Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Voting Rights Settlement in NM, Voter ID debate in WI, NE, IRV on ballotin CO

CO: Voters to weigh in on ranked voting | coloradoan.com | The Coloradoan

A question on the April 5 municipal ballot asks whether the city should change its long-standing system for conducting City Council elections - as in whoever gets the most votes wins - to the process known as ranked voting, or instant-runoff election. In races for posts such as for mayor with three or more candidates, ranked voting would allow voters to list their preferences for candidates in order - as in one, two and three. When the votes are tallied, if a candidate receives the majority of first-place votes, the contest is decided. If no candidate has a majority, the ballots are recounted with votes for the last-place candidate reassigned to the remaining candidates based on who was listed as those voters' second choice.The recounts, or runoffs, continue until a candidate receives a clear majority of votes. Throughout the counting process, the principle of one person, one vote is maintained. Read More

NE: Opponents say voter ID bill could disenfranchise voters and cost state money - The Journal Star

In the mind of Fremont Sen. Charlie Janssen, his proposal to require people to show photo IDs when they vote is a way to head off voter fraud and ensure Nebraska uses the "best practices" when holding elections. But opponents of the measure (LB239) say it would disenfranchise some voters -- particularly the poor, the elderly and minorities -- who do not have driver's licenses by making them pay the $26.50 the state charges to issue a photo ID. They say requiring people to buy a state ID in order to vote would amount to an illegal "poll tax." Poll taxes came into being, particularly in southern states, in the 1800s after enactment of the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution gave blacks the right to vote. The U.S. Supreme Court eventually struck down the practice. Read More

NM: Federal judge approves NM voting rights settlement - KWES NewsWest 9

A federal judge has approved a consent order aimed at ensuring New Mexicans have a chance to register to vote at public assistance offices. The consent order outlines procedures state Human Services Department officials must follow to offer voter registration forms to people applying for public assistance benefits. The order was approved last week. A coalition of voting rights groups sued in July 2009 over compliance with the National Voter Registration Act, which lets people register to vote at various state agencies. Read More

NY: Cuomo signs bill to let villages continue to use old lever voting machines | The Ithaca Journal

Villages that run their own elections can continue to use mechanical-lever voting machines until the end of next year, under legislation signed Monday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Villages asked for more time to switch over to the state's new voting system of paper ballots and optical scanners. The new equipment was in use statewide for the first time last year. Some villages that run their own elections faced obstacles switching to the new technology. Read More

OH: Secretary of State Wants to Shorten Period for Mail-In and In-Person Early Voting | Cleveland Leader

The convenience of mail-in ballots is what helped Barack Obama carry Ohio in the 2008 presidential election. Now, Ohio's new Republican Secretary of State, Jon Husted, is gunning to reduce the period of time that Ohio voters have to vote by mail. Husted also wants to introduce online voter registration. He calls these reforms "modest but important", and wants them in place before the November 2012 election. Specifically, he'd like the legislation passed by June so that they can do a few "dry runs" in 2012. Read More

OR: Online Voter Registration Celebrates First Anniversary - OPB News

One year ago Tuesday Oregon became the fourth state to offer voters the choice of registering via computer. There have been no prosecutions for online registration fraud since then -- and about 87,000 Oregonians have used the system. The online registration system cost the state about $200,000 with a promise from Secretary of State Kate Brown that it would provide a cheaper, more secure and more accurate way of reaching voters -- particularly housebound and elderly folk. She says the promise has been kept. Kate Brown: "The online registration saves time. It saves taxpayer dollars. We think it cost less than a $1 per transaction. So it's a huge costs savings for Oregonians." Read More

WI: Commentary: Wisconsin photo ID: Fraud prevention or vote suppression? | Sheboygan Press

Senate Bill 6 — legislation that would completely transform Wisconsin from one of the easiest states in the country in which to cast a ballot to one of the most difficult — is apparently on a "fast track" toward consideration and passage in the Wisconsin Legislature and enactment into law. Lawmakers ought to take a "deep breath" and very carefully consider the implications and ramifications of requiring all voters to show a state-issued photo identification card at the polls before they can cast their ballot. Senate Bill 6 ought to be sidetracked and examined carefully before Wisconsin adopts a law that many of its citizens will grow to greatly resent and regret.Proponents of Senate Bill 6 have stated repeatedly the objective of this measure is to prevent voter fraud — and to stop citizens from voting who are not who they say they are or who have lost the right to vote. But Senate Bill 6 is, undeniably, onerous and burdensome and would most certainly have the effect of decreasing voter turnout and participation in Wisconsin — which currently and historically has been among those states with the highest voter turnout and participation in the nation. Read More


Australia: Valid votes rejected in 2010 election | Herald Sun

More than 12,000 apparently valid provisional votes were rejected in last year's cliffhanger Federal Election because voters didn't provide evidence of identity in time, the Government says. These were among more than 28,000 such votes that were excluded because of identity doubts, Special Minister of State Gary Gray told Parliament today. Mr Gray was introducing a bill that would repeal the requirement - put in place in 2006 by the Howard government - that provisional voters must provide the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) with evidence of identity by the Friday following the poll. Provisional votes are cast when there is doubt about voters' eligibility. That's often because their names aren't on the certified list or a mark indicates they've already voted. Read More

Turkey: Prime Minister on decision against Turkish expats’ right to vote

Commenting on a recent ruling by the Supreme Election Board (YSK) that blocked the possibility of Turkish citizens residing abroad from voting at embassies or consulates in their countries of residence, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said it is a decision that runs against the right of Turkish expatriates to vote. Stating that he expects strong support from the media on the issue, Erdoğan said the YSK made its decision on Sunday, when he was discussing the issue with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said there is no problem on Germany’s part. “The YSK made that decision while I was discussing the issue there. Are you sabotaging me? The YSK openly violates our expatriates right to vote,” he complained as he lashed out at the YSK. The prime minister said they would continue to look for a solution to the issue. On Sunday the YSK announced that Turkish expatriates can only vote in the upcoming general elections, scheduled for June 12, at customs gates, upsetting Turks in many countries. Turkey has about 2.5 million eligible voters residing abroad. However, only about 10 percent of them make the effort to go to the border to cast their vote. The YSK says it cannot allow electronic voting at Turkish missions abroad yet because the infrastructure for it is not in place. When asked whether the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) took an initiative to enable Turkish expatriates voting in the elections with the hope of garnering more votes, Erdoğan said no one can guess how the people will vote at the ballot box, adding that what the AK Party wants is to only enable these people to cast their votes. Read More

UK: Voting reform will not cause more cuts, Treasury insists - UK Politics, UK - The Independent

A fresh round of painful spending cuts will not be triggered by a change to the voting system, the Treasury has insisted in a leaked letter, which threatens to undermine claims made by opponents of electoral reform, including David Cameron. First-past-the-post supporters have been accused of "shameful scaremongering" over claims that adopting the Alternative Vote system would cost £250m – including a disputed £130m on counting machines – and undermine frontline services. Controversial advertisements depicting a soldier and a sick baby needing better equipment and care and "not an alternative voting system" were promoted online and in a regional newspaper. But Danny Alexander, the Lib Dem Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has denied the claims that a move to AV, under which voters rank candidates in order of preference, would force Whitehall departments to make more painful savings. In a letter from his private office, Mr Alexander insists: "The Government has no plans to reopen departmental spending review settlements as a consequence of a Yes vote in the referendum on AV." Read More

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