Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Struggling States May Cancel Or Delay Primaries, Paper Ballots Still the Gold Standard

CO: Denver City Council endorses pay raise for elected officials - The Denver Post

After spirited debate Monday, Denver's City Council voted 10-3 to tentatively approve a 6.6 percent raise for the next sitting council and every other elected official — an increase to be delayed for half of their four-year terms. The city is facing a $100 million budget shortfall for the 2012 budget and has a structural budget problem that, if not addressed, could balloon into a $500 million deficit by 2030. Many council members think the meager increase would not affect that problem and that denying a raise would be symbolic rather than practical. "The substance of passing this has virtually zero impact on the budget," said council president Chris Nevitt. "I was sent here to do a job to get things done. I much more prefer substance over symbolism." All 13 council positions, along with the mayor, auditor and clerk and recorder, are up for election May 3. Read More

FL: Disenfranchised West Palm Beach voters file lawsuit for new mayoral election - Palm Beach Post

Mayor Lois Frankel, Mayor-Elect Jeri Muoio and Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher were among defendants named in a lawsuit Monday by an attorney seeking a new mayoral race. Attorney Nikasha Wells, who was paid as a consultant by candidate Paula Ryan during the election to help reach black voters, filed the lawsuit on behalf of Carmen Van Buskirk and Tiffany Green after 224 voters in a precinct off Haverhill Road were never told they lived in the city and could vote. Bucher said it was the city's responsibility to inform the county that the land was annexed years ago by West Palm Beach and the voters lived in the city, not unincorporated county. Read More

IN: Daniels urges fast end to secretary of state's voter-fraud case - The Indianapolis Star

As another key staffer fled the Indiana secretary of state's office, Gov. Mitch Daniels called for a swift resolution to Charlie White's voter-fraud case -- and others called for White to quit. White's spokesman, Jason Thomas, said in an e-mail that he resigned to "pursue other career opportunities." Thomas, a former Indianapolis Star reporter who left in December to take the position of communications director with the incoming secretary of state, didn't respond to follow-up questions. Read More

IN: 2nd resignation for beleaguered secretary of state; new deputy appointed - The Indianapolis Star

The secretary of state’s office lost another staffer today, as Charlie White’s chief spokesman quit. Jason Thomas quit to “pursue other career opportunities,” he said in an e-mail. Thomas, a former Indianapolis Star reporter who resigned in December to take the position with the secretary of state’s office, didn’t respond to several follow-up questions. Thomas’ resignation came after another top White staffer, deputy secretary of state and chief of staff Sean Keefer, abruptly quit Friday. Read More

ME: Portland won't be counting on voting machines - The Portland Press Herald

Officials are looking at ways to handle Portland's first mayoral election with ranked-choice voting, which the city's voting machines aren't equipped to handle. In November, voters will elect their mayor for the first time in 88 years. The uncommon voting system and the vote-counting machines' inability to tabulate results are adding a wrinkle to an challenging election. The fact that Portland is looking for a new city clerk -- the official who runs elections -- adds a major complication to the decision-making process. Options range from renting equipment for as much as $80,000 to the less costly but time-consuming process of hand-counting votes. Read More

MN: Voter Photo ID May Be Costly, Suppressive, Unconstitutional, Error-Prone - The UpTake

Fewer voters, more cost, more errors, and almost a guaranteed lawsuit –those could be the results if a Republican backed “voter photo ID” proposal becomes law in Minnesota, according to testimony before the House Local Government and Elections Committee. The initial price tag on implementing the proposed law was $36 Million, prompting Representative Ken Kelash (DFL-Minneapolis) to ask what programs were going to be cut to pay for that. Sponsor of the bill, Representative Warren Limmer (R -Maple Grove) didn’t answer that question directly, but said that the proposal had been revised so it would cost less. The pricetag is still unknown until a new fiscal analysis is completed. Scaling back the voter photo ID bill means that only polling places that serve large numbers of people will have the electronic equipment needed to implement the law. Representative Limmer explained that would be the larger communities in Minnesota. Smaller (presumably rural) communities would still use the current paper system. That led Representative Kelash to ask if that really accomplished anything since the law would be implemented unequally. Representative Limmer replied that the law is only “an accounting system” and the people who were eligible to vote could still vote. Read More

