Thursday, April 28, 2011

And the Recount Begins

WI: And the recount begins | ThirdCoast Digest

If you’re expecting to see images reminiscent of Florida 2000, you’re out of luck. The first day of the Wisconsin Supreme Count election recount began and ended quietly in Milwaukee County with no protesters, a few citizen observers and about 50 Kloppenburg and Prosser operatives. No hanging chads – just election canvassers sorting through the paper scan sheets each voter filled out on April 5, putting them into piles designated for Justice David Prosser or Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg. An occasional question as to the marking of an arrow on the ballot brought over county election commission officials, who listened to polite challenges from the observers. Only one magnifying glass was noticed on a table next to a Kloppenburg worker. Milwaukee County is holding its recount at the county’s sports complex in Franklin. The 55,000 square foot building is large enough to hold canvassers from the 19 municipalities, but that isn’t the practice being used. Instead, Wednesday started with the cities of Milwaukee and West Allis and the village of Shorewood counting ballots. As municipalities finish their counts, others will arrive. A pair of canvassers - one Republican and one Democratic – seated at 30 tables began counting Wednesday morning. Each pair is responsible for a single ward through the entire recount process; when complete they are given a new ward to count. The ballots are secured in large bins and guarded by Milwaukee County Sheriff’s deputies. Each ward’s ballots are enclosed in a rip-resistant plastic bag and sealed with zip ties. An election commission official verifies the ward number with paperwork supplied by the Government Accountability Board, then breaks the seal on the bag. Milwaukee County is completing a hand recount, since most of the municipalities use older vote scanning machines. These machines would require their existing memory cartridges to be erased in order to re-run the ballots — thus destroying an original record of the count from election night. Since the original election counts must be preserved during a recount and the machines are unable to save those counts, a Dane County judge ordered and the candidates agreed to the hand count process. Votes that were cast on the electronic screen voting machines will also be hand recounted. The machine keeps a paper record of each vote, which will be recounted in the same manner as the regular ballots. Read More

AZ: Ruling on Arizona voter law to be reconsidered -

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has agreed to reconsider its decision to strike down Arizona's requirement that residents provide proof of citizenship when they register to vote. A three-judge panel of the Appeals Court ruled in October that the National Voter Registration Act pre-empts Arizona's Proposition 200, which was passed by voters in 2004 and requires residents to show proof of citizenship when registering to vote and voters to show proof of identity at the polls on Election Day. On Wednesday, the court agreed to rehear the case "en banc" before an 11-judge panel of the court. A hearing date has not been scheduled. "The previous decision by the 9th Circuit was an outrage, and I thought was a slap in the face to Arizonans who are concerned about the integrity of our elections," Secretary of State Ken Bennett, who oversees the state's elections, said in a statement. "Opposition to the simple act of providing proof that you are legally eligible to participate in our elections is incomprehensible." Read More

AZ: Appeals court to hear Arizona voter ID case - YumaSun

State officials will get another chance to argue they have a legal right to require would-be voters to prove they are citizens. In a brief order Wednesday, the full 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to a request by attorneys for Arizona to reconsider a 2010 ruling by a three-judge panel that the requirement, mandated by voters in 2004, runs afoul of the federal National Voter Registration Act. That law spells out what states can and cannot require for someone to vote in federal elections.
Secretary of State Ken Bennett said he's pleased with the decision. He thinks there is a good chance that a full 11-judge panel would reach a different conclusion. Bennett pointed out that a different three-judge panel, looking at the exact same issue in 2007, came to the exact opposite conclusion. And he pointed out that the dissent in last year's ruling was written by Alex Kozinski, the chief judge of the court. But Nina Perales, attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, said she sees the decision by the full court to revisit the issue as good news. She said it provides the opportunity for the full court to issue a definitive ruling to reconcile the two conflicting ones. And Perales said she remains convinced that the full court will find the more recent decision -- the one that went in her favor -- persuasive. Whatever happens at the hearing later this year is unlikely to be the final word: Whoever loses will seek review by the U.S. Supreme Court. Read More

