Democratizing Elections

Call back some faint spirit of Jefferson and Lincoln, and when again we can hold a fair election on real issues, let's vote, and not till then. Is this impossible? Then democracy in America is impossible. ~ W.E.B. DuBois Many Americans believe that voting is either irrelevant as a tactic for pursuing genuine democratic social change, or that casting and counting ballots is the sum total of democracy. Although current U.S. elections are indeed a farce, elections have the potential to play a necessary role in ensuring that people can meaningfully participate in making the decisions that affect their lives. Liberty Tree's Democratizing Elections Program strives to fundamentally transform U.S. elections by nurturing a powerful new voting rights movement that will implement the fundamental and systemic electoral reforms defined in the Voter Bill of Rights.

Ruckus: A Call for Nonviolent Direct Action

October 30, 2009

The Ruckus Society has developed an election-focused action toolkit you'll want to check out. As they say on their website:

Become an Election Integrity Activist on Election Night

October 7, 2009
What Can an Election Integrity Activist Do On Election Night?

Bev Harris of Blackbox Voting has put out a brief educational video about what citizens who want to ensure election integrity can do. She tells you exactly what to look for and video on Election Night to protect the count. You can take some easy steps to minimize election machine voter fraud.

Your help is needed. Thousands of citizens can ensure a fair election if they get active and involved in working for election integrity.

Voter Bill of Rights

September 26, 2009

From unreliable electronic voting machines and millions of uncounted ballots, to partisan election officials and 10-hour waits at the polls, it is clear that our electoral system is in dire need of an overhaul. To build a more just, secure, and robust democracy, please support the following 10-point Voter Bill of Rights:

1. Pass a Constitutional Amendment Confirming the Right to Vote

FRIEDMAN: Democracy's Gold Standard

September 14, 2009
Brad Friedman

Last March, the country's highest court found that secret, computerized vote counting was unconstitutional. Unfortunately, the country was Germany, and the Constitution violated by e-voting systems was the one that the U.S. wrote and insisted Germans ratify as part of their terms of surrender following WWII.

Paul Lehto, a U.S. election attorney and Constitutional rights expert, summarized the German court's unambiguous, landmark finding:

"No 'specialized technical knowledge' can be required of citizens to vote or to monitor vote counts."
There is a "constitutional requirement of a publicly observed count."

Advancement Project: Several Battleground States Not Prepared for Voter Turnout

October 9, 2008

Our recent Action Alert on fighting shortages of volunteers and voting machines focuses on the election officials and administrators of particular states that have been identified as likely problems. Advancement Project has released a poignant study detailing the failures of 7 specific swing states that will not have adequate capacity in terms of voting machines and volunteers to meet the expected record voter turnout for the upcoming Presidential election. Their release of this information follows....

SEVERAL BATTLEGROUND STATES NOT PREPARED FOR VOTER TURNOUT

Additional Information: 

For more information, feel free to contact Sabrina Williams (202/728-9557 or 305/904-3960) or Tia Gordon (202/728-9557 or 202/906-0149)

MANSKI: The New U.S. Democracy Movement

October 9, 2008
Ben Manski

Around the world, Americans are often maligned as self-serving, ignorant, and conservative. Yet Americans are generally a progressive people.

Public opinion research tells the story:

  • Most Americans favor creating a federal universal single payer health care system.
  • Most support trade policies based not on property rights, but human rights, environmental protection, and popular sovereignty.
  • Majorities believe that the U.S. should not act as the “world’s police force,” and large majorities support the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
  • Americans, by and large, believe that access to quality education is a basic right, and are willing to raise taxes to pay for it.

Additional Information: 

This article was written for Movement Vision Lab. Click here for the original edition.
~ Ben Manski is a Wisconsin attorney and the executive director of Liberty Tree

Brennan Center for Justice: Voter Purges

September 30, 2008
Myrna Pérez

Voter suppression most often comes in the form of keeping voters from showing up at the polls or perhaps providing faulty information on how to process an absentee ballot, etc. A greater disenfranchisement might be the voters who dutifully present themselves at their polling place, only to be told that they have been removed from the voter rolls.

Additional Information: 

Myrna Pérez is counsel for the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, focusing on a variety of voting rights and election administration issues including the Brennan Center’s efforts to restore the vote to people with felony convictions. Prior to joining the Center, Ms. Pérez was the Civil Rights Fellow at Relman & Dane, a civil rights law firm in Washington, D.C. A graduate of Columbia Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Ms. Pérez clerked for the Honorable Anita B. Brody of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and for the Honorable Julio M. Fuentes of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Making Voting Work: An Analysis of Military and Overseas Citzen Voting

September 15, 2008

The most recent effort by Making Voting Work looks into perhaps the most tragic of uncounted voting demographics--troops overseas. Many states have offered excuses again and again about not being able to make the absentee ballot process work for due to failures in the military postal system. The most recent report of Military Overseas Voting Project.

Liberty Tree Panel at Claim Democracy Conference

November 1, 2007
Brandon Lacy Campos, David Cobb, and Patrick Barrett

Click here to view the video:

2007 Claim Democracy Conference

VIDEO: Building a Democracy Movement in the USA

December 28, 2006
Ben Manski, David Cobb, Juscha Robinson, and Pabitra Benjamin

Check out this short video from "BUILDING A DEMOCRACY MOVEMENT IN THE UNITED STATES", a workshop by Liberty Tree Fellows Benjamin, Cobb, Manski, and Robinson, one of about 100 sessions at the 2006 Midwest Social Forum. The video is a production of On the Earth Productions, a media production company dedicated to informing the public about important ethical, environmental and political issues that affect our every-day lives.

Additional Information: 

To download the video, click here.

For information on the Midwest Social Forum, click here.

To check out On the Earth Productions, click here.

