Guyana: Caribbean electorates: Not for sale | Caribbean360

General elections in St Lucia and Guyana on November 28 have raised serious questions about the financing of campaigns and the unfair use of state resources by governing political parties to gain an advantage over their opponents.

In St Lucia, it is alleged that a significant portion of the United Workers Party (UWP) campaign funds came from Taiwan.  The UWP was the ruling party at the time of the elections and the then leader of the Opposition and leader of the St Lucia Labour Party (SLP), Kenny Anthony, had engaged in a public row with the Taiwanese Ambassador over his blatant interference in the electoral politics of the island. In Guyana, it is claimed that the ruling Peoples Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) outspent its three rivals by a sizeable margin in the elections campaign.

Russia: Russian election commission to probe absentee ballot mess | RIA Novosti

Russia’s Central Election Commission (CEC) will carry out a probe into why over 500,000 people who had received absentee ballots never took part in the December 4 parliamentary elections, the Izvestiya daily reported on Friday citing CEC member Sergei Danilenko.

Earlier, Danilenko told RIA Novosti that over 1,700,000 absentee ballots had been handed to voters, but only 1,260,000 people used them. “We are now analyzing the situation in each constituent member [of the Russian Federation],” Danilenko said.

“We will look into the reasons why people who probably wanted to vote did not do so,” he said. The official did not rule out that some CEC members will go to Russian regions to investigate the matter on the site.

Russia: As Relations With U.S. Worsen, Putin Accuses Clinton of Instigating Protests |

Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin accused Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday of inciting unrest in Russia, as he grappled with the prospect of large-scale political protest for the first time in his more than decade-long rule. In a rare personal accusation, Mr. Putin said Ms. Clinton had sent “a signal” to “some actors in our country” after Sunday’s parliamentary elections, which have been condemned as fraudulent by both international and Russian observers. Anger over the elections prompted a demonstration in which thousands chanted “Putin is a thief” and “Russia without Putin,” a development which has deeply unnerved the Kremlin.

Speaking to political allies as he announced the formation of his presidential campaign, Mr. Putin said hundreds of millions in “foreign money” was being used to influence Russian politics, and that Ms. Clinton herself had spurred protesters to action. The comments seemed to mark an end to the Obama administration’s sputtering effort to “reset” the relationship between the U.S. and Russia.

“I looked at the first reaction of our U.S. partners,” Mr. Putin said. “The first thing that the secretary of state did was say that they were not honest and not fair, but she had not even yet received the material from the observers.She set the tone for some actors in our country and gave them a signal,” Mr. Putin continued. “They heard the signal, and with the support of the U.S. State Department, began active work.”

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.

The Voting News Daily: Robocall: Schurick guilty of election fraud , Voter ID Catch-22: Need photo ID to get birth certificate to get photo ID?

Maryland: Robocall: Schurick guilty of election fraud | A Baltimore jury Tuesday found Paul Schurick, former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.’s campaign manager, guilty of election fraud and related charges for his role in an Election Day 2010 robocall. The jury found Schurick guilty on all four counts, including election fraud and failing to include…

Maryland: Robocall: Schurick guilty of election fraud |

A Baltimore jury Tuesday found Paul Schurick, former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.’s campaign manager, guilty of election fraud and related charges for his role in an Election Day 2010 robocall. The jury found Schurick guilty on all four counts, including election fraud and failing to include an Ehrlich campaign authorization line on the calls. After the verdict was read, Schurick clutched his wife, who burst into tears.

Prosecutors said the call, which was made as Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley swept to a re-election victory, was designed to suppress black votes. Schurick maintained a solemn face after the hearing, comforted distraught family members and friends and declined to comment on the verdict. His attorney, A. Dwight Pettit, called himself “disappointed” and vowed to appeal on First Amendment grounds that the call was protected, political speech. “The attempt for the state to regulate political speech is unconstitutional,” he said.

