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The Voting News Weekly for August 8-14, 2011

The Voting News Weekly for August 8-14, 2011

Saguache Co. clerk ordered to turn over ballots | The Denver Post

A district court ruled that Saguache County clerk Melinda Myers must turn over ballots from 2010 election to the Colorado Secretary of State. In a related decision the same court threatened to hold Election Systems and Software in contempt for failing to appear for depositions retaed to their M650 central count tabulators and related software. Though charges of double voting against three Wake County North Carolina residents were quickly used in support of a voter ID bill recently vetoed by Governor Perdue, the law would not have stopped the voters from attempting to vote twice. Current law did, however. Post-election ballot counting in the Hinds County Mississippi primary election marred by voting machine malfunctions became chaotic. Florida's new election law received pre-clearance by the Department of Justice - except for its most controversial provisions. The Post and Courier gave an account of the obstacles faced by one South Carolina citizen in trying to obtain required identification to allow her to vote. And from the Verified Voting Blog, a plea to let the provisions of the Federal MOVE Act have a chance to work before considering the electronic return of voted ballots.

Aug 13, 2011 05:16 am

Saguache Co. clerk ordered to turn over ballots | The Denver Post

The Saguache County clerk must turn over ballots from the problem-plagued 2010 general election for inspection by the Colorado secretary of state, a district court judge ruled today.

“To prevent errors in future elections, the Secretary as a higher authority must be allowed (sic) review all aspects of a prior election to determine whether the clerks have complied with existing procedures,” Judge Martin Gonzales stated in a written order. “Otherwise, the errors may be repeated in future elections.”

Gonzales also said voted ballots “may be subjected to public inspection” as long as they do not disclose the voter’s identity. Secretary of State Scott Gessler sued Saguache County Clerk Melinda Myers earlier this year, after Myers refused to turn over ballots for a public review by Gessler’s office.

Myers, along with the state’s county clerk association, argued voted ballots are secret and that it is their duty to protect them. Myers said she would not turn over the records without a court order.

“This decision by Judge Gonzales affirms the public’s right to verify our elections in Colorado and stands as a victory for Saguache County voters,” Gessler said. “Improving voter confidence starts with an open and accountable system that preserves voter privacy. The ruling today reiterates these hallmarks of Colorado elections.”

Richard Coolidge, communications director for the secretary of state, said today that the office will move ahead with its original plan to travel to Saguache to review the ballots in a public setting. While a date has not been set for the review, Coolidge said the goal is to complete the review soon.

The November election generated multiple complaints to Gessler’s office and prompted a grand jury investigation after a “retabulation” of the ballots flipped the preliminary results of two races — including Myers’ own re-election.

Full Article: Saguache Co. clerk ordered to turn over ballots — The Denver Post.

See Also:

Saguache County, Colorado state officials at odds over access to ballots | The Pueblo Chieftain
Saguache ballots to be part of election review | The Pueblo Chieftain
ES&S representatives fail to show for ordered depositions | Center Post Dispatch
Stagner files affidavit with Saguache court | Center Post Dispatch
Judge hears Colorado Secretary of State Gessler ballot request | Center Post Dispatch

Aug 12, 2011 09:09 am

Elections System and Software could face contempt charges | Alamosa Valley Courier

District Judge Martin Gonzales ruled Wednesday that Elections System and Software (ES&S), who failed to appear for their depositions in the Marilyn Marks v. Melinda Myers Colorado Open Records Act suit could be held in contempt of court. Denver attorney Robert McGuire, on behalf of his client, Aspen election integrity advocate Marilyn Marks filed the suit to force Saguache County Clerk Melinda Myers to turn over voting records and related documents Marks requested beginning last November. ES&S provided Saguache County with their M650 voting device and accompanying software used in the contested Nov. 2, 2010 election.

Gonzales ordered that the election firm appear in court to show cause why they should not be held in contempt for failing to appear for the scheduled depositions in June after he approved the issuance of a subpoena for the depositions. Marks later filed a motion with the court to hold ES&S in contempt unless they could show sufficient cause for refusing to honor the deposition subpoena. ES&S made no motion to file a protective order, protesting appearance on the grounds that the deposition would violate trade secrets and/or force the production of proprietary information. Nor did their attorneys move to quash the subpoena, court records show.

