Among his other specialties, right-wing commentator Hans von Spakovsky is a strong proponent of laws requiring citizens to present photo identification in order to vote. Conservatives often justify their call for photo ID laws by raising the specter of voter fraud even though instances of voter impersonation are rare and voter identification laws can disenfranchise poor people and racial minorities.
Now, even Spakovsky has acknowledged that nobody is claiming that there is “massive fraud in American elections.”
A New York Times article reports that a new study by NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice found that voter identification and other laws “could make it significantly harder for more than five million eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012.” Read More
A battle over which voters should get ballots in Denver for this November’s election is headed to court this week. Secretary of State Scott Gessler (R-Colorado) is suing the city’s top election official, Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson, because she plans to mail ballots to people even if they didn’t vote last year. “It’s a difference of interpretation of state statue between inactive-fail to vote and their ability to receive a mail ballot,” Johnson said.
“Once the state legislature sets up the law, we need to follow it. That’s my position,” Gessler said.
The question a judge will consider this Friday is whether Denver can mail election ballots to the 55,000 residents who are registered to vote, but are considered inactive. That’s about 20 percent of the city’s electorate. Johnson says Denver has done so for several years with no problems. Gessler says a state law permitting it has expired, so it’s against the law to continue to do so. He says there is also concern about election fraud. Read More
Secretary of State Charles Summers has sent a letter to about 200 of the Maine university students cleared in a recent voter fraud investigation, advising them to either get a Maine driver’s license and register their vehicles in Maine or relinquish their right to vote here.
The one-page letter cites Maine election law, which requires that voters be Maine residents, and state motor vehicle laws, which require that new residents who drive get a Maine driver’s licence and register their vehicles here. In the letter, Summers requests that students “take appropriate action to comply with our motor vehicle laws within the next 30 days.” If students decide they aren’t residents after all, he asks them to fill out the enclosed form to cancel their Maine voter registration.
Summers said he sent the letters because he’s responsible for both election and motor vehicle laws as secretary of state, and he felt he had to follow-up on the approximately 200 people who said they lived here but who were not listed in the state’s motor vehicle database. “I’m made aware that there are people who may not be in compliance like everybody else in the state of Maine — that’s why I sent it out,” he said. But others say the letter was an attempt to intimidate the students and manipulate them into giving up their right to vote here. Read More
Supporters of same-day voter registration released new evidence Monday — about one month ahead of a November referendum — that they say supports their case for restoring a practice that has been in place for 38 years. Question 1 on the Nov. 8 statewide ballot reads: “Do you want to reject the section of Chapter 399 of the Public Laws of 2011 that requires new voters to register to vote at least two business days prior to an election?”
Protect Maine Votes and the Yes on 1 campaign on Monday released hard data on voter turnout trends that suggest allowing voters to register on Election Day increases voter participation and, in some cases, saves money. The research cited was produced by national nonpartisan groups, well-known academic institutes and some progressive nonprofit groups. None of the studies were commissioned by the Yes on 1 campaign.
“Reputable research confirms what we already know in Maine — same-day voter registration works,” said Sarah Walton of the League of Women Voters of Maine and an assistant professor of justice studies at the University of Maine at Augusta. “Same-day voter registration provides important safeguards for elections, helps to increase voter participation and makes sure that every eligible voter has an opportunity to participate.” Read More
A conservative advocacy group has stepped into the public debate over same day voter registration in maine. the Maine Heritage Policy Center has created a ballot question committee to oppose the restoration of registration on election day. Supporters of the so-called “people’s veto” effort, who want same day registration restored to Maine law, said the conservative group must disclose its funders. The MHPC said it is not about to agree to that request.
Earlier this year, Republicans in Augusta pushed through a change in Maine law, eliminating same-day voter registration in the state. To support the move, they’ve tried to create a link to cases of voter fraud. Supporters of same-day registration said the fraud issue has no merit whatsoever, and have launched a people’s veto campaign to restore the old law. But Lance Dutson of the Maine Heritage Policy Center said that an investigation into sample ballots by Secretary of State Charlie Summers indicates there are significant flaws in the process. “What our concern is that Maine’s structure right now doesn’t provide any real protections against fraud — basically folks are on the honor system,” Dutson said. Read More
Jones County Circuit Clerk Bart Gavin is waiting for a decision from the U.S. Department of Justice about the legality of removing printers from the county’s voting machines. Gavin gained the approval of the Jones County Board of Supervisors in August, but at the suggestion of District 5 Supervisor Jerome Wyatt, Gavin has to provide information stating that no laws will be violated if the printers are removed.
“Our voting machines were not designed to have these printers,” said Gavin. “The Mississippi Legislature decided we should add the printers after we switched to electronic voting machines.” The printers are extra attachments that were added to the voting machines at the request of then-Secretary of State Eric Clark. Gavin said he understands the desire to have a back-up record of votes cast, but the printers are not needed for back-up. Read More
A proposal supported by Gov. Tom Corbett to change the way Pennsylvania’s electoral votes will be counted in next year’s presidential election stirred up pointed criticism at a legislative hearing Tuesday, including a complaint that it would subvert Philadelphia’s large bloc of minority voters.
Two prominent political scientists also said the proposal was sure to reduce voter turnout, destroy Pennsylvania’s status as a battleground that draws the attention of presidential candidates and weaken an already flawed electoral voting system by relying on a gerrymandered map of congressional districts.
