suffrage, the remainder by generally pro-Beijing groups. The vote is likely to prove a defining moment for the city’s new leader, chief executive Leung Chun-ying.
“Things have been going terribly for him. He is now caught up in this national education controversy,” said China analyst Frank Ching. “He canceled his trip to Russia for the APEC meeting, suggesting he realizes there is a crisis which he must stay to handle. But I do not see him doing anything.” With anti-China sentiment growing in the former British colony, thousands of children and their parents remain camped outside government headquarters, some on a hunger strike.