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March 28, 2015

Congressmen Lewis, Hoyer, Clyburn, Conyers and Brady Reintroduce Voter Empowerment Act

From the website of Cong. John Lewis: Today, lead sponsors Rep. John Lewis (GA-5), House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD-5), Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (SC-6), Rep. John Conyers (MI-13), Rep. Robert Brady (PA-1) and more than 170 Democrats reintroduced the Voter Empowerment Act in the House of Representatives. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York will introduce a companion version in the Senate. The Voter Empowerment Act will help ensure equal access to the ballot for every eligible voter, will modernize our voter registration system to help more Americans participate, and takes steps to eliminate deceptive practices and voter fraud that deter voters from casting their ballots.

On March 21, 1965, thousands of protestors left Selma, Alabama and marched all the way to Montgomery to underscore the need for voting rights legislation which assured access to the ballot box for millions of Americans. Sponsors offer the VEA today as a continuation of the on-going effort to ensure that every American has an equal and fair opportunity to make their voices heard through the electoral process. At a time when some states have implemented or are planning to implement new barriers for voters who may be seniors, students, low-income Americans, members of our Armed Services, disabled, or speak English as a second language, Democrats see the need to certify their efforts to protect voting access for all Americans.

Click for a section by section description, quotes in support, or full bill text of the Voter Empowerment Act. -- Lewis, Hoyer, Clyburn, Conyers and Brady Reintroduce Voter Empowerment Act | The Website of Congressman John Lewis, Serving the 5th Congressional District of Georgia

Comment: I recommend you start with the 9-page section-by-section summary rather than the 167-page bill.

August 19, 2014

Circuit Court puts Alexander back on the ballot reports: Montgomery County Circuit Judge Charles Price announced today he would issue an injunction that will keep Louise Alexander on the ballot in Alabama House District 56, Alexander's lawyer, U.W. Clemon, said this evening.

That will overturn a decision by Secretary of State Jim Bennett to disqualify Alexander from the race.

Bennett issued a statement opposing the ruling, and his office is considering an appeal. -- Judge Charles Price rules secretary of state must put Louise Alexander on the ballot |

August 13, 2014

Brown wins election-contest appeal reports: A subcommittee of the the State Democratic Executive Committee today dismissed an appeal of Sandra Little Brown's win over Shelia Smoot for a seat on the Jefferson County Commission.

Ervin P. Hill, a voter who filed the challenge, said he would appeal to the full state Democratic Executive Committee, which is scheduled to hold a regular meeting on Saturday. -- Alabama Democratic committee dismisses challenge to Brown's win over Smoot in Jefferson County Commission race |

August 12, 2014

Shelia Smoot-Sandra Little Brown election contest being heard today reports: The state Democratic Executive Committee has set a hearing today at 2 P.M. to determine whether to dismiss an appeal in the Sheila Smoot-Sandra Little Brown Jefferson County Commission District 2 race.

The planned hearing at the AEA Headquarters in Montgomery has set off a flurry of legal filings and pitted local Democratic Party members against their counterparts at the state level.

Some Brown supporters are also worried that efforts are being made to take the election from Brown, who won the Commission District 2 primary runoff last month by 26 votes.

After the election was contested, the local Democratic Party declined to hear the challenge and the matter was appealed to the state party. -- How the Shelia Smoot-Sandra Little Brown election contest could tear apart the state Democratic Party |

Disclosure: I served as Ms. Smoot's attorney for a short time.

September 8, 2012

Candidate for Hale County probate judge ruled ineligible to run

The Tuscaloosa News reports: A circuit judge has declared Hale County Democratic probate judge nominee Arthur Crawford ineligible for the November general election because he didn't file timely campaign finance reports during the spring primary runoff against incumbent Leland Avery.

A Hale County Democratic Party official said Avery was certified as the nominee on Wednesday. Avery said he sent the certification with his name on the Nov. 6 ballot against Republican Bob Hoggle.

Montgomery County Circuit Judge Charles Price on Tuesday ruled Crawford ineligible and ordered Alabama Democratic Party Chairman Mark Kennedy to revoke Crawford's certificate of nomination "due to his admitted failure to" timely file campaign finance reports. -- Read the whole story --> Hale County probate judge nominee is ineligible |

July 27, 2012

State Dems decide Hale County election contest

The Tuscaloosa News reports: The State Democratic Party chairman has declined to send Hale County Probate Judge Leland Averys failed primary runoff challenge to the full party state executive committee.

In a letter dated Friday, Mark Kennedy informed attorneys for Avery and apparent primary runoff winner Arthur Crawford Sr. that Avery's initial challenge of his May 4 runoff loss was not timely filed.

Kennedy denied Avery's request for an appeal to the full State Democratic Executive Committee. ...

Averys attorney, James Anderson, said on Wednesday that he plans to ask a Montgomery County circuit judge to declare Avery the nominee. -- Read the whole story --> Hale County runoff challenge denied |

July 17, 2012

GOP rejects challenge to its candidate

The Huntsville Times ( reports: An Alabama Republican Party committee tonight rejected a complaint challenging Huntsville attorney Linda Coats' nomination for a district court judgeship. ...

The Alabama GOP issued a statement following the meeting.

"The challenge spelled out three accusations against Ms. Coats," the news release said. "First, that she failed to file a document with the Supreme Court. That accusation is factually wrong. Ms. Coats filed the proper paperwork in a timely manner as acknowledged by the office of the Clerk of the Supreme Court.

"Second, the complaint cites the 'Sore Loser' Standing Rule of the Alabama Republican Party, adopted 1994. The 'Sore Loser' provision is to keep the loser of a Republican Primary from running in the ensuing General Election as an Independent or a third party candidate. Therefore the Candidate Committee has determined Ms. Coats has not violated the 'Sore Loser' provision.

"Third, the complaint alleges that Ms. Coats did not fully disclose information during the question and answer session of her interview. After review, the Committee is satisfied with Ms. Coat's presentation and does not need further clarification." -- Read the whole story --> Alabama GOP committee rejects complaint over Linda Coats' district judge nomination (updated) |

July 11, 2012

Republicans contitnue to fight over judicial candidate in Madison County

The Huntsville Times ( reports: Four Huntsville attorneys have filed an expanded complaint to the Alabama Republican Party seeking to have Linda Coats disqualified as the party nominee for a Madison County District Court judgeship.

Attorneys Amy Creech, Bill Hall, Dinah Rhodes and Amy Slayden submitted the petition last week asking for Coats' disqualification or reconsideration of Coats' candidacy.

Coats, who won the GOP primary in March with just under 50 percent the vote, was selected out of a field of seven candidates by the Alabama Republican Party candidate committee last month. She was chosen after Chris Messervy, who defeated her in the GOP runoff, was disqualified in May for a late campaign finance disclosure filing. ...

The new complaint said Coats is in violation of the canons if her filing was submitted Oct. 31, 2011, as the clerk reported. The canons require the filing to occur within 10 days of qualifying as a judicial candidate. The complaint said qualifying didn't open until Nov. 14 and the petitioners say they don't have any information Coats submitted a filing within 10 days of her actual qualifying date. -- Read the whole story --> Group of lawyers wants GOP to disqualify Linda Coats as Madison County judge nominee |

June 20, 2012

State Dems appoint committee to hear Hale County appeal

The Tuscaloosa News reports: Almost two months after the party's runoff election, the Democratic nominee remains unknown after an election challenge.

Arthur Crawford of Sawyerville defeated three-term incumbent Leland Avery by 80 votes in the April 24 Democratic runoff. After the vote was certified, a citizen filed a challenge, claiming Crawford failed to comply with the new Alabama campaign financial disclosure laws.

A subcommittee appointed by the Hale County Democratic Party met on May 25 and upheld the challenge, voting 3-2 to disqualify Crawford as the party's nominee. Crawford then appealed the decision to the state party.

Bradley Davidson, the state party's executive director, said the state Democratic executive committee has appointed a five-member subcommittee to hear the appeal. -- Read the whole story --> Dems will meet to settle Hale probate judge issue |

May 26, 2012

Democratic candidate in Hale County ousted for campaign finance violations

The Tuscaloosa News reports: The candidate who earned the most votes in the Hale County probate judge Democratic primary is out of the running for the seat.

Arthur Crawford of Sawyerville defeated three-term incumbent Leland Avery by 80 votes in the April primary. A subcommittee of the Hale County Democratic Party voted 3-2 on Friday to disqualify Crawford for failing to file campaign financial disclosure reports as required by law, said party chairwoman LaTonda Collins. ...

Either the local committee or the state committee will select a candidate to take his place, Collins said. But Montgomery election attorney James Anderson, who led the contest and represents Avery, said that the Friday morning decision effectively names Avery as the Democratic nominee. -- Read the whole story --> Panel ousts primary winner |

April 3, 2012

How much will one delegate recount cost?

The Birmingham News reports: Jefferson County Presiding Court Judge Scott Vowell today ordered Jefferson County to retabulate votes from the March 13 Republican presidential primary in precincts that are split between two congressional districts.

Vowell's order also states that the state Republican Party will fund the review if the state does not reimburse Jefferson County.

The order came after a lawsuit was filed Friday by the Alabama Republican Party arguing that votes 48 split precincts in Jefferson and six other counties failed to differentiate between which congressional district the presidential vote came from. ...

Probate Judge Alan King said the review could take as much as nine hours and cost as much as $12,000. It requires workers from the circuit clerk's office, the sheriff's office and the general services office, King said.
-- Read the whole article --> Jefferson County ordered to retabulate GOP presidential primary vote |

March 24, 2012

Bone will not ask for a recount in judge's race

The Birmingham News reports: Lea Bone said this morning she would not seek a recount in the Republican primary for Jefferson County Circuit Court Place 13, despite only a 205-vote margin for Pat Thetford on March 13. ...

Since Thetford's and Bone's vote totals wound up within one-half of 1 percent of each other, Bone qualified to ask the Alabama Republican Party for the recount. She would have had to bear the estimated $10,000 cost. -- Read the whole story --> Lea Bone will not seek recount in Republican primary for Jefferson County Circuit Court Place 13 |

March 19, 2012

Will there be a recount in the GOP's Circuit Judge 13 race?

The Birmingham News reports: Jefferson County Republican Party officials plan to meet Tuesday to canvass votes from March 13 and certify the results, the first steps toward a potential recount in the primary race for Circuit Court Place 13, party officials said. ...

Lea Bone trailed Pat Thetford by one-half of one percentage point in the Republican primary for Place 13, which would qualify her to request a recount if the difference holds.

Thetford had 20,022 votes, or 50.25 percent. Bone had 19,822 votes, or 49.75 percent.

Only provisional ballots remain uncounted, along with any military ballots that might trickle in through the end of the month. -- Read the whole story --> Jefferson County Republicans to certify vote results; recount possible |

March 15, 2012

"Recount possible in race for Jefferson County Circuit Court Place 13"

The Birmingham News reports: The two contestants in the Republican primary for Jefferson County Circuit Court Place 13 will have to wait up to two weeks before knowing if there will be a recount in a race in which only about 200 votes separate them, officials said.

Pat Thetford led Lea Bone by that small margin in a race in which there were about 40,000 votes cast, according to unofficial county results. Military, overseas, absentee and provisional ballots remain uncounted.

Alabama law allows an automatic recount if two candidates wind up within one-half of one percentage point apart after the vote is certified and declared official. But that only applies to general elections, said Probate Judge Alan King, Jefferson County's top election official.

Primaries in Alabama are run by the political parties, which certify the results. A decision on if there will be a recount in the Thetford-Bone race, or how it would be done, is up to the Republican Party, King said. -- Read the whole article --> Recount possible in race for Jefferson County Circuit Court Place 13 |

November 24, 2010

Jefferson Co., AL: recount for judge race, completed

The Birmingham News reports: A recount in the race for Place 20 on Jefferson County Circuit Court gave Julie Palmer an additional 410 votes and a long-awaited victory in the election that took place on Nov. 2.

The automatic recount was held today because the general election vote total put Palmer, a Republican, and Agnes Chappell, a Democrat, within one-half of 1 percent of each other. The count that the county and state certified after the election had the two candidates 245 votes apart, out of some 205,000 ballots cast.

Today's recount gave Palmer a 655-vote lead. She wound up with 102,985 votes, or 50.16 percent. Chappell ended up with 102,330 votes, or 49.84 percent. -- Read the whole story --> Recount secures Palmer victory in Jefferson County Circuit Court race |

November 23, 2010

Jefferson Co., AL: recount for judge race

The Birmingham News reports: Jefferson County will conduct a recount Tuesday of ballots cast Nov. 2 for the Circuit Court Place 20 contest, Probate Judge Alan King, the county's chief election official, said Monday.

The state canvassing board certified statewide election results after a noon meeting Monday, confirming that the Place 20 votes were within one-half of one percent and triggering an automatic recount.

Currently 245 votes out of some 205,000 cast separate Julie Palmer, the Republican who currently has the lead, and Agnes Chappell, a Democrat. ...

The recount must be completed within 72 hours after state election officials certify the vote. That period would end Thanksgiving Day, the first of a two-day county holiday. -- Read the whole story --> Recount set in Jefferson County Circuit Court race between Julie Palmer and Agness Chappell |

November 16, 2010

Lauderdale and Lawrence counties: authomatic recounts

The Times Daily reports: Recounts on Monday put to rest two northwest Alabama elections that were left unsettled after the Nov. 2 general election.

In both cases, the incumbents will continue to serve.

Lauderdale County District 1 Commissioner D.C. Thornton, D-Rogersville, and Lawrence County school board member Jackie Burch, R-Moulton, were declared winners after the recounts.

Thornton and Burch received the most votes in their elections Nov. 2, but failing to win by more than a one-half percentage point resulted in an automatic recount. -- Read the whole story --> Incumbents win recounts | | The Times Daily | Florence, AL

September 8, 2010

Bessemer: suit filed over residence of leading mayoral candidate

The Birmingham News reports: A Bessemer woman who lost her bid for a seat on the City Council last month is seeking to have a mayoral candidate headed into a runoff with incumbent Mayor Ed May disqualified.

Jessie Burrell on Friday filed a lawsuit in Jefferson County Circuit Court in Bessemer that contests the election results and claims Kenneth "Ken" Gulley does not live in Bessemer and therefore was not qualified to run for mayor in the city. ...

Burrell's contest claims that Gulley is ineligible to run for office because he was not a resident of Bessemer at the time he filed qualifying papers. Burrell's contest alleges Gulley has lived in Hueytown on White Oak Lane for the last two years. ...

Gulley, who said today he had not been served with the lawsuit, maintains he is a resident of Bessemer. He said he owns a house on Granville Avenue but he calls an apartment at Westlake Circle home. Gulley said he owns the house in Hueytown on White Oak Lane, but he does not live there. -- Read the whole story --> Lawsuit claims Bessemer mayoral candidate lives in Hueytown |

July 9, 2010

Alabama: candidate may face criminal prosecution

The Troy Messenger reports: Pike County District Attorney Gary McAliley said further legal action will be taken against former commissioner Karen Berry "one way or another." ...

Berry was removed from office in October 2009 when a Pike County Circuit Court ruling deemed she won the November 2008 illegally. The case was brought by her opponent now commissioner Oren Fannin who had lost by just six votes. Judge Joel Holley, who ruled in the case, declared that 10 votes cast for Berry were done so illegally.

Also during the course of the trial, allegations of potential voter fraud and perjury were brought forth. At one point Holley declared in court: "Someone here today has committed perjury." Read the whole story --> Troy Messenger | McAliley: Berry to be prosecuted

July 2, 2010

Alabama: legislator will appeal election contest loss

The Montgomery Advertiser reports: After a subcommittee of the Alabama Democratic Party ruled against putting state Rep. James Thomas into a runoff with the man who beat him in the primary, the legislator's at­torney filed an appeal with the party. ...

Thomas, D-Selma, currently represents District 69, which includes all or part of Autauga, Dallas, Lowndes and Wilcox counties. He was elected in 1982.

Political newcomer David Colston won the June 1 prima­ry by 120 votes with 51 percent of the vote, enough to avoid a runoff. Thomas finished with 32 percent.

Thomas and his attorney ex­pressed concerns about the number of absentee ballots and about one precinct in which voters were supposed to re­ceive different ballots depend­ing on their district, according to Sabel, but 302 people in one precinct did not receive the bal­lot that should have included District 69. Read the whole story --> Legislator to appeal Democrats' decision to deny runoff in District 69 | | Montgomery Advertiser

June 14, 2010

Alabama: Republican primary challenge based on campaign disclosures

The Atmore Advance reports: A state Republican committee will meet Wednesday to review a primary election challenge from Jeff Peacock, who lost the state Senate District 22 primary to Danny Joyner.

And according to state elections officials, there is little precedent on the issue involved in the challenge beyond what is in the state's Fair Campaign Practices Act.

Peacock, an Atmore businessman and chairman of the Escambia County Republican Party, alleges that Joyner did not file proper financial disclosure forms with the secretary of state's office. Joyner has denied the allegations. ...

According to the Fair Campaign Practices Act, the Alabama Secretary of State's office requires all candidates running for state senate to file paperwork should contributions including in-kind donations and expenditures of $10,000 or more. Peacock believes Joyner's spending exceeded that threshold, which prompted him to contest his June 1 primary loss this week, which has him losing to the Brewton businessman 4,979 to 4,761. Read the whole story --> The Atmore Advance » Peacock challenge leads to hearing

June 12, 2010

Alabama: Republicans complaining about 'strict construction' of recount law

Republican Party Chairman Mike Hubbard called the opinion by Attorney General Troy King "ridiculous." Tim James, knocked out of the runoff by that opinion, said it was "absurd on its face."

It certainly is ridiculous to have a contest about who should be in a runoff after the runoff is over, but the fault lies in the way the Legislature wrote the law, not the way Troy King interpreted it. Ala. Code § 17-13-78 begins, "Any elector of a party desiring to contest the nomination by his or her party of any candidate declared the nominee ...." At this point, is there a Republican nominee for governor? No. But James and Hubbard want a [sensitive readers will want to avert their eyes] liberal interpretation that would allow an election contest now -- before there is a "nominee."

June 11, 2010

Alabama: AG throws Tim James out of the runoff

The Alabama Attorney General has released an opinion in answer to several questions by the Secretary of State regarding the recount requested by Tim James -- the number 3 candidate (by 167 votes) in the race for the GOP nomination for Governor. James hoped a recount would put him in the number 2 spot and thus in the runoff.

Attorney General Troy King dashed those hopes this afternoon with an opinion explaining that James could ask for a recount, but he could not contest the results of the first primary until after the second primary and the declaration of the nominee for Governor.

The opinion was based in part on the 2009 case, Smith v. Burkhalter, in which the Alabama Supreme Court held that a contest could not be filed in a municipal election until someone was declared elected. Since Alabama's municipal elections use runoffs, like partisan primaries do, the analogous treatment of the two types of contests makes sense.

James reacted to this development by saying the opinion was "absurd on its face. Troy King ought to be ashamed of himself. Under the best case scenario he is a very very bad lawyer."

I'll let you read the opinion for yourself. It seems clear to me. [Pause] Does it to you?

June 9, 2010

Alabama: James wants a recount

UPDATE: Doc's Political Parlor has a copy of James' recount petition.


The Montgomery Advertiser reports: Tim James will ask for a recount in the Republican race for governor after a tally of the provisional ballots failed to yield the more than 200 votes he needed to add to move into second place and secure a spot in the runoff.

After provisional ballots from across the state were counted, James finished third.

"The vote margin remains razor thin. Because of this, I have decided to move forward with a recount of the Republican gubernatorial primary vote," James said Tuesday at his Montgomery headquarters. ...

State Rep. Robert Bentley of Tuscaloosa finished in second, just 167 votes ahead of James.

Through the counting of the provisional ballots, James picked up about 40 votes on Bentley. Read the whole story --> Candidate James wants vote recount | | Montgomery Advertiser

June 8, 2010

Tim James asks for $ "to ensure that every vote counts"

GOP gubernatorial candidate (now in 3rd place) Tim James'
website carries this Democratic-sounding headline: We need your help to ensure that every vote counts!

His undated blog entry repeats this plea and says, "It has always been my intent to have every vote count. What’s apparent now is that we will need to recount the vote. There is nearly a 100% chance that when you recount votes, especially with as many as 492,000 cast in this primary, the numbers will change. My No. 1 concern is knowing whether we won or lost."

"Every vote counts" -- what a catchy slogan.

December 15, 2009

Cedar Bluff: long-running election contest over, council members to be seated

The Post reports: It took over 16 months to seat them, but the Cedar Bluff Town Council finally has three new members, as of last week. Candidates Evan Smith, Jack Bond, and Mark Hicks will join Lenora McWhorter, also recently elected, and Leatha Harp on the five-member Council.

Evan Smith defeated incumbent Billie Jean Burkhalter by 11 votes for the District 1 seat. In District 3, longtime town official Martha Baker -- who has served as mayor and on the Town Council in the past -- was defeated in her bid to return to the Council. In District 4, sheriff's deputy Mark Hicks defeated Tammy Crane, 55-45.

Election results are scheduled to be verified Dec. 15 at 11:45 a.m. at the Town Hall.

The town's municipal election was originally held on Aug. 28, 2008. But mayoral candidate Jimmy Wallace -- who finished third in the initial voting -- challenged the results, claiming over 30 absentee ballots were improperly handled by town officials or marked by someone other than the voter for whom the ballot was originally intended. -- Read the whole story --> The Post Online - Cedar Bluff election results (finally) in

October 14, 2009

Birmingham: John Rogers backs off

The Birmingham News reports: State Rep. John Rogers backed away Tuesday from his allegations of voter fraud in last week's City Council runoff, saying he might have been confused about the number of disqualified ballots cast.

The Oct. 6 runoff results were certified by city officials Tuesday afternoon, and Rogers said he won't contest the numbers. But he said that does not diminish the need for reforming an election system he said makes fraud, confusion and disenfranchisement too easy. ...

Rogers said late Monday he would protest the election, after being told there were 1,400 provisional ballots cast in the runoff with only about 150 counted. Provisional ballots are given to voters when there are questions about their eligibility to vote.

Officials in the city clerk's office have said there were just 73 provisional ballots cast, of which 32 were counted. -- Read the whole story --> Rogers eases off allegations -

October 13, 2009

Birmingham: John Rogers threatens challenge to council runoff over provisional ballots

The Birmingham News reports: Alabama State Rep. John Rogers said he will challenge last week's Birmingham City Council runoff elections.

Rogers said he was told there were 1,400 provisional ballots cast in the runoff and only about 150 were counted. Provisional ballots are given to voters when there are questions about their eligibility to vote in that location. -- Read the whole story --> John Rogers says he will challenge Birmingham City Council election results | Breaking News from The Birmingham News -

UPDATE: a more complete version of the story is available.

October 2, 2009

Alabama: Pike County Commission contest overturns winner

The Troy Messenger reports: After nearly a year in office, Pike County Commissioner Karen Berry has been ordered to vacate her seat.

Berry was declared the winner of the District 6 spot in the November 2008 election, victorious by just a six-vote margin.

But, her opponent Oren Fannin filed suit in December 2008, alleging her win came with illegal votes. After a long battle, Fannin received his desired verdict Thursday. ...

Judge Joel Holley, who presided over the case, ruled Thursday declaring Fannin the winner of the 2008 election, ordering him to take office and Berry to vacate her seat. His ruling said 10 votes were cast illegally for Berry in the election. -- Read the whole story --> Troy Messenger | Fannin declared District 6 winner

September 2, 2009

Alabama: Evergreen to appeal portion of election contest ruling

The Mobile Press-Register reports: City attorney Terry Davis recommended the city appeal part of a judge's decision in the ongoing challenge of last October's mayoral vote, a move one councilman called "bull crap."

Davis said an order issued a week ago by specially appointed retired Mobile County Circuit Judge Edward McDermott declared challenger Pete Wolff III winner of the election, but incumbent Mayor Larry Fluker was "in the process of appealing" the ruling. ...

Davis said part of the order "changed the way Evergreen has been doing elections since time began" and that the city should appeal that portion of the ruling.

"It said that instead of using the voting list we have used and the process we have used for a number of years, we should have been using the secretary of state's voter list," Davis said. "The court directed in this order the city must use a process we have never used before, and we raised an objection in court that he did not rule on."

Davis said the secretary of state and the league of municipalities agreed with the way the city conducted the election, and he believed the judge was wrong. He said it would cost the city money to change the process. -- Read the whole story --> Evergreen city attorney advises appeal of judge's ruling in mayoral election challenge -

August 29, 2009

Alabama: elected, but not sworn in

The Mobile Press-Register reports: Four days after a special judge ruled that Mayor Larry Fluker had lost his runoff last October, Fluker remained in office Friday conducting duties as usual, while the declared winner couldn't find a local judge to swear him in.

"We are still trying to work our way around this legal maze," said Pete Wolff III, who won the hotly contested Evergreen runoff by five votes according to Monday's ruling.

But Fluker said, "I am still the mayor, and I'm acting as mayor." He said Friday, "I'm just taking care of business. I have 14 days to file an appeal, and it will be public record when I do. ... There will be a public announcement."

Specially appointed retired Circuit Judge Edward McDermott issued the ruling that declared Wolff the winner, effectively ending Fluker's term as the town's first black mayor. -- Read the whole article --> Wolff unable to take Evergreen mayor's office despite judge's ruling -

August 25, 2009

Alabama: Evergreen election contest over; Wolff defeats Fluker

The Mobile Press-Register reports: A judge Monday overturned last year's Evergreen mayoral election results and declared challenger Pete Wolff III winner over incumbent Larry Fluker.

"Mr. Wolff is the winner, and is mayor as we speak," said James Anderson, the attorney representing the challenger. "Mr. Fluker will have 14 days to appeal the ruling" and that appeal could delay Wolff's taking office.

"In that case, Fluker could remain in office pending the appeal," Anderson said.

Perry Roquemore, an attorney and executive director of the Alabama League of Municipalities, said Wolff is due to be sworn in immediately, and "unless and until some other court ruling says different, he is the mayor."

Officials were still trying to determine late Monday what the next step would be. -- Read the whole story --> Judge declares Wolff mayor of Evergreen; Fluker vows appeal -

Disclosure: I served as trial counsel to Mayor Fluker.

June 15, 2009

Alabama: Poarch Creek Indians deny challenges to election results

The Atmore Advance reports that the Election Board of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians has denied the election challenges brought by 4 candidates. Read the whole story --> The Atmore Advance > Breaking News

June 11, 2009

Alabama: Challenge to results of Poarch Band of Creek Indians election

The Atmore Advance reports on an election contest filed against the results of the special election held by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians' election for the offices of vice-chairman and two member-at-large positions. -- Read the whole article at --> The Atmore Advance > Archives > Breaking News > UPDATE: PCI election results challenged

May 16, 2009

Alabama: election contest voided by state supreme court

The Gadsden Times reports: In an opinion released Friday, all nine justices of the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that the Cherokee County Circuit Court did not have jurisdiction to decide the election contest case that evolved from the Cedar Bluff municipal election of Aug. 26, 2008.

After the results were certified in Cedar Bluff's general election on Sept. 2, three candidates - two for council positions and one for mayor- filed a contest suit saying that absentee ballots were not handled properly and that those votes should not be counted. ...

Justice Michael Bolin, in writing the court's opinion, said an election contest cannot be brought until a candidate is "declared elected" after a run-off election. In addition, he emphasized that an election contest cannot be brought in any court unless allowed by state statute.
Bolin wrote, "It is well settled that the Legislature, by enacting Title 17-16-44, has restricted the jurisdiction of the circuit courts in regard to elections." -- Cedar Bluff election ruling overturned | | Gadsden Times | Gadsden, AL

April 1, 2009

Minnesota: recount court will review 400 absentee ballots

The New York Times reports: Al Franken, the comedian turned politician, won a potentially decisive court ruling on Tuesday in his bid to replace Norm Coleman, a Minnesota Republican trying to hold on to his Senate seat.

A three-judge panel ruled that only 400 absentee ballots — far fewer than Mr. Coleman had sought — should be examined for possible counting. If the ruling stands, it could be devastating for Mr. Coleman, who trailed his Democratic challenger by 225 votes out of some 2.9 million cast and had hoped that nearly 1,400 absentee ballots might be recounted.

Even if the results put Mr. Coleman further in the hole, as expected, he could fight on, before the Minnesota Supreme Court or perhaps in the federal courts. His lawyer said Mr. Coleman had not given up. ...

The ballots in question appear to include many that Mr. Franken had identified as wrongly rejected, as well as ballots that Mr. Coleman wanted opened, The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported on its Web site. About half come from Hennepin, Ramsey and St. Louis Counties, places Mr. Franken won by significant margins, The Star-Tribune said. -- Franken Wins Favorable Court Ruling in Minnesota Senate Race -

March 27, 2009

Alabama: Evergreen election contest may affect all future city elections

The Mobile Press- Register reports: The outcome of an election challenge in this city of some 3,630 people could change the way municipalities conduct elections in Alabama, a circuit judge said Thursday.

In a hearing five months after a hotly contested runoff vote, rife with allegations of racism on both sides, specially appointed retired Mobile Circuit Judge Edward McDermott questioned why the Alabama secretary of state's office did not maintain a city registered voter list as outlined in a 2006 law.

The hearing is the latest in a months-long case pitting challenger Pete Wolff III, who is white, against Mayor Larry Fluker, who is black. Fluker won by two votes. Both sides claim illegal votes were cast for their opponent. -- Judge says Evergreen case could shape future city elections -

Disclosure: I represent Mayor Fluker in the case.

January 27, 2009

Minnesota: problems with Coleman's witnesses

TPM-DC reports on the Coleman-Franken contest: This afternoon the Coleman team was bringing in rejected absentee voters to show that their ballots were improperly tossed. So far the court has heard from six people, most of of whom said they were contacted by the Republican Party in the last few weeks. They mostly seemed sympathetic enough, putting a human face on the disenfranchised Coleman voter -- but at least two of them appeared to have been rejected properly under the conditions of Minnesota law.

One of the voters was Douglas Thompson, who admitted under oath that his girlfriend filled out his absentee ballot application for him, signing his name with her own hand and purporting to be himself. His ballot was rejected because the signature on his ballot envelope (his own) did not match the signature on the application (his girlfriend's). The Coleman team's argument appears to be that he is still a legal voter in Minnesota, as the signature on the ballot was his own, even if admitted dishonesty was involved in getting the ballot.

Keep in mind: Thompson's story came up during the direct examination by Coleman lawyer James Langdon. So the Coleman camp fully knew this information and decided to make him into a witness. -- TPMDC | Talking Points Memo | Coleman's Supposedly Friendly Witnesses Backfire

January 7, 2009

Minnesota: what should be said in a notice of contest?

