California: Debra Bowen and The Lessons of Technology | NBC Bay Area

Quietly, a political storm is growing over technology, access and the state of California. California Secretary of State Debra Bowen is in the middle of it. She is facing serious criticism over how she manages technology. The state’s Cal-ACCESS system — which provides the public with vital data on campaign contributions and lobbyist activist — went down three weeks ago. A database that verifies voter registrations also went down.

These problems come on top of earlier criticism that Bowen’s office was not moving fast enough to enable on-line voter registration. (And then there are a few people like your blogger who have argued that she should be more open to electronic signature gathering for ballot initiatives and referenda). Some criticism is warranted, but much of it is unfair — and misses the crucial context.

One of Bowen’s greatest public services has been her smart skepticism about technology in voting. The secretary of state may well have saved the state from serious election problems by challenging the technology and security of electronic voting machines.

Colorado: Secretary of State Gessler embraces being targeted over his push for reforms | The Denver Post

During his first meeting with county clerks, newly elected Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler made a comment that some at the table found odd but would later prove prophetic. I’m probably going to be in court more than any previous secretary of state, Gessler said, according to several people in the room.

Just one year into his first term, the prediction hasn’t come true yet. But neither Gessler nor his critics will be surprised if it does. “Folks are gunning for me, and the lawsuit-happy folks are the ones I fought for years,” the former elections attorney said. “I’m a target.”

If the Republican Gessler is a target, his critics contend, it’s because he’s made himself one with a series of moves — from trying to work at his former job while in office to suing two county clerks to proposing a wholesale rewrite of Colorado’s campaign-finance rules.

Florida: Election law changes may be confusing absentee voters |

Absentee ballots for the Republican presidential primary will start hitting the mail Tuesday, but thousands of Florida voters who think they’ve signed up to get one may be surprised. Elections supervisors say they fear many voters aren’t aware that a 2010 election law change eliminated a provision that automatically sent an absentee ballot to every voter who had requested one in the previous election. And some blame ignorance of the change for a big drop in applications in advance of the Jan. 31 primary.

“It’s dramatically decreased,” said Seminole County Elections Supervisor Michael Ertel. “The reason is, after the 2010 election, almost everybody’s absentee ballot request expired.” Ertel’s office has received only 2,366 requests so far from his county’s heavily Republican electorate, compared with 6,663 absentee ballots cast in the 2008 GOP presidential primary. Similarly, Palm Beach County reported 4,857 requests by mid-week, compared with 9,612 in the 2008 election.

Texas: Voter ID law may not be implemented in time for 2012 primaries | Star Telegram

Seven months ago, Gov. Rick Perry stood at a lectern in the Texas Capitol flanked by dozens of fellow Republican state lawmakers to celebrate a new state law.

“It’s our duty to ensure that elections are fair, beyond reproach, accurately reflecting the will of the people,” Perry said. “And that’s what voter ID is all about.” He then ceremoniously signed the bill requiring Texas voters to present a valid state or federal photo ID to vote. The plan was for Senate Bill 14 to be enacted Jan. 1, in time for the 2012 elections.

But that timeline is in doubt as the Justice Department continues reviewing new voter identification laws passed in Texas and other states. Because of a history of racial discrimination, Texas remains one of many states still subject to one or more sections of the Voting Rights Act. That requires Texas to get federal approval, or pre-clearance, for any changes to voting procedures.

US Virgin Islands: Residents seek removal of Elections Board head | Virgin Islands Daily News

A meeting of the St. Croix Board of Elections on Thursday ended with a lot of people shouting angrily at one another. It was not an uncommon ending for a meeting of the board. The board’s meetings this year have been fueled with personality clashes among board members, along with a heavy presence of vocal and at times aggressive residents – whose dissatisfaction boils over at most meetings.

Now that dissatisfaction is being focused with a petition to recall Rupert Ross Jr. Ross serves as both the chairman of the St. Croix Board of Elections and the V.I. Joint Board of Elections.

