Warm Southern Breeze

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Voting Problems Exist Because There’s No National Uniform Voting Standards Law

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, November 10, 2018

Cindy McCain, widow of late Arizona Republican Senator John McCain (1936-2018)

Cindy McCain, widow of late Republican Arizona Senator John McCain, on Thursday, November 8, 2018 criticized the Arizona GOP about a state GOP-initiated lawsuit over counting mail-in ballots by Tweeting, “ I am one of those mail in ballots. I was under the impression my vote was always counted.

Her Tweet was in response to the Arizona GOP’s efforts to get a judge to issue orders to stop counting mail-in ballots in the race for US Senate to fill the seat being vacated by Jeff Flake, a Republican. The two candidates, Republican Martha McSally and Democrat Kyrsten Sinema find themselves in extremely close competition.

 

 

Both candidates are also Arizona Congressional Representatives. Democrat Kyrsten Sinema has represented the 9th Congressional District, while Republican Martha McSally has represented the 2nd Congressional District.

https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/415894-cindy-mccain-rips-arizona-gop-for-suing-over-counting-mail-in-ballots-i-am

In court Thursday morning November 8, 2018, state Republican leaders were challenging mail-in ballots in Yuma, Navajo, Apache and Maricopa counties after the GOP parties in those counties filed a lawsuit challenging the way counties verify signatures on mail-in ballots that are dropped off at the polls on Election Day. The lawsuit did NOT allege any type of fraud.

The US Census Bureau estimated the 2017 population of Apache County as 71,606; Navajo County as 108,956; Yuma County as 207,534; and Maricopa County as 4,307,033. Maricopa County is location of the PhoenixMesaGlendale, AZ Metropolitan Statistical Area. Together, those four counties comprise 66.9% of Arizona’s 7,016,270 estimated 2017 population.

Maricopa County Judge Margaret R. Mahoney

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Margaret Mahoney ruled that the counties should continue doing what they’re doing, and set another hearing for 2 p.m. Friday. And as of Friday morning, Sinema had a 9,000 vote lead over McSally. However, by Friday afternoon, her lead had expanded to over 20,000 votes.

When the two parties met in court, there was little fanfare, no grandstanding, and no contentious sparks flew, so it made for very poor political theatre, though others nationally attempted to inject false explosive allegations and deceptive narratives into the matter by deliberately gross mischaracterization.

The primary point of the suit involved a much more mundane matter, and specifically, the legal challenge was focused upon on a lack of procedural consistency in the time frame that counties allowed voters to correct signature “issues” on mail-in ballots.

And in only a matter of minutes after the AZ GOP held a grandstanding news/press conference in which they made accusation saying, “The Democrats are stealing the election and we’re not going to allow it,” and immediately before the court hearing, all of the counties and the Republican groups had come to an agreement, which Judge Mahoney approved with no fanfare.

The settlement, was that all of Arizona’s 15 counties would allow voters to verify the signatures on their ballots through 5 p.m. on Nov. 14.

Martha McSally, R-AZ

Kyrsten Sinema, D-AZ

And the overriding irony of the matter, is that the counties whose election practices they ended up changing, were largely run by Republicans.

As of Saturday, 10 November, the Democrat Kyrsten Sinema still had about a 20,000 vote lead over Republican Martha McSally, according to The Arizona Republic, online as AZCentral, which is the state’s most-widely circulated newspaper.

There were also an estimated 360,000 outstanding ballots still being counted statewide. Of those, an estimated 266,000 are from Maricopa County.

For now, Sinema is leading in Maricopa and Pima counties by a net 83,652 votes. McSally’s lead in the state’s other 13 counties is 65,113.

Arizona’s protracted vote-count is due in large part to the need to verify signatures for those who vote by mail, which represents the bulk of ballots.

So far, the Democrat Sinema is winning the Republican-leaning Maricopa County by 3.3 percentage points.

