The Voting News for August 4, 2011
A day after some electronic voting machines malfunctioned in Hinds County, the mystery remains. "Everyone I've talked to is baffled," Hinds County Democratic Executive Committee Chairman Claude McInnis said Wednesday.
At Wynndale Presbyterian Church, the electronic ballot failed to include races for governor or lieutenant governor. The precinct switched to paper ballots that included all the races.
This is the first time McInnis said he has seen the problem with these machines. "On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd give the machines a 7.5 to 8," said McInnis, who also is executive vice chairman of the Mississippi Democratic Party. Hinds County's voting machines, which are about 10 years, are no longer manufactured. The company that made them, Advanced Voting Solutions, is out of business. Hinds County is the only county in Mississippi to use the system.
Several state recall votes are scheduled for the next couple weeks, but interest groups hoping to lock in votes now are sending out absentee applications to voters. Careless processing means some may never see a ballot. Only a voter's own city clerk can issue them an absentee ballot. The problem this summer is that parties and interest groups sending out the apps are sending some to the wrong cities.
"There's no indication on these applications, the ones that are not officially from the GAB, as to what municipality you belong to," said Amy Duley, clerk of the Town of Pine River near Merrill.
Duley is receiving absentee applications nearly every day. Some come on the official Wisconsin Government Accountability Board form, but others come on paperwork solicited by pro-life, pro-gun, and other interest groups. The problem is that the interest group processing centers are sending applications for cities like Merrill to Pine River.
Results of Tuesday’s Hinds County Democratic primary appeared to remain up in the air today after vote count problems left some candidates doubting final tallies.
“What the public needs to know is that there is no election at this point,” said Claude McInnis, vice chairman of the Hinds County Democratic Executive Committee. “All we have is numbers from precincts. Until the committee verifies the election, we don’t have one.”
McInnis and members of his committee were at the Hinds County Courthouse this morning, trying to untangle the problems. It could take the rest of this week and part of next week to finish work required to verify the election, he said.
If Gov. Rick Scott and his administration are so convinced that major changes to election laws indeed will eliminate voter fraud (or the potential of it) — not merely make voting difficult for minority and poor people — he’d seek an imprimatur of fairness from the federal Department of Justice.
What could be better proof than an OK from an agency perceived by his administration to be in thrall to the political opposition?
Instead, Gov. Scott’s appointed secretary of state, Kurt Browning, is making an end run around Justice and seeking “preclearance” on those changes from the federal district court in Washington. The 1965 Voting Rights Act provides for preclearance from Justice or from the federal court for changes in states and counties with a history of discrimination. Justice usually is the venue for preclearance, and Mr. Browning first applied to Justice.
Maine has taken a step backward on voters' rights. Along with five other concerned Mainers, I filed paperwork with the secretary of state to overturn legislation that eliminated Election Day voter registration.
For 38 years, Maine has allowed voters to show up on Election Day, register and then cast their ballots. It's a system that has worked remarkably well, helping Maine to become a national leader in voter participation.
The legislation changing that was developed and passed, based largely on myth. But I am convinced that Maine voters can discern fact from fiction and will support our efforts to restore Election Day voter registration. The League of Women Voters of Maine, which I represent, is a nonpartisan organization committed to protecting voting rights and the integrity of elections at the local, state and federal levels.
The types of problems experienced by voters at the polls Tuesday - machines not working, names missing from the ballots, lack of workers - are inexcusable. Mistakes happen and that seems to be the attitude of party officials in charge of the primary election. Well, no. They shouldn't happen, not with elections.
Finding out at 7 a.m. on Election Day that a voting machine is not working properly or there is a malfunction that can't be immediately fixed simply shows lack of preparation and ability to properly conduct an election. Not having enough poll workers or, worse, no poll workers to staff a precinct shows an inability to do the job.
The Allen County Election Board could not agree Wednesday to take over the duties and responsibilities of voter registration, so what happens next falls to the Allen County commissioners.
