The Voting News Daily: Colorado Secretary of State proposes weakening voting machine security, Protests continue in Moscow, as Gorbachev calls for nullifying elections

Russia: Protests continue in Moscow, as Gorbachev calls for nullifying elections | The Washington Post An anti-government demonstration planned for Saturday was drawing strong support in Russia, as supporters of Prime Minister Vladi­mir Putin staged their own rally in the capital and police announced hundreds more arrests in Tuesday night’s protest against corruption. More than 14,000…

National: Postal Service cuts could interfere with elections, delay ballots | The Daily Caller

With Congress debating plans to shut down post offices and possibly eliminate Saturday mail delivery, some election officials are worried that bringing the U.S. Postal Service out of the red could harm election procedures — perhaps even in time for the November 2012 presidential election.

In November the Postal Service announced it lost $5.1 billion in fiscal 2011, not including the mandated $5.5 billion owed to the federal government to prefund retiree health benefit payments. For the service to return to profitability, it must cut $20 billion by 2015.

Senate legislation would protect Saturday service for the next two years, but a House bill would permit a reduction to five-day-per-week mail delivery six months after enactment. The Postal Service has said it intends to cut Saturday service unless Congress requires it to continue.

Colorado: Secretary of State proposing changes to voting machine security making the already-vulnerable equipment more susceptible to hacking | The Denver Post

The Colorado Secretary of State’s office is considering changes that would relax security around electronic voting machines, making the already-vulnerable equipment more susceptible to hacking, opponents of the equipment and the draft rules said today. “There’s nothing more important than election security,” said attorney Paul Hultin, who represented several voters in a 2006 lawsuit that sought to eliminate use of the machines in Colorado. “It’s a step back.”

Richard Coolidge, public information officer for Secretary of State Scott Gessler, said the aim is to provide more guidance and clarity to county clerks, thereby creating more uniformity in how rules are applied. “We’re trying to balance common sense, practical application with security on the other end,” Coolidge said. “We can do that without compromising any security.”

A public meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday to provide input on the proposed changes. Formal rulemaking has not yet started, but the meeting is a likely first step toward the rulemaking process, Coolidge said.

Colorado: Some challenge Colorado voting machine rule proposal | The Pueblo Chieftain

Plaintiffs who prevailed in a lawsuit to decertify Colorado voting machines in 2006 spoke out Wednesday against Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s proposal to relax security protocols for the machines. Gessler has proposed a rule change that would eliminate his office’s mandatory inspection of voting machines in counties, lessen the requirement for tamper-proof seals on the machine, lift the mandate for clerks to report suspected tampering to the secretary of state and reduce the amount of video surveillance required for the machines.

“This is the culmination of about a year of work with our staff and county clerks’ staffs,” said Rich Coolidge, spokesman for the secretary of state’s office. Pueblo County Clerk Gilbert “Bo” Ortiz, president-elect of the County Clerks of Colorado, said the organization favors relaxing how direct recording electronic voting machines are monitored.

…Denver lawyer Paul Hultin, who represented voters in a 2006 lawsuit seeking to do away with terminals in the state, said if the new rules are adopted as Gessler has proposed them, the security of the voting machines will be compromised. Hultin, of the firm Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell, contends Gessler is overstepping his authority to relax the rules and is opening a door to fraud through computer hacking. He also worries that evidence on paper that could settle disputes and questions of fraud is not an option in electronic voting.

District of Columbia: Occupy DC Hunger Strike: Adrian Parsons Plans To Starve For D.C. Voting Rights | HuffungtonPost

Adrian Parsons, still wearing the blue bracelet from his arrest Sunday for defending Occupy DC’s barn from Park Police, is sitting at Saxby’s coffee shop just north of McPherson Square on a rainy Tuesday afternoon. He’s eating an almond cheese danish. For now, Parsons, who has been living in Occupy DC’s downtown D.C. encampment for more than two months, is eating as many cheese danish as he wants — and pasta and anything else he’s in the mood for. But on Thursday at noon — “That’s a tentative time,” he says — the tall and already quite skinny performance artist begins a hunger strike for D.C. voting rights that could go on for a long time. “I’m eating a lot of ice cream,” he says.

