Friday, March 11, 2011

Turning Back the Clock in FL, Judge Sentenced to 26 Years in KY, Estonian E Voting Architect Defends System

CO: Saguache County Clerk Myers refuses Denver Post request - Center Post Dispatch

Saguache County Clerk Melinda Myers received a Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) request Tuesday from Denver Post reporter Sara Burnett asking her to produce the ballots cast in the Nov. 2 election. In a response e-mailed on Tuesday, Myers reportedly denied Burnett access to the ballots. Burnett wrote an article on the election last week that ran Feb. 27 on the front page of the Denver Post. Saturday, the Post ran an editorial that called the failure of he Secretary of State’s Office under Bernie Buescher to supervise the Nov. 2 Saguache election process in its entirety “a huge mistake,” adding that “voters deserve to know what happened” on election night last November.” Read More

CO: Editorial - Keep it simple by voting down instant runoffs | Northern Colorado Business Report

November's elections produced one clear majority: Voters fed up with political campaigns. So an alternative that promises positive electioneering and a clear mandate from the people seems attractive. But ranked choice or instant runoff voting, on the April 5 Fort Collins ballot, is not the answer. The underlying premise is that any election should produce a winner with 51 percent of the vote. Nations around the world operating under the parliamentary system, which requires collaboration among minority parties, would disagree, as would we. Read More

FL: Turning Back the Clock in Florida | Brennan Center for Justice

In less than an hour yesterday, Florida Governor Rick Scott denied the right to vote to hundreds of thousands, maybe as many as a million, Florida citizens, turning back the clock decades and making Florida the most punitive state in the country when it comes to disenfranchising people with criminal convictions in their past. The Florida constitution denies the right to vote for life to anyone with a felony conviction, unless he is granted clemency by the governor. Essentially it gives the governor, an elected official, the power to decide who will (or won't) be allowed to vote in the next election. The new clemency rules not only roll back reforms passed by former Governor Charlie Crist, they are far more restrictive than those in place under former Governor Jeb Bush. Read More

FL: Editorial - A shameful setback on civil rights - St. Petersburg Times

Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi and the rest of the Florida Cabinet on Wednesday made a hash of civil rights restoration for nonviolent felons who are trying to put their lives back on track. How they did it — with little public notice or input — was also appalling. The immediate travesty is for those nonviolent released felons who will face long mandatory waiting periods before they can apply for restoration of their right to vote, sit on a jury, run for public office and qualify for certain occupational licenses. The move reverses progress Gov. Charlie Crist made in 2007 when he and two of three Cabinet members expedited the restoration process for nonviolent offenders who had completed their sentence and made restitution. The changes led to more than 150,000 restorations, although a nagging backlog of 100,000 remains. Crist's changes gave many felons, who are disproportionately African-American and tend to register as Democrats, the right to vote. The swift reversal by Scott and Bondi, who initiated it, came without a compelling public policy justification. Read More

IN: Not guilty plea entered for Indiana elections chief | The Courier-Journal

A Hamilton County court magistrate entered a not guilty plea Friday for Indiana's top elections official, who was indicted last week on seven felony counts including voter fraud. Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White told reporters before entering a suburban Indianapolis courtroom that he was “absolutely innocent” and repeated that he had no intention of resigning from the post he's held since January as Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels and others have called on him to do. “There's no reason to step down,” White said, his attorney at his side.He would have to resign if convicted. Read More

KS: Voter ID bill could be costly, opponents say | Wichita Eagle

A proposed voter ID bill could be costly for Kansas and would make it more difficult to register to vote, opponents said Thursday. House Bill 2067 would require voters to show a government-issued photo ID and give the secretary of state power to prosecute voter fraud. After winning approval in the House, it is being heard in the Senate Committee on Ethics and Elections. There would be far greater costs to prosecute election crimes than the bill provides, said Holly Weatherford, a program director for the American Civil Liberties Union. She said Missouri has spent $14 million over the past three years to prosecute crimes, and local governments have spent an additional $4 million. "It amounts to an unfunded mandate for the state," she said. Read More

KY: Alleged Ringleader In Clay County Corruption Case Sentenced To Over 26 Years In Prison |