The residents, represented by Mary Moorhead, filed the petition Thursday morning with V.I. Elections Supervisor John Abramson Jr. “We’re here as a group of concerned citizens,” Moorhead said outside the Elections Office with a dozen or so people behind her. “We are concerned about a plethora of wrongdoings here in the Virgin Islands.”

Wisconsin: Obstacles to voting are becoming apparent | Jim Bowman/Appleton Post Crescent

Wisconsin citizens who may be turned away from their polling places in the next election are beginning to share their stories. Ruthelle Frank has voted in every election since 1948 but she’s no longer eligible. Wisconsin’s voter ID law requires a photo ID for voting and a birth certificate is needed to obtain the photo ID.

Born in 1927, Ruthelle has never had a birth certificate. Her name was misspelled at birth and, to obtain a correct birth certificate, she must petition a court at a cost over $200. On her limited income, she can’t afford this amount.

Ruthelle has served on the Brokaw Village Board since 1996. She has a baptism certificate, a Social Security card, a Medicare statement and a checkbook. Without a photo ID, however, Ruthelle can no longer vote and she finds the prospect of being turned away at the polls infuriating.

Congo: Vote count halts until foreign experts come | AFP

The electoral commission in the Democratic Republic of Congo has halted the vote count for parliamentary elections until experts arrive from the United States and Britain, it announced Monday. The independent national electoral commission (CENI), which has registered many complaints regarding the presidential and parliamentary elections of November 28, said it did not know when these experts would come, or how many there would be.

“There has been a first meeting at the political level, with the ambassadors of the United States and Great Britain,” followed by a “technical” meeting with the UN mission in the DR Congo (MONUSCO), Jacques Djoli, vice-president of the CENI, told AFP.

“Discussions must continue. We hope that at the latest tomorrow or after tomorrow things will become clearer, because we already have results that need to be validated and a population that is awaiting the end of the process,” Djoli added.

Ireland: Lost voices: Irish emigrants would like to vote | The Irish Voice

With the election date in Ireland finally set for February 25, Irish people are gearing up for what is one of the most significant general elections in the history of the State.  Party manifestos have been drawn up, campaigns are being rolled out and soon the entire country will be littered with election posters as every available lamppost in Ireland becomes a platform for a political mantra.

But as people cast their ballot papers, a universal murmur will echo around the world as the countless number of Irish emigrant voices go unaccounted. Under current Irish law, if you are an Irish citizen living abroad you cannot be entered onto the register of electors. Postal votes are limited to Irish diplomats and army officials stationed abroad.

Hundreds of thousands of emigrants who have recently left Irish shores forfeited their right to vote in elections at home upon departure. For people who have emigrated within the last 18 months, and remain registered at their old address, the only option available is to fly home to vote.

Moldova: Shevchuk wins Transdnestr presidency – election commission source | RIA Novosti

The ex-speaker of the Transdnestr parliament, Yevgeny Shevchuk, will become the breakaway republic’s second president after garnering 73.88 percent of the vote in Sunday’s runoff election, a source in Transdnestr’s Central Election Commission told RIA Novosti, citing preliminary results.

His opponent, Supreme Council Chairman Anatoly Kaminsky, received 19.67 percent of the vote. Another 4.45 percent of those casting ballots voted against both candidates.The winner of the election will serve as Transdnestr’s president for the next five years.

The Central Election Commission says it will announce official, preliminary results of the vote count at 10:00 a.m. local time on Monday. The final results will be available in three days, the commission said.

Russia: Moscow protest: Thousands rally against Vladimir Putin | BBC

Tens of thousands of people have rallied in central Moscow in a show of anger at alleged electoral fraud. They passed a resolution “not to give a single vote to Vladimir Putin” at next year’s presidential election.

Protest leader Alexei Navalny told the crowd to loud applause that Russians would no longer tolerate corruption. “I see enough people here to take the Kremlin and [Government House] right now but we are peaceful people and won’t do that just yet,” he said.

Demonstrators say parliamentary elections on 4 December, which were won by Mr Putin’s party, were rigged. The government denies the accusation.