Costa Rica’s ruling party candidate Johnny Araya on Wednesday abandoned his presidential campaign a month before a runoff, a move that appeared to guarantee victory for leftist former diplomat Luis Guillermo Solis. Araya, of the ruling centrist National Liberation Party (PLN), said he would no longer campaign, though under the constitution his name will remain on the ballot. He said he had made the decision after polls showed him way behind Solis. A favorite to win before the first round of voting in February, Araya has been beset by voter resentment over government corruption scandals under President Laura Chinchilla and rising inequality. Solis scored a surprise win in that vote, and has stretched his lead dramatically in opinion polls. ”There is an increasing will to replace the party in government,” Araya told a news conference, declining to take questions. “I will abstain from any electoral activity.”
Articles about voting issues in North America outside the United States.
An online attack that delayed the results of the NDP’s 2012 leadership vote succeeded because it hit the party’s website, not the site of the company running the online vote, a company representative says. The voting that chose Tom Mulcair as the New Democratic Party’s leader was besieged by a “distributed denial of service” attack, which bombards a server with repeated attempts at communication to try to slow it down or crash it altogether. The process was delayed by several hours and left many delegates complaining they couldn’t access the site to cast their ballots. At the time, neither the NDP, nor Scytl, the company that provided the online voting service, would explain beyond saying it was a denial of service attack. But Scytl representatives now say the attack hit the NDP’s website and that its own technology was never compromised.
Harry Neufeld, who wrote a report on problems in the last federal election, is warning of the potential for more abuse at polling stations if one part of the government’s proposed fair elections act goes ahead. Neufeld, B.C.’s former chief electoral officer and now an independent electoral management consultant, wrote the compliance review that identified polling problems in the 2011 election and made recommendations on how to fix them. He says Section 44 of the government’s new legislation would allow all central polling supervisors to be appointed by a riding’s incumbent candidate or the candidate’s party. ”It’s completely inappropriate in a democracy, ” said Neufeld.
Canada: Courts will have to decide if Elections Canada CEO can be ‘muzzled,’ say experts | The Hill Times
Elections Canada and critics of proposed government legislation that will restrict communications between the chief electoral officer and the electorate say the measure will also limit information the chief electoral officer will be able to distribute to news media. A source told The Hill Times the electoral agency remains concerned despite assurances Minister of State for Democratic Reform Pierre Poilievre (Nepean-Carleton, Ont.) made on a political talk show that he was open to amending a section of the legislation, Bill C-23, to address Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand’s concerns. And Ottawa lawyer Steven Shrybman, an expert on Canada’s electoral law who represented voters in a Federal Court challenge of results from the 2011 federal election, said the statement from Mr. Poilievre (Nepean-Carleton, Ont.) will have no effect unless the government eliminates the section entirely.
Provincial lawmakers are poised to consider two private member’s bills that could bring a landmark change to the way Torontonians elect their mayor and councillors. The duelling bills tabled by Liberal MPP Mitzie Hunter and NDP MPP Jonah Schein, who both represent Toronto ridings, would give the city the option of switching to a ranked choice ballot system, starting with the 2018 municipal election. If MPPs give their blessing to one of the bills, the change would not be automatic. The final say would rest with city council. The bills are not carbon copies of each other but they both have the same aim – to allow Toronto to replace its traditional electoral system, if it chooses, with ranked balloting. Hunter, who represents Scarborough-Guildwood, is tabling her bill – the Toronto Ranked Ballot Elections Act – Wednesday afternoon at Queen’s Park. “We live in a diverse city and the way we elect our municipal representatives should reflect that,” Hunter told reporters at a news conference before she tabled the bill.
Canada: Independent panel’s study suggests idea for online voting be pulled offline | Nanaimo News Bulletin
A year-long study by the Independent Panel on Internet Voting has concluded the province of British Columbia and its municipalities are ready for online voting. The panel was formed in August 2012 by the chief electoral officer at the behest of the B.C. attorney general and met 13 times between September 2012 and October 2013 to examine pros and cons of Internet-based voting. The panel’s findings, released in a report earlier this month, said potential benefits of online voting include providing greater accessibility and convenience for B.C. voters, especially for people with disabilities, and the possibility of improving voter turnout, but the report also mentioned inherent security risks in spite of the fact that Internet transactions for banking, shopping, and government services are widespread and growing.
A provision in the Conservative government’s new elections act will limit the ability of Elections Canada to experiment with online voting — a limit the Opposition argues will suppress the votes of young people who are less likely to vote Tory than older demographics. “The only reason for this has to be singling out a reform that the Conservatives have particular problems with,” NDP Democratic Reform Critic Craig Scott said. “E-voting is something they know appeals to younger generations, which is not necessarily their voting cohort.”
The New Democrats are forcing a debate in the House over whether to hold cross-Canada consultations on the government’s proposed changes to federal election laws. The party is using its opposition day, a day set aside for it to set the subject of debate in the House, to present a motion that would instruct the procedure and House affairs committee to travel the country and seek input from Canadians. NDP Deputy Leader David Christopherson called the Conservatives a “serial-cheating government” that’s trying to “pre-cheat” the next election through the proposed changes. New Democrat MP Craig Scott called the bill the “unfair elections act,” playing off the government’s title for the bill, the fair elections act.
Among the controversial proposals in the Conservative government’s proposed Fair Elections Act is one to eliminate Elections Canada campaigns encouraging Canadians to vote – no matter who for. Pierre Poilievre, federal minister of state for democratic reform, says Elections Canada’s out reach campaigns – which began in 2003 in response to decades of declining voter turnout, particularly among young voters – have failed to combat the troubling trend. ”I am not arguing that Elections Canada’s advertising drives turnout down,” Poilievre said in an email to Postmedia News on Wednesday. “Rather, it fails to drive turnout up, because it does not address the practical obstacles that prevent many from voting.”
Canada: Conservatives’ proposed election reform prompts note of caution from the U.S. | Toronto Star
A participant in the bruising American battle over voting rights warns that Canada is treading on dangerous ground with its proposed electoral reforms. One of the lawyers who helped strike down the voter ID law in Pennsylvania last month says legislation tabled by the Harper government will inevitably wind up depriving some people of their voting rights. That’s why any change to voting requirements should be made with the strictest care, in the spirit of achieving more accurate election results, said Witold Walczak, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union for Pennsylvania. That warning comes from a country where voting rights are an especially emotional subject, for obvious historical reasons. Americans know the issue well. And the impact of ID rules has been studied extensively, re-emerging in recent years as a hotly debated partisan issue. Multiple academic studies point to an impact on turnout, especially among specific demographic groups: the young, the poor, and minorities.