A former Clay County circuit court judge described as the leader of a long running criminal enterprise that made millions of dollars and controlled politics in the county was sentenced Thursday to more than 26 years in prison by a federal judge. U.S. District Court Judge Danny C. Reeves sentenced Cletus Maricle, 67, to 320 months in prison for conspiring with other county officials in schemes that involved racketeering, money laundering and voter fraud. He was also sentenced for obstruction of justice. At the sentencing, Stephen Smith, a prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney's Office, said Maricle helped create a culture of lawlessness in the county that existed for three decades. Smith estimated that Maricle led a scheme that used $400,000 to bribe 8,000 voters during the course of the conspiracy. In addition, Smith added that 150 voters had their votes stolen. Read More

NM: Republicans' push for voter ID law stalls again - Silver City Sun-News

Republicans are down to their last gasp as they try to create a voter identification law in New Mexico. Their proposal stalled again Thursday and may be dead until 2013. A hearing during which the bill was to be considered started 45 minutes late, then was adjourned by the Democratic chairwoman before the voter identification proposal could be considered. "I am extremely disappointed," said the bill's sponsor, Rep. Cathrynn Brown, R-Carlsbad. "I believe there are those who want to make sure this bill never gets a fair chance." She said she had been ready to present the bill for two weeks. Brown's proposal would require government-issued photo identification to vote in person or by absentee ballot. It also would allow for expired driver's licenses to be used, a move she hopes would negate Democrats' complaints that older voters often lack photo identification. Read More

UT: Senate votes to allow centralized voting centers | The Salt Lake Tribune

The Senate gave final passage on Thursday to a bill that would allow Utah voters, if they choose, to cast ballots at a central location on Election Day rather than at their locally assigned polling places. It voted 24-0 to pass HB130, and sent it to Gov. Gary Herbert for his signature. It would permit people to go to “voting centers” close to businesses or central locations that would allow residents from anywhere in their county to more conveniently cast ballots. Read More


Backward March From Selma on Right to Vote: Michael Waldman - Bloomberg

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker sparked a ruckus, of course, by stripping public-sector workers of most collective-bargaining rights. More quietly, and with possibly equal ramifications, Republican lawmakers in Madison and other state capitals are trying to muscle through rules making it harder for millions of citizens to vote. Americans have always battled over the ballot. Since the republic was formed when only white men with property could vote, we have widened the circle of democracy, in fits and starts, to include blacks and women. Now, for the first time in a century we see a swift, seemingly coordinated drive to actually shrink voting rights. Consider the past two weeks of startling events. In Wisconsin, when Democratic senators fled, Walker, a Republican, tried to pass a new voting law. Under its terms, eligible citizens could vote only if they produced a government photo identification with a current address. Few of the state’s college students have such an ID. Lawmakers yanked the bill when it turned out to cost millions of dollars, mocking the idea that it would help balance the budget. No doubt it will return. Read More


Estonia: E-Voting Architect Stands by His Creation - ERR

Tarvi Martens, the father of Estonia's internet voting system, said he was not impressed by a software flaw discovered by a university student. Admitting that no system is perfect - and asserting that only insecurity, not security, can be proven - Martens sees no reason why the online voting system should not continue to be used. "Our attitude was to put it to work and then see whether there are security problems or not, having first very clearly acknowledged the kind of problems that may come up," Martens told University of Tartu student Paavo Pihelgas created a computer virus that could exploit a flaw he found in the internet voting system. He is now challenging the legitimacy of the parliamentary election on March 6 in the Supreme Court. The virus could hypothetically block votes given to the "wrong" candidate. "People can do whatever they want with their computers," said Martens. "If someone distributes a virus, it is a criminal act. In that case, we would have definitely tracked it down." Read More

India: EC proposes measures to make voting process easier - Hindustan Times

Soon, you would be able to cast your ballot at the click of a button. The State Election Commission has proposed certain measures, which if implemented, would make the entire voting process simpler, easier and much more convenient. The state election commissioner Neela Satyanarayana asked the commissioners of 23 municipal bodies, which are slated to go to the polls next year, to take up measures to make the entire voting process people-friendly. The measures suggested include making lists of voters and polling centers available online, providing one polling center for 1,000 people so that polling centres are not crowded, and equipping polling booths with basic amenities. “We are striving hard to make the poll process voter-friendly. These measures such as allotting only 1,000 voters per polling booth will help avoid undue rush. By keep the voting centres on the ground floor and making provisions of ramps will help physically challenged people from casting their ballot with ease,” said Satyanarayana. Read More

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