The Voting News Daily: Election laws tightening in Republican-run states, Voters in Kyrgyzstan cast presidential ballots

Florida: Election laws tightening in Republican-run states | Reporting from Tallahassee, Fla.— Barack Obama may have won this crucial state three years ago on the Sunday before election day when “souls to the polls” drives brought a surge of blacks and Latinos to cast ballots after church. Florida had opened the polls two weeks early,…

Florida: Court rejects state’s request to expedite voting law challenge | Naked Politics

A panel of federal judges today rejected a request by Gov. Rick Scott and Secretary of State Kurt Browning to expedite a ruling on the lawsuit challenging the state’s changes to its voting laws. Download Fla v USA 55 Order on motion to expedite “We’re disappointed that the court could not accommodate our schedule,” said Browning’s spokesman, Chris Cate. “We look forward to the opportunity for making the case than none of Florida’s election laws are discriminatory.”

The reason the state is pressing the federal government for a quick resolution is the accelerated political calendar. A panel of legislative appointees has set Florida’s presidential preference primary for Jan. 31, 2012, but the last day that people can register to vote to be able to cast ballots in that election will be Jan. 3, 2012. If the legal issues surrounding the election law rewrite aren’t settled by then, the state will be in the awkward position of not having major changes to the laws pre-cleared as they affect five counties: Collier, Hardee, Hendry, Hillsborough and Monroe.


Florida: Election laws tightening in Republican-run states |

Reporting from Tallahassee, Fla.— Barack Obama may have won this crucial state three years ago on the Sunday before election day when “souls to the polls” drives brought a surge of blacks and Latinos to cast ballots after church. Florida had opened the polls two weeks early, and even so, long lines across the state prompted the governor to issue an emergency order extending the hours for early voting. Propelled by waves of new voters including college students, Obama eked out a win with 51%. It will be different next year, a result of changes in the voting laws adopted by the Republican-controlled Legislature.

Early voting was reduced from two weeks to one week. Voting on the Sunday before election day was eliminated. College students face new hurdles if they want to vote away from home. And those who register new voters face the threat of fines for procedural errors, prompting the nonpartisan League of Women Voters to suspend voter registration drives and accuse the Legislature of “reverting to Jim Crow-like tactics.”

Mississippi: Voter ID initiative set for Mississippi ballot | The Commercial Appeal

Mississippi voters will wade through many other offices and questions in the Nov. 8 general election before they reach constitutional initiative No. 27, which asks them whether the state should require voters to show a government-issued photo to prove their identity. A bit of irony comes into play here: some voters who say yes to the question will not be allowed to vote in the next election unless they have a photo ID.

Supporters of the voter ID question, which was hotly debated in the House and Senate last spring, say it will cut down on voter fraud in Mississippi. Opponents say the requirement will keep some people from the polls, especially elderly black men and women who recall the voting rights struggles of the 1960s.

Tennessee: Ramsey’s voter ID taxi service gets its first fare | The Tennessean

A Nashville woman was the first to take Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey up on his joking offer to give a ride to anyone who needed transportation to get a new picture identification card to vote. Eileen Marhefka, 65, said an aide to Ramsey dutifully picked her up at her home in East Nashville on Wednesday and shuttled her to the driver service center at Tennessee Tower to get a non-driving ID card. The aide also advised her on how to get the card free of charge.

Ramsey told reporters in September that he would drive anyone to get an ID — so confident was he that the number who lack picture IDs and the means to get one would be small. The comment was made in jest, but Ramsey has said he would stand by the offer.

Marhefka said she had been living without a photo ID for about 11 years, running into problems only periodically at her bank. After finding out about the voter ID law, she said she asked for help from Congressman Jim Cooper’s district office, which in turn told her about Ramsey’s offer. (A Cooper spokesman said they also suggested Marhefka call state Rep. Mike Stewart and state Sen. Thelma Harper, the Democrats who represent her area.)

Tennessee: Some college students feel targeted by TN voter ID | Elizabethton Star

Tennessee’s new voter identification law allows most state and federally issued IDs to be used to vote, including work IDs issued to the faculty and staff of state-run colleges. But the student IDs issued at those same schools are specifically prohibited. That has caused some students to believe they are being targeted by the law, which takes effect in January.

“I think this is intended to keep in check the main people who voted our current president in,” Christopher Martin, vice president of Tennessee Federation of College Democrats and a junior at Tennessee State University, told The Tennessean ( ). “It’s crazy that they can use the faculty ID but we can’t use the student ID.”

