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electionlineWeekly--March 10, 2011

Table of Contents

II. Election News This Week

  • The Georgia Supreme Court on this week upheld a state law requiring voters to show identification before they cast ballots, dismissing objections from Democrats who contended lawmakers had no proof when they approved the new rules that anyone had tried to vote illegally. According to the Savannah Morning News, the court’s 6-1 decision found no voter has been disenfranchised by the 2006 law, despite claims by Democrats that the law creates an undue burden on the poor, the disabled and minorities. The decision, written by Justice Hugh Thompson, concluded that the law was a “minimal, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory restriction.” Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens told the paper that he was pleased by the decision, which he said allowed the state to safeguard the voting process by “ensuring that only lawfully registered voters cast ballots.” State Democrats said they were disappointed by the ruling, which spokesman Eric Gray said was a critical blow to the party’s efforts to protect voting rights.
  • Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler (R) released a report this week asserting that 11,000 voters on Colorado’s voting rolls are not U.S. citizens. Gessler and Rep. Chris Holbert, R-Parker, are pushing legislation that would allow the secretary of state to check the statewide voter database to determine whether registered voters are in fact citizens. "My office has every reason to believe that thousands of noncitizens are registered to vote in Colorado," Gessler told the Denver Post. "House Bill 1252 will allow us to inquire for more information using public databases." Gessler told the paper he's not trying to be a prosecutor but an administrator cleaning up voter rolls. Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Shelia Reiner requested a list of the names Gessler asserts are non-citizens to check her county’s voter rolls and her request was denied.
  • Citing a lack of funds, a committee in the Tennessee House voted to derail the 'Voter Confidence Act,' which called for new voting machines to be in place for next year's elections with most costs covered by $35 million in federal funds. According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, Democrats tried to amend the bill to allow each county commission to decide whether it wants the new machines, which will provide a 'paper trail' of ballots, and which may require some spending beyond the allotted federal money. Republicans killed the amendment.
  • Late last week, Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White was indicted on seven felony charges. Hamilton County grand jury indicted White on three counts of voter fraud alleging he lied about his address when he voted in last year's Republican primary. He also faces charges of perjury and fraud on a financial institution -- again, for allegedly lying about his address -- as well as theft for continuing to collect his salary as a Fishers Town Council member after moving from his designated district. Gov. Mitch Daniels asked White to step down during the process, but White has refused. In addition to the felony indictments, White is also at the center of an inspector general’s inquiry in to allegations that as secretary of state, White improperly handled the voter fraud allegations against him. According to reports on local television stations, White has not been seen at his office since the indictment.