Monday, March 7, 2011

EAC to investigate ES&S Unity System, Another Delay in TN?, GA court upholds voter ID law

Disappointing Reversal on Transparency and Security for Washington Elections | Verified Voting Blog

A bill aimed at reducing restriction to voting for military and other overseas voters passed the Washington State Senate by a 47-1 vote on Friday. Senate Bill 5171 contains many provisions that will certainly make voting easier for Washington citizens living overseas including moving the primary election date two weeks earlier and meeting requirements of the Federal MOVE Act for mailing of absentee ballots 45 days prior to the election. We strongly support those provisions. However, the bill also will allow for the acceptance of absentee ballots returned by email and fax. In addition to requiring, by affidavit, that voters returning their ballots electronically forego the secrecy of their ballot, it also makes the state’s elections vulnerable to tampering and error.

It is deeply disappointing that Secretary of State Sam Reed has actively supported this legislation. No one experienced the 2004 Gregoire/Rossi gubernatorial recount process more directly than Secretary Reed. That race, ultimately decided by 133 votes, stretched the issue of voter confidence to its absolute limits, and Secretary Reed, to his credit, did what he could to be available through and transparent about every step of the recount process. But the involved parties could not review voters’ intent for over 113,000 ballots, because at that time, Washington State used paperless electronic voting machines in two of the larger counties. The only votes that could be truly recounted were the paper ballots.

With the experience of the 2004 recount under its belt, supported by Secretary Reed, Washington has moved consistently towards a more recountable voting system statewide. In 2004, Mr. Reed called for voter-verified paper records for every vote cast, so that “voters who cast ballots electronically can verify that their selections have been recorded properly using a paper audit trail” saying that the new policy was all about “ensuring voter trust.” Yet SB 5171 will overturn that policy for military and overseas voters. Read More

AL: Man honored for defense of black voting rights - WSFA 12 News

Inspirational songs followed stories and memories you'd only find in history books as civil rights era icons were honored at the National Voting Rights Museum as part of the second day of the annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee. One man--John Doar--a white attorney who worked for the U.S. Department of Justice came to Selma in the 1960s to represent African Americans who were denied the right to vote. "We did it without fear or favor. We went right down the line as law enforcement officers," says Doar. He says whites were allowed to vote simply because they were white. But, even the most educated black person couldn't register--which was against the law. "Since they were always on the right side because they were always seemed like we were helping them," adds Doar. Read More

GA: Top Georgia court upholds state's voter ID law - Washington Post

Georgia's top court has upheld a state law that requires voters to show photo identification before they cast ballots. The Georgia Supreme Court's 6-1 decision Monday is the latest court ruling to conclude that the rules are constitutional. The decision found the 2006 law was a "minimal, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory restriction." Georgia attorneys said the measure is needed to prevent voter fraud, but the Democratic Party of Georgia countered that state legislators have no proof anyone tried to illegally cast a ballot. Critics have also long claimed the law creates an undue burden on the poor, the disabled and minorities. Read the Court Opinion (pdf)

IN: Prosecution of Ind. elections chief could be tough - Politics Wires -

Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White's excuse that a busy schedule and new marriage caused him to give the wrong address at a polling place could be a feasible defense to voter fraud and other criminal allegations he now faces, a legal expert said Friday. "It may not be a defense to the claim that as secretary of state he should be held to a very high standard, but in terms of a criminal conviction, I think that kind of mistake sounds plausible," said Craig Bradley, an Indiana University law professor. Prosecutors contend that White improperly voted in last May's Republican primary after moving out of his ex-wife's home in the northern Indianapolis suburb of Fishers and the town council district he represented. The indictment charges he continued to collect a salary from the town council after he was no longer eligible to serve on it. Read More

IN: Lake County isn't ready for vote centers this spring -

Lake County officials will stay with the tradition of neighborhood polling places in the May 3 primary despite a new law promising savings and voter convenience. Fewer than half the municipal offices on the ballot are being contested by two or more candidates in 18 cities and towns. Highland has no contested races and will ask to opt out of the spring primary, Highland Councilman Brian Novak said. The county and remaining municipalities will be paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to unfurl a network of electronic voting machines and teams of poll workers in hundreds of precinct polling places. Last month, the General Assembly and Gov. Mitch Daniels gave all Indiana counties the option to do away with the precinct polling place system, which is more than 150 years old, and replace it with a limited number of centralized vote centers where voting can take place for any contested race in the county. The bipartisan county elections board announced last month there isn't enough time before the spring primary to make the changeover, though the county will again open offices for early voting in Crown Point, East Chicago, Gary, Hammond, St. John and Winfield that offer the same unlimited access to any voter as the proposed vote centers. Lake County has 563 precincts. Read More

ME: Voter ID bill slated to advance | Sun Journal

Maine on Friday moved one step closer to passing a law requiring voters to present photo identification at the polls. A legislative panel voted 6-6 along party lines to recommend LD 199 to the Legislature. Rep. Micheal Willette, R-Presque Isle, was absent, but he has until Tuesday to vote. Willette is expected to vote with his party, meaning the measure will advance to the Legislature with a divided report. Twenty-seven other states have photo identification laws. Maine and at least a half-dozen other states are considering legislation that would add the photo requirement. Supporters say asking voters to show a photo ID at the polls is a way to prevent fraud. Critics, mostly Democrats and civil rights groups, say the requirement impedes voting for the elderly, handicapped, homeless and those who don't drive. Democrats attempted to make those arguments during a public hearing held earlier this week. On Friday, with the outcome a foregone conclusion, opponents said voter participation would suffer. Read More

