Friday, July 31, 2009

7/31 Voting News.Aspen election audit battle continues, Voting Rights Act underutilized, Absentee ballot tracking bill passes House

The US House passed a bill that authorizes reimbursements to States that offer absentee ballot tracking services. Aspen Colorado activists hoping to audit a recent electon are still fighting for access to ballots after the city attorney said the ballots were not public information. In North Carolina, lawmakers consider a bill to allow teens to pre-register to vote. The city of Irving Texas is being sued based on claim that at-large districts diluted Latino residents' voting power. The American Constitution Society Blog reminds us that fully enforcing the National Voter Registration Act "remains an underutilized but powerful tool for the expansion of our democracy." Project Vote, a powerful voter's rights organization has temporarily suspended their daily news clippings, but you can still get regular updates at their blog Voting Matters. Online Voter Registration is the buzz now, can we secure it, and who does it help? Is it enough? Don't forget, you can visit the Voting News blog online to post comments.

CO. Aspen: Ballots are exempt from state open records law
July 31, 2009 Citizens seeking to conduct an independent review of Aspen's last municipal election have run into a road block at city hall, where officials are refusing to release key documents into the public domain.

Democrat election buff Harvie Branscomb has teamed up with former Republican Aspen mayoral candidate Marilyn Marks to analyze the voting methods and software in the city's last election, including the use of instant runoff voting. To audit the vote, Branscomb's team needs copies of April's ballots plus data generated by vote-counting machines, which the City Council asserts aren't public records under state law.

NC. Teens could get jump on voting, Also,public hearings before IRV considered.
07/30/09 One impending change approved by the panel would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to "pre-register" to vote.

The teens' registration wouldn't take effect until they turn 18, at which point the state would mail them a postcard verifying their information. If they send in confirmation, they would be registered.

-It (the bill) requires counties and cities that want to do instant runoff voting - as only Cary and Hendersonville have done - to hold a public hearing first.

TX Irving voting case plaintiff seeks almost $600,000
July 30, 2009 The attorneys for Manuel Benavidez successfully sued the city of Irving to change how its voters elect city officials. They had alleged the city's at-large voting system diluted Latino residents' voting power.

US. House acts to improve absentee ballot tracking
(AP) WASHINGTON — The government would help states track absentee ballots and verify to voters that their votes are actually received and counted under legislation that passed the House on Thursday.

The bill, passed by voice vote, directs the Election Assistance Commission to reimburse states for costs related to establishing absentee ballot tracking programs for federal elections. It does not require states to set up such systems.

US. Voter Registration Made Simple? American Constitution Society Blog on July 29.
As the debate swirls around “universal registration,” “automatic registration,” “internet registration,” and many other ambitious proposals, we would do well to remember that the NVRA remains an underutilized but powerful tool for the expansion of our democracy

Online Voter Registration Reaches Some Citizens, but Won’t Close the Electoral Gap
By: Erin Ferns- Project Vote. Thursday 30. of July 2009
...Using Nielsan and Census data, the report examines the limitations – and benefits – of online voter registration by describing the U.S. households that do not have internet access and comparing the findings to voter registration rates in those households based on race/ethnicity, age, educational attainment, and income. “In most cases, the demographic groups that are already less likely to be registered are also the least likely to have internet access in the home,”
...may open doors for one group that is notoriously plagued with voter access and participation issues: Youth.

US. An Outpouring of Support for Voter Registration Modernization
US. Citizens United, Stare Decisis, and Democracy
July 31, 2009 Robert M. Duncan/Jones Day Designated Professor of Law; Director, Election Law @ Moritz. Moritz College of Law ...the brief warns that, if Austin or McConnell is overruled, the impression may be that the mere change in membership on the Court—rather than any other development—is what caused the overruling.

Supplemental Amicus Briefs in Citizens United; Thoughts on BCRA Sponsors' Brief

U.S. Supreme Court Receives at Least 33 Amici Curiae Briefs in Citizens United Case July 31st, 2009

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