Instead the company requested that the court excuse them from the depositions, claiming that they are an international agent and as such are exempt from the court’s jurisdiction to depose.

This despite the fact that some 3,000 of the firm’s machines are in use throughout the state, according to the most recent voting systems inventory published by the SOS.

ES&S history in Colorado

In the ruling, Gonzales cites several examples of ES&S activity in Colorado including the following:

• ES&S maintains a registered agent in Denver and the subpoena was duly served on this agent within the required distance from the proposed location of the depositions.
• The Secretary of State’s Office has certified ES&S voting equipment since at least 2002.
• ES&S unsuccessfully attempted to become the sole voting device vendor for the state in 2006. (ES&S is currently renewing its efforts to become Colorado’s sole voting device vendor, as discussed by SOS officials and others recently during a Best Practices and Visioning Committee meeting).
• ES&S has both sold and leased numerous voting devices to Colorado counties and also has provided support and training to county officials and others involved in the voting process.
• This includes the sale of the M650 to Saguache County, plus “$14,605 for installation, training and maintenance services, most of which necessarily require performance by ES&S on-site in Saguache.”
• ES&S trained Clerk Myers, clerk’s office staffer Christian Samora, four election judges and two canvass board members in the use of the M650 Oct. 12, 2009.
• ES&S supplied telephone support to the Saguache County Clerk’s Office on Nov. 2 and Nov. 8, 2010 concerning the M650 and ES&S technician Tim King was sent by the company to troubleshoot the M650 Nov. 15.
• On March 19, ES&S issued a detailed report to the SOS on the assistance the firm provided Saguache officials in the course of the 2010 election process.

Gonzales cited numerous examples from civil procedure rules, state statutes and case law explaining why the arguments that ES&S lies outside the court’s jurisdiction are not valid.

Full Article: Valley Courier Voting device firm could face contempt charges.

See Also:

Vote devices in New Jersey counties re-evaluated | Courier-Post
Voting machine problems in Mississippi primary highlight national concern | Verified Voting Blog
Setback to Election Commission as India paper trail pilot poll reports errors | menafn.com…
Florida Election Servers Hacked Again | InformationWeek
Egypt looking at e-voting | Bikya Masr

Aug 12, 2011 09:08 am

Voter ID Bill would not have stopped Wake Co. voters attempting to vote twice but current law did | Progressive Pulse

Media outlets reported Thursday that three Wake County residents were charged with voter fraud in connection with the 2008 presidential elections. The County Board of Elections noted that all three voted early and again on Election Day. The NC Republican Party used the opportunity to say this type of fraud is exactly why the state needs a photo voter ID law.

But Democracy NC says the core truth is that House Bill 351, the photo ID bill, would have done absolutely nothing to prevent the crime of attempting to vote twice. Here’s more from the good government group:

“The alleged cheaters could show an ID when they voted at the Early Voting site, and show it again a few days later when they voted at their polling site on Election Day. They voted in their own names and did not attempt to impersonate somebody else; impersonation is the only fraud H-351 really addresses.

Another truth: The current safeguards worked – none of the three successfully voted twice. Their ballots at the Early Voting sites were retrieved and not counted; the system worked, without an ID requirement! This case involves three black Democrats in the NC election Obama narrowly won; the outpouring of hostility is unfortunately predictable. More prosecutions of double voting are in the works.

Voter fraud should be prosecuted – the integrity of the election system must be protected. That’s why House Bill 862 is actually a stronger, better bill than H-351. It requires voters to show an ID or attest under penalty of perjury that they are who they say they are AND it provides funds for the State Board of Elections to hire an investigator “to investigate, document, and prepare for prosecution possible evidence of voter fraud, including cases involving voter impersonation.”

H-351 is not a serious hammer against fraud; it’s a political sham and those who point to this case as evidence of its value are misled or misleaders.”

Full Article: Democracy NC: The Big Lie About Voter ID « The Progressive Pulse.

