The Voting News for August 30, 2011
The Voting News for August 30, 2011
Read the Department of Justice’s request for more information on SC’s Voter ID law.
South Carolina voters will have wait to find out whether the U.S. Department of Justice will authorize the state's new voter ID law, following an announcement Monday that federal officials need more information from the state.
Chris Whitmire, spokesman for the State Election Commission, said once state officials supply the information to the Justice Department, a 60-day window will begin for the federal agency to render a decision on the law. The law could be in effect for the November elections, but that will depend on how long the state takes to respond and if the Justice Department takes two full months to decide.
Executive Ed FitzGerald wants the county's congressional
delegation to help stop Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted
from banning the Board of Elections from processing mail-in
absentee voter applications.
Husted said Friday he is considering prohibiting Cuyahoga County's Board of Elections from processing applications from people who wish to vote by mail if FitzGerald's administration goes forward with a plan to mail applications to all active registered voters in the county.
Fitzgerald says the secretary of state's remarks raise issues about voters' rights and voter suppression that merit a review by the U.S. Department of Justice. He said his office will forward a transcript of Husted's remarks to members of the delegation so they can help raise the issue.
South Carolina is prepared to pursue litigation on several fronts "up to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary," South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson said. Wilson was one of several elected state constitutional officers who spoke at an Orangeburg County Republican Party fundraiser Monday.
One issue involved the state voter ID law submitted to the U.S. Justice Department for review. Wilson said he has "no faith that it will do the right thing." "I can tell you we won't lay down on this," he said.
The state Democratic Caucus lodged a formal objection to the law with the Justice Department last week. The law passed on the strength of the Republican majority in the General Assembly. Justice requested more information Monday before making a decision.
A fascinating battle is shaping up in Cuyahoga County, OH where County Executive Ed FitzGerald is preparing to ask the County Board to defy a recent directive by Secretary of State Jon Husted prohibiting county election offices from mailing out unsolicited absentee ballot applications to voters by having the County use non-election funds to do so.
The substantive issues in this dispute are important - especially given the growing number of voters in Ohio who cast their ballots outside of a traditional polling place - but just as interesting is the tug of war developing between Husted (a Republican) and FitzGerald (a Democrat) about ultimate control over election policy in Cuyahoga County, which is home to the city of Cleveland and its suburbs.
What's at stake in the Cuyahoga dispute is nothing less than who will have ultimate control of local election policy in Ohio - and maybe elsewhere.
B.C. municipalities want access to online voting in time for the 2014 civic elections, hoping to boost voter turnout by making it easier to cast a ballot. At least three communities — Coquitlam, North Vancouver City and Fort St. John — have asked the Union of B.C. Municipalities to push the province for legislative changes to allow Internet voting, saying it would be beneficial to the young, elderly and out-of-town workers.
Vancouver had sought to have online voting in place for this November’s municipal election but the provincial government said it needed more time to consider the move.
Coun. Raymond Louie said voters need another incentive to vote. “It’s a bit challenging for all of us,” he said. “It just makes it easier for people if you don’t have to physically go down [and cast a ballot]. “It provides a wider diversity of opportunity for constituents to vote; it certainly does help those with mobility challenges or just in terms of having the opportunity to get out.”
In a possible recall election, are Gov. Scott Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch a package deal or separate tickets? It's an unprecedented question for an unprecedented period in Wisconsin politics, and so far there's no official answer. The Government Accountability Board, which runs state elections, won't yet weigh in, saying that it's still researching the issue.
"It's the unanswered question that somebody needs to provide some guidance on," said Mike Wittenwyler, a Madison election and campaign finance attorney. "To me, it's an issue that deserves serious study before this begins."
So far, any talk of a recall of Walker or Kleefisch by Democrats and unions is just that - neither official is even eligible for recall until early November, one year after they were elected to office. To do it, recall organizers would need to gather a whopping 540,208 signatures across the state within 60 days and then back a pair of candidates in a costly statewide election.