David Cobb: 'The New Voting Rights Movement' and 'Fighting The Corporate Takeover'

January 3, 2005
David Cobb

The Brad Blog at www.bradblog.com

INTRODUCTION {by Winter Patriot}: We are thrilled to announce that David Cobb will be with us for some live blogging on Saturday morning [late Saturday morning in the East, early Saturday morning in the West]. As most of you probably know, Mr. Cobb represented the Green Party in the 2004 Presidential 'Election'. He has indicated that he wishes to blog about two subjects, and he has sent us some very interesting links and text. So there's plenty to absorb before Mr. Cobb takes the hot seat as the first live blogger of the weekend.

Mr. Cobb's first subject:

Additional Information: 

To read the archive of the full blog post, visit http://www.bradblog.com/archives/00001550.htm

SALON: Provisional ballots still being counted in Arizona and reports of suppressed Latino votes could affect outcome of close races

November 17, 2012
Alex Seitz-Wald
news photo

 

The election may have ended almost two weeks ago, but in Arizona, it goes on. Perhaps it’s fitting for a state with its own time zone, but as of last night, there remained over 100,000 uncounted votes in the state’s two largest counties, leaving election officials unable to officially certify the results of a number of the state’s high profile races, including the Senate race, several House contests, and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s reelection bid. Friday was the deadline for counties to finish counting ballots, but the state blew past it yesterday when Maricopa, which contains Phoenix, and Pima County, which contains Tucson, said they needed more time.

NYT: Americans in non-swing states less likely to vote and millions of ballots are still being counted

November 12, 2012
Nate Silver
news photo

Initial accounts of last Tuesday’s presidential election contemplated what seemed to be a significant decline in turnout from 2008. Those reports may have been premature, at least in part. Some states, particularly those where much balloting is conducted by mail, have yet to finish counting their returns. It is likely that there are several million votes left to be counted in California, for example. Nonetheless, it seems probable that we will see something of a split in the number of people who turned out to vote in 2012.

In many of the states where the campaigns focused most of their attention, more people voted than in 2008. Turnout is likely to have declined in many non-battleground states, however.

CAP TIMES: Supreme Court case could eliminate the Voting Rights Act

November 10, 2012
Associated Press
news photo

The Supreme Court will consider eliminating the government's most potent weapon against racial discrimination at polling places since the 1960s. The court acted three days after a diverse coalition of voters propelled President Barack Obama to a second term in the White House.

With a look at affirmative action in higher education already on the agenda, the court is putting a spotlight on race by re-examining the ongoing necessity of laws and programs aimed at giving racial minorities access to major areas of American life from which they once were systematically excluded.

AP: South Carolina GOP wants to stop recount, but Election Day problems show importance of completing recount

November 9, 2012
Associated Press

South Carolina Republicans on Friday asked the state's highest court to stop a recount of votes in Richland County, arguing that a GOP candidate fairly won a disputed legislative race.

The state party made the request to the Supreme Court a day after a circuit judge ordered that ballots and voting machines in Richland County be guarded by state police while state election officials reviewed them. County election officials had planned to certify election results Friday, but that process is on hold.

State election officials said they planned to begin their count Friday afternoon.

TRUTHOUT: Lack of transparency in exit polling makes it more difficult to know when an election is rigged

November 9, 2012
Victoria Collier
news photo

 

Stealing your vote is easier than ever now that the media has decided it can't afford the exit polling that helped track irregular ballot counts in more than a third of the states. Here's why it's important, and what you can do.

The news that America's mainstream media has cancelled exit polling in 19 states, means that insider election theft this November is now even harder to track, and therefore easier to get away with - something that scarcely seemed possible.

ALTERNET: Latino organizers call attention to thousands of uncounted votes in Arizona county sheriff's race

November 8, 2012
Steve Rosenfeld
news photo

Did Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio—the face of Arizona’s anti-immigrant movement—really win a sixth term of office on Tuesday?

That is one question that Latino organizers are asking Wednesday after receiving reports that perhaps as many as 300,000 ballots remain uncounted in Maricopa County, with what they say are a sizeable proportion coming from non-white voters who unexpectedly were given provisional ballots after their names were not on polling place voter lists.

BRADBLOG: Voter films touch-screen voting machine that flips the vote from Obama to Romney

November 6, 2012
Brad Friedman

This seems to be the first official video of touch-screen vote-flipping 2012, reportedly captured today in Pennsylvania, where elected officials so disrespect their own voters that they still force almost all of them to vote on these 100% unverifiable systems...

DAILY BEAST: Longer lines and 3 page ballots plague Florida's 2012 elections

November 6, 2012
Winston Ross
news photo

ORLANDO, Fla.—It's getting ugly in Florida, already.

Early voting here was supposed to keep the lines at polling places sane on Tuesday, distributing turnout over weeks, not crammed into the same day. But at precincts across the Sunshine State, not only has early voting been chaotic, but so has absentee voting, and so has Election Day voting.

No More Stolen Election's Sarah Manski and other election integrity activists speak about the risks of a stolen election

November 6, 2012
Free Press

At a Washington Press Club news conference, Nov. 5, 2012, FreePress.org Senior Editor Harvey Wasserman, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, NoMoreStolenElections.org Communication Director Sarah Manski, election fraud whistleblower Clint Curtis, and Lori Grace, founder of the Grace Institute for Democracy and Election Integrity, lay out the risks of a 2012 stolen election and what is being done to keep it from happening.

IPS: Abolishing the Electoral College will solve the problem of having "swing" states

November 5, 2012
Becky Bergdahl
news photo

UNITED NATIONS, Nov 5 2012 (IPS) - A small number of states in the United States have a peculiar power. As swing states, they are extremely influential in the outcome of the presidential election. As presidential candidates focus intensely on these states, some argue that this imbalance and several other factors threaten to undermine the country’s democracy.

RAW STORY: Robo-calls to Arizona Democrats tell voters the wrong polling place

November 5, 2012
David Edwards
news photo

 

 

More than a half dozen Democrats in Scottsdale, Arizona have come forward to say that they received automated telephone calls — or robocalls — from Rep. Jeff Flake’s (R-AZ) Senate campaign that told them to vote in the wrong place.

