Editorials: Who’s behind Americans Elect and what they want | Los Angeles Times

A few weeks ago I wrote about an effort to put a centrist “third party” candidate on the presidential ballot next year, launched by an organization called Americans Elect. The privately funded group plans to stage a wide-open primary on the Internet, to enable voters to choose a ticket drawn from the middle of the political spectrum. Voters can propose anyone they like, but the process is designed for potential centrist candidates such as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.

That column provoked a torrent of questions from readers. Some asked: Isn’t this just a Republican plot to seduce independents away from President Obama? Others asked: Isn’t this just a Democratic plot to seduce moderates away from the GOP? These are fair questions in an age in which seemingly benign proposals sometimes conceal hidden agendas. So I did some more digging to find out who is behind Americans Elect and what it’s really after.

Indiana: How Many Ballot Scanners Should We Buy for 2012 | individual.com

How many voting machines does Monroe County really need? If the county decided to scan paper ballots at a central location, such as at the Justice Building, after 2012 elections, it wouldn’t matter whether the county commissioners purchase enough machines for 81 precincts or 20-some vote centers.

The county could consider buying just one high-speed digital ballot scanner, similar to the one it used in the May 2011 primary elections. Even if all 94,164 registered voters in the county show up to vote, results would be delayed only by a few hours over having a scanner at each polling place, and the county would save money.

Indiana: State officials want proposed Lake voting machines tested | nwitimes

The Indiana Elections Commission refused Friday to immediately approve Lake County’s purchase of remodeled electronic voting machines, which local officials say are crucial to reducing long lines of voters next year. Sally LaSota, county elections director, said Friday more machines are needed before the 2012 primary election when President Barack Obama’s re-election bid is expected to bring out busloads of early voters.

LaSota said she needs help handling the anticipated crowd and asked state elections officials to permit MicroVote, which has manufactured the 1,050 current machines, to provide more updated electronic voting stations. Michelle Fajman, county recorder and elections director during the 2008 Obama campaign, said, “In Gary, we had people voting as late as 10 p.m. Lake County is in dire need of more machines.”

South Carolina: Agency faces tough balancing act with voter ID regulations | Aiken Standard

Back in 2004, Marci Andino was accused of shilling for corporate America and the Republican Party as she rolled out the state’s new electronic voting machines. Those complaints continue to this day, as critics insist that machines that don’t spit out paper receipts to voters are subject to manipulation and stolen elections.

Then over the past couple of years, the director of the State Election Commission got some harsh looks from GOP lawmakers when she joined county election officials in calling for an open early voting system. Democrats love and Republicans hate early voting, which election professionals argue would help keep lines moving on Election Day, at minimum cost, by replacing the restricted absentee voting procedure that more and more people are using illegally to vote in advance.

Wisconsin: Recall election costs projected in millions | Appleton Post Crescent

At least $650,000 will be needed by state election officials to cover the costs of handling petitions for Wisconsin’s upcoming wave of recalls, according to a memo from the state Government Accountability Board. But that estimate doesn’t include costs for local governments, which are expected to be in the millions statewide.

The election watchdog agency said it will need an additional $652,699 to cover recall expenses, including personnel costs, mainly from hiring and supervising about 50 temporary workers to review as many as 1.5 million signatures, renting additional office space, buying supplies and equipment and doing public outreach about the state’s new voter ID law.

Ghana: Biometric Verification is on | The Statesman

Government and the Electoral Commission have finally yielded to both domestic and international pressure and agreed to compliment the biometric voter registration with biometric voter verification at the polling station in order to enhance the integrity of the 2012 elections. However, investigations undertaken by The New Statesman suggest that the ruling party, which has still not come to terms with biometric verification, is shifting the responsibility of funding the process to Ghana’s ‘development partners’.

Biometric verification is the process whereby a registered voter would be required to insert his or her biometric voter’s ID into a battery-operated e-zwich mobile payment system-like machine, place a finger on it for the machine to verify the card-bearer’s true identity before a ballot paper could be issued to a voter to cast his or her ballot.

India: Parties oppose introducing electronic voting in the Maldives | HaveeruOnline

Most of the political parties have opposed the plan of introducing an electronic voting system in the Maldives, Elections Commission said today. Commissioner Fuad Thaufeeq said the parties made their remarks at the meeting held yesterday with the visiting International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) delegation to discuss on establishing an electronic voting system for future elections.

