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The Voting News for August 11, 2011

The Voting News for August 11, 2011

Mississippi: Creating a Spectacle — ballot mess causes mob-like atmosphere | Jackson Free Press

At 7:05 a.m. Aug. 2, Republican Executive Committee Chairman Pete Perry received an urgent call from a poll worker at the Wynndale Precinct in Terry. The poll worker told him that candidates' names for certain races were not appearing on some of the electronic voting machines, and he needed more paper ballots quickly.

This was the first sign that something was awry in the Hinds County election process. Gay Polk, candidate for Democratic state representative of District 73, also received phone calls from supporters saying they could not find her name on the paper ballots or on voting machines.

Perry says that a technician must determine the cause of the computer glitches. But handing voters the wrong ballots isn't uncommon at split precincts like Wynndale. A split precinct is where two different legislators represent its residents. Poll workers must verify the voter's precinct, and make sure the machine displays the correct ballot or give the voter a correct paper ballot.

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Florida: New election law approved – except for most controversial portions | OrlandoSentinel.com

Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning announced Tuesday that the Obama administration had cleared 76 changes to state election law that the GOP-led Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott approved earlier this year.

But the "pre-clearance" from the U.S. Department of Justice doesn't cover the four most controversial parts of the law. Last month, Browning asked a federal court in Washington D.C. to approve those changes, saying he didn't think they'd get a "fair hearing" from Justice. The changes include reducing the number of days voters will have for early voting and new restrictions on third-party voter registration groups.

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Massachusetts: Mansfield Selectman wants to put voter ID on ballot | The Sun Chronicle Online

Mansfield Selectman Olivier Kozlowski wants voters to make the same effort to prove their identity when they go to the polls as they do at the airport or the checkout line. The attorney and first-term selectman has filed a statewide ballot initiative that would require every Massachusetts voter to bring government-issued photo identification with them when they head to the polls.

"In this day and age, you look at everything you need to show an ID for - everything from renting a car to getting on a plane," Kozlowski said Wednesday. "We as a society have become accustomed to that. And something as important as voting, you have a right to say: 'Are you really the person you claim to be?'"

Considered a common-sense precaution against fraud by supporters and an attempt to suppress low-income and minority turnout by opponents, voter identification laws have been debated and approved in several states this year.

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Oklahoma: Costly city-run elections feared | Tulsa World

City councilors were told Tuesday that voter approval this fall of an initiative petition ballot question for nonpartisan races would be "extremely" costly for Tulsans because it would force the city to conduct some of the elections on its own. The nonprofit group Save Our Tulsa successfully petitioned to have voters decide Nov. 8 three questions that could make changes to the city's form of government.

A question addressing the nonpartisan races calls for both the primary and runoff races to be held during months in which, by state law, the Tulsa County Election Board does not hold elections, Assistant City Attorney Patrick Boulden said. "It is obviously in conflict with state law and would mean the city of Tulsa would have to conduct the election in September and the Election Board would not participate," he said.

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Colorado: Weld County awaits federal decision on providing bilingual voting materials | Greeley Tribune

As the 2011 election season nears, Weld County is among 16 counties in Colorado that are waiting to find out whether they will be required to provide election materials in Spanish in November. The U.S. Department of Justice will hand down the decision in the next month, and county clerks will have to comply with the guidelines under Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act.

The 1973 Voting Rights Act states that areas with large Latino, Asian, American Indian and Alaskan populations provide voting materials in languages spoken by these minorities. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, that requirement affects counties in which more than 5 percent of voting-age residents are members of a single minority language group, provided that group also has depressed literacy rates. This data is determined by the most recent census.

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South Carolina: Audit shows Richland, Colleton Counties had most 2010 ballot problems | TheState.com

State election officials have finished a county-by-county review of the November 2010 vote, concluding that Richland County was one of the biggest offenders in miscounting those general-election ballots.

The eight-month auditing process determined that “human error” was the culprit in mistakes made in “a number of counties” across South Carolina, said Chris Whitmire, assistant director of the S.C. Election Commission. The discrepancies would not have changed the outcome of any race or issue, Whitmire said.

Conducting the audit forced state officials to develop a new computer program that counties can use to identify specific problems in data collection from the touchscreen machines. The state has been using the machines for six years. “We think future elections are going to be better because of it,” Whitmire said.

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Northern Mariana Islands: Man’amko preview AutoMARK disability-friendly voting machine | Saipan Tribune

Congregates at the Aging Center will now be able to use the new voting machine of the Commonwealth Election Commission when casting their votes in next year's election. Executive director Robert A. Guerrero of the Election Commission, Raymond Diaz of the Council on Developmental Disabilities, and Thomas J. Camacho of the Disability Policy & Programs Office were at the center yesterday to conduct a presentation on how to use the AutoMARK accessible voting machine.