“It was totally wrong,” lifelong Democrat Mary Crecco told KPNX. “And I feel like it was done purposely.”

The robocall, which said it was sponsored by Flake’s campaign, told Crecco to vote at Immanuel Bible Church, but her actual polling place is three miles away at Copper Canyon Elementary.

SALON: Is the GOP Stealing Ohio?

November 5, 2012
Brad Friedman
news photo

Last week, Bob Fitrakis and Gerry Bello at FreePress.org reported an important story concerning what they described as “uncertified ‘experimental’ software patches” being installed at the last minute on electronic vote tabulation systems in 39 Ohio counties.

FREE PRESS: Why we must fight to prevent elections from being stolen through disenfranchisement and machine fraud

November 3, 2012
Joan Brunwasser, Sally Castleman, Victoria Collier, Bob Fitrakis, Lori Grace, Emily Levy, Mark Crispin Miller, Greg Palast, Jonathan Simon and Harvey Wasserman
news photo

Originally published October 31, 2012

With election day less than a week away, the spectre of another stolen election is upon us. The airwaves and internet are at last filling with discussion of this possibility.

When the first stories were broken by a handful of us after the fiascos of Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004, there was a stunning silence, followed by a wide range of attacks. Today the warnings about the possibility of another election theft are taken with increasing gravity.

The question is deep and profound, with a huge body of research and writing surrounding it.

But among the many concerns, two are key: massive disenfranchisement, and manipulation of the electronic vote count.

DISENFRANCHISEMENT:

FREE PRESS: Ohio's voting machines have "experimental patch" installed week before election

October 31, 2012
Bob Fitrakis and Gerry Bello
news photo

Why did the Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted's office, in an end run around Ohio election law, have "experimental" software patches installed on vote couhttp://www.freepress.org/departments/display/19/2012/4766nting tabulators in up to 39 Ohio counties? Voting rights activists are concerned that these uncertified and untested software patches may alter the election results.

MOTHER JONES: Texas and Iowa threaten to arrest foreign election observers here to assess the integrity of American elections

October 31, 2012
Gavin Aronsen
news photo

When news broke last week that the United Nations-affiliated Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe was dispatching election observers from 23 nations to the United States, conservative groups went up in arms, claiming that liberal activists had sought international assistance to fight Republican-led voting reform efforts.

WASHINGTON POST: Wisconsin Republicans give inaccurate information to poll watchers

October 30, 2012
Bill Turque
news photo

Democrats and Republicans are training legions of poll watchers to scrutinize voting next week for signs of fraud. But some information trainees are getting is not quite on target.

The liberal blog ThinkProgress opened a window onto the process Tuesday when it reported on material distributed to aspiring poll watchers by the Romney campaign and the Republican Party of Wisconsin in Racine Oct. 25, at one of a series of training sessions held across the state this fall.

AMERICAN PROSPECT: Study shows that votes cast by mail are more likely to be uncounted

October 26, 2012
Abby Rapoport
news photo

Ohio's Republican secretary of state, Jon Husted, has been under fire now for months from Democrats. They’re angry, particularly, about his moves to limit early voting hours across the state—especially those on the weekend before the election. Poor and minority voters rely on the expanded hours. Black churches have used the last Sunday before election day to bring voters to the polls; low-income voters often have inflexible work schedules and childcare demands at home. After a lengthy court battle, Husted has now authorized county election boards to offer hours in the three days before election day. But he did limit early voting hours in the weeks before, with fewer evening hours and no weekend hours.

CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR: Electronic voting machines to be used in the 2012 elections can be hacked

October 26, 2012
Mark Clayton
news photo

Rapid advances in the development of cyberweapons and malicious software mean that electronic-voting machines used in the 2012 election could be hacked, potentially tipping the presidential election or a number of other races.

Since the machines are not connected to the Internet, any hack would not be a matter of someone sneaking through cyberspace to change ballots. Rather, the concern is that an individual hacker, a partisan group, or even a nation state could infect voting machines by gaining physical access to them or by targeting the companies that service them.

NYT: Ohio Secretary of State discovers that all of Ohio's voting systems are easily corrupted

October 26, 2012
Bob Driehaus
news photo

Originally published on December 15, 2007

 

CINCINNATI — All five voting systems used in Ohio, a state whose electoral votes narrowly swung two elections toward President Bush, have critical flaws that could undermine the integrity of the 2008 general election, a report commissioned by the state’s top elections official has found.

WISCONSIN STATE JOURNAL: Wisconsin's ban on vouching for unregistered voters will disenfranchise eligible voters

October 22, 2012
Steven Verburg
news photo

Wisconsin residents may know that the photo ID provision of the 2011 election reform law has been struck down, but flying under the radar are other parts of the law that remain in force.

Thousands of new voters and others who vote only in presidential elections may be surprised to find out that the pre-Election Day voting period has been shortened, that they are required to sign a poll book and they must live in a ward 28 days to vote there.

But the lesser-known change that could have the greatest effect voters is a ban on "corroboration" — the practice of allowing new or recently relocated voters to establish residency in a ward and register to vote by having someone vouch for them if they lack an acceptable document that shows their address.

Democracy Now talks to civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis about the ongoing struggle for voting rights

October 19, 2012

Originally published on July 10, 2012

Democracy Now and Rep. John Lewis discuss the movemement to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and his experiences as a leader in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Lewis reflects on the restrictive voting laws that target people of color. "It is so important for people to understand, to know that people suffered, struggled," Lewis says. "Some people bled, and some died, for the right to participate. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent tool that we have in a democratic society. It’s precious. It’s almost sacred. We have to use it. If not, we will lose it."

