North America

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

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


Canada: Blind voters could also be disenfranchised under feds’ elections law overhaul | The Hill Times

Advocates for the blind and marginalized Canadians with a range of disabilities warned MPs Tuesday the government’s plan to legislate an end to vouching in federal elections would prevent many of the people they represent from being able to vote. Leaders from the Canadian Institute of the Blind, which lends support and volunteer services to tens of thousands of blind or partially sighted citizens, and an advocate with People First called on the Conservative government to amend key sections of controversial election legislation they said would heighten ballot box hurdles that their members and clients already face. The testimony came as a House of Commons committee hearing witnesses on Bill C-23 began a rush to jam in as many witnesses as possible in the two weeks remaining before a government-imposed May 1 deadline for the committee to complete its business and send the bill back to the House for final passage.  Read More


Canada: Elections changes impact half million voters | The Canadian Press

The Harper government’s overhaul of federal election rules could make it difficult for more than half a million voters to exercise their constitutional right to a ballot, says the author of a report that’s been used to justify the crackdown. ”Either amend it or pull it,” Harry Neufeld said of Bill C-23 — dubbed the Fair Elections Act — after appearing before a parliamentary committee Thursday. Neufeld, the former British Columbia chief electoral officer, was just one of five non-partisan experts in electoral process to tell MPs the legislation requires some major fixes. In fact all five witnesses said the bill, as written, would do more harm than good to Canadian democracy. Read More


El Salvador: Quijano right accepts election defeat | EFE

El Salvador’s right-wing ARENA party formally accepted on Thursday the victory of leftist Salvador Sanchez Ceren in the March 9 presidential runoff. The announcement came a day after the Supreme Court rejected ARENA’s demand for a manual recount of the ballots. Sanchez Ceren beat ARENA’s Norman Quijano by just 0.22 percentage points. The standard-bearer of the governing FMLN got 1.49 million votes, or 50.11 percent of the total, compared with 1.48 million – 49.89 percent – for Quijano. Read More


Canada: Jean-Pierre Kingsley: Election bill puts right to vote at risk | CBC

A change proposed by the Conservatives in their new election bill would “directly affect” some Canadians’ right to vote, former chief electoral officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley said Tuesday. Abolishing the process of vouching, which serves as proof of a voter’s identification, “will impact very negatively on the values of participation, impartiality and transparency,” Kingsley told a committee of MPs. ”This will directly affect the constitutional right to vote of a significant number of Canadians without justification.” “Please. Please do not get rid of it,” he said. Read More


Canada: No irregular activity or vote stealing says Quebec’s Chief Electoral Officer | Global News

The elections office in Quebec is throwing cold water on a theory put forward by the Parti Quebecois on Sunday that students from elsewhere in Canada could be trying to steal the provincial election. The PQ expressed concern about media reports that an influx of English-speakers and other non-francophones from outside the province were trying to vote in the April 7 election. By late afternoon, however, the province’s chief electoral officer brought forward numbers showing there were no signs of an irregular increase in voter registration. Read More