Tag Archives: voter rights

Finally Some Good News: Voter Rights & Sen Feinsteins New Bill

(Hmmm, interesting… – promoted by atdleft)

Senator Feinstein introduced a bill Friday that could dramatically change our election process. So regardless of what the House passes (most of their bills are seriously flawed) there may be some chance for meaningful reforms may pass this year (or am I dreaming).

Many of you have seen the series I wrote on the FL-13 18,000 missing Congressional votes.  This bill (in theory) would solve many of the problems in counting those votes and the legal process after an election in securing a valid vote count.

Of course introducing a bill is not the same as passing a bill, and the Republicans have a vested interest in our current broken system. The election equipment companies also do not want anyone interfering with their current corrupt system.

Bill summary and co-sponsors follow. FYI: I am not involved in any way with the Senators office. Cross posted from dKos.

Co-Sponsors include:
Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Christopher Dodd (D-CT) have introduced legislation to help ensure the accuracy of vote counts in federal elections and institute important new reforms in the administration of elections. Other cosponsors include Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), Barack Obama (D-IL), Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT), Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA), Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Bernard Sanders (I-VT).

The Bill summary (I have highlighted the parts that excite me the most):

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein
Ballot Integrity Act of 2007
May 24, 2007

Title I

Immediately bans the purchase of any new direct recording election voting systems that do not provide an accessible, durable permanent voter-verified paper ballot.

Establishes a $600 million grant program ($300 million in FY2008 and FY2009) to help states purchase voting systems that produce an accessible, durable, permanent paper ballot that can be verified by the voter and changed by the voter before the vote is finalized and help fund audits by the States. (funds are retroactive for costs incurred in 2007)

Establishes a $3 million competitive grant program in FY2008 for the development of an electronic voting system that provides a voter-verified paper record and also provides full accessibility for the disabled community.

Title II

Requires that all voting systems used in federal elections beginning in 2010 have a voter-verified paper ballot, which is the true record in the event of an audit or recount.

Helps guarantee the vote count by requiring states to audit the electronic tallies with a hand count of paper ballots in a public, transparent, random sampling of 2 percent of the state’s precincts. (2010)

Requires that every voting place be supplied with emergency paper ballots to offer voters if voting systems break down or other problems cause long delays. (2008)

Requires that voting system software be available for inspection and analysis by state election officials and independent technological experts certified by the Election Assistant Commission. (2008)

Prohibits wireless communication devices in voting systems, which are vulnerable to fraud and prohibits voting systems to be connected to the internet. (2008)

Requires states to establish a system to monitor the chain of custody of voting systems and software leading up to the election. (2008)

Prohibits conflicts of interest involving vendors and testing labs by halting direct payments between the vendors and labs and requiring the Election Assistance Commission to collect fees from the vendors and then independently select the labs that would do the testing. (2008)

Title III

Campaign Activities of Election Officials:  Prohibits chief state election officials from serving on political campaigns of federal candidates, publicly supporting federal candidates or soliciting contributions for federal candidates. (2008)

Election Observers:  Grants all official, legitimate domestic and international election observers access to the election process, provided that they accept election rules, do not interfere with the election process, respect the secrecy of the ballot and are accredited by the EAC. (2008)

Third Party Voter Registration:  Prohibits burdensome limits on third-party voter registration efforts, but allows States to protect against possible fraud. (2008)

Poll Worker Training:  Requires states to ensure that each person who works in a polling place during an election for public office receives training on state election procedures. (2008)

Sets Purging Guidelines: Requires states to provide public notice before any Federal election of all names that have been removed from the voter registration list; and prohibits removing any individual from the voter registration list unless the individual is first provided notice in a uniform and nondiscriminatory manner that is prescribed by the Election Assistant Commission. (2008)

Absentee Voting: Requires states to permit any person who is otherwise qualified to vote in an election for federal office to vote absentee without having to provide excuses such as vacation or away on business to the jurisdiction. (2008)

Minimum Required Voting Equipment: Directs Election Assistance Commission to set guidelines for states to provide sufficient voting equipment and election resources at polling places to avoid turning away voters because of long lines. (2010)

Counting Provisional Ballots: Requires states to develop, according to guidelines established by the Election Assistance Commission, a timely process for counting provisional ballots and to count them without regard to the location at which the voter cast the provisional ballot. (2008)

Military and Overseas Voters:  Makes it easier for overseas and military voters to send in absentee ballot requests, absentee ballots and voter registration forms by prohibiting states from refusing to accept ballots and registration forms due to non-essential requirements. (2008)
Senator Feinstein Press Release

Let’s hope that the details confirm my initial positive read on this bill; and that they do not have to give much away (if anything) in the conference committee.