COLORLINES: Black citizens confused if Florida has restored their voting rights after felony convictions

October 18, 2012
Brentin Mock
news photo

Originally published on September 27, 2012

Despite the heat and threat of thunderstorms, about 500 African-Americans are gathered in Rowlett Park for an end-of-summer day of barbecuing, dancing and playing cards. It’s the fifth annual Old School Picnic, a community park jam that brings together two black neighborhoods that were torn apart when the College Hill and Ponce de Leon public housing projects were razed in 2000. Earlier that morning, President Barack Obama held a massive campaign rally in nearby St. Petersburg, trying to turn out every last vote in this key swing state. The week before, Republicans had made their big bid for Florida at their national convention.

Democracy Now interviews Greg Palast about voter disenfranchisement in the 2012 elections

October 18, 2012

Democracy Now discusses how voter suppression in the 2012 elections will prevent millions of eligible voters from being able to cast a ballot or have their ballot counted. Greg Palast is the author of the recently released New York Times bestseller, "Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps."

 

THINK PROGRESS: Ohio Secretary of State determined to limit early voting despite federal court order

October 18, 2012
Ian Millhiser
news photo
Two federal courts said that the Ohio Republican Party’s effort to reduce opportunities to vote early must not go into effect. And the Supreme Court rejected an attempt by Ohio Republican officials to reinstate a GOP-backed law taking away three days of early voting just this week.

NATION: Election Protection coalition helps voters navigate voter suppression laws

October 17, 2012
Ari Berman
news photo

On Wednesday, October 10, eight lawyers from five different law firms in northern Virginia assembled in a DLA Piper conference room here for voter protection training from the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. It was the first of fifteen training sessions before election day in this crucial battleground state.

The Election Protection coalition plans to recruit 10,000 volunteers to assist at the polls during early voting and on election day in twenty states, particularly in high-turnout minority voting areas and historically disenfranchised communities. It will staff thirty-two call centers in English and Spanish through its 866-Our-Vote hotline. This conference room will be one of them.

PROPUBLICA: How super PACS came to have so much influence in our elections

October 17, 2012
Justin Elliott
news photo

In a forthcoming law review article, Richard Briffault of Columbia Law School argues that the rise of super PACs and unfettered contributions and spending this election cycle are “effectively ending the post-Watergate era of campaign finance laws.”

To help understand what is shaping up as a watershed election cycle, I asked Briffault to explain the path that took the country from stringent post-Watergate contribution limits through Citizens United to today’s multi-billion-dollar free-for-all.

Democracy Now discusses how the Obama and Romney campaigns control debate questions and exclude third party candidates; Chilean student movement receives award

October 16, 2012

Democracy Now interviews author George Farah and Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald about how the Commission on Presidential Debates restricts the ability of the presidential debates to be fair and open. The broadcast ends with an interview with two of the leaders in the Chilean student movement, which recieved an award for organizing Chile's largest protests for free higher education. (skip past headlines to get to interviews):

 

GUARDIAN: Corporate-sponsored Commission on Presidential Debates places undemocratic restrictions on debates

October 16, 2012
Glenn Greenwald
news photo

The way the two major parties control the presidential debates is a perfect microcosm of how political debates are restricted in general. Though typically shrouded in secrecy, several facts about this process have recently come to light and they are quite instructive.

NYT: Voting machine industry plays large role in the Election Assistance Commission

October 16, 2012
Adam Cohen
news photo

The much-delayed work of setting federal standards for electronic voting machines is speeding up, and there is reason for concern. Voting machine companies and their supporters have been given a large say in the process, while advocates for voters, including those who insist on the use of voter-verified paper receipts, have been pushed to the margins. Election officials and machine makers may be betting that after the presidential election, ordinary Americans have lost interest in the mechanics of the ballot. But Americans do care, and it is unlikely that they will be satisfied by a process in which special interests dominate, or by a result that does not ensure vote totals that can be trusted.

PACIFIC COAST BUSINESS TIMES: Computer science professors and students hack California's voting machines

October 16, 2012
Stephen Nellis
news photo

Originally published August 20, 2007

When news broke that California's electronic voting machines were vulnerable to cyber-attack, it was a team of computer scientists from the University of California, Santa Barbara, who hacked one of the systems, eventually leading California Secretary of State Debra Bowen to bar use of the machine in state elections.

"We tried to violate their security any way we could," Giovanni Vigna said of the machines, manufactured by Sequoia and until recently in use in Ventura County. "We successfully compromised the system."

BRAD BLOG: Germany's highest court rules electronic voting unconstitutional

October 15, 2012
Brad Friedman
news photo

Originally published on March 4, 2009

A finding by the "highest court" in Germany has found electronic voting to be unconstitutional...

Germany's highest court has ruled that the use of electronic voting in the last general election was unconstitutional.
..
September's upcoming elections looks set to see a return to the more traditional pencil and paper countrywide.

LA TIMES: Arizona's voter ID law will go to the Supreme Court

October 15, 2012
David G. Savage
news photo

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court will weigh in on the controversy over voter fraud and decide early next year whether Arizona can require residents to show proof of their citizenship before they register to vote.

The justices agreed to hear Arizona's appeal of an anti-fraud provision that was adopted as a ballot initiative in 2004, but was struck down by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

NYT: An in-depth look at our touch screen voting machines

October 15, 2012
Clive Thompson
news photo

Originally published on January 6, 2008

Jane Platten gestured, bleary-eyed, into the secure room filled with voting machines. It was 3 a.m. on Nov. 7, and she had been working for 22 hours straight. “I guess we’ve seen how technology can affect an election,” she said. The electronic voting machines in Cleveland were causing trouble again.

SALON: Diebold voting machines can be hacked by remote control

October 15, 2012
Brad Friedman

Originally published on September 27, 2011

 

 

It could be one of the most disturbing e-voting machine hacks to date.

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN: Voting technologies require many changes before they can be reliable for voters

October 15, 2012
Ted Selker
news photo

Originally published in October 2004

The attached PDF is an article about the complexities of voting and the potential for electronic fraud in voting technologies.