“Some noted that it’s wise to continue how voting takes place in the Maldives now while we noticed that most of them still need more information about how the system works. For instance, Adhaalath Party admitted that going along the technological advancements is an option but said they needed more information about the system,” he said.

Nigeria: Assessing INEC Ahead Next Elections | Leadership Newspapers

The Independent National Electoral Commission has rolled out plans to conduct elections in six states. The commission was prevented from conducting elections in these states during the 2011 general elections by a court ruling after it had claimed that the tenure of the governors in question should have ended on May, 29 2011 in spite of the fact that their 2007 elections into office had been annulled and they had to face re-election.

INEC has now come to terms with the court ruling which determined when the tenure of each of the governors is to end. INEC is to hold governorship election in Kogi State on December 3 where the tenure of the Governor Ibrahim Idris will end on April 4, 2012. According to the commission’s timetable, the governorship election in Adamawa will hold on January 14, 2012 and the four years of Murtala Nyako will end on April 30, 2012. In Bayelsa, the election will hold February 11, 2012 and the tenure of Timipre Silva ends on May 27, 2012.

Morocco: Thousands of Moroccans make final boycott call 5 days before elections | The Washington Post

Thousands of Moroccans from the pro-democracy movement made a final call Sunday to boycott upcoming elections with protests across the country. At least 3,000 people marched through the capital Rabat and another 4,000 chanted demonstrated in Casablanca, the country’s largest city. Demonstrations took place in other cities across the country as well.

Anti-government protesters hold Moroccan national flag, left, and the 20th February movement flag in red black and white during a rally organized by the 20th February, the Moroccan Arab Spring movement in Casablanca, Morocco, Sunday, Nov 20, 2011, in a mass popular call to bring more democracy into this North African kingdom. Some thousands of Moroccans from the pro-democracy movement braved pouring rain and high winds in Casablanca to make a final call to boycott upcoming elections.

Spain: Cubans who became Spanish citizens recently are voting in Spain’s elections Sunday | bellinghamherald.com

Some Cubans will vote in their first democratic elections this Sunday. But they won’t be electing anyone in their own country. Instead, they will vote in Spain’s parliamentary elections because they are among the more than 25,000 Cubans who took advantage of a 2006 Spanish law that grants citizenship to the foreign-born grandchildren of Spanish emigrants.

More than 12,000 Spanish citizens living in Cuba requested mail-in ballots for Sunday’s parliamentary election, according to Spanish news media reports. Among them are expected to be some who were born Cuban and recently became Spaniards.

Spain: People’s party sweeps to crushing victory over Socialists | The Guardian

The conservative People’s party (PP) of Mariano Rajoy has swept to a landslide victory in Spain’s general election, inheriting sky-high unemployment and one of the shakiest economies in Europe. Rajoy’s PP gained an absolute parliamentary majority with a crushing 16 percentage point win over the Socialists of outgoing prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.

The Socialists lost a third of their seats as voters dumped a government that presided over a dramatic economic slump which has left 23% of Spaniards out of work. With the PP winning 186 of the 350 seats in parliament, 56-year-old Rajoy was given a free hand to carry out sweeping reforms and impose further austerity in an attempt to turn the country around.

Taiwan: President Ma Ying-jeou registers for presidential election | Taiwan News Online

President Ma Ying-jeou and his running mate Premier Wu Den-yih were the first presidential candidates to register for the January 14 election at the Central Election Commission Monday morning.

Opposition Democratic Progressive Party Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen and her running mate Su Jia-chyuan are expected to show up on Wednesday, while People First Party Chairman James Soong and his vice-presidential choice, Lin Ruey-shiung, could pick Thursday or Friday, reports said. Allegations that Lin might still hold United States citizenship and therefore be ineligible to run for election have thrown doubts on that timing.

Wisconsin: Walker Opponents Plagued By Threats, Thefts | WISC Madison

Opponents of Gov. Scott Walker said they have faced threats and thefts in the days since the recall effort began. Two volunteers in the petition drive reported violent threats made against them to the police. Neighbors in Monona also complained to authorities of politically motivated thefts from their yards.

The threats involved phone calls from an area code in Minnesota. The calls came overnight after Walker’s opponents began the recall, said Madison resident Tom Peer, who said he received a call at 2 a.m. on Thursday. “They said, ‘If you don’t stop circulating recall petitions, we will kill you,'” said Peer.