NM: Former Secretary of State's embezzlement trial delayed - KOB.com

Rebecca Vigil-Giron, the former Secretary of State who was indicted on embezzlement charges, was in court with her lawyers on Monday. Her defense team is trying to stop the New Mexico attorney general’s office from prosecuting the case against her. The defense says it’s a conflict of interest since Vigil-Giron worked closely with then Attorney General Patricia Madrid. Read More

NY: State rolls back voting rights for disabled - The Journal News

In October 2006, I testified before the Westchester County Board of Legislators to oppose its resolution to maintain lever voting machines at all polling places throughout the county. That night, a large contingent from the disability community also came forward to protest the county board's assertion that the lever machines had proved reliable, user-friendly and cost-effective. We argued that the lever machines have not proved user-friendly to voters with varying types of visual, mobility and cognitive disabilities. We told the board that voters with visual disabilities are not able to read the ballots, voters with limited mobility capacity are not able to reach and-or operate the levers, and voters with certain cognitive limitations are not able to visually focus on the ballot style associated with the lever machines.Apparently, Assemblyman Tom Abinanti, who was a county legislator at the time, wasn't listening that night. Mr. Abinanti, along with several of his Westchester colleagues in the Assembly, co-sponsored a bill, recently signed by Gov. (Andrew) Cuomo, (that allows) villages, special districts, improvement districts and library districts to use inaccessible lever machines or hand-counted paper ballots at their option during the upcoming elections. The "Fiscal Implications" section of Bill A.3093/S.3216 states that villages "will receive significant savings if the Bill is enacted," relieving them of the "high cost associated with the use of the new scanning machines." Read More

NV: Paper ballots still are gold standard - The Reno Gazette-Journal

A few weeks after the last elections, a Sharron Angle supporter wrote that she found it suspicious that Ms. Angle finished seven points behind after having led by five earlier in the day. In light of what we've learned over the years about our electronic voting systems, with their proprietary "trade secret" software, faith-based invisible tallying and documented hackability, her suspicions are justified and rational. Her skepticism would be understandable to Germany's high court, which ruled in March 2009 that e-voting was unconstitutional -- according to the constitution the U.S. imposed on that nation in 1949. We insisted back then that German citizens must not be required to possess specialized technical knowledge either to vote or to monitor vote counts. We also required a publicly observed count, and stipulated that a governmental "check" or "audit" of the counting could not be substituted for public observation. Since no e-voting mechanism satisfies those requirements, they've banned them completely. Germany should be commended for its commitment to accuracy in vote tabulation. Read More

NC: Voter ID bill could disenfranchise students - The Daily Tar Heel

Some college students’ right to vote might be threatened if a new piece of legislation is passed. A bill requiring voters to present a form of photo ID at the polls is expected to be filed this week, and it might make it harder for students to vote. Similar bills have been introduced across the nation. “It could dramatically affect students in different ways,” said Bob Hall, executive director for Democracy N.C., a nonpartisan organization that advocates for voter rights. Read More

RI: Committee to review voter identification bill - ABC6

A bill that would require voters to present identification at polling places is set for a hearing in the state Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill is sponsored by state Sen. Harold Metts, a Democrat from Providence, and is scheduled to be brought up in committee Tuesday. Similar bills in other states have met with resistance. Critics say such initiatives have the effect of disenfranchising a section of the community that is less likely to have legitimate identification on them. A driver's license, a passport or a debit or credit card with the voter's photograph on it are among the forms of identification allowed under Metts' proposed bill. Read More


Struggling States May Cancel Or Delay Primaries : NPR

In these tough times, even how we nominate presidents is facing the threat of the budget ax. Lawmakers and elections officials in at least six cash-strapped states are hoping to move or replace their stand-alone 2012 presidential primaries, sacrificing some influence over who wins the nominations in favor of saving millions of dollars. The moves to either delay primaries by several months or hand over the nominating process to party-run caucuses comes as Republican and Democratic parties implement new rules to limit the number of states voting before March 1. The last election cycle saw states move up their contests to get more say in a process that, ironically, ended up lasting months longer than anyone expected. The 2012 cycle looks different, but not because the electoral map has changed significantly or because the nominating competition is likely to be on one side of the aisle. States are facing billion-dollar deficits, and legislators are trying to cut budgets. Read More

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