 

COMMON DREAMS: Bain Capital owns electronic voting machines that will count many of Ohio's ballots

October 14, 2012
Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman
news photo

Electronic voting machines owned by Mitt Romney's business buddies and set to count the votes in Cincinnati could decide the 2012 election.

The narrative is already being hyped by the corporate media. As Kelly O'Donnell reported for NBC's Today Show on Monday, October 8, Ohio's Hamilton County is "ground zero" for deciding who holds the White House come January, 2013.

O'Donnell pointed out that no candidate has won the White House without carrying Ohio since John Kennedy did it in 1960. No Republican has ever won the White House without Ohio's electoral votes.

THE REVIEW: 15 states back Ohio in early voting case

October 13, 2012
Associated Press
news photo

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Fifteen states and several military organizations announced their support for Ohio's elections chief on Friday in a dispute over early voting in the presidential battleground, which is being appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has appealed a lower court ruling that reinstates early voting on the three days before Election Day and returns discretion to local boards of elections. The Republican also has asked the Supreme Court to delay the lower court's decision while it decides whether to take the case.

AMERICAN PROSPECT: Third party presidential candidates locked out of debates

October 11, 2012
Cole Stangler
news photo

The 2012 election is the fifth straight presidential election to feature no third-party candidates in the debates—and as a result, there's also a lack of engagement with issues that the two major-party candidates don’t want to discuss. 

The debates are organized by the Commission on Presidential Debates, a 501(c)(3) organization created by the Democratic and Republican national committees and funded by corporate sponsors. This year, as usual, the commission extended invitations to only the Democratic and Republican candidates—much to the chagrin of third-party candidates and the handful of nonprofit organizations committed to including more voices in the debates.

ROLL CALL: Ohio votes must be counted if poll workers put provisional ballots in wrong precinct

October 11, 2012
Amanda Becker
news photo

A federal appeals court in Cincinnati today decided two cases related to Ohio’s provisional voting procedures, ruling that it is unconstitutional to toss out ballots that are cast in the incorrect voting precinct due to poll-worker error.

Ohio law “effectively requires voters to have a greater knowledge of their precinct, precinct ballot, and polling place than poll workers,” the three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit said.

AMERICAN PROSPECT: True the Vote trains poll watchers to intimidate voters

October 10, 2012
Abby Rapoport
news photo

Two years ago, the week before Election Day, I drove to Harris County, Texas. More specifically, I drove to the Acres Homes Multi-Service Center, a polling location for early voting in one of Houston’s poor, predominantly black neighborhoods. After alleging that Harris County had a widespread problem with voter fraud, a Tea Party group called the King Street Patriots had launched a project called True the Vote, which had trained hundreds of volunteer poll watchers. As the early-voting period began, reports had begun to trickle out about white poll watchers arriving at minority precincts and intimidating voters. In Texas, poll watchers, appointed by a political party to watch the proceedings, aren’t allowed to do much; they’re barred from communicating with voters.

NATION: Voting Rights Act protects South Carolina and Mississippi citizens that voter ID laws would disenfranchise

October 10, 2012
Brentin Mock
news photo

Today, a federal court blocked South Carolina’s voter ID law for the 2012 elections, though it will be allowed to commence in 2013. According to the judges’ ruling, it is too close to the November election for effective implementation of South Carolina’s Act R54, which required voters to show a driver’s license, state-issued photo ID, passport, federal military photo ID or a photo voter registration card to vote. Before this law was passed, voters could show their voter registration card without a photo. The ruling states:

COLORLINES: Nevada Disenfranchises Its Poor Citizens

October 9, 2012
Aura Bogado
news photo

As we noted on Thursday, the issue of poverty was conspicuously missing from the first presidential candidates’ debate. While the term “middle class” was traded more than thirty times between Obama and Romney, neither candidate made any substantive claims about poverty. In a debate dominated by the topic of the economy, Obama couldn’t bring himself to say the words “poor” or “poverty” one time. Middle class, meanwhile, remains the term that is supposed to blanket everyone living in the US—despite their income or wealth.

PIONEER PRESS: County Board in Minnesota votes to oppose voter ID constitutional amendment

October 9, 2012
Frederick Melo
news photo

Fearing that Minnesota's same-day voter-registration system could be replaced by provisional balloting, the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners voted to oppose a proposed state constitutional amendment that would require voters to show state-issued IDs at the polls.

County officials said they could not afford more unfunded state regulations, and they said the state has already forced counties to absorb the full cost of human service programs such as Meals on Wheels and intervention programs for teen run-aways.

LA TIMES: Judges temporarily block state voter ID laws for 2012 elections

October 8, 2012
David G. Savage
news photo

WASHINGTON — Earlier this year, voting rights advocates foresaw a cloud over this year's election because new voting laws in Republican-led states tightened the rules for casting ballots and reduced the time for early voting.

But with the election less than a month away, it's now clear those laws will have little impact. A series of rulings has blocked or weakened the laws as judges — both Republicans and Democrats — stopped measures that threatened to bar legally registered voters from polling places in the November election.

"Courts see their role as the protectors of the core right to vote," said Ned Foley, an election law expert at Ohio State University.

WSJ: Virginia votes will be tallied on wireless voting machines

September 26, 2012
Joel Schectman
news photo

In this November’s presidential election, Virginia voters will cast ballots on machines that use wireless technology state lawmakers barred five years ago to protect voting machines from hackers. Continued reliability and security concerns over electronic voting are not unique to Virginia, or to machines that use wireless technology, but the case illustrates the credibility issues that have plagued electronic voting machines in use across the country in the aftermath of the messy 2000 presidential election, when the federal government mandated changes to election systems and processes.

POLITICO: Voter ID laws may prevent millions from voting

September 23, 2012
Associated Press
news photo

The combined effects of voter roll purges, demands for proof of citizenship and photo identification requirements in several states may hinder at least 10 million Hispanic citizens who seek to vote this fall, civil rights advocates warn in a new report.