Parsons and three others — the hunger strike is not an Occupy DC action, but the would-be strikers are all occupiers — will be asking for three things as a condition of ending their strike: D.C. budget autonomy, legislative autonomy and voting rights. Currently, the city’s budget must be approved by Congress and the president, and its legislation must be reviewed by Congress. The District has no representation in the Senate and only nonvoting representation in the House.

Maryland: Ex-Ehrlich campaign manager Schurick convicted in robocall case | The Washington Post

Paul E. Schurick, the 2010 campaign manager for former Maryland governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., was convicted Tuesday by a Baltimore jury of four counts stemming from a robocall that prosecutors said was intended to suppress the black vote.

The call, which Schurick acknowledged authorizing, was placed on Election Day to 112,000 voters in Baltimore and Prince George’s County, the state’s two largest majority-African American jurisdictions. Recipients were told by an unidentified woman that they could “relax” because Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) had been successful. The guilty verdict not only sullied the three-decade career of one of Maryland’s best-known political operatives, it also served as a major embarrassment for Ehrlich, the state’s only Republican governor in a generation.

Although prosecutors have never suggested that Ehrlich approved the calls, he is pushing a new book that draws anecdotes from his four years in Annapolis and contends his failed comeback bid last year was “swamped” by the black vote.

North Carolina: GOP looks to salvage voter ID | The Charlotte Post

Supporters of requiring photo identification for voting in North Carolina say that it protects the integrity of the vote against identity theft and fraud. Opponents, however, aren’t convinced. N.C. House Bill 351, Restore Confidence in Government, requiring that voters provide photo ID was ratified in mid-June. Within a week, Gov. Beverly Perdue vetoed it.

“We shouldn’t be surprised by how far the governor will go to score political points with the liberal wing of her party,” President Pro Tempore Sen. Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said after her veto. “A measure that ensures voters are who they say they are is a no-brainer, and most North Carolinians agree. It’s a shame Gov. Perdue is playing politics with the integrity of elections.” But opponents said that this argument doesn’t hold up under deeper analysis.

Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said, during a Dec. 1 conference call, that investigations show that there is no “significant amount of fraud” including one investigation done under former President George Bush’s administration. “Even the Bush administration’s White House was unable to come up with any credible or any significant amount of fraud,” Schultz said.  “The only evidence was incidental or occasional and certainly not the widespread voter identity theft that they were accusing folks of.”

North Carolina: Voter ID campaign draws ire | Salisbury Post

Opposition mounted against a photo ID requirement for voters at the Rowan County and East Spencer board meetings Monday. The Rowan County Board of Commissioners heard from several people who spoke against a local bill it requested at its Nov. 21 meeting.

If passed by state legislators, the bill would allow Rowan County to require voters to show photo identification at the polls. It would be patterned after an N.C. Senate bill passed by the General Assembly this year but vetoed by the governor.

Elaine Mills, a chief poll judge, said Rowan County has protections already in place against voter fraud. Poll judges get to know voters in their precinct on sight, she said, and they ask voters they don’t recognize questions about where they live or who their neighbors are.

Congo: Violence, deaths over Congo elections force delay of official results |

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s election commission postponed declaring the winner of last week’s polls amid fears the result could lead to new violence as protests erupted worldwide. The conflict-prone country has been on high alert while it awaits the final results after a campaign that saw deadly police crackdowns on opposition rallies and a series of clashes between rival partisans.

Early tallies showed President Joseph Kabila heading for re-election in the single-round vote, which pitted him against a divided opposition field of 10 candidates. But the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) said late on Tuesday it needed more time to compile final results from around the vast central African country, promising a full count within 48 hours.

“We don’t have all the results sheets from the 169 local results compilation centres,” CENI spokesman Matthieu Mpita told AFP. “That’s why we had to postpone the provisional results. To respect the law, we need to have all the results sheets in our possession.” The postponement came after police fired tear gas to disperse opposition supporters in Kinshasa. According to results issued late Tuesday, Kabila led main rival Etienne Tshisekedi 49 percent to 33 percent, with 89 percent of polling centres counted.

Egypt: Report highlights electoral commission blunders in first round | Daily News Egypt

According to a report issued Wednesday by the Egyptian Coalition for Election Observation, the Supreme Electoral Commission (SEC) did not posses the required tools to effectively supervise Egypt’s first post-Mubarak elections. “The members of the SEC were only assigned their tasks for the duration of the elections and the security organization was affiliated to the interior ministry and the armed forces,” said Ahmed Abdel Hafez, vice head of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR), member of the coalition.