The committee chairman, Sen. Charles McIlhinney, a Republican from Bucks County in suburban Philadelphia, said after the hearing that he himself has not made up his mind and acknowledged that some voters would benefit while others would lose. Read More
A recent audit of the 2010 general election results has raised questions about some counties’ ability to account for every vote cast. The audit was commissioned by the South Carolina League of Women Voters and performed by Duncan Buell, a USC computer science professor. Buell says eight counties, including Oconee, had “significant problems” in terms of being able to determine if vote totals were correct. According to Buell, Oconee County failed to save about two-thirds of its audit files: voting data stored on small memory cards – or “flash cards” – that are supposed to be removed from voting machines and uploaded to a central computing system.
“Only about a third of the cast vote records show up in the files,” says Buell. “They’re just missing 2/3 of the vote data which makes it impossible to do a serious audit.” Read More
The Republican Party of South Carolina and the state Election Commission announced Tuesday that they will cover the full costs of conducting January’s presidential primary.
“In light of the recent request from [the South Carolina Associate of Registration and Election officials] and some county elections offices for reimbursement of additional expenses, the Republican Party has agreed to pay all legitimate expenses directly related to the conduct of the Republican PPP,” said Chris Whitmire, the director of public information for the state Election Commission, in an email. “These expenses would be in addition to the expenses for which the SEC reimburses following other statewide elections.” Read More
Dorothy Cooper is 96 but she can remember only one election when she’s been eligible to vote but hasn’t. The retired domestic worker was born in a small North Georgia town before women had the right to vote. She began casting ballots in her 20s after moving to Chattanooga for work. She missed voting for John F. Kennedy in 1960 because a move to Nashville prevented her from registering in time.
So when she learned last month at a community meeting that under a new state law she’d need a photo ID to vote next year, she talked with a volunteer about how to get to a state Driver Service Center to get her free ID. But when she got there Monday with an envelope full of documents, a clerk denied her request.
That morning, Cooper slipped a rent receipt, a copy of her lease, her voter registration card and her birth certificate into a Manila envelope. Typewritten on the birth certificate was her maiden name, Dorothy Alexander. “But I didn’t have my marriage certificate,” Cooper said Tuesday afternoon, and that was the reason the clerk said she was denied a free voter ID at the Cherokee Boulevard Driver Service Center. “I don’t know what difference it makes,” Cooper said. Read More
This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a very confusing ruling in the case involving Dallas County’s voting machines — a case, you’ll recall, that stemmed from Linda Harper-Brown’s 19-vote victory over Democrat Bob Romano in 1998. Long story short: The Texas Democratic Party (represented in part by attorney Clay Jenkins, now the county judge) sued Dallas County in federal court, claiming, as Ballot Access News neatly summed it up back in June, that “some voters are tricked into thinking they voted a straight-ticket vote, when actually they hadn’t.”
There was also an issue with whether the county pre-cleared the so-called direct-recording electronic voting machines with the Department of Justice before putting them into place. The county insisted they had — twice, most recently in March 2010, when the DOJ said Dallas was good to go. Read More
Reacting to a new state law that requires photo identification for voting, some state and local officials are pushing to waive the $20 fee for copies of Milwaukee County birth certificates.
Earlier this year, the Legislature adopted the voter ID law, which says voters must show one of several approved forms of photo identification – such as a driver’s license – at the polls, starting next year. For those who don’t have a driver’s license, lawmakers provided for the state Division of Motor Vehicles to waive fees for state ID cards at a voter’s request.
But applicants still need copies of their birth certificates to obtain either driver’s licenses or state ID cards. And state law sets fees of $20 for the first copy and $3 for subsequent copies. That’s $60 for a family with one voting-age child “to exercise the constitutional right of voting,” state Sen. Spencer Coggs (D-Milwaukee) told a Milwaukee Common Council committee Monday. “That just seems like it’s a poll tax.” Read More
President Barack Obama last week told a radio audience that he’s made sure the Justice Department is reviewing restrictive voting laws passed across the country. But as a practical matter, DOJ’s reach is limited.
Sure, federal officials with DOJ’s Civil Rights Division are reviewing voter ID laws passed in South Carolina and Texas because both states have a history of discrimination and are covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. DOJ told South Carolina last month that they need more info before making a decision and in September told Texas they have more questions. Read More
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika late Friday announced sweeping reforms including changes to the constitution and electoral law, and initiatives that would enhance the role of political parties. Bouteflika said the reforms should be adopted before nationwide elections due in May next year.
In a much awaited 20-minute speech, his first since the start of upheavals that have rocked authoritarian regimes in the Arab world since late last year, he pledged to see through the legislative and constitutional changes “to strengthen democracy”. Algeria’s 1996 constitution was amended in 2009 to allow Bouteflika, who is 74, to seek a third term. Read More
The Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC), Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, has stated that the commission is vigorously going on with its processes of ensuring that it secures a biometric registration system for the 2012 general election. He said, with the court clearance for the commission to undertake its legitimate business, there was no let or hindrance on its part and that it was “continuing with the processes”.
However, the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the People”s National Convention (PNC) have raised red flags cautioning the EC that the path it was taking would compound the existing problems of double registration and voting and that as major stakeholders they believed the commission must tread cautiously and heed the caution. Read More