Hispanic voters are considered pivotal to the presidential election this November, and are being heavily courted by both Democratic incumbent Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney. If they turn out in large numbers, Hispanics could sway the outcome in several swing states.

WSJ: Many states still do not require a paper trail for touch screen machines

September 14, 2012
Joel Schectman
news photo

A decade after Dana Debeauvoir helped change Travis County, Texas to an all-electronic voting system she still expects to be falsely accused of fixing the coming election, just as she had in the last two presidential races. The clerk, who has administered voting for 25 years in the county that includes Austin, says the public has remained mistrustful of the ballot system, where voters pick candidates directly from a computer screen, without marking a piece of paper. “There have been so many hard feelings,” says Debeauvoir. “You get people saying ‘I know you have been flipping votes.’”

COLORLINES: Young and Black Voters Turn Out in Wisconsin Despite Suppression Efforts

June 6, 2012
Brentin Mock
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It may not feel like there’s anything positive to make out of the unsuccessful bid to recall Gov. Scott Walker in yesterday’s Wisconsin elections, but there were hints of optimism. Young voters and African-American voters did more than their part to show up, according to exit polls and early reports, despite significant efforts to confuse and challenge them from groups that profess to be fighting voter fraud. 

USA TODAY: Electronic voting is the real threat to elections

June 6, 2012
Editorial Board of USA Today

Imagine how easy voting would be if Americans could cast ballots the same way they buy songs from iTunes or punch in a PIN code to check out at the grocery store: You could click on a candidate from a home computer or use a touch screen device at the local polling place.

MOTHER JONES: Kathy Nickolaus may remain in charge of Waukesha Co elections on June 5th

May 31, 2012
Andy Kroll
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Republican Kathy Nickolaus may be the only county clerk known by name across Wisconsin—and not for a good reason.

Last year, Nickolaus, the top election official in Waukesha County, a solidly Republican suburb outside of Milwaukee, blamed "human error" for the late discovery of more than 14,000 missing votes in a bruising state Supreme Court race. Those votes erased liberal favorite JoAnne Kloppenburg's lead in the race, handed victory to conservative incumbent David Prosser, and later led to an expensive recount. This April, Nickolaus resorted to posting election results on strips of grocery-receipt-like paper after the county's reporting system failed on election night.

More Info: 

Take Action to Protect the Recall Elections: www.wisconsinwave.org/nmse

PR WATCH: Right wing front group gins up fears of "voter fraud" during Wisconsin recalls

May 31, 2012
Brendan Fischer
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An out-of-state Tea Party organization recently called a "GOP front group" by a Texas judge is again intervening in Wisconsin's recall election and perpetuating unfounded fears of "voter fraud," a spectre also raised by right-wing media, Governor Scott Walker, and most recently, Republican National Committee (RNC) Chair Reince Priebus.

With polls showing the recall election between Walker and his challenger Tom Barrett tightening to a dead heat (49-49 in a recent survey by Democratic pollster Celinda Lake), Republicans have been invoking fears of "voter fraud" to cast doubt on a potential Barrett victory, despite repeated investigations finding no evidence of in-person electoral wrongdoing.

BRAD BLOG: Columbia County, NY uses system of hand-counted paper ballots to verify their votes

March 28, 2012
Brad Friedman
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This is really great. But the subsequent information I've received from the Columbia County, NY commissioners in reply to my query is even better!

For a start, here's the key parts of the story from Debora Gilbert at The Columbia Paper near Albany, New York.

Note, in particular, how both the Republican and Democratic commissioners concur on what should not be a partisan issue. They are doing a great service to their voters. Read the story and then I'll share the even better news with you below that...

Just How Much Money Does It Take To Become President?

February 22, 2012
Dave Gilson

 

Barack Obama spent $730 million getting to the White House in 2008—twice as much as George W. Bush spent 4 years earlier and more than 260 times what Abraham Lincoln spent in his first election (as measured in 2011 dollars). Looking at the total costs of presidential elections over the past 150 years, it would seem that the White House is the ultimate recession-proof commodity:

Hostile Takeover: Turning MI Cities Over to "Managers" Who Can Sell Off City Hall, Break Union Contracts, Privatize Services—and Even Fire Elected Officials

February 15, 2012
Paul Abowd

 

When the city of Pontiac, Michigan, shut down its fire department last Christmas Eve, city councilman Kermit Williams learned about it in the morning paper. "Nobody reports to me anymore," Williams says. "It just gets reported in the press." This was just the latest in a series of radical changes in the city, where elected officials such as Williams have been replaced by a single person with unprecedented control over the city's operation and budget.

GOP Lawmakers, Pledged to Secrecy, Told to Ignore Public Comments on Redistricting

February 6, 2012
Patrick Marley, Daniel Bice and Jason Stein

 

As legislative leaders secretly developed new election maps last year to strengthen their majority, Republican lawmakers were told to ignore public comments and instead focus on what was said in private strategy sessions, according to a GOP memo that became public Monday.

Other newly released documents also show almost all Republican lawmakers signed legal agreements promising not to discuss the new maps while they were being developed.

GOP lawmakers fought releasing these new documents and testifying about the maps in a pending court case but relented after a panel of three federal judges based in Milwaukee last month found they had filed frivolous motions in trying to shield the information from the public.

US House Passes Bill To End Public Funding Of Campaigns

January 26, 2012
Catalina Camia

 

The U.S. House passed a bill today to end public financing of presidential campaigns, but the bid to kill a system considered outdated by some Republicans could end there.

The vote was 239-160. Ten Democrats supported the measure and one Republican voted no.

The Obama administration is "strongly opposed" to the bill and wants to see public financing for presidential campaigns "fixed rather than dismantled."