Bangladesh: Narayanganj City Corporation election was largely peaceful, fair and free | Daily Star

Leaders of political parties yesterday said the maiden election to Narayanganj City Corporation was largely peaceful, fair and free. However, their opinions go different ways from there on with ruling alliance leaders praising the voters for exercising their franchise and opposition leaders bashing the government for “compelling” them to pull out of the race.

Parties of the ruling alliance claimed that the election has once again proved that a free, fair and peaceful election can be held when an elected government is in power, if all necessary arrangements are ensured and voters are enthusiastic. Opposition BNP leaders, however, claim that the government made it impossible for them to stay in the race and they have rejected the election.

Their ally Jamaat-e-Islami refused to even make any comment. Jamaat Assistant Publication Secretary Matiur Rahman Akand only said that they have nothing to say since the opposition alliance has pulled out its mayoral candidate.

Bulgaria: Sofia Electoral Commission Escapes Runoff Chaos |

The submission of ballots and protocols from voting polls to the Sofia Municipal Electoral Commission (OIC) went swiftly Sunday night. The Bulgarian National Radio, BNR, and the TV channel bTV reported Monday morning that the process of turning in voting polls’ runoff documentation had concluded by midnight unlike the first round of the country’s local and presidential elections one week ago.

At 8 pm Sunday, hundreds of voting polls’ election officials had formed a long line in front of the Sofia Universiada Hall, where the documentation is turned in, but, according to OIC Head, Marina Belcheva, half of the capital’s voting protocols have been processed by 10 pm, while at 9 pm those first in line went home.

Ghana: Biometric Voting System Must Be Verifiable | Nana Akufo Addo

The flagbearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has stated that the fifty million cedis needed by the Electoral Commission for the verification system of the Biometric Voter’s register should not be an excuse by the EC not to implement the system.

According to Nana Addo, adding a verification system to the biometric voting process would help check cases of double voting, impersonation and several other electoral malpractices that crop up during elections. Speaking to Citi News from Germany where he is attending the “Africa Conference 2011”, as the Keynote Speaker was speaking on the theme: “Africa’s Role Model? Democracy and Elections in Ghana”.

Ireland: Nulty victory in Dublin by-election inevitable despite Socialists demanding recount | The Post

Labour’s Patrick Nulty emerged victorious in Dublin West’s by-election, but not before his socialist comrades demanded a recount to determine whether their candidate would come second or third. From the earliest tallies, Nulty’s success was never in doubt in the counting room on the first floor of the Citywest Convention Centre. At the same time, below on the ground floor, the party’s presidential candidate Michael D Higgins also won the lion’s share of number ones.

But despite Labour’s dual success, a good deal of the talk at the Saggart venue centred on the poor voting performance of Fine Gael’s Eithne Loftus and the unexpected success of Fianna Fáil’s David McGuinness, both Fingal county councillors.

Kyrgyzstan: Voters in Kyrgyzstan cast presidential ballots |

Voters in the turbulent Central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan voted Sunday in a presidential election that could set a democratic example for authoritarian neighbors. While international observers have hailed the wide range of candidates on offer and recent improvements to electoral legislation, there are concerns that the vote could ignite interregional tensions.

Kyrgyzstan, an impoverished nation of around 5 million people on China’s western fringes, is home to both U.S. and Russian military air bases, making its fortunes the subject of lively international interest.

Outgoing President Roza Otunbayeva, a seasoned diplomat who served as ambassador in Washington and London and has been running the country as interim leader since 2010, will step down later this year to make way for the election winner. That sets the stage for the first peaceful transition of power in this economically struggling ex-Soviet nation’s history.

Liberia: Liberian election commission chief James Fromayan resigns | Al Jazeera English

Liberia’s election commission chief has resigned after accusations of bias in the recent presidential elections and just days before a planned presidential runoff. “I chose to step down for the sake of Liberia and so that (challenger Winston Tubman’s) CDC [Congress for Democratic Change] would not have an excuse not to participate in the run-off,” James Fromayan told the Reuters news agency on Sunday.

Tubman last week threatened to withdraw from the November 8 run-off, the country’s second post-war vote, unless there was a change of leadership at the election commission. Fromayan, who has denied any wrong-doing, said he would be replaced by Elizabeth Nelson, his deputy, but he said he did not know it would be a permanent arrangement. There was no immediate reaction from Tubman’s camp.

Liberia: Liberian Election Commission Chief Resigns | VoA News

The chairman of Liberia’s electoral commission resigned Sunday because of threats by the country’s leading opposition party to boycott November’s presidential runoff. The opposition says there must be other changes before it will agree to take part in the vote.

