Monday, January 31, 2011

Cost of Voter ID, Mail-In Voting in CO, New Push for DC Voting Rights

AR: New ballots are not ready | The Baxter Bulletin

Touch-screen voting may be on hold in Baxter County and other counties across the state. Baxter County Clerk Rhonda Porter said the county has not received electronic ballots from the state for its iVotronics touch-screen voting machines. Porter said early voting begins Monday and paper ballots will be available to voters who want to vote early. "No matter what, it won't affect people's ability to vote," Porter said. Arkansas Secretary of State Charlie Daniels said some counties will not be able to use their touch-screen voting machines during the early voting period, but the problem should be fixed in time for the primary election May 23. Read More

CO: State could soon have mostly mail-in elections - Denver

Colorado's future elections would be mostly conducted by mail under a proposal set to be debated at the State Capitol. House Bill 1131 would require eligible voters to receive their ballot at their home and they could vote either by sending it in, dropping it off or surrendering it at what's being called a "service center" in the eight days leading up to and on Election Day in exchange for a ballot they could then cast in person. "The goal is to recognize that 60 to 70 percent of our population is already requesting a permanent mail-in ballot," said Rep. Carole Murray (R-Castle Rock), the former Douglas County Clerk and Recorder and the primary sponsor of the legislation. "What this does is extend that to 100 percent of our population in all elections." It is estimated the proposal could save county clerks statewide a minimum of $12 million. Colorado lawmakers changed the law before the 2010 primary election to allow counties the choice of holding that election by mail. Numerous counties did so and saved significant money in the process. Read More

CO: Under scrutiny, Gessler brushes off critics - KWGN

In just his third week on the job, Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler has already attracted more news coverage -- and controversy -- than his predecessor did in two years. Or so it seems. Democratic critics have been relentlessly attacking Gessler for his plan to continue doing legal work for his old law firm, which specializes in election law -- a potential conflict of interest for the officer charged with overseeing elections for the state. Read More

DC: Advocates Renew Fight For D.C. Voting Rights : NPR

The District of Columbia does not have a full vote in Congress, despite having more than half a million residents. But what many may not know is that every law passed by the city's council is submitted for congressional review, including the recent same-sex marriage bill which went into effect last year. Host Michel Martin speaks about the latest in the fight to gain voting rights for residents of D-C with R. Clarke Cooper. Cooper is Executive Director of the Log Cabin Republicans, a group that advocates for marriage equality in the District. Also joining the conversation is Ilir Zherka, executive director of DC Vote. Read More and Listen to Podcast

IN: Vote center bill could get House vote this week | Journal and Courier

After passing through a House committee 10-3 this past week, a Senate bill that would extend the life of vote centers in Tippecanoe County could be voted on by the full House next week. A schedule of the House's voting plans will be published Monday. Senate Bill 32, which sailed through the Senate in record time, cleared the House elections committee on Wednesday. Last year a bill to extend the vote center system stalled because lawmakers could not agree on absentee voting language included in the bill. Lafayette-area legislators have said it's important to keep this year's bill "clean" and get it passed early in the session. Read More

IA: Proof of citizenship would be required for college financial aid, voting - Iowa State Daily

Iowa House Republicans say they are aiming to stop fraud with bills drafted, which would require proof of citizenship be provided for voting and applying for financial aid for college. Rep. Mark Brandenburg, R-Pottawattamie, sponsored House File 113, which would require proof of citizenship or lawful residency in the country to apply for federal financial aid for Iowa colleges. Anyone who cannot provide proof would not be awarded student financial assistance by the higher education institution. HF 113 directs community colleges and Regents universities to require proof for students applying for federal financial aid at public colleges. It would prohibit a university from providing scholarships or other aid to someone who cannot provide citizenship proof. Read More

MT: Voter Issues Debated in Legislature | | Butte, Montana

For local democrat JP Pomnichowski, voting isn't something you need to earn, it's a natural born right. And this is why she thinks mail-in ballots are a good thing. She said they give people more time to consider the issues and make informed decisions. Conservative Carl Graham disagreed. He said voting isn't about sitting on the couch and checking a box. He added, "Rights come with responsibilities. If you're going to exercise your rights you take on certain responsibilities and that responsibility is to inform yourself and be a responsible part in our democratic process." Read More

MT: Election officials: voter fraud not a problem - The Bozeman Daily Chronicle: News

Montana's elections are getting a bad rap in the Legislature this year, with several lawmakers bringing forward bills under the pretense that elections have been fraught with fraud. One bill would get rid of the popular late-registration process in the state. Another would require state-issued identification cards in order for voters to register. And on Friday, the House of Representatives defeated a vote-by-mail measure, largely out of fear that it could be abused by people who want to skew the vote. However, federal, state and county election officials all say that voter fraud is not a serious issue in Montana, with few reports of people abusing the ballots and even fewer substantiated claims. "We're not getting inundated with calls," said Victoria Francis, of the U.S. District Attorney's Office in Montana, which sets up a hotline for every election that people can call to report voter fraud. "We send out a press release (about the hotline) every election cycle, all the newspapers in the state run it. We just don't get very many calls." Read More