Eric Black at criticizes the Coleman Notice of Contest: The petition has an almost generic quality. Think of every imaginable way that a vote for Coleman that should have been counted was rejected, add every way that a ballot given to Franken should have been disqualified, assert that all of these things happened and that if the courts will simply revisit the entire recount they will come to a different outcome. -- Senate recount: It's unlikely Coleman will win in court

I don't know anything about Minnesota election contests (and don't intend to find out), but in Alabama a notice of contest is just about the first and last pleading in the case. There are only six legal grounds to contest an election, and any good notice of contest alleges them all. The notice cannot be amended after the (very short) deadline for filing it. So the practice in Alabama is to allege everything and figure it out later.

Minnesota: Coleman's lawsuit

TPM Election Central reports: I've been reading through the lawsuit that Norm Coleman has filed against the result of the Minnesota Senate race, and it's a marvelous thing.

The complaint ignores the existence of counter-evidence, employs one maneuver when it is self-benefiting and opposes the same maneuver when it goes against them, attacks not just the recount but votes that were counted for Franken all along, and overall throws everything against the wall to see what sticks. -- TPM Election Central | Talking Points Memo | Coleman's Lawsuit: This Whole Election Stinks -- And I Won

NOTE: The article has more details and a link to the Notice of Contest.

November 11, 2008

Alabama: Provisional ballots might make the difference in Supreme Court race

The Mobile Press-Register reports: The multimillion-dollar Alabama Supreme Court race may turn on thousands of outstanding ballots.

Trailing Republican Greg Shaw by a margin of 13,207 votes — out of more than 2 million cast — Democrat Deborah Bell Paseur's campaign is waiting for county boards to begin tabulating provisional ballots, cast by those whose eligibility to vote was uncertain at election time.

The parties estimates there are between 10,000 and 16,000 outstanding ballots left to be tabulated. ...

The Board of Registrars delivered provisional ballots to the individual county probate courts Monday. Canvassing boards will begin tabulating the provisional ballots Wednesday, and the counties will make their official reports, including the provisional ballots, to the Alabama Secretary of State's office Friday. -- Alabama Supreme Court race drags on

November 9, 2008

Minnesota: recount procedures

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports: State law triggers an automatic recount in races decided by one-half of a percentage point or less. Starting Nov. 19, after unofficial results are certified, election auditors in nearly 100 county and city election offices will begin going over each ballot by hand as representatives from each candidate's campaign look over their shoulders.

What are the officials looking for?

The voters' intent. If names are circled or checked, those ballots will go in the proper candidate's pile. Disputed ballots will be sent to the State Canvassing Board. The Canvassing Board will include Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, plus two state Supreme Court justices and two Ramsey County District Court judges who will be named soon. If the board can't agree on which pile a contested ballot belongs, they will vote on it.

How long will the recount take?

Ritchie said Friday that the counting must be done by Dec. 5 and that the Canvassing Board will meet Dec. 16 and hope to finish up by Dec. 19. But things also might depend on legal challenges. A recount after the 1962 gubernatorial election took 139 days. -- Ballot by ballot, victor to emerge

September 4, 2008

Alabama: a few problems in municipal elections

A post on Doc's Political Parlor begins: Most of the municipal elections Alabama this year have gone smoothly however, some still remain in doubt

In Hodges, one vote seperates the two candidates and a petition for a recount has been filed. There are also concerns that election procedures were not followed. Related story at the Times Daily.

In Centre, a lawsuit has been filed by three candidates over possible mishandling of absentee ballots. -- Election contests and small town Alabama

June 1, 2008

Florida: archives still has most 2000 ballots (and chad)

The Miami Herald reports: In the final seconds of the new HBO movie Recount, a box labeled Palm Beach County ballots is shown sitting inside a gigantic warehouse. As the camera pulls slowly back, it reveals row after row of boxes stacked to the ceiling.

While the image is a pure Hollywood creation, the truth is the ballots from the chaotic 2000 presidential election are still around.

Five years ago, the state of Florida gathered up boxes of ballots from 65 of the 67 counties and stashed them inside the cramped, air-conditioned confines of the state archives in Tallahassee.

After much hand-wringing and debate, state officials decided in 2003 that they should hold onto the more than six million votes cast in the historic election between Al Gore and George W. Bush that Bush ultimately won by just 537 votes. Normally, ballots are destroyed after 22 months.

But now Secretary of State Kurt Browning says he would just as soon junk them and free up the space in his archives that hold the ballots -- more than 4,000 cubic feet. -- Future uncertain for Florida s Bush-Gore ballots from 2000 race - 06/01/2008 -

Note: We all know Justice Scalia's advice: "Get over it."

May 3, 2008

Guam: Obama wins by 7 votes, recount "imminent"

Pacific News Center reports: The Democrat Party Nominating Committee said officials will look over the large amount of spoiled ballots in the coming days.

At issue is the small margin of victory of Senator Barack Obama. He beat his rival, Senator Hillary Clinton by 7 votes, but well over 500 ballots were deemed invalid during the tabulation process.

Herbie Perez, chairman of the nominating committee, said she will not certify the results because the Committee needs to ensure that all the uncounted ballots were properly identified as spoiled. -- Pacific News Center

Hat-tip to TalkLeft for the link.

February 11, 2008

Washington State: Huckabee may challenge caucus count (or lack of it)

Reuters reports: Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee on Monday challenged the results of his party's weekend caucus in Washington state, where he ran a close second to likely Republican nominee John McCain.

The Huckabee campaign said it was exploring all available legal options to ensure a full accounting of the Saturday vote after "dubious final results." Lawyers for the campaign arrived in Washington on Sunday evening. ...

He said Republican party officials stopped counting with only 87 percent of the vote in. McCain was leading Huckabee by only 242 votes out of approximately 12,000 at the time, with 1,500 votes uncounted, according to the Huckabee campaign. -- Huckabee protests Washington state caucus vote | Reuters

December 5, 2007

Alabama: Cooper appeals, asks for expedited appeal

The Birmingham News reports: Patrick Cooper's appeal challenging Larry Langford's election as Birmingham mayor may be argued before the Alabama Supreme Court by mid-January, one of Cooper's lawyers said Tuesday.

Cooper filed notice last week that he would appeal a Jefferson County judge's ruling upholding Langford's Oct. 9 election, when he won 50.3 percent of the vote in a 10-person race.

On Tuesday, Circuit Judge Allwin Horn ordered an expedited deadline of Dec. 12 to prepare the trial transcript and court record and file it with the Alabama Supreme Court, said Jim Ward, one of Cooper's lawyers.

Ward said he plans to ask the Alabama Supreme Court to fast-track the schedule for Cooper's and Langford's sides to file briefs. -- Patrick Cooper wants appeal to be fast-tracked in suit challenging Larry Langford's election as Birmingham mayor-

November 17, 2007

Alabama: Cooper v. Langford documents

I requested that each of the parties in the election contest, Cooper v. Langford, dealing with the residency of the new Mayor of Birmingham, make their briefs available to me for uploading here. Mayor Langford's side has provided the following:

Brief in support of Motion to Dismiss PDF
Langford Reply Brief PDF
Langford Supplement to Reply Brief (without the attached case) PDF

November 15, 2007

Virginia: Oleszek asks for recount against Cuccinelli

The Washington Post reports: Virginia's tightest General Assembly race of the year, for a state Senate seat from Fairfax County, is headed into overtime.

Democrat Janet S. Oleszek, trailing Sen. Ken Cuccinelli II (R) by about a quarter of a percentage point in unofficial returns, announced yesterday that she will seek a recount of the more than 37,000 votes cast in the Nov. 6 election. Ninety-two votes separate the two candidates. ...

To start the process, Oleszek said she will file a petition requesting a recount with the Fairfax County Circuit Court after the State Board of Elections certifies the results at the end of the month. She has 10 days after certification to do so. A special panel of state judges will be set up to monitor the recount. Electronically tabulated ballots make up the majority of ballots. Under state law, recount officials review those votes using printouts. A smaller number of votes -- such as absentee ballots -- were tabulated on paper, and those will be recounted by hand, Fairfax County officials said. -- Senate Challenger to Seek Recount -

November 7, 2007

Virginia: recount in one Fairfax senate race

The Washington Post Virginia Politics blog reports: Sen. Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II R-Fairfax , who holds a 91 vote lead over Democrat Janet Oleszek, sent an appeal to GOP supporters at 3:30 this morning asking for donations to help him finance an expected recount.

Because Cuccinelli s margin is less than a half percent, Oleszek can ask for a state-funded recount. In his appeal, Cuccinelli says he is also looking for 10 volunteer lawyers who can help him oversee a district canvass of the votes cast in yesterday s election. -- Sen. Ken Cuccinelli preparing for recount - Virginia Politics -

Note: I have a special interest in this race because I used to live in this district.

October 29, 2007

Alabama: response filed by plaintiffs in Supreme Court suit re Mobile County Commission election

My co-counsel and I have filed a motion to dismiss or affirm the State of Alabama's appeal in Riley v. Kennedy, No. 07-77 in the U.S. Supreme Court. The State's jurisdictional statement is available here.

The case was brought by my clients under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act for an injunction against the Governor's appointment of a replacement county commissioner in Mobile County. Our suit asserted that the Governor had not obtained preclearance of an Alabama Supreme Court decision before enforcing it.

Earlier posts are here, here, here, here, and here.

October 22, 2007

Alabama: Langford wins Birmingham mayoral race, 2nd place Cooper contests

Catching up on Birmingham News reports of the mayor's race: Larry Langford was officially certified Tuesday as the winner of Birmingham's Oct. 9 mayoral election, but second-place finisher Patrick Cooper said he plans to contest the election on the grounds Langford didn't meet the residency requirements to run for mayor.

"I'm going to contest it," Cooper said. "Larry Langford has perpetrated a fraud on the residents of Birmingham."

Prior to the election, Langford, a longtime Fairfield resident, rented a loft in downtown Birmingham and had his voter registration changed to that address. He said he intended to buy a house in Birmingham after the election.

While he did keep some clothes in the downtown loft, he said the building didn't allow pets, and he and his wife continued to care for their family dog, Zach, at their Fairfield home. -- Langford certified mayoral winner-

Thursday: Lawyer Patrick Cooper on Wednesday morning challenged Mayor-elect Larry Langford's Oct. 9 victory in the Birmingham mayoral election. Cooper finished second to Langford.

Cooper's contest contends that Langford did not reside in Birmingham on the day he filed papers to run for mayor and thus wasn't qualified to be a candidate in the race. Jefferson County Circuit Judge Allwin Horn was assigned to hear the case. No hearing date has been set.

Wednesday afternoon, Langford asked that the election contest be dismissed. His written response says he was a resident at the time of filing, is a Birmingham voter and was qualified to run for and serve as mayor. -- Cooper challenges mayoral election

Disclosure: I represent the City of Birmingham on election-related matters.

October 10, 2007

Alabama: lawyer testifies that Siegelman dropped 2002 contest after GOP promised to stop investigation of him

The Birmingham News reports: A Rainsville lawyer who first suggested White House influence in the prosecution of former Gov. Don Siegelman told congressional lawyers last month that Siegelman dropped his 2002 election contest after Alabama Republicans promised to end the federal investigation of him.

Jill Simpson told lawyers for the U.S. House Judiciary Committee that Rob Riley, the son of Gov. Bob Riley, told her that Siegelman ended his challenge of Riley's gubernatorial victory after receiving assurances that "they would not further prosecute him with the Justice Department."

The statement by Simpson, included in a transcript of her Sept. 14 testimony, is a significant addition to an earlier sworn affidavit of hers that Siegelman supporters used to demand a congressional investigation of his prosecution. ...

Simpson added other disclosures in her congressional testimony given under oath, including that Gov. Riley met with former White House strategist Karl Rove to discuss Siegelman's prosecution; that Rob Riley had frequent contact with Rove; and that Rob Riley and others discussed Rove's direct involvement in the Siegelman prosecution in a conference call she previously said included only references to Rove's interest in the case. -- Lawyer adds to her affidavit on Siegelman-

September 26, 2007

Virgin Islands: another delay over delegates to the consitutional convention

Michael Richardson writes on The fifth attempt to adopt a constitution for the U.S. Virgin Islands has hit another snag that will likely delay the anticipated October 10th convening of a Constitutional Convention following a ruling by the U.S. Virgin Islands Supreme Court.

Last week the island high court reversed an earlier decision by Superior Court Judge James Carroll III to seat Harry Daniels, a resident of St. John, as a delegate following a disputed June election. Confusing legislative language apportioning delegates from St. Thomas and St. John was at the heart of Daniels' electoral appeal.

The Constitutional Convention was originally slated to begin in July but was delayed by Judge Carroll while he considered Daniels' case. The Supreme Court reversal of the decision to seat Daniels as a delegate drew stinging criticism from Justice Ive Arlington Swan in sharply worded dissent calling for a new election. -- U.S. Virgin Islands Constitutional Convention stalled in delegate election dispute over voting machine ballot design

The case is St. Thomas-St. John Board of Elections v. Daniel.

May 29, 2007

Scotland: independent inquiry may review spoilt ballots

The Herald reports: The Scotland Office has indicated that it is willing to change the law to let the Holyrood election inquiry see the thousands of ballot papers which were spoiled on May 3.

Concerns have been raised that the inquiry, under the leadership of the Canadian election expert Ron Gould, may be toothless because it has no statutory powers to order the release of the 142,000 discarded ballots.

But The Herald has learned that the Scotland Office would be willing to introduce a piece of secondary legislation at Westminster which would allow the spoiled papers to be made available. -- The Herald : Politics: MAIN POLITICS

May 10, 2007

Scotland: Greens and Labour considering election contests

The Scotsman reported on last Satruday: THE GREENS have demanded to examine every spoiled ballot paper from the election as a major inquiry into Scotland's election fiasco gets underway.

The party emerged from the election with just two MSPs - co-leader of the party Robin Harper, who retained his seat on the Lothians list, and Patrick Harvie, who kept his seat in Glasgow.

This was a dramatic drop from the seven MSPs elected at the 2003 count, and the party confirmed it had submitted a Freedom of Information request to look at the 100,000 spoiled ballot papers to try to work out what went wrong. ...

It also emerged last night that Labour was taking legal advice on whether or not to mount a legal challenge to the result in Cunninghame North, which saw Deputy Enterprise and Lifelong Learning Minister Allan Wilson lose by just 48 to the SNP's Kenneth Gibson. -- Greens demand to see spoiled ballots after dramatic fall in seats

March 27, 2007

FL-13: ES&S memo shows company's "guidelines" in recount inquiry

The Bradenton Herald reports: Another memo from the maker of Sarasota County's touch-screen voting machines has mysteriously surfaced, with critics questioning whether this one showed the company tried to influence a review of the machines' source code.

In a Dec. 15 e-mail sent to a top Florida elections official, an Election Systems & Software vice president outlined several "guidelines" the company wanted an independent team of computer scientists to follow in its review. Among them were prohibitions against any statements about possible causes of more than 18,000 blank votes in the disputed 13th Congressional District race, which prompted the review.

The company also said it wanted to review the team's findings before they were made public, and that anything that violated a confidentiality agreement would be "destroyed (all copies hard of (sic) soft) and rewritten."

Critics quickly pounced Monday on the memo, first posted on a Wired magazine reporter's blog last week. -- Bradenton Herald | 03/27/2007 | Company's memo involving District 13 draws criticism

March 22, 2007

More on the Bilbray decision

Paul Lehto writes exclusively for I was lead counsel in this case along with Ken Simpkins assisting in this unpublished 2-1 decision, and at trial and on appeal we expressly argued and pointed to the various and severable kinds of relief available in an election contest, and we expressly waived one small part of that relief, that of an order directing Congress to unseat Bilbray -- since that would be unconstitutional for any Court to do under Art. I, sec. 5.

But despite carving this out of the case, many other issues remain, like vindicating the strong public policy in accuracy in elections, and the many other issues that could be summed up by saying: THE TRUTH IN ELECTIONS STILL MATTERS. The voters still have a California constitutional right to have their votes counted properly and tabulated properly, and time has not run out to have a look at vindicating those rights. The Court of Appeals ignored them, however, thus ignoring the voters.

Continue reading "More on the Bilbray decision" »

California: suit over Bilbray's election dismissed as moot

The North County Times reports: The appeal of a lawsuit that challenged the June 2006 election of Rep. Brian Bilbray, R-Solana Beach, to fill the remaining six months of disgraced former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham's term in office was dismissed Tuesday because Bilbray already has completed that term.

Bilbray won the election in November 2006 to his own full, two-year term in office.

A state appeals court in San Diego ruled Tuesday that the appeal of a judge's dismissal of the lawsuit was moot. ...

Voters Barbara Gail Jacobson and Lillian M. Ritt filed a lawsuit July 31, 2006, in which they alleged problems existed with the voting machines used in the June 2006 election and asked for a hand-recount of the votes and a declaration that the candidate who received the most votes be declared elected to congress, the appeals court's written opinion stated. -- Appeals court dismisses challenge to Bilbray election - North County Times - San Diego / County -

March 7, 2007

Cherokee Nation: Freedmen will challenge vote

Reuters reports: Black Cherokee Indians said on Tuesday they will challenge a weekend vote to kick them out of the tribe that once owned their ancestors as slaves.

They threatened legal action to overturn the vote on Saturday in which 77 percent of those who cast ballots said they should no longer be Cherokees. ...

The vote would remove from tribal rolls 2,800 people who were mostly "freedmen," or descendants of slaves owned by the tribe before the U.S. Civil War brought their freedom.

They were adopted into the tribe under a 1866 treaty with the United States, but there has long been controversy among Cherokees about whether they belonged. -- Black Cherokees to challenge ouster from tribe | U.S. | Reuters

February 24, 2007

Florida: voters, not software, to blame for Jennings' loss

The New York Times reports: Florida election officials announced yesterday that an examination of voting software did not find any malfunctions that could have caused up to 18,000 votes to be lost in a disputed Congressional race in Sarasota County, and they suggested that voter confusion over a poor ballot design was mainly to blame.

The finding, reached unanimously by a team of computer experts from several universities, could finally settle last fall’s closest federal election. The Republican candidate, Vern Buchanan, was declared the winner by 369 votes, but the Democrat, Christine Jennings, formally contested the results, claiming that the touch-screen voting machines must have malfunctioned.

Legal precedents make it difficult to win a lawsuit over ballot design, but a substantial error in the software might have been grounds for a new election.

The questions about the electronic machines arose because many voters complained that they had had trouble getting their votes to register for Ms. Jennings, and the machines did not have a back-up paper trail that might have provided clues about any problems. The report said some voters might have accidentally touched the screen twice, thus negating their votes, while most of the others probably overlooked the race on the flawed ballot. -- Panel Cites Voter Error, Not Software, in Loss of Votes - New York Times

January 19, 2007

Ohio: prosecutor charges rigged recount

AP reports: Three county elections workers conspired to avoid a more thorough recount of ballots in the 2004 presidential election, a prosecutor told jurors during opening statements Thursday.

"The evidence will show that this recount was rigged, maybe not for political reasons, but rigged nonetheless," Prosecutor Kevin Baxter said. "They did this so they could spend a day rather than weeks or months" on the recount, he said.

Jacqueline Maiden, the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections' coordinator, faces six counts of misconduct over how the ballots were reviewed. Rosie Grier, manager of the board's ballot department, and Kathleen Dreamer, an assistant manager, face the same charges. ...

Ohio law states that during a recount each county is supposed to randomly choose 3 percent of its ballots and tally them by hand and by machine. If there are no discrepancies in those counts, the rest of the votes can be recounted by machine. ...

Baxter said testimony in the case will show that instead of conducting a random count, the workers chose sample precincts for the Dec. 16, 2004, recount that did not have questionable results to ensure that no discrepancies would emerge. -- AP Wire | 01/18/2007 | Ohio elections workers on trial

January 10, 2007

Louisiana: federal court dismisses suit on McCrery residency

The Shreveport Times reports: A federal judge has dismissed the lawsuit seeking to disqualify U.S. Rep. Jim McCrery, but challenger Patti Cox is not deterred.

"It's not over. It's called appeal," Cox said Monday.

In a one-page judgment, U.S. District Judge Tom Stagg said the U.S. House of Representatives is the only institution permitted by the Constitution to decide Cox's challenge to McCrery's qualifications.

Cox, one of three contenders who tried to unseat McCrery on Nov. 7, filed suit in state and federal court in November claiming McCrery was not a Louisiana resident when he won the election. McCrery sold his Shreveport home in 2004 and moved his family to McLean, Va. McCrery has said he maintained residency in Shreveport. -- The Shreveport Times

January 5, 2007

Louisiana: McCrery challenge is one of three the House will consider

The Shreveport Times reported yesterday: When Rep. Jim McCrery takes the congressional oath of office today, he'll be one of three Republican lawmakers whose elections to the House are still in dispute because of challenges filed by candidates they defeated.

All three elections may be scrutinized by the House Administration Committee, but in the meantime, McCrery and the other two House members will be allowed to serve.

Their challengers stand only a slim chance of victory.

More than 100 election challenges have been filed by losing candidates since 1933, but nearly all have been dismissed by the House. -- The Shreveport Times

Florida: Jennings asks appeal court to allow review of computer code

The Herald-Tribune reports: Arguing that her challenge of the outcome of the Congressional District 13 race will be “crippled” if she cannot review voting machine computer codes and hardware, Democrat Christine Jennings on Wednesday asked a state appellate court to overturn a judge’s decision denying her access to that information.

Jennings’ filing at the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee came the day before Republican Vern Buchanan is scheduled to be sworn in as the new representative for the congressional seat previously held by U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris, R-Longboat Key.

Buchanan has been declared the winner in the race by a 369-vote margin, although Jennings has legally contested the election outcome.

She contends that the fact that 18,000 voters in Sarasota County went to the polls but didn’t cast a ballot in the race is an indication that the electronic touch-screen voting machines malfunctioned. -- Jennings appeals ruling on voting machines

December 20, 2006

Florida: Jennings files contest with House clerk

AP reports: The Democrat who narrowly lost to a Republican in the race to replace Rep. Katherine Harris (news, bio, voting record) asked Congress on Wednesday for an investigation.

The state has declared that Democrat Christine Jennings lost to Republican Vern Buchanan by 369 votes. But 18,000 Sarasota County electronic ballots did not record a choice in the race, and Jennings contends that the number is abnormally high and that the machines lost the votes.

She filed with the House clerk an official contest of the election results in Florida's 13th Congressional District.

She said she will ask Congress to consider ordering a revote if her legal challenge in Florida fails. She is seeking to obtain the programming code for the touch-screen voting machines to determine whether a bug or malicious programming could have lost votes. The state has found no evidence of malfunction. -- Congress asked to intervene in Fla. race - Yahoo! News

December 17, 2006

Florida: State drops motion to dismiss Jennings suit

AP reports: State attorneys Thursday withdrew a motion to dismiss a lawsuit calling for a new election in a long-contested Southwest Florida congressional race.

Democrat Christine Jennings' lawsuit claims ATM-style, touch-screen voting machines in Sarasota County lost up to 18,000 votes in the congressional contest to replace U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris. State officials declared Republican Vern Buchanan the winner of the 13th District seat by a margin of just 369 votes.

The Department of State decided that trying to get the case thrown out wasn't the most efficient use of resources, said Secretary of State spokeswoman Jenny Nash. ...

Jennings' lawyers are now focusing on a Tuesday hearing to persuade a judge to give them access to the source code that runs the electronic voting booths used in the contested election. Voting machine manufacturer Elections Systems & Software has argued in court that the software is a trade secret. -- State Drops Motion In Jennings Lawsuit

December 8, 2006

Florida: The Economist on FL-13

The Economist reports: SINCE it is a place where alligator wrestling is a recognised pastime and tourists wear hats with Mickey Mouse ears, you might think that Florida would be immune to embarrassment. But after its punch-card ballots threw the 2000 presidential election into chaos, the state made a decisive move. It outlawed punch-cards and spent millions of dollars on touch-screen voting machines instead.

“There'll never be a hanging, dangling, or pregnant chad again,” vowed Katherine Harris who was Florida's secretary of state at the time of the election. In 2002, Ms Harris was elected to the national House of Representatives.

But now voters are realising that a mangled paper record is better than none at all. “At least we had the ability to determine a voter's intentions,” said Dan Smith of the University of Florida. This year's election to Florida's 13th congressional district provides a handy lesson in the pitfalls of electronic voting. Weeks after election day, it is still being contested. In an odd coincidence, it is the seat Ms Harris decided to vacate to pursue a disastrous Senate run. -- Electronic voting | Another election mess in Florida |

Note: Dan Smith (quoted in the third graf) called this article to my attention (I wonder why?). I decided to quote because of the wonderful first paragraph. (I wonder what snarky remark they would have about Alabama?)

December 7, 2006

Indiana: recounts in 4 state House races

The AP reports: A state panel agreed Wednesday to recount votes in four Indiana House races whose ultimate outcomes could threaten Democratic control of the chamber or widen the party’s majority.

The Indiana Recount Commission also granted Libertarian Steve Osborn’s request to retally ballots in 10 precincts in his statewide race for the U.S. Senate against Dick Lugar, even though Osborn lost by more than 1 million votes on Nov. 7 and he acknowledged the recount gives him no chance of winning.

Democrats gained a 51-49 majority in the Indiana House, according to totals cited by the Secretary of State’s Office. Recount requests were made by three Democratic candidates who each lost by fewer than 30 votes, and by former Republican Rep. Billy Bright of North Vernon, who challenged results that show he lost by about 1,600 votes.

Democrats could only lose control of the chamber if a recount determines that Bright won and outcomes in the other races stand. That would give each party 50 members, and under a tie-breaking rule, Republicans would control the chamber. -- Journal Gazette | 11/30/2006 | Recounts granted in 4 races; House in balance

December 5, 2006

Florida: audit of voting-machine computer code draws complaints of partisanship

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports: The computer source code that tells touch-screen voting machines how to run will be analyzed in the next phase of a state audit to determine what, if anything, went wrong in the Nov. 7 election.

The source code analysis has not started yet, but it is already generating controversy in the contested Congressional District 13 race, in which Republican Vern Buchanan was certified the winner by 369 votes.

The state Division of Elections' top choice for heading the review is Florida State University associate computer science professor Alec Yasinsac, an outspoken Republican who has advocated paperless voting machines in the past.

Democrats and voting rights activists charge that Yasinsac is too partisan to conduct an objective investigation. -- Audit to review computer code

December 3, 2006

Rhode Island: candidates may review ballots rejected by optical scanner during recount

The Providence Journal reports: Almost a decade ago, Rhode Island retired its mechanical voting machines, peddling the 1,000-pound, 6-foot-tall behemoths for scrap.

The five-decade-old lever machines were replaced by a compact optical scanner called the Optech Eagle in a decision heralded as a leap forward for accurately tallying votes. For years, Rhode Island considered itself in the vanguard of electoral reform, and many states did not integrate similar electronic systems until after witnessing the 2000 presidential-election controversies.

For five election cycles, the new system went largely unchallenged. But last month, candidates in several unusually tight races questioned whether the state went too far in its rush to modernize elections.

On Wednesday, a Superior Court judge agreed, ruling that the state Board of Elections had ceded too much authority to the Optech scanners and mandating that candidates be permitted to view ballots rejected during recounts to determine whether the voter’s intent could be discerned.

State election officials denounced the ruling, saying manual reviews of ballots would undermine the objectivity of the new system. -- Rhode Island news | | The Providence Journal | Local News

November 29, 2006

Florida: testing on Day One in FL-13

The Orlando Sentinel reports: Tuesday kicked off the state's testing of the touch-screens at the center of the dispute. But by the end of the day, few answers had materialized.

The results of the test varied from Election Day totals by five votes, but it was unclear what that meant. Jennings' camp said it suggested the machines were fallible; Buchanan's team said the differing numbers proved nothing.

Today, officials will review videotapes of the tests -- to ensure testers selected the correct candidates -- and the scripts that the testers worked from. At first blush, the five-vote variance didn't alarm state election officials.

"The machines performed as they should," said Jenny Nash, a spokeswoman for the Florida Division of Elections. Any discrepancies, she said, are likely to be "human error." -- Testers re-enact Election Day -- results differ - Orlando Sentinel : State News Testers re-enact Election Day -- results differ - Orlando Sentinel : State News

Comment: Oh, I get it: conclusion first, evidence later.

November 28, 2006

Pennsylvania: Democrats win controlling seat in the House

Hotline reports: It seems good news for Democrats just keeps coming. Going into the election, the party held 94 seats out of 203 in the Pennsylvania State House. The party picked up enough seats to earn a 101-100 lead after most ballots were counted, though two seats – both previously controlled by Republicans – were close enough to require recounts.

Republican Duane Milne kept a narrow 144-vote lead after provisional, overseas and absentee ballots were all cast, creating a 101-101 tie and putting control of the chamber in the hands of the 156th House District. In that race, Republican Shannon Royer led his Democratic opponent, Barbara Smith, by just 19 votes (out of close to 30K cast) going into today’s final counts.

After all the ballots were tallied, Smith reversed the gap and emerged with a 23-vote victory, handing control of the State House to Democrats in a chamber few thought they had a chance of picking off. -- Hotline On Call: Dems Pick Up PA State House

November 27, 2006

Alabama: Sen. Means revises campaign finance report after challenge to his election

The New York Times Regional Newspapers reported on 19 November: Democratic state Sen. Larry Means of Attalla has filed amended campaign finance reports following a lawsuit seeking to nullify his Nov. 7 election win over a last-minute write-in candidate.

It’s the second lawsuit seeking to nullify the re-elections of state senators based on alleged noncompliance with Alabama campaign finance disclosure laws. ...

Means originally filed five waivers showing no campaign activity because he didn’t have primary or general election opposition.

“We did what the Secretary of State’s Office told us to do [file waivers] so we went ahead and filed," Means said. “If [the secretary of state] had told us that, that’s what we would have done." -- Senators test campaign finance laws - Tuscaloosa

November 23, 2006

Utah: recounts in 2 legislative races

The Deseret Morning News reports: Utah House Speaker Greg Curtis, R-Sandy, will have one fewer Republican in his caucus during the 2007 Legislature, provided Curtis survives an election recount.

After counting provisional and by-mail absentee ballots and having the vote canvass approved by the Salt Lake County Council, Curtis officially defeated Democratic challenger Jay Seegmiller by 19 votes, it was learned Tuesday. That final result was closer than the tallies following Election Day, when Curtis led by 46 votes.

