Monday, July 2, 2012

Countdown to November. Voting Rights

Check your local voting commission.  
Ensure your friends, family members, senior citizens, disabled, homeless, all you can reach are able to practice their U.S. right to vote.   

Register to vote!

Charles D. Sharp

Charles D. Sharp
Chief Executive    


"I Care...."
The National Popular Vote (NPV) plan guarantees election of the presidential candidate who earns the greatest number of votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. NPV does not dispense with the Electoral College, and is not a constitutional amendment. Rather, the plan is based on two clear powers given to the states under the Constitution: the power under Article 2 Section 1 to choose how to allocate its presidential electors, and the power under Article 1 Section 10 to enter into interstate compacts. States in early U.S. history often exercised the power to change rules for allocating electoral votes. While today, 48 states and the District of Columbia award their electoral votes to the winner of that state’s popular vote, the founders did not originally contemplate this type of system, as James Madison explained in 1823. Read More

Alaska election officials should not be barred from implementing the new redistricting plan because a requirement that the plan be approved by the federal government is unconstitutional, attorneys for the state contend. A federal three-judge panel is scheduled to hear arguments Thursday in the case brought by several Alaska Natives, who want the state barred from implementing the plan until the U.S. Justice Department weighs in on it. Justice has about a month yet to do so. Alaska's primary is scheduled for Aug. 28. A divided Alaska Supreme Court in May approved use of the plan for this year's elections, but any plan must pass muster both with the courts and Justice. Read More

The Supreme Court’s split decision on Arizona’s immigration law gave President Barack Obama an important legal victory Monday while upholding just enough of the statute to keep the issue alive as he pursues Latino voters in advance of the November election. Indeed, the president’s advantage on the issue was clear given that top Republicans either declined to respond or, in the case of presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, issued statements that vaguely supported states rights without commenting on the specifics of the tough Arizona law. The controversial “papers please” section of the law requiring police officers to try to ascertain the immigration status of people they suspect to be illegal immigrants was upheld, while the rest of the law adding state criminal penalties for immigration violations was gutted in a 5-3 ruling written by Justice Anthony Kennedy. With the states constrained, the onus is squarely on Congress to fix the nation’s immigration system, but nothing beyond partisan posturing is likely on that front before November. Read More

A low-key primary election day in Colorado took on an even more muted tone Tuesday: Destructive wildfires are dominating the public's attention, and candidates were loath to campaign amid the smoke and flames. Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs, the only sitting member of Congress from Colorado facing a primary challenge, spent the days before the election meeting with firefighters and seeking federal resources to battle a quick-moving fire that forced thousands to evacuate the Manitou Springs area. Lamborn's opponent, Colorado Springs businessman Robert Blaha, canceled get-out-the-vote phone calls for all of El Paso County, which makes up some 70 percent of the voters in the 5th Congressional District. "Now is a time to respect other priorities for sure," Blaha spokeswoman Tamra Farah said. Read More

Gov. Rick Scott insists Florida's voter rolls must be scrubbed carefully to remove any non-U.S. citizens, but his administration is keeping secret a list of more than 180,000 voters whose citizenship may be in question. Scott's elections agency is refusing numerous requests from voter advocacy groups and news outlets to release the list, months after the state released an initial list targeting 2,625 potential noncitizens. Many people on the first list turned out to be citizens. The larger list has the potential to cause a bigger political controversy than the smaller one. "I want to be very careful," said Scott's chief elections official, Secretary of State Ken Detzner. "It's individuals' names on there, and I want to make sure that people are treated respectfully. I want to be abundantly cautious about that." Read More

Officials conducting the 3rd District Lake County Commissioner recount already have found apparent voting irregularities in the first day of the new tally. James Wieser, an attorney for the county elections board, said North Township Board member Richard J. Novak is expected to contest a number of votes that apparently were cast after regular voting hours ended during the May 8 Democratic primary. He said the list of challenged ballots include eight cast in Dyer, two in East Chicago and four cast in Hammond's 1st City Council District, for a total of 14 possibly questionable votes. Wieser said the recount still must proceed through Hammond's five other City Council districts as well as precincts in Highland, Munster, St. John and Whiting. The recount began early Monday when technicians took the locks off of the first batch of voting machines. Novak and County Councilman Michael Repay were present in the voting machine garage as the three-man, court-appointed recount commission began its work to go over more than 9,800 votes cast in the May 8 Democratic primary race. Repay was declared the official winner by 74 votes. Novak is challenging that outcome. Read More

A shortage of voter registration cards on hand at the Maine Secretary of State's office is frustrating some groups and candidates who are launching drives to enroll new voters. The Maine Democratic Party says the secretary has dispensed up to 1,000 cards at a time in the past. Now that number has dropped to 50. Officials at the Secetary of State's office say they are merely updating their forms and that new cards should be available next month. Colleen Lachowicz showed up at the Secretary of State's office last week to pick up some voter registration cards. As a Democratic state Senate candidate from Waterville, she thought might use some of her campaigning time to register new voters. Although the Secretary of State's Office commonly allows candidates such as Lachowicz to take up to a 1,000 cards, she says that's not what she got. "I was told they only had 250 left so they said they could give me 20," she says. "And I said, 'Could I have 50?' And so I was able to get 50 of them. And they had me sign a paper saying they could give me 50." Lachowiscz says she can't help but wonder about the effect the state's current rationing system is having statewide. "I'm just concerned that if there's only 250 of these things left, I'm sure there's more than 250 people that want to get registered to vote at this time."