One reason the race and ballot count is so hotly contested, is because the Republicans are in jeopardy of losing a Senate seat in the state for the first time in 30 years. As well, what also makes this race particularly interesting, is that Maricopa County has traditionally been a GOP stronghold, where Republicans outnumber Democrats by 130,000.

But, in essence, here’s a nut of what’s been happening not only there, but in other states, as well.

In some states, there are so-called “exact match” laws, rules, or regulations concerning the signatures of voters who cast absentee, or mail-in ballots, and in essence, those “exact match” laws, rules, or regulations give broad discretion to anyone counting those ballots to exercise their personal opinion – untrained, non-expert, unscientific independent judgment – about someone’s signature, specifically, whether they believe it was signed by the person who attested to signing it, or not. In other words, no expertise is required.

That is problematic for several reasons, not the least of which is that voter’s signature can change for many reasons, and over time, most people’s signatures do change. Voters who live with a disability, including many elderly voters, are more likely to vote absentee, due to accessibility issues. It is also more likely that their signature looks different than it did when they first registered to vote. Some degenerative diseases or disabilities with periodic symptoms do not affect a voter at the time of registration but may result in tremors or other symptoms that change the way someone signs their name.

People with eyesight loss often have signatures that change overtime. For example, in New Hampshire, Mary Saucedo, is 95 years old and legally blind. She votes with the help of her husband and cannot sign the same way twice. There are many people like Mrs. Saucedo, who for a variety of reasons, rely on another person to help them sign their ballot envelope – which is legal, and an important component of making voting accessible for people living with disabilities.

Mary Saucedo

Women, who more often change their name upon marriage or divorce, are also affected. The significance of a hyphenated last name or the presence or absence of a spouse’s last name can be an important part of a person’s identity. People who do not speak or write English as their first language and have had to learn to sign their name in a different language are another group adversely affected. And members of the military and voters living overseas who vote by absentee ballot are more likely to experience signature match issues simply by dint of relying on the absentee voting process.

So-called exact match signature matches tends to affect other vulnerable groups as well.
People who are transgender may have a different signature, and use a different name than when they initially registered to vote. Due to a plethora of legal, financial and societal barriers, legal name changes are not always possible. If they sign with a name that does not match the name in their voter registration file, or attempt to recreate their old signature, it may trigger a signature mismatch.

The U.S. Constitution protects voters’ due process rights. The concept of due process of law requires that all citizens be given fair notice and opportunity to be heard before having one’s rights taken away. The right to vote is a precious one that cannot be stolen from voters without due process.

Absentee ballots are intended to make voting more accessible for qualified voters, not to disenfranchise various, or often-marginalized populations.

So, in essence, because of well over 50+ differing rules, regulations & laws concerning #voting, #Congress should establish National Uniform Voting Standards to which ALL states & localities must comply. It’s preposterously ABSURDLY ASININE to have so MANY contradictory laws on a fundamental Constitutional RIGHT!

For example, in #TNpolitics #TNgov, there are 95 counties – each with different laws concerning voting, machines, polls, hours of operation, etc., because Tennessee state law allows counties to set their own rules concerning such matters. Now, multiply that by AT LEAST 50 states, and you’re only starting to see the magnitude of the problem – the veritable tip of the iceberg.

In our United States, there are 3,007 counties and 137 county equivalents for a total of 3,144. And according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 19,354 “incorporated areas” (cities and towns) in the United States.

The Federal government uses the term “county equivalent” to describe non-county administrative or statistical areas comparable to counties. For example, in Louisiana there are parishes; and in Alaska, there are organized boroughs; and in the District of Columbia; and the independent cities in Virginia, Maryland, Missouri, and Nevada are equivalent to counties for administrative purposes.

Andrew Gillum, Tallahassee, FL Mayor

Rep Ron DeSantis, FL CD6

Some laws relating to voting are completely arcane and bizarre. For example, in 35 states and many localities, an election with a tie-vote is decided by a coin toss.

In October 2016, the Bradenton Beach, FL mayoral race, was determined by drawing cards.

In 2015, a Mississippi state legislative contest was decided by drawing coffee straws.