While Democrats likely missed a golden opportunity to take out one of the most powerful Republicans in the state, the minority party in the Legislature did keep another one of its incumbents when Rep. Carl Duckworth, D-Magna, defeated challenger Deena Ely. Duckworth had trailed by 25 votes before the additional ballots were counted but ended up winning by 33 votes, a total large enough to avoid a recount. -- | Recounts on in 2 races

Pennsylvania: control of state House may depend on validity of absentee ballots

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports: Control of the state House could hinge on whether a handful of Chester County voters used their middle initials when they signed their absentee ballots.

That's the kind of technicality being argued in the county over 20 ballots in two elections that are too close to call.

Republicans, who have an edge in both races after unofficial Election Night returns, want to exclude some provisional and absentee ballots from the final vote total, while Democrats want them counted.

Both sides made their cases yesterday during six hours of testimony before the county commissioners, who are acting as the Board of Elections. Testimony was expected to continue today and a decision on whether to include those ballots could come as soon as Tuesday.

Then, the challenged ballots that are deemed admissible, along with 529 other sealed absentee ballots in the two races, will be opened and counted. -- Control of state House may hinge on technicalities

Indiana: 4 election contents could shift balance in state House

AP reports: A Republican defeated in his re-election bid for a legislative seat from southern Indiana has filed a challenge to the election results that could threaten Democratic control of the Indiana House.

The challenge by Republican Billy Bright of North Vernon brings to four the number of election reviews expected in the closely divided Indiana House, which Democrats control 51-49 based on preliminary returns of the Nov. 7 election.

Those results showed Democrat Dave Cheatham, who was sworn into office Tuesday, defeating Bright 10,861 to 9,244 in District 69, but Bright is questioning the high number of absentee ballots in Jennings County.

He said 30 percent of the votes cast in Jennings County were absentee ballots, compared with the statewide average of 9 percent.

“We believe that the unbelievably high number of absentee ballots are a concern,” Bright said Tuesday. “We believe there were some real irregularities in Jennings County, and we will find the truth.” -- Journal Gazette | 11/22/2006 | Latest election challenge could split House 50-50

November 21, 2006

Florida: Buchanan wins in FL-13, but Jennings sues

CQPolitics reports: The number of Nov. 7 House general elections in which the winner has not been firmly established has dwindled to four. But at least one of these, the controversy-plagued contest for the open seat in Florida’s 13th District, is unlikely to be decided for weeks — and even has the potential to kick off the Democratic-controlled 110th Congress in January with a dispute over whether to seat the certified winner.

That candidate is Republican Vern Buchanan: The Florida secretary of state’s office yesterday certified the wealthy car dealer as the victor, by a margin of 369 votes, over Democrat Christine Jennings, a former bank president.

Jennings immediately filed a lawsuit in Leon County, which is well north of the 13th District but includes the state capital of Tallahassee. The crux of Jennings’ complaint — which demands that a new election be called — is that there were more than 18,000 “undervotes” in Sarasota County, the district’s largest jurisdiction and the source of Jennings’ greatest electoral strength.

The “undervotes” refer to ballots in which votes were registered for other offices but not for the House race between Buchanan and Jennings. -- Legal Fight in Florida's 13th Could Stretch Into 2007 - Yahoo! News

New Mexico: Dems may ask for partial recount in NM-1

CQPolitics reports: New Mexico Republican Rep. Heather A. Wilson (news, bio, voting record) has survived her toughest race of a House career that dates to 1998. Democratic challenger Patricia Madrid on Tuesday conceded the 1st District contest, in which she trailed Wilson by fewer than 900 votes.

Madrid, the state attorney general, said at an Albuquerque press conference that she did not intend to seek a full recount, even though Wilson led by just 105,916 votes to 105,037, according to the Associated Press.

That 879-vote difference produced a margin of victory of less than one-half of 1 percentage point, a threshold that in several states would have triggered an automatic recount. But New Mexico does not have such a provision, so Madrid’s campaign would have had to bear the cost of a recount unless it changed the outcome of the election. ...

Despite Madrid’s decision to pass up a full recanvass, the vote counting and numbers in the contest still are not completely finalized. New Mexico Democratic Party Executive Director Matt Farrauto told it was “reasonably likely” that party officials would request a partial recount, a possibility party Chairman John Wertheim raised in Tuesday’s news conference. -- Madrid Concedes, But New Mexico Dems Aren't Done Yet - Yahoo! News

November 16, 2006

Indiana: provisional ballots may decide a State House race

WISH-TV reports: The verdict is still out in the race for the seat in the State House of Representatives on the south side of Indianapolis. Democratic incumbent Ed Mahern trails Republican Jon Elrod by just five votes. However there are seven votes not in the final total that could change the outcome.

Several hundred provisional ballots in Marion County are still being sorted. There are four provisional ballots in District 97 that have not yet been counted and may not be. Those four voters did not have the proper id on Election Day. But it is not too late for those votes to be counted..

"They have until Friday at noon to bring that identification, to bring that id to the clerk's office, show it to us. If they do that we will open the ballot and get it counted," Marion County Clerk Doris Ann Sadler said.

Democrats are working to find those voters to urge them to get to the clerk's office. Those votes could potentially change the results. ...

The Democrats want the courts to get involved and open those ballots, again potentially changing the outcome of the race. Republicans say the Democrats do not have the right to ask the court to decide. -- WISH-TV - Indianapolis News and Weather - Parties Have 24 Hours to Submit Proposals on Absentee Ballots

Florida: manual recount of non-existent paper trail begins in FL-13

The Orlando Sentinel reports: As officials begin a manual recount Thursday of more than 18,000 disputed ballots in the race for the 13th Congressional District, a handful of voting-rights and ballot-reform groups seeking to force a new election have put out a call to unhappy voters.

The organizations are holding a public hearing Thursday at a downtown hotel to hear from residents who fear their votes were incorrectly recorded or who failed to choose a candidate in the race because the ballot design was confusing. ...

More than 18,000 ballots cast in Sarasota County showed no choice was made in the hotly contested congressional race between Republican Vern Buchanan and Democrat Christine Jennings. The so-called "undervote" in that race - which Buchanan now leads by 401 votes - was about 15 percent among voters who used computer touch-screen machines. That compares to undervotes of less than 3 percent in parts of the district with different voting machines.

Dozens of voters complained that they may have inadvertently missed the race because they were confused by the layout of the computer screen ballot. Others - some have sworn out affidavits - insist they made a choice, but noticed on a final review page that it had not registered. -- KRT Wire | 11/16/2006 | Florida officials begin manual recount of 18,000 ballots

November 15, 2006

Wyoming: Cubin certified for narrow win

CQPolitics reports: Wyoming Republican Rep. Barbara Cubin (news, bio, voting record) staved off a close challenge by Democrat Gary Trauner, winning a seventh term as the state’s lone House member. Cubin was called the winner of the contest — eight days after Election Day — by the Associated Press based on the vote certified by state officials Wednesday.

It was by far the closest House race ever faced by Cubin in a state that typically is a Republican stronghold, an outcome that was testimony both to the tough political atmosphere for Republicans nationwide and some self-inflicted problems that Cubin brought on herself.

The final tally by the Wyoming Canvassing Board gave Cubin 93,336 votes (48.3 percent) to Trauner’s 92,324 votes (47.8 percent). Libertarian candidate Thomas Rankin won 7,481 votes (3.9 percent) — far greater than the difference between the two major party candidates, though there is no way of knowing whether most of his votes would have gone to Cubin or Trauner had he not been in the race.

Cubin’s 1,012-vote margin over Trauner is outside the threshold to trigger an automatic recount, but the Democrat still had 48 hours after the certification to call for a recount if his campaign were to produce the funds to pay for it, according to an aide at the Wyoming Secretary of State’s office. -- Republican Cubin Survives Close Call, Holds Wyoming Seat - Yahoo! News

Georgia: two Democratic candidates for House certified by slim margins

CQPolitics reports: Democratic Rep. John Barrow, according to Georgia’s secretary of state, has won a second term in the state’s 12th District, defeating former one-term Republican Rep. Max Burns (news, bio, voting record) by just 864 votes in the rematch of their close 2004 race.

But it is not yet clear if the state’s certification of the outcome is the last word on the race: Barrow’s winning percentage is less than the 1 percentage-point threshold below which the trailing candidate can request a recount. ...

The election board also officially certified the win by another embattled Democratic incumbent, Rep. Jim Marshall (news, bio, voting record), who won a third House term with a slim 1,752-vote edge over former six-term Republican Rep. Mac Collins in the 8th District.

In a year when Democrats retained all the House and Senate seats they held prior to the election — and most by comfortable margins — the close contests faced by Barrow and Marshall were anomalies. ...

But Barrow and Marshall faced a big new obstacle in their 2006 races, in the form of a mid-decade redistricting map — implemented by the Republican-controlled state legislature — that took away key portions of their previous constituencies and boosted the number of GOP voters. -- Count in Georgia 12 Favors Democrat, But Challenge Is Possible - Yahoo! News

November 14, 2006

Florida: Dems file suit to preserve election data in CD 13 race

Paul Kiel writes on TPM Muckraker: Lawyers for Democratic House candidate Christine Jennings threw down the gauntlet yesterday, asking a state court to secure electronic voting machines and data used in the election.

The move would preserve the equipment in Florida's Sarasota County for scrutiny by Jennings' legal team. A hearing on the suit is scheduled for this afternoon.

It's just the first step of what is likely to be a litigious aftermath to a close and ugly election (thanks in part to the NRCC's rampant robo calling in the district). The state began a recount and audit of the election yesterday. Once the audit and second recount is completed and the results certified on November 20th, the Jennings campaign has ten days to contest the results of the election if they still show Jennings down. Before the recounting began, she was down 386 votes.

The fight will center around the district's Sarasota County, where the electronic machines did not register a vote in the Congressional race for 18,000 voters (13%) -- what's called an "undervote." That's compared to only 2.53% of voters who did not vote in the race via absentee ballots.

A study by the local paper, The Herald Tribune, found that one in three of Sarasota election officials "had general complaints from voters about having trouble getting votes to record" on the electronic machines for the Congressional race. Since 53% of voters in Sarasota County picked Jennings over the Republican Vern Buchanan, those missed votes would likely have put Jennings in front. -- TPMmuckraker November 14, 2006 12:56 PM

Florida: on-the-sport blogging from Sarasota recount

Googlicious has two posts on the recount (or are they still counting?): googlicious » Democracy is not a dinner party, it’s scrubbing the floors after everybody has gone home… and Kathy Dent - Sarasota Elections.

Connecticut: still correcting human counting errors

AP reports: Democrat Joe Courtney's lead over Republican Rep. Rob Simmons grew to 109 votes Monday, after dipping to as low as 66 votes earlier in the day.

The roller-coaster recount in one of the closest congressional races in the nation has uncovered significant errors in two communities. Preliminary Election Day returns had Courtney winning by 167 votes out of nearly 250,000 ballots cast in the 2nd Congressional District.

Officials in Lebanon discovered Monday that Courtney was given an extra 100 votes over Simmons. "It was human error," said Lebanon election moderator John Bendoraitis. "It was strictly misreading one number on one machine."

In Lyme, the recount showed that Simmons was wrongly credited with 40 votes because an election worker mistakenly wrote down the wrong number. "It was just an error in hearing the number," said Marion Ewankow, the Lyme moderator. -- 'Human error' muffs vote count in Connecticut -

November 10, 2006

Florida: voting machines may not have recorded votes in Orlando Congressional race

In Florida, Echoes of 2000 as Vote Questions Emerge - New York Times
The New York Times reports: A Democrat who narrowly lost the Congressional race here is seeking a recount after dozens of people reported problems using Sarasota County’s touch-screen voting machines and a significant number of ballots had no recorded votes in the high-profile race.

The Democrat, Christine Jennings, lost to her Republican opponent, Vern Buchanan, by just 373 votes out of a total 237,861 cast — one of the closest House races in the nation. More than 18,000 voters in Sarasota County, or 13 percent of those who went to the polls Tuesday, did not seem to vote in the Congressional race when they cast ballots, a discrepancy that Kathy Dent, the county elections supervisor, said she could not explain.

In comparison, only 2 percent of voters in one neighboring county within the same House district and 5 percent in another skipped the Congressional race, according to The Herald-Tribune of Sarasota. And many of those who did not seem to cast a vote in the House race did vote in more obscure races, like for the hospital board.

More than 100 voters have told the Jennings campaign that their votes for her did not show up on the summary screen at the end of the touch-screen voting process, and that they had to re-enter them. The candidate’s lawyers said they feared that not everyone had noticed the problem or realized that they could re-enter the vote. --

November 9, 2006

Florida: 18,000-vote rolloff on House race?

AP reports: The touch-screen voting machines Katherine Harris championed as secretary of state after the 2000 presidential recount may have botched this year's election to replace her in the U.S. House, and it's likely going to mean another Florida recount.

More than 18,000 Sarasota County voters who marked other races didn't have their vote register in the House race, a rate much higher than the rest of the district, elections results show.

Sarasota County Elections Supervisor Kathy Dent defended her staff and the voting machines, arguing that the thousands of voters must have either overlooked the race -- which was pushed to a second screen by a glut of minor U.S. Senate candidates on the ballot -- or simply decided not to vote for either candidate in a race marked by mudslinging. ...

Florida law requires a machine recount if the difference between the top candidates is less than half a percent. If the machine tallies find a margin of less than a quarter percent, a manual recount is conducted.

To do a manual recount for touch-screens, officials go back over the images of the electronic ballots where the machine didn't register a choice. But state rules essentially say that if the machine doesn't show that a voter chose a candidate, the voter is assumed to have meant to skip the race -- it would be tough to prove otherwise. -- Florida deja vu: Race to replace Harris could go to recount -

Montana: Burns concedes to Tester

AP reports: Sen. Conrad Burns conceded the Montana U.S. Senate race to Democrat Jon Tester on Thursday, catching Tester on the phone as he headed for a barber shop to get his famous flattop hair trimmed. -- Sen. Burns Concedes Montana Race -

Virginia: Allen concedes

Reuters reports: Virginia Republican George Allen on Thursday conceded defeat in his tight Senate race against James Webb, giving Democrats a majority in the U.S. Congress for the first time in 12 years. ...

Allen trailed Webb by nearly 9,000 votes of the 2.4 million cast, according to state electoral figures. -- Allen concedes Senate loss | Politics News |

Wyoming: Trauner will not seek recount after narrow loss to Cubin

AP reports: Democrat Gary Trauner said Thursday he had no immediate plans to seek a recount in his close race to unseat incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Barbara Cubin (news, bio, voting record).

Trauner, a businessman from Wilson, said he wants to let the process of certifying Tuesday's election results play out and, unless something unusual occurs, will accept those results. -- Wyo. Democrat not planning on recount - Yahoo! News

Virginia: recount law

AP reports: A recount in the Senate race in Virginia, where control of the Senate tilted from the Republicans to the Democrats on James Webb's victory over incumbent George Allen, would take time -- lots of time.

There are no automatic recounts in Virginia, but state law allows a candidate who finishes within a half-percentage point to request a recount paid for by state and local governments. With a margin greater than that, but less than 1 percentage point, the trailing candidate can still seek a recount but must pay the costs if the results are unchanged.

Either way, a recount could not begin until after the State Board of Elections certifies the results on Nov. 27. The losing candidate has 10 days after that to request a recount. How long a recount would take is unclear.

An Associated Press count Wednesday night showed Webb with 1,172,538 votes and Allen with 1,165,302, a difference of 7,236, or less than one-third of 1 percent. -- Virginia recount would be time-consuming - Yahoo! News

November 8, 2006

Virginia: Hotline says GOP will pressure Allen to concede

The Hotline reports: Top Republicans in Washington will give Sen. George Allen a few days to take stock of his legal and political options before beginning to pressure him to concede to James Webb. Senior Republican officials and White House aides believe that Webb won the race. -- Hotline On Call: Republicans Will Pressure Allen... Soon

Comment: If I were Allen's lawyer, I would say, "wait a few days till we can find out if all the votes are in. Don't pull a John Kerry by cutting and running away from a possible legal challenge too quickly."

Update: TPMCafe explains why Allen is unlikely to demand a recount.

Update 2:
AP reports: An Allen adviser, speaking on condition of anonymity because his boss has not formally decided to end the campaign, said the Republican likely will not request a recount if a statewide canvass of votes doesn't show significant changes.

Allen wanted to wait until most canvassing was completed before announcing his decision, possibly as early as Thursday evening, the adviser said.

Local officials must complete their canvass by Tuesday. -- Virginia win gives Democrats the Senate

Montana and Virginia: "legal issues behind the potential recounts"

Slate reports: The Democrats will seize control of the U.S. Senate if their candidates end up victorious in two very tight races. As of early Wednesday afternoon, Democrat Jon Tester was ahead of Republican Conrad Burns in the Montana race by around 3,000 votes. (The Associated Press has called the election for Tester. Burns has, so far, refused to concede.) In Virginia, Democrat Jim Webb led Republican Sen. George Allen by a little more than 7,000 votes—about one-third of 1 percent. How do you contest an election in these two states?

First, ask for a recount. The basic rules are very similar in the two states. In Montana, the losing candidate has five days to petition the state government for a recount, starting as soon as a state "board of canvassers" certifies the initial results. (The certification must occur within 20 days.) He's only allowed to ask for the recount if he came within 0.5 percent of winning the election. If a candidate in Montana came within 0.25 percent, the state automatically pays the costs of the recount; otherwise, he'll have to put up the money himself and will get reimbursed only if he turns out the victor.

Virginia election law gives the loser the right to petition a panel of judges for a recount within 10 days of certification if he came within 1 percent in the popular vote. The state pays for the recount if the margin is less than 0.5 percent or if the petitioner ends up on top. -- What happens next in Montana and Virginia? - By Daniel Engber - Slate Magazine

November 4, 2006

“Both sides are lawyering up”

The New York Times reports: A team of lawyers for the Democratic Party has been arguing with postal officials in Columbus, Ohio, trying to persuade them to process thousands of absentee ballots that have arrived with insufficient postage.

In Pennsylvania, the Republican Party has opened a “recount account” and set aside $500,000 to pay lawyers who will answer telephones on Election Day and monitor polls to see whether officials demand proper voters’ identification. In Maryland, lawyers representing candidates for senator and governor from both parties met recently and swapped cellphone numbers and e-mail addresses to smooth out the logistics of potential litigation.

Several days from what Republican and Democratic campaign strategists expect to be a close election, the legal machinery of a messy fight is shifting into high gear. ...

“Both sides are lawyering up,” said Doug Chapin, director of the nonpartisan Election Reform Information Project. “Election night is not necessarily the finish line anymore.”

Election litigation has grown since 2000, reaching 361 suits in 2004, up from 108 in 1996, according to Richard L. Hasen, a professor at the Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. -- As Vote Nears, Parties Prepare for Legal Fights - New York Times

October 20, 2006

Georgia: supreme court discounts write-in votes, confirms win

The Southern Voice reports: The Georgia Supreme Court on Oct.16 unanimously confirmed the razor thin re-election victory of lesbian Atlanta City Councilmember Anne Fauver over gay opponent Steve Brodie, erasing doubt over who will continue to represent District 6.

The court’s seven justices ruled that nine write-in ballots that were in dispute were for candidates not qualified to serve if elected.

“Because unqualified write-in candidates cannot assume office, counting the write-in votes for these unqualified candidates would be a futile act by the board,” the ruling states.

Fauver, who defeated Brodie by only five votes in November 2005, said the state Supreme Court’s ruling “vindicated” her. ...

According to state law, in order to win an election without a runoff, a candidate must receive 50 percent plus one of the votes cast. Brodie contended that if the nine write-in ballots were included in the total vote count, Fauver would have received 49.97 percent of the vote. -- Southern Voice Online

October 1, 2006

Alabama: judge throws out election contest action over Greene County sheriff nomination

The Tuscaloosa News reports: Greene County Circuit Judge Eddie Hardaway on Tuesday threw out a lawsuit brought by a Greene County Democratic Executive Committee member and declared Sheriff Johnny Isaac the rightful Democratic nominee for sheriff.

The judge’s ruling clears the way for ballots to be printed with Isaac as the nominee for sheriff. Thursday is the deadline for county election managers to have ballots ready. In Greene County, Probate Judge Earlean Isaac, Johnny Isaac’s wife, is the election manager.

The suit brought by Lester Brown contended that the Alabama Democratic Party had overstepped its bounds when the Democratic Executive Committee disqualified apparent nominee Ison Thomas and named Isaac the nominee. Thomas had defeated Isaac by 300 votes in the June 6 primary. The state threw out his election because he failed to comply with the Fair Campaign Practices Act.

Brown’s lawsuit contended that it was up to the Greene County Democratic Executive Committee to choose a nominee and that he had been denied that right. -- Judge rules that Isaac is Greene sheriff nominee - Tuscaloosa

September 3, 2006

Alabama: Echoes of '86

The Tuscaloosa News reports: Democrats likely had the summer of 1986 in mind last weekend when they rejected a challenge in a Birmingham state House race. ...

The committee’s decision, though far from unanimous, was doubtlessly influenced by the tempest that ensued when Democratic Party leaders denied the gubernatorial nomination to Charles Graddick. It’s been two decades since that public relations fiasco accelerated a political power shift in Alabama that’s still resonating today.

Voter backlash over the Graddick matter led to the election of Guy Hunt, the first Alabama Republican governor since the 1870s, underscoring the importance voters gave their ballots in a state with a history of voting shenanigans.

“The election 20 years ago represents the anniversary in which the Democratic Party started its own demise," said Auburn University Montgomery political science professor D’Linell Finley. -- ’86 election changed political scene - Tuscaloosa

Comment: I was one of Bill Baxley's lawyers in that contest. Dr. Finley may believe it was the beginning of the demise of the Democratic Party. I beg to differ. The big-business interests in Alabama wanted to control the Democratic Party with a pseudo-Democratic candidate (Graddick). If Graddick had won, it would have stunted the growth of the real Democratic Party in Alabama. Instead, Graddick would have continued the infiltration of Republicans into the Democratic Party.

September 2, 2006

Nevada: judge denies Angle's request for new GOP primary

AP reports: A judge on Friday denied a defeated congressional candidate's request for a new Republican primary, saying the state court lacks jurisdiction.

Assemblywoman Sharron Angle lost to Secretary of State Dean Heller by 421 votes the three-way Aug. 15 GOP primary. They were seeking to replace U.S. Rep. Jim Gibbons, who is running for governor. ...

After a daylong hearing, District Judge Bill Maddox said there was no evidence election officials in Washoe County committed malfeasance when some voting locations opened late because polling workers didn't show up. -- Judge denies bid for new Nev. primary - Yahoo! News

August 30, 2006

Nevada: Angle files suit for re-primary

The Reno Gazette-Journal reports: Reno Assemblywoman Sharron Angle filed papers Tuesday asking a judge to order a new Republican primary election in the 2nd Congressional District.

Angle is contesting her defeat in Washoe District Court, despite the urging of U.S. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., to drop her effort.

In court papers, Angle attorneys Joel and Jonathan Hansen cite 17 reasons for nullification, including a lack of training for election workers, polling-place workers not showing up on time or not at all and registered Republicans not being given Republican ballots.

Secretary of State Dean Heller defeated Angle by 421 votes in the Aug. 15 primary and is campaigning against Democrat Jill Derby. -- Angle asks judge for new election

August 28, 2006

Alabama: loser in Greene County contest will sue

The Tuscaloosa News reports: A group of 60 supporters vowed Sunday to make their votes work for Greene County sheriff candidate Ison Thomas.

His 243-vote win in the June 6 primary over incumbent Sheriff Johnny Isaac was shunted aside Saturday when the State Democratic Executive Committee named Isaac the nominee.

Thomas' supporters rallied Sunday evening, making plans to raise $3,000 to $4,000 for his legal fund to challenge the decision of the Democratic executive committee and counter the contest to the legality of his win. ...

A state Democratic subcommittee ruled last month that Thomas had not filed his campaign finance forms properly after Isaac contested Thomas’ win. Since then both candidates have hired attorneys to settle the dispute. -- GREENE COUNTY: Residents rally behind Ison Thomas - Tuscaloosa

August 27, 2006

Nevada: Angle will contest Heller's win in GOP House race

AP reports: A defeated U.S. House candidate said Friday she would seek to toss out the results the Republican primary, citing errors in the voting process, in hopes of getting another shot at the nomination.

Sharron Angle, a conservative assemblywoman in the Nevada Legislature, lost the Aug. 15 contest by 421 votes to Secretary of State Dean Heller. She said a recount was not the right action. ...

Angle campaign spokesman Jerry Stacy said the primary was riddled with mishaps in the Reno area. ...

In official vote tallies announced Thursday, Heller won the five-candidate primary with 24,770 votes, 35.9 percent, out of 68,992 cast. Angle had 24,349 or 35.3 percent. -- Nev. candidate wants special election - Yahoo! News

August 26, 2006

Alabama: Todd wins

AP reports: Openly gay Patricia Todd was reinstated Saturday as the Democratic Party's nominee for a seat in the Alabama Legislature in a vote that turned more on the race of the candidates than sexual orientation.

The Alabama Democratic Party Executive Committee voted 95-87, mostly along racial lines, to reject the ruling of a subcommittee that had voted to disqualify Todd, who is white, and her black opponent, Gaynell Hendricks, in the race for the House seat from Birmingham's predominantly black District 54. ...

The vote fell mostly along racial lines. Committee members were asked to stand to show their vote and no whites were seen standing to vote to uphold the subcommittee report, while a small number of blacks stood in support of Todd.

The vote came at the end of a tense meeting where supporters of both Todd and Hendricks crammed into a large ballroom at a Montgomery hotel and frequently interrupted with cheers or shouts.

The loudest cheers from Todd's supporters and boos from Hendricks' side came during a passionate speech by Todd's attorney Bobby Segall, who also often represents the Democratic Party.

Segall asked the executive committee members to forget race and politics and to do the right thing. ...

A dramatic point in Saturday's meeting came just minutes before the committee voted, when veteran legislator and civil rights worker Rep. Alvin Holmes, D-Montgomery, stood and urged the committee not to use a technicality to disqualify Todd, a tactic he said has often been used in the South to disqualify black candidates.

"Selective prosecution has been done to black people more than to any other people in the state and unless someone can show me the 59 more votes Todd received were illegal votes, there's no way you can deny her victory," Holmes said. -- Alabama Democrats reinstate gay candidate for Legislature

Disclosure: I am proud to have been one of Patricia Todd's lawyers.

August 25, 2006

Alabama: Birmingham News coverage of the Patricia Todd election contest

The Birmingham News reports: A Democratic Party committee Thursday night disqualified an openly gay candidate for the Alabama Legislature and the woman she defeated in the primary runoff because both women violated a party rule that party officials said no other candidate has obeyed since 1988.

The committee voted 5-0 to disqualify House District 54 candidate Patricia Todd, who was attempting to become the state's first openly gay legislator, and Gaynell Hendricks.

Committee chairwoman Amy Burks said earlier Thursday the party's executive committee would make the final decision and select a nominee for the Birmingham seat at a meeting in Montgomery Saturday. -- Panel disqualifies both District 54 candidates

Disclosure: Todd is my client.

Alabama: NYT coverage of Patricia Todd election contest

The New York Times reports: When Patricia Todd won the Democratic primary runoff for a seat in the Alabama Legislature last month, the big news might have been her sexual orientation. With no Republican opponent, Ms. Todd seemed poised to become what political observers said would be the first openly gay officeholder in state history.

But instead, it is the fact that she is white, in a majority black district in Birmingham, that has become the burning issue. One of the state’s most powerful Democrats, who had earlier urged voters not to support Ms. Todd because she is white, is backing a challenge to her nomination that could end her candidacy. ...

The challenge was brought by Ms. Hendricks’s mother-in-law. But it was tacitly supported by Joe L. Reed, a longtime Democratic kingmaker and the party’s vice chairman of minority affairs. Mr. Reed had urged voters to support Ms. Hendricks, and at one point the Alabama Democratic Conference, a black political organization that he is chairman of, gave a check to cover the $3,000 fee needed to bring the challenge in case Ms. Hendricks missed the deadline. He also controlled the subcommittee; three of the five members were drawn from a pool of Mr. Reed’s appointees.

“This is really not about race,” Ms. Todd said in a telephone interview as she traveled to Montgomery for the hearing. “This is about Joe Reed controlling the party and trying to get his way, and he’s just a bully.”

Mr. Reed disagreed. “She doesn’t even know me,’’ he said, “so she wouldn’t be in any position to know. This is not about lifestyles; this is not about race. This is about whether she complied with the party rules.” -- Issues of Race and Sex Stir Up Alabama Election - New York Times

Disclosure: Todd is my client.

August 16, 2006

Alabama: Todd asks Democratic Party to dismiss contest

AP reports: The white victor in the Democratic runoff for a legislative seat called on the party Wednesday to throw out a contest challenging her victory, claiming it was wrongly funded by a powerful black party leader who wants a black to win the position.

Patricia Todd, a white lesbian seeking to become the first openly gay member of the Alabama Legislature, said party vice chairman Joe Reed personally paid for a challenge filed on behalf of her black opponent, Gaynell Hendricks.

Reed, longtime chairman of the Alabama Democratic Conference, the party's black caucus, denied that he or the ADC paid the contest fee for Hendricks.

Before Todd's 59-vote win over Hendricks on July 18, Reed distributed a letter in which he urged black leaders to support Hendricks because of her race.

After the vote, Todd said, Reed paid the party's fee to consider a challenge filed by Hendricks' mother-in-law. State party rules require that whomever challenges an election pay the fee, Todd said at a news conference. -- AP Wire | 08/16/2006 | Gay candidate asks Alabama Democrats to dismiss contest

The full statement is here, which is also the address of Todd's website.

Disclosure: Patricia Todd is my client in the election contest.

Alabama: racial politics and the Hendricks-Todd contest

AP reports: Patricia Todd is openly gay, and she expected her sexual orientation to be an issue when she ran for a legislative seat representing a majority black district. What she didn't anticipate was the fight that broke out over the fact she is white.

Todd, who defeated a black candidate in a runoff election last month, goes before a Democratic Party subcommittee on Tuesday to defend her 59-vote runoff win in House District 54, an area that includes both the richest and poorest neighborhoods of Birmingham. ...

But the issue people are talking about is whether a white woman should get to represent a mostly black district in a state where blacks couldn't vote two generations ago and where race is still an overriding factor in carving out election districts.

A black Democratic leader urged black voters to support Todd's black opponent, Gaynell Hendricks, on the basis of race, and Todd fears racial politics may taint proceedings before the subcommittee. -- Race becomes issue for Ala. gay candidate - Politics -

Disclosure: I represent Patricia Todd in this contest.