“The new voting machine is going to be available in the next election,” Diaz told his audience composed of about 60 man'amko and 20 caregivers of the center's homebound clients. Diaz said the machine allows voters who have disabilities to cast their votes using any part of their body instead of the traditional way of voting by pen and paper.

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Afghanistan: Karzai Annuls Afghan Court Reviewing 2010 Polls | NYTimes.com

In a startling reversal on Wednesday, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan annulled a special court that he had set up to review the results of the 2010 parliamentary elections.

The decision, which came after months of pressure from Western diplomats, reaffirms the authority of Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission, which finalized the results of the election last November only to have its authority undermined by the creation of the special court. It was also an acknowledgement that President Karzai’s effort to change the makeup of the new parliament through the court was hurting his administration more than helping it.

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Afghanistan: Afghan president: Courts cannot change election

Afghanistan's president issued a decree Wednesday stating that the country's courts do not have the power to alter election results, appearing to bow to pressure to resolve an impasse over the parliament's legitimacy that threatened to create a constitutional crisis.

The Afghan parliament has been in limbo after a special court in June called for the removal of 62 sitting lawmakers, saying they won their seats through fraud. The dispute hamstrung the country's already tumultuous political system, with the courts, the president and legislature all claiming the right to make the final ruling about last year's messy elections.

Afghanistan's September 2010 ballot was plagued by irregularities and voter intimidation. Fraud monitors discarded 1.3 million ballots — nearly a quarter of the total — for fraud, and disqualified 19 winning candidates for cheating.

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India: Maharashtra governor calls for online voting | Mumbai DNA

The state governor, K Sankaranarayanan, has advocated major electoral reforms in the form of introduction of online voting system in elections. He was speaking at the launch of the official website of the state election commission at Yashwantrao Chavan Academy of Development Administration (Yashada), in Pune on Tuesday.

“If we can have online banking, why can’t we have online voting?’’ he asked, making a strong plea for the educated to be involved in the process of elections and the political system at large. “There is a general feeling that the political process is too corrupt to be involved in. It is wrong to blame politicians for all ills in society,’’ he said.

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Ghana: Biometric voter registrarion without verification is a meaningless exercise | Ghana Online

Ghana is almost certainly gearing towards a revision of our voters’ registration and the Electoral Commission has been mandated and resourced to introduce biometric registration in the last quarter of the year. The fact that our current voters’ register has outlived its usefulness is well known and agreed upon by many political analysts. The fact also that the government has allocated GHS50 million to the Electoral Commission to implement biometric registration is equally known.

What is however uncertain is the kind of biometric technology the Electoral Commission is going to deploy and whether the biometric register that will be created will be able to stop multiple voting. Biometric verification is any means by which a person can be uniquely identified by the evaluation of a biological trait such as fingerprints, hand geometry, earlobe geometry, retina and iris patterns, voice waves, DNA or signatures.

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Ireland: Sinn Féin urges presidential voting rights for North | The Irish Times

Sinn Féin has called for voting rights in the presidential election to be extended to Irish citizens in Northern Ireland. In a protest outside Leinster House yesterday, members of Ógra Shinn Féin wore the county jerseys of Antrim, Armagh, Derry, Down, Fermanagh and Tyrone with a gag covering their mouths to indicate the lack of voting rights for those in the North.

The party is expected to introduce a Private Members’ motion in the Dáil in the autumn on the issue. Sinn Féin education spokesman Seán Crowe said the extension of voting rights was “a natural outworking of the Good Friday agreement, which enshrines the rights of people in the North to Irish citizenship”.

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UAE: National Election Committee underlines broad participation in Federal National Council election | Khaleej Times

The National Election Committee (NEC) discussed the preparations of the Election Management Committee for the Federal National Council elections at the 7th committee meeting chaired by Dr Anwar Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Minister of State for Federal National Council Affairs and Chairman of the NEC.

The Committee discussed several aspects including the preparations for polling stations, the electronic voting system, and the registration of candidates to be held from August 14 to 17. Members of NEC, the Election Management Committee, chief editors of local newspapers and columnists attended the meeting.

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Philippines: Filipino declared senator after 4-year recount | Taiwan News Online

A Philippine candidate for Senate has been declared the winner of a contested seat more than four years after the election.

Aquilino Pimentel III had been locked in a recount battle since 2007, when he lost the mid-term senatorial race to rival Juan Miguel Zubiri. He filed a fraud protest after the results, citing witness statements that fake ballots were used to favor allies of then-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

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