Abdel Hafez added that the SEC only issued the policies that regulate the electoral process but could not practically apply the law or penalize those who committed violations during the electoral process. According to Ghada Shahbandar, board member of the EOHR, the SEC itself had committed the highest rate of violations. “The SEC was not ready to oversee the elections and we called upon it more than once to postpone the polls in light of clashes in Tahrir Square between protesters and security forces,” she said.

Ghana: Electoral Commission To Get Biometric Voter Equipment | Bernama

The Electoral Commission (EC) is to acquire biometric voter equipment by February next year to start biometric voter registration in the first quarter of the year, says Christian Owusu Parry, the EC’s Head of Public Affairs.

He said here on Wednesday that a committee was currently working on the technical aspects of the acquisition process, and added that the EC had agreed to introduce biometric registration since it would help check against double registration and eliminate names of fake voters in the Voters’ Register.

Russia: Protests continue in Moscow, as Gorbachev calls for nullifying elections | The Washington Post

An anti-government demonstration planned for Saturday was drawing strong support in Russia, as supporters of Prime Minister Vladi­mir Putin staged their own rally in the capital and police announced hundreds more arrests in Tuesday night’s protest against corruption. More than 14,000 people have signed up for Saturday’s demonstration in Revolution Square to protest the recent legislative elections, according to a Facebook page announcing the event. Western monitors say the voting was flawed by ballot-stuffing and other irregularities.

As the number of people pledging to attend the demonstration grew, Moscow officials shut down Revolution Square for construction, the New Times Web site reported. The Web site published a photograph of barriers erected to close off the square, near a statue of Karl Marx, and quoted a city hall representative as saying the decision to work on the square was made Wednesday. The city has employed construction before to limit or prevent protests.

Also Wednesday, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev said Russian authorities should nullify the election results because of fraud concerns. Prime Minister Vladi­mir Putin’s ruling United Russia party won with less than 50 percent of the vote, a far weaker showing than in past years.

Russia: Social media makes anti-Putin protests snowball | Reuters

Artyom Kolpakov used to shrug when he came across occasional appeals on social media sites to protest against Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his government. “I didn’t see the point really,” he said.

But something changed when, clicking through amateur videos and online testimonies documenting cases of ballot-stuffing and repeat voting, he saw others shared his outrage at Putin’s party’s victory in Sunday’s parliamentary election. On Monday evening, Kolpakov, 38, was among several thousand Russians who took to the streets of Moscow in the biggest opposition protest in years.

Such protests against Putin’s rule, as president from 2000 to 2008 and as prime minister since then, have rarely drawn more than about 200 people, some of them Soviet-era dissidents and others activists in marginalized opposition groups.

Taiwan: Taiwan VP candidate no longer holds US passport: Election Commission | Taiwan News Online

People First Party vice-presidential candidate Lin Ruey-shiung no longer holds United States citizenship, the Central Election Commission confirmed Wednesday. When registering as a candidate last month, Lin showed a letter from the US State Department claiming he had given up his US passport.

Since individuals with double nationality cannot run for public office in Taiwan, critics threw doubt on Lin’s eligibility to run in the January 14 election.

Zimbabwe: Mugabe man insists on elections |

President Robert Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba insists elections are on next year, despite slow paced reforms and resistance by coalition partners. Charamba said elections will take place next year even though they are not provided for in the 2012 budget presented to Parliament by Finance minister Tendai Biti last month.

“The fact that money was not allocated to elections does not mean elections won’t take place next year. Budget has unallocated reserves so it is very easy to hold elections,” Charamba told the Daily News in an interview. “Elections will definitely take place provided we finish the referendum on time,” he said. Charamba spoke as his boss prepared to formalise the 2012 poll demand by way of a resolution at the ongoing Zanu PF conference in Bulawayo.

A resolution by Zanu PF at last year’s conference in Mutare for elections to be held in 2011 suffered after Mugabe later admitted that gone were the days when he could unilaterally call an election. Mugabe and coalition partners Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and a fractured breakaway MDC faction have agreed that elections can only be held after the adoption of a new constitution.