August 15, 2006

Alabama: Hendricks-Todd election contest not held today

AP reports: A mix-up over who was supposed to serve on a committee caused the Alabama Democratic Party to delay a hearing Tuesday on the challenge of the apparent primary victory of an openly gay candidate for the Legislature.

Patricia Todd defeated Gaynell Hendricks by 59 votes in the July 18 runoff election in House District 54, a diverse district that includes some of Birmingham's richest and poorest neighborhoods. She has no Republican opposition in the general election Nov. 7. If elected, Todd would become the first openly gay legislator in Alabama.

But a challenge filed by Hendricks' mother-in-law claims that Todd filed a campaign financial disclosure form late to hide a $25,000 contribution from a national gay rights group. -- NewsFlash - Committee mixup delays hearing on challenge of gay candidate

Disclosure: I represent Patricia Todd in this contest.

August 12, 2006

Alabama: defeated senator asks for 5 Democratic nominees to be disqualified

The Birmingham News reports: State Sen. Gerald Dial, D-Lineville, is asking the Alabama Democratic Party to disqualify the primarycandidate who defeated him - along with four powerful senators - saying they violated state campaign finance law.

Dial, in a letter to Democratic Party Chairman Joe Turnham, asked the party to revoke the nomination of Kim Benefield for Senate District 13. Benefield defeated Dial in the June primary. Dial wrote that Benefield did not list all of her expenditures andcontributions on her campaign report, including her qualifying fee. ...

His petition for a reversal of fortune also targets four powerful Democrats with whom he frequently has clashed through the years. He's challenging the practice, which those four followed, of candidates in the primary not filing campaign finance reports if they are unopposed. ...

Benefield reported receiving $270,161 worth of advertising from the Senate Majority PAC as an in-kind contribution. The PAC works to elect Democrats. Dial, sometimes called a "dissident Democrat," is aligned with the Senate's Republican minority and a handful of Democrats. -- Defeated senator wants foe, 4 others to be disqualified

August 9, 2006

Georgia: election officials expect McKinney will challenge the election

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports: A top election official in DeKalb County said Wednesday morning that she expects U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney to take her complaints about alleged voting irregularities in Tuesday's election straight to Washington -- just like she did when she lost four years ago. ...

One of McKinney’s options would be to file the complaint in DeKalb, because that is where she lives.

Lattimore said local election officials investigated the campaign’s claims.

“We called all the polls right when she complained to get documentation,” Lattimore said. She said she found no evidence of any irregularities.

Kara Sinkule, spokesman for Secretary of State Cathy Cox, said McKinney can request a recount under Georgia law “when it appears that a discrepancy or error, although not apparent on the face of the returns, has been made.” This is the only recount provison McKinney can rely on becasue the vote outcome was not numerically close enough to qualiify under the 1 percent recount rule, Sinkule said. -- Election official expects McKinney to protest to feds | Election Day |

August 5, 2006

Mexico: Electoral Court orders limited recount of presidential election

Bloomberg reports: Mexico's Federal Electoral Court rejected presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's demand for a full recount of the July 2 vote, ordering instead a review of the tally at fewer than 10 percent of polling places.

The court's seven judges ruled unanimously that Lopez Orbador, who lost the race according to election authorities by 0.6 percentage point, had no claim to a full recount because he challenged results in only 174 of 300 electoral districts -- and some of his fraud claims didn't stand up. The court agreed to review ballots from 11,839 of more than 130,000 polling places.

The limited scope of the recount makes its unlikely Felipe Calderon's 243,934 margin of victory will be erased, said Todd Eisenstadt, a professor of government at American University in Washington and author of a book on Mexican election law. Mexican bonds and currency rallied on expectations Calderon, a former energy minister under President Vicente Fox, will maintain Fox's policies in favor of free trade, low inflation and spending restraints. -- Worldwide

August 4, 2006

Alabama: the election-night screw-up that fueled the H.D. 54 election contest

Kyle Whitmire writes in the Birmingham Weekly: Last Thursday, Gaynell Hendricks held a press conference in front of the Jefferson County Courthouse where her supporters in her plain sight accused white people of stealing the election for Todd.

I too was accused of fixing the election. This might stem from the fact that, in addition to being white, I, unlike nearly everyone on Hendricks' campaign staff, showed up at the courthouse on election night to watch the returns being counted.

This is what I saw. -- Birmingham Weekly Online

Disclosure: I represent Patricia Todd, the winner of the election, in the contest filed by Hendricks' mother-in-law.

August 1, 2006

California: lawsuit challenges results of Bilbray-Busby special election

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports: A lawsuit filed yesterday asks a judge to toss out results of the June 6 special election that saw Republican Brian Bilbray defeat Democrat Francine Busby to finish the remaining term of disgraced former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham.

The lawsuit, filed at Superior Court in downtown San Diego by lawyer Paul Lehto of Everett, Wash., also asks for a recount of all ballots cast in the election in the 50th Congressional District.

Lehto says there is no way to ensure that the voting machines used by county elections officials were not tampered with, which Registrar of Voters Mikel Haas vigorously denied.

The county used paper ballots as part of an optical scanner system and touch-screen machines manufactured by Diebold. The vast majority of votes were cast by paper ballot, county officials said. ...

In an interview yesterday, Busby – not a party to the lawsuit – distanced herself from its central premise that Bilbray's election was illegitimate and should be declared void. -- > News > Politics -- Lawsuit seeks to void Bilbray-Busby results

Alabama: Democrats disqualify sheriff candidate for campaign disclosure violations

The Tuscaloosa News reports:
A state Democratic subcommittee has overturned the Greene County Sheriff's race, declaring incumbent Johnny Isaac the Democratic nominee with no opposition in November.

Isaac fell to former Deputy Isom Thomas in the June 6 primary, 2,138-1,895. Isaac contested the election before the Greene County Democratic Executive Commission, which upheld Thomas' election.

However, the state subcommittee ruled unanimously that Thomas hadn’t properly filed his campaign finance forms.

“It’s mandatory," said Walter Braswell, Isaac’s attorney. “State law says that compliance with the fair campaign practices act is a qualification just like age or residency. If you fail to do that, you can’t be certified by the party."

Thomas listed only his filing fee as expenses and only $275 in unspecified contributions. Braswell presented Thomas’ campaign signs and other items, which he said were obviously expenses. These expenses weren’t listed on Thomas’ campaign finance form. -- Isaac is Greene sheriff nominee - Tuscaloosa

July 31, 2006

Alabama: absentee ballots made the difference in one legislative runoff

The Mobile Press-Register reports: Almost a third of the 426 absentee ballots cast in the disputed Democratic primary runoff for Alabama House District 98 came from nine addresses, a Press-Register review of public records found.

But the executive director of an Eight Mile nursing home, which produced the most absentee votes from a single location, said the voting practices at his facility were not out of the ordinary.

Runoff winner Darren Flott said his campaign did not engage in any special push to increase his absentee ballot totals. And, he said, neither he nor his volunteers engaged in gathering illegal votes from District 98 residents.

The high number of absentee ballots are at the center of chiropractor James Gordon's accusation that illegal votes delivered Flott, a respiratory therapist, his 65-vote margin of victory in the second round of voting July 18. ...

Of 426 absentee ballots, 15.5 percent of the total turnout, Flott won 283 votes to Gordon's 143. That 140-vote advantage is more than double Flott's margin of victory. Gordon posted a 75-vote advantage among ballots actually cast on July 18 in precincts around the district. -- Arguments continue over absentee ballots

Mexico: election now before the Electoral Court

The McClatchy Newspapers report: The drab concrete building of fortresslike towers, surrounded by a high steel fence of spiked poles, hints little at the momentous history that's about to unfold inside. Only the colorful sidewalk camp of hunger strikers suggests its importance: They're vowing not to eat again until they see a recount.

The seven justices who will decide Mexico's bitterly disputed presidential election work here. ...

For the 10-year-old Electoral Court of the Federal Judiciary -- as well as for Mexico's nascent democracy -- this is uncharted territory: Left-leaning populist Andrés Manuel López Obrador refuses to concede defeat to conservative Felipe Calderón, claiming fraud in a July 2 election that left them separated by barely a half-percent of the 41 million votes.

Although there are faint echoes of the U.S. election crisis in 2000, Obrador vs. Calderón isn't Bush vs. Gore in Spanish.

For one, there's no U.S. equivalent to the tribunal. It was created in 1996 to handle election challenges in a nation with a history of stolen or fixed elections. Presiding over the tribunal is Leonel Castillo, a career jurist who started in 1981 as a district court judge. Those who know him say he's a by-the-book constitutionalist who's not likely to be swayed by the public demonstrations López Obrador has held. -- Metro/Regional News - Mexico judges to get the last word -

July 29, 2006

Alabama: Hendricks contests Todd's victory

The Birmingham News reports: An Alabama Democratic Party committee has been asked to review the House District 54 runoff after the result was contested by the mother-in-law of Gaynell Hendricks.

Hendricks lost by 59 votes to Patricia Todd for the Birmingham seat in the July 18 election. Todd had 1,173 votes, 51 percent, to Hendricks' 1,114 votes, or 49 percent. There is no Republican candidate.

Mattie Childress, 76, a retired beautician, filed the contest with the state Democratic Party after office hours Thursday. She is the mother of former Birmingham City Councilman Elias Hendricks. ...

Among the claims in the contest is that "illegal votes were given" to Todd, that Todd did not file her report of contributions and expenditures with the secretary of state until July 17 and that Jefferson County elections officials "failed to follow proper chain of custody procedures when handling voting machine tabulations, tapes and voting machine memory cards." -- Hendricks' in-law contests vote

Disclosure: I represent Patricia Todd.

July 28, 2006

Alabama: Hendricks has not decided whether to contest her primary loss

The Birmingham News reports this non-news: Gaynell Hendricks said she hasn't decided whether she will contest her 59-vote loss to Patricia Todd in the House District 54 democratic runoff July 18.

She rallied supporters at a Thursday news conference where backers vowed support and called for further investigation of voting procedures.

In the July 18 runoff, Todd had 1,173 votes or 51 percent and Hendricks had 1,114 or 49 percent. The Jefferson County Democratic Executive Committee has canvassed the votes and determined the totals were accurate. The Alabama Democratic Party is expected to certify the votes today in the secretary of state's office, said Jim Spearman, the state party's executive director. Hendricks would then have until noon Monday to contest the election, he said. -- Hendricks hasn't decided on contesting vote

Comment: Patricia Todd has hired me to represent her in this matter.

Kyle Whitmire wrote this analysis of the election in the Birmingham Weekly: Gaynell Hendricks doesn’t understand why she lost her race for Alabama House District 54. If you ask her, or any of her campaign faithful, you’ll be told that Hendricks was robbed on election night. She was robbed all right, but it happened long before the polls closed Tuesday and she let the thieves through the door herself.

Hendricks could have won. But she listened to bad advice from people — including the mayor of Birmingham — whose understanding of Birmingham’s political landscape is defective. Someone told Hendricks that bigotry was still a shortcut to public office. She took that shortcut, only to end up farther from where she wanted to be. As of the last tally Tuesday night, Patricia Todd nudged past her with 59 more votes.

The race for District 54 was ugly and divisive. Hendricks is a black businesswoman who, before moving to the building she and her husband own downtown, claimed a Mountain Brook address. Todd is a white, openly gay administrator who received campaign financing from gay and lesbian groups who wanted her to win.

Most legislative districts in the county are gerrymandered to skew toward one racial/political majority or the other, but District 54 has become a mix of demographics — a virtual fault line of black and white. -- Turning off whitey

July 14, 2006

Alabama: GOP mistake adds 30,000 votes to one candidate

AP reports: A typo by the Alabama Republican Party gave a civil appeals court candidate 30,000 extra votes in the June 6 primary in Tuscaloosa County, where fewer than 17,000 ballots were cast.

The error doesn't change the Place 3 runoff between Autauga County District Judge Phillip Wood and Terri Willingham Thomas, a district and juvenile court judge in Cullman County. However, it gave front-runner Wood a far wider margin over Thomas than was officially reported by the party June 16.

The GOP has now reported the error to the Alabama secretary of state's office, Tim Howe, executive director of the party, said Thursday. ...

The amended returns keep Wood in first place with 130,277 votes, or 41 percent of the vote. Thomas is still in second place with 99,203 votes, or 31 percent. Circuit Judge William Shashy of Montgomery has 91,524 votes, or 29 percent. -- Republican typo gives candidate 30,000 extra votes

July 13, 2006

North Carolina: elections board will hold hearings on primary contest

AP reports: The State Board of Elections refused to affirm an 11-vote victory for a House Republican primary challenger, instead agreeing Wednesday to hold more hearings in Lenoir County next month to investigate possible voting irregularities.

The Lenoir County elections board in May ordered a new election in the race between Rep. Stephen LaRoque, R-Lenoir, and Willie Ray Starling. Starling edged LaRoque 913-902 in the May 2 primary in a district that covers Greene County and parts of Lenoir and Wayne counties.

After hearing nearly two hours of arguments, the state board voted 3-2 to reject a motion to certify Starling as the winner. Now the board will travel to Kinston Aug. 7-8 to hear more testimony before making a decision. Any new primary would have to be held before mid-September to give election officials enough time before the November general election.

A majority of board members said the evidence they heard leads them to question seriously whether the outcome can be trusted. -- Winston-Salem Journal | N.C. elections board plans more hearings in House primary dispute

July 10, 2006

Mexico: Lopez Obrador files election contest

AP reports: Mexico's leading leftist presidential candidate asked the country's top electoral court late Sunday to order a ballot-by-ballot recount of last week's election, as his party turned over nine boxes of evidence of alleged fraud and dirty campaign practices.

The 900-page claim alleged that some polling places had more votes than registered voters, the ruling party funneled government money to conservative Felipe Calderon's campaign and exceeded spending limits, and a software program was used to skew initial vote-count reports. ...

Mexico's Federal Electoral Court will review the case, which includes videos, campaign propaganda and electoral documents. The court has until Sept. 6 to declare a winner.

The legal challenge came a day after Lopez Obrador, a former Mexico City mayor, held a mammoth rally in Mexico City's historic center and called on his followers to help overturn Calderon's narrow victory. Lopez Obrador isn't seeking to annul the election, but to force authorities to conduct a manual recount of all 41 million ballots. -- Mexico Candidate Claiming Election Fraud

July 5, 2006

Mexico: Lopez Obrador demands full recount

AP reports: The party of leftist presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador demanded a ballot-by-ballot recount Tuesday in Mexico's closest-ever presidential race, claiming vote counts were manipulated and renewing fears of violent protests if the fiery politician does not get his way.

Lopez Obrador's demand for a full recount of all 41 million votes cast in Sunday's vote set up a possible marathon showdown that could go to Mexico's electoral courts, stirring memories of the bitter Florida recount in the 2000 U.S. presidential race. ...

At the close of voting Sunday, volunteers at tens of thousands of polling places counted the ballots in each box and attached a report, sending it to district headquarters. A preliminary count of those tallies gave Calderon of the ruling National Action Party a 400,000-vote advantage over Lopez Obrador.

But electoral officials said Tuesday about 3 million ballots were not part of that count due to problems including ballots that were set aside for being incorrectly marked or appearing invalid. Lopez Obrador initially said such ballots were "missing," but electoral officials said the ballots were in their control and would be examined -- and counted if valid. -- Sioux City Journal: Leftist Mexican presidential candidate demands vote-by-vote recount

July 3, 2006

Mexico: presidential election is too close to call

If you listen to the news bulletins on NPR, you will only hear about the top two candidates. Reuters reports the latest figures about 7 a.m. CDT: Here are the partial official results with 92,1 percent of votes counted in Mexico's fiercely contested presidential election on Sunday.

Rival candidates Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the leftist former mayor of Mexico City, and Felipe Calderon of the conservative ruling party both claimed victory.

But the Federal Electoral Institute, or IFE, said the race was too close to call and a recount would be needed. Third-placed candidate Roberto Madrazo said the IFE should be left to declare the winner once the recount is finished.

CALDERON 36.63 pct


MADRAZO 21.12 pct
-- UPDATE 1-TABLE-Mexico presidential election returns |

April 11, 2006

Alabama: former sheriff and lawyer sentenced for misuse of criminal data in election contest

AP reports: Former Jefferson County Sheriff Jim Woodward and his attorney, Albert Jordan, were sentenced Tuesday to six months probation on their conviction on charges of conspiring to illegally run background checks on absentee voters in Woodward's contested 1998 race.

Woodward and Jordan, a prominent Republican lawyer, also were fined $500 each by U.S. District Judge Lacey A. Collier, a senior judge from Florida who presided over their January trial.

Woodward, 69, and Jordan, 49, were accused of conspiring to use a criminal database illegally to challenge the results of the 1998 sheriff's election between Woodward and Mike Hale. ...

Woodward and Jordan were accused of having staffers run criminal history checks on restricted federal and state databases to find felons who might have cast votes for Hale, Woodward's opponent in the 1998 election. -- NewsFlash - Former Jeffco sheriff, lawyer get probation in election case

February 10, 2006

Ohio: one more 2004 election suit to go

AP reports: A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit pursued by a voting rights group over Ohio's recount of the 2004 presidential election, leaving only one court challenge remaining from Ohio's role in the re-election of President Bush.

U.S. District Judge James Carr in Toledo threw out the suit argued by the National Voting Rights Institute on behalf of 2004 Green Party candidate David Cobb and Libertarian candidate Michael Badnarik. The two combined received less than 0.5 percent of the vote.

The dismissal Tuesday, unless appealed, leaves only a lawsuit filed by the League of Women Voters of Ohio active from the 2004 presidential election.

The institute challenged the recount that showed President Bush beat Democratic challenger Sen. John Kerry by about 118,000 votes out of 5.5 million cast. The original lawsuit was filed on behalf of a Toledo voter who cast a write-in vote for Cobb. -- The Cincinnati Post - Judge dismisses 2004 election lawsuit

January 27, 2006

Tennesee: Ford's 13-vote victory being shaved

AP reports: The state's list of questionable votes has grown to 10 in the special election that gave Ophelia Ford a 13-vote victory for a seat in the Tennessee Senate.

Challenged returns from the Sept. 15 election have led to a federal court lawsuit and disrupted the Senate during a special session on ethics reform.

A judge who stopped Senate Republicans from voiding the election is expected to rule next week on a suit filed by Ford, a Democrat, and five other voters from Memphis Senate District 29.

Terry Roland, Ford's Republican opponent, contends that more than 160 ballots were cast by voters who may have been ineligible because of residency outside District 29, paperwork errors or prior criminal convictions. -- 10th questionable vote reported in election won by Ophelia Ford - Friday, 01/27/06

January 26, 2006

Louisiana: 2 representatives sue for FEMA's list

AP reports: Two state representatives from New Orleans want a state judge to force Attorney General Charles Foti to turn over a Federal Emergency Management Agency list that shows where residents displaced by the hurricanes are living.

Reps. Charmaine Marchand and Cedric Richmond, Democrats who represent heavily damaged areas of New Orleans, said in their petition to a district court in Baton Rouge that they were seeking the list so they could contact their constituents.

The petition — filed Thursday by state Sen. Cleo Fields, D-Baton Rouge, on behalf of the representatives — also says Foti refused to provide the list for "voting purposes." -- NewsFlash - State representatives ask judge for FEMA list

January 24, 2006

Alabama: Judge reverses the result of the Greensboro mayoral election

The Demopolis Times reports: After finding that 162 votes in the 2004 Greensboro mayor's race were cast illegally, Hale County Circuit Judge William Shashy set aside the election Greensboro mayor J.B. Washington Monday, and declared challenger Vanessa Hill the rightful winner.

After throwing out 162 absentee ballots for a variety of reason - including forgery, lack of voter identification and absence of postmarks - Shashy declared Hill the winner of the long-disputed Sept. 14, 2004 election, 664-614. ...

Based on the report of Special Master James H. Anderson, who solicited testimony from handwriting and elections analysts in his examination of the case, Shashy threw out 148 Washington ballots and eight ballots cast for Hill

Of those thrown out, 18 Washington votes were declared forgeries. The Hill ballots were thrown out due to improper voter ID. -- ::The Demopolis Times::

December 22, 2005

Virginia: McDonnell declared winner of A.G. race

The Roanoke Times reports: There were no balloons, no cheering throng of supporters, and no televised victory speech when Republican Bob McDonnell became the winner of the election for attorney general on Wednesday.

But, after enduring a painstaking recount of the closest statewide election in Virginia history, McDonnell preferred finality to fanfare.

McDonnell became the official winner Wednesday night when a three-judge panel in Richmond Circuit Court certified his 360-vote victory over Democrat Creigh Deeds. The judges signed a court order certifying the outcome shortly after state election officials completed a methodical recount process. Deeds phoned McDonnell to congratulate him at 7:15 p.m., about an hour before the judges signed off on the results.

"It's been a long ride," McDonnell said as he waited for the judges to wrap up the process. "I'm glad it's over."

The recount affirmed a victory that McDonnell had first claimed on the day after the Nov. 8 election. Deeds petitioned for a recount after returns certified by the state Board of Elections showed McDonnell winning by 323 votes. More than 1.94 million Virginians cast ballots in the contest. In the end, McDonnell had 970,981 votes to Deeds' 970,621. -- Political stories from The Roanoke Times -Close race finally ends; McDonnell beats Deeds

December 20, 2005

Virginia: maual recount ordered in some precincts

AP reports: As part of a statewide recount in Virginia's disputed attorney general election, a three-judge panel on Monday ordered a more rigorous, manual recount of ballots in nine precincts.

Optical scan ballots -- paper ballots read by machine -- will be examined by hand in those nine precincts because of apparent equipment problems, the Circuit Court panel ruled.

The recount begins Tuesday and is expected to be finished Wednesday. The manual count was ordered in eight precincts in Gloucester County and one in Lynchburg. -- Panel orders manual recount in Va. AG race -

December 13, 2005

Detroit: a few suspicious ballots found

The Detroit Free Press reports: Raising concerns of vote tampering, the Wayne County Board of Canvassers is investigating a small number of ballots in Detroit's election last month that appear to have been filled in by the same person.

On Monday, day five of its recount of the Nov. 8 election, the board examined eight ballots challenged by mayoral candidate Freman Hendrix. The ballots appeared to contain similar handwriting. About 15 ballots in the precinct could be affected, overall, observers and election officials said.

The ballots, cast in District 7, Precinct 72, on the city's east side, were filled out for write-in candidates in the mayoral, City Council, clerk and Board of Education races. One ballot was a write-in vote for the late Coleman Young for mayor. At least one other ballot was marked for Hendrix and several more for Kilpatrick. -- Handful of Detroit write-in ballots questioned

December 6, 2005

Virginia: A.G. recount set for 20 December

AP reports: A recount in Virginia's attorney general's race, the closest statewide election in modern state history, will be conducted Dec. 20, a Circuit Court judge ruled Tuesday.

The State Board of Elections last week certified Republican Bob McDonnell as the winner by just 323 votes out of more than 1.9 million cast in the Nov. 8 election. His opponent, Democratic Sen. Creigh Deeds, requested a recount.

Virginia law allows for recounts if the vote margin falls within 1 percentage point, and recounts are done at government expense if the difference is less than one-half of a point. -- Judge Schedules Recount for Va. AG Race

November 28, 2005

Virginia: Republican wins A.G. race by 323 votes; Democrat will demand recount

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports: Republican Robert F. McDonnell won the closest-ever race for Virginia attorney general by 323 votes, but Democrat R. Creigh Deeds tomorrow will demand a court-supervised recount of the election.

The state Board of Elections this afternoon certified the results of the Nov. 8 election, with McDonnell getting 970,886 votes to 970,563 for Deeds. "I have full confidence that I won," McDonnell, a former state delegate from Virginia Beach, said in a telephone interview.

Larry Framme, a leader in Deeds' challenge to the results, said the Bath County Democrat will ask for a recount of the results in a court petition to be filed tomorrow morning. -- | McDonnell win certified; recount likely

November 22, 2005

Virginia: A.G. count tightens

The Lynchburg News & Advance reports: Susan Swecker can’t stop hitting the refresh button on the State Board of Elections Web site to see the latest returns.

The campaign manager for Democrat Creigh Deeds likes what she sees. In the ever-tightening race for attorney general, Deeds has been gaining on Republican Bob McDonnell.

As of Monday, the unofficial count showed only 322 votes separated the two candidates, down from 3,000.

“When things are this tight, anything can happen,” Swecker said.

The vote count on Election Night is never accurate, she said, in part because humans make mistakes. Most of the time, however, races are not close enough that people notice. -- Attorney general recount certain

Michigan: Detroit mayoral loser seeks recount

AP reports: Challenger Freman Hendrix on Tuesday announced he will ask for a hand recount of votes from the Detroit mayoral election, which he lost earlier this month to incumbent Kwame Kilpatrick.

"It may be tempting for some to dismiss this as a complaint from a sore loser," Hendrix said at a news conference. "But there has been enough evidence ... to raise legitimate questions about how the election was conducted and how the ballots were counted."

Arthur Blackwell II, the mayor's chief campaign strategist, said that with more than 14,500 votes separating the candidates, a recount likely won't change the outcome.

"This is sour grapes," Blackwell said. "This is not really in the city's best interests.

Hendrix announced his decision the same day the city's Board of Canvassers certified the Nov. 8 vote. Kilpatrick received 123,140 votes, or 53 percent, to 108,600 votes, or 47 percent, for Hendrix. -- Challenger to Seek Detroit Mayor Recount

November 16, 2005

Virginia: A.G. race gets tighter

The unofficial results posted on the State Board of Elections website show a 352-vote margin:

R F McDonnell Republican 970,858 49.96%
R C Deeds Democratic 970,506 49.94%
Write Ins 1,799 0.09%
Total: 1,943,163
General Election- November 8, 2005

November 14, 2005

Virginia: only 446 votes separate candidates for AG reports: It's the closest race in Virginia political history.

According to the State Board of Elections, 446 votes separate the candidates for attorney general in the nearly two-million votes cast.

According to the unofficial count, Republican Bob McDonnell of Virginia Beach has 970,793 votes; Democrat Creigh Deeds has 970,347.

On his Web site, Deeds says that it's so close that a recount is inevitable and he's appointed a legal team to oversee it. -- | News for Hampton Roads, Virginia | News

November 10, 2005

Virginia: AG race may be recounted; only 947 votes separate the two candidates

The Washington Post reports: In a conference room at the Fairfax County Government Center yesterday, election officials pored over long rolls of computer printouts listing votes from Tuesday's election. They examined paper ballots, too, and recalculated basic math.

Behind them, about a dozen Democratic and Republican loyalists witnessed the progress, paying particular attention to votes recorded for Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (Bath), the Democratic candidate for attorney general, and his GOP opponent, Del. Robert F. "Bob" McDonnell (Virginia Beach).

Two days after the election in Virginia, there was still no clear winner in the race to determine who will be the state's top lawyer--a contest that is the closest statewide race in memory -- and both sides are monitoring carefully as local election officials across the state check and double-check the tallies.

Last night, McDonnell was ahead by 947 votes out of more than 1.9 million. -- Still No New Attorney General

October 17, 2005

Iraq: electoral commission will audit unusual results

AP reports: Iraq's electoral commission said Monday it intended to audit "unusually high" numbers in results coming from most provinces in the country's landmark referendum on the draft constitution. ...

The electoral commission's statement came as Sunni Arab lawmaker Meshaan al-Jubouri claimed fraud had occurred in Saturday's election -- including instances of voting in hotly contested regions by pro-constitution Shiites from other areas -- repeating earlier comments made by other Sunni officials over the weekend.

"Statements coming from most provinces indicating such high numbers ... require us to recheck, compare and audit them, as they are unusually high according to the international standards," the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq said in a statement.

The commission said it would take random samples from some ballot boxes to check the results.

An official with knowledge of the election process said that in some areas the proportion of "yes" or "no" votes seemed unusual. The official cautioned that it was too early to say whether the unusual figures were actually incorrect or what caused the high or low numbers. -- Iraqi electoral commission to audit 'unusually high' numbers in referendum results -

Thanks to TalkLeft for the link. MyDD has more details and analysis.

August 24, 2005

North Carolina: Education superintendent race finally over

The Charlotte Observer reports: June Atkinson, a Democrat, was sworn in as the superintendent of public instruction Tuesday after a 10-month court and political battle with Republican Bill Fletcher. ...

Settling the race required the legislature to act for the first time since 1835. The House and Senate met in a joint session and voted 93-21 in support of Atkinson. ...

Atkinson, an education administrator who taught for four years at Charlotte's Myers Park High School, was credited with the most votes in a close race last November.

But Fletcher argued thousands of those votes were cast illegally. Other votes were lost by faulty voting machines, he argued. The state, Fletcher said, should have held another election.

The Republican-led N.C. Supreme Court agreed with Fletcher that voters cast about 11,000 ballots in precincts other than their own and those votes were illegal.

The court ruling led to a conflict over the state constitution. The state House and Senate -- led by Democrats -- said courts have no place in deciding statewide races. The N.C. Constitution gives that power to the legislature, they said. -- Charlotte Observer | 08/24/2005 | Legislators elect superintendent

July 27, 2005

John Roberts had key role in 2000 election recount

The Miami Herald reports: U.S. Supreme Court nominee John Roberts played a broader behind-the-scenes role for the Republican camp in the aftermath of the 2000 election than previously reported -- as legal consultant, lawsuit editor and prep coach for arguments before the nation's highest court, according to the man who drafted him for the job.

Ted Cruz, a domestic policy advisor for President Bush and who is now Texas' solicitor general, said Roberts was one of the first names he thought of while he and another attorney drafted the Republican legal dream team of litigation ''lions'' and ''800-pound gorillas,'' which ultimately consisted of 400 attorneys in Florida.

Until now, Gov. Jeb Bush and others involved in the election dispute could recall almost nothing of Roberts' role, except for a half-hour meeting the governor had with Roberts. Cruz said Roberts was in Tallahassee helping the Bush camp for ''a week to 10 days,'' and that his help was important, though Cruz said it is difficult to remember specifics five years after the sleep-depriving frenetic pace of the 2000 recount. -- | 07/27/2005 | Roberts had larger 2000 recount role

June 11, 2005

Montana: fees awarded in election contest reports: In a court order issued late Friday, District Judge Kim Christopher of Polson said former House candidate Rick Jore must pay $15,663 in legal fees to his opponent's lawyer but suggested the state pick up the tab for the contested election.

Jore lost his race for HD12 last November in an election decided by the Montana Supreme Court. The litigation was initiated by his opponent, Democrat Jeanne Windham, yet state law requires that losing candidates pay the legal fees of an opponent, even if the candidate took no part in the litigation.

