Friday, April 29, 2011

The Democracy Theater of Online Voting, Tennessee Needs Paper Ballots

CT: Online voting is risky and expensive | The Connecticut Mirror

Online voting is an appealing option to speed voting for military and overseas voters. Yet it is actually "Democracy Theater", providing an expensive, risky illusion of supporting our troops. Technologists warn of the unsolved technical challenges, while experience shows that the risks are tangible and pervasive. There are safer, less expensive solutions available. This year, the Government Administration and Elections Committee held hearings on a bill for online voting for military voters. Later they approved a "technical bill", S.B. 939. Tucked at the end was a paragraph requiring that the Secretary of the State "shall, within available appropriations, establish a method to allow for on-line voting by military personnel stationed out of state." In 2008, over thirty computer scientists, security experts and technicians signed the "Computer Technologists' Statement on Internet Voting," listing five unsolved technical challenges and concluding: "[W]e believe it is necessary to warn policymakers and the public that secure internet voting is a very hard technical problem, and that we should proceed with internet voting schemes only after thorough consideration of the technical and non-technical issues in doing so." Read More

AZ: Awaiting Governor's decision, Tucson's mail-in elections hang in the balance -

Governor Jan Brewer has a lot on her plate this week, more than 100 bills to get through over the next few days. One of those bills is SB 1331 and it could prohibit Tucson from having mail ballot elections. Just this month the Tucson City Council decided all voters would get mail-in ballots for the next two elections in August and November of 2011. Shortly afterwards, State Representative Ted Vogt, from Tucson, added something to that senate bill that could stop the city in its tracks. However the City is saying, 'not so fast.' "What was Tucson's rush? Why are they changing the rules of how Tucsonans vote four months before the election," State Representative Ted Vogt said. Vogt added an amendment to 1331 only allowing mail-in elections for cities, towns and school districts with non-partisan elections. On a Tucson ballot, candidates are identified by political party. Read More

CO: Myers, clerks association present briefs in Gessler case - Center Post Dispatch

In her trial brief released last week opposing the injunction filed by Sec. of State Scott Gessler, County Clerk Melinda Myers focuses on the merits of the case, insisting that the injunction cannot be granted until the merits are examined. The Clerk contends that issuance of a preliminary injunction which grants the Secretary's request to take control of the ballots and the ability to review the same is not appropriate as that it would change the status quo on a permanent basis. The Clerk contends that any injunctive relief should not be granted until a final determination on the merits of the case is rendered. Read More

ID: Idaho Mountain Express: GOP legislatures legalize voting barriers to Democrats

Today's Republicans would never try to reinvent something so crude as the outlawed "poll tax," which mostly Southern states used, along with literacy tests, well into the 20th century to block voting by blacks, poor whites and Native Americans. Removal of these barriers firmly established every citizen's right under the U.S. Constitution's equal protection clause and the beginning of widespread elections of minorities.
But wait. The modern GOP has come up with a new artifice: voter IDs to prevent citizens' showing up at the polls to commit fraud, even though voter fraud has never been a significant U.S. problem. The most widespread fraud has been by election officials' rigging ballots and voting machines and denying voters a chance to exercise their rights by moving polling places unannounced or closing them early. With large percentages of Democrat-voting low-income Americans, students and blacks without government-issued identification papers of any sort (21 million, according to the Brennan Center for Justice), the Republican laws are being branded the largest legislative effort to scale back voting rights in a century. Behind them is the business-financed American Legislative Exchange Council, which aims for slates of corporate-friendly, Republican elected state officials. Read More

