Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Business of Voting Machines, Citizens United drama,TX Vote Center controversy, DREs for sale

Editorials on Diebold's sale to ES&S pouring in: "The Diebold name was snake-bitten, the product didn’t satisfy, and changing the name didn’t help much." ~ the Dayton Daily News. "The combination of the Election Systems & Software and Diebold American voting machine divisions raises classic antitrust concerns." ~ The New York Times.
Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission: " stake in this case are the voices of millions and millions of Americans that could be drowned out by large corporations if the decades-old restrictions on corporate electioneering are called into question."

Feingold, McCain ask: Is Roberts a man of his word?
Vote Center controversy in Collin Co Texas:
"We are of the strong view that a majority of the Collin County Commissioners' Court is more interested in having the possibility of cutting up to 50% of the polling locations in November 2010 than they are in actually making voting more convenient for all citizens that wish to vote."

Warning to Florida Voters - check your registration status.
NY City Mayor Bloomberg Unveils Plan For Automatic Voter Registration & Weekend Voting.
The fate of Connecticut's system of using taxpayer dollars to pay for political campaigns is about to be decided by a federal appeals court.
Shoup DREs for sale at
The Phillipine justices who voted against automating the 2010 polls fear that control of the electoral exercise would be handed over to a foreign firm.

CA. Yamada bill would test-run all-mail elections
09/10/2009 Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada's AB 1228 gives California the opportunity to gather information on all-mail elections by establishing an all-mail pilot project in Yolo and Santa Clara counties.
Whether it will be ratified by the governor, however, is another matter.
"The administration and cost of traditional poll voting has become increasingly burdensome to local governments. At the same time more and more voters are choosing permanent Vote by Mail status," stated Yamada. "Voting by mail is emerging as a more efficient way to conduct an election in California."

CT. Waiting for a Solution
Scrapping the state's public financing for campaigns could trigger a range of other problems
September 08, 2009. The fate of Connecticut's system of using taxpayer dollars to pay for political campaigns is about to be decided by a federal appeals court. And, if part of this public-financing scheme is ultimately declared unconstitutional (as seems likely), it could trigger one bad-ass mother of a legislative brawl.
...Lawmakers are already sweating over U.S. District Judge Stefan R. Underhill's findings that two key sections of the law violate the constitution. One concerns the ban on state political contributions by state lobbyists and contractors; and the other decrees how minor party candidates are treated. The state is now appealing those rulings.

CT. Hartford Advocate: Public Financing: Waiting For A Solution
September 10, 2009 Luther Weeks of CTVoter poses questions

FL. Winter Haven Vote: Election? What Election?
A total of 1,060 voters - not even double the number of members in Congress - put Jamie Beckett in office as a Winter Haven city commissioner.
That more than 90 percent of the city's registered voters did not participate in the election should send a loud, clear signal to City Hall that the city's unique election date - the day after the three-day Labor Day weekend - needs to be changed.
...She added that the majority of Winter Haven voters didn't really seem interested in the election, at least based on the return of absentee ballots. Of the 1,860 sent out, just 886 were returned.
"The ballot's right there," she said, "All they had to do was pick up a pencil, mark it and mail it."

Warning Florida Voters - Voter Caging may become easier thanks to new rule 1S-2.041
The Florida Fair Elections Coalition warns that rules proposed by the Florida Dept of Elections would make voter caging easier. Rule 1S-2.041 is intended to address maintenance of voter registration rolls. The new rules make it easier for persons to maliciously, frivolously or fraudulently send in false or inaccurate claims of voter address changes.

IA. E-pollbook gets vote of confidence
September 9, 2009. Scott County Auditor Roxanna Moritz and her staff liked what they saw Tuesday in the North Scott voting precinct where an electronic pollbook was in use for the first time.
The pollbook, a laptop specially programmed with voter registration and procedures, was used instead of the printed pollbook that has voter registration information published in it...During slow periods, an auditor's office employee gave additional training on aspects like re-booting if there is a power failure or other equipment problems.

MS. Opinion. Let the people decide on Voter ID
I’m a longtime supporter of Voter ID. Since being blessed with the position of Senator, not only have I voted for it on numerous occasions, the very first piece of legislation I coauthored was a Voter ID bill. With an already extensive list of daily activities requiring some form of photo ID to properly verify an individual’s identity, the logic underlying Voter ID is beyond reproach.
...Since political gamesmanship has rendered the legislature unable to pass a pure Voter ID act for the past 16 years, it’s time to let the people finally decide the issue.
A petition drive is currently underway to place the issue on the 2010 or 2011 general election ballot. In order to get pure Voter ID on the 2010 ballot, however, supporters will need at least 90,000 signatures by October 1.