At the end of her order awarding all fees that Helena lawyer Mike Meloy sought, Christopher urged the state of Montana to reimburse both candidates for their legal expenses in the litigation. -- Missoulian: Judge recommends state pay in HD12 lawsuit

June 6, 2005

Washington State: Rossi will not appeal

The News Tribune reports: Republican Dino Rossi is abandoning his quest to overturn Gov. Christine Gregoire's victory last fall.

The former state lawmaker from Bellevue said he won't appeal today's decision by Chelan County Superior Court Judge John Bridges.

"...With today's decision, and because of the political makeup of the Washington State SUpreme Court, which makes it almost impossible to overturn this ruling, I'm ending the election contest," Rossi said. -- Rossi won't appeal judge's decision | | Tacoma, WA

If you want the real reason that Rossi decided not to appeal, don't look to the composition of the Supreme Court of Washington, but to the explanation on Rick Hasen's Election Law blog.

Washington State: Gregoire wins

The News Tribune reports: A Wenatchee judge today rejected the GOP's legal challenge to Gov. Christine Gregoire's election.

While Chelan County Superior Court Judge John Bridges agreed that the number of "illegal and improper" votes far exceeded Gregoire's 129-vote victory over Republican Dino Rossi, he said that alone was not enough to overturn the election under the law.

Rossi and the Republican Party had to show that those illegal votes went specifically to Gregoire, Bridges said.

Based on the evidence submitted during the nine-day trial in Wenatchee, the judge concluded there were 1,678 illegal or improper ballots cast in the November 2004 election, but no evidence that those people voted in the governor's race. -- Judge dismisses GOP's election challenge | | Tacoma, WA

June 5, 2005

Washington State: a wrap-up on the gubernatorial contest evidence

The Seattle Times reports: Much of the tenor of the governor's election trial was set just a few minutes into Republican attorney Dale Foreman's opening statement.

Foreman outlined now well-known complaints about King County's record-keeping. But he said evidence collected for the trial showed something "even more sinister."

"This is not just a case of sloppy election officials. This is a case of election fraud."

It hadn't been until then. The Republican gambit to prove someone stuffed ballots and stole ballots was the one new theme of the case as the trial opened in Chelan County Superior Court.

The charge, delivered with its colorful language, also colored the Democrats' case in defense of the election. Democrats used the Republicans' own phraseology over and over, trying to portray as ridiculous the notion that administrative errors could be sinister or "exceedingly suspicious." -- The Seattle Times: Politics: Judge left to mull vote-fraud claim

Washington State: evidentiary rules and the gubernatorial contest

Anne Martens writes on the Blue Oregon website: I'm fascinated by the Washington Governor's trial (Borders v. King County), and enthralled by the evidence being offered. This is far better drama than any pedophilic pop star, and, more importantly, it's another step in the transfer of power over elections from the people to the bench.

Essentially, the Democrats are arguing that there is no such thing as a perfect election, mistakes will always and everywhere happen, but don't topple the mechanics of democracy over a few inadvertent mishaps. The Republicans have had to scuttle their "mistakes equal fraud" argument (the judge just wasn't buying that given the absence of any malicious intent) and are now arguing that "mistakes (at least the ones that favor Gregoire) are really, really bad and something ought to be done about it."

Of course both sides are right, and while nobody paid any attention to these issues until 2000, they now lead to what may be a landmark lawsuit. The mistakes were these: some felons voted, some dead people voted, some people voted but didn't sign the poll book, some ballots were misplaced, and some provisional ballots were counted when they shouldn't have been. The standard is whether these mistakes changed the outcome of the election.

For all you evidence-heads (is there such a thing?), remember good old rule 702, Frye and the two-part test, Daubert and the four-part test, and the purpose of those tests being to keep crap out of the courtroom? No? Well, nevermind, doesn't matter. As quoted by the Seattle Times, Judge Bridges said, "I can imagine how frustrated counsel has been with the court because you don't know me and you come to this court and I start making rulings which I'm sure some of you think are just not supported by any rules of evidence you've ever read." ...

Forget one-person-one-vote and majority rules, here the judges' evaluation of the admissibility of scientific evidence will determine the outcome. So if all the statistical assumptions get junked, what do we have? Governor Gregoire, a potential consolation prize of Cantwell's seat for Rossi, loss of public confidence in elections, a growing body of scholarly research on elections statistics, scrutiny and revision of the conduct of elections, and the assurance of future lawsuits. And if the court decides that statistics account for votes, what do we have? A rematch, new standards for evidence, loss of public confidence in elections, a growing body of scholarly research on elections statistics, scrutiny and revision of the conduct of elections, and the assurance of future lawsuits. -- BlueOregon: Defensive Democracy

Thanks to Peter Nordberg and his great Blog 702 for the link.

June 2, 2005

Washington State: Judge will rule on Monday

AP reports: The judge in Washington's election challenge trial will issue his ruling Monday, Seattle television stations are reporting. The ruling will be carried live by TVW and at

Democrats asked the judge today to exclude the testimony of a Republican witness who described voting discrepancies in the 2004 gubernatorial election narrowly won by Democrat Christine Gregoire.

GOP data analyst Clark Bensen testified last week that the King County precincts with the largest discrepancies between ballots counted and people credited with voting followed a pattern: The five precincts with more votes than voters credited tended to favor Gregoire, and the six precincts with fewer votes than voters credited tended to favor Republican candidate Dino Rossi.

Republicans challenging Gregoire's 129-vote victory have focused on election errors in the Democratic stronghold of King County, the state's most populous county. They have pointed to the fact that King County counted 875 more votes than the number of people credited with voting. -- Top Stories - The Olympian - Olympia, Washington

May 31, 2005

"Yes, I am biased -- against stupidity"

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports: The state elections director is biased against the Republicans in their legal challenge to the 2004 governor's election, a GOP lawyer suggested strongly in court today.

While cross-examining elections director Nick Handy, lawyer Dale Foreman cited a letter Handy wrote in January to lawyers for the secretary of state's office, where Handy works.

That letter, Handy testified, was designed to communicate his conclusion that Republican claims regarding how many voters cast ballots were baseless. The GOP has said discrepancies between the number of ballots counted and the number of voters credited with voting could indicate fraud.

"If we can successfully demonstrate that this is an unfounded claim, I would hope that this would severely undermine the confidence of the court in the other R claims," Handy wrote.

On the stand, Handy said there are some claims that have been pursued by the Republicans that "I do not believe are valid claims ... I thought this was really undermining the trust and confidence of the average voter in the election system in a way that was not fair or accurate." -- State elections director biased, GOP suggests

Note: The quote in the title is my interpretation of what Director Handy meant, but did not say.

May 28, 2005

Washington State: judge rejects Demo motion to dismiss GOP suit

The Seattle Times reports: Judge John Bridges rejected the Democrats' call yesterday to dismiss the governor's election lawsuit at the halfway point of the first Washington trial to overturn a statewide election.

Bridges said it would be a disservice to Republicans if he stopped the case. He said both sides deserve "a full and complete analysis, not only of the court's finding of facts but as to the court's conclusions of law."

The trial will determine whether Democrat Christine Gregoire or Republican Dino Rossi truly won the November election. But Bridges said it is about issues bigger than the candidates or the political parties. ...

Through five days of trial, Bridges has shown himself to be skeptical of key pieces of the Republican case. And while at each step he has allowed disputed evidence to be entered and witnesses to appear, Republicans yesterday tried shifting the legal basis for their lawsuit and saying they want Bridges to reverse himself on a key decision about burden of proof.

Republicans say it should be enough to show the election count was flawed to the point that the true winner of the governor's race is unknown. Bridges disagrees, saying Republicans need enough evidence to show that Rossi is the true winner — which is the decision he made at a pretrial hearing and then repeated in a clarification from the bench at a hearing May 2. -- The Seattle Times: Politics: Judge won't dismiss lawsuit

May 25, 2005

Washington State: King Co. election worker warned about inability to track returned ballots

AP reports: The mail ballot supervisor in Washington state's most populous county testified Wednesday that she had raised concerns about the county's inability to track ballots months before last year's disputed governor's race.
Click Here

The supervisor, Nicole Way, said she repeatedly told her bosses as early as spring 2004 that the King County elections department couldn't tell how many ballots were being mailed out or received back. About two-thirds of the county's 900,000 votes in the November election were mail ballots.

She testified on the third day of a trial in the GOP's challenge to the governor's race, which Gov. Christine Gregoire, a Democrat, won by 129 votes on the third count.

The Republicans are trying to prove election errors and fraud stole the victory from Dino Rossi. They want Chelan County Superior Court Judge John Bridges to nullify Gregoire's victory, prompting a new election.

Under questioning by GOP attorney Harry Korrell, Way said she and other workers tried to create a computer spreadsheet to track ballots they were mailing out, but eventually gave up. -- Top Stories - The Olympian - Olympia, Washington

May 24, 2005

Washington State: GOP begins its election contest case

The Spokane Spokesman-Review reports: Washington Republicans began painting a picture this morning of two different ways the 2004 election was run.

One way was the efficient and well-managed approach in Chelan County, personified by its Auditor Evelyn Arnold. Here in Chelan County, she said, every absentee ballot is counted by hand, and a single lost ballot can be missed in the accounting system and found by a search.

The other way is the system in King County, which lawyers for the GOP have previously described as rife with “bungling bureaucrats.” Those lawyers are attempting to personify that system by Elections Superintendent Bill Huennekens, who was asked a series of questions about ballot problems ranging from felons who voted and tallies that don’t match. ...

But under cross-examination from Jenny Durkan, an attorney for the state Democratic Party, Arnold said that while her computer system was similar to King County’s, the scale is far different. It has slightly more than 29,000 ballots, mostly voted by mail, and only seven poll sites. King County has more than 646,000 voters, and more than 500 poll sites.

The more poll sites a county has, the more potential for problems, Arnold agreed.

Even in a small county like Chelan, elections officials weren’t aware that some felons had registered to vote even though they did not have their rights restored, she added. -- GOP: Elections rife with 'bungling bureaucrats'

May 19, 2005

Ohio: Supreme Court refuses sanctions against election-contest lawyers

AP reports: Ending one of the last fights from the contentious 2004 presidential campaign, Ohio's top judge on Thursday declined to punish four attorneys who had challenged the results in court.

Chief Justice Thomas Moyer ruled against Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro's attempt to have the lawyers sanctioned for filing "a meritless claim" against the vote that gave President Bush a win in Ohio and, as a result, enough electoral votes to win a second term in the White House.

In legal documents filed with the state Supreme Court, the lawyers had said the challenge they filed on behalf of 37 voters included enough evidence of voting irregularities to back up their allegations of widespread fraud. Neither Democratic Sen. John Kerry's campaign nor his party were part of the challenge, which was later withdrawn.

Petro, a Republican, asked for sanctions against lawyers Cliff Arnebeck, Robert Fitrakis, Susan Truitt and Peter Peckarsky. If the court had sanctioned the lawyers, they could have been forced to repay attorney's fees and court costs.

Moyer, acting under the court's power to assign election-related complaints to a single justice, said that while the court has the authority to sanction attorneys, the speed with which elections must be challenged allows the court some leeway. -- | Nation

Thanks to the Jurist news service for the link.

Washington State: King co. absentee manager admits to false report

AP reports: King County's absentee-ballot supervisor has testified that she collaborated with her boss when she filled out a report that falsely showed all ballots were accounted for in the November election, The Seattle Times reported Thursday.

Nicole Way is the first employee to link an upper-level manager with a practice that failed to meet state ballot-auditing regulations. In a deposition Friday, she said she and assistant elections superintendent Garth Fell agreed to the misleading report because officials didn't know how many absentee ballots were returned by voters.

By law, counties must reconcile the number of absentee ballots returned by voters with the number of ballots accepted or rejected. Way's report showed perfect reconciliation because it simply added the number accepted and rejected to calculate ballots returned.

Dozens of absentee ballots were misplaced and the votes not tabulated during the November election. The ballots were never counted as accepted or rejected. -- NewsFlash - Election manager testifies boss agreed to false absentee count

May 18, 2005

Washington State: GOP to claim voter fraud

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports: Beating the drum in advance of the governor's election trial next week, Republicans yesterday outlined new claims that King County tallied more ballots than there were voters voting in the 2004 election.

"The discrepancy is enough on its face to throw out the election," said Chris Vance, the state GOP chairman.

The Republicans hope Judge John Bridges will do just that in the trial, set to start Monday in Wenatchee. Republican Dino Rossi is suing to set aside his defeat by Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire in an election decided by 129 votes after two recounts of more than 2.8 million ballots cast.

But in pretrial rulings, Bridges has made it clear that it won't be enough for Rossi to show that the number of ballot errors exceeded Gregoire's margin.

Citing state laws and previous court cases, Bridges has said the GOP must show that Gregoire owes her victory to illegal votes. The only exception to that requirement would be if fraud occurred -- and in a hearing May 3, Bridges said the Republicans "have never alleged, to the court's knowledge, or even alluded to fraud or voter intimidation." -- GOP adds 875 to suspect vote list

Thanks to Taegan Goddard's Political Wire for the link.

April 17, 2005

Wisconsin: In which district do the homeless voters live?

The Journal Times Online reports: You can win but that doesn't mean you get the prize.

Keith Fair won the election for 1st District alderman April 5, but when the new Racine City Council is seated on Tuesday, it seems no chair will be pulled out for the alderman-elect.

It's because Alderman Jeff Coe, who lost the race 185-182, is challenging Fair's win in court. Under state law, Coe's challenge and any subsequent appeals can keep Fair from taking his seat for weeks.

Coe's attorney, John Bjelajac, said he'll file papers to challenge the election in Racine County Circuit Court by Tuesday.

Bjelajac said he will argue in court that 14 homeless people should not have voted in the 1st District in the election. He said he does not want to take away the right of the homeless to vote. Rather, he wonders if 14 homeless people who really don't live in the 1st District should be voting in a local election.

If the 14 votes are discounted, it could make a difference. The election was decided by three votes.

Where do the homeless live? The question, for Bjelajac, comes down to residency. The shelter at St. Paul Baptist Church, 1120 Grand Ave., is one of several sites that accept the homeless as part of the Racine-area REST program. The program has the homeless rotating among the sites, one for each day of the week. -- The Journal Times Online

April 8, 2005

Alabama: judge reconsidering his ruling in Guntersville mayoral election

The Huntsville Times reports: After about 45 minutes of arguments, Circuit Judge Tim Jolley said Thursday he expects to rule by Tuesday in a challenge to his March 31 order overturning the outcome of the Guntersville mayor's race last summer. ...

Beard and defense attorney P.J. Harris argued that four thrown-out votes for Townson should be counted. One of them was cast by an elderly man who had testified he had leukemia and was at a hospital for tests on election day. ...

Jolley said state law does not allow medical tests as a reason for voting absentee but suggested that the man could have used being out of the county on election day as his reason for voting absentee. ...

A second thrown-out vote for Townson involved a man who used a document from Marshall Medical Center North as identification. Jolley ruled March 31 that did not constitute a governmental document and did not meet the 2003 voter identification law guidelines. Beard maintained Thursday the document is valid for voter ID.

Harris asked the judge to reconsider his decision not to count an absentee vote that was not properly numbered by voting officials.

A fourth ballot cited by Harris used a July 2004 natural gas bill as proof of identification and residency for an absentee ballot. He said that vote should have been counted because voters who used electric bills as identification were allowed to do so. -- Judge hears vote appeals

Disclosure: I wrotes some of the briefs filed on behalf of Mayor Townson.

April 2, 2005

Guntersville: judge rules incumbent lost by one vote

The Huntsville Times reports: James Townson won his fourth term as mayor of Guntersville by one vote Aug. 24, but a Marshall County judge Friday threw out 27 votes in the election, making car dealer Bob Hembree Jr. the winner - by one vote.

Circuit Judge Tim Jolley granted a motion from Townson's attorneys to delay the order from taking effect so he can hear their arguments asking him to reconsider his ruling. That hearing is set for Thursday in Guntersville.

The election was contested by Guntersville voters Joy Alves Cranford and Locresia Stonicher.

Jolley ruled that 14 illegal votes were cast for Townson and 13 illegal votes for Hembree. One uncounted challenged vote should have gone to Hembree, the judge said, making Hembree the winner by a vote of 1,229 to 1,228. -- Hembree wins Guntersville's race by 1 vote

Disclosure: I am involved in this case as counsel for Mayor Townson.

March 9, 2005

Vermont: write-ins for wrong race

The Brattleboro Reformer reports: This is not Florida. This is not the fall of 2000. And the presidency of the United States is not at stake.

But the concept is the same: a portion of the electorate misread its ballots here, and in doing so swayed the outcome of an election.

At Saturday's School District Meeting in Chesterfield, incumbent school board member Barbara Girs defeated write-in challenger Carol Pelczarski by a count of 111 to 103 to retain her two-year seat.

Pelczarski, who missed an earlier deadline to get her name on the ballot, had been actively campaigning for the two-year seat. Leading up to Saturday, she was sending out literature that specifically encouraged residents to vote for her as a write-in candidate against Girs.

Pelczarski efforts not only brought her eight votes shy of a victory, but also helped her garner nine write-in votes for a three-year term on the School Board.

Had those nine votes been transferred to Pelczarski's column for the two-year term, she would have beaten Girs by one vote. -- Brattleboro Reformer - City & Town

Ohio: Blackwell seeks depositions of Kerry and Edwards

The Free Press reports: A spokesman for the Green Party's 2004 presidential campaign, which initiated the Ohio recount, today blasted the suggestion by Ohio's Republican Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell that he would need to take depositions from John Kerry and John Edwards as part of the Ohio recount litigation.

"Mr. Blackwell's contention that he needs to depose Senators Kerry and Edwards is a laughable and blatantly political move. Mr. Blackwell has refused to be deposed himself about the Ohio election, has refused to appear before Congress and has refused to answer questions from members of the House Judiciary Committee who have been investigating allegations of election fraud. To suggest that Kerry and Edwards should be deposed to address a legal technicality while Mr. Blackwell continues to avoid any public scrutiny of his own misconduct in the Ohio election is the height of hypocrisy," said Blair Bobier, Media Director for the 2004 Cobb-LaMarche campaign.

The report by the House Judiciary Committee's Democratic staff on the Ohio election and recount states that "there were massive and unprecedented voter irregularities and anomalies in Ohio. In many cases these irregularities were caused by intentional misconduct and illegal behavior, much of it involving Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, the co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign in Ohio." -- The Free Press -- Independent News Media - Election 2004

March 5, 2005

Washington State: GOP accuses 1135 of illegal voting

The Spokesman-Review reports: Jon Anson was just "trying to do the right thing" when he cast a ballot in November. Now he finds himself falsely accused by the state Republican Party of voting illegally.

He didn't, and he has the documentation to prove it.

Anson, a Spokane resident, is on a list of names the state GOP released late Thursday of more than 1,100 felons the political party claims shouldn't have voted because they haven't had their voting rights restored. The list is alphabetized by county, so Anson is on the top of the list for Spokane, and on Friday, reporters started showing up at his door on the lower South Hill, questioning him about voting. ...

The list is the latest twist in the ongoing challenge of Democrat Christine Gregoire's election as governor. After she finished the hand recount just 129 votes ahead of Republican Dino Rossi, the GOP challenged the election results. Since shortly after the challenge was filed, Republicans have contended that dozens, then hundreds, and now more than 1,100 felons voted illegally, more than enough to call Gregoire's margin of victory into question and prompt a new election.

On Thursday, party officials said there were likely "hundreds if not thousands of other felons who cast illegal ballots in November." But they released to the state Democratic Party and the news media the 1,135 names "of which we are most certain." -- Some voters surprised to be on list of felons

February 23, 2005

Alabama: election contest for Guntersville mayor now in second day

The Huntsville Times reports: Guntersville election officials accepted hospital bills and credit card documents as proper identification for voting absentee during the 2004 Guntersville mayor's race, according to testimony Tuesday.

Plaintiffs say many illegal absentee ballots were counted in the Aug. 24 election in which Mayor James Townson defeated Bob Hembree Jr., by one vote, 1,242 to 1,241. Testimony was to continue today at 9 a.m.

During eight hours of testimony Tuesday, Guntersville City Clerk Betty Jones identified the absentee voting documents of 60 or more residents and answered questions about counting ballots.

Townson lost at the polling place at the Guntersville Recreation Center, 1,206 to 1,124, but won his fourth term by taking the absentee ballot count, 118 to 35.

Hembree, who conceded the election to Townson after a recount, told the Guntersville Rotary Club last week he doesn't support the court fight but will serve if Jolley decides he should have won. But he said if Townson wins the trial, he wouldn't accept the post even if the plaintiffs win on appeal. -- Guntersville clerk testifies about absentee votes at trial

Some folks in Guntersville hired me last week to file an amicus brief in this case. I've been working on it pretty heavily the last few days and filed it just before the trial started. You can download my brief here.

February 8, 2005

Washington State: Rossi expects a trial within a month

AP reports: Dino Rossi was almost ready to throw in the towel, the Republican candidate for governor told reporters at a Monday news conference.

If a judge had ruled last Friday that Rossi's legal challenge to Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire's election had to go through the Legislature and not the courts, Rossi said he might have given up.

But the judge ruled the Republican's case could proceed. On Monday, Rossi said he hopes his election challenge will go to trial within a month. ...

Democrats said the Republican's election challenge probably will take longer than that, quoting a December letter from Rossi saying an election challenge could stretch for months and would cause the state to suffer through a long process. -- Rossi hopes for speed in vote challenge - The Register-Guard, Eugene, Oregon, USA

New York: recount finally over for state senate seat

The New York Times reports: The longest-running State Senate race since shortly before the Great Depression ended Tuesday with Nicholas A. Spano, the Republican incumbent, finally prevailing in his bid for re-election, winning by a mere 18 votes after more than 114,000 ballots were counted.

Mr. Spano, the assistant majority leader of the Senate and a Yonkers native, beat back a spirited challenge from Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a Democrat and a five-term county legislator, to win a 10th term. ...

After months of legal wrangling in three different courts over hundreds of contested ballots, the race came down to 249 absentee and provisional ballots. They were opened in the morning in a packed but hushed conference room at the Westchester County Board of Elections. The election results were certified in the afternoon, and Mr. Spano, 51, was scheduled to be sworn in Wednesday morning in Albany, 35 days after the legislative session began. The final tally of votes was 57,073 to 57,055. -- The New York Times > New York Region > In State Senate Marathon, Incumbent Wins

February 5, 2005

Washington State: Dems, GOP both lose on aspects of recount case

AP reports: Dealing a blow to Republicans seeking a revote for Washington governor, a Chelan County Superior Court judge ruled Friday that even if Republicans win their election challenge he can't order a new election.

"The court doesn't have that authority," Judge John E. Bridges told a rapt courtroom in this Eastern Washington city.

Aside from the revote ruling, it was a day of setbacks for the Democrats as Bridges denied their motions to dismiss the challenge or move it to the Legislature. ...

Though the judge dashed their hopes of a spring revote, Republicans said the courts still could nullify the election, forcing Gregoire to vacate the office until a new general election in November. -- The Daily News Online

February 3, 2005

New York: State court of appeals orders more votes counted in contested senate election

AP reports: In a victory for the Democratic challenger, the state's highest court on Wednesday declared that 228 more votes must be counted in the disputed state Senate race in Westchester County that is already the most delayed state legislative election in New York's history.

In a 5-2 decision, the Court of Appeals ordered the standoff to continue between incumbent Republican Nicholas Spano and Democrat Andrea Stewart-Cousins as the votes are counted. The court overruled the midlevel Appellate Division that said just 45 disputed votes needed to be counted. That would have given Spano the win, because at last count he had a 58-vote lead. ...

The court ordered that these handwritten ballots be opened and counted:

# 163 from voters who went to the right polling place but were directed to the wrong election district desk.

# 20 found in envelopes that did not identify the election district.

# 45 cast by poll workers who used absentee ballots instead of "special ballots" specified in state law. -- State's high court orders recount of 228 votes in race -

Thanks to Jeff Wice for the tip.

San Diego: court rules against Frye

The San diego Union-Tribune reports: A judge upheld the disputed re-election of Mayor Dick Murphy yesterday, sweeping aside two challenges that sought to overturn the results because more than 5,500 ballots were not counted.

The speedy ruling by Orange County Superior Court Judge Michael Brenner capped a three-day trial in which supporters of Councilwoman Donna Frye, a write-in candidate, argued that the election was tainted because of erroneous and unfair vote-counting procedures by the county registrar of voters.

But in a ruling delivered minutes after closing arguments, Brenner calmly demolished each argument raised by the challengers.

The case centered on 5,551 write-in ballots for Frye. They were not included in her count because voters failed to shade in a small oval bubble next to the write-in slot. State law -- Elections Code Section 15342(a) -- requires that the bubble be shaded in for a write-in vote to count. -- > News > Metro -- Re-election of Murphy will stand, judge rules

February 1, 2005

San Diego: trial of mayoral contest starts

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports: Two formal challenges to Mayor Dick Murphy's victory in the 2004 San Diego election got under way yesterday as lawyers pressed their arguments that thousands of ballots that could tip the race were wrongly excluded.

The lawyers for two sets of voters contesting Murphy's re-election argued that county election officials were in error and unfair when they relied on a state law to exclude thousands of votes for Councilwoman Donna Frye.

The first day of the trial also featured testimony from Registrar of Voters Sally McPherson, who was questioned about how and why her office published certain election materials and how some votes were counted and others not.

The trial centers on 5,551 uncounted ballots cast in the Nov. 2 election. The ballots have Frye's name as a write-in candidate for mayor, but do not have a small oval-shaped bubble next to her name shaded in. Four more votes for Frye were found in a review of ballots by attorneys in the case on Friday. -- > News > Politics -- Registrar questioned on vote-counting

The sidebar on this story contains links to several video clips. The first has part of Fred Woocher's opening argument in which he compares an uncounted ballot with Donna Frye's name written in, the other candidates marked out, but no mark in the bubble and an absentee ballot instruction booklet sent in by a voter, and which was counted a vote for Murphy.

January 29, 2005

Texas: legislative hearing on election contest

The San Antonio Express-News reports: Illegal votes helped a newly elected Democratic lawmaker narrowly beat longtime Republican Rep. Talmadge Heflin, the defeated candidate's lawyer said Thursday.

Rep. Hubert Vo of Houston won the November election by 33 votes.

But Heflin's attorney, Andy Taylor, said voters either cast ballots twice, cast a ballot in the wrong voting precinct or weren't residents of the district. Some weren't U.S. citizens and a couple of ballots submitted by mail were accepted or rejected for invalid reasons, he said. ...

Some 253 voters cast ballots illegally, Taylor said, and he got sworn statements from 129 of them. Of those, 86 said they voted for Vo and 43 for Heflin, which gave Vo a net advantage of 43 illegal votes, Taylor said.

Since Vo won the election by 33 votes, Heflin actually led by 10 votes, Taylor said. -- Metro | State

January 23, 2005

Washington State: GOP files contest in legislature

AP reports: The state's Republicans, still pressing their court challenge to the disputed governor's election, have filed a separate challenge with the state Legislature.

"We did this to cover all our bases," said Mary Lane, a spokeswoman for Dino Rossi, the Republican who narrowly won the original vote count and a mandatory recount. In a hand recount, he lost to Democrat Christine Gregoire by 129 votes out of 2.9 million cast. ...

Republicans have filed a legal challenge against the hand recount in Chelan County Superior Court, saying mistakes were made and calling for another statewide vote. That same challenge was filed with the Legislature Friday evening, "as an insurance policy," Lane said Saturday.

The challenge, however, goes to the Democrat-controlled Legislature, which certified the election Jan. 11 despite a GOP request for a two-week delay. -- > News > Nation -- Republicans file challenge in governor's race with state Legislature

Washington State: what does the constitution mean?

AP reports: Allegations of dead voters and election fraud elicit gasps from outraged voters and pundits, but they won't really matter in the legal challenge to the Washington governor's election.

As legal arguments unfolded in court last week, it became clear the case will turn instead on a close reading of the state constitution. Who has jurisdiction over election challenges - the courts or the Legislature? What is an "illegal vote"? What kind of proof does the constitution require to nullify an election?

These questions lack the sexy sparkle of voting felons, true, but the answers will determine whether Gov. Christine Gregoire stays in office. -- Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Constitutional issues, not dead voters, key in election challenge

January 22, 2005

Washington State: judge keeps his own schedule, not the ones suggested by parties in gubernatorial contest

AP reports: A judge refused to speed up the Republican challenge to the bitterly disputed Washington governor's election, handing a small victory to Democrats on Thursday.

Chelan County Superior Court Judge John E. Bridges ruled that the case will go forward but not on the expedited schedule proposed by Republicans. ...

But, the judge also denied a request by Democrats to delay discovery -- the gathering of evidence -- until the court considers the underlying constitutional issues in the dispute. ...

Bridges will hear motions by the Democrats and county officials to dismiss the case Feb. 4. -- GOP Loses Request in Governor Dispute (

January 16, 2005

Washington State: GOP subpoenas felon list for comparison with voter rolls

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports: Comparing voter lists with the state's criminal history database, as Republicans are doing in their attempt to nullify the gubernatorial election, infringes on voter privacy and could have a "chilling" effect on voter turnout, Democrats said yesterday.

"Exercising the right to vote should never be an activity that triggers a criminal investigation," said Jenny Durkan, a lawyer for Washington State Democrats.

That's nonsense, Republicans said. They say they're simply using information already available to determine the extent to which felons illegally cast ballots in the election, which Democrat Christine Gregoire won by 129 votes in a hand recount of nearly 2.9 million votes.

This week, lawyers for the state GOP and candidate Dino Rossi, who narrowly won the original count and the manual machine recount, subpoenaed a list of all felony convictions on the Washington State Patrol's Criminal History Records Information Database, a comprehensive criminal history of 1.2 million people. -- GOP's request for criminal list raises concern

January 12, 2005

Washington State: Gregoire sworn in, Dems try to intervene in GOP suit

AP reports: Christine Gregoire, winner of the closest governor's race in Washington history, was inaugurated Wednesday, but faces an immediate court challenge that could make it a short-lived honor. ...

She announced creation of a select commission on election reform, to be headed by Republican Secretary of State Sam Reed and the former Senate Democratic floor leader, Betti Sheldon of Bremerton.

"Clearly the election recount ordeal of the last two months has challenged us, and among our challenges this session is election reform," she said. "We want every vote to count - and to be counted right the first time." ...

Republicans say widespread irregularities, including votes cast by felons and dead people, spoiled the election to the point where it's impossible to truly know who won.

Invoking a rarely used law that allows an election "contest," Republicans have asked the courts to set aside the election and order a redo. Chelan County Superior Court Judge T.W. Small was hearing a motion Wednesday on the Democrats' attempt to intervene in the Republicans' lawsuit, and has scheduled more proceedings on Friday. -- Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Gregoire sworn in as Washington governor; court battle looms

January 5, 2005

Ohio: conspiracy theories or a real conspiracy?