IN: Judge won't halt Dems' challenge to White - The Indianapolis Star

A Marion County judge on Thursday denied Secretary of State Charlie White's request to halt a challenge by Democrats to his eligibility to hold office. The state Democratic Party claims White, who faces seven felony charges, including three of voter fraud, isn't eligible for office because he wasn't legally registered to vote when he declared his candidacy. White, a Republican, had asked the court to delay the challenge until the Hamilton County criminal case is resolved. But Marion Circuit Judge Louis Rosenberg said Thursday there's no guarantee that White's criminal trial will be held Aug. 8 as scheduled, so the civil challenge could be drawn out indefinitely if it hinged on the resolution of the criminal case. "The public interest is in resolving this matter," Rosenberg said, adding that uncertainty about White's eligibility is "impairing" the operation of his office. Read More

MN: Senate Republicans advance elections ID bill |

Hoping to boost what they view as flagging confidence in the state's election system, Senate Republicans approved a bill on Thursday that would require Minnesotans to present photo ID at the polls. The measure passed on a 37-26 party-line vote after two hours of debate. It would impose new identification requirements, eliminate vouching for most Election Day registrants and create new provisional ballots for voters whose eligibility is challenged. Minnesota law does not require voters to present ID to vote if they have already registered. Under the bill, people without an authorized ID could obtain a free voter identification card after proving their citizenship and providing a "photographic identity document." Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, the bill's sponsor, said the legislation would "bring integrity back to the state election system." DFL senators said the new provisions would create significant obstacles for seniors, blacks and college students -- groups less likely to have an authorized ID. "I believe [the bill] sets the state back," said Sen. Katie Sieben, DFL-Newport. "Sets the state back to the days of poll taxes and denying the right to vote to certain Minnesotans." The vote echoes similar efforts moving through GOP-controlled state legislatures across the country, with opponents characterizing the efforts as voter suppression. Nine states require voters to present photo ID to vote. Anticipating a possible veto from Gov. Mark Dayton, legislators have introduced a separate constitutional amendment proposal that would let voters decide the photo ID question in the 2012 election. Read More

MN: Voter photo ID bill unlikely to become law | St. Cloud Times

Minnesota voters would be required to show photo identification at the polls under a Republican bill the Senate passed Thursday on a party-line vote. But the photo ID bill — the subject of fierce partisan debates for the past five years — is unlikely to become law. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton last week said he, like Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Independence Party Gov. Jesse Ventura before him, would not sign any election-reform bill that doesn’t have bipartisan support. Democrats don’t support the photo ID legislation. Republicans, however, may try an end run around Dayton. Earlier this week, Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, proposed sending the photo ID issue directly to voters as a constitutional amendment on the 2012 ballot. Dayton couldn’t block that tactic. A simple majority of the Legislature can send a proposed amendment to voters without the governor’s approval. Read More

PA: Westmoreland County Pennsylvania buys more iVotronics - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Westmoreland County Election Bureau officials are trying to avoid a repeat of the long lines of voters who waited to cast ballots in the last presidential election. So the county has purchased 21 additional touch-screen computer voting machines to ease the crush of voters in the largest precincts. "In the larger elections, such as a presidential race, I feel we need more machines in some of our larger precincts," said bureau Director Jim Montini. The county has 306 precincts and some of the larger locations, such as Hempfield and Unity townships, and in Murrysville, have up to seven machines in place for voting. The additional machines will be used to alleviate waits in those precincts, Montini said. Read More

TN: Tennessee needs reliable paper ballots - The Tennessean

Now The Tennessean reports that this session of the state legislature may repeal the never-implemented Tennessee Voter Confidence Act (April 25). It was the fine work of an earlier session to give us this law. It is a reliable system of voting that requires the use of paper ballots for a possible real check on the accuracy of the electronic vote if and when it becomes necessary. This is quite impossible with the system that Tennessee has been using, which relies totally on electronic voting machines without paper ballots. These machines have been shown in many different places to be subject to large errors or even deliberate manipulation. There is no way to verify an election with these delicate machines. The present Tennessee law requiring a paper ballot record of every vote as counted by electronic counters was passed years ago. It had the strong support of most legislators, Republican and Democrat, but the law’s implementation has been deferred until the 2012 election. Some in this legislature are bent on repeal of the law, claiming that it will cost too much. But Tennessee for years has had money in the bank from the federal government which covers the full cost of the new equipment. Read More