NY: Bill extends time before special elections - Watertown Daily Times

Overseas military voters now will have more time to vote in special elections after the Senate and Assembly unanimously passed a bill extending the time between the announcement of a special election and the special election itself. Current law provides 30 to 40 days between the calling of a special election and Election Day. That doesn't give service members overseas time to send their ballots back home to vote in special elections. After Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signs the bill, that period will be 70 to 80 days. "This bill will make sure that New Yorkers serving abroad in the military will have their votes counted," Mr. Cuomo said in a news release. "I look forward to signing it into law and making sure that all New Yorkers are able to participate in our electoral process." Read More

TN: Voter Confidence Act May Be Delayed Again - WSMV Nashville

The state of Tennessee is supposed to move to using only paper ballots by the time voters head to the polls in 2012. But some lawmakers are looking to stop that, saying that communities just can't afford to make the switch. The Tennessee Voter Confidence Act has already been delayed once, but it could be delayed again or done away with completely, and those who support paper ballots said that could put votes in jeopardy of being compromised.The Voter Confidence Act originally required everyone in Tennessee to use paper ballots to cast their vote by the 2010 election."Having an independent audit trail is key to any fair election," said Joe Irrera, a paper ballot advocate. But early last year, lawmakers delayed implementation until 2012, saying election officials needed more time."The problem is that it's very expensive on our local governments, and we're at a time when they are looking at raising taxes just to maintain what they have," said Rep. Glen Casada, R-College Grove.While counties can purchase the optical scan machines with federal funds, the cost of the ballot will fall on them. The secretary of state's office estimated that cost will be more than $11 million. Read More

TX: House panel approves voter ID bill - The Dallas Morning News

Legislation that would for the first time require Texans to show a photo ID to vote was approved by a House committee on Monday and sent to the full House, where it is expected to easily pass. The voter ID bill, which already has been approved by the Senate, was approved by the House Select Committee on Voter Identification and Voter Fraud on a 5-2 vote, with Democrats Marc Veasey of Fort Worth and Scott Hochberg of Houston casting the no votes. Democrats have been critical of the measure, saying it is unnecessary because there have been few cases of voter impersonation in the state. They contend it will discourage voting by senior citizens, the poor and minority groups — many of whom lack a drivers license. Read More


EAC Initiates Formal Investigation Into ES&S Unity Voting System - The U.S. Election Assistance Commission

As part of its Quality Monitoring Program, EAC will investigate the EAC-certified ES&S DS200 Precinct Count Optical Scanner (Firmware Version contained in the ES&S Unity for possible non-conformities with the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines. Download correspondence related to the investigation and a timeline of activities leading up to it. Learn more about EAC's Quality Monitoring Program.

In states, parties clash over voting laws that call for IDs, limits on where college students can cast ballots - Washington Post

New Hampshire's new Republican state House speaker is pretty clear about what he thinks of college kids and how they vote. They're "foolish," Speaker William O'Brien said in a recent speech to a tea party group. "Voting as a liberal. That's what kids do," he added, his comments taped by a state Democratic Party staffer and posted on YouTube. Students lack "life experience," and "they just vote their feelings." New Hampshire House Republicans are pushing for new laws that would prohibit many college students from voting in the state - and effectively keep some from voting at all. One bill would permit students to vote in their college towns only if they or their parents had previously established permanent residency there - requiring all others to vote in the states or other New Hampshire towns they come from. Another bill would end Election Day registration, which O'Brien said unleashes swarms of students on polling places, creating opportunities for fraud. The measures in New Hampshire are among dozens of voting-related bills being pushed by newly empowered Republican state lawmakers across the country - prompting partisan clashes akin to those already roiling in some states over GOP moves to curb union power. Read More

REPORT: In 22 Statehouses Across The Country, Conservatives Move To Disenfranchise Voters - ThinkProgress

In statehouses across the country, Republican lawmakers are raising the specter of “voter fraud” to push through legislation that would dramatically restrict the voting rights of college students, rural voters, senior citizens, the disabled and the homeless. As part of their larger effort to silence Main Street, conservatives are pushing through new photo identification laws that would exclude millions from voting, depress Hispanic voter turnout by as much as 10 percent, and cost taxpayers millions of dollars. In the next few months, a new set of election laws could make going to the polls and registering to vote significantly more difficult — in some cases even barring groups of citizens from voting in the communities where they live. Conservative legislators across the country have said these laws are necessary to combat alleged mass voter fraud. But these fears are completely overblown and states already have tough voting laws on the books: fraudulent voters face felony charges, hefty fines, and even lengthy prison time. In Missouri, for example, voter fraud carries a penalty of no less than 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Yet conservatives have insisted on finding a legislative solution to a non-existent problem. In states like Indiana, where an ID law passed in 2005, both nuns and college students have found themselves turned away from the polls. Similar laws are on the books in eight other states and that number could expand dramatically in coming months. ThinkProgress examined these efforts in eight states. Read More


Estonia: Elections Agency Fines E-Voting Company - ERR

After the internet ballot-counting system temporarily crashed on Election Day evening, the National Electoral Committee said it will demand compensation from Helmes, the company responsible for the country's vote-counting software. "Quality requirements [...] are listed in our contract and if there is a one-time delay of 15 minutes, then there are sanctions for every minute delayed. We need to add it up, but the total sum is around 8,500 euros," committee Chairman Heiki Sibul told Asked about the minuscule amount, Sibul said it took long negotiations to get Helmes to agree even to those terms. Sibul could not say yet whether the agency would continue its relationship with Helmes, which has been commissioned by the committee on three occasions. Read More

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