NC speaker asks panel to review Harrell's campaign
9/9/2009 RALEIGH, N.C. — House Speaker Joe Hackney on Wednesday called for a legislative ethics panel to examine "irregularities" in the campaign finance reports of a fellow House Democrat.
Hackney said he was asking the Legislative Ethics Committee to determine whether activities of Rep. Ty Harrell of Wake County "amount to violations of the Legislative Ethics Act, or the criminal law, or both."

NC. Harrell faces ethics probe
The Democrat's campaign finances are in question after heavy activity in a nonelection year
RALEIGH -- House Speaker Joe Hackney on Wednesday ordered an ethics investigation of Democratic Rep. Ty Harrell, a second-term Raleigh legislator, over his campaign finances...

NY. Mike Bloomberg Unveils Plan For Automatic Voter Registration & Weekend Voting
September 10, 2009 Today, Mike Bloomberg announced his “Easy to Vote & Easy to Run” plan to transform the City’s election system over the next four years. The plan will make it easier for New Yorkers to participate in the democratic process by reforming New York’s antiquated ballot access laws to enable more candidates to run for office and give unaffiliated voters greater ability to participate in the democratic process, creating a New York City “Democracy Index” to assess the administration of elections in New York City, and urging Congress to pass laws that enable automatic registration of all eligible voters and to move Election Day from Tuesday to the weekend.
Since taking office in 2002, Mayor Bloomberg has been a vocal advocate for election reform.
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PA. Pike Court Decides Recanvass Write-Ins
Meachem Denied Yet Again UPDATE: Sept. 10, 2009
According to Commissioner Karl Wagner, it turns out that the county did get it right. After the Pike County Press went to press, and upon further examination of the ballots and consultation with Judge Kameen, the county’s original tally of 17 votes for Stanley Ciemiecki and 16 for Michael Meachem stood. According to Wagner, Kameen mistakenly counted one tape twice, resulting in yesterday afternoon’s mistake.
...On Wednesday, the Pike County Court of Common Pleas conducted a recanvass of write-in votes that were cast during last May’s primary election in certain precincts. The recount was prompted primarily by an internal analysis performed by the county that showed several races where write-in votes were tallied incorrectly. Though the county’s board of elections initially sought the recanvass, President Judge Joseph Kameen insisted that the responsibility for calling for a recount rested ultimately with the concerned candidates. Candidates in nine races ultimately filed, seeking a recount...There was trouble in Lehman Township, though, in a race that had already been fraught with controversy.

SC. New voting precincts approved for Spartanburg
Voters will receive information about new polling places
...The new precincts have been carved out of 10 existing precincts. The change is expected to impact about 28,700 people, all of whom should begin receiving new voter registration cards in the mail early next week.
Hundreds of people waited hours to cast ballots in the 2008 presidential election, causing the local Office of Registration and Elections to begin the long process of adding new precincts.

TX. Collin to take part in vote center pilot despite concerns
09/09/09 ...Since the vote center concept has wide bi-partisan support in Collin County, why do "some Democrats" oppose the county's plan?
First of all, the pilot program is NOT just for the "upcoming election". Unless killed by the next legislature, the pilot is permanent.
...several members of the county's site selection committee had concerns on how the proposed polling places were chosen...In most cases, these locations were unsuitable for large scale vote centers, because of lack of parking, floor space, etc...were not places where people ordinarily travel...Relying on one poll book invites bottlenecks and if the one computer or the network goes down, even temporarily, lines of frustrated voters will quickly form.

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US. Shoup DREs for sale at
Bids start at $100.00 in Newport, KY

Diebold sale to ES&S

Editorial The Business of Voting Machines
September 9, 2009 NY Times.
Diebold announced last week that it has sold its United States voting machine division to its main rival, Election Systems & Software.

Given Diebold’s troubling record, it is hard to lament its departure from American elections, but this sale could make a bad situation worse. Regulators should take a hard look at the anticompetitive implications. And Congress, the states and cities need to push a lot harder for fundamental reforms in the voting machine business and the way Americans vote...
The combination of the Election Systems & Software and Diebold American voting machine divisions raises classic antitrust concerns.
...It makes no sense to allow private companies to count votes using secret, proprietary software. The federal government and the states should also require that all electronic voting machines produce a paper record of every vote and mandate random hand counts to ensure the reliability of the results.

Editorial: Sale of Diebold is good news
September 9, 2009 The company that makes voting machines used in Montgomery, Greene, Miami, Darke and Butler counties has sold that operation to the company that makes the machines used in all the other counties in the Miami Valley: Warren, Preble, Clark, Champaign, Shelby and Clinton.
On the surface, that doesn’t sound like a great thing. The big get bigger. Less competition.
In this case, however, there’s good news...The Diebold name was snake-bitten, the product didn’t satisfy, and changing the name didn’t help much.

Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission

Feingold, McCain ask: Is Roberts a man of his word?
...When he was campaigning to win confirmation as the nation's top jurist, Roberts pledged to respect judicial precedents and to avoid legislating from the bench. Now that pledge to the Senate and the American people is bring put to the test.
Roberts' credibility is at stake as the court considers the matter of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission...So, again, why is this case even being considered?
Because Chief Justice Roberts has been pressing the matter. Veteran court-watchers suggest that Roberts is determined to upset existing campaign finance laws and to erect barriers to new controls on influence buying.

Money Business
9.11.09 Stacy Cline. The American Spectator.
Regardless of the outcome in this case, corporations will continue to rent-seek in exactly the same ways they do now.
... If Congress wants to protect the integrity of our democracy, there is a clear solution: shrink the behemoth. The less money there is to gain from political advocacy, the less money will be spent.

Administration Shifts on Campaign Finance Law’s Treatment of Books
By Keith Perine, CQ Staff 9/10/2009
The Obama administration, during a special oral argument session before the Supreme Court, retreated Wednesday from its earlier position that federal restrictions on corporate campaign spending could be properly applied to books.
The administration’s disavowal of its previous position on regulating books might be the only thing that prevents the court from deciding to overturn two major campaign finance precedents — including a 2003 decision that upheld a portion of the 2002 law (PL 107-155) known as McCain-Feingold after its Senate sponsors...By dropping books from the discussion, the administration might be able to protect regulations on other forms of corporate campaign spending.

Legal Blogtalk: Supreme Blockbuster
Sept 10. Supreme Court watchers largely agree that arguments reheard Wednesday concerning the legal world’s most talked about documentary have jeopardized important segments of two previous election law decisions .

Citizens United Supreme Court Arguments: Round 2
09/10/2009. What began as a case to decide whether the Citizens United conservative group had violated restrictions on corporate campaign donations by producing and offering to run its film on ’08 presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has mushroomed into a landmark legal case that may blow the cap off personal, union, and corporate donations to candidates for federal office... Correspondents from as far away as Germany and Great Britain were there to hear a case that, as complex as it may have seemed to them, could change the nature of federal races in the United States.

A Look at Caperton and Citizens United in Tandem
Sept 10. Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court heard oral argument in Citizens United v. FEC. We reported earlier that we joined Justice At Stake and 18 partners in submitting an amici brief in the case, which focuses on restrictions on corporate contributions in elections...As we wait for a decision in Citizens United, it might be a good time to think about how much worse the situation could become and to ask again why we continue to select judges by a process that requires them to raise campaign funds from individuals and entities likely to appear before them in the future.

Corporate election influence too strong
September 10, 2009 Have you ever wondered who the University or Dunkin’ Donuts would campaign for in an election? You may not have to wait long to find out.On Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The court will decide whether or not corporations and organizations can set up electioneering campaigns on their own or if they must continue to run such campaigns through political action committees.
The decision will have tremendous ramifications for the way American elections are run. As a report by says, “Imagine power companies spending millions of dollars on ads… accusing congressmen who supported climate change legislation of trying to increase electric rates... or unions buying airtime to support primary challenges to conservative Democratic senators who opposed the labor-backed Employee Free Choice Act. Or even health care companies saturating the airwaves with messages urging voters to deny President Obama a second term.”

International News.

Iran. Iran official says 36 killed in post-vote unrest
9/10/09 TEHRAN — A senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander said 36 people were killed in post-election violence including three who died in the notorious Kahrizak prison, a newspaper reported on Thursday.
"The riots had a total of 36 victims, three killed in Kahrizak and about 10 whose place of death is known but it is unclear where the rest were shot and by whom," Abdollah Araghi was quoted as saying by reformist Etemad daily.
...The opposition, which charges that the June 12 poll was massively rigged, has put the death toll at 72.

Iraq. UN backs voter registration efforts in Iraq
United Nations 9th September 2009
The head of the United Nations mission in Iraq has welcomed what he described as growing confidence in the electoral process there, and given his backing to the voter registration process, in preparation for parliamentary polls early next year.

Phillipines. SC justice warns vs automated poll fraud
10 September 2009 Carpio: RP's fragile democracy at risk in 2010
The justices who voted against automating next year’s polls fear that control of the electoral exercise would be been handed over to a foreign firm.
In their dissenting opinions, Justices Antonio Carpio and Arturo Brion said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) committed grave abuse of discretion when it essentially relinquished the conduct and result of the polls to a foreign company.
This major point, they said, was ignored in the majority opinion upholding the P7.2 billion project signed between Comelec and winning consortium Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM).

Voting News by Joyce McCloy.
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