Friday, October 9, 2009

Senate panel to review Diebold sale,Florida's $67 Mill HAVA hoard, Federal Bills moving along

The Senate Rules and Administration Committee will examine Diebold sale...California Top-2 ballot measure would shrink ballot access...Corporate ‘personhood’ must be challenged in Citizens United v FEC...Recount in West Haven CT ends lawsuit...Florida withholding $67 million 2002 HAVA funds from counties...Federal Bill to help military vote goes to conference...H.R.1719 the Voter Registration Modernization Act of 2009 to get hearing...Shouldn't all this talk about a voting machine monopoly also include investigation into issue of election transparency? Re-post of Minneapolis MN city report on IRV counting process because of bad link yesterday.

All this and more below:

CA. California 2010 “Top-Two” Proposal Is More Restrictive for Voters than the California 2004 “Top-Two” Initiative
October 7th, 2009 In June 2010, Californians will be voting for the second time on the “top-two” election system...A detailed look at the 2010 ballot measure shows that it is significantly less respectful of voter rights than the 2004 California proposal had been...If this passes, California would be one of only 7 states in which no voter could cast a write-in vote for Congress or state office in a November election, and have that write-in counted...The termination of write-in voting is especially disappointing, given that three times, Californians have elected someone to Congress by write-in votes at the general election, in 1930, 1946, and 1982...if it becomes law, the only way a party will be able to remain on the ballot will be to have registration above 1% of the last gubernatorial vote.

CA. Monterey County ballots may arrive before booklets

CT. Lawsuit targeting 2 West Haven officials in election recount is withdrawn
October 7, 2009... WEST HAVEN — A Superior Court lawsuit filed against two city election officials alleging mishandling of last month’s recount was withdrawn Tuesday.
The suit was filed by Democrat Stacy Riccio after a recount in the 4th District ended with her opponent, Steve Wydra, remaining victorious.

FL. Miami Dade may have to fork over $7 million next year for voting systems
...County commissioners voted Tuesday to urge the Legislature to extend its deadline to 2016 ­ unless the state agrees to pay for the new equipment it's requiring...commissioners lashed out at the state for not only requiring new equipment without paying for it, but also for holding on to federal money passed to the state years ago to reimburse localities for past equipment switches.
The state still has $67 million "that in our opinion belongs to the counties," Mr. Sola said. archived (original link requires subscription )

IA. Bates Claims Flaw In Voting Machines, Demands Recount
Omaha Company Touts Accuracy Of Machines
October 9, 2009 COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa -- Ousted Council Bluffs City Councilman Darren Bates has called for a recount, citing a lack of confidence in the systems electronic voting machines.
Bates claimed the system used to count Tuesday's primary election ballots is flawed.
...The voting machines come from Omaha-based Electronic Systems and Software.The recount will take place Monday in the Pottawattamie County Courthouse.
Porter and Bates will each have a representative present at the recount, along with an independent person. That panel will decide if the recount is done by hand or by machine...

MN. News - Ranked Choice Voting Minneapolis (reposted, yesterday link was broken)
Ranked Choice Voting Minneapolis is an outreach and education effort by the City of Minneapolis. Provides details on counting, when where the ballots will be counted, number of days to count, etc.

NC. Column: Protecting all voters through partisan elections (Opinion)
October 09, 2009...The real issue is not, as the U.S. Department of Justice claims, how to protect minority voters. The issue is how to protect all voters, increase voter participation and ensure that voters are informed about the issues. Nonpartisan elections for candidates from at-large districts in odd-numbered years fail to accomplish those goals...parties mobilize and inform voters. They inform voters not only by sponsoring candidate speeches and distributing campaign literature, but they also offer a cue to voters about the general policy perspectives of the candidates.

