Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Court may loosen campaign spending, Afghanistan to have recounts, audits. ACORN turns in Fl workers.

Arguments on Citizens United vs FEC were heard by US Supreme Court today:
"The Supreme Court signaled Wednesday it may let businesses and unions spend freely to help their favored candidates in time for next year's elections." ~ AP.
ACORN turns in Fla. workers on voter fraud charges. (Remember, ACORN & other agencies - do not register voters, they work to get voter registration applications, these are then turned over to election officials who run checks on these forms before any voters are registered.)
The economy vs elections: "Our office has been underfunded and we can no longer afford to run the elections office like it's going out of business," ~Flagler Co FL Elections Supervisor Kimberle Weeks.
A federal judge has ruled that a lawsuit can continue against Volusia County over the lack of a Spanish-language ballot during the 2008 election. Many New York voters will vote with optical scanners for the first time. Trumbull County BoE will not close 65-80 of the county’s 250 voting precincts for the Nov election after all but will consider consolidation at a later date. The Massachusetts State Auditor estimates $7.2 million for spec election to fill Sen Kennedy's seat. Lots of "voter fraud" stories in the news.
Bedford Co TN to consider res. asking state to delay implementing the Voter Confidence Act. Attention Utah Voters: bring id to the polls when voting.
Song: They lost my vote.
Smartmatic and NEC Argentina to develop biometric voter reg for Bolivia.
An idea that might catch on? Recounts and audits ordered for Afghanistan election.

AL. Calera City Council calls for a new municipal election
September 09, 2009 The Calera City Council passed a resolution Tuesday night calling for a new municipal election on Nov. 10.
The move is contingent on approval from U.S. Justice Department officials, who declared the results of the 2008 municipal election invalid. The Justice Department did not approve the city's new voting lines used in the 2008 election because Calera's only district made up mainly of minorities was eliminated.

CA. City councilor pushes for ranked-choice voting in ’10
09/08/2009 ...In March 2008, Santa Fe voters passed two election-related amendments to the city charter. One mandates that the Santa Fe City Council put in place public campaign financing, and the other requires that the city implement ranked-choice voting as soon as municipally possible.... Although the charter amendment specifies that March 2010 should be the goal for a ranked-choice election, technological shortcomings are proving the greatest hurdle. While the voting machines available to the city can accept information from ranked-choice ballots, the machines can’t tally the results without major and costly software, if not hardware, upgrades.

FL. ACORN turns in Fla. workers on voter fraud charges
9/9/2009. MIAMI — Armed with a tip from the grassroots group ACORN about its own workers, authorities on Wednesday began arresting 11 people suspected of falsifying hundreds of voter applications during a registration drive last year...Miami-Dade prosecutors gave credit to the group for coming forward and ACORN officials said they felt vindicated...ACORN officials said the group regularly reports suspected fraud to authorities nationwide but the Miami prosecution marks one of the few times the complaints were taken seriously.

FL. Sep. 09, 2009
11 accused of faking voter registration cards in Miami-Dade
...The Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office issued arrest warrants for each of the 11 suspects, all of whom worked for the local chapter of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, (ACORN)...But ACORN officials said they had alerted authorities about the alleged illegal activity among some canvassers in Miami-Dade after finding ``numerous discrepancies'' on voter cards collected from the Homestead area...ACORN quality control workers found the discrepancies in the cards turned in by 10 canvassers and contacted authorities in June 2008, according to the arrest warrant in the case. The group turned in 1,400 cards, of which 888 were found to be fraudulent.
By early Wednesday morning, six were in custody, authorities said.

FL. Flagler elections chief grilled over funding request (economy)
BUNNELL -- A funding request for an election and the supervisor of elections' budget review led to heated words during Tuesday's Flagler County Commission meeting.
Supervisor of Elections Kimberle Weeks asked commissioners to approve $179,000 for the Sept. 15 special elections to replace Sen. Jim King, R-Jacksonville, who died on July 26.

FL. Judge rules case against Volusia can proceed
Sept 8. A federal judge has ruled that a lawsuit can continue against Volusia County over the lack of a Spanish-language ballot during the 2008 election.,0,6120288.story

FL. Protect the Ballot Box at the Fort Lauderdale ACLU September Meetup
The Broward ACLU will have a Freedom Files video presentation at 6:30 PM sharp. Please join us! The featured video will be "Freedom to Vote: Protecting the Ballot."
“Freedom to Vote” focuses on legislative efforts to require voters to present photo IDs, though such rules would create barriers for low-income, elderly and disabled people, and disenfranchise millions.