TN: Shelby County v. Holder: Oral Argument Preview - Huffington Post

On Wednesday, February 2, U.S. District Judge John Bates will hear oral argument in one of the most important civil rights cases pending in the lower federal courts, Shelby County v. Holder, a case with nationwide ramifications for the right to vote and our democracy. At issue in Shelby County is the constitutionality of Congress' nearly unanimous 2006 decision to renew one of the most important and successful provisions of the Voting Right Act -- the Act's preclearance requirement (which requires certain jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination in voting to obtain federal permission before altering their voting laws or regulations). The Supreme Court has, on four separate occasions, upheld the constitutionality of the Act's preclearance provision - in 1966, 1973, 1980, and 1999 - concluding that Congress has broad power under the explicit grant of enforcement power in the Fifteenth Amendment to prevent and deter racial discrimination in voting. But in June 2009, in NAMUDNO v. Holder, the Supreme Court came dangerously close to striking down this critical provision. In an 8-1 ruling authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, the Court declined to decide the constitutionality of Congress' 2006 renewal of the preclearance provision, but invited future challenges. Shelby County, Alabama, accepted the invitation, filing suit earlier this year in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Judge Bates has set aside two and-a-half hours for oral argument to carefully consider Shelby County's claim. Read More

TX: Voter ID bill will exclude student ID cards

A voter identification bill has sailed through the Texas State Senate, but student ID cards were left behind. Last week the Senate voted along party lines, 19 Republicans to 11 Democrats, to pass SB 14 and put Texas on its way to having one of the toughest election laws in the country. Although five forms of identification were approved, an amendment to add college and university student ID cards was not. Currently, only a voter registration card is needed to vote. The bill calls for voters to present a certain form of ID. Read More

VA: Board of Elections asks for probe into Montgomery County voting -

The State Board of Elections is asking the Virginia Attorney General’s Office to investigate allegations of voting irregularities in Montgomery County. Meeting Monday afternoon in Richmond, members of the board could have petitioned for the removal of the registrar or members of the local electoral board, but chose to request the investigation instead. Read More

WA: Pierce County all-mail voting bill clears committee | Political Buzz

A bill that would require Pierce County to close its last polling places moved forward this morning. The Senate Government Operations Committee approved Senate Bill 5124, sending it to the Rules Committee. The Senate Government Operations Committee approved Senate Bill 5124, sending it to the Rules Committee. Gov Ops Chairman Craig Pridemore said he supported moving it along because of a separate provision unrelated to the poll voting controversy, but said the all-mail-voting proposal needs more work. Read More


The Real Cost of the GOP’s Push for Voter ID Laws - COLORLINES

Texas lawmakers are pushing forward with new state Voter ID legislation that will name the types of identification that will be acceptable at the polls. Local news stations are reporting that student ID’s issued by the state’s colleges and universities are missing from the new bill. Now voting rights advocates are even growing more concerned that the GOP’s real aim is to slowly dismantle hard fought voting rights. Currently, the proposed bill includes five forms of identification that voters would be allowed to show at the polls, including a driver’s license, state ID card, military ID, concealed handgun license and passport. University of Texas Arlington student paper The Shorthorn reports that the Republican-backed bill must first pass the House, where the GOP holds a substantial majority. The effort is part of much larger push by Republicans nationwide to enact stronger Voter ID legislation. In addition to Texas, party leaders are already in talks to introduce similar bills in Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina and Wisconsin. But as Chris Khrom wrote last week at the Institute for Southern Studies, each bill comes at a substantial cost. Read More


Australia: Electoral commission expands NSW e-voting project - NSW state elections 2011, NSW Electoral Commission, e-voting - CIO

The NSW Electoral Commission (NSWEC) has drastically expanded the reach of its e-voting project, iVote, which is now predicted to exceed initial expectations of 15,000 users on polling day, 26 March. The project, first slated in June last year, will now allow blind, vision-impaired and disabled voters, as well as those living in remote areas and those out of the state on the day, to cast a secret and unassisted vote from home or in other locations using an interactive voice recognition by phone or through the internet. Read More

Niger: Voting begins in Niger amid fraud worries | World | Reuters

Voters in Niger began casting their ballots on Monday in an election meant to hand power back to civilians in the West African uranium producer, but which could prove contentious due to fears of fraud. The election commission said over the weekend it had been informed fake voter ID cards were sold prior to the poll -- without saying how many -- while eight of the election's ten candidates had called for delays to the vote to allow time for better preparations. The military junta has refused to alter the schedule, however, after having promised to leave power by April, giving time for a likely second round in March. Read More

Nigeria: ‘Made in Nigeria’ voting machines for 2015 election

The Independent National Electoral commission has spent about N34.4 billion on importation of 132,000 units of data capturing machine for the 2011 voter registration exercise but Mohammed Abubakar, Minister of Science and Technology said Nigeria may not have to spend that much again on elections as local technologies for the same purpose are now available. Mr Abubakar said that “the electronic voting machine developed by the Nigeria Communication Satellite Limited, NIGCOMSAT, can assist the nation in biometric registration for election” and that by 2015 it will be ready for use at the election. The minister told journalists in Abuja that the technology would have been used for 2011 voter registration exercise but for some logistics that are not in place.“We have developed that capacity (production of electronic voting machine),” he said. “There was no time for experiment and we did want to take chances with this present voter registration, that is why we are postponing the use of these indigenous voting machines till 2015. Nigerian scientists and engineers have really done well with this new feat.” Read More

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