AP reports: One voter didn't see any signs of fraud on Election Day but was suspicious of the results. Another was surprised by long lines in her suburban city, where voting was always quick in the past.

Others were angered by having to wait hours to vote in black neighborhoods. Some left in frustration without casting their ballots.

In all, 37 voters in this swing state are challenging President Bush's Nov. 2 victory over Democratic Sen. John Kerry. They want Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Moyer to set aside the election results.

Bush's re-election campaign responded Monday with its own court filing, saying the challenge resembled "a poorly drafted script for a late night conspiracy-theory movie." -- Judge Asked to Trash Ohio Vote Challenge

December 29, 2004

Washington State: counties refusing to reopen vote count

AP reports: Counties have refused to reopen the vote count in Washington's ultra-close governor's race, and Republican Dino Rossi was reportedly under pressure to carry a last-ditch fight into the courts.

The three vote counts in America's closest governor's race are over, and on Thursday morning, Secretary of State Sam Reed is prepared to certify Democrat Christine Gregoire as the victor by 129 votes, state elections chief Nick Handy said Tuesday.

Reed has warned against counties reopening their tallies.

Rossi trails Gregoire, the state attorney general, by a tiny fraction of 1 percent, and the state GOP wanted counties to take another look at ballots that the party contends may have been improperly counted or left out. The party also is doing the groundwork for a possible court challenge. -- Tri-City Herald: Governor recount

December 28, 2004

Montana: state supreme court throws out double-marked ballots

The Billings Gazette reports: The Montana Supreme Court ruled 6-1 Tuesday that Constitution Party member Rick Jore did not win the race for Lake County legislator.

The decision gives victory to Democrat Jeanne Windham and puts the Democrats in the majority of the state House of Representatives. ...

The Lake County dispute settled on seven ballots cast in the race. The ballots appeared to have been marked for both Jore and his Republican opponent in the three-way race. Lake County elections officials counted the ballots for Jore.

Anita Big Spring, a Lake County voter, sued, arguing that the judges could not tell which candidate the voters intended to vote for and that the ballots should be discarded. -- Supreme court reverses Lake County election ruling: Democrats take House -

Thanks to Richard Winger for pointing me to the story.

December 27, 2004

Washington State: GOP demands King County voter list

AP reports: Republicans, considering whether to challenge Democrat Christine Gregoire's razor-thin victory for governor, today demanded a list of the 900,000 who cast ballots in vote-rich, problem-plagued King County.

Republican state Chairman Chris Vance said the party and other backers of GOP candidate Dino Rossi have nagging questions about the vote count in the county that tipped the race to Gregoire by a scant 130 votes last week.

"We want to know who voted in the election, and it's hard to know where we go from here (with a possible court challenge) before we get some answers," Vance said in an interview.

"We're mostly posing questions. King County is where we saw the votes changing. King County is the one county that was allowed to take ballots that were declared dead in November and bring them back to life in December." -- The Seattle Times: Local News: Republicans demand King County voter list

I feel your pain, says a Democrat who is still trying to get answers from Ohio.

December 24, 2004

Washington State: Gregoire now ahead by 130

AP reports: After a bruising election and two recounts, Democrat Christine Gregoire emerged as the winner by a 130-vote margin in Washington state's astonishingly close governor's race.

But Republican Dino Rossi and his supporters say the election is not over yet. He won the first count by 261 votes out of 2.9 million ballots cast, then watched his lead shrink to 42 after a machine recount.

Gregoire's lead in the statewide hand recount widened from 10 to 130 on Thursday after a state Supreme Court decision allowed King County to reconsider 732 mistakenly rejected ballots. King County, home of Seattle and a Democratic stronghold, was the last county to report final recount results on Thursday. -- - Gregoire wins recount - -- - but ballot battle far from over

Puerto Rico: Acevedo Vila is the winner reports: Nearly two months after votes were cast, Puerto Rico's election authorities announced a winner, Anibal Acevedo Vila, on Thursday after a recount and disputes over the validity of thousands of votes.

The State Elections Committee of Puerto Rico announced Acevedo Vila, candidate for the Popular Democratic Party, as winner of the Nov. 2 election. Acevedo Vila favors the status quo for the U.S. Caribbean territory's relations with the United States.

A mandatory recount after the vote dragged on for weeks amid legal disputes over mixed-vote ballots in the island of 4 million people. The 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston on Wednesday denied a petition by the losing New Progressive Party and its candidate, former two-term governor Pedro Rossello, for a rehearing over the case.

Several thousand double-split ballots featuring a mark under a party insignia and marks for governor and resident commissioner -- the territory's nonvoting representative in the U.S. Congress -- from another party had been separated from the recount after Rossello filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court of San Juan. -- Politics News Article |

December 23, 2004

Washington State: lead changes, Gregoire ahead after hand count

The Olympian reports: Democrat Christine Gregoire opened a 10-vote lead Wednesday over Republican Dino Rossi in Washington's incredibly close governor's race.

The closest statewide race in Washington history is far from over, even as the statewide hand recount of ballots wraps up today with the addition of up to 735 previously rejected absentee votes in Gregoire-friendly King County.

The uncertainty is because of several factors.

Republicans say they plan to get "hundreds" of rejected Rossi votes around the state counted by local county canvassing boards before Secretary of State Sam Reed certifies election results.

And then the GOP might go to court or take other steps to contest a Gregoire victory in the Legislature, if needed. -- Top Stories -The Olympian

December 22, 2004

Puerto Rico: Rossello asks for rehearing

The Boston Herald reports: In a last-ditch effort, the pro-statehood candidate for governor of Puerto Rico is asking a federal appeals court in Boston to reverse its week-old decision on disputed ballots that essentially handed the razor-thin election to his opponent.

In a petition filed yesterday, lawyers for Pedro Rossello called the ruling by a three-member panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ``patently erroneous'' and asked the full, six-member court to hear the case or compel the panel to reconsider its decision. -- - Local/ Regional News: Puerto Rican candidate petitions court

Washington State: Dems claim win for Gregoire

The Olympian reports: State Democratic Party Chairman Paul Berendt declared late Tuesday that Democrat Christine Gregoire had won the Washington governor's race by eight votes in a hand recount, in what would be a major reversal of two previous counts favoring Republican Dino Rossi.

"This isn't an official return. King County has not sent out this number," Berendt said in an evening telephone interview. "But we are confident that she was elected governor based on data disks released by the King County elections department to the state Democratic and Republican parties -- and the final action of the King County canvassing board on a handful of ballots that were reviewed and counted today."

King County elections staff members said early Tuesday evening that they could not confirm rumors about the latest hand recount results in King County. The agency plans to release its final numbers today at 3:30 p.m., spokeswoman Bobbie Egan said. ...

Even if Berendt is correct, a Supreme Court ruling on an additional 730 King County ballots still could affect the outcome. But Berendt said he thinks those mistakenly rejected ballots also will favor Gregoire.

At issue before the court is whether once-rejected ballots can be added to a recount.

The ballots in question were cast by registered voters whose ballots were rejected because the voters' signatures hadn't been successfully scanned into the county elections database. The court hears those arguments at 9:30 a.m. today. -- Top Stories -The Olympian

December 19, 2004

Washington State: recount of new ballots blocked

The Seattle Times reports: A Pierce County judge yesterday sided with Republicans and blocked King County from counting hundreds of disqualified ballots in Washington's absurdly close race for governor.

The ruling was at least a temporary victory for the state Republican Party, which sued to stop King County from tallying 735 ballots the county says were mistakenly rejected by election workers.

With Republican Dino Rossi clinging to a tiny lead over Democrat Christine Gregoire, the fate of King County's disputed ballots could easily determine the outcome of the race.

Soon after Pierce County Superior Court Judge Stephanie Arend issued her ruling before a packed courtroom, the state Democratic Party appealed the decision to the state Supreme Court. ...

Arend said her ruling was bound by a state Supreme Court ruling earlier this week that said ballots should be included in a recount only if they had been included in previous counts. -- The Seattle Times: Local News: Judge blocks count of disputed ballots

San Diego: all I want for Christmas is an honest count

The San Diego Union Tribune: An attorney who is contemplating a lawsuit to overturn San Diego's mayoral election will wait several more days to announce his next move.

Fred Woocher said yesterday he needs more time to research his options "to resolve the controversy expeditiously." He said he may make a decision by the end of next week.

"We're going to take a little time to think about it," he said.

Woocher, a Santa Monica elections lawyer, filed a recount request on behalf of two supporters of Councilwoman Donna Frye, who finished second in the Nov. 2 election behind Mayor Dick Murphy.

The Registrar of Voters Office conducted a tally this week at the request of Woocher and several news organizations, including The San Diego Union-Tribune. Unlike Woocher, the news media were not interested in overturning the election results but in finding out how many voters wrote in Donna Frye's name without filling in the corresponding bubble on the ballot. -- > News > Politics -- Further action in ballot saga on hiatus

Puerto Rico: Rossello may ask for en banc rehearing

AP reports: The pro-statehood candidate for governor said Friday he might ask a federal appeals court to reconsider its ruling that undermined his efforts to throw out thousands of disputed ballots favoring his rival in the extremely close Nov. 2 election.

Former Gov. Pedro Rossello said his lawyers have recommended asking the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston to reverse the ruling, which gave Puerto Rico's Supreme Court, not a federal judge on the island, jurisdiction over the ballots.

The ruling was a defeat for Rossello because Puerto Rico's Supreme Court already declared the votes valid in an earlier lawsuit. Rossello had asked U.S. District Judge Daniel Dominguez to throw them out.

The votes mostly favor Anibal Acevedo Vila, who supports keeping Puerto Rico's status as a U.S. commonwealth.

A three-judge panel made the ruling Wednesday, and Rossello said he might ask the full six-judge court to reconsider. Although he acknowledged the effort might have little chance for success, Rossello said he wanted to make clear his disagreement with the ruling. -- - Local/ Regional News: Puerto Rico: Pro-statehood candidate may ask 1st Circuit to reconsider

December 16, 2004

San Diego: recount begins reports: An official recount of ballots cast in San Diego's mayoral race began Thursday after a review of disputed write-in ballots showed Donna Frye would have beat Mayor Dick Murphy if they had been counted.

The attorney for two women who voted for the councilwoman has asked the San Diego County Registrar of Voters for the recount of selected precincts, including disputed ballots cast in the Nov. 2 race.

An unofficial tally of disputed ballots ended Wednesday, showing 5,547 voters wrote Frye's name on the ballot but did not fill in the corresponding bubble next to her name. Frye would have beat Mayor Dick Murphy by about 3,400 votes if those ballots had been counted.

Registrar Sally McPherson said unfilled bubbles cannot be counted under state election law, setting the stage for another possible lawsuit over the mayor's race. -- - Politics - Registrar Begins Official Recount Of Mayoral Ballots

Ohio: a setback for the recount-seekers

AP reports: The Ohio Supreme Court's chief justice on Thursday threw out a challenge to the state's presidential election results.

The 40 voters who brought the case will likely be able to refile the challenge.

Chief Justice Thomas Moyer ruled that the request improperly challenged two separate election results. Ohio law only allows one race to be challenged in a single complaint, he said. ...

The complaint questioned how the actual results could show Bush winning when exit-poll interview findings on election night indicated that Kerry would win 52 percent of Ohio's presidential vote. -- / News / Politics / Presidential candidates / Ohio justice throws out election challenge

Puerto Rico: recount resumes under state control

AP reports: Elections officials began counting thousands of disputed ballots on Thursday, one day after a federal appeals court ruling that dealt a blow to the pro-statehood candidate's efforts to have them invalidated.

Officials have started including the ballots in an ongoing recount of the extremely close Nov. 2 elections, said Aurelio Gracia, the president of the State Elections Commission.

``I think we should count them for the precision and order of the process,'' he said.

The decision came a day after the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston ruled that Puerto Rico's Supreme Court, not a federal judge on the island, had jurisdiction over the ballots, which mostly favor Anibal Acevedo Vila, the candidate who supports keeping the island's status as a U.S. commonwealth. -- - Local/ Regional News: Puerto Rican officials start counting disputed votes after ruling

December 15, 2004

Washington State: King County will verify 573 uncounted mail-in ballots

AP reports: The three-member King County Canvassing Board decided today to allow signature verification on 573 newly discovered absentee ballots and then consider whether they should be counted in Washington's extremely close governor's race.

The board postponed a decision on what to do with 22 other newly discovered ballots.

Democrats applauded the board's decision to move forward with assessing how many of the 573 previously rejected ballots are valid, since King County is a stronghold of Democratic candidate Christine Gregoire.

The canvassing board voted 2-1 to move forward with recanvassing the 573 ballots.

It's a two-step process. First, election workers will verify if the ballot signatures are those of registered voters. If so, workers will take the ballots out of their security envelopes and bring them back to the board for a final decision on whether they should be counted. The process will take several days.

Republican Dino Rossi won the Nov. 2 election over Gregoire by 261 votes in the first count and by 42 after a machine recount. As of today he had gained 81 votes in the hand recount for a margin of 123. -- The Seattle Times: Politics: King County board votes to move forward with 573 ballots

Puerto Rico: 1st Circuit holds recount case belongs in "state" court reports: A U.S. court on Wednesday remanded a case over disputed ballots in November's Puerto Rico election to the territory's Supreme Court, likely handing the governorship to a man who favors the status quo in its association with the United States.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, sitting in Boston, ruled that the U.S. District Court of San Juan did not have jurisdiction over a lawsuit filed by the runner-up in the Nov. 2 election over disputed "double-split ballots."

Instead it referred the lawsuit to the Puerto Rico Supreme Court, which has already ordered that the controversial ballots be recounted in an election saga reminiscent of the Florida vote fiasco of 2000.

The ruling means that Popular Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Anibal Acevedo Vila, whose party favors the status quo of the island as a U.S. commonwealth, is likely to become governor after a recount of ballots is completed. -- Politics News Article |

December 14, 2004

San Diego: disputed ballots would have given a win to Frye

The Los Angeles Times reports: The hotly disputed race for mayor here took a sharp turn Tuesday as a review of disputed ballots showed that Councilwoman Donna Frye would have beaten incumbent Mayor Dick Murphy if all votes had been counted.

Tuesday's review looked at ballots that had not been counted in the official tally. It was conducted at the request of The Times, four other news organizations and two pro-Frye voters. ..

At issue in the balloting are thousands of "empty ovals" — ballots in which a voter wrote in Frye's name but failed to fill in the small oval located next to the write-in line. Election officials had declined to count those ballots, and a Superior Court judge last month upheld their decision, saying that state election law required that ovals be filled in for a write-in to count. -- San Diego Ballot Review Puts a Black Mark on Mayor's Win

Thanks to How Appealing for the link.

December 13, 2004

Puerto Rico: governor's race argued in the 1st Circuit

AP reports: A bitter election dispute that has intensified political divisions in Puerto Rico went before a federal appeals court Monday, as more than 100 demonstrators rallied outside for two candidates vying to be governor of the U.S. Caribbean territory.

The question before the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is whether the island's Supreme Court or a U.S. district judge in San Juan should have jurisdiction over thousands of disputed ballots favoring pro-commonwealth candidate Anibal Acevedo Vila of the Popular Democratic Party. ...

On the ballots in question, voters marked an 'x' for the tiny Independence Party, but they also put marks next to the names of Acevedo Vila and Roberto Prats, the Popular Democratic Party's candidate for nonvoting delegate to U.S. Congress.

Acevedo Vila's supporters say Puerto Rico's laws allow voters to mark one party in addition to candidates from other mainstream parties.

But Rossello's lawyer, former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson, who represented George W. Bush in the disputed 2000 presidential election, argued that it is impossible to determine the voter's intent on those ballots. ...

In arguments before the 1st Circuit court Monday, Acevedo Vila's attorney, Charles Cooper, said the disputed ballots have already been validated by both the Puerto Rican Election Commission and the island's Supreme Court. He said the U.S. federal courts should not be involved in the dispute. -- - News - Demonstrators Protest Puerto Rican Election

Washington State: 561 wrongfully-rejected absentee ballots to be counted

AP reports: In a move that could swing the close race for governor, King County Elections Director Dean Logan will ask the county Canvass Board to amend the results of the Nov. 2 election to include hundreds of absentee ballots that Logan says were wrongly rejected.

Democrat Christine Gregoire, who trails Republican Dino Rossi by just a few dozen votes as both sides await the results of a tedious hand recount, won King County handily, and new votes there could put her back in the lead.

Logan said Monday that approximately 561 absentee ballots were rejected because it was mistakenly thought that the signatures on the ballots did not match original voter registration records. However, he said the signatures simply were not on file in the county's voter registration system, and that original registration records should have been checked. -- King County elections head: 561 ballots wrongly rejected

December 10, 2004

Washington State: the recount may not be the end of the election

The Tacoma News Tribune reports: Even if Republican Dino Rossi wins the hand recount of the state's extraordinary governor's race, a never-before-used provision in the state constitution could allow the Democrat-controlled Legislature to hand the election to Democrat Christine Gregoire.

Experts are unsure how to interpret the provision. But the state Democratic Party says it gives Democrats the ability to contest the results of the election before the Legislature.

The Legislature would hold a trial of sorts, like an impeachment hearing, with lawmakers voting on the final outcome, according to a Democratic Party lawyer.

That scenario would seem to favor Gregoire, because Democrats will hold a 26-23 advantage in the Senate and a 55-43 edge in the House when the Legislature convenes Jan. 10. -- | Tacoma, WA | Local

December 8, 2004

Washington State: supreme court hearing on Monday re recount

The Tacoma News Tribune reports: The Washington Supreme Court will hear oral arguments regarding the disputed recount in the governor's race at 1:30 p.m. Monday in the Temple of Justice in Olympia.

As elections officials across the state prepare for an unprecedented third count in the governors race, the state Democratic Party sued last week in an effort to address the rules. Among other things, Democrats want county canvassing boards to re-examine thousands of ballots that were disqualified during the first two counts.

Republican Dino Rossi beat Democrat Christine Gregoire by 42 votes after the first recount and was certified as the governor-elect.

In its order issued today, the high court agreed to let Rossi and the state Republican Party intervene in the case. The court also ruled that the recount, which was delayed at least a day in most counties while election officials waited to see what the Supreme Court would do, may continue under rules and regulations already in place - subject to changes that could be made later by the court. -- | Tacoma, WA | Breaking news

December 7, 2004

Puerto Rico: gubernatorial candidate protests federal court intervention

Sun-Sentinel reports: The candidate narrowly leading Puerto Rico's still-unsettled race for governor is charging the U.S. government with acting as a colonial ruler for seizing control of ballot counting in the protracted election.

A U.S. District Court judge's decision to step in and overrule Puerto Rico's Supreme Court on how to run the recount "tortures the island's residents and holds them hostage," said Aníbal Acevedo Vilá, the Popular Democratic Party candidate who held a narrow lead in the election when ballot counting was suspended Nov. 2.

Since then, efforts to complete that tabulation and get a recount under way have become mired in legal wrangling and worker walkouts as the commonwealth's three political parties try to sort through approximately 2 million ballots cast in the election.

Federal involvement in the election has ignited passions on the island, with supporters of two of the three major parties decrying it as unwarranted and unwanted meddling in local affairs.

Earlier this week, 20,000 people protested outside the federal courthouse in San Juan to denounce the rulings by U.S. District Judge Daniel Dominguez. -- Puerto Rico candidate raps U.S. for meddling in vote: South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Washington State: recount to include partisan counters

The Seattle Times reports: Republican Party activist Tricia Roberts is about to burn two weeks of her vacation -- to help recount King County's 900,000 ballots, by hand.

"It's for a good cause," said Roberts, who hopes Republican Dino Rossi will maintain his 42-vote lead over Democrat Christine Gregoire.

In one of the most unusual twists in Washington's surprising gubernatorial election, King County and other places are hiring party loyalists like Roberts to count the votes in the hand recount scheduled to begin tomorrow.

Republicans and Democrats in King County have each nominated 80 party faithfuls to work 10 hours a day, six days a week until the recount is complete. They'll be paid $12.70 an hour.

Each party representative will be paired with a representative of the other party. The county will supply a "tabulator" to form a three-person "recount board." Each team will be responsible for hand counting an average of 11,000 ballots. -- The Seattle Times: Local News: Party faithful to tally ballots for recount

San Diego: court lifts stay on certification

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports: A state appeals court lifted its hold on the certification of the San Diego mayor's race today, apparently clearing the way for Mayor Dick Murphy to be sworn in for a second term.

The court rejected an appeal contending the election was unlawful because Councilwoman Donna Frye should not have been allowed to run as a write-in candidate.

The court found the challenge should have been filed before the election and its finding was independent of the issues of whether Frye's candidacy was legitimate and whether contested write-in ballots should have been counted.

To rule in favor of the challenge, the court wrote: "would seriously destabilize California election law, which has the advantage of specifically encouraging pre-election challenges precisely in order to avoid this sort of instability." -- > News > Politics -- Court rejects S.D. mayoral election suit

Ohio: recounts requested

AP reports: In Ohio, the state that put President Bush over the top in November, two third-party presidential candidates have officially asked for a recount.

The requests, mailed to all 88 counties, are expected to arrive by Wednesday. Generally, county election boards must agree to a recount, as long as the parties bringing the challenge pay for it. And the Green and Libertarian parties collected enough donations to cover the required $113,600, or ten dollars per precinct. -- ONN. Ohio News Now: Ohio Recount Requested

November 29, 2004

Texas: another legislative challenge filed

AP reports: Republican state Rep. Jack Stick of Austin has become the latest House candidate to file a challenge over his Election Day defeat.

Democrat Mark Strama defeated Stick by 569 votes. Stick filed a challenge with the Texas House of Representatives through the Texas Secretary of State's Office on Thursday.

Although rare, a House election challenge is not unprecedented. However, only one in the past 40 years has resulted in the House ordering a new election, according to research by Republican House Speaker Tom Craddick's office.

Two other election challenges have been filed by House candidates, and one has been filed by a Texas Senate candidate. -- | News for Denton, Texas | AP: Texas

Alabama: recounting failed amendment

AP reports: Election officials began a statewide recount Monday after a measure to remove segregation-era language from the Alabama Constitution was apparently rejected narrowly by the voters Nov. 2.

The proposed amendment would delete unenforced sections of the constitution that mandate racially segregated schools and allow poll taxes, once used to discourage blacks from voting.

The amendment failed by 1,850 votes out of 1.38 million cast - a margin of 0.13 percent. State law calls for a recount when a ballot measure fails by less than one-half of a percentage point. -- Welcome to

Puerto Rico: ballot counting resumes

The Orlando Sentinel reports: The recount in Puerto Rico's still-unsettled governor's race resumed Monday as about 20,000 protestors decried the U.S. District Court's intervention in the ongoing controversy.

The recount_stalled for six days after about 150 election workers walked off the job Nov. 23 over how disputed ballots were being handled_got under way only after officials brokered a deal to count those ballots but hold the tally aside. ...

Some 2 million Puerto Ricans cast ballots in the Nov. 2 election between Anibal Acevedo Vila of the Popular Democratic Party and Pedro Rossello of the pro-statehood New Progressive Party. When counting was suspended on election night, Acevedo Vila held a 3,880-vote lead, with some 28,000 disputed ballots remaining uncounted.

In the four weeks since, the island has been in political turmoil over what to do with the ballots, with the commonwealth's supreme court ordering them counted, and the U.S. District Court overriding that decision and requiring that the disputed ballots be set aside until the court can review them. -- KRT Wire | 11/29/2004 | Recount resumes in Puerto Rico

November 28, 2004

North Carolina: protest over "partial" provisional ballots

The Raleigh News & Observer reports: A candidate for a Wake District Court judgeship has asked the N.C. Board of Elections to throw out about 1,400 votes cast in the wrong precincts.

The request is similar to one filed by a candidate for superintendent of public instruction, but in this case officials say they already know it would not change the outcome of the race.

Under the final vote count turned in to the state by the Wake Board of Elections, District Court Judge Kris Bailey lost his bid for re-election to Raleigh lawyer Debra Sasser by 322 votes.

According to the Wake County Board of Elections, if the ballots were not counted, Sasser's lead would narrow to 194 votes. ...

At issue are ballots cast by voters who showed up at the wrong polling place on election day. Under state law, those voters can cast a provisional ballot, but only races they were eligible to vote for are counted.

In his protest, Bailey argued that counting the so-called "partial ballots" violates the residency requirements spelled out in Article VI, Section 2 of the state Constitution. -- | Local & State

November 26, 2004

Ohio: Double voters hold the balance in a school tax election

AP reports: A couple in a neighboring county who admitted to voting twice on Election Day could be forced to reveal how they cast their ballots in the disputed, single-vote defeat of a proposed school income tax, the school district's attorney said.

"Not going to happen," replied Madison County Prosecutor Stephen Pronai on Tuesday. "I'm not going to force them to testify as to how they voted."

London City Schools, about 25 miles west of Columbus, will challenge the election results in Madison County Common Pleas Court, attorney Terrence N. O'Donnell said on Tuesday. ...

"We will argue that the Board Of Elections had a duty to certify the correct election result," O'Donnell said. "The court has broad authority to fashion a remedy."

Wilbur France, 79, and Rebecca France, 76, of London, voted by absentee ballot in October and at the polls on Nov. 2. Pronai said they had called the elections board and were told their absentee ballots were lost. Their names do not appear on the absentee list, but the board does have the envelopes in which they returned ballots, he said. -- 2 double voters hold key to school income tax's fate

Thanks to How Appealing for the link.

November 25, 2004

Maine: recounts in 3 house seats

The Portland Press Herald reports: State-supervised recounts have failed to resolve three disputed races for the [Maine] House of Representatives, forcing the House itself to decide who will represent the districts, including one in southern Maine.

The outcome is important because voters in the three affected districts still do not know who will represent them for the next two years. But the results will not alter the balance of power in the House, which will remain under Democratic control no matter who wins the three races.

Initial election results gave the Democrats a 76-73 edge over the Republicans in the 151-member House, with one independent and one Green Independent. Two of the three apparent winners in the unresolved races are Republicans, so the best the GOP can hope for is to gain one more seat, which would still leave the Republicans in the minority. -- House to resolve three disputed races

Ukraine: Supreme court stops certification of vote reports: Ukraine's supreme court said it will investigate Nov. 21 presidential election results handing victory to Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych as supporters of his rival, Viktor Yushchenko, staged a national strike.

More than 300,000 protesters, who say the ballot-counting was fraudulent, massed for a fourth day at Independence Square in the capital Kiev, one of dozens of demonstrations across the nation. The Central Electoral Committee said it will respect the court's decision and stopped the publication of the results in official journals tomorrow, a step needed for Yanukovych to take office. -- Europe

Imagine that: a supreme court that stops a certification rather than interfering with a recount.

November 24, 2004

At least 3 Republicans to challenge losses in Texas

The San Antonio Express-News reports: Two Republicans defeated Nov. 2 will submit paperwork today asking the GOP-majority Texas House to throw out official vote tallies and name them winners of their respective races or force new elections, advisers predicted Tuesday.

A third defeated candidate, Republican Rep. Ken Mercer of San Antonio, will decide by today whether to join the others in contesting his 498-vote loss to Democratic challenger David Leibowitz, his campaign manager said.

A recount already has been scheduled for next week for Rep. Talmadge Heflin, R-Houston, who fell by 32 votes to Houston businessman Hubert Vo.

Heflin, scheduled to hold a news conference today, has identified "hundreds" of instances in which ineligible voters cast ballots, but he will withdraw his contest from House consideration if he prevails over Vo in the recount, spokesman Craig Murphy said. -- Metro | State

Sberel has commented on DailyKos: Now, the San Antonio paper states that the Texas House can give the challengers the seat. They cannot. What they can do is seat the certified winner (essentially, dismiss the contestants complaint) or void the election and direct the gov to call a special election.

The citations are basically election code sec 221.012 & 241.020. -- Contest will be filed.

November 23, 2004

New York -- judge recused from recount

AP reports: An appeals court ruled Tuesday that the judge overseeing the recount of a state Senate race in Westchester should be replaced.

The four-judge Appellate Division panel, sitting in Brooklyn, recused Administrative Judge Francis Nicolai from the battle for the Yonkers-based 35th Senate District. Incumbent Nicholas Spano, a powerful Republican, is battling a challenge from Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a Westchester County legislator. ...

Nicolai, a Democrat, had refused Spano's request that he drop out on the grounds that his name, as a judicial candidate, was also on the ballots.

The Republicans appealed and asked the Appellate Division to also consider that Nicolai had donated $200 to Stewart-Cousins' campaign. The panel did not disclose its reasoning, saying only that "recusal of Justice Nicolai is warranted." -- - AP Regional

Ohio: judge says "too early" to recount suit

AP reports: A federal judge denied a request by third-party presidential candidates who want to force a "recount" of Ohio ballots even before the official count is finished.

US District Judge James G. Carr in Toledo ruled that the candidates have a right under Ohio law to a recount. But Carr says they have not shown "that they will be harmed irreparably if the recount is not completed by the time Ohio's electors to the Electoral College must be certified." -- ONN. Ohio News Now: Judge Denies 3rd Party Recount Request

Washington State -- GOP must wait a week for federal court hearing

AP reports: Republicans who filed a lawsuit in an attempt to keep some ballots out of the recount of the governor's race must wait a week to make their arguments in court.

U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez scheduled a hearing for Nov. 30, two days before the state is set to certify results of a recount triggered by Republican Dino Rossi's razor-thin victory margin.

Election officials say the ballots in question, which machines couldn't read, are being tracked and could be subtracted if Martinez rules in Republicans' favor. ...

The state Republican party filed a lawsuit Saturday, arguing that ballots rejected by machines should be excluded from the recount because they must be checked by hand -- a process the GOP contended doesn’t happen in counties that use punchcard ballots. -- | Tacoma, WA | Local

Puerto Rico -- don't count on the recount soon

AP reports: The State Elections Commission suspended until Monday the vote recount pending the resolution of the judicial process in federal court about the mixed votes.

The director of the vote review for the SEC, Benicio Carmona, announced through spokespeople that the work would remain suspended until Monday, causing cheers and applause from the election of fficals of the Popular Democratic Party and the Puerto Rican Independence Party, who have stayed at the SEC Election Operations Center.

The officials from the NPP table had abandoned their work in the morning per instructions from their election commissioner Thomas Rivera Schatz to not count mixed ballots, contrary to the order from the Supreme Court to do the review and the recount simultaneously and not adjudicate the controversial mixed votes. -- Recount is suspended until Monday

Texas: Heflin asks for recount in Texas House

Josh Marshall reports: On election day, one of the most powerful legislators in the Texas House of Representatives, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Talmadge Heflin (R-Houston) got beat by a Vietnamese American businessman named Hubert Vo (D).