GA. Election Board closes Cedartown probe, nursing home director reprimanded
The State Election Board has closed its case against a Cedartown nursing home director with a reprimand...Polk County Election Director Susan Williams filed a complaint after Hawkins’ husband dropped off a batch of unsealed voter registration and absentee ballot applications on June 19, 2008. The registration applications were dated the previous January.
Hawkins said she did not realize the registration applications had to be sealed before she took them, and that they must be delivered within 10 days of the date they were completed.

MA. Auditor: Costs for special Senate election are an unfunded mandate
Sep 08, 2009. Boston - In response to inquiries from local clerks, state Auditor Joseph DeNucci determined Tuesday that about $7.2 million in local costs tied to the special election to fill a vacant U.S. Senate seat are unfunded mandates that should be paid for by the state.

NC. State elections board probes possible 2007 voter fraud at Topsail
September 8, 2009 The N.C. Board of Elections is looking into possible voter fraud in the 2007 Topsail Beach Board of Commissioners election, state Rep. Carolyn Justice, R-Pender, says. The issue is one that has come up before on the resort island: legal residency of property owners...Justice said the issue concerns actions taken by Grier Fleischhauer to help Buck Taylor in his successful 2007 bid for a commissioner seat. It stems largely from testimony given by Taylor, Fleischhauer and others in a 2008 administrative hearing

NC. Elections panel gets new head, member
3-person Forsyth board at full strength
September 9, 2009 Forsyth County.
Linda Sutton was elected the new chairwoman of the Forsyth County Board of Elections yesterday, and Frank Dickerson was sworn in as the board's newest member.

NY. Marcy voters to test new election machines
Sept 8. UTICA — The Oneida County Board of Elections has scheduled an open house for Wednesday to show Marcy voters how to use new electronic voting machines that will replace lever units in all districts next year in compliance with the Help Americans Vote Act of 2002.
Marcy voters will use the machines during the primary election on Tuesday, Sept. 15, and general election on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

OH. No precinct consolidations planned for Nov. election
September 9, 2009 @ 12:00 a.m.
A judge agreed to eliminate health-care coverage for elections-board members.
WARREN — The Trumbull County Board of Elections has scrapped a plan to temporarily close 65 to 80 of the county’s 250 voting precincts for the November election, saying consolidation will have to wait until later in the year.

SC. ACLU Suing McMaster to Protect Fusion Voting
State Attorney General Henry McMaster has until Sept. 23 to respond to a lawsuit brought against him by six South Carolinians who say he is unconstitutionally limiting their voting choices at the polls, according to attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union...The case challenges a policy the Election Commission implemented in April 2008 that changed the filing deadline for so-called “fusion” candidates. Fusion voting occurs when a candidate is nominated by more than one party and whose name therefore appears more than once on a ballot...The Election Commission policy has “the practical effect of making it impossible for political parties that nominate by convention to cross-nominate the winner of another political party’s primary election,” thereby limiting voter choices, say the plaintiffs in the suit. Critics argue that banning fusion voting would solidify a two-party system by thwarting ballot access to third-party candidacies.

TN. Commission to consider rezoning, Voter Confidence Act
September 8, 2009
Bedford County Board of Commissioners will consider a rezoning for the proposed Dollar General Store in Deason and a resolution asking the state to delay implementing the Voter Confidence Act... The Tennessee Voter Confidence Act, passed in 2008, requires that counties in the state begin using voting machines which would create a paper trail system for use in recounts and disputed elections. But Obion County is circulating a model resolution asking the state to delay implementation of the act. The model resolution states that "the equipment mandated by the Act is not available for sale anywhere in the United States." Bedford County commissioners will consider approving Obion County's suggested resolution.

TN. Two more charged with voting fraud in Lexington election
September 9, 2009. Two more people were arrested in Henderson County Tuesday as authorities continued their investigation of reports of voting fraud two days before Lexington city elections...On Friday, Richard Bernard Williams, 48; Jennifer Lynn Holder, 39; and Zundra Flake, 40, were charged with conspiracy to commit illegal registration or voting, according to Lexington police. Henderson County residents John Anton Grissom, 40, and Anthony E. Brunt, 53, were arrested Wednesday on the same charge. The seven are scheduled to appear in Henderson County court next week.

UT. Voters need to bring identification to ballot box
September 8, 2009 ST. GEORGE - Poll workers might sound a little like patrol officers this year, but in the interest of voter protection, they're hoping not to offend when they tell voters, "I'm going to need to see some ID."

US National News.