And in 2012, a city council race in Webster, Texas, was decided by the roll of the dice, which didn’t go exactly as planned. “The decisive roll followed two failed attempts. [The first] roll skipped off the table,” triggering a reroll. “When the second throws yielded a tie,” the other candidate “said she became ‘frayed around the edges,’ ” as ABC News wrote.

Presently, in #Broward County, FL, it’s a veritable redux of the events which led to Bush v Gore in December 2000, with improperly handled or lost, miscounted or uncounted #ballots. Republican Ron DeSantis has declared victory over Democratic challenger, Andrew Gillum, Mayor of Tallahassee, while votes counted in Broward County since Tuesday have significantly narrowed GOP leads in the Senate race, in which Former Florida Governor Rick Scott, a Republican, has about a 15,000-vote lead over incumbent Senator, Democrat Bill Nelson with more than 8.1 million ballots cast. And in the governor’s race, at first blush, while Mayor Gillum conceded, on Saturday, 10 November 2018, 12:08PM though, he later Tweeted that “I am replacing my earlier concession with an unapologetic and uncompromised call to count every vote.

The Republican Ron DeSantis lead Democrat Andrew Gillum by about 36,000 votes.

Former Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis leads by 0.47 percentage points, a margin that would require a recount under Florida law. A recount is mandatory if the winning candidate’s margin is less than 0.5 percentage points when the first unofficial count is verified Saturday by Florida’s secretary of state.

Democrat Andrew Gillum, the Mayor of Tallahassee, trailed by about 1 percentage point and fewer than 80,000 votes when he conceded Tuesday. As the vote gap narrowed, Gillum said he wanted to see every vote counted, indicating he would not stand in the way of a recount.

Stacey Abrams, D, former Minority Leader, Georgia State House of Representatives, district 89

Brian Kemp-R, Georgia Secretary of State

In #Georgia, the Secretary of State Brian Kemp, a Republican, is declaring himself the winner of the Governor’s race over Democrat Stacey Abrams, the minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives – an unmistakably clear Conflict of Interest – while uncounted ballots – at least 3291 military absentee, and 21,190 provisional – remain uncounted in Georgia’s 159 counties. The key number however, is 26,000 – which is roughly the number of votes needed to force the contest into a December 4 runoff.

Kemp, who resigned as Secretary of State Thursday, November 8, 2018 at noon, claims that even if Abrams got all the remaining uncounted ballots, he’d still win. Departing Governor Nathan Deal-R, appointed a temporary successor as the Secretary of State.

There’s practically NO STANDARD UNIFORMITY concerning #voting-related matters in our United States. It’s an unnecessarily confusing mishmash hodgepodge of often-conflicting laws, rules & regulations varying town-to-town, county-to-county & state-to-state. It could NOT be more All Fouled Up!

The Constitution, in Article I, Section 4, specifically gives Congress the power to regulate the “Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections.”

For example also, #ALpolitics is only 1 of 8 states that STILL allows straight-party/ticket #voting, i.e., voting for ALL candidates of 1 party with 1 ballot mark. #Felony #disenfranchisement varies in all 50 states, and in some states (ME & VT), felons can vote while incarcerated.

In some states, ONLY the Governor can restore #VotingRights, while in others, it’s semi-automatic, while yet in others, ex-cons must ask for it to be returned – it’s not automatically restored upon fulfillment/completion of sentence. In other words, one CANNOT TRULY fully “pay one’s debt to society.”

Another illustration how problems made by lack of National Uniform Voting Standards #VotingMatters is poll hours. #ALpolitics State law mandates 7A-7P operation. That’s not so in all states. A state could legally limit poll hours to 3 & limit site to 1 because there’s NO Federal prohibition against it.

The net effect of all this is #VoterSuppression. When there are SO MANY varying laws on #VotingMatters, #voting participation declines & only those seriously committed to voting do so. THAT MUST CHANGE. The MORE people vote & participate in #government, the better we’ll all be.

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