It was awfully close -- 32 votes. And it was also the first Democratic gain in the Texas state House in 32 years. (They've had a string of rough decades.)

With such a narrow margin, Heflin is understandably calling for a manual recount, which he's just officially requested.

But more than that seems to be afoot. -- Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: November 21, 2004 - November 27, 2004 Archives

I had overlooked this story. My thanks to Josh Marshall for getting it. There's lots more on this in his blog.

DemFromCT quotes an "involved friend from Texas:" Texas law dictates that a contest of a legislative election is heard not in court, but in the House of Representatives (87 Republicans to 62 Democrats). No election has ever been overturned by the House out of 8 contests in 150 years because everyone knows that voters in their districts wouldn't stand for it. This one is being set up to be the first. -- TX - State Rep Seat Won By Dem May Be Overturned (Or Recounted, Or...)

November 22, 2004

North Carolina -- voting problems

The News and Observer rounds up the election glitches in North Carolina: Statewide races for agriculture commissioner and superintendent of public instruction are still unresolved, in part because of 4,400 lost ballots in Carteret County. Republican Steve Troxler leads incumbent Democrat Britt Cobb by fewer than 2,300 votes. Both have filed election protests based on the foul-up. Bill Fletcher, the Republican candidate for superintendent of public instruction, wants the state courts to throw out votes -- known as provisional ballots -- in state and local races cast by about 10,000 voters who went to the wrong precincts.

Carteret County lost 4,438 votes during the early-voting period leading up to Election Day because a computer didn't record them. Three candidates for state offices have filed protests that cite the lost votes.

Cleveland County lost 120 ballots on the night of Election Day when workers retrieved a provisional ballot that had been fed by error into an optical scan machine. The ballots did not make it back to election headquarters. Local elections officials say they were left behind at the polling station and thrown away the next day. -- | Local & State

November 21, 2004

Puerto Rico -- P.R. supreme court and federal court order immediate recount

AP reports: A federal court and Puerto Rico's Supreme Court both ordered election authorities Saturday to begin an immediate vote-by-vote recount of the extremely tight Nov. 2 gubernatorial elections.

Federal Judge Daniel Dominguez decided in favor of pro-statehood candidate Pedro Rossello's lawsuit to force an immediate recount of preliminary election results, which showed him narrowly losing to Anibal Acevedo Vila, who supports Puerto Rico's U.S. commonwealth status. ...

The courts ordered the State Elections Commission to start recounting ballots immediately rather than wait for the outcome of a review of sheets containing the tally of votes in more than 7,000 precincts.

Election authorities had been reviewing the tally sheets to confirm that the margin was less than 0.5 percent, which would require a vote-by-vote recount. The courts decided officials should conduct the tally sheet check and the recount simultaneously.

Preliminary results showed Acevedo, of the Popular Democratic party, received 48.38 percent of the votes while Rossello, a former governor, got 48.18 percent. -- | 11/21/2004 | Governor's race to go to recount, court says

Washington State -- federal judge refuses GOP suit to stop hand counting of ballots

AP reports: A federal judge Sunday denied the state Republican Party's bid to force Washington's most populous county to stop counting some ballots in the recount of the governor's race.

In a conference call with lawyers, U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman denied the GOP's request for a temporary restraining order barring the hand-counting of ballots in King County that were rejected because they could not be read electronically. ...

Republicans sued Secretary of State Sam Reed and the King County Division of Elections on Saturday, arguing that ballots that could not be counted electronically should be excluded from the recount because they would have to be checked by hand.

The lawsuit said the recount would be inconsistent because hand-counting was not an option in other counties where punch card ballots were used instead of optical scanners. -- Judge Denies GOP Recount Request in Wash. (

November 20, 2004

Ohio -- Group of lawyers will challenge election

AP reports: Lawyers who have been documenting Election Day problems in Ohio say they'll challenge the results of the presidential election as soon as the vote is official.

The lawyers say documented cases of long lines, a shortage of machines and a pattern of problems in predominantly black neighborhoods are enough evidence to bring such a challenge.

``The objective is to get to the truth,'' said Cliff Arnebeck, a lawyer who said he'll represent voters who cast ballots Nov. 2. Arnebeck said the effort is bipartisan. ...

Ohio Republican Party chairman Bob Bennett said it was a joke that the effort was being billed as bipartisan.

``This is nothing but an absurd attempt by a handful of radical front groups to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the Bush presidency. The election is over, the Democrats have conceded and the outcome will not change,'' Bennett said in a statement. -- Beacon Journal | 11/20/2004 | Ohio election to be challenged

November 19, 2004

Puerto Rico -- how to count improperly marked ballots

The Sun-Sentinel reports: Pro-statehood candidate Pedro Rosselló asked a federal court Thursday to toss out 28,000 ballots from the Nov. 2 election, a move that could return the controversial former governor to the island's top office with a decisive victory.

At issue is whether voters who split their ballots, most favoring the pro-commonwealth candidate for governor, followed instructions. Arguments surrounding the ballots dominated the first day of discussions during a U.S. District Court hearing that may determine the outcome of the island's tight gubernatorial race.

"The votes are clearly spoiled," William Sherman, an attorney for Rosselló, argued before Judge Daniel Dominguez. "The instructions clearly say there can only be two markings on the ballot, not three."

But lawyers for Puerto Rico's Elections Commission said ballots exactly like the ones in dispute have been counted for more than 16 years without question. -- Puerto Rican candidate asks court to reject 28,000 ballots: South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Carlos Romero Barcelo writes in the Puerto Rico Herald: However, the instructions to the voters, as approved by unanimous consent of all three commissioners and the president, are clear on what a mixed vote (voto mixto) should be. The ballot instructions say how to vote mixed (votar mixto). "To vote mixed, you make an X under the insignia of the party of your preference and then another X next to another candidate under a column different from that of your party.... Keep in mind that you can only vote for one (1) candidate for governor and one (1) candidate for resident commissioner." (My translation.) In other words, the instructions to the voters are that if they vote under the insignia of a party, they can then vote only for a governor or resident commissioner of another party, not for both. -- Coup d’etat

Romero Barcelo is former president of the pro-statehood party (the New Progressive Party), former governor, and former resident commissioner.

The complete law (in Spanish) is here. It appears to me from looking at the offices to be filled (keep in mind that I don't speak or read Spanish), that a straight ticket vote would be for governor, resident commissioner, senator, and representative (the last two from districts). I welcome the assistance of Spanish speakers in translating this law.

Washington State -- 2 (count'em 2) recounts looming

AP reports: Election officials are preparing to recount 2.8 million ballots by next Wednesday in the closest governor's race in Washington state history.

But we still might not know who the next governor is for sure by Thanksgiving. Try Christmas.

State Democratic Party Chairman Paul Berendt already is talking about ordering a second, hand recount of the votes. ``We see this as a two-recount process,'' he said.

Buckle up - it's going to be a long, bumpy ride. -- Washington governor's race heading for two recounts - The Register-Guard, Eugene, Oregon, USA

November 17, 2004

Puerto Rico -- recount likely in governor's race

The New York Times reports:
If Florida's five-week recount after the 2000 presidential election seemed endless, pity Puerto Rico.

A recount is all but certain in the race for governor here, after the Election Night tally gave Anibal Acevedo Vilá, the candidate who favors keeping the island's commonwealth status, a margin of just 3,880 votes. But the process will not start until December, and come Christmas - even New Year's, some predict - Puerto Ricans may still be guessing who their next governor will be.

Blame Puerto Rican election law, which requires an "escrutinio," or review of vote summaries from each precinct, before an official recount of the roughly two million paper ballots cast on Nov. 2. Hundreds of officials from the island's election commission and its three major parties are submerged in that task, while Mr. Acevedo Vilá forges ahead as the presumed victor and Pedro Rosselló, the pro-statehood candidate, protests. The officials are also checking the validity of about 30,000 ballots that did not make the initial count, a slow process that sometimes involves determining voter intent.

Mr. Rosselló, a former two-term governor whom polls showed leading throughout the race, sued in federal court last week, protesting Mr. Acevedo Vilá's appointment of a transition team and demanding an immediate recount. A hearing is scheduled for Thursday, but Mr. Acevedo Vilá's confidence appears unshaken. His family toured the governor's mansion on Monday, and his wife said her children were choosing bedrooms. -- The New York Times > National > Governor's Race Keeps Puerto Rico in Suspense **

Thanks to How Appealling for the link.

San Diego -- another lawsuit expected in Mayor's race reports: City Councilwoman Donna Frye held onto a plurality of votes Wednesday but Mayor Dick Murphy, more tortoise than hare, is cutting deeply into the lead of her write-in campaign to unseat him.

"Write-in" had 154,531 votes, or 34.6 percent, according to tallies released Wednesday morning by the San Diego County Registrar of Voters Office. Of those, 151,287 have been verified for Frye.

Murphy had 153,645 votes, or 34.4 percent while Supervisor Ron Roberts had 138,478 votes, or 31 percent, county officials said. ...

The [League of Women Voters] is expected to file a lawsuit today in Superior Court to force election officials to count all write-in ballots cast for Frye – including those on which voters did not fill in the bubble next to where they wrote her name.

The lawsuit is likely to note that instructions for absentee voting sent by the registrar's office did not explicitly tell voters they needed to fill in the oval if voting for a write-in candidate.

As Murphy called on Frye to repudiate the lawsuit last night, his aides handed out materials saying the registrar made a point of letting the public know last month that a write-in bubble needed to be filled in for the vote to count. -- > News > Politics -- Murphy narrowing gap in mayor's race

"The only sure thing seems to be a recount"

AP reports: The race to become Washington’s next governor came down to the very last few votes Wednesday -- the deadline for counties to finish tallying the ballots in the state’s closest statewide election ever.

At noon, Republican real estate agent Dino Rossi held a mere 156-vote lead over Democratic Attorney General Christine Gregoire out of 2.8 million ballots cast.

The only sure thing seems to be a recount, which state law requires if the margin of victory is less than 2,000 votes. That means Washington voters might have to wait until Thanksgiving to find out who their next governor is -- a stunning scenario considering the experts never thought it would be this close. ...

Washington is one of two states (the other is Alaska) that allow voters to mail ballots on Election Day, so votes have trickled in at an agonizingly slow pace. At one point Wednesday morning, the two candidates were separated by just 19 votes. -- | Tacoma, WA | Local

November 16, 2004

Indiana-9 to have a recount

The Indianapolis Star reports: A recount will begin Nov. 29 to determine the winner in the 9th Congressional District race.

The Indiana Democratic Party sought the recount, as well as a contest of the election results, after the Nov. 2 election showed Republican Mike Sodrel defeated Democratic incumbent Baron Hill by 1,485 votes. ...

Democrats sought the recount, which will begin in Dubois County, because of a voting machine glitch in Franklin County that wrongly tabulated straight-ticket Democratic votes as Libertarian votes. Although that county is not in the 9th District, the same kind of voting machines also were used in three counties in the 9th -- Ripley, Scott and Switzerland.

Today, Jim Bopp, a Terre Haute attorney representing Sodrel, filed a motion contesting the results in Monroe County and alleged that voter fraud may have occurred there.

Bopp said 12,000 new voters were registered in Monroe County and that about 4,000 mailings by the county's Republican Party to those voters were returned as undeliverable by the U.S. Postal Service. -- Recount approved for 9th District race

November 15, 2004

Several organizations call for a recount in Ohio

A press release by National Voting Rights Institute, DEMOS, People For the American Way Foundation, Common Cause, and the Fannie Lou Hamer Project says: As organizations deeply committed to full participation and the quality of American democracy, we support the decision by presidential candidates David Cobb and Michael Badnarik to request a recount of all votes cast in Ohio for president of the United States. It is not our expectation that a recount will change the outcome of the presidential election, nor is that the intent of this effort. We believe it is imperative that, in a democracy, every citizen's vote be counted.

Moreover, we urge citizens and candidates to request recounts of any elections where doubt has been cast about the integrity of the counting, and we urge election officials in every state to preserve, protect, and maintain all ballots from the election, whether cast on machine, by absentee, or by provisional ballot. We further ask that they maintain all voter registration files, including all applications accepted and rejected, all records of resource allocation among precincts during the election, and all internal guidelines for evaluating all types of ballots. -- People For the American Way - Statement in Support of the Ohio Recount and for Conserving Ballots and Examining Procedures Nationwide

November 14, 2004

Montana House election decided by 2 votes

The Great Falls Tribune reports: The counting of six "provisional" votes Monday in a Lake County legislative race appears to give Republicans a 50-49 edge in the Montana House — but the vote-counting and legal wrangling in this pivotal district is just beginning.

The provisional votes in House District 12 maintained the victory of Constitution Party candidate Rick Jore of Ronan, increasing his margin over Democrat Jeanne Windham of Polson from one vote to two votes.

But the saga of HD12 took another bizarre twist Monday, as Lake County election officials decided to exclude two provisional votes cast by a pair of HD12 residents who were told by election judges last Tuesday to vote in the wrong House district.

Jore defeated Windham in last Tuesday's count 1,556 to 1,555, while Republican Jack Cross of Polson had 1,107 votes. The six provisional votes counted Monday gave three more votes to Jore, two more to Windham and one more for Cross.

State Democratic Party officials said Windham will ask for a recount, which state law doesn't allow until after statewide results are certified Nov. 22. -- Local News - Great Falls Tribune -

November 10, 2004

Nader asks fr recount in New Hampshire

The Washington Post reports: Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader, who lost by about 335,000 votes in New Hampshire, has asked the state for a recount.

No, the longtime consumer advocate is not hoping to change last week's outcome in the Granite State, where Democrat John F. Kerry was the winner. Rather, he said, he is concerned about the veracity of the results.

"We have received reports of irregularities in the vote reported on the AccuVote Diebold Machines in comparison to exit polls and trends in voting in New Hampshire," Nader wrote Secretary of State William M. Gardner. "These irregularities favor President George W. Bush by 5% to 15% over what was expected."

New Hampshire uses Diebold machines at 132 polling places. Gardner's office received Nader's fax at 4:59 p.m. Friday, one minute before the deadline. Under state law, if a candidate requesting a recount finished more than three percentage points behind, he must pay for the process. Gardner said that if the Nader campaign sends a check for $2,000 and promises to pay any additional charges, he will round up the ballots and initiate a hand count. -- Losing by 335,000 in N.H., Nader Demands a Recount (

November 9, 2004

Alabama recount law "one-sided" on constitutional amendments

AP reports: Alabama's new election recount law, which could get its first use on Amendment Two, permits a recount only when a proposed constitutional amendment is losing narrowly.

Foes of the proposed constitutional amendment couldn't get a recount if it were passing even by the narrowest of margins.

"It's one-sided," said Elbert Peters of Huntsville, former chairman of the Alabama Republican Party and an opponent of Amendment Two.

Unofficial returns from the Nov. 2 election show Amendment Two losing 690,241 to 687,747 — a margin of 2,494 votes out of more than 1.37 million cast.

After extremely tight races for governor and secretary of state in 2002, the Legislature enacted a law in 2003 that allows a candidate to get a recount if losing by one-half percent of the votes cast or less. The law also provides for a recount when a constitutional amendment loses by one-half percent, but the law makes no provision for a recount if a constitutional amendment passes by less than one-half percent. -- Amendment 2 wouldn't recount if leading

September 23, 2004

Cree Indian from Canada claims US citizenship and right to run for office in Hawaii

The Maui News reports: Legislative candidate Cort Gallup is facing a formal challenge to his eligibility to run for office, on the grounds that he is not a U.S. citizen.

Gallup, who was born in Canada in the Cree tribe, said he believes a federal law that allows Native Americans to cross the border and live in the United States gives him the right to citizenship and the right to hold public office.

"I am a U.S. citizen because I am a Native American," he said. "I was born as a native of America. Look at the word: 'Native American.'"

But Kihei retiree Steve Riford, who filed the formal challenge, said that while Gallup does seem to be a legal resident of the United States, his status as a Native American does not appear to automatically make him a citizen. -- Candidate’s eligibility for office questioned (Maui News)

August 15, 2004

Rodriguez concedes to Cuellar

AP reports: After several ballot recounts and legal appeals, U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez has conceded defeat in his fight alleging vote fraud in March's District 28 Democratic primary.

Laredo lawyer Henry Cuellar ends up beating Rodriguez by 58 votes out of nearly 50,000 cast in a contest marked by barrages of bitter accusations flying in both directions.

Rodriguez threw in the towel late Wednesday after the Texas Supreme Court again rejected his request that it hear his appeal from a lower court. Just as it did last week, the state's highest court said it has no jurisdiction over election cases.

The congressman had said he was thinking about moving his battle to federal court, but eventually he decided to surrender and start looking ahead. -- Rodriguez gives up fight to keep congressional seat (AP via

July 26, 2004

Rodriguez seeks Texas Supreme Court of his recount loss

AP reports: U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez, who has alleged vote fraud during the Democratic primary in March, will make a last-ditch effort to retain his seat.

Rodriguez plans to file a petition with the Texas Supreme Court on Monday asking the nine-member court to review his recent legal loss.

"We recognize that it's a long shot, but we're optimistic," he is quoted as saying in Saturday's San Antonio Express-News.

Two weeks ago, a state appeals court ruled against Rodriguez in his bid to overturn the 58-vote lead held by his opponent, Henry Cuellar. ...

Cuellar, a Laredo lawyer, said Friday that he was "not at all" worried about Rodriguez's plans.

"The Election Code says specifically that you cannot appeal to the Supreme Court," he said. "I think it's now getting to the point where we're talking about being frivolous. Ciro needs to accept the fact that he lost and move on." -- Congressman to petition state's high court (AP via Star-Telegram)

July 15, 2004

Criminal vote fraud probe in Napa Valley reports: The California Secretary of State's office is investigating charges of criminal elections fraud and ballot tampering in connection with Napa County's District 5 supervisorial election held in March.

"I've got about a three-inch pile of paperwork on my desk," said lead investigator Ric Ciaramella of the Secretary of State's elections fraud unit. "John (Tuteur) has asked us to take a look at this."

Tuteur is Napa County's Registrar of Voters and was one of the defendants, along with Supervisor-elect Harold Moskowite, in the case recently wrapped up in Napa Superior Court.

On June 30, visiting judge Peter Allen Smith found in favor of Moskowite, who in April was certified as the victor in the race over three-term incumbent Mike Rippey by 108 votes. But Rippey maintains there was ballot tampering. -- State opens fraud probe in Napa election (

July 6, 2004

Background on the Napa Valley election contest

The New York Times reports: These are uncertain times in California's Napa County, a pastoral region of fertile hills that produces some of the world's best cabernet and, recently, accusations of voting fraud.

At stake is not just the county board of supervisors seat that Mike Rippey, the incumbent, apparently lost to Harold Moskowite. The pace of development and the very face of Napa Valley, on the edge of one of the hottest real estate markets in the United States, could be in the balance.

"Growth is the pressure that will never go away," said Moira Johnson Block, a writer and supporter of Mr. Rippey. "It's absolutely centered right now on those two men."

Mr. Rippey, a Democrat and soft-spoken biologist intent on preserving open space, streams and the Napa River, has held the seat for 12 years. In an upset, he lost on March 2 to Mr. Moskowite, a Republican third-generation rancher and former county supervisor who favors property rights over environmental regulation. -- A Wine Region's Future Is Centered on 2 Rivals (New York Times)

Thanks to C. Bell for the link.

June 11, 2004

Texas appeals court hears US Rep election contest

U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez on Friday asked a [Texas] state appeals court to reverse a lower judge's rulings and give him a chance to prove voter fraud occurred during his defeat in the Democratic primary election.

Rodriguez's attorneys asked a three-judge panel of the 4th Court of Appeals not to allow a "hypertechncial" reading of legal procedures to end his quest to overturn his March 9 loss to Henry Cuellar.

During 50 minutes of oral arguments, Rodriguez attorney Buck Wood defended his contention that Judge Joseph Hart erred last month when he barred him from bringing evidence of voting irregularities, including illegally cast ballots, in his election lawsuit.

Cuellar's attorneys continued to assert that the claims in Rodriguez's lawsuit were too vague. -- Appeals Court Hears Arguments In District 28 Election Lawsuit (AP via

June 6, 2004

Napa Valley contest: judge rules against challenger

Barring a surprise move, there will be no replay of the March 2 District 5 supervisorial race in November. On Thursday a judge issued a tentative ruling, rejecting Supervisor Mike Rippey's challenge to the March 2 results that saw him lose, by 108 votes, to Harold Moskowite.

The collective hearts of those in Courtroom B in Napa County's Historic Courthouse may have skipped a beat Thursday when Judge Peter Allen Smith said he was ready to rule from the bench. He made the declaration immediately following closing arguments, just before noon Thursday.

"My conclusion is that the high burden of proof has not been met," said the judge. "The conduct described did not affect the outcome of the election."

In a brief interview afterward, Judge Smith said when the parties return to court, Rippey's attorney will have the opportunity to argue against the decision. Although it is uncommon for a judge to reverse a tentative ruling, Smith said his decision "is subject to change, depending on what's presented." -- Judge to rule for Moskowite (

Thanks to a correspondent for the link.

June 2, 2004

Different pens used on absentee ballots are an issue in Napa Valley contest

A half-dozen witnesses took the stand Tuesday as the trial to determine the outcome of Napa County's District 5 supervisor race winds down. Closing arguments are expected to begin today.

At issue is challenger Harold Moskowite's slim 108-vote margin of victory over incumbent Rippey, and whether Rippey's attorney has raised enough doubt about the results to either reverse the outcome or force a new election.

Documents expert David Moore wrapped up his testimony, with Moskowite's attorney Charles Bell attempting to show that the use of different inks or different pens on the same ballot is not necessarily evidence of tampering.

Using Moore's own scale of probability -- used primarily in handwriting analysis to show a likelihood that a discrepancy exists -- Bell chipped away at the contention a person other than the original voter marked ballots for Moskowite.

Moore admitted that on their own, individual paper ballots are not conclusive. "I can't exclude the possibility a voter may have picked up a different pen, but there's no logical doubt in my mind (there was tampering)," he said.

But Moore has contended there were more than 100 such ballots. On Tuesday, he said, "If I'd found one or two, it's not a problem. Ultimately it became cumulative." -- Absentee ballots scrutinized in election trial (

May 24, 2004

Recount completed in Arkansas judicial primary

A recount by hand in Pope County [Arkansas] Saturday determined Russellville attorney Timm Murdoch will meet Gordon "Mack" McCain Jr. in a runoff for the open Fifth Judicial District judge position.
Saturday's recount affirmed what computerized machines ultimately told election officials on election night, only wavering from the computer-tallied total by a very few votes. Iva Nell Gibbons, who finished third overall behind Murdoch, had requested the recount after irregularities in computerized vote tallies were detected -- and corrected -- in Pope County on Tuesday. -- Recount places Murdoch in runoff (The Courier, Russellville, Ark.)

May 23, 2004

Profiles of the lawyers in the Napa Valley election contest

Aim your Internet search engine at "Find a Republican Lawyer" and one of the first people you'll find is Charles Bell, a senior partner at Bell, McAndrews, Hiltachk & Davidian in Sacramento.

Bell was picked for the Moskowite-Rippey duel early on, when supervisorial challenger Harold Moskowite's supporters sensed there could be the need for a sharp legal mind. He was recommended by Moskowite's political consultant, Victor Ajlouny.

"He came highly recommended from people at all levels," said Ajlouny. "He's probably the best in the business." ...

Taking on candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger, playing a role in the Gore-Bush Florida election debacle, being quoted as an expert in nationwide election journals and taking the complex matter of sorting out Napa County's District 5 supervisorial race.

These all describe Lowell Finley, attorney to Democrats and the lawyer representing Supervisor Mike Rippey in the legal challenge to the March 2 election. Finley has a long list of credentials qualifying him for the challenge ahead. Rippey is contesting his 108-vote loss to Harold Moskowite, alleging that votes were tampered with and that voting officials did not do their job adequately, issues that Finley has worked on before.

"I became familiar with hanging and dimpled chads long before Florida," Finley said.

Finley says cases involving election law are almost always unique, so there's no way to predict the outcome based on past cases. -- Lawyers square off over contentious supes election (

May 22, 2004

Rodriguez files appeal

U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez filed a 38-page appeal Friday, asking a San Antonio-based appellate court to reverse a ruling that favored his opponent Henry Cuellar in the grueling battle for the Democratic nomination in Congressional District 28.

The appeal comes after 2-1/2 months of recounts, court hearings and legal bickering over the contentious outcome of the March 9 Democratic primary. ...

In the appeal, Rodriguez argues that visiting District Court Judge Joseph Hart erred earlier this month in tossing out key portions of his legal challenge, which sought to introduce evidence of possible ballot tampering and illegally cast votes.

Cuellar contends that Rodriguez filed certain court pleadings too late for consideration, and does not have the factual evidence to back up his claim of a faulty election outcome. -- Rodriguez's appeal is now in court's hands (

May 21, 2004

Judicial race recount in Arkansas

Pope County [Arkansas] election officials will recount more than 6,900 votes by hand Saturday to ensure results in a circuit judge election are accurate.

Unofficial totals have Gordon "Mack" McCain Jr. of Ozark meeting Russellville attorney Timm Murdoch in a runoff election in November. But Iva Nell Gibbons of Clarksville, the third-place finisher in the race, is challenging the results from Pope County because of vote-tallying irregularities. ...

Pope County election officials have said vote-tallying machines did not originally count all of the votes, and the latest count is the most accurate. Brown said he called for the recount when he saw results coming from the machine were not in line with the number of votes cast.

The machine problems and the necessity for the early-morning recount prompted Gibbons to request a recount by hand. She paid just under $1,800 for the recount. -- Judge recount set for Saturday (The Courier, Russellville, Ark.)

Human counters will recheck the machine totals. Luckily, they have the paper to count.

Vote fraud charges in Napa Valley

The attorney who will represent Harold Moskowite in court beginning Monday responded to the latest claims from Supervisor Mike Rippey, calling the allegation of massive voter fraud in the election case "outrageous" and saying he looks forward to meeting his adversaries next week in Napa Superior Court.

Charles Bell, an election law specialist from Sacramento, said the assertions leveled Wednesday by Rippey's attorney, Lowell Finley, were "without any basis." ...

Rippey and Moskowite will face off in court because Rippey, a three-term incumbent supervisor, contested Moskowite's apparent 108 vote victory on March 2.

At a news conference Wednesday on the courthouse steps in Napa, Finley showed examples of what a documents expert has termed evidence of systematic ballot tampering and criminal activity. -- Lawyer refutes voter fraud as 'outrageous' (

May 12, 2004

GOP candidate asks for recount in Indiana

Longtime [Indiana] Senate Finance Committee Chairman Larry Borst asked state election officials yesterday for a recount in his 48-vote loss in last week's Republican primary.

Borst decided against a more drastic option -- petitioning for a new election -- saying state Republican leaders should be the ones to decide whether voting irregularities in Marion County were so serious that voters were disenfranchised. ...

Marion County GOP Chairman Mike Murphy said he will not seek a new election either, despite problems that include some voters leaving the polls after precincts ran out of ballots.

Borst's attorney, David Brooks of Indianapolis, said yesterday that he believes there are a number of absentee and provisional ballots that were not counted in many Marion County precincts. ...

In part, that's because election officials provided unclear instructions about how to handle the provisional ballots — which were used in last week's election for the first time — making many of them invalid.

Also, Brooks said, some precinct inspectors have reported that they did not run their absentee ballots through the voting machines, as required by state law. -- Borst asks for primary recount (Louisville Courier-Journal)

Cuellar wins Texas recount suit

Former Secretary of State Henry Cuellar claimed another victory Tuesday in his race for Congress when a [Texas state court] judge ruled that after two months and two recounts, Cuellar is the Democratic nominee.

The battle moves to an appeals court, which will have the last word, in the next few weeks.

Judge Joe Hart decided that Cuellar's opponent, U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez, had run out of time to build his case on allegations of illegal voting and ballot tampering. ...

During the second recount last week, document experts for both sides inspected about 10 percent of the ballots for fraud. The Rodriguez expert said he found 29 questionable ballots in Webb County. The Cuellar expert said she found none.

On Tuesday, Rodriguez's attorneys asked for more time, saying their expert had only inspected about 2,000 of nearly 20,000 ballots cast in Webb and Zapata counties.

Hart, a retired San Antonio judge, denied the request, saying they were only expected to investigate a "sample" of the ballots anyway. -- Judge rules Cuellar is Democratic nominee (Star Telegram)

I don't know Texas election law, so I don't understand the standard being used. However, there was a final margin of 58 for Cuellar. Finding 29 "questionable" ballots while checking 1/10 would probably yield 290 in the universe of all the ballots. Why did the judge not allow more time to check the rest of the ballots if Rodriguez had found that many he questioned? Did the judge hear any evidence about these 29 ballots? if anyone knows the answers, leave a comment.

May 7, 2004

Texas candidate's lead shrinking in recount

Democratic nominee Henry Cuellar's lead over U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez shrunk to 58 votes Friday after a court-ordered recount of more than 15,000 disputed Webb County [Texas] ballots cast in the March 9 primary.

Ballot counters here spent the better part of two days counting the ballots that have become the focal point of a lawsuit filed by Rodriguez to overturn the results of a previous recount that gave Cuellar a 203-vote margin of victory in the Congressional District 28 Democratic primary. -- UPDATE: Cuellar's lead shrinks in District 28 recount (

May 6, 2004

Texas recount continues on Friday

The court-ordered recount of disputed Webb County [Texas] ballots in the Congressional District 28 race won't likely be completed until Friday, officials with the campaigns of U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez and Democratic nominee Henry Cuellar said today.

Early today, counters began by sorting the more than 10,000 early votes cast here by precinct. The actual counting and inspecting of the ballots began shortly after noon and was expected to continue until 5:30 p.m. today.

Officials are expected to pick up the counting of all the nearly 15,000 primary ballots cast here at 8 a.m. Friday.

The recount, which was ordered by visiting District Court Judge Joseph Hart earlier this week, could bring the issue of who won the Democratic nomination in the March 9 primary nearer to resolution. -- District 28 recount likely to continue Friday (San Antonio Express-News)

May 5, 2004

One step forward, one back for Rodriguez

U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez's legal case against challenger Henry Cuellar was severely hobbled Tuesday when a [Texas] judge denied his attempt to raise the issue of possible illegal votes cast in Webb County in the disputed Congressional District 28 race.

