The Wall Street Journal examined concerns about the accuracy and reliability of electronic voting systems to be used this November while Roll Call considered the impact of election law challenges on the election. Beyond the impact of new voting laws, organized efforts to challenge voters at the polls threaten could effect close contests. The Justice Department approved early voting plans for five Florida counties covered by the Voting Rights Act. Controversial voter registration rules in Iowa could have a chilling effect on new American citizens. Some county clerks in Michigan are resisting the Secretary of State’s demand that voting applications ask voters to affirm their U.S. citizenship. A judge denied the Ohio Secretary of State’s request to block a ruling that all counties must provide in-person early on the weekend before the election. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court heard arguments in a challenge to the State’s Voter ID law and the Indian Supreme Court heard arguments over voter verified paper audit trail printers.
- National: Decade-Old E-Voting ‘Wars’ Continue into Presidential Election | Wall Street Journal
- National: Challenges to Voting Laws May Play Havoc On and After Election Day | Roll Call
- Editorials: Think Voter ID is Bad? Meet the Poll-Watchers | Care2 Causes
- Florida: Court Approves Early Voting Schedule in Florida | NYTimes.com
- Iowa: Immigrant advocates again voice concerns over new voter-registration rules | Des Moines Register
- Michigan: County clerks defy ballot citizenship rule | The Detroit News
- Ohio: Judge denies Ohio elections chief’s request in early voting dispute | The Marietta Times
- Pennsylvania: At voter-ID hearing, justices have tough questions and a surprise | Philadelphia Inquirer
- India: Supreme Court to examine plea on electronic voting machines printers | The Economic Times
A decade after Dana Debeauvoir helped change Travis County, Texas to an all-electronic voting system she still expects to be falsely accused of fixing the coming election, just as she had in the last two presidential races. The clerk, who has administered voting for 25 years in the county that includes Austin, says the public has remained mistrustful of the ballot system, where voters pick candidates directly from a computer screen, without marking a piece of paper. “There have been so many hard feelings,” says Debeauvoir. “You get people saying ‘I know you have been flipping votes.’” In the wake of the hanging chad controversy surrounding the 2000 presidential elections, the federal government encouraged election administrators across the country to switch to electronic systems and mandated upgrades to many election procedures. As they prepare for the presidential elections, those officials now find themselves at the center of a continuing debate over whether paperless direct-record electronic (DRE) balloting can be trusted – what Debeauvoir calls the “DRE wars.”
The controversy centers on 16 states, including Texas, New Jersey and Maryland, where some or all counties do not back up electronic ballots with a paper record that voters can inspect before leaving the booth, according to Pamela Smith, president of the Verified Voting Foundation, an activist group that opposes paperless voting. Critics say the public needs a paper trail of the votes to be sure that software glitches, hardware malfunctions or hacking haven’t corrupted election results. “It is horrifying and people should be horrified,” said Penny Venetis, a Rutgers law professor who sued New Jersey in 2004 to force the state to maintain paper backups of its electronic ballots. “Right now we have no way to check that votes were actually cast properly.”
Critics cite numerous cases of malfunctioning electronic voting systems in recent years. In New York state’s 2010 primary and general elections, an overheated machine in New York City’s South Bronx incorrectly invalidated hundreds of votes because it misread the optically scanned ballots. The errors were discovered when the New York Daily News demanded to inspect the scanned paper ballots using the state’s Freedom of Information Law, more than a year later. The problem was only uncovered because, unlike in states like Maryland and Texas, New York mandates a paper record, for use in audits and hand-counts if the election is close, said Douglas Kellner, co-chair of the state’s Board of Elections. “The paper votes are critical for determining that you are counting accurately,” says Kellner. “Without a paper audit trail, all you can do is trust the results.”
- State systems for overseas voters vulnerable | USAToday.com…
- Credibility of democracy put at risk by online voting | Vancouver Sun
- Is your vote secure? Many digital systems lack paper backups, study says | CSMonitor.com…
- Voting Technology: Current and Future Choices | The Canvass
- E-voting machine freezes, misreads votes, U.S. agency says | Computerworld
Democratic Rep. Mark Critz’s chances of hanging onto his seat representing Southwestern Pennsylvania could hinge on a lawsuit filed by a 93-year-old great grandmother over the state’s new voter identification law. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania is hearing Viviette Applewhite’s appeal today so it can decide whether the recently enacted statute is so burdensome on some citizens that it violates Pennsylvania’s constitution. Like other lawsuits across the country, it pits Republicans concerned about voter fraud against Democrats worried about voter suppression. The outcome could affect turnout on Election Day and spawn legal challenges afterward. Legal tussles over voter ID laws, purges of voters deemed ineligible, registration tactics and early voting periods in states including Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, Colorado, Texas and South Carolina are setting the stage for a potential post-election legal showdown in November. At least one Senate race and five House races that Roll Call currently rates as a Tossup are in states with ongoing voting lawsuits.