See Also:

Bill Clinton: GOP War on Voting Is Most Determined Disenfranchisement Effort Since Jim Crow | ThinkProgress
How states are rigging the 2012 election | The Washington Post
Governor Nixon vetoes Missouri voter-ID and early-voting legislation | KansasCity.com…
They Want to Make Voting Harder? | NYTimes.com…
Voter ID battle: Getting Married Can Make it Difficult to Vote in South Carolina | The Post and Courier

Aug 11, 2011 08:14 am

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.

Polk narrowly lost the race with 1,754 votes, or 49 percent. Her opponent, Brad Oberhousen, won with 1,867 votes, or 51 percent. “Any precinct that is a split is confusing,” Perry said. “That’s what happens in redistricting.” Polk said she plans to challenge the election results.

… At press time, the Democratic Executive Committee planned to certify the votes Tuesday night.

On Saturday, Perry said that last week’s election process isn’t uncommon. He searched for any misplaced Republican absentee ballots and ensured that the number of voters signed up at the polls matched the number of votes cast. “We have to do everything they have to do, but because what we do isn’t going to change the outcome of any election, I don’t have to answer to 50 people every time I do something,” Perry said. “If it’s a close election, you are going to have this. ”

Perry, who works challenging campaigns for candidates throughout the state, said that while counting ballots is an open process, party officials don’t have to permit candidates or supporters to insert themselves in the process. The Republican committee chairman says those who are losing campaigns can sometimes create confusion to cast doubt on an election’s validity. Perry, however, didn’t defend the Democrat’s handling of the election.

“I don’t know if it’s intentional or crooked or fraud, but I will say that it’s sloppy,” he said. “But it’s going on in 81 other counties, too.”

Full Article: Creating a Spectacle — Talk — Jackson Free Press: Jackson, Mississippi.

See Also:

Saguache Co. clerk ordered to turn over ballots | The Denver Post
Hinds County Sheriff McMillin on race — and conceding race | WLBT 3/Jackson, MS
Elections System and Software could face contempt charges | Alamosa Valley Courier
Voter ID Bill would not have stopped Wake Co. voters attempting to vote twice but current law did | Progressive Pulse
New election law approved – except for most controversial portions | OrlandoSentinel.com…

Aug 11, 2011 08:13 am

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.

Legislation affecting voting must get federal approval because five counties in the state — Collier, Hardee, Hendry, Hillsborough and Monroe — face extra scrutiny under the Voting Rights Act. Florida can either submit the legislation to the Justice Department or to the federal district court in Washington D.C.

“The areas that we went in [to court] on, we wanted to make sure that it was decided by the courts, make sure that it was because ultimately the courts are going to make the decision so it was the right approach on the issues that we went in on,” Gov. Rick Scott said Tuesday.

In a statement Tuesday, Browning said the Justice Department decision “confirms what we already know, that Florida’s new election laws are fair and not discriminatory. I expect the federal district court will also agree that the new laws are fair when it reviews the remaining provisions.”

The sections of the Florida law that are now before the court require third-party registration groups to submit voter registration cards within 48 hours or suffer large fines; largely discontinue name or registration changes at the polls; limit the number of days for early voting; and make it harder to verify voter signatures on petitions.

Full Article: Florida election law: New Florida election law approved – except for most controversial portions — OrlandoSentinel.com….

See Also:

Making an end run around Justice | MiamiHerald.com…
ACLU, voting rights group sue to stop implementation of new Florida elections law | Palm Beach Post
More details of lawsuit challenging Scott, Browning on election rules overhaul | Florida Independent
Debate Rages Over Florida’s Election Law Review | wmfe
Groups ask Justice Department to block voter ID law | TheState.com…

Aug 09, 2011 08:13 am

Voter ID battle: Getting Married Can Make it Difficult to Vote in South Carolina | The Post and Courier

Multiple marriages have played havoc with Massachusetts transplant Andrea Tangredi’s hopes of getting a South Carolina driver’s license. During a Monday rally for foes of the new S.C. voter ID law, Andrea Tangredi tells of her experience at the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles when she tried to get her driver’s license changed from Massachusetts to South Carolina. Tangredi still is trying to get her new South Carolina driver’s license along with her voter-registration card.

By her count, Tangredi has spent at least 17 hours online and in person since July trying to get a license here, only to face hurdle after hurdle tied to her several name changes. On Monday she asked aloud that if it is this hard to get a South Carolina driver’s license, how much more difficult is it to get documentation for a voter ID? “I’m educated,” she said during a forum sponsored by opponents of the state’s new voter ID law. “I don’t know how someone who isn’t would want to ever start this process.”

