The Voting News for August 15, 2011
The Voting News for August 15, 2011
Local Democrats are up in arms about a controversial voter ID bill that would exclude veterans' identification cards from the short list of photo IDs required to cast a vote in Texas. Ann McGeehan, director of the Secretary of State's elections division, said last week at a seminar in Austin that photo ID cards issued by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs are not acceptable forms of military ID to vote, according to a recording provided by the Texas Democratic Party. Jordy Keith, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state, backpedaled Friday on that determination.
“It was an informal Q&A, and (McGeehan) was answering based on what was expressly called out in Senate Bill 14,” Keith said. “Right now our office has not issued a final determination on that.”
Passed after Gov. Rick Perry declared voter ID an emergency issue in the last session, the strict bill is touted by Republicans as a way to reduce voter fraud but decried by Democrats as an effort to lower voter turnout among minorities and the elderly, disabled and poor.
An audit of electronic voting records by South Carolina election officials did not include local files, Orangeburg County Voter Registration Director Howard Jackson says. "The state sent our office a software program to extract data from the (November 2010) general election," Jackson said. "When we installed it, it crashed the whole computer system.
"We now have a new system in place but that data is gone. We usually catalog and save data soon after an election but we ran into problems involving the special election for (Orangeburg County) sheriff."
Following the November 2010 election, the Election Commission determined several counties certified inaccurate election results. As a result, it conducted audits of all 46 counties' results beginning in January. Federal law mandates voting records must be stored for 22 months. Jackson said he provided state officials with paper tapes taken from the voting machines used in each precinct in the election.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s proposal to move up the date when Kansans must show proof of citizenship to register to vote is not getting good reviews from the people who run elections.
“If you rush implementation of a policy, you have a stronger chance of mistakes,” said Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew. He said voting is a constitutional right, “so you don’t want to make a decision on the fly about who gets to participate and who doesn’t get to participate.”
Sara Peeters waited at the First United Presbyterian Church in De Pere for an hour to register and vote in Tuesday's recall election. It didn't deter her from casting a ballot — "I came here for a reason," she said — but that doesn't mean it wasn't an inconvenience.
"It's not an efficient system," Peeters said. "I work in a pharmacy. No one would put up with that in a pharmacy."
Lines at several precincts in the region topped an hour in Tuesday's high-turnout races, a dry run for clerks and poll workers to test some of the new voting laws the Republican-led Legislature recently approved. Voters had to sign a poll book and were asked to show a form of identification, although the latter wasn't required.
California voters will engage in a new election process next year that does away with traditional political party nominations and replaces them with primaries that could result in two candidates from the same party squaring off in the general election. In the so-called top-two primary election in June, state and congressional candidates of all parties will appear on the same ballot, allowing all voters to choose nominees without partisan constraints.
The new election system, approved by voters last November, will go into effect after the once-a-decade redrawing of political districts was done for the first time by an independent citizens commission, rather than the politicians themselves.
Proponents say the top-two primary, along with the new districts, will spur competition, help guard against spoiler candidates and potentially lead to more moderate lawmakers being elected. They further hope a new dynamic will emerge to lessen partisan rancor. But critics contend the new primary will limit choice, drive up the cost of campaigning and spell the end of third-party candidates.
In a frenzied but semi-functional reconvened meeting of the V.I. Joint Board of Elections on Wednesday, the board reappointed the current supervisor of elections and took some long-awaited, though slightly retroactive, steps toward election reform. The meeting, which was recessed while in executive session on July 12, reconvened about 9:45 a.m., still in executive session for the purpose of discussing the position of supervisor of the V.I. Election System.
Within an hour, the board re-opened to the public, and St. Croix member Dodson James reported that they had discussed the findings of the Screening Committee, which recommended two names: current Elections Supervisor John Abramson Jr. and James Weber III.
The United Nations is quietly pushing a plan aimed at healing a rupture between President Hamid Karzai and the opposition-dominated parliament that threatens to ignite a full-blown constitutional crisis, two international officials said.
The proposal, however, risks inflaming the feud and triggering charges of foreign interference with the country's electoral commission, which is supposed to be independent but has had its credibility battered by two successive fraud-marred national elections.
The U.N. is pressing the commission to overturn for alleged fraud the results of 17 of last year's 249 races for parliament's lower house, the officials said on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. The number is far fewer than the 62 contests that Karzai wanted reversed, but stops short of granting opposition lawmakers' calls for no changes at all.
The Angolan vice-minister of Territory Administration for Institutional and Electoral Affairs, Adão de Almeida, Saturday in Luanda appealed to all citizens to participate in raising civic awareness on the electoral register update.
“Electoral register is a commitment with peace and democracy, therefore everyone who likes peace must participate in the process. We are all devoted to consolidating peace and promoting the development of democracy in Angola,” said the Government official.
Armenian's Central Election Commission (CEC) has launched an open voting to elect members to district electoral committees, Tert.am reported.
The voting session attended by reporters comes to mark the 50th day of adopting amendments to the Electoral Code. And even though today is not a working day in Armenia, the voting was held extraordinarily since the law mandates that district electoral committees be set up upon the expiry of the above time limit.
More than 31 million voters have registered for the forthcoming general election scheduled for November in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This represents a significant increase compared to about 25,6 million that registered for the last election held in 2006.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (Ceni) has said it is happy with the way the electoral process is progressing, adding that the response from voters had been overwhelming. “It is more than we expected,” Ceni chairperson Daniel Ngoy Mulunda said at a Press conference following the completion of the first phase of the updating of the electoral roll. He said overwhelming response is a positive sign that people are willing to participate in national development.
Only about half of potential voters in Tunisia have registered to cast their ballot in October polls, the first since the January ouster of president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, early figures showed Sunday. Just over 3.7 million of an estimated seven million potential voters had added their names to the roll, a member of the independent election commission, Larbi Chouikha, told AFP ahead of the close of registration at midnight (2300 GMT).
The provisional figure, which does not include an estimated 700,000 to 800,000 Tunisians of voting age abroad, represented about 52 percent of potential voters still in the country. The commission will release official figures on Tuesday. Registration opened on July 11 and was supposed to close on August 2, but was prolonged due to a slow turnout.