National Election Commission Chairman James Fromayan says he stepped down so Liberia’s main opposition party would not have an excuse to boycott the second round of presidential voting.

In his resignation letter, Fromayan said he is leaving “to give way to peace” because he does not want to be the obstacle to holding a runoff between incumbent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the former justice minister Winston Tubman.

The Voting News Weekly: TVN Weekly October 24-30 2011

Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill hosted a panel discussion on online voting that included numerous computer security experts. Anomalies in a Democratic County Committee election have exposed the unreliability and insecurity of electronic voting systems. The South Carolina League of Women Voters is fighting to replace the state’s touchscreen voting machines. An 86-year-old World War II veteran was forced to pay for his “free” voter ID in Tennessee. The South Korean Election Commission was hit with a cyber attack during a municipal election. McCleans posted an editorial on proposed internet voting in Canada. Los Angeles County recorder/auditor Dean Logan has teamed with California Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to survey more than 1,000 voters, more than 1,000 poll workers, 26 city clerks from across the county and 64 staffers in Logan’s office about the county’s voting system overhaul. Thou­sands demon­strated in Morocco call­ing for a boy­cott of early par­lia­men­tary polls next month whose out­come will be key to the future of reforms crafted by the royal palace while Tunisia held the first election resulting from the “Arab Spring.”

The Voting News Daily: ES&S Attempts to Block Pennsylvania County’s Independent Audit of Failed Touch-Screens, Tunisia rocked by protests after electoral commission invalidates seats

Blogs: ES&S Attempts to Block Pennsylvania County’s Independent Audit of Failed Touch-Screens | BradBlog Despite failing to object for months prior, the nation’s largest electronic voting system vendor, ES&S, is now attempting to stop a landmark independent examination of their e-voting systems in a Pennsylvania county dead in its tracks. An October letter from the…

National: DoD personnel miss out on absentee ballots |

A Defense Department report has found more than a quarter of military voters who requested absentee ballots for the 2010 election never got them. DoD is trying to figure out why and what to do about it. The findings cover what was an otherwise upbeat year for military voting statistics: Uniformed voter participation was up 21 percent in 2010, compared with the last midterm election in 2006. And while voter registration rates among the general population tend to experience a noticeable drop-off between presidential election years and midterm cycles, DoD’s figures were relatively stable between 2008 and 2010.

But based on post-election surveys, the number of troops who requested military absentee ballots but never got them increased dramatically. The Pentagon’s Federal Voter Assistance Program (FVAP) estimates 29 percent of active duty military voters — roughly 120,000 troops — never got their ballots. FVAP’s report offers one possible reason for that: 44 percent of local election officials missed the federal deadline, which requires them to send out military absentee ballots at least 45 days prior to election day.

Voting Blogs: ES&S Attempts to Block Pennsylvania County’s Independent Audit of Failed Touch-Screens | BradBlog

Despite failing to object for months prior, the nation’s largest electronic voting system vendor, ES&S, is now attempting to stop a landmark independent examination of their e-voting systems in a Pennsylvania county dead in its tracks.

An October letter from the company, obtained by The BRAD BLOG, charges that Venango County, PA is in violation of their contract agreements with the Omaha-based e-voting Goliath, even as two volunteer Carnegie Mellon computer scientists are in the midst of a forensic audit of the county’s May 17 primary election. The county’s investigation comes on the heels of apparent failures of the ES&S iVotronic touch-screen voting system during their recent primary and several other recent elections in Venango.

The 100% unverifiable ES&S iVotronic system has failed in a number of elections nationwide, but is still widely used across the country and slated for use once again in more than a dozen states in next year’s Presidential election.

Arizona: Federal Voting Rights Act is Arizona’s redistricting bogeyman | Caveat Lector

We should find out next week if Gov. Jan Brewer will make good on her threats from this week and impeach Colleen Mathis, the chairwoman of the Independent Redistricting Commission, or any other member of the commission. Brewer alleges gross misconduct by the commission, including failing to follow requirements of the independent redistricting commission act, bid rigging and open meetings law violations. Commissioners deny any wrongdoing.

Brewer is picking the wrong fight. The problem is not the commission, it’s Section 5 of the federal Voting Rights Act that requires Arizona to get the blessing of the U.S. Justice Department on any change it makes to voting districts, a process called preclearance. The Act’s intentions nearly 50 years ago was to right 100 years of wrongs in several states that imposed restrictions on voting by racial minorities, mostly southern blacks.

