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This morning we told you that election officials in Georgia are throwing out ballots cast by new voters who couldn't prove their citizenship, on the orders of the Republican secretary of state, Karen Handel.

And now Handel's office says it can't say how many of those disqualified ballots were actually cast by eligible voters.

A spokesman for the office insisted to TPMmuckraker that most of the voters originally identified through the state's system for finding non-citizens had self-identified as being such. But voting-rights groups argue that that system -- which checks registrations against state drivers records -- is flawed, and could lead to be eligible voters being included through data entry errors and other administrative errors.

Handel's office couldn't yet say how many mistakes had been made, though the spokesman added that the information would soon become available as information from individual counties came in.

In other words, the office can't say how many eligible voters cast ballots that are now being thrown out.

The dispute began back in October, when voting-rights groups including the ACLU sued the state over an effort by Handel to purge from the rolls newly registered voters whose citizenship was called into question by the state's database.

A judge ultimately ruled that the state must allow the voters whose citizenship was in question -- around 5000 -- to cast provisional ballots, and must inform them of the challenge to their eligibility. The voters would then have to show documents proving their citizenship, either on Election Day or in subsequent days, in order for their ballot to be counted.

As we wrote earlier today, many voters did so, but in some counties, around a third did not, causing their some of their ballots to be disqualified starting today. But it now appears almost certain that some ballots cast by eligible voters who were mistakenly flagged, and who then failed to provide election officials with the necessary documents after the fact, are being wrongly thrown out.

We'll continue to keep you posted as more information becomes available...

One of the key questions in the lawsuit filed against Nasser Kazeminy, a close friend and supporter of Minnesota Republican senator Norm Coleman, relates to the nature of the work done by Coleman's wife Laurie for the Hays Companies.

And on that score, there seems to be a noteworthy amount of confusion among the principles.

Let's back up. The suit, filed late last month in Texas by the former CEO of Deep Marine Technologies, alleges in part that Kazeminy set up a scheme to pass money from DMT, which he owns, to Coleman, through the Hays Companies, a Minneapolis-based insurance broker. The suit claims that Laurie Coleman received $75,000 from Hays, without performing legitimate work for the company, and that these payments were an effort by Kazeminy to get money to Norm Coleman.

The senator -- who faces a recount in his reelection race against Democrat Al Franken -- has denied the allegations. And Hays Companies, in a statement issued after the suit was made public, called them "libelous and defamatory."

But are the two on different pages as to the nature of Laurie Coleman's relationship with Hays?

In that statement, Hays declared that Laurie Coleman "has been an Independent Contractor for Hays Companies since 2006," without elaborating as to the nature of her work for Hays.

But on his Senate disclosure forms for 2006 and 2007, Norm Coleman explicitly lists the type of income that his wife received from Hays as "salary" -- which by definition would render Laurie Coleman an employee, rather than an independent contractor.

Of course, Norm Coleman may simply have been imprecise in filling out the disclosure form and used "salary" as shorthand for compensation. But it's a discrepancy that would be worth resolving.

Calls by TPMmuckraker to Norm Coleman's campaign and Senate offices, and to a lawyer for the Hays Companies who has been handling questions on the lawsuit, were not immediately returned.

A significant number of the almost 5000 Georgia voters whose citizenship was challenged before the election will not have their ballots counted.

Last week, about 4,770 voters were told they would have to vote on paper ballots because their citizenship was in question. It was then up to them to return to their local election boards with proof of citizenship.

In several counties, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, about one third of those voters neither returned with the necessary documents, nor showed up to last-chance hearings late last week. As a result, in many counties at least, their ballots will be thrown out.

The issue is not merely academic for this year's election. Neither major candidate got 50 percent of the vote in Georgia's U.S. Senate race, forcing a run-off to be held December 2nd. Voters whose ballots were thrown out would presumably also be barred from voting in the runoff.

The state requires newly registered voters to verify their citizenship -- a requirement that has been questioned by the U.S. Department of Justice and is the subject of a lawsuit.

Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel -- who before the election was criticized by voting-rights groups for taking an overly restrictive approach to voting -- verifies citizenship by checking voter registration information against state records.

Handel has said that the only people who were checked were new voters or those who changed an essential piece of information on their registration form. But it's unclear on exactly what basis the citizenship challenges were made.

We'll keep you posted as things become clearer.

Since 2004, the U.S. military has carried out previously undisclosed attacks against Al Qaeda in Pakistan, Syria, and other countries with which we are not at war. The attacks were authorized by a secret order signed by then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in the spring of that year, which allowed the military to attack Al Qaeda anywhere in the world. (The New York Times)

Rumors continue to swirl about the low turnout in Alaska last Tuesday, where 8,311 fewer votes were cast than in 2004, despite tight races in the Senate and the House, and Sarah Palin's presence on the Republican presidential ticket. The votes haven't all been counted yet, and Stevens' race is still up in the air. But Ivan Moore, the state's most prominent pollster, tells the paper that "something smells fishy." Still he adds -- along with representaives from both parties -- that it's premature to suggest that the vote was manipulated. (Anchorage Daily News)

The U.S. killed nearly 40 Afghan civilians in an airstrike last week, a joint U.S.-Afghan inquiry confirmed. The U.S. had originally put the total number of deaths far lower. Civilian casualties have strained U.S. relations with the Afghan government. (Reuters)

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As we spend the day recounting yesterday, there were no incidents of voter fraud in the states where the GOP made a fuss over ACORN and other voter registration groups.

In fact, voting went remarkably smoothly, despite the surge in turnout -- a result, many voter experts say, of the use of early voting in key states.

Which raises key questions -- why isn't there early voting in all states? And after all of the debate over voter registration fraud, why not just institute universal voter registration?

"The single most important thing that Congress can do right now is create universal voter registration, which would mean that all eligible voters are automatically registered," said Rosemary E. Rodriguez, the chairwoman of the federal Election Assistance Commission, in an article on the subject in the New York Times this morning. The majority of states -- 32 -- have early-voting, with Congress discussing its expansion, the Times reports.

In fact, legislation for universal registration is already in the works in Sen. Hillary Clinton's office -- which would minimize long lines and the problems created by third-party groups like ACORN, which might sate the appetite of the GOP who has long accused ACORN of propagating voter registration fraud.

But, as the Times points out, even though making voting easier might sound like a non-partisan issue accepted by both sides of the aisle, it is anything but:

Lorraine C. Minnite, a political science professor and voting rights expert at Barnard College, said Republicans had generally resisted such efforts in part out of concern about ineligible voters like noncitizens being permitted to vote.

"But the bigger reason that Republicans have resisted expanding the franchise," Dr. Minnite said, "is that the new people who are likely to come into the electorate are more often of lower income and are people of color, who tend to vote Democratic."

Tom Jensen, a Democratic pollster based in Raleigh, N.C., said early voting gave Mr. Obama the edge for his narrow victory in North Carolina by offering his campaign more time to organize rides and get people to the polls. Mr. Jensen noted that Mr. Obama won early balloting by 178,000 votes but lost among Election Day voters by 165,000 votes.

"Obama had a great ground game," he said, "but if you only have 13 hours to get everyone out, it's much harder."

The first hearing on the government's reasons behind holding six enemy combatants in Guantanamo began yesterday, only to be closed to the public -- and the detainees themselves -- after a judge ruled that the evidence was classified. The case is the first to come to trial after the Supreme Court's June decision that gave detainees habeas corpus rights. In 2005, the judge overseeing the trial, Bush-appointee Richard Leon, said enemy combatants had no habeas corpus rights. (New York Times)

The U.S. will open a probe into two airstrikes in Afghanistan that may have left 60 civilians dead, amid growing pressure from local leaders who say the U.S. military's attacks frequently disregard the dangers posed to innocent people. (CNN)

Former NY Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D) may have broken local laws by soliciting sex from a call girl the night before Valentine's Day, but the Justice Department says he paid for it with his own money (never mind his career) and they will not bring charges against him. (AP)

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BMW Direct, the notorious direct mail firm famous for striking fundraising deals with loser candidates -- predictably lost two of its high profile races this Tuesday.

We mentioned late last week that a BMW client, Deborah Honeycutt -- a Republican challenging Democratic incumbent Rep. David Scott in Georgia -- looked to be making a small challenge to Scott and had raised almost $4.7 million through BMW Direct, though the vast majority had gone in fees back to the company.

Well Honeycutt lost her race -- by the same margin she'd lost in 2006 -- 38 percentage points. According to FEC records, Honeycutt has spent $4.3 million this election cycle, $47 for every vote she received.

As for BMW's other high-profile loser candidate, the Republican challenger to Jack Murtha in Pennsylvania's 12th District, he lost too. Touted by Michelle Malkin as a "jaw-dropping political miracle" Russell brought in almost $2.5 million through BMW Direct -- but spent more than half of that in payments back to the direct mail firm. While he pulled tighter to Murtha at the end of the race, it was more due to the Congressman's gaffes, than any awe inspired fundraising.

One last thing about Honeycutt -- it looks like she's going to have more to deal with than just a lost election. Scott has filed a federal complaint against Honeycutt for allegedly funding sleazy fliers that called Scott the "worst black congressperson."

Special thanks to TPM Reader BK for the tip.

The casino company Las Vegas Sands, which is owned by right-wing billionaire Sheldon Adelson, has said it may default on debt and face bankruptcy, reports Bloomberg. In trading today, stocks in the company plunged.

The news wire adds:

Today's admission comes after Adelson, who holds a stake of more than 64 percent, invested an additional $475 million in September to avoid violating the terms of a loan, and hired an unidentified investment bank to raise more capital with his help.


But as recently as July, Adelson, who is said to still have considerable resources, had assured reporters on a conference call the company will not have liquidity problems."

Adelson, a Bush pioneer, last year worked with ex-Bush-administration officials to found the group Freedom's Watch, which advocates an open-ended commitment to the war in Iraq. As The New Yorker recently reported, he's fiercely opposed to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue, and is a close ally of hawkish Israeli politician and ex-PM Benjamin Netanyahu. He has been a major contributor to AIPAC, and over the years has funded numerous congressional trips to Israel.

And in May, the Boston Globe reported (via Nexis) that Adelson has "waged some bitter anti-union battles in Las Vegas."

Since we're rounding up the evidence (or lack thereof) of voter fraud taking place yesterday, it's worth also noting what the top election officials in Ohio and Minnesota told us on Tuesday night.

Ohio secretary of state Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat, said in a statement released toTPMmuckraker the night of the election: "We have received no reports of election irregularities in Ohio today - and we have been on the lookout for any hint of illegal voting or voter suppression."

And her counterpart in Minnesota, Mark Ritchie, also a Democrat, told TPMmuckraker in an interview that his office had received no reports of voter fraud.

In both states, Republicans or their allies had raised concerns about the possibility for fraud. Brunner had reportedly received death threats after she fought a GOP lawsuit aimed at cracking down on voter fraud. The Supreme Court sided with Brunner.

Despite last minute legal wrangling on Election Day eve, Florida's election came off without a hitch, with no reports of voter fraud and few problems.

Democrats and Republicans had reached a truce on Monday evening, that the Florida GOP would not file "frivolous" challenges to voters.

But on Nov. 4, there were glitches at individual polling places, but no major problems

From the Miami Herald:

• The only scanner at Coral Ridge Mall in Fort Lauderdale broke and voters had to put ballots in a bin until it was replaced.

• In the David Park Community Center in Hollywood, the first 20 or so voters were handed misprinted ballots listing Amendment 3 twice.

• A poll worker in Sunny Isles Beach was dismissed for being ``rude and overzealous.''

• Two precincts in Palm Beach County opened late.

Statewide, voting went so smoothly that Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning called Election Day ''almost eerily quiet,'' despite an unofficial record turnout.

''It's been a great day for Florida,'' he said.

TPMLivewire