“If anybody thinks that there won’t be contests that are close enough that who does and who doesn’t have the identification required will have an impact are deluding themselves,” said Lawrence Norden at New York University School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice. ”It’s rare to have a presidential election come down to 1,000 ballots, but it’s not very rare to have a Congressional contest or state legislative race be decided by an extremely small margin,” he said. The Brennan Center is involved in several cases challenging what it characterizes as restrictive voting laws.
There are two schools of thought on voter identification measures, which, like most voting issues, tend to break down along party lines. Republicans are concerned about eliminating fraud and preserving integrity by making sure only valid registered voters cast ballots. Democrats worry that overly strict policing could suppress turnout and want to improve access. ”If I had to boil it down to its essentials, it’s access versus integrity, that’s what these cases are about,” said Dan Tokaji, a law professor at the Ohio State University.
- Ignoring the real threat of fraud | Lawrence Norden/Politico.com
- Is the fight over voter ID laws a prelude to a constitutional crisis? | Constitution Daily
- Think Voter ID is Bad? Meet the Poll-Watchers | Care2 Causes
- Legal Battles on Voting May Prove a Critical Issue in Election | NYTimes.com…
- Ending the Voting Wars | Rick Hasen/TPM
The Republican fight against voter rights has garnered the lions share of press attention, but as The Nation reports, the fight for voting rights extends well beyond the fight over Voter ID and includes the fight over who gets to raise the question over who is eligible to vote. In at least twenty-four states any random person is authorized, if they feel so inclined, to question individual voters and ask them to “prove” their eligibility to vote. As restrictive and complicated Voter ID laws have passed state-by-state, conservative groups have realized there’s good leveraging in voter registration challenges and poll watcher trainings.Tea Party loyalists have created True the Vote, an advocacy group which pushes Voter ID laws and training “patriots” to protect the polls. But as a new report from the Brennan Center for Justice, “Voter Challengers” spells out, these groups rely on American’s historical amnesia when it comes to race in order to promote their activities. Poll-watching can’t be divorced from its racially motivated roots, and groups like True the Vote understand that, even if they won’t acknowledge it.
“This history of discriminatory voter challenges casts doubt on the fraud-prevention arguments traditionally used to justify these laws,” writes Nicolas Riley, author of the Brennan Center report. As it stands, thirty-nine states allow private citizens to challenge voters at the polls. According to the Brennan study, election officials in those states are “under immense time pressure to decide challenges quickly in order to avoid voting delays.” True the Vote is aware of this, but they put it differently, saying at a recent poll watcher training that election officials are “under immense pressure to do the wrong thing”—namely let undocumented immigrants vote, and let people vote multiple times.
Full Article: Think Voter ID is Bad? Meet the Poll-Watchers | Care2 Causes.
- Minnesota Election Law Ballot Measure – So Much More than Just Voter ID | Brennan Center for Justice
- Voter ID Laws Take Center Stage at House Judiciary Hearing | Main Justice
- Challenges to Voting Laws May Play Havoc On and After Election Day | Roll Call
- Voter ID Wars | NYTimes.com…
- Testy defense: If the state’s voter ID law is fair, what’s the worry? | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Department of Justice has approved Florida’s early voting schedule for the five counties in the state protected by a civil rights-era law, all but clearing the last significant conflict in the path of November balloting. In a motion filed on Wednesday before the United States District Court in Washington, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said the Justice Department did not oppose Florida’s new plan for those five counties, under one condition: The counties must offer 96 hours of voting between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. over eight days, the maximum under the law. The Justice Department sued the state over its new early voting schedule, which would have reduced the number of days for early voting. With both sides agreeing to the terms, the court is expected to dismiss the suit. But a separate lawsuit filed by Representative Corrinne Brown, a Florida Democrat, over the state’s early voting law is pending, which could still affect the new schedule.
“The approval of these changes is a tremendous victory for Florida voters,” said Ken Detzner, Florida’s secretary of state and chief elections officer. “In the areas of the state already able to implement the changes, we have seen how the changes offer more flexibility to vote, more accountability and faster reporting times on Election Day.”