Florida: Smart phone technology supports voter objectives | Observer News

If you’re counting reasons to buy a smart phone this holiday season, here’s another: you’re going to be able to assist your civic responsibility with one. Both Hillsborough’s Supervisor of Elections and the Florida League of Women Voters are aiming to make it as easy as a snap and a click to connect and update your voter records, using tag code and smart phone technology.

Tags are those square, usually black and white symbols that somewhat resemble the now-innocuous bar codes which turn up everywhere and contain information often scanned, read and inputted when a purchase is made. Tags also are information-containing symbols that can be scanned, read and used, this time by citizens, to accomplish an objective, usually free of charge. However, to make them work, smart phone users must download the appropriate free app from the app store.

Indiana: New way to cast vote | Palladium-Item

Early voting opens Saturday for the Richmond city election and that means thousands of voters will need to become acquainted with new voting machines installed this year. The Wayne County Clerk’s office Wednesday mailed out cards to all registered, eligible voters. They will need to bring the cards with them when they vote, along with a government-issued photo identification.

Joining “P-I Live!” Thursday to discuss the hours, locations and procedures for voting in this election were Jo Ann Stewart, Wayne County Clerk, and Doug Williamson, a Wayne County Commissioner instrumental in reviewing and authorizing the new voting machines for use locally.

Massachusetts: Selectmen consider replacing outdated voting machines |

Although nothing is technically wrong with the town’s voting machines, Town Clerk Janet Tracy met with the Board of Selectmen last week to discuss replacing the ones the town currently has because the company that makes the machines no longer is making new machines. “They are not in bad repair, but if something happens to them, we have no replacement parts,” she said.

Ms. Tracy was referencing the fact that the three machines used to count votes in Lakeville, are all Optech Eagle models, which is no longer making replacements, and therefore if one breaks, there would be no replacement machine that can be purchased. “We need new voting equipment,” she said. “The parts aren’t made any more, if it breaks in the middle of an election, we’re in trouble.”

New Hampshire: Bill Gardner a New Hampshire institution |

On Bill Gardner’s desk one day last week rested a column from a Las Vegas newspaper lamenting the imminent “surrender” of Nevada Republicans in their effort to move the state closer to the front of the presidential nominating calendar.

They had surrendered to the man behind the desk, the 63-year-old New Hampshire secretary of state, who had stared down Nevada to the surprise of no one who has watched him wield tremendous clout in the process of choosing a president. Written on top of the page, and circled for emphasis, was another term in the column: “King Bill.”

Next week, Gardner is expected to announce that New Hampshire, having brushed back Nevada’s move for prominence, will hold its presidential primary Jan. 10, cementing the order of nominating contests that for the 24th straight cycle has no state’s primary coming before New Hampshire’s. Nevada moved back to Feb. 4, weeks after it had hoped to make its debut.

Utah: 38 Utah cities and towns cancel municipal election |

Only three candidates filed for three available City Council positions in the Nov. 8 election. “In a small city sometimes you beg for candidates,” said Carolyn Jorgensen, the city’s clerk/treasurer. So Castle Dale took advantage of a new state law that allows cities and towns to cancel municipal elections if it would not affect the outcome. Altogether, 38 Utah cities and towns have cancelled their municipal election for the same reason.

State Elections Director Mark Thomas estimates savings to the mostly smaller communities will total almost $250,000. Castle Dale hasn’t calculated how much its savings will be, but the cost of holding an election where the outcome is already known is what led communities to ask Lt. Gov. Greg Bell, the state’s top elections official, to push for a provision that would allow municipalities to cancel those elections.

Sweden: Electronic voting in elections in the future? – Pirate Party warns of risks | Stockholm News

Two of the MPs who were originally behind the idea write that “the election process has been very similar since the universal suffrage was introduced.“ They claim that the advantages with the paper ballots, separate for each party, are well-known; it keeps the secrecy of election. But after the last election, the disadvantages have also become clearer.

Minister for Justice Beatrice Ask says to the daily newspaper Svenska Dagbladet: “Paper ballots have its advantages but if there are other ways, it should at least be something to consider. I want to see whether we can use technology in a better way. But these questions are not simple. The election process must be secure and of the highest quality”

The Swedish Member of the European Parliament Christian Engström (Pirate Party), argues against the idea on his blog. His argument against internet voting is that it creates the risk that some people might get under pressure from others to vote in a certain way. At a polling station only one person at the time is allowed to enter so it is not possible to control how a person votes.