But the blow was tempered by visiting District Court Judge Joseph Hart's ruling to order another recount of the nearly 15,000 Democratic primary ballots cast here -- a process that will take place Thursday and, if necessary, Friday.

The recount could bring the issue of who won the Democratic nomination nearer to resolution, although Rodriguez's attorney, Buck Wood, said he still plans to appeal the issue of illegal voting to the 4th Court of Appeals in San Antonio. ...

A trial still is slated to begin Tuesday in Laredo, although the substance of the case will depend on what happens during the recount, lawyers for both sides said. -- Another District 28 recount set (San Antonio Express-News)

May 2, 2004

"Home is where heart of dispute is"

The truth of what really happened in the race between U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez and challenger Henry Cuellar lies in some of the poorest neighborhoods in this politically charged border city [Laredo, Texas].

Hired guns from both camps have been combing the area for weeks, some searching for households where improper votes may have been cast and others seeking to prove that nothing strange is going on. ...

Rodriguez attorney Buck Wood acknowledges family ties are at the heart of many of his examples of alleged illegal voting, such as a son or daughter who moves from his or her parents' home but maintains voter registration there.

"The tradition of people maintaining an address other than where they live seems to be very prevalent here " in Laredo, he said. "It's very family-oriented and people maintain their connections."

While it may not be fraud, it's certainly not legal, he said.

"If you go to a poll and you claim you still live at an address, that's illegal," Wood said. "That vote's going to be thrown out."

Cuellar attorney Steve Bickerstaff disputes that.

"It's very, very common for the registration to remain at the residence of the parents," he said. "Any ruling that would say that's a violation of the law would have implications statewide for minority voting." -- Home is where heart of dispute is (San Antonio Express-News)

April 28, 2004

Cuellar seeks to block Rodriquez amendment to complaint

Congressional challenger Henry Cuellar said Wednesday that U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez was legally too late in making claims about unqualified Webb County voters casting ballots in last month's Democratic primary.

In court papers filed Wednesday in Laredo, Mr. Cuellar asked retired Judge Joseph Hart, who is hearing the case, to not accept the allegations in Mr. Rodriguez's amended lawsuit, filed Tuesday, which charges that Mr. Cuellar's slender lead in the 28th Congressional District is a result of illegal voting in his home county.

Mr. Cuellar's legal filing asserts that, by pointing at the Webb County voters, Mr. Rodriguez is trying to improperly broaden the scope of his original lawsuit, which alleged unspecified irregularities in voting, vote counting and in a recount in late March. -- Cuellar: Election complaint too late (

April 21, 2004

South African opposition parties contest election

The Inkatha Freedom Party and Freedom Front Plus (FF Plus) lodged founding papers with the Electoral Court on Wednesday contesting the declaration of last week's elections as free and fair.

A court official confirmed receipt of the documents.

"The papers will now be sent to the judges, who will decide on dates for the hearings, merit allowing."

The Independent Electoral Commission, named as the respondent in both matters, would be given an opportunity to respond before a date and venue was decided for each hearing. -- IFP, FF+ lodge papers in electoral court ( )

Cuellar: show the proof or get dismissed

Congressional candidate Henry Cuellar asked a state court to force U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez to list specific examples of how voting fraud may have occurred during election recounts in two South Texas counties.

And if the seven-year incumbent doesn't promptly provide such details, Cuellar (pictured, left) says, any claims of wrongdoing in Rodriguez's lawsuit over the results of the District 28 recount should be tossed out.

Rodriguez led by 150 votes when the recounts of the Democratic primary began in Webb and Zapata counties in late March. By the time they were done, Cuellar led by nearly 200 votes.

The Cuellar campaign says the unusual vote swing alone is not enough to support a lawsuit.

"There is no allegation of any particularized defect, error or irregularity in the recount," wrote Austin lawyer Steve Bickerstaff, representing Cuellar. -- Cuellar Wants Rodriguez To Come Up With Proof (AP via

April 19, 2004

Inkatha Freedom Party to contest South African election

The Inkatha Freedom Party is set to contest the result of elections in the highly contested KwaZulu-Natal province [in South Africa] which according to results declared by the Independent Electoral Commission were free and fair.

In terms of those results, the IFP slipped to second biggest party behind the African National Congress by about 47% to 37%.

This translates to 38 and 30 seats in the 80 seat legislature respectively. -- IFP to contest election result (Sunday Times, South Africa)

The IFP has several press releases on its website complaining about various election irregularities.

April 15, 2004

When does the new districting take effect -- if qualifying ends before the DOJ has precleared the district?

A county employee turned whistle-blower must wait until Friday to learn if he can run against his former boss, Madison County [Alabama] Commissioner Prince Preyer, in the June 1 Democratic primary.

Five members of the county's Democratic Party Executive Committee heard arguments Wednesday over whether Tommie Lockhart lives in Preyer's District 6. Lockhart is the former director of a federal welfare-to-work program Preyer managed called the Working Connection. ...

Lockhart, who lived in Preyer's district, said after the lawsuit settlement that he would challenge Preyer in this year's election. But he found himself outside District 6 when the County Commission on Oct. 3 unanimously adopted changes in commission district lines to reflect population shifts between the 1990 and 2000 censuses.

Lockhart and developer Bob Harrison, also a candidate in the June 1 primary, contend Preyer made sure Lockhart and other potential opponents were gerrymandered out of the redrawn District 6.

Preyer denied that accusation this morning, saying a computer program provided by the state largely determined how district lines should be redrawn. The only human calculation made affecting District 6 lines, Preyer said, was keeping unchanged its southern border, which roughly follows a line from Huntsville Hospital to the post office on Governors Drive. ...

Despite learning he was moved into another district, Lockhart qualified for the District 6 race anyway April 2, the last day he could do so. That prompted college student Robert Pearl, who lives in Preyer's redrawn district, to challenge Lockhart's candidacy based on the law's requirement that he live in Preyer's district at least 90 days before the qualifying deadline. ...

But Lockhart and his attorney, Robert Lockwood, argued that Lockhart still lives in District 6 because the U.S. Justice Department has not approved the commission's changes in district lines as required by the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Until the Justice Department signs off on the redrawn lines, Lockwood said, "it's just a proposal." -- Preyer foe waits on OK to seek seat (Huntsville Times)

April 14, 2004

East Chicago voter fraud case argued

Members of the [Indiana] state Supreme Court gave few hints whether they believe the 2003 East Chicago primary was so fogged by corruption that the court will order a special election.

The justices have never ordered a special election under state election statutes.

Attorneys for East Chicago Mayor Robert Pastrick and the Lake County Election Board argued the high court has no authority in cases of fraud.

Attorneys for his challenger, former East Chicago City Councilman George Pabey and the office of Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter, argued that the instances of fraud and abuse detailed by Special Judge Steven King in his trial court ruling painted an overwhelming case. ...

In case of fraud, Indiana law gives the state Election Board the authority to order a special election through the recount statute, Babb said. -- High court holds cards in E.C. case (Gary Post-Tribune)

Dane Co., WI, recount

The war between the liberals and conservatives on the Dane County [Wisconsin] Board has already started even before the new board has been sworn in.

The initial salvo was fired by the conservatives, who got losing candidate Joe Campana in the 3rd District to demand a recount in his close race against winner Elaine DeSmidt.
DeSmidt won by 17 votes, 746-729, a margin greater than the 1 percent benchmark where a recount would have been automatic.

Then, the liberals got losing candidate Penny Rollins in the 32nd District to demand a recount against winner Mike Willett, even though Rollins lost by 38 votes, or almost 2 percent, in the final tally of 1,059 votes for Willett and 1,021 for Rollins.

Why the recounts in two races that weren't that close? To keep the winning candidates from being sworn in, so they can't vote for a new chairman of the board next Tuesday night during the organizational meeting of the board. -- County recounts cause ruckus (

I know you are shocked, shocked to hear of a politician filing an insincere, frivolous lawsuit.

Another recount rejoinder

A few posts below, I twitted Cong. Rodriquez for alleging that he had never seen such a large change in the votes in a recount. Supervisor Rippey seems to have a better grasp of the necessities of recount litigation.

Napa County [California] Supervisor Mike Rippey has gone to court in an attempt to throw out the March 2 ballot in which he lost to Harold Moskowite. ...

Rippey said, "The results changed in ways that defy all statistical probability. John Tuteur himself has called the results an anomaly that he has never seen, doesn't understand and cannot explain."

A report prepared for Rippey by John Skelly of election consulting firm Analytical Research Services concludes that so-called add-on votes, those that didn't show up in the original count because of faulty calibration of the ballot scanning device, are inaccurate or otherwise unreliable.

Skelly says there are two possible explanations for the problems: Errors in the machine counting process or fraud. ...

Skelly said the statistical chances of arriving at the results achieved in the March 10 recount are six in a thousand. "This overall pattern ... is virtually impossible to obtain on the basis of chance alone, and instead is better explained by a lack of correspondence between the results of the add-on votes and the other votes counted in the election. Stated differently, one would have to literally run elections for centuries to obtain a similar pattern of results on the basis of chance alone."

Skelly analyzed a number of the races that appeared on the Napa County ballot March 2. His report states: "One must reasonably conclude that the add-on vote as it now stands is not to be trusted as being indicative of the other votes counted in the election." -- Rippey challenges election loss (

Rodriquez files suit challenging recount

Rep. Ciro Rodriguez filed a much-anticipated lawsuit Wednesday challenging a [Texas] Democratic primary recount that swung the results of the election in his opponent's favor.

Rodriguez led by 150 votes after last month's primary, but a recount requested by opponent Henry Cuellar found 419 previously untallied ballots in the Cuellar strongholds of Webb and Zapata counties. Cuellar, a former Texas secretary of state, finished with a lead of more than 200 votes.

The lawsuit says there is no reasonable way to explain how so many new votes appeared. The suit asks the court to declare Rodriguez the winner or to order a new election in the district, which runs from the San Antonio area to the Mexican border.

"In some 30 years that I have been an administrator, supervisor or involved in elections, I have never seen this large a change in any county in any election," said Rodriguez lawyer Buck Wood.

The lawsuit did not make specific allegations of wrongdoing or name anyone in particular. -- Texas congressman files lawsuit over recount that made his opponent the winner (AP via

I don't know if res ipsa locquitur is going to cut it. Rodriquez better be able to prove that the "new votes" are fraudulent or otherwise illegal, not just suspicious.

April 6, 2004

Violation of the 11th Commandment?

A complaint filed with the Alabama Republican Party contends that conservative Christian talk show host Kelly McGinley should not be on the GOP primary ballot for a state school board seat partly because she has criticized President Bush.

McGinley of Mobile says she has conservative views that differ from Bush's on certain issues and they should not disqualify her from being on the GOP ballot.

State GOP Chairman Marty Connors said Monday the party's candidate committee also will look into McGinley's support of the Constitution Party, a national political organization that has supported ousted Chief Justice Roy Moore.

Connors said McGinley has publicly stated that people should not vote for Bush, but instead should support the Constitution Party. -- Complaint challenges GOP candidate for state school board (AP via

April 1, 2004

Cuellar ahead in Texas recount

Pending a potential lawsuit and a second retabulation of disputed ballots in Webb County, Henry Cuellar took an unofficial 203-vote lead over U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez in an 11-county recount completed today [in Texas]. ...

The entire recount process marked an amazing turnaround for Rodriguez, the San Antonio incumbent who saw a 145-vote lead after the March 9 primary evaporate into a 203-vote deficit that has prompted cries of fraud and vote tampering. -- UPDATED: Cuellar ahead by 203 votes after 11-county recount (San Antonio Express-News)

March 31, 2004

South Texas congressional recount -- more votes than voters

In a dramatic turnaround certain to add to the lore of South Texas politics, Laredo lawyer Henry Cuellar first took a 197-vote lead over U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez after recounts in Webb and Zapata counties Tuesday.

Then, just a few hours later, state Democratic Party officials said the final recount tally in Webb County showed 115 more votes than there were ballots cast. A re-recount won't be done until Sunday, officials said. ...

"I've been doing this for over 30 years and I've never seen 300 or so ballots appear suddenly," said Rodriguez attorney Buck Wood, a former elections director for the Texas secretary of state's office.

"To tell you that I'm suspicious and baffled is an understatement." -- So who is the winner? (San Antonio Express-News)

March 23, 2004

Cuellar asks for recount

Laredo lawyer and businessman Henry Cuellar on Monday asked for a ballot recount in the Democratic primary in U.S. House District 28, saying many questions remain unanswered in a race in which he trails incumbent Ciro Rodriguez by a mere 145 votes.

Cuellar, a former Texas legislator and secretary of state, made the announcement in his hometown of Laredo.

"Until every eligible vote is accurately counted, the voters cannot be certain of the outcome of this election," he said in a news statement. "I'm sure that U.S. Rep.Rodriguez agrees with me that there is no higher priority than ensuring credible elections with accurate results."

The Texas Democratic Party's final canvass of votes in the March 9 primary showed Rodriguez with 24,363, or 50.1 percent, and Cuellar at 24,218, or 49.9 percent. -- Cuellar asks for recount in tight District 28 primary (AP via Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

March 20, 2004

Protest of Taiwan's presidential election

The presidential candidate of the opposition Nationalist Party [of Taiwan] refused on Saturday night to accept results showing that he narrowly lost an election to President Chen Shui-bian, and demanded that ballot boxes from all 13,000 polling places nationwide be impounded and recounted.

"This is an unfair election with a lot of question marks," Lien Chan, the Nationalist Party candidate, told a huge crowd of supporters, while appealing for calm. ...

The Central Election Commission declared that President Chen had 29,518 more votes than Mr. Lien out of 13.25 million ballots cast. But Mr. Lien called for the election's annulment an hour before the commission finished its count, and the commission did not actually declare a winner.

The commission declared 337,297 ballots to be invalid more than 11 times President Chen's apparent margin of victory. In a development echoing the controversy four years ago over the vote count in Florida, there was uncertainty tonight over whether polling places had followed consistent standards in declaring votes to be invalid.

A coalition of non-profit groups had called on voters to file invalid ballots, contending that the main political parties were too interested in relations with China and the concerns of the affluent, and had not paid enough attention to the plight of the poor and the disabled.

Voters in Taiwan are given a paper ballot, a stamp and an ink pad, and asked to mark the candidate they prefer. The ballots are counted by hand. -- Taiwan's President Appears to Win Election (

March 14, 2004

Voting news from Indiana

The Indiana Law Blog has a couple of stories about election law today:

The Indiana Supreme Court, in an order issued 3/9/04, has scheduled oral arguments in the East Chicago mayor's election vote-fraud case, Pabey v. Pastrick, for Tuesday, April 13, 2004 at 1:45 p.m. in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in the City Council Chambers of the City-County Building. [More here]

This morning I have discovered that Indianapolis WISHTV's I-Team 8 has done a number of stories on electronic voting in Indiana, all of which are posted on an excellent webpage titled "Will Your Vote count?" [More here]

Voting news from Indiana

The Indiana Law Blog has a couple of stories about election law today:

The Indiana Supreme Court, in an order issued 3/9/04, has scheduled oral arguments in the East Chicago mayor's election vote-fraud case, Pabey v. Pastrick, for Tuesday, April 13, 2004 at 1:45 p.m. in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in the City Council Chambers of the City-County Building. [More here]

This morning I have discovered that Indianapolis WISHTV's I-Team 8 has done a number of stories on electronic voting in Indiana, all of which are posted on an excellent webpage titled "Will Your Vote count?" [More here]

March 10, 2004

Liberal trouble in Canada

[Canadian] Liberal former deputy prime minister Sheila Copps has filed a formal appeal of the bruising nomination battle she lost to Transport Minister Tony Valeri on the weekend.

Ms. Copps alleges that she lost because of dirty tricks by her opponent, and has asked the Liberal Party to hear her appeal. The party's permanent appeals committee will decide whether she met the deadline for appealing the result. If so, they will appoint three people to assess her case. ...

Saturday's nomination meeting, which lasted 12 hours, was chaotic. More than 5,000 ballots were cast, with Mr. Valeri eventually declared winner by 300 votes. Both sides have alleged dirty tricks by their opponents.

Mr. Valeri's campaign manager Chris Phillips said that Valeri supporters received calls from Copps workers telling them not to go to the meeting because they would face huge lineups. For her part, Ms. Copps said that about 1,000 of her supporters were denied the right to vote. -- Copps files formal appeal to Liberal party panel (The Globe and Mail)

March 9, 2004

International monitors for Florida election

For the first time, international monitors will be in the United States to make sure votes are cast and counted correctly. Members of the Catholic peace movement Pax Christi announced Monday that they will post monitors at polling places in four Florida during the Nov. 2 general election.

"We have assisted groups in other nations who fear that their voices will not be heard and that the powerful will manipulate the process to suit their own aspirations unless the eyes of the world are watching," said Dave Robinson, national coordinator of Pax Christi USA. "But as evident in the elections of 2000, particularly in the state of Florida, we in the United States have our own difficulties in assuring an election atmosphere that is transparent, open, honest and free of controversy."

Gov. Jeb Bush bristled at the comparison and said such monitors aren't needed. -- International monitors will watch election (Tallahassee Democrat)

January 13, 2004

Dems may contest Pennsylvania judge election

The Phliadelphia Inquirer has an article on the newest member of the Pennsylvania Superior Court, an intermediate appellate court. It includes the following:

After 19 ballot recounts and 60 days of lawyering, [Susan] Gantman, 51, captured the last open seat on the Pennsylvania Superior Court by just 28 votes out of 2.2 million cast, a narrower win than Bush's in Florida.

Yet, for the restrained world of judicial politics, Gantman is on a wild ride that still hasn't stopped. Sworn into a 10-year term on the 15-member court in a private ceremony on Jan. 3, she is now hearing motions.

But for how long? Democratic lawyers representing Gantman's opponent, Westmoreland County Judge John Driscoll, say they have discovered more than 200 disabled, injured and elderly voters whose mail-in absentee ballots were never counted in Philadelphia, Allegheny, Carbon and Westmoreland Counties because they were received late. In a pending federal suit, Democrats say the law allows a later deadline for some disabled voters. They demand these ballots be counted.

"Counting these votes will change the outcome," says Don Morabito, executive director of the state Democratic Party. "We've got to make sure invalids, too, get the right to vote... . I'm not trying to be cute about it, but I think we're on the side of the angels here."

The angels have been silent about Gantman's election.

January 1, 2004

Indianapolis contest decided

The Indianapolis Star reports on the election contest for an at-large seat on the Indianapolis "UniGov" city-county council:

Republican Scott Keller held on to his slim Election Day victory for City-County Council after a judge on Tuesday threw out portions of a recount challenge by his Democratic opponent.

Judge David Dreyer of Marion Superior Court ruled that voters chose Keller over incumbent Karen Horseman by a margin of three votes to represent District 16 on the Eastside.

Dreyer also found that a section of the state's election law -- which requires that valid absentee ballots be initialed by the county clerk or election board -- runs counter to the Indiana Constitution.

The judgment does not affect control of the City-County Council, which Democrats captured for the first time in more than 30 years after the Nov. 4 election.

Horseman argued that three ballots on which a straight-Democratic Party vote was marked but also included a write-in candidate for District 16 should be counted in her favor -- an argument Dreyer dismissed.

Horseman also maintained that two absentee ballots cast for her should count, even though they did not have the clerk's initials as required by law.

On that point, Dreyer agreed and gave Horseman those two disputed votes.

"Destroying one's fundamental right to vote because of a clerk's mistake is totally unjustified," he wrote in the nine-page opinion.

Those same initials are not required on regular ballots.

March 28, 2003

Kentucky lieutenant governor candidate withdraws

The candidate for Lt. Gov. who was disqualified for not being a "resident" for 6 years will not appeal, according to the Louisville Courier Journal:

Hunter Bates said yesterday that he's giving up his bid for lieutenant governor and won't appeal Wednesday's court decision disqualifying him as Republican U. S. Rep. Ernie Fletcher's running mate. Bates said he believed Oldham Circuit Judge Paul Rosenblum's ruling that he hasn't lived in Kentucky long enough to run was wrong, but that an appeal would continue to distract attention from issues in the May 20 primary.

March 27, 2003

Kentucky Lt. Gov candidate ruled ineligible to run

The Louisville Courier Journal reports that a circuit judge in Kentucky has ruled that Hunter Bates does not meet the state constitutional residency requirement because he lived in Alexandria, VA, while working for most of the last 6 years for Sen. Mitch McConnell.

The judge held that "residency" means "where you live," not where you say you live. While Bates voted and owned land in Kentucky, he paid taxes, registered his cars, and got a driver's license in Virginia. Bates said he was obeying Virginia law.

Having lived in Fairfax County, VA, adjacent to Alexandria, I know that many Capitol Hill employees have cars registered in their home states. I don't understand why Bates did not do likewise.

January 11, 2003

Massachusetts election contest

In Massachusetts, a Republican candidate for the State House lost by 17 votes and brought an election contest. A judge ruled that there were missing and misprinted ballots and other irregularities. He ordered a new election. Now the State House leaders (Democrats) are arguing that the Mass. constitution gives the final say to the House. See the story in the Boston Globe. And see Chapter I, Section III, Article X of the Mass. Constitution.

January 7, 2003

Jefferson County sheriff race 1998

In 1998, Jim Woodward, the incumbent sheriff of Jefferson County, AL, was running for election -- his first time at bat, since he had been appointed to fill the position left vacant by the retirement and death of long-time sheriff Mel Bailey. After the votes were counted, Woodward had lost by 37 votes to Mike Hale, the Democratic candidate. Woodward believed that there had been voter fraud in the absentee balloting (a favorite pastime in Alabama) and launched an investigation using the sheriff's office link to the NCIC (National Crime Information Center) to find absentee voters who might have committed felonies (which would make them ineligible to vote in Alabama). Woodward hired Bert Jordan to represent him in an election contest. He eventually won the contest.

Using the NCIC records for anything other than law enforcement is a violation of federal law. So the feds indicted Woodward and Jordan for using the NCIC records. The indictment claimed that Woodward had turned over the NCIC information to Jordan who used it in preparing his case.

During the trial of the case, Judge Inge Johnson kept stopping the trial to let the defense lawyers (David Cromwell Johnson for Woodward and William Clark for Jordan) review material that she ruled should have been turned over by the prosecution earlier. Finally, she dismissed the case on the grounds of prosecutorial misconduct.

The government appealed and the 11th Circuit yesterday reversed and sent the case back for trial. It is a long opinion and I don't pretend to understand most of it, since I don't handle criminal law. The 11th Circuit opinion is, as usual, in a zip file on the court's site. Go here and click on the "Day of the Month" link, choose 6, and download the zip file (this is the only case in the file).

The Birmingham News story has some background.

Disclosure: Jordan and I have known each other for years. We go to the same church. And we have always been on opposite sides of political/legal questions. Read the opinion, and I think you will agree with me that if Bill Clark can prove what he said in his opening argument, Bert will be acquitted.

Moral of the story: election lawyers can get in a heap of trouble trying to get their clients out of trouble. As the sergeant on Hill Street Blues used to say, "Hey, be careful out there."

January 5, 2003

Colorado recount aftermath

Remember the recount (or maybe it was the long first count) in Colorado's 7th Congressional District? I mentioned it frequently in the days following the November election.
The Political State Report has a long post from one of its Colorado correspondents about the efforts of the Republicans to make provisional ballots much harder to cast because the Democratic candidate received more of the provisional ballots.

December 20, 2002

Maine, yet again reports another wrinkle in the House District 80 race -- the one with a one-vote margin for the Democratic winner. A voter claims that he asked for an absentee ballot for HD 80, did not get it, so he registered and voted elsewhere in the state -- apparently where he really lives. Gosh, if he had gotten that absentee ballot, he would have voted for the Republican candidate and the election would have been tied. So he wants a new election. Uhh, yeah.

December 18, 2002

Maine election contests and recounts

This article from says that the vote in the Senate committee was not unanimous on the votes that actually won the Democrats the swing seat in the Senate, contrary to what I reported here yesterday.

Now a House committee is taking up the recount of one seat where the Democrat has a one vote margin and there are 8 uncounted absentee votes and 2 other disputed ballots.

December 11, 2002

Colorado recount

The recount in Colorado CD 7 has finally been completed. And the winner is the same guy who has been leading all along. See the Denver Post story.

December 7, 2002

Washington State recount

The Republicans are demanded a full recount of all absentee ballots in Snohomish County, Washington, after realizing that the machines were not counting ballots marked with a ball point pen. See the articles in The Olympian. Voters are instructed to use a lead pencil to mark the ballots (it's the carbon in the marking that apparently makes it visible to the machine). In similar situations in other states (like Alabama) where the Democrats have demanded a recount because of a large number of undervotes, the Republicans have made statements like, "If voters are too dumb to follow the instructions, they deserve to have their votes not counted." Ah, it seems the attitude changes depending on whose ballot boxed is gored.

December 3, 2002

Election contests in Georgia

Here are three stories about on-going controversies in the recent Georgia elections.

The Augusta Chronicle reports on an election in which too many people were allowed to vote for a county commissioner in a split precinct (and the number of extra voters was more than the margin of victory). The county called a new election in the one precinct with the problem. The winning candidate wants an entirely new election, however.

The Walker County Messenger has a similar story, except this time the loser contends that too few people could vote for him in a split precinct.

The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reports on a contest based on the winning candidate not living in the district. While his house is not in the district, most of his property is and he ran in the district where he was registered.

December 2, 2002

Indiana recounts

Control of the Indiana lower house hinges on a recount of House seat. If the Democrats preserve their lead in that seat (presently at 36 votes), they will have a 51-49 margin in the House. If the Republicans win, there will be a tie in the number of seats, but the Republicans will control the chamber under a 1995 law that gives control in such situations to the party that won either the governorship or the secretary of state in the last election. See the story in the Henderson Gleaner. [Check out the links to police scanner audio and the warrant list in the left margin.]

Mobile legislative contest

The winner of a legislative race in Mobile County is being challenged on the grounds that he does not live in the district where he ran. The judge has properly refused to hear the contest -- holding that the Legislature is the proper forum. Mr. Tanner has been challenged on this issue twice before -- both times before the Democratic Party. I wonder why the Republicans did not bring the case to court before the election. See the story in the Mobile Register.

November 27, 2002

Recounts in Maine and Maryland

The Portland Press Herald reports, Republican drops appeal in Senate race, thus conceding that the Democratic candidate will be sworn in, but may still face a contest to be heard by the Senate.

In Maryland, the Hagerstown Herald-Mail reports that the Democratic House Speaker has conceded to his Republican opponent after a recount showed more votes for the Republican candidate.

November 26, 2002

Maryland recount

The Herald-Mail ONLINE reports on a recount in the Hagerstown area. The district uses optical scan ballots. The recount is being done by hand recounting the ballots -- something that is not allowed under Alabama's electronic voting system regulations.

November 25, 2002

Colorado 7th district recount

The recount in the 7th U.S. House district race will most likely begin after Thanksgiving, the Rocky Mountain News reports.

Maine Senate recount

The Bangor Daily News has an AP report that the State Supreme Court has ruled that the governor has no role in determining the winners of the disputed Senate seats. The recount continues at the state police garage, and the Republicans are in court asking that "all the votes be counted" (where have I heard that before).

Here is an earlier story about the Attorney General's brief in the Supreme Judicial Court. The SJC opinion is here.

November 24, 2002

Georgia senate contest

The Augusta Chronicle reported on Friday that a Democratic state senator who lost by 270 votes has filed an election contest after discovering that more than 500 voters were incorrectly given ballots from adjoining senate districts. However, the senator claims that he is not trying to overturn the results of the election. Say what?

Michigan AG recount

The Lansing State Journal reported on Friday that the Democratic candidate for Attorney General might ask for a recount. The vote certification is Monday. An unofficial count shows him behind by 5,198, but the Democratic Party has been finding errors in the reported vote totals.

November 23, 2002

Maine contested ballots

In Maine, the control of the Senate will turn on two contested elections, reports the Bangor Daily News. In one district, the Democrat leads by 9 votes with 63 ballots in dispute. In another district, the Republican appears to have won by 1 vote, but there are 10 ballots in dispute. Gov. Angus King (an independent who is leaving office in January) has asked the Supreme Judicial Court to advise him whether he must certify (next Tuesday) the results as they stand now and then let the Legislature decide the contests.

"In the two races mentioned above, the number of disputed ballots are sufficient to change the outcome of the race. ... I seek the advice of the justices for an interpretation of my responsibilities so I may appropriately discharge my obligations under the law to ensure that I certify and summon the appropriate persons to appear in the Legislature," Gov. King wrote.

The parties positions are predictable. The Democrats are ahead at the moment (18 seats to 17), so they suggest the governor certify the results and let the legislature resolve the dispute. The Republicans have filed suit in a
Superior Court claiming that "without the court's intervention, partisan political chicanery will render the unfair result of putting candidate Hall into office, irreparably harming both candidate Fossel and the public."

November 8, 2002

National papers pick up Alabama story

Well, it's official now. The Alabama recount is a BIG story. Both the
Full New York Times and the Washington Post have their own bylined stories, rather than running the AP wire stories.

November 6, 2002

Alabama Governor's election

A particularly Republican-leaning county in Alabama announced that Gov. Don Siegelman (D) had 19,070 votes, but after the observers left, the probate judge announced the vote total to 12,736. The county election board met at noon on Wednesday, two days before the state code calls for them to meet, and confirmed these are the correct numbers. See the Alabama Associated Press story at NewsFlash. I have added a page to my website to cover the legal issues on this story.

November 1, 2002

Georgia election suits already filed and more threatened

The Fulton County Daily Report
has a long article on suits already filed in Georgia against various election practices and a county -level redistricting. In addition, the Republicans are already threatening to sue over the state's lateness in sending out absentee ballots. The State missed its own 45-day deadline for having absentee ballots ready to go, but met the 30-day requirement of federal law. 42 USC § 1973ff-1.

October 27, 2002

Election contests loom

The New York Times has an article today, Wellstone Death Brings New Focus to Senate Battles, that contains this:

Since a number of races could turn on just a few thousand votes, the parties are preparing teams of lawyers in case of Election Day controversies over who can vote, for possible recounts and legal challenges.

For both parties, the presidential standoff in Florida in 2000 led to the preparations that are coming into force now. The Democraticshave set up a national line for anyone to call who is turned away from the polls. They also plan to deploy 10,000 lawyers at polls in a dozen states with close Senate or House races — or where there have been histories of complaints.

"There are a lot of Senate races that are dead heats right now where literally 100 or 200 votes could mean the difference," said Maria Cardona, spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee.

Republicans, as part of a 72-hour turnout project, are planning to mobilize poll watchers and are setting up state telephone lines which people can use to report that machines are not working properly or that they suspect voting fraud.