The question of early voting has been an explosive one in Florida, with critics accusing the state of trying to discourage black voters from going to the polls. In 2008, 54 percent of Florida’s black voters voted early — twice the rate of white voters. Five of Florida’s 67 counties — including Monroe and Hillsborough — fall under the national Voting Rights Act. The act requires that changes in voting laws in counties or states with a history of racial discrimination must be approved, or “pre-cleared,” by the Justice Department. Rather than wait for permission, Florida proceeded with the new rules for the 62 counties, an unorthodox move that prompted the department’s lawsuit and threatened to create a dual election system here.
- Justice Department OKs Florida early voting plan for 5 counties | www.wdbo.com…
- Scott must figure out what to do with early voting | StAugustine.com…
- Over objections, Florida asks court to approve early voting plan | MiamiHerald.com…
- Election law challenge gets hearing | Miami Herald
- Voter purge fight isn’t over | The Washington Post
New state rules meant to identify noncitizens on Iowa’s voter rolls could have the unintended effect of intimidating eligible voters, several Iowans and immigrant advocates told a state panel on Tuesday. The rules at issue – passed this summer through an emergency process without public input – outline procedures for the Iowa Secretary of State’s office to use a federal database to verify the citizenship status of registered voters in Iowa. Secretary of State Matt Schultz has been seeking access to the database for several months, after determining using state Department of Transportation records that more than 3,500 people who are in the country legally but are not citizens are registered to vote in Iowa. Tapping the federal data would allow Schultz’s office to determine more accurately which of those voters are not citizens and thus ineligible to vote. The new rules are meant to satisfy the federal government’s demands for how the database will be used.
In Tuesday’s meeting of the Iowa Legislature’s Administrative Rules Review Committee, Schultz argued that the rules will actually provide more due process for voters and ensure that Iowa doesn’t pursue a purge like the one undertaken this year in Florida that potentially throws out eligible voters with the ineligible. “The point is not to chill the vote,” he said, adding, “This is not meant to discriminate against anybody.”
But officials with the ACLU and a Latino group as well as naturalized citizens and advocates to the immigrant community said the effect of the rules could be just the opposite. “We are sincerely concerned that Secretary of State Matt Schultz’s actions are having a chilling and intimidating effect on the willingness of the Latino community to vote,” Joseph Enriquez Henry, president of the Iowa council of the League of United Latino American Citizens, told the committee.
- Voter fraud rules criticized as ‘chilling’ | The Des Moines Register
- Court hearing held on new voter rules | WCF Courier
- Judge halts federal attempt to block voter purge | MiamiHerald.com…
- Secretary of State Schultz defends emergency voter rules to lawmakers | SFGate
- Gessler, Homeland Security finalize deal to check Colorado voter citizenship | The Denver Post
Some local election officials are resisting Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s demand voting applications in the Nov. 6 general election that ask voters to affirm their U.S. citizenship. Clerks in Macomb County and Lansing plan to defy Johnson’s instructions and remove the question from ballot applications, and the Washtenaw County Election Commission voted Thursday to leave it off the forms after the county clerk planned to give townships and cities the option to ask about citizenship. ”It seems like it doesn’t really add anything positive to the process. People have already affirmed their citizenship when they register to vote,” Lansing City Clerk Chris Swope told The Detroit News.
Other clerks said they have no plans to enforce the question or will use old forms that don’t inquire about citizenship. As a reason why they don’t have to comply, several clerks cited Gov. Rick Snyder’s July veto of a bill that would have made the question law. ”What you learn in high school in your civics class is the secretary of state has no authority to override the governor’s authority,” Macomb County Clerk Carmella Sabaugh, a Democrat, said.
Johnson, a Republican, has insisted voters affirm their citizenship so the state can root out an unknown number of noncitizen immigrants who have been inadvertently registered to vote over the years while getting a driver’s license at a Secretary of State office. Noncitizens who vote can face felonies, be denied naturalized citizenship or be deported, immigration attorneys say.
- Secretary of State keeping citizen check-off box | The Detroit News
- A Case Study in How Kris Kobach’s Cabal Aims to Remake Election Law | The Nation
- Election chiefs skeptical of voter purge | Palm Beach Post
- Immigrant advocates again voice concerns over new voter-registration rules | Des Moines Register
- Reports of confusion, frustration over voter ID law after Michigan primary | Michigan Radio
A federal judge on Wednesday denied a request by Ohio’s elections chief to hold off in enforcing his court’s order on disputed early voting days in the presidential battleground state. Secretary of State Jon Husted had asked the judge last week to stay his ruling that restores early voting on the final weekend and Monday before the November election while the state appeals the decision. Husted said he didn’t want to confuse voters by setting in-person, early voting hours that a court could later change. U.S. District Judge Peter Economus in Columbus said Wednesday that Husted failed to demonstrate his likelihood of succeeding on appeal and didn’t provide “sufficiently compelling reasons” for the stay.