Michigan: Legislation Could Restrict Voter Registration, Absentee Voters | HuffingtonPost

Prospective Michigan voters might have trouble getting their ballots after the state Senate votes on two bills that would change the procedures for voter registration, absentee ballots and required identification. One of the changes proposed by S.B. 754 is a requirement that anyone holding a voter registration drive would have to register with the Michigan Secretary of State and complete a training. It would also require that registration forms be turned in further in advance.

Several groups, including the League of Women Voters, have spoken out in opposition to the bills and what they say are the exclusionary restrictions they would put on voting and registration.

“Requiring state certification and training of third party agencies will make it more difficult for League members to register people to vote,” the League of Women Voters of Michigan wrote, according to the Kalamazoo Gazette. “The requirements placed on groups that register people to vote are excessive and will reduce registration opportunities for citizens, as some groups will not be able to meet the requirements.” S.B. 751 would require photo identification for in-person and absentee voting.

Wisconsin: Voter ID Catch-22: Need photo ID to get birth certificate to get photo ID? | Dane101

According to a survey completed for the website, those attempting to obtain a copy of their birth certificate to prove name and birth date to then obtain a voter photo ID may encounter a confusing application process. Many counties are directing applicants to a mail-in form which incorrectly informs applicants they need a copy of their photo ID prior to requesting the copy of the birth certificate. Applicants attempting to obtain voter photo IDs are instructed they need their birth certificate to get a voter photo ID, which results in a frustrating cycle with the potential to deter those trying to obtain IDs to vote in 2012.

Confused yet? State law does NOT require applicants to present identification when the copies of birth certificates are mailed to the applicant. However, since the form wasn’t properly updated, the Election Division of the Government Accountability Board,  the Department of Health Services, the Wisconsin Register of Deeds Association and 48 Wisconsin counties all post a link to this outdated and confusing form.

Wisconsin: No charges to be filed in Milwaukee recall election investigations |

No charges will be brought against two groups that were accused of election law violations in the run-up to the August recall election of Sen. Alberta Darling, according to a statement released this morning.

“It is unclear, at best, whether an offer to pay persons to gathers absentee ballot applications on a quota basis comes within the scope of the Election Bribery statute,” wrote Asst. Dist. Atty. Bruce Landgraf, the lead prosecutor on the case for Milwaukee County. “The statute as currently written does not give much guidance to those who wish to follow the dictates of the law, especially in the area of absentee voting.”

Wisconsin Right to Life gave campaign workers $25 gift cards for every 15 voters sympathetic to the anti-abortion cause that were enlisted for absentee voting. Wisconsin Jobs Now, a community and labor group, held five block parties on the northwest side of Milwaukee. They provided food, prizes and a lift to Milwaukee City Hall where voters could cast absentee ballots.

Editorials: Is it time to stop voting on Tuesdays? | CBS News

Ever wonder why Americans pick their president on a Tuesday? The short answer is that it’s the law: In 1845, Congress voted to standardize Election Day as the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. (They included that “after the first Monday” part to make sure the election wouldn’t be held on November 1, the date of the Catholic holy day known as All Saints Day.) Lawmakers chose Tuesday in order to give voters one travel day after the Sunday day of rest to get from their farms into town to vote.

It’s a system that is hopelessly outdated today, argues Jacob Soboroff, executive director of a group called “Why Tuesday,” which is trying to boost voter participation by moving Election Day to the weekend.

“In 2011, coming onto 2012, we will be voting on a day and in a way that was set for an agrarian society 160-something years ago,” he said in an interview with Hotsheet. (See at left.) “Frankly it literally is just silly that we’re still voting on this day when so many Americans are working two jobs, don’t necessarily have time to make it to the polls before or after work.”

Europe: Radical eurozone shakeup could see countries stripped of voting rights | The Guardian

The European commission could be empowered to impose austerity measures on eurozone countries being bailed out, usurping the functions of government in countries such as Greece, Ireland, or Portugal. Bailed-out countries could also be stripped of their voting rights in the EU, under radical proposals being discussed at the highest level in Brussels before this week’s crucial EU summit on the sovereign debt crisis.