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a ruling Monday that allows Maryland to count prison inmates at their last known addresses - rather than their prison addresses - for redistricting purposes, and upholds the map approved by the General Assembly last year. Activists had sued the state, saying that the newly drawn congressional districting map violated the U.S. Constitution. The map was developed by a committee appointed by Gov. Martin O'Malley and based on census data and statewide input. It was also drawn to reflect a 2010 Maryland law that counts prisoners at their last known addresses, which differs from the U.S. Census Bureau’s policy of counting inmates at their prison addresses, used by most states. Read More

Minnesota’s current Election Day registration system lies in the hands of a federal judge, who on Friday heard arguments from a conservative activist group seeking to strengthen procedures for determining voter eligibility. Erick Kaardal, attorney for the Minnesota Voters Alliance and several political candidates, argued that state election officials are not adequately ensuring that felons and wards of the state who are ineligible to vote are turned away from the polls. This so-called “vote dilution” from counting allegedly ineligible ballots could have had a significant effect on the extremely close elections in Minnesota during the last two cycles, he said. And the alliance is concerned about voter verification procedures for the November election, which includes the presidential race and the fate of constitutional amendments on Voter ID and on marriage. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and elections officials from Ramsey, Chisago and Crow Wing counties are all named defendants in the suit, which U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank heard on Friday. Read More

Lawmakers start their last week of work for the legislative session tonight. As legislators look to wrap up unfinished business, a key House leader says its unlikely that a new voter ID bill will be forthcoming this year. "It's gone," said Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, who chairs the committee which oversees election laws and would have been the point person to shepherd a new voter ID bill through the House. Under current law, most voters do not have to show ID when they come to the polls. Under a version of voter ID bill that Gov. Bev Perdue, a Democrat, vetoed last year, most voter would have to provide photo identification before casting a ballot. Proponents of the measure say voter ID would help make sure people don't vote in the name of others or cast ballots when they're not qualified to do so. Opponents say there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud and ID laws would disproportionately keep poor, elderly and college-age voters from casting ballots.

Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R) said that the voter ID law passed by the legislature would help deliver the state for Mitt Romney in November.
“Pro-Second Amendment? The Castle Doctrine, it’s done. First pro-life legislation - abortion facility regulations - in 22 years, done. Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done,” Turzai said at this weekend’s Republican State Committee meeting , according
A spokesman for Turzai confirmed the accuracy of the quote for TPM but argued that people were reading too much into it. “The fact is that while Pennsylvania Democrats don’t like it to be talked about, there is election fraud,” Turzai spokesman Stephen Miskin told TPM. “Protecting the integrity of an individual vote is the purpose of any election reform. So was Turzai suggesting that Democrats had won previous elections through voter fraud? Read More

Innocent utterance or a major political Freudian slip? Either way, a top House Republican has come under fire for comments he made over the weekend regarding Pennsylvania's new voter-ID law - comments that critics say prove their contention that the law was motivated by the GOP's desire to skew presidential elections in its favor. At a state Republican Party meeting in Harrisburg Saturday, House Majority Leader Mike Turzai of Allegheny County listed legislative victories since Republicans regained control of both chambers and the governor's office. Among them, he said: requiring voters, starting in November, to show an acceptable form of identification at the polls. Turzai then framed the effort in the context of November's presidential election. "Voter ID, which is going to allow Gov. Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania - done," Turzai told the crowd, which promptly broke into applause. His comments swiftly began made it onto YouTube, and since then have called into question his - and his party's - motives in supporting the measure. Read More

The odds of Racine's recall recount winding up in court increased Tuesday, as Republican Sen. Van Wanggaard's campaign said it may challenge canvassers' decision to accept ballots from voters who did not sign the poll book. The recount is in its second week after Wanggaard's campaign requested canvassers review an 834-vote victory that favored Democratic challenger John Lehman in the June 5 recall. Republicans' latest contention of voting irregularities in Racine targets election workers who failed to ask voters to sign poll books as required by state law. The Wanggaard campaign also disputes the Government Accountability Board's recommendation that canvassers accept the votes. Once canvassers certify the recall, the campaign could challenge the recount in court, potentially delaying Democratic control of the state Senate for weeks. The results of the recount will determine whether Republicans keep the majority or if Democrats take control of the Senate between now and the November general election. Since 2011, a new voting law requires that poll workers have voters sign a poll book. Read More

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