If Lyndon Johnson, the 36th President of the United States of America, was ever going to turn in his grave it might be now. Johnson was the President who, in 1965, signed into law the Voting Rights Act (VRA) which enabled Martin Luther King and other African-American leaders of the time to achieve their dream of helping their fellow African-Americans win the right to vote for the first time. But now the state of Arizona, fresh from passing a fiendishly harsh migration law, wants to wind back the VRA, despite the fact that in 2006 the Senate voted 98-0 to approve the law for another 25 years.
Last Thursday Arizona’s Attorney-General Tom Horne, a Republican, launched legal proceedings that seek to declare as unconstitutional the requirement for states to have any changes they make to voting cleared by the federal government. The so-called “pre-clearance” requirement is viewed by supporters of the VRA as critical because it prevents states making it difficult for minorities to vote through mechanisms such as ballot papers in English only, or having polling booths in predominantly minorities areas.
Rep. Mike Coffman's intent to repeal the language assistance provisions of the Voting Rights Act is not only ill-conceived but places the rights of millions of U.S. citizens in jeopardy.
In 1975, Congress expanded the Voting Rights Act by adding language assistance amendments. The effort was spearheaded by Sen. Walter Mondale, D-Minn. Congress added Sections 203 and 4(f) to provide targeted oral or written language assistance to American citizens of voting age who were not fluent in English after finding that the denial of the right to vote among limited English-proficient citizens was "directly related to the unequal educational opportunities afforded them, resulting in high illiteracy and low voting participation." According to the 2000 Census, three-quarters of all voters covered by Section 203 were native-born, voting-age citizens.
Section 203, the part of the act that Coffman wants to remove, is based on the 14th and 15th Amendments, which guarantee "equal protection and the right to vote without regard to race, color, or previous conditions of servitude." Consistent with our constitution, Section 203 "prohibits discriminatory practices and procedures that effectively exclude language minorities from participating in the electoral process and provides for appropriate remedies."
When Victoria Faz registered to vote, no political party operative ushered her there. No governmental public service announcement prodded her, and neither a candidate nor a campaign signed her up on her 18th birthday.
Watching the junior senator from Illinois address the Democratic National Convention in 2004 did make an impression, but the 20-year-old political science major at UTSA was motivated most by another reason. “I wanted to do it for me,” the San Antonian said.
She's a rarity in a state with dubious voter registration and turnout rates and one that political scientists view as dependent on largely ineffective ways to get voters registered and to the polls.
When it comes to deleting the deceased from Kansas voter rolls, county election commissioners depend on ELVIS. But election officials say even ELVIS — which stands for Election Voter Information System, which cross-references voter rolls with state records — can't shake out all the names that no longer belong.
Sometimes a onetime Kansas voter moves out of state and dies without the Kansas Department of Health and Environment's Office of Vital Statistics noting it, said Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Bill Gale. Gale recently cross-checked Sedgwick County voters with the Social Security Death Index, national obituary websites and other sources. Then his office deleted 141 on the voter rolls identified as deceased, including at least one who died a decade ago.
Singapore's former deputy prime minister Tony Tan has won the country's presidential election by a narrow margin. The result was announced after a recount between Tony Tan and fellow front-runner Tan Cheng Bock.
Tony Tan, 71, was seen as the preferred candidate of the governing People's Action Party, which has run Singapore since independence. Singapore's presidency is a largely ceremonial position. The election was the first of its kind for 18 years.
The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Education Fund will challenge Wisconsin's new Voter ID law based on the state constitution. As a nonpartisan organization that encourages participation in government, the league is concerned about voter disenfranchisement and as a result is is working with Attorney Lester Pines of Cullen Weston Pines & Bach to challenge the legislature's authority to enact the law.
“The League of Women Voters has been fighting for open and fair elections ever since its founding by the suffragists who won the right to vote for women in 1920. Our Wisconsin state constitution specifically protects the right to vote and limits what the legislature can do to exclude eligible citizens,” said Melanie G. Ramey, president of the Wisconsin League of Women Voters.