A confidential paper circulated to EU leaders on Tuesday by Herman Van Rompuy, the EU council president who will chair the summit on Thursday and Friday, says that eurobonds or the pooling of eurozone debt would be a powerful tool in resolving the crisis, despite fierce German resistance to the idea. It calls for “more intrusive control of national budgetary policies by the EU” and lays out various options for enforcing fiscal discipline supra-nationally.

The two-page paper, obtained by the Guardian, is to be discussed on Wednesday among senior officials in an attempt to build a consensus ahead of the summit. It may instead set off an explosive rebellion by eurozone countries balking at the options outlined by Van Rompuy, who heavily emphasises the need for a new punitive regime overseen by EU institutions that would be given new powers of intervention.

Egypt: Hillary Clinton Says Parliamentary Election In Russia Was Rigged |

Issuing new warnings to two U.S. partners Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton criticized Russia for a parliamentary election she said was rigged and said election gains by Islamist parties must not set back Egypt’s push toward democracy after the fall of autocrat Hosni Mubarak this year.

She acknowledged the success of Islamist parties in Egyptian parliamentary voting that the U.S. has praised as fair. But many of the winners are not friendly to the United States or U.S. ally Israel, and some secular political activists in Egypt are worried that their revolution is being hijacked. Islamist parties are among the better-known and better-organized in Egypt, and while they were expected to do well in last week’s first round voting, a hardline bloc scored surprisingly large gains.

Egypt: Islamists claim most seats in run-off vote | Reuters

The Muslim Brotherhood said on Wednesday it had won most seats in an opening round of run-offs in Egypt’s staggered parliamentary vote, consolidating its lead over rival liberals and hardline Salafi Islamists.

The Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), which has promised to work with a broad coalition in the new assembly, secured 34 individual seats out of the 45 it contested in the run-offs on Monday and Tuesday, a party source told Reuters. Official results are not expected until Thursday.

A total 56 individual seats were up for grabs in the first round of the election, with others assigned to party lists. Two more rounds follow, with the last run-off set for mid-January. Salafis were the surprise runners-up in the opening stage of the ballot but the Islamist rivals are playing up their differences, giving liberals scope to take part in a post-election government and shape the future constitution.

Guyana: Political Protesters in Guyana Clash With Police | ABC News

Police fired tear gas and rubber pellets on Tuesday to disperse about 500 protesters demanding an election recount in Guyana, a day after the home of a ruling party politician was reportedly firebombed. Leaders of the opposition Partnership For National Unity said eight people were slightly injured in Tuesday’s clash, including a 79-year-old woman, a retired army chief and the head of the party’s youth movement.

David Granger, a retired army officer who won a seat in Parliament, said the protest was peaceful and said police overreacted. “There’s no reason to use this level of force.”

Kuwait: Emir dissolves parliament, calls for election | Reuters

Kuwait’s ruler dissolved parliament on Tuesday and called for an election, state media said. The government was forced to resign last month in one of the deepest political crises in the oil-exporting state and the emir said this crisis was threatening the country’s interests.

Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah gave no date for the election but under the constitution it must be held within 60 days of parliament’s dissolution. The emir said in a decree read out on state television that the decision to dissolve parliament came after it became difficult to achieve progress. “This required going back to the nation to choose its representatives in order to overcome present difficulties,” the decree said.

Nigeria: Court Accuses Electoral Commission of Using Delay Tactics |

Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, yesterday cautioned counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) AB Mahmud (SAN) against delay tactics in the trial of a suit filed against the commission by Beddings Holdings Limited. Beddings Holdings accused INEC of infringing its patent right by contracting three companies to produce voters register for the 2011 general elections without first seeking and obtaining a written licence, consent and authority from it.

It claimed that it was the only company with the patent right to produce Electronic Collapsible Transparent Ballot Boxes, ECTBB, as well as the patentee in respect of Proof of Address System/Scheme, PASS, used for collation and collection of data.