WI: Editorial: Improve all aspects of voting process - Sheboygan Press

Instead of spending $2 million or more to implement a voter ID law in Wisconsin, the state should be spending that money on improving the overall voting process in the state. Lawmakers are getting ready to vote on a measure that would require everyone who wants to vote to show a valid identification card with a photo on it before he or she is given a ballot. The Republican sponsors of the measure, including Sen. Joe Leibham of Sheboygan, contend voter ID is necessary to ensure that fraudulent votes aren't cast. The bill's sponsors make these claims despite only a handful of voter fraud prosecutions in recent years. In order to pass constitutional muster and the ban on a poll tax, the measure provides for the issuance of free ID cards to those who don't already have an acceptable photo ID. The estimated cost of this provision is $2.7 million. The Government Accountability Board estimates another $2.1 million for computer upgrades and other costs to implement voter ID. These cost figures don't include the cost to local government to train poll workers and ensure there are enough people at the polling places when voter ID becomes law. Read More

WI: JoAnne Kloppenburg says anomalies were widespread during the state Supreme Court race - PolitiFact Wisconsin

Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate JoAnne Kloppenburg declared victory on election night when preliminary, unofficial returns put her 204 votes ahead of Justice David Prosser. Fifteen days later, she sought a statewide recount after the official county-by-county returns showed her trailing by more than 7,300 votes out of 1.5 million cast. In explaining her decision, Kloppenburg told reporters that a recount may not get her over the top, but would shine a light on "an election that right now seems to so many people to be suspect." She also went on the offensive, raising questions about the legitimacy of the vote count around the state. "There are legitimate and widespread anomalies," said Kloppenburg, a state Justice Department attorney, "and widespread questions about the conduct of this election, most visibly in Waukesha County, but also in counties around the state." The Waukesha County problems are well known: A vote-tallying glitch belatedly boosted Prosser’s total in the official count by almost 7,600. County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus, a Republican in a GOP stronghold, didn’t report her error for more than a day after the election. Given the outrage over the Waukesha incident, Kloppenburg seems on solid ground suggesting that there are "widespread questions" about the election. But are there "widespread anomalies" in the statewide count? Read More


Electionline Weekly: 2011 Legislative Update

With summer on the way, many state legislative sessions are beginning to wrap-up for the year with some already finished. It’s been a busy year for election administration legislation across the country with many pieces of legislation inspired by party changes in state houses. The following is a snapshot of what states have done so far and what is still on the books and needs to be approved before sessions end. Download the Electionline Weekly (pdf)

Thomas Bates: Why Photo ID Laws Are Not the Answer - Huffington Post

We hear it all the time: How can you be against making voters show a photo ID when they vote? You need an ID to do almost anything in today's society -- buying beer, driving a car, getting on an airplane, going to an R-rated movie -- so why shouldn't you have to show a government-issued photo ID to vote? It sure sounds like common sense, and it is a sentiment, coupled with the specter of voter fraud, that has driven more than 30 state legislatures this year to consider requiring limited forms of government-issued photo ID at the polls, prompting the Washington Post and New York Times to question why the country is fighting what is essentially a war on voting. The rub: Strict photo ID laws result in disenfranchisement, unnecessary costs, and unequal treatment of voters and simply are not a proportionate response to any legitimate concerns about potential voter fraud. What may seem like common sense is actually a real barrier for those who want to participate, and a significant expense to all of us. Our voting system badly needs to improve to meet 21st century standards. Yet here we are fighting to stop politicians from turning back the clock and making it harder for people to vote. It is distracting and disappointing to see proposed laws that use tomorrow's money to solve yesterday's alleged problems when real problems are staring us in the face. Let's put this issue to rest and move on to envisioning a real 21st century system. Read More

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