While two members of the board – Republican County Clerk Lisbeth Borgmann and Republican representative Zachary Klutz – said yes, Democratic member Andrew Boxberger voted no. Per state statute, the vote must be unanimous to become policy. Already dealing with massive budget cuts and facing a presidential election year in 2012, Boxberger said now is not the time for such a transition.
With Republicans around the country tightening voting regulations in a way that -- arguments over (typically exaggerated) fraud and suppression aside -- will likely advantage their party, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has stepped out of its usual legal lane to file a formal comment to the Department of Justice, urging him to object to Florida's new law.
The Department of Justice, under the Civil Rights Act, must "preclear" changes to voting laws, and Florida si the first to come its way.
Florida's Secretary of State's office is defending its decision to take the most contentious parts of a new election law to a federal court instead of to the U.S. Department of Justice. The law has to get federal approval, but there are questions about how the process should work.
The U.S. Voting Rights Act of 1965 requires any changes in Florida’s election laws to get "pre-clearance" from the federal government. That's because parts of the state have a history of suppressing minority voting.
Contrary to analysis heard on Wednesday's Morning Edition on WMFE, the Voting Rights Act does allow a jurisdiction to choose whether to seek that pre-clearance from the Justice Department or from a federal court.
Secretary of State Kris Kobach said Wednesday he will renew a push next year to move up the start date for new Kansas voter identification laws. Kobach said he would like to have people registering to vote for the first time in Kansas show proof of citizenship starting in March 2012, not January 2013 as the law now requires. He spoke before a meeting of a task force working on implementing the new law.
The secretary of state said the goal was to prevent any non-U.S. citizens from registering to vote in Kansas and spoiling the integrity of the state's elections. The sooner Kansas can begin verifying citizenship, the more secure the elections will be, he argues.
A bitter row over Iraq's election watchdog has strained the ruling coalition government of the prime minister, Nouri Al Maliki, underlining an acrimonious struggle to control the country.
In the aftermath of a parliamentary vote last week over dissolving the Independent High Electoral Commission (Ihec), critics and supporters of Mr Al Maliki have rounded on each other with allegations of deceit, corruption and sectarianism.
The argument centres on a proposal by the State of Law alliance, the group headed by the prime minister, to pass a vote of no confidence in Ihec over fraud claims. If approved, the measure would have effectively sacked the United Nations supported watchdog - the body in charge of ensuring fair and transparent elections in the country.
The Deputy leader of the main opposition Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM), Mark Brantley, has filed a petition in the courts here challenging his defeat in the July 11 Nevis island Administration (NIA) elections. Brantley lost the St. John’s Parish constituency by 14 votes to the incumbent Henry Daniel as the Nevis Reformation Party (NRF) regained control of the NIA winning three of the five seats that were at stake in the polls.
Brantley wants the Court to declare the elections void based on a number of irregularities, including the CCM's lack of access to state-owned media and the removal of over 200 previously registered voters from the voters list in contravention of the constitution. Prior to the election, the CCM said it was buoyed by the High Court ruling that the names of five persons be re-instated to the Voters’ List.
The Seychelles Electoral Commission Chairman, Hendrick Gappy, and three of its members - Bernard Elizabeth, Beatty Hoarau, and Marie-Thérèse Purvis - have been sworn into office at State House Tuesday morning, August 2. They took their Oath of Allegiance to the Constitution and their Oath of Office in the presence of the President of the Republic of Seychelles, Mr. James Michel.
The ceremony was attended by the Vice-President Danny Faure, the former Speaker of the National Assembly Dr. Patrick Herminie, the Chief Justice, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Frederick Egonda-Ntende, the President of the Court of Appeal Francis MacGregor, and the Attorney General Ronny Govinden. President Michel congratulated the chairman and members of the Electoral Commission on the start of their new functions, as the first constitutional body of its kind.