ES&S Sues Former Workers Over Taking Buggy, Vulnerability-Filled Code
from the why-would-they-bother? dept
Michael Scott alerts us to the news that e-voting firm ES&S has sued two former employees, claiming copyright infringement over code they took with them from ES&S, along with additional trade secrets. I have no idea whether or not this is true, but all I can ask is "why?" As has been documented time and time again, ES&S's e-voting code has a ton of problems.

The Movement towards Modernization
SEPTEMBER 9, 2009 The movement to reform voter registration increased its profile last week when the bipartisan Committee to Modernize Voter Registration publicly announced its formation, and The Pew Center on the States released an issue brief recommending ways to update the current system of voter registration.
» REPORT: "Bringing Elections into the 21st Century: Voter Registration Modernization (PDF)

The Committee to Modernize Voter Registration.
Learn more at their website

Song: They lost my vote (video)
Oh, the anguish of electronic voting… did that vote actually count?

Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission

Court signals it may loosen campaign spending
Sept 9. AP. WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court signaled Wednesday it may let businesses and unions spend freely to help their favored candidates in time for next year's elections.
Such a step could roll back a century of attempts to restrain the power of corporate treasuries in American politics.
The justices cut short their summer recess for a lively special argument that indicated the court's conservative skeptics of campaign finance laws have the upper hand over its liberals, including new Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Line-drawing after Overruling Austin
September 9, 2009 Edward B. Foley
The overruling of Austin would not automatically signal the end of congressional limits on electioneering by business corporations. Instead, it would just mean that the fight over the legitimate scope of those limits is about to get underway.

Debuts Everywhere: Postgaming the Citizens United Arguments 9/9/2009.

Analysis: Two precedents in jeopardy
Wednesday, September 9th, 2009 If supporters of federal curbs on political campaign spending by corporations were counting on Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., to hesitate to strike down such restrictions, they could take no comfort from the Supreme Court’s 93-minute hearing Wednesday on that historic question.

Justices Are Pressed for Broad Ruling in Campaign Case
September 9, 2009
WASHINGTON — There seemed little question after the argument in an important campaign finance case at the Supreme Court on Wednesday that the makers of a slashing political documentary about Hillary Rodham Clinton were poised to win. The only open question was how broad that victory would be.
...Recent changes in court personnel, particularly the replacement of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. in 2006, have substantially altered the court’s attitude to campaign finance laws. A five-justice majority of the Roberts court has been uniformly hostile to such laws, but Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito have so far moved in cautious increments.
Judging by the request for re-argument and the tenor of the questioning on Wednesday, that may be about to change.

Court Conservatives Concerned About Campaign Spending Limits
Wednesday, September 9, 2009. Conservative members of the Supreme Court indicated Wednesday that they were extremely uncomfortable with restrictions that government has placed on the role of corporate spending on candidate elections and might rule broadly to strike what has been a long-standing fixture of campaign finance laws.
...It is unclear whether the justices will decide the case before their regular term begins Oct. 5. The case is Citizens United v.FEC

Supreme Court sharply questions ban on corporate spending
Opponents of restrictions on campaign spending were ebullient Wednesday morning after arguments before the Supreme Court seemed to suggest a sweeping overhaul of a ban on corporate communications.
In an unusual rehearing of a case pitting a conservative nonprofit group, Citizens United, against the Federal Election Commission, justices expressed skepticism at the government's right to prohibit such communications.

Supreme Court Majority Critical of Campaign Law Precedents
The Supreme Court appeared poised this morning to overturn or limit precedents that upheld bans on corporate and union expenditures in election campaigns.
After an extraordinary 90 minutes of oral argument in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, it appeared that four justices -- Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, and Samuel Alito Jr. -- were ready to vote against the commission, which enforces the ban, on First Amendment grounds.

Sotomayor Signals Support For Corporate Campaign Spending Rules
September 9, 2009 In her first oral argument session since joining the Supreme Court, Justice Sonia Sotomayor signaled today that she does not agree that corporations should be allowed a freer hand to spend money to influence elections.


Afghanistan. Recounts and Audits ordered in Afghanistan Election.

Bolivia. Smartmatic and NEC Argentina Join Forces in a Strategic Alliance to Support Bolivian Voters
September 8th, 2009
NEC Argentina, a subsidiary of giant Japanese IT multinational NEC Corporation, announced it has selected Smartmatic as strategic partner to develop a biometric registration system for the Bolivian National Electoral Court (known as the CNE). NEC Argentina’s selection of Smartmatic is aimed at adding still more technical prowess to help in its commitment to completely revamp Bolivia’s voter registration system.

Voting News by Joyce McCloy.
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