Fiji: Electoral Commission expected to undergo reforms |

The Electoral Commission is expected to undergo reforms in an effort to create an environment for free and fair elections in 2014.

Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said inefficiencies in the previous election process could not be blamed entirely but instead problems arose also from a lack in adherence to existing election rules. He added more clearer rules is needed for the election process to avoid repeating mistakes of the past.

Russia: Websites downed in Russia poll ‘hack attack’ | AFP

Websites which revealed violations in Russia’s legislative polls were targeted in a mass hacking attack Sunday their operators said was aimed at preventing the exposure of mass election fraud. Popular Russian radio station Moscow Echo and election monitoring group Golos said their websites were the victims of massive cyber attacks, while several opposition news sites were inaccessible.

“The attack on the website on election day is clearly an attempt to inhibit publication of information about violations,” Moscow Echo editor-in-chief Alexei Venediktov wrote on Twitter.

Golos said it was the victim of a similar “distributed denial of service” (DDoS) attack, while several other opposition news sites were down. The Moscow Echo is popular among the liberal opposition although it is owned by state gas giant Gazprom. After the close of polls on Sunday, the Moscow Echo website was working again but the Golos website was still inaccessible.

Russia: Official: poll violations real and imaginary — RT

A top official of the Central Election Commission has admitted that some of the violations reported by vigilant citizens actually took place, but said that in most cases the suspicions proved to be unfounded. The deputy head of the Central Election Commission, Leonid Ivlev, told reporters on Sunday evening that the reports about violations on parliamentary elections were partially confirmed. He named invisible ink, illegal propaganda, and the so called “merry-go-round” – false voting by a group of specially prepared people.

The official said that the invisible ink trick was disclosed in time so the violation did not even happen and so it was more correct to talk of attempted violation. As for the “merry-go-round”, the deputy head of the commission said that the reports were tremendously exaggerated. For example, some observers accused their opponents of bringing 50 cars with 400 people to one polling station with the intent of affecting the vote. Such an action was hardly imaginable and had not been confirmed, Ivlev said.

He also said that many reports simply showed a lack of understanding of the election procedure. One of the party representatives was accused of keeping a copy of the Constitution on his working desk during the elections and one man said he had noticed a sticker on the passport of one of the voters and suggested that this was a special sign allowing him to vote many times under some secret agreement. “Colleagues, I have a sticker on my passport myself as I need it to distinguish between my internal and foreign passports. Where is the violation here?” At the same time, the official stressed that all reports of violations will be thoroughly checked with participation of police and prosecutors.

Russia: Voters deal Putin and party an election blow | Reuters

Russian voters dealt Vladimir Putin’s ruling party a heavy blow on Sunday by cutting its parliamentary majority in an election that showed growing unease with his domination of the country as he prepares to reclaim the presidency. Incomplete results showed Putin’s United Russia was struggling even to win 50 percent of the votes, compared with more than 64 percent four years ago. Opposition parties said even that outcome had been inflated by fraud.

Although Putin is still likely to win a presidential election in March, Sunday’s result could dent the authority of the man who has ruled for almost 12 years with a mixture of hardline security policies, political acumen and showmanship but was booed and jeered after a martial arts bout last month.

United Russia had 49.6 percent of the votes after results were counted in 51 percent of voting districts for the election to the State Duma, the lower house of parliament. Two exit polls had earlier put it on 45.5 and 48.5 percent. “These elections are unprecedented because they were carried out against the background of a collapse in trust in Putin, (President Dmitry) Medvedev and the ruling party,” said Vladimir Ryzhkov, a liberal opposition leader barred from running.

Editorials: As vote nears, Russians tiring of Putin and of his competitors |

When Russian leader Vladimir Putin climbed into the martial arts ring in the Olimpiysky Palace in downtown Moscow recently to congratulate a Russian wrestler who had quite convincingly beaten his American opponent, he was greeted by an unfamiliar sound. The crowd, which, given the high ticket price, consisted mostly of wealthy and middle-class Russians, booed, with some shouting, “Go away!”

The prime minister’s press service later hurried to explain that it was a misunderstanding and that the audience last week was booing not Putin but American fighter Jeff Monson, who was being led away from the hall at the same time. “The booing was obviously aimed at Monson,” said Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman. “It is absurd to speak about some message sent to Putin!”

