National: House votes to end election commission | The Hill

The House on Thursday approved a bill ending the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) that was set up to ensure states meet certain standards at the voting booth, and ending the public financing of presidential campaigns. The bill passed in a mostly partisan 235-190 vote.

The vote followed a sometimes contentious debate in which some Democrats charged that the GOP effort to end the EAC is in line with other Republican attempts to suppress voter turnout in next year’s election. The EAC was established in 2002 after the very close and controversial presidential election of 2000 election, and was meant to ensure states meet certain voting standards. The EAC has disbursed more than $3 billion in “requirements” payments to states to update voting machines and enhance election administration.

Connecticut: Weston Officials Blast State’s Election Audit | The Daily Weston

Weston has been randomly picked by Secretary of the State Denise Merrill as one of the 73 polling precincts to be audited from the Nov. 8 election — and no one in Town Hall is happy about it. “Am I happy about this? Of course I am not happy about it. This is ridiculous, it’s an unfunded mandate,” said First Selectman Gayle Weinstein.

The audit, which is a hand counting of votes, is required under Connecticut General Statutes and is done at random. A total of 726 polling precincts were open across the state election night, and 10 percent of those places were chosen for the audit.

Voting Blogs: What Price Accountability – and Who Pays? Weston, CT and Election Auditing | Doug Chapin/PEEA

The small town of Weston is unhappy after one of its precincts was randomly selected for a statewide audit of voting machines required under Connecticut law. Auditing laws have become more common in recent years in response to concerns about the accuracy of voting machines. The idea is that jurisdictions shouldn’t wait for recounts and close elections to assess the accuracy of their voting systems; rather, they should regularly test their machines to ensure that the number of votes counted match the number of votes cast. That seems sensible – and yet the implementation of such requirements inevitably creates new issues.

In Weston, the town’s displeasure is mostly related to the cost of conducting the audit. According to The Daily Weston, town officials estimate that hand-counting three races in the selected precinct will cost the town $2,500 to cover the cost of poll workers to do the count. Weston’s First Selectman calls the audit an “unfunded mandate” – and in one sense, she’s correct; there doesn’t appear to be any state funding for the costs of the audit. Deliberately or not, Connecticut has shifted the costs of accountability to its towns – and as budgets remain tight that may require a second look. If the State wants an audit but isn’t willing to pay, then towns are justified in asking whether such a requirement is fair.

Florida: Eleven lawmakers get subpoenas in election law case | St. Petersburg Times

Eleven state legislators have been hit with subpoenas in a federal lawsuit involving four controversial provisions of Florida’s new election law. The subpoenas to six senators and five representatives, all Republicans, were issued on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Florida and the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic voter advocacy group, by their attorney, Daniel O’Connor of the Washington, D.C., firm Bryan Cave LLP.

Both organizations have been working to prevent the U.S. government from approving the changes, which they say will disenfranchise voters and make it harder to register new voters in Florida headed into a critical 2012 presidential election. The lawmakers, most of whom supported the legislation, are ordered to produce by Dec. 14 “all documents” related to the four major election law changes at issue in the case.

Indiana: Monroe County To Vote On Buying Election Equipment Monday | Indiana Public Media

The Monroe County commissioners have postponed a vote on purchasing 2012 voting equipment until Monday because of an Election Board vote that rejected a proposal for vote centers. Commissioner Iris Kiesling says they needed more time to decide what equipment would give them the best deal for their money.

“Now that we have to provide service to eighty-two precincts, although some of those might be co-located, we have to look at our numbers and see what the best proposal is that we have before us,” she says.

Kiesling quoted a Financial Policy Institute report released last year that said vote center elections would cost Monroe County nearly $87,000. Precinct elections would cost $161,000. That does not include the 15 new precincts that will be added this year. County Clerk Linda Robbins, who voted in favor of the vote centers, says the higher cost is why finding the voting equipment could be difficult.