Tangredi’s story gives ammunition to opponents of the ID law, who in addition to labeling the effort harmful to minorities, say it is creating unnecessary burdens and hardships. She was one of about 50 people who attended a rally against the law held at the International Longshoremen’s Association hall in Charleston.

Voter ID law

South Carolina’s new voter identification law signed by Gov. Nikki Haley won’t go into effect until the U.S. Department of Justice approves it. The department is taking comments through late August on public concerns about the new requirements. A decision is expected after that, but no date has been given for approval or denial.

Once the law goes into effect, the following are acceptable forms of photo ID to present at the polls:

• S.C. driver’s license or state-issued ID card from the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles.
• Passport
• Military ID
• South Carolina voter photo-registration card, which is not yet available. The state Election Commission does not yet have the capability to produce them but hopes to by October.

Among those at the forum was former state Rep. Lucille Whipper, a Charleston Democrat, who said requiring a photo identification card to vote raises the burden on minorities, low-income wage earners and those working multiple jobs. She accused supporters of the photo ID effort of trying to exclude minorities by expanding a voting base made up mainly of the middle class. “They are trying to change the electorate,” she said.

The photo ID law was passed by the General Assembly this year and signed by Gov. Nikki Haley. Its goal, backers said, is to cut down on fraud. It requires a voter to present a driver’s license, passport or other form of photo identification to cast a ballot. Before the law can take effect, it must receive clearance from the U.S. Department of Justice, which has until the end of the month to finish its review. Last week, opponents looking to derail the effort wrote the department’s Voting Rights Section, saying the law is “racially discriminatory and will have a retrogressive impact on the voting rights of minorities” in the state.

Monday’s rally was sponsored by the S.C. Progressive Network and the Charleston branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Progressive Network Director Brett Bursey said the goal was to update the public on efforts to halt the law from being enforced. “We can clearly argue the intent of the bill is voter suppression,” Bursey said.

Full Article: Voter ID battle: Some rally against S.C. law they think is trying to change electorate | The Post and Courier, Charleston SC — News, Sports, Entertainment.

See Also:

Groups ask Justice Department to block voter ID law | TheState.com…
Critics challenge South Carolina ‘Voter ID’ plan | TheState.com…
Opponents of New South Carolina Voter ID Law Take Fight to the Feds | Free Times
Voter ID Bill would not have stopped Wake Co. voters attempting to vote twice but current law did | Progressive Pulse
States’ Rights Redux: Voting Rights Act + 46 | Jackson, Arnwine, Mathis/Politico.com

Aug 08, 2011 10:14 am

Let the MOVE Act have a chance to work before considering electronic return of ballots

Military and overseas voters saw improvements in their ability to vote in 2010, thanks to the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act (MOVE) passed in late 2009, according to a report to Congress last month by the Military Postal Service Agency (MPSA). The report indicates that MOVE will improve things further as its provisions become better known and implemented.

The MOVE Act required states to send ballots to military and overseas voters at least 45 days before election-day in federal elections so they have time to return their voted ballot. MPSA must pick up ballots for return to election offices no later than 7 days before election day. MOVE also sped up the process by requiring states to offer electronic transmission (website, email, fax) of blank ballots and registration materials.

The law stopped short of establishing electronic return of voted ballots because ballots cannot be secured against undetected interception and manipulation over the internet. New procedures were implemented for 2010, coordinating MPSA with USPS, including the use of Express Military Mail Service (EMMS) for uniformed overseas service members and their families.

Full Article: Let the MOVE Act have a chance to work before considering electronic return of ballots | Verified Voting Blog.

See Also:

House passes bill creating new voting options for Alabama military, other overseas voters – allows electronic submission of voted ballots | The Republic
A review of the FVAP UOCAVA workshop | Freedom to Tinker
David Jefferson: Email Voting – A National Security Threat in Government Elections
New legislation makes it easier for military overseas to vote | NewsObserver.com…
Military Voting Bill from Secretary of State Mollis Set for Rhode Island House Vote Tuesday | RI.gov…

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