The judge also said Husted didn’t show that there would be enough time after the appeals process to set new hours. ”Without further evidence of damaging ‘voter confusion,’ this Court is reluctant to stay its Order on such a speculative and slim ‘public interest’ argument,” Economus wrote.
Husted spokesman Matt McClellan said the secretary of state would comply with the judge’s ruling while continuing to appeal the court’s decision. McClellan said Husted intends to provide guidance to boards of election on early voting during the final days before Election Day, but he didn’t know when that would occur.
- Secretary of State rescinds order blocking early voting hours on three days leading to election day | cleveland.com…
- Court Approves Early Voting Schedule in Florida | NYTimes.com…
- Two Democrats sue Ohio secretary of state over firing | Akron Beacon Journal
- Husted rescinds order against early-voting hours | Dayton Daily News
- Non-Retrogression, Equal Protection, and Ohio’s Early Voting Case | Election Law @ Moritz
The state Supreme Court’s long-awaited hearing on Pennsylvania’s voter-ID law was going pretty much as expected when Justice Thomas G. Saylor, a white-haired veteran jurist from Somerset County, brought a new issue into the long-running controversy. He’d been reading the law himself, Saylor told chief deputy attorney general John G. Knorr 3d, and he questioned whether the commonwealth was actually following the precise requirements of the voter-ID law passed last March – specifically, a provision that requires the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to provide a nondriver photo ID card to any registered voter who swears that he needs it for voting purposes. To the surprise of many in the standing-room-only courtroom in City Hall, Knorr agreed with the justice.
The federal government’s Homeland Security laws forced PennDot to require some additional proof before providing citizens with identification cards, Knorr explained, so the agency could not comply with that provision of the law. That was part of the reason the state came up with yet another form of photo ID, never mentioned in the voter-ID law, that became available to the public in late August, Knorr said.
The new ID, also issued by PennDot but referred to within the transportation department as the “Department of State ID,” requires registered voters to provide two numbers that every citizen should have – a date of birth and a Social Security number – along with proof of residency. The significance of Saylor’s questioning and Knorr’s answers was left unclear. The justice did not indicate that it would sway his vote one way or the other on whether the voter-ID law should remain in force for the November election. But it followed a presentation by opponents of the law in which David Gersch, a lawyer with the Washington law firm Arnold & Porter, told the court the main problem with the law was its failure to ensure that all voters could get the ID now required to vote at the polls in November.
- ‘Nightmare’ Pennsylvania Voter ID Law Revisited in Court | Ari Berman/The Nation
- Voter ID Law Leads to DMV Trips from ‘Hell’ | ABC News
- Voter ID Wars | NYTimes.com…
- Voter ID odyssey by Pennsylvania woman, 105, triggers change | Timesonline.com…
- State Supreme Court rejects challenge, leaves voter ID on ballot | Post Bulletin
The Supreme Court today agreed to take up for hearing on priority basis Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy’s plea to incorporate paper printouts in electronic voting machines or restore paper balloting system allegedly because EVMs “are not tamper proof.” ”We will hear the matter on a priority basis so that it is concluded by the next parliamentary elections. That is the reason we are giving the priority,” said a bench of justices P Sathasivam and Ranjan Gogoi. The bench adjourned the matter for further hearing on September 27 after hearing Swamy’s submission for over an hour and asked the Election Commission to be prepared with its submission.
Arguing in person, Swamy made a fervent plea for reverting to the old paper-ballot system saying all advance countries in the world, including the USA and Japan have discarded EVMs and gone back to the paper-ballot system. The Janata Party leader said even Japan which had been a pioneer in the launch of the EVMs was today relying on the paper-ballot system only. He said it was only private companies across the world which are manufacturing these EVMs, which are vulnerable to hacking. India, he said, does not indigenously manufacture EVMs and was solely dependant on importing of the machines and the microchips used in them.
Swamy claimed it is difficult and un-reliable to re-count votes using EVMs and cited the re-counting of votes in the Sivaganga parliamentary constituency, represented by Finance Minister P Chidamabaram, which he had won allegedly under controversial circumstances.
- Setback to Election Commission as India paper trail pilot poll reports errors | menafn.com…
- Indian Voting Machines With Paper Trails to Be Field-tested | PCWorld
- Electronic voting machines with paper trail unlikely before 2014 elections | The Times of India
- Partisan Rifts Hinder Efforts to Improve U.S. Voting System | NYTimes.com…
- E-Voting machines finally put to use | TheJournal.ie