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electionlineWeekly--June 9, 2011

Table of Contents

II. Election News This Week

  • The federal government has filed court documents supporting a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit to strike down Arizona's voter-approved requirement that residents provide proof of citizenship when they register to vote. The court ruled that the National Voter Registration Act pre-empts Arizona's Proposition 200, which was passed by voters in 2004. The state successfully asked the court to reconsider the decision and an 11-member judge panel of the Appeals Court will rehear it June 21 in Pasadena, Calif. Among its provisions, the National Voter Registration Act creates a standard federal registration form that all states must accept. It requires applicants to sign a statement that they are citizens, but does not require them to show any proof. Last week, the federal government filed a court brief arguing that Proposition 200 is pre-empted by the federal voter registration act and that Congress intentionally forbids states from requiring proof of citizenship in order to vote. Arizona’s Attorney General Tom Horne is none-too-pleased. "This is contrary to the interests of the people of the United State of America."
  • Residents of New Jersey went to the polls for a primary election on Tuesday and there were reports of problems at the polls and tabulation centers throughout the Garden State. While most of the problems occurred after the polls closed, some problems did occur with the opening of polling places including one in Jersey City that opened over an hour late. In Morris County, in addition to problems with a voting machine at an East Hanover polling location, the county tabulation machine jammed and results were delayed until Wednesday. Twenty hours after the polls closed, Sussex County was finally able to announce election results after a glitch in the system posted inaccurate vote totals on election night. In Somerset County, close races and malfunctioning voting machines forced the county clerk to wait until Wednesday morning to post the results. Results were delayed in several Middlesex County townships as well including Monroe where the voting machines were printing illegible numbers. In Essex County, the township of Montclair a computer program went “awry” and prevented the town clerk from counting ballots which still had not been completely tallied at press time.
  • This week, Maine became the latest in a growing list of states battling over election reform legislation. At issue in The Pine Tree State is same-day registration. After extensive debate, the Senate voted 18-17 in favor of a bill that would eliminate same-day voter registration in an initial vote Wednesday. The bill would also ban absentee voting the two business days prior to an election. In 2010, about 20,000 people registered to vote on Election Day and in 2008, a presidential election year, the number was about 50,000. Supporters say the proposal is aimed to alleviate Election Day burdens on municipal workers and help prevent voter fraud, but opponents say it will disenfranchise voters. The House also offered initial approval for the measure, which faces further votes.
  • The Cost of Recounts: According to The Associated Press, the total tab for the Wisconsin Supreme Court recount was more than $500,000. Waukesha County — at the center of the controversy — spent more than $130,000 for their portion of the recount. Costs covered everything from judges hired to oversee the process, tabulators, court reporters and additional security personnel. While the costs of the recount in Wisconsin were covered by the government, counties in Minnesota are still waiting for the state’s GOP to reimburse them for the December 2010 recount in the state’s gubernatorial election. “We have about 20 counties left to go,” GOP Chairman Tony Sutton said. “We have been chipping away on them.” Sutton estimated that the party could finish paying its recount bills within four weeks. He said about $20,000 remains to be paid.
  • Voter ID Update: After Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed Minnesota’s legislatively approved voter ID bill, GOP legislators vowed to continue the fight and this week two lawmakers vowed to continue the fight next year as a constitutional amendment. New Hampshire lawmakers in both the House and Senate have approved photo ID legislation, however Gov. John Lynch has expressed concerns about the legislation and it’s believed that he may veto it. North Carolina’s version of voter ID legislation went through some changes this week when House Republicans abandoned an earlier proposal that did not include a photo requirement and instead offered up new legislation that would require a government-issued photo ID to vote. Although it’s divided legislators, it appears that Pennsylvania’s proposed voter ID bill will pass the House in the coming days.