New York: Board of Elections has to end their cut and add tallies | NY Daily News

The Board of Elections will be commanded Thursday to defend the indefensible — plus the incomprehensible, the inexplicable and the incompetent. Good luck with that. The forum will be a hearing of the state Assembly Election Committee, where lawmakers will grill board representatives about their loony, hours-long process for tallying unofficial results.

No other election authority in the nation adds up numbers using the method employed by the board. In brief, when voting is done, poll workers:

Order each of 3,859 computerized scanners at 1,358 poll sites to print out a paper strip that shows the votes cast for every candidate, broken down by election district. Cut up each machine’s strip by election district. Gather the scraps of paper into piles for each race and each one of 6,109 election districts. Add the numbers up by hand and write the totals on sheets of paper that are taken to police stations to be entered into computers for dissemination by The Associated Press.

Pennsylvania: Dismissed Venango County Election Board Files Appeal | VotePA

Attorney Charles A. Pascal, Jr., has filed a Motion For Reconsideration on behalf of members of the specially appointed Venango County Election Board. The filing was made this afternoon in response to President Judge Oliver J. Lobaugh’s order dismissing the Board yesterday. Citing ongoing investigations into serious voting machine problems reported during the May 17 primary election, the specially appointed Election Board requested that they be allowed to continue their work until 11:59 PM on December 31, 2011.

“The members of the specially appointed Board of Elections believes that it is necessary to continue their work in order to assure the voters of the County of Venango of the integrity of the election process in the county,” the Motion states, “and to assure that any possible violations of policy, protocol, best practices, or the law, or any directive of the Pennsylvania Secretary of State, are not repeated in future elections.”

Egypt: Election turnout 62 percent, protesters honour dead | Reuters

More than eight million Egyptians voted in the opening round of their first free vote in six decades in what the election chief said Friday was a turnout of 62 percent, far higher than in the rigged polls of deposed President Hosni Mubarak. The Muslim Brotherhood’s party and its ultra-conservative Salafi rivals looked set to top the polls, to the alarm of many at home and abroad. Moderate Islamists have won elections in Tunisia and Morocco in the past two months.

The emergence of ambitious Salafi parties is one of the starkest measures of change in post-Mubarak Egypt. The world is watching the election for pointers to the future in Egypt, the most populous Arab nation and one hitherto seen as a firm U.S. ally committed to preserving its peace treaty with Israel and fighting Islamist militancy.

Egypt: Elections: few incidents, many women at polling stations | Asia News

In Cairo, Alexandria and other governorates 9 the second day of voting for the lower house of parliament opens. Yesterday the turnout at the polls was higher than expected with queues several hundreds of meters long, especially in the most popular districts of the city. In Alexandria in many seats more women voted than men, according to some a sign of the desire for participation in the construction of the new Egypt.

Despite the peaceful environment, sources tell AsiaNews of arguments and attempts to influence the vote by the Muslim Brotherhood. Most incidents occurred in women’s polling stations, where women dressed in the nijab invited others to vote for the Islamist formation. In Cairo’s most populated areas members of radical Muslim parties distributed packages with sugar, salt, oil, engraved with the program and the candidate to vote to people in line. This had already occurred during the referendum on the March 19 constitution.

Saint Lucia: Labour Party regains power | Trinidad Express Newspaper

The St Lucia Labour Party (SLP) came storming back into government in Monday’s general election, five years after it was swept aside by the United Workers Party (UWP). SLP Leader Dr Kenny Anthony told St Lucians that the “days ahead will be hard, it will be difficult” and that the right message would be sent by not declaring a public holiday as has been the tradition over the years to celebrate the victory.

“I am afraid there will be no holiday (Tuesday), we will get to work immediately. There is a hard job ahead of all of us and it is important for the sake of this country that we take the right step from now,” he added. Preliminary results show that the SLP secured a majority of the 17 seats, and could be victorious in as many as 11 constituencies given that some of the results were being contested by both parties.