CNN: Why vote on Tuesdays? No good reason

January 3, 2012
Jacob Soboroff

Today, Iowans will kick off the Republican nominating process for president of the United States with the first-in-the-nation caucuses. But why a Tuesday?

The short answer: We vote on Tuesday for absolutely no good reason. This is true especially when you consider the United States, arguably the world's most famous democracy, has ranked near the bottom of all nations in voter participation for more than half a century. And that's not because, as Mitt Romney suggested to me last month, we need great candidates to increase voter turnout. Heard of JFK? Reagan?

THE GUARDIAN: Unlimited super-pac money flooding Iowa before caucuses

January 3, 2012
Richard Adams

Iowa's Republican presidential contest is bringing out harsh attack ads from supporters of Rick Perry (left) and from Ron Paul's campaign. Photograph: Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

A tide is flowing through American politics: a tide of money unleashed by a supreme court decision that opened the floodgates to unlimited spending on advertising by so-called "super pacs" – political action committees loosely affiliated with individual candidates.

TRUTHDIG: If You Can’t Beat Them, Enjoin Them (From Voting)

December 27, 2011
Amy Goodman
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All eyes are on Iowa this week, as the hodgepodge field of Republican contenders gallivants across that farm state seeking a win, or at least “momentum,” in the campaign for the party’s presidential nomination. But behind the scenes, a battle is being waged by Republicans—not against each other, but against American voters. Across the country, state legislatures and governors are pushing laws that seek to restrict access to the voting booth, laws that will disproportionately harm people of color, low-income people, and young and elderly voters.

JOHN NICHOLS: Scott Walker's ton of cash can't counter people power

December 21, 2011
John Nichols

If money is speech, as the crooked courtesans of our high court would have it, then Gov. Scott Walker might imagine himself well-positioned for the recall election he is now all but certain to face.

Last Thursday the United Wisconsin movement announced that its thousands of volunteers had in less than a month gathered more than 500,000 signatures on petitions demanding that the agonizingly inept governor of Wisconsin be held to account for an agenda that just cost the state another 14,000 jobs. On the very same day, Walker was touting the news that his campaign had raised more than $5 million.

Surely, in the calculus of the corrupt, 5,000,000 dollars should carry 10 times the political power of 500,000 signatures.

CAP TIMES: ACLU sues over Wisconsin voter ID law

December 13, 2011
Jessica Vanegeren

A federal lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Milwaukee alleging that Wisconsin's new voter ID law is unconstitutional and will deprive people of the right to vote.

The suit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin and the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, claims top state officials includng Gov. Scott Walker and Kevin Kennedy, executive director of the non-partisan state elections agency, as well as employees tasked with implementing the law at the state Department of Motor Vehicles and Social Security offices have created a poll tax and other obstacles that present a "severe and undue burden on the fundamental right to vote."

NYT: Excessive over votes recorded by electronic machines in New York results in thousands of lost votes

December 6, 2011
Sam Roberts
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-As many as 60,000 of the votes cast in New York State elections last year were voided because people unintentionally cast their ballots for more than one candidate, according to a study being released this week. The excess-voting was highest in predominantly black and Hispanic neighborhoods, including two Bronx election districts where 40 percent of the votes for governor were disqualified.

-The study, by the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University Law School, blamed software used with new electronic optical-scan voting machines as well as ambiguous instructions for disenfranchising tens of thousands of voters. The old mechanical lever-operated machines did not allow votes for more than one candidate for the same office.

NAACP: States systematically taking away voting rights for blacks and Latinos

December 5, 2011
Ed Pilkington

The largest civil rights group in America, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), is petitioning the UN over what it sees as a concerted efforted to disenfranchise black and Latino voters ahead of next year's presidential election.

The organisation will this week present evidence to the UN high commissioner on human rights of what it contends is a conscious attempt to "block the vote" on the part of state legislatures across the US. Next March the NAACP will send a delegation of legal experts to Geneva to enlist the support of the UN human rights council.

More Info: 

Download the complete report mentioned in the article below:

JOHN NICHOLS: Wisconsinites of every political stripe overwhelmingly support recall effort

November 20, 2011
John Nichols

In the first 48 hours of the movement to recall Scott Walker and Rebecca Kleefisch, more than 50,000 Wisconsinites signed petitions to force the governor and lieutenant governor to face a new election and the prospect of removal from office.

And that number will multiply. More than 20,000 people have downloaded petitions from United Wisconsin as the group works to gather the required 540,000 signatures, and tens of thousands more signatures have been collected from the more than 30 United Wisconsin offices across the state.

The recall movement is real, and remarkable in its strength and reach.

Walker knows he is in trouble.

NYT: Oregon tests if the iPad could replace voting machines for disabled voters

November 16, 2011
Katherine Seelye
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Could the iPad someday supplant the voting machine?

Oregon last week became the first state in the country to use iPads to allow people with disabilities to vote, and it intends to use them again for another election in January. Several other states are expected to follow suit with iPads or other tablets, possibly as early as for next year’s presidential election.

YES!: New Oregon process empowers citizens during ballot referendums

November 4, 2011
Tyrone Reitman

Daily, it seems, we watch as our democracy slips into an increasingly divisive panic attack. Republicans, we’re told, hate Democrats. Democrats, we’re told, hate Republicans. Accountability in our political system seems as tenuous as the economic recovery: Tea Partier, Wall Street Occupier, or none of the above, we all know something's amiss.

Yet as it is, we have a tradition of successful self-governance more than 230 years in the making. Full of beauty, opportunity, and deep scars, our democracy continues as a grand experiment. Rights have been expanded, greater access to the disenfranchised has been afforded, and our democratic institutions endure.

NEW YORK TIMES: One Person, One Vote for President

June 21, 2010
Editorial

Nearly 10 years after George W. Bush lost the popular vote to Al Gore and became president anyway, the New York State Legislature has a chance to withdraw from the archaic and unfair way this country picks its chief executives.

