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.