The Voting News Weekly: TVN Weekly – Nov. 28 – Dec. 4 2011

The House voted to terminate the Election Assistance Commission though the legislation is unlikely to move in the Senate. The bi-partisan Board of Elections of Vanango County Pennsylvania were dismissed as their forensic audit of the county’s ES&S iVotronic voting machines neared completion. The debate over ballot transparency continued in Colorado. A trial into alleged election dirty tricks got under way in Maryland. The state Attorney General determined that attempts to require voter ID in some, but not al, counties was unconstitutional. Islamists appear to have won a majority in Egypt’s first post-revolution elections. The victory of anti-corruption crusader Alia Dzhioyeva was annulled by the separatist province’s government. The Vancouver Sun pointed out the inherent lack of transparency of internet voting and violence erupted heading into this weekend’s election in Congo.

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.

Verified Voting Blog: Dismissed Venango County Pennsylvania Election Board Files Appeal

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.”

The Voting News Daily: The GOP’s War on Voting Comes to Washington, Democrats Planning Major Effort To Counter Voter ID Laws

National: The GOP’s War on Voting Comes to Washington | Mother Jones Republicans in state legislatures across the country have spent the past year mounting an all-out assault on voting rights, pushing a slew of voter ID and redistricting measures that are widely expected to dilute the power of minority and low-income voters in next November’s elections. Now that effort has…

National: The GOP’s War on Voting Comes to Washington | Mother Jones

Republicans in state legislatures across the country have spent the past year mounting an all-out assault on voting rights, pushing a slew of voter ID and redistricting measures that are widely expected to dilute the power of minority and low-income voters in next November’s elections. Now that effort has come to Capitol Hill, where a congressional committee will vote Thursday on a GOP-backed bill to eviscerate the Election Assistance Commission (EAC)—the last line of defense against fraud and tampering in electronic voting systems around the country.

The EAC was created in the wake of 2000’s controversial presidential election as a means of improving the quality standards for electronic voting systems. Its four commissioners (two Republicans and two Democrats) are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. The commission tests voting equipment for states and localities, distributes grants to help improve voting standards, and offers helpful guidance on proofing ballots to some 4,600 local election jurisdictions. It also collects information on overseas and military voters and tracks the return rate for absentee ballots sent to these voters.

On Friday, a House subcommittee on elections will vote on Rep. Gregg Harper’s (R-Miss.) bill eliminating the EAC along with the longstanding public financing system for presidential campaigns. Republicans claim that the commission has already achieved its aim of cleaning up elections. Its responsibilities, they argue, can be reabsorbed by the Federal Election Commission (FEC), which oversaw voting machine certification prior to the EAC’s creation in 2002. Ending the EAC, Republicans estimate, will save $33 million over the next five years.

National: Democrats Planning Major Effort To Counter Voter ID Laws |

Democrats said Thursday they are planning a major effort to protect voting rights in the 2012 election after several states passed voter identification laws and restrictions on early voting and same day registration. Concerned over what they call voter suppression efforts in states, party officials said they were organizing on a number of fronts to overturn some of the measures, educate voters on the types of documents necessary to vote and pursue lawsuits if necessary.

“We have a history of challenging these matters in court if need be. We’ll be more than prepared to continue that into the future,” said Will Crossley, the Democratic National Committee’s counsel and director of voter protection.

Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin have passed laws this year that allow voters without the required photo ID to cast provisional ballots, but the voters must return to a specific location with that ID within a certain time limit for their ballots to count. Efforts to restrict early voting have been approved in Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin.

National: House Votes to End Presidential Campaign Fund and Election Assistance Commission | Roll Call News

The House voted today to end taxpayer financing of presidential elections.
In a 235-190 vote, the House approved a measure to terminate the Presidential Election Campaign Fund and shut down the Election Assistance Commission, a national clearinghouse on the mechanics of voting.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said the bill has no chance in the Senate, harshly criticizing House Republicans for advancing it. “Instead of making it so it’s easier for people to vote, they want to do everything they can to make it easier to make it harder for people to vote. I don’t understand this,” Reid said. “They want to have as few people to vote as possible.”

National: Voter ID Laws ‘Assault’ On Minority Voters, Says DNC Chair |

In an effort to beat back what Democrats are calling a Republican assault on the voting rights of blacks, Hispanics and other minority groups ahead of the 2012 presidential election, the Democratic National Committee has launched a new initiative to educate voters on restrictive mostly Republican-sponsored voter ID laws.

The initiative includes the release of a report, “A Reversal in Progress: Restricting Voting Rights for Electoral Gain,” and the launch of a Both are intended to “expose efforts by the Republican party to limit the right to vote for political gain,” said Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz during a conference call this morning.

Schultz called the laws “a full-scale assault” on the voting rights of mostly minority voters in states where both groups strongly supported the president in 2008. And that the laws are “essentially designed to rig an election when Republicans can’t win these election on the merits.”

