The Voting News for 26 August 2011
Cumberland County recently replaced computer chips in all its voting machines and completed background checks on five
technicians who service them as a safeguard against tampering and inaccuracy.
But those upgrades, which are part of a statewide initiative, don't sufficiently address flaws in the system used to
cast votes, according to a woman who says an electronic machine cheated her and her husband in a recent election in
The recent upgrades to county voting machines were not related to the Fairfield case. Activists say, however, the
Fairfield case just adds ammunition to their argument that New Jersey needs a paper record of election results.
The Secretary of State’s Office said Thursday that it appears no personal information was compromised during a potential
security breach of Maine’s Central Voter Registration database.
The apparent breach was the result of malware — or malicious computer software — found on a workstation computer in the
town clerk’s office in the northern Penobscot County town of Millinocket.
“I want to update the public with our initial findings and assure all Mainers that appropriate action has been, and will
continue to be, taken to protect all personal information located in the Central Voter Registration,” Secretary of State
Charlie Summers said in a statement.
Opening up a new front in its legal battles with the Obama administration, the state of Arizona on Thursday challenged
the federal Voting Rights Act, prompting a swift response from Attorney General Eric Holder.
Other political news of note
"The Voting Rights Act plays a vital role in our society by ensuring that every American has the right to vote and to
have that vote counted. The Department of Justice will vigorously defend the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act
in this case, as it has done successfully in the past," Holder said.
Arizona is challenging the law's requirement that the state seek Justice Department approval for any changes in how
elections are conducted. Many states are subject to the law's pre-clearance requirement, generally to remedy past
restrictions that discouraged minority voting.
Cuyahoga County's executive plans to continue sending absentee ballot applications to all voters, circumventing a ban
the state's top elections official had imposed on boards of election. County Executive Ed FitzGerald announced Thursday
that his administration will pay about $330,000 for a mass mailing, if County Council approves the expense Monday. Seven
council members, including Republican Mike Gallagher, have already signed on as sponsors.
"The vote-by-mail program which Cuyahoga and other counties across the state were running were working. It was good
government," said FitzGerald, a Democrat. "That's a principle that is worth going out on a limb for."
FitzGerald's solution might be short-lived, though. Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted said he plans to look for a
"legislative fix" that would prevent county governments from paying for the mailings in the future.
The Ohio League of Women Voters takes issue with several parts of the new law including the reduction of time for in
person and absentee voting and elimination of the requirement that poll workers direct voters to the correct precincts.
Nancy Brown, co-president of the group says it has quote….historically sought to remove obstacles to voting, to ensure
all eligible voters can vote and that all valid votes are counted…..unquote.
Thousands of low-income Indiana residents will finally have the opportunity to register to vote at state public
assistance offices, as mandated by federal law.
Today, U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt approved a settlement
of a class action lawsuit
brought against Indiana officials to bring the state into compliance with the National Voter Registration Act. The suit
was brought by the Indiana State Conference of the NAACP on behalf of state public assistance clients injured by the
state’s violation of federal law. Plaintiffs are represented by attorneys from Project Vote, Lawyers’ Committee for
Civil Rights Under Law, Demos, the NAACP, the Chicago law firm of Miner, Barnhill & Galland, and the ACLU of Indiana.
The Cherokee Nation will not amend its election laws for the upcoming principal chief's race. At its regular Rules
Committee meeting Thursday, the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council voted 8-4 to table a bill by acting Council Speaker Cara
Cowan Watts of Claremore that would have codified a July 12 request from the council that the tribe's Election
Commission bring in a third-party organization to observe next month's election.
The proposal also would have required voters to show identification when arriving to vote, such as a driver's license,
citizenship card, voter registration card or other identification specified by the Election Commission. The tribe's
election law allows for poll workers to identify voters by sight, rather than photo identification, if they know the
voter in question.
The Secretary of State will conduct a public review of voted ballots and other materials from the Saguache County 2010
general election next week. The review is an effort to "remove doubt regarding the election results" among Saguache
County residents, according to a five-page review and verification plan released today by Secretary of State Scott
Gessler's office. The review will not change the outcome of the election.
Four teams of three people — including volunteers from the Saguache County Democratic and Republican parties, as well as
independent voters — will conduct the verification process beginning Monday at the Saguache Community Center. Three
races will be reviewed: clerk and recorder, county commissioner and the University of Colorado Board of Regents race.
The public and media will be allowed to observe, and the entire process will be videotaped.
The U.S. Court of Appeals has rejected the village's controversial attempt to renew a nearly 5-year-old legal battle
over its trustee election system. A three-judge panel ruled Thursday that the village has no right to appeal a 2008
ruling that deemed the former at-large system unfair to Hispanics.
In 2009, Port Chester agreed to usher in a new and unusual method called cumulative voting, under a consent decree with
the U.S. Department of Justice. This year, after winning office under the new system, the newly elected trustees
switched course, opting to appeal. Justice Department attorneys maintained the village had given up that right. In a
two-sentence order, the appeals panel agreed.
School districts in Michigan would only be permitted to hold elections in November of even-numbered years under a bill
passed Wednesday by the Michigan House of Representatives. The bill passed by a vote of 72-36 and was billed as a way to
cut costs and improve efficiency. But not all local officials agree.
Schools currently can set elections on any of the state’s four annual election dates, as can municipalities. The
districts are responsible for the costs, which vary. In Adrian in 2011, for example, the May election cost the school