TX. Records are demanded in Hondo balloting
HONDO — Scrutiny of this town's controversial May City Council election intensified this week with a Texas attorney general's subpoena for municipal records on the contest.
...The U.S. Justice Department also is examining the election in which Sanchez and Clyde Haak beat two incumbents, Danner was re-elected, and council members Lucio Torrez, Virginia Gonzales and Chavel Lopez were recalled.
The recalled officials were reinstated — at least temporarily — by U.S. District Judge Fred Biery, responding to a lawsuit filed by three citizens seeking to overturn the election on the grounds that minority voters were disadvantaged by the ballot wording and format.

VA. More voter fraud indictments in Virginia? *
A Louisa grand jury last month indicted 57-year-old Bonnie R. Nicholson and 55-year old Bernard L. Pace on charges of illegal voting on Nov. 4, 2008, and election fraud, forgery and uttering charges on different days. Within the last week, both Louisa resident Nicholson and Madison resident Pace turned themselves in to authorities.


Reminder: EAC roundtable discussion on accessible voting technology is October 13

Citizen's United v FEC

Jane Anne Morris: Corporate ‘personhood’ must be challenged
10/9... By first putting human beings and corporations into one basket labeled "things that have constitutional rights," and then arguing about what "free speech" means, the Supreme Court has pitted the likes of the American Civil Liberties Union against advocates of campaign finance reform...Must we limit speech in order to have free and fair elections? Or must we accept corporation-dominated political debate in order to preserve free speech?
This false dilemma disappears if we reject corporate personhood - the idea that corporations have constitutional rights. Limiting corporate "speech" is not a constitutional infringement if corporations are not "persons" under the Constitution.
...the Austin case accepts that money equals speech...

ES&S Diebold Monopoly

Senate Panel to Examine Sale of Diebold Voting Machine Division
By Kim Zetter October 9, 2009 The Senate Rules and Administration Committee announced on Friday that it plans to examine the sale of Diebold’s voting machine division to a rival voting machine company, according to the Associated Press.
...With its acquisition of Premier, the second-largest voting machine maker, ES&S achieved a near monopoly on election gear in the country, serving about 68 percent of the country’s approximately 180,000 voting precincts, according to an antitrust lawsuit filed after the sale by Hart InterCivic, a competing voting machine maker.

Schumer, As Senate Rules Chairman, Will Solicit Input From State, Local Election Officials About Anti-Competitive Impacts Of Proposed Merger
Schumer said potential concerns arising out of the deal include the prospect of non-negotiable contracts, unilateral changes, and locking jurisdictions into expensive service contracts.

Overseas Military Voting

Assuring the precious right of voting for those who assure our rights
Friday, October 9, 2009 Sen. Ben Nelson...the Military and Overseas Voting Act, is to be included in the defense authorization conference report. In addition, there is a standalone bill that already has 59 cosponsors...Our legislation harnesses technology to speed up the voting process by allowing registration and ballot requests to be sent electronically.
It ensures that military and overseas voters have time to vote by requiring ballots to be sent out 45 days before the election. And it allows blank ballots to be sent electronically.

NASS Federal Election Reform Update (from email, no internet link):
Sent: Wednesday, October 07, 2009 1:49 PM
Subject: NASS Federal Election Reform Update: House/Senate Conferees to meet on 2010 Defense Authorization Bill, House Admin Schedules Hearing on H.R.1719

2010 Defense Authorization Bill goes to Conference
All conferees in the House and Senate have now been named for S.1390 and H.R. 2647 the National Defense Authorization Act of FY2010. The Senate version of this bill includes provisions that would amend UOCAVA...The conferees in the House and Senate will work to negotiate the differences between the two versions and come up with a final bill. To address the UOCAVA voting issues in the bill, Speaker Pelosi appointed the following members from House Administration: Rep. Capuano (D-MA), Rep. Gonzalez (D-TX), and Rep. Lungren (R-CA). A final conference report is expected by next week.

House Administration Committee Schedules Hearing on H.R.1719 Voter Registration Modernization Act.
House Administration Committee has scheduled a hearing for Friday morning, October 23rd to hear testimony on H.R.1719 the Voter Registration Modernization Act of 2009, introduced by House Administration Election Subcommittee Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) last spring.

Voting News by Joyce McCloy.
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