The State Senate has adopted, by a vote of 52 to 7, a measure requiring the state to assign all of its Electoral College delegates to the candidate who wins the national popular vote. In the Assembly, 79 of 150 members have signed on to the bill, but it remains stuck in committee. The Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, should bring it to the floor this week and press all members to vote for it.

More Info: 

Original article here...

LEWIS: Why Our President Should Be Elected by a National Popular Vote

June 14, 2010
Jason Lewis

It has been a long time since Massachusetts decided a presidential election. Presidential candidates spend the vast majority of their time and campaign funds on swing states like Ohio and Florida, and the votes of certain Americans are more sought after than others.

More Info: 

Jason Lewis is a Massachussetts state legislator.

Original article here...

NATIONAL LAWYERS GUILD: Philippine Elections Rife with Violence, Irregularities and Voting System Malfunctions

May 20, 2010
Paige Cram

Seven members of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) observed pre-electoral and election-day conditions during the Philippines’ historic election last week and found widespread irregularities, a high potential for fraud, voter machine breakdowns, military intimidation and a deadly gun battle inside the poll. NLG observers joined over 80 other observers from 12 different countries as members of the People International Observer Mission.

More Info: 

Contact: Paige Cram, Communications Coordinator, National Lawyers Guild, communications@nlg.org, 212-679-5100, ext. 15

Daily Sentinel: Voters of Both Parties Object to Supreme Court Activism

January 26, 2010
Bill Grant
news photo

If anything can unite Americans across party and ideological lines, it should be the arrogant and unprecedented Supreme Court ruling that corporations are “persons” with all the protections and rights of the Constitution.

In a case trumped up by the court itself, five activist judges reversed 100 years of precedent to allow unlimited, special-interest money to be spent in our local, state and federal elections.

NYT: The largest tester of electronic voting machines banned from testing after they failed to prove that they conducted all of the required tests

January 4, 2007
Christopher Drew
news photo

A laboratory that has tested most of the nation’s electronic voting systems has been temporarily barred from approving new machines after federal officials found that it was not following its quality-control procedures and could not document that it was conducting all the required tests.

The company, Ciber Inc. of Greenwood Village, Colo., has also come under fire from analysts hired by New York State over its plans to test new voting machines for the state. New York could eventually spend $200 million to replace its aging lever devices.

SALON: Princeton University study demonstrates how Diebold's machines can be hacked

September 13, 2006
Brad Friedman
news photo

Having reported extensively on the security concerns that surround the use of electronic voting machines, I anxiously awaited the results of a new study of a Diebold touch-screen voting system, conducted by Princeton University. The Princeton computer scientists obtained the Diebold system with cooperation from VelvetRevolution, an umbrella organization of more than 100 election integrity groups, which I co-founded a few months after the 2004 election. We acquired the Diebold system from an independent source and handed it over to university scientists so that, for the first time, they could analyze the hardware, software and firmware of the controversial voting system.

NYT: North Carolina's election machine blunder

January 18, 2005
Adam Cohen
news photo

The November election may feel like ancient history, but it is still going on in North Carolina. The state has been unable to swear in an agriculture commissioner because a single malfunctioning electronic voting machine lost more ballots than the number of votes that separate the two candidates. The State Board of Elections, the candidates and the public are sharply divided on how to proceed. The mess North Carolina finds itself in is a cautionary tale about the perils of relying on electronic voting that does not produce a paper record.

WSJ: Diebold security flaws emerge as electronic voting spreads

October 25, 2004
Anne Marie Squeo
news photo

THE HANGING CHADS and lost ballots of the 2000 presidential-election debacle made it seem a foregone conclusion that modernized, electronic-voting machines would be widely embraced the next time around. And so they will be. But paranoia about stolen elections and security flaws has made Nov. 2 a make-or-break event for the fledgling industry and its biggest player, Diebold Inc.

SOJOURNERS: The e-voting system is dangerously vulnerable to fraud

September 1, 2004
David Batstone

Florida, 2000 presidential election—the vote count long will be recalled as a low point in U.S. democratic politics.

The hue and cry of electoral corruption and a stolen election compelled the U.S. Congress to act. Boldly, it committed $3.9 billion in matching federal funds to assist states in the transition toward digital voting systems. Here, under the flag of the Help America Vote Act, was the answer for hanging chads.

Remarkably, about 30 percent of the electorate—50 million voters or so—will submit a ballot in the coming November elections using paperless machines. Be worried. The e-voting system in place is dangerously vulnerable to fraud.

NATION: How the 2004 election could be stolen

August 16, 2004
news photo

On November 2 millions of Americans will cast their votes for President in computerized voting systems that can be rigged by corporate or local-election insiders. Some 98 million citizens, five out of every six of the roughly 115 million who will go to the polls, will consign their votes into computers that unidentified computer programmers, working in the main for four private corporations and the officials of 10,500 election jurisdictions, could program to invisibly falsify the outcomes.

HARPER'S: A citizens' guide to hacking the 2004 election

April 1, 2004
Brendan Koerner
news photo

That serious problems plague our new, computerized voting machines--on which 29 percent of U.S. voters are poised to cast their votes in November--has been apparent ever since $3.9 billion in federal funding for the machines was made available in 2002, in the aftermath of Bush v. Gore. In the years since, report after report has cautioned that the machines lack the security and robustness necessary to withstand the assaults of hackers or unscrupulous technicians. But no one seems likely to stop the rollout of the machines, more than 50,000 of which have been purchased by states.

HUMANIST: Touchscreen voting machines leave a paperless trail in districts where the polls do not match the results

January 1, 2004
Michael I. Niman
news photo

Manipulating election votes, the act of stealing an American election, used to sound far fetched. While many people weren't always confident that voters would make fully informed decisions, it was always assumed that each vote would at least be counted. Then came Florida--and the whole quaint notion of elections got tossed out the window. The final 2000 election recount showed that George W. Bush didn't win but he came close enough to move in for the kill.

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