Tunisia: Tunisia rocked by protests after electoral commission invalidates seats | Arab Monitor

As the Tunisian electoral commission yesterday announced the results obtained at the polling stations confirming the frontrunner Al-Nahda party – which had won 90 among 217 seats in the upcoming constitutional assembly – heavy clashes broke out in Sidi Bouzid, the southern city from where the uprising against the former regime had spread out to the rest of the country.

The clashes in Sidi Bouzid, where government buildings including the courthouse and army headquarters were assaulted with molotow cocktails and police forces pelted with stones, broke out after the electoral commission banned some of the over 20 elected candidates of the Popular Petition from taking their seats in the assembly. The electoral commission is accusing the Popular Petition party of having violated the rules regarding foreign financial support for the electoral campaign.

The Voting News Daily: Online Voting: Just A Dream Until Security Issues Can Be Fully Addressed, Experts Say, FVAP report shows continued trends in military voting Report highlights successes and future challenges

National: Online Voting: Just A Dream Until Security Issues Can Be Fully Addressed, Experts Say | Allowing citizens to cast ballots online would increase participation in elections and make democracy more accessible. But don’t expect to vote on your iPhone in Connecticut anytime soon; the technology just isn’t there to ensure secure elections, said several experts who…

National: Online Voting: Just A Dream Until Security Issues Can Be Fully Addressed, Experts Say |

Allowing citizens to cast ballots online would increase participation in elections and make democracy more accessible. But don’t expect to vote on your iPhone in Connecticut anytime soon; the technology just isn’t there to ensure secure elections, said several experts who participated in a panel discussion at Central Connecticut State University Thursday night hosted by Secretary of the State Denise Merrill.

“The biggest concern I have about Internet voting is that we don’t know how to do it securely,” said Ron Rivest, an expert in cryptology and a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “It sounds wonderful but it’s an oxymoron. … We don’t have Internet experts who know how to secure big pieces of the Internet from attack. Rivest called online voting a fantasy and said it’s at least two decades from replacing the methods currently in use.

Alex Halderman, a computer science professor at the University of Michigan, is another skeptic. He led a team of students from the university who successfully penetrated a test-run of Internet voting in Washington, D.C., in 2010. “We began … role playing — how would a hacker, a real malicious attacker, attempt to break in and compromise the vote and, within 48 hours of the start of the test, we had gained virtually complete control of the voting server and changed all of the votes,” he said.

National: FVAP report shows continued trends in military voting Report highlights successes and future challenges | electionlineWeekly

The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) recently released its 2010 Post Election Report, which included a wealth of information on the participation of military voters and their spouses. This release follows the recent publication of data and a report on military and overseas voting by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

While the report includes numerous details focusing on the specifics of members of this community, the general trend is clear: members of the military and their spouses are highly engaged in the elections process and continue to register and vote at higher rates than the general electorate.

Unlike the EAC, which simply reports data provided by states as part of the Election Administration and Voting Survey, the FVAP adjusted military participation data to account for the age and gender of the generally younger and male population of uniformed voters. FVAP also surveyed a number of populations to ascertain their level of participation in 2010.

Colorado: All-mail election turnout could exceed past off-year contests | Aspen Daily News Online

A total of 1,813 Pitkin County voters have cast ballots in this fall’s all mail-in election and turnout is on track to exceed prior off-year elections. The county issued a total of 10,720 ballots for this year’s election. That included a late addition of about 2,500 “inactive” voters, earlier this month, who were to be excluded, said elections manager Dwight Shellman.

The clerk’s office began receiving high volumes of ballots in the mail on Oct. 17. Wednesday was the most ballots the county had received yet in a single day so far, with 296, Shellman reported. Turnout is typically low in odd-numbered election years, like 2011, in which there are no state or national candidates on the ballot. Over the last decade, those contests have averaged about 3,200 ballots. Before ballots began coming in this year, Shellman said he was expecting between 3,500 and 4,500. “We would be over the moon if we hit the high end of that,” he said.

Kansas: Secretary of state fined $5,000 for errors in campaign reports |

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s campaign was fined $5,000 Wednesday for mistakes made in filing expense and contribution reports for the 2010 election. The Governmental Ethics Commission voted 7-2 to impose the maximum fine after questioning Kobach’s campaign treasurer, state Rep. Tom Arpke of Salina. At issue was nearly $80,000 that was omitted from the reports.

Commission Chairwoman Sabrina Standifer said the maximum fine was imposed, in part, because the campaign maintained that it reported the omissions to ethics officials. “The commission does not condone lack of candor before the commission,” Standifer said. “This is in no way, shape or form self-reporting.”