National: Why don’t Americans vote online? |

Tuesday is Election Day in the United States, and although the mostly state and local races won’t stir the same passions as next year’s presidential contest, millions of people will cast ballots. They’ll do it in much the same way that Americans have for centuries: by showing up at a polling place and ticking off boxes for their candidates of choice.

All of which raises the question: In an era when virtually every daily task can be done on the Internet, why can’t we vote online, too? The answer depends on whom you ask. Advocates say the time is right to seriously consider letting voters cast a ballot from the comfort of their homes or even on the screens of their mobile phones.… But critics, many of them in the cybersecurity world, argue that letting people cast votes from their home computers is a recipe for chaos.

National: Vote-by-mail on rise, if not overall participation | The Desert Sun

The rise in popularity of vote-by-mail ballots means the winners of Tuesday’s elections likely will be determined before the polls even open. In recent years, as many as 70 percent of voters opted to pay for a stamp rather than find time to use a voting booth. Such early voting has been on the rise for several years, made even easier when California eliminated the fiction of the absentee ballot, which required voters to sign an affidavit saying they wouldn’t be present on election day.

The shift to the early voting has transformed the election calendar and prompted savvy campaigns to reconsider the timing of political hit pieces and voter outreach efforts. But despite the convenience, the rise of vote-by-mail doesn’t necessarily improve participation.

National: Voting-rights restrictions are counterproductive |

Republican-dominated state legislatures, in the name of preventing electoral fraud, are cutting back on provisions that make it easier for voters to exercise the franchise. Florida, for example, reduced early voting from two weeks to one week (because Republicans claim it is more susceptible to fraud and errors) and eliminated voting on the Sunday before election day. Ohio, pending a referendum, reduced its early voting by more than half, eliminated early voting on weekends and stopped allowing voters to register on election day. Georgia reduced its early voting period from 45 days to 21 days. Seven states have imposed a requirement that voters show photo identification.

But the Republican war on fraud is a bit of a sham, and cynical to boot. The Brennan Center for Justice, a liberal think tank at New York University, predicts that as a result of these restrictions, 5 million eligible voters will face obstacles to casting ballots. Even if that estimate is too high, the center makes a persuasive case that the new provisions will discourage large numbers of voters, especially minorities (who, not coincidentally, tend to favor Democratic candidates), from turning out. Twenty-five percent of African American voters, the center estimates, do not possess a valid government-issued photo ID, compared with 11% of voters of other races. Voting on Sundays is said to be particularly attractive to African Americans, and its elimination in several states has been seen by some as explicitly targeting black voters.

Editorials: Voter Fraud: Does It Happen? |

Earlier today I dared the Internet to send me examples of voter fraud — particularly of a scale that would justify erecting barriers against whole groups of voters through photo ID requirements and other such pernicious nonsense.

The Internet obliged, weakly.

A few readers reminded me that the conservative columnist Ann Coulter wasaccused of voter fraud in 2009, for voting by absentee ballot in Connecticut in 2002 and 2004 despite the fact that she was living in New York. The Connecticut Election Commission investigated, but decided to take no further action since Ms. Coulter was a registered voter in the state and did not vote elsewhere. I never imagined defending Ms. Coulter, but this does not seem like a threat to our democratic way of life.

Editorials: Voter Suppression 101 | The Harvard Crimson

As campaigns gear up, citizens are starting to pay attention to the upcoming election, wondering which Republican will be the nominee or figuring out where candidates stand on the issues important to them. Yet the most important thing that American voters should do is figure out the new restrictions on their eligibility to vote in the next election. Throughout the country, Republicans have passed harsh and unjust voter restrictions that will make it more difficult for millions of people to vote, and indeed, might have already decided the election a year before it takes place.

A recent New York Times report catalogues the new voting restrictions that have been passed throughout the country this year. Wisconsin, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas have passed laws requiring voters to bring a government-issued photo ID to the polling booth. The Brennan Center for Justice has estimated that these measures will impact 3.2 million voters, and it is likely that the voters without identification will be poor and minority voters.


Connecticut: Online voting on minds of lawmakers | The Republican-American

Lawmakers came close to requiring that state election officials implement online voting this year, with an eye toward allowing military personnel overseas easier access to the ballot box. A Watertown lawmaker plans to make a fresh attempt in the next regular session.

Computer scientists who took part in an Oct. 27 panel discussion organized by Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said, unanimously, such a system cannot possibly be secured. “Secure Internet voting is a bit like the phrase ‘safe cigarettes,'” said Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Ron Rivest. “It’s just an oxymoron. It’s just not possible to do this securely.”

Indiana: Absentee ballots ‘disappear’ in Clark County | WDRB 41 Louisville

Election officials in southern Indiana are looking for hundreds of absentee ballots they say ‘just disappeared.’ Clark County Party leaders say they’ve gotten dozens of calls from voters about missing ballots. They’re worried their vote won’t be counted in Tuesday’s election. If the number of signs in Jeffersonville are any indication, there’s plenty of interest in Tuesday’s races.

“I think we’ve got several of our municipal elections in Jeff and Clarksville that could come down to just a few votes,” said Clark County Republican Party Chair Jamey Noel. Noel says the two hundred missing ballots are particularly frustrating.  While that may not seem like a significant number, he says the margin of victory could be razor-thin in some races. “This is really not just a Democrat or Republican problem,” he said. “It’s a problem in general that everyone deserves the right to vote and their vote should count.” The ballots apparently went missing at some point between the time they left the Clark County Government Building, and when they were supposed to be delivered to the Post Office.

Maine: History of ‘same-day’ voter registration in Maine | Bangor Daily News

Maine’s Election Day voter registration law was born quietly with bipartisan support nearly four decades ago, with little debate and overshadowed by much bigger issues of the Watergate era. That’s in contrast to that law’s demise in June, which was marked by shrill partisan debate that set the stage for next Tuesday’s referendum to restore what’s become known as “same-day” registration.

The 1973 session, which turned out to be one of the longest at that time, featured high-profile issues such as the Equal Rights Amendment, property tax relief, abortion rights, reporters’ right to protect sources and even health insurance reform. Same-day registration surfaced silently in the background as part of a routine revamping of the state’s election laws. Debate on the House floor was dry and tame with no hint of partisan differences in the Republican-controlled Legislature, the legislative record shows. The focus was on arcane technicalities rather than the merits of the policy.

Maine: House supports banning same-day voter registration, requiring IDs at polls | Bangor Daily News

The House of Representatives on Monday gave preