North America

Articles about voting issues in North America outside the United States.

Canada: Fair Elections Act: Vouching is ‘problematic,’ Conservative Senator Linda Frum says | CTV News

A Conservative senator on the committee recommending changes to the controversial Fair Elections Act says she is convinced that vouching is “problematic,” and that alternatives to proof of identification must be found. A Senate committee made up primarily of Conservative members earlier this week recommended nine changes to the Harper government’s Fair Elections Act — an electoral reform bill proposed by Minister of State for Democratic Reform Pierre Poilievre. But the committee did not recommend changes to one of Bill C-23’s most-controversial provisions, which would eliminate the practice of vouching — where one person can vouch for another if they don’t have proper ID — and the use of voter cards as a way for voters to prove their identity. “In our Senate report, we didn’t touch those provisions; we stood by them, we agree,” Senator Linda Frum told CTV’s Question Period. Frum said it is “reasonable” to ask voters to produce identification and proof of residence. “I’ve heard all the statements about how that can be difficult in some instances, but frankly, I think for most Canadians, it’s not problematic.” Read More


Canada: Brockton Review for Internet Voting | Bayshore Broadcasting

Councillor Chris Peabody is concerned about the safety of internet voting. Peabody says he has been in contact with two computer specialists from M.I.T and Yale who feel the same way. After reviewing Brockton’s yet to be signed contract with Dominion Voting, Peabody says these experts have identified a number of concerns — including the fact Dominion Voting does not allow a third party to challenge the system. Read More


Canada: Senators recommend nine major changes to controversial elections bill | Vancouver Sun

The Harper government is getting some serious push-back from Conservative senators on its controversial overhaul of elections laws, with a Senate committee unanimously recommending nine major changes to the legislation. In an interim report to be tabled Tuesday, the Senate’s legal and constitutional affairs committee recommends that the government drop provisions to muzzle the chief electoral officer and the elections commissioner, The Canadian Press has learned. It also recommends removing another provision which electoral experts have said would give an unfair, potentially huge, financial advantage to established parties — particularly the ruling Conservatives — during election campaigns. Read More


Canada: Senate panel sets up confrontation with Harper on Elections Act | The Globe and Mail

In a rare exercise of power, a Senate committee is pushing back against Stephen Harper’s Conservative government by unanimously recommending changes to the Fair Elections Act, an overhaul of electoral law that is fiercely opposed by other parties. The Senate report, which will be made public this week, amounts to a warning shot from the embattled Senate. The move is not binding, but it raises the threat of the Senate changing the bill itself if the House of Commons ignores its recommendations before passing Bill C-23. The Senate committee, two-thirds of whose members are Conservatives appointed by Mr. Harper, heard from a broad range of experts last week, the vast majority of whom called for substantial changes to the deeply divisive bill. Now the senators are set to recommend, unanimously, specific amendments. Read More


Canada: Pierre Poilievre attacks head of Elections Canada | Toronto Star

As criticism of the Conservatives’ electoral reform bill continues to mount, Democratic Reform Minister Pierre Poilievre launched an attack on Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand.
Poilievre said Tuesday that Mayrand, the independent head of Elections Canada appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, is criticizing the so-called Fair Elections Act out of a desire for more power. “The reality is that regardless of amendments and improvements that the bill potentially will have included, the CEO will not ultimately approve it,” Poilievre said.
“(Mayrand’s) recommendations really boil down to three broad requirements for him: he wants more power, a bigger budget, and less accountability.” Poilievre also accused Mayrand of “grasping at straws” and making “astounding” claims about Bill C-23 in an attempt to scuttle the legislation. Poilievre was asked to take back his comments in the House of Commons Tuesday. He declined, saying he stood by his testimony. Read More


Canada: Elections bill ‘exacerbates’ lack of privacy, political parties micro-target voters more | Hill Times

MPs may be federal law-makers, but there are no laws restricting how political parties can collect or use personal information about voters in Canada, and with the development of micro-targeting techniques, information is more important than ever in politics, however, parties aren’t working to close this legislative gap out of “self-interest,” say experts. “It’s in parties’ self-interest to not be covered by these particular rules and regulations [privacy laws]. They want to be able to collect information and not have to worry about abiding by rules and standards … there’s no reason whatsoever that political parties shouldn’t play by the same rules as businesses and government institutions,” said Jonathon Penney, an associate law professor at Dalhousie University with a focus on intellectual property and information security issues, in an interview last week with The Hill Times. “There’s a real incentive I think for parties to collect more information, because the richer the information, the better your analytics will be, the more you can micro-target, the more you can segment your voter base and shape an individual message to target specific voters for specific reasons, and your electoral strategies and your voter messaging is going to be that much better the richer and deeper and more detailed your information is about the electorate,” he said. Read More


Canada: Governments wary of going digital with elections | Montreal Gazette

We use the Internet for just about everything these days. … The concept of e-voting — whether it be casting a ballot via the phone or Internet or using electronic vote-counters at a polling station — is hardly novel. Officials across Canada began experimenting with this kind of technology when computers still weighed 30 pounds and took up most of the space on your desk. But early and repeated failures have made many jurisdictions — including Quebec — wary of handing control of any part of the democratic process over to a machine. “We’re not anywhere near (introducing any form of e-voting) for the moment,” Elections Quebec spokesperson Stephanie Isabel told The Gazette on Friday. “There’s an internal committee here that is doing analysis and studying this, but there is no project envisioned.” The trepidation is perhaps understandable. Even as technology has improved in recent years, the foul-ups have continued. The most recent example came during the NDP’s national leadership convention in 2012, when the Internet-based voting process was marred by allegations of a possible denial-of-service attack, in which a hacker overwhelms a server with requests and causes it to crash. Read More

Costa Rica Election

Costa Rica: Unchallenged candidate wins Costa Rica vote | Associated Press

Opposition candidate Luis Solis easily won Sunday’s presidential runoff in Costa Rica, an expected result given that his only rival had stopped campaigning a month earlier because he was so far behind in the polls. What gave Solis, a center-leftist, cause to celebrate was a solid voter turnout in an election considered a foregone conclusion. Experts had warned that a low turnout would undermine the legitimacy of his government. In the run-up to the vote, he had appealed to Costa Ricans to cast ballots and set a goal of getting more than 1 million votes. Late Sunday, Costa Rica’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal announced that with 93 percent of voting stations reporting Solis had 1,258,715 votes, or 77.9 percent support, easily beating ruling party candidate Johnny Araya at 22.1 percent. Araya remained on the ballot even though he suspended his campaign because the country’s constitution does not allow for a candidate to drop out. Read More


Canada: Court battle begins over McGill students’ voting rights | CBC

The case of five McGill University students who were refused the right to vote in the Quebec election went before the court Thursday morning and should be decided on by Friday. Constitutional lawyer Julius Grey requested an emergency injunction to allow the students to vote because Thursday was the last day to make revisions to the list of electors before Quebecers go to the polls on Monday. Because the students will only find out after the revision deadline whether they can vote or not, a legal mechanism could be used to permit them to vote in the event that the judge rules in their favour. But the lawyer for the director general of elections argued that the revisors have some judicial and authoritative powers, and ruling against them could call into question the entire voter registration system.  Read More


Costa Rica: Why Costa Rica will have a runoff election this weekend | The Tico Times

After National Liberation Party candidate Johnny Araya announced he was no longer campaigning for president in a second-round vote, many journalists and politicians questioned why a runoff election was necessary at all since his decision effectively gave the presidency to Luis Guillermo Solís of the Citizen Action Party. Costa Rican law prohibits any of the two candidates in a runoff election from stepping aside. The constitution demands that the Costa Rican people vote on April 6. Voters will weigh their options and freely decide who is the best. The decision is theirs to make, and the future belongs to the voters, not the Legislative Assembly or a candidate who steps down. Only the people can make this decision. Candidates can withdraw from the race during a first round, but once entered into a second round, they are legally required to finish the process. This is not a whim or some old, unrevised piece of legislation; it was established after two bitter experiences in the country’s past. The people must vote, and a mandate must be given. Yes, it’s expensive and it may seem unnecessary, but democracy is funny that way. Read More