Editorials: Voting Rights Act’s time may be limited |

States all over the country are bringing or joining lawsuits that claim the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional. Against this backdrop, redistricting battles in states that are tinged with racial and ethnic overtones are beginning to spill into federal territory. There can no longer be any doubt: As the 2012 election season rolls around, the constitutional fate of the Voting Rights Act will have a considerable impact on the political playing field.

In the most dramatic episode thus far, Texas directly petitioned the Supreme Court this week to delay the implementation of a redistricting plan recently drawn up by three federal judges for temporary use as election season begins. The latest federal Census shows a sharp growth in Texas’s Hispanic population, thus making the redistricting politics there especially contentious.

Maryland: Vote suppression alleged in Maryland election fraud |

Maryland prosecutors in an election fraud case have introduced campaign documents suggesting a plan to suppress African-American votes. The documents were introduced as prosecutors rested their case Wednesday against Paul Schurick, campaign manager for former Republican Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. on two counts of conspiracy and one count each of election fraud and obstruction of justice, The Baltimore Sun reported.

Similar charges have been filed against political consultant Julius Henson, whose company, Universal Elections Inc., was involved in the November 2010 gubernatorial election.

North Carolina: Counties try to go it alone to require photo ID | electionlineWeekly

Earlier this year, North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue vetoed voter photo ID legislation bucking a nationwide trend that has seen voter photo ID laws grow this year. The General Assembly failed to override the veto and is again currently in special session with that on the agenda, but according to media reports the prospects of overturning the veto appear slim.

While debate continues at the state level, some counties in North Carolina are taking matters into their own hands. Recently several counties approved resolutions asking their state representatives to introduce legislation that would allow them to require voter photo ID at the county level.

Local election administrators are taking a wait and see approach about how the legislation — if enacted — would impact them, although many admitted that the first time they heard about the resolutions was through the local media. “My office was not consulted or made aware of any pending voter ID resolution before it was approved by the Gaston County Commission,” explained Adam Ragan, director of elections for Gaston County. “I first heard about the resolution after it was passed by reading about it in our local newspaper.”

Canada: Voting machine breakdowns stalled results in B.C. | Coast Reporter

The District of Sechelt won’t likely be using voting machines made by Election Systems and Software ever again, after two of four machines provided by the company broke down during the 2011 municipal election.

“Needless to say, I will be recommending that we do not use the same machine supplier again in the future,” said Sechelt’s chief election officer Jo-Anne Frank. The first machine broke down during advanced voting at the Seaside Centre. A faulty sensor was found to be the issue.

Egypt: Awaiting poll results as Tahrir protest starts | Reuters

Egypt will hear the results of elections which Islamist parties expect to win on Friday, and protesters gathered at a rally to remember 42 people killed in clashes with police last month.

Islamist success at the polls in the most populous Arab nation would reinforce a trend in North Africa. Moderate Islamists lead governments in Morocco and post-uprising Tunisia after election wins in the last two months.

Egyptians voting freely for the first time since army officers ousted the king in 1952 seem willing to give Islamists a chance. “We tried everyone, why not try sharia (Islamic law) once?” asked Ramadan Abdel Fattah, 48, a bearded civil servant.

Egypt: Islamists poised to dominate parliament, expected to clash with army over control | The Washington Post

Islamists appear to have taken a strong majority of seats in the first round of Egypt’s first parliamentary vote since Hosni Mubarak’s ouster, a trend that if confirmed would give religious parties a popular mandate in the struggle to win control from the ruling military and ultimately reshape a key U.S. ally.

Final results, expected Friday, will be the clearest indication in decades of Egyptians’ true political views and give the long-banned Muslim Brotherhood a major role in the country’s first freely elected parliament. An Islamist majority could also herald a greater role for conservative Islam in Egyptian social life and shifts in foreign policy, especially toward Israel and the Palestinians.

Guyana: Governing party’s Donald Ramotar wins presidency | BBC News

Electoral officials in Guyana say Donald Ramotar of the governing People’s Progressive Party (PPP/C) is to be the next president. But the party, mainly backed by Guyana’s ethnic-Indians, lost its parliamentary majority for the first time in 19 years. This could make it difficult for Mr Ramotar if opposition parties opt to work together, analysts say. A delay in announcing Monday’s poll results had heightened tensions.

The Guyana Election Commission (GECOM) said the People’s Progressive Party had won 32 seats, the opposition coalition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) 26 seats, and the Alliance for Change seven seats.