Could Jerry Brown Have Taken Tan Nguyen to Court?

“I speak Spanish very well and (the letter) was offensive,” she said. “And it was offesnive and intimidating to many voters who talked to our office.”

She also said the law seemed to by on Nguyen’s side — for better or worse.

“If you read the state and federal laws, it’s very difficult to get a conviction. The laws are vague,” she said.

That was my fabulous Congresswoman, Loretta Sanchez, speaking to OC Register reporter Martin Wisckol about Attorney General Jerry Brown’s decision NOT to pursue criminal charges against Tan Nguyen for intimidating over 14,000 LEGALLY registered voters. Now maybe it really is quite difficult to get a conviction for a charge like this, but it shouldn’t be impossible. Chris Prevatt took another look at state election law at The Liberal OC, and he arrived at quite an interesting conclusion.

Follow me after the flip to see the law for yourself, and decide whether Jerry Brown really wants to enforce the law here…

Here’s what Chris dug up at The Liberal OC:

18540.  (a) Every person who makes use of or threatens to make use of any force, violence, or tactic of coercion or intimidation, to
induce or compel any other person
to vote or refrain from voting at
any election
or to vote or refrain from voting for any particular
person or measure at any election, or because any person voted or
refrained from voting at any election or voted or refrained from
voting for any particular person or measure at any election is guilty
of a felony
punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for 16
months or two or three years.

  (b) Every person who hires or arranges for any other person to
make use of or threaten to make use of any force, violence, or tactic
of coercion or intimidation, to induce or compel any other person to
vote or refrain from voting at any election or to vote or refrain
from voting for any particular person or measure at any election, or
because any person voted or refrained from voting at any election or
voted or refrained from voting for any particular person or measure
at any election is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment in
the state prison for 16 months or two or three years.

18543.  (a) Every person who knowingly challenges a person’s right
to vote without probable cause
or on fraudulent or spurious grounds,
or who engages in mass, indiscriminate, and groundless challenging of
voters solely for the purpose of preventing voters from voting
or to
delay the process of voting, or who fraudulently advises any person
that he or she is not eligible to vote
or is not registered to vote
when in fact that person is eligible or is registered, or who
violates Section 14240, is punishable by imprisonment in the county
jail for not more than 12 months or in the state prison.

  (b) Every person who conspires to violate subdivision (a) is
guilty of a felony.

OK, the law seems quite clear. This letter clearly violates state law. So why didn’t Jerry Brown take this case to court, and at least try to achieve justice for all the voters in Orange County who were nearly scared away from the polls by Tan Nguyen?

I have to concur with Chris here:

We all know that the letters went to 14,000 legally registered voters.  As registered voters these individuals are entitled to the right to vote, without intimidation or obstruction by anyone.  The only way a voter may be challenged is if an  elections official has specific and compelling evidence that the voter is not eligible to vote.  Elections officials are the only people who may directly intervene to stop someone from voting illegally.

I’ve got ju[s]t one question for AG Moon Beam and his Senior Assistan[t] AG in San Diego; How on earth can you conclude that section 18543 was not violated when eligible voters were challeneged without probable cause, by a mass and indiscriminate mailing to legally registered voters?  I cannot find anything in the code that talks about “intent.”  It is that act of intimidation that is the crime.  From what I can see, intent is nothing more than icing on the cake.

I just don’t get their reasoning here.

Neither do I, Chris. Neither do I.

AG Brown: Why Let Tan Nguyen Off the Hook?

“The right to vote is fully protected under the XV Amendment of the US constitution. Anybody that uses any intimidation tactics should be prosecuted with the full power of the law. When Mr. Nguyen or anybody else uses the printing materials such as letterhead of an anti-immigrant organization it shows intent to intimidate. How more clear can it be? I feel disappointed that it was LULAC that had to call the State Attorney General’s office to find out the results of the investigations rather than the AG call us. When I spoke with Mr. Schons he said that the case was closed back in February, they really dropped the ball. We are going to ask the US Attorney General to fully investigate this issue.”

That was Orange County LULAC President Benny Diaz, speaking to The Liberal OC about how he found out that Jerry Brown would not be pursuing a case against Tan Nguyen for illegally intimidating over 14,000 legal voters. So why didn’t Jerry Brown follow through on the case that Bill Lockyer was trying to make? And what do the people in Orange County who had the misfortune of having front-row seats to the Tan Nguyen debacle have to say about what happened yesterday?

Follow me after the flip for more…

Here are a couple more comments from The Liberal OC on Tan Nguyen and Jerry Brown’s decision not to prosecute him t the fullest extent of state law:

While Tan Nguyen is clearly not out of the woods yet, given the federal voting rights investigation that is still ongoing, he has clearly gotten a pass from Attorney General Moon Beam.

Frank Barbaro, Chairman of the Democratic Party of Orange County commented tonight saying;

“This is a classic case of wrong without remedy. Everybody agrees that what Tan Nguyen did was very wrong, and was done with the intent to discourage people from voting.”

Democratic Party of Orange County Vice-Chair Rima Nashashibi, who is an American-Palestinian born in Jerusalem, was a bit more blunt;

“The letters were offensive, to me and they were offensive to the legally registered voters who received them. At the time Tan Nguyen’s involvement in this attack on the voting rights of U.S. citizens was revealed, both Democrat and Republican leaders condemned his actions. Despite the decision of the State Attorney General on this matter, I hope GOP Chairman Scott Baugh will continue to stand by his repudiation of Tan Nguyen’s acts of voter intimidation.”

Tan Nguyen has never apologized for his actions and he needs to be held accountable. Hopefully, this will occur at the federal level. Only time will tell. Tick-tock, tick-tock.

Yes, Tan Nguyen should be held accountable for sending this letter to over 14,000 legally registered voters in Central Orange County. So why didn’t Jerry Brown do that? Why didn’t he pursue a case against Tan Nguyen? Why didn’t he stand up for Californians’ right to vote… And NOT be intimidated away from doing so?

I really don;t like speculating about these matters. That’s why I’d like an answer from our Attorney General. Why didn’t he do his job of prosecuting those (like Tan Nguyen) who commit crimes against innocent people (like scaring them away from the polls)? Why, Jerry? Why?

Jerry Brown: Soft on Crime?

Here’s a new angle to being “soft on crime”… Why didn’t Attorney General Jerry Brown file suit against Tan Nguyen for intimidating legal Latino voters? Claudio Gallegos lets it rip at Orange Juice:

The California Attorney General’s office announced today that Tan Nguyen will not face charges in the fraudulent letter he sent out to disenfranchise Latino voters. Former Attorney General Bill Lockyer quickly moved into action to ensure Nguyen was held accountable. Unfortunately he did not have enough time in his term left. Democrat(although I am hesitant to call him that at this point) Jerry Brown took over as Attorney General. His spokesman Gary Schons is quoted as saying

“We had to prove that they intended to intimidate lawfully registered voters. We found no evidence that they intended to intimidate lawfully registered voters. In fact, the first line of the letter said, ‘If you’re a lawfully registered voter, we encourage you to vote.’ A lot of people missed that.”

No kidding a lot of people missed it Mr. Schons, it was meant to be missed. Even Republicans were calling for his head.

So is there something that Jerry Brown missed here? Follow me after the flip for more…

Here’s the rest of what Claudio has to say at Orange Juice:

If there was no criminal intent, please explain why Tan did the following actions:

1) Use a fake letterhead of an anti-immigrant organization instead of his own campaign letterhead?

2) Why did they use a fake name at the end of the letter?

3) Why was Tan refusing to answer the simplest of questions regarding this letter?

4) Why did Tan Nguyen’s story change about 10 times?

The intent was clear, to intimidate Latino voters and stay covert. Pure and simple. In the 2006 election I voted for the Green Party candidate for Attorney General because I felt Rocky Delgadillo should have been our nominee and dinosaurs like Jerry Brown need to move aside for our generation. Thanks for confirming I made the right vote. And I will continue to vote Green whenever Jerry Brown is on the ballot.

Tan Nguyen was the most obviously guilty man since OJ Simpson, yet he will walk away unpunished. Let this be a lesson to you all, include some obscure hidden sentence in a letter, intimidate and disenfranchise voters and you will not be held responsible for your actions. Thanks alot Jerry, I see your softness on crime extends to those who seek to disenfranchise minorities’ right to vote.

Well, it hurts me to say this… But perhaps, Claudio and blogswarm are right here. Jerry Brown really failed all of us in Orange County who were hoping for some real actions against the illegal voter intimidation antics used by Tan Nguyen in his despicable “campaign” against my fabulous Congresswoman, Loretta Sanchez. Now why he couldn’t he stand up for all of us voters in Orange County? And for that matter, why can’t he stand up for all the voters in this state who should NEVER be intimidated in the way that those 14,000+ legal voters were?

Maybe Jerry Brown shouldn’t have been our choice for Attorney General if he wasn’t really interested in doing his job.