GA: Advisory panel hears calls to open up election system -

Georgia's election law should be changed to allow more third-party candidates, voting machines with paper records and vetting of presidential hopefuls, according to witnesses who spoke at Wednesday's initial meeting of the Georgia Election Advisory Council. Secretary of State Brian Kemp, whose office oversees elections, conceived the council and appointed its 15 members. When he first announced it, Kemp said its goal is to find ways to save money and improve efficiency. The 19 witnesses who testified said they are looking for more substantive changes. "A lot of these things are going to depend on the will of the legislature," Kemp said. Ray Boyd, a real estate developer who tried to run for governor last year as a Republican and then as an independent, dismissed the whole commission as a sham designed for appearances rather than action. Read More

IN: Democrats Will Gain Secretary of State's Office If White Is Disqualified - 93.1 WIBC Indianapolis

Republicans are backing off a proposal to ensure Governor Daniels picks the next Secretary of State if Charlie White is forced from office. White is facing seven felony counts linked to his use of his ex-wife's address on his voter registration. Daniels already gets to replace White if he resigns or is convicted of a felony. But Democrats are arguing White's flawed registration makes him ineligible to have run in the first place. If the Indiana Recount Commission agrees, current law would make Democratic nominee Vop Osili the winner by default. The Senate had voted to give Daniels the appointment power across the board. But Noblesville Representative Kathy Richardson says she's uncomfortable with intervening in a pending court case. She's rewritten that clause to apply only to future statewide elections, not to White. The bill still faces further negotiations over other provisions, but Democratic Senator Tim Lanane says he's satisfied with that solution to the White issue. The bill still would eliminate the possibility of Republicans losing their major-party status if White is disqualified. Read More

IN: Russian visitor sees vote centers - Palladium-Item

A voting concept that has roots in Wayne County is getting an international upgrade as part of a legislative fellows program that brought a Russian man to Indiana this month. Leonid Volkov was in Richmond on Wednesday meeting with Wayne County Clerk Jo Ann Stewart to discuss vote centers. Wayne, Tippecanoe and Cass counties were all trial counties for vote centers in Indiana, and all three saw favorable results from the project, prompting the Indiana General Assembly and Gov. Mitch Daniels to sign into law a bill that gives all Indiana counties the option of using vote centers.Volkov, a native of Ekaterinburg, Russia, is one of 33 individuals from Russia, Georgia and Ukraine visiting the U.S. this spring as part of a legislative fellows program. As part of his program, he visited all three counties and sat down with election officials to gather information as he prepares to help the state create a set of guidelines for counties to use as they prepare to implement the centers. Read More

MN: GOP proposing amendments to avert possible veto on legislation -

Republicans who newly control the Legislature appear to be adopting a fresh strategy for putting a GOP stamp on high-profile Minnesota policies: Offering constitutional amendments that DFL Gov. Mark Dayton can't stop. On Tuesday it was same-sex marriage. On Wednesday, Republicans hauled out a proposal to put voter identification on the 2012 ballot. Republican activists -- and the lawmakers they sent to St. Paul -- heartily support both moves. They know the ballot measures could drive Republicans to the polls in 2012, when the GOP legislative majority will be up for grabs and the presidency will top the ticket. "The voters very strongly want this," Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, said of the voter identification measure she proposed on Wednesday. DFLers called the moves a distraction from the real work of the session -- balancing a state budget with a $5 billion hole. Read More

NV: Secretary of State Miller still reviewing special election process - Reno Gazette-Journal

Democratic Secretary of State Ross Miller said he was going to meet with Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval on the special election process today and that no date for the election had been set. Miller said Wednesday that he has not yet issued an interpretation of the law for holding a special election for a replacement for U.S. Rep. Dean Heller, R-Carson City, a spokeswoman said. “He is in the process of reviewing all available information,” said Pam duPre, spokeswoman for the Secretary of State’s office. “He is going to work closely with the governor and will announce how a special election will proceed once the governor announces the date of the special election.” Read More

WI: Hearing for controversial Voter ID bill draws younger audience - The Badger Herald

Despite the voter ID bill’s author’s statements to the contrary, the hearing held Wednesday on the controversial measure saw members of the voting public testify that requiring photo identification at the polls would disenfranchise many vulnerable citizens across Wisconsin. Rep. Jeff Stone, R-Greendale, testifying with Sen. Joe Leibham, R-Sheboygan, before the Assembly Elections Committee, said his bill would be a reasonable check to ensure the person obtaining a ballot on election today is really the person they claim to be. “The types of IDs mentioned are possessed by almost all the citizens of Wisconsin currently,” Stone said. “Those who do not possess this and are unable to obtain one because they are indigent … it will be provided for them under this legislation.” Leibham told the committee the Legislature is serious about passing the voter ID bill and said the public should begin planning for the change. Under Stone’s bill, voters would be required to show a Wisconsin driver’s license, state issued identification card, passport, naturalization certificate or identification from the uniformed services, like a military ID. Read More

WI: Dozens testify opposing Voter ID Bill - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI

Dozens turned out to the Capitol Wednesday to voice their concerns over legislation that would require voters to show ID at the polls. The Assembly Committee on Election and Campaign Reform held a public hearing on the issue. The committee took testimony for nearly six hours Wednesday. Republicans say requiring ID at the polls will ensure all voters are eligible Wisconsin residents, but Democrats are afraid the bill will keep people from voting. Analiese Eicher of Madison testified and asked the committee, "Please include student ID's. Every other state has them." Opponents of the Voter ID bill testified one after another some were clerks concerned the bill would increase their workload. Others told the Assembly committee they're afraid this legislation will disenfranchise voters. Andrea Kaminski, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of WI, says, "It closes some voters out of the process, and it does not improve elections." Read More


Bangladesh: Khaleda rejects idea of e-voting -

Electronic voting in parliamentary elections is completely unacceptable, says the BNP chairperson. "E-voting will not be accepted and a neutral Election Commission is a must," Khaleda Zia told a discussion with Mymensingh agriculture university teachers at the party's Gulshan office on Thursday. She demanded that next general elections be held under caretaker governments only to ensure free and fair polls. "There is autocracy in the country, no democracy." She complained that a neo-Baksal had taken over the country. "To overcome the situation, a mid-term general election is needed," she said. She alleged that the government was trying to go back to the Baksal-style rule through the constitution review. "The constitution review is just an eyewash." Khaleda said that this government was destroying the country and that they had failed in every aspect. Earlier on Mar 1, election commissioner Muhammad Sakhawat Hussain said that the commission had decided to go for e-voting in every constituency or to the extent possible in the next general election to ensure free and fair polls. Read More

UK: How both sides of the AV referendum campaign have got it wrong - Birmingham Post

Oh dear! It was supposed to be so very different. A referendum on a proportional alternative voting system for the House of Commons, promised the manifesto. Probably the one chance in my lifetime for ordinary voters to change fundamentally how we do politics in Britain. An informed public debate about genuinely differing ways of electing MPs, organising Parliament, and making policy. Instead, we have a bad-tempered, personality-dominated, celebrity-driven, seriously deceitful, voter-insulting slanging match. Whatever the outcome, we surely deserved better. And I do believe it might have been better, had that quoted manifesto pledge been honoured. It came, in fact, from New Labour in 1997, with the emphasis firmly on that word “proportional”. An independent commission would recommend a more proportional system than First-Past-the-Post (FPTP), and we would choose between the two in a referendum. The 1998 commission, chaired by Lord Jenkins, proposed a mixed system, similar to those that will be used on May 5 to elect the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly. It was called Alternative Vote Plus (AV+). Most MPs would still be elected from single-member constituencies, but by the Alternative Vote, enabling voters to rank candidates in order of preference. But the crucial Plus, that made Jenkins’ system entirely different from straight AV, was that voters would have a second vote, for a party – actually for a regional list of candidates selected by each party. About a sixth of MPs would be elected as ‘Top-up’ members from those lists, in a way that would correct some of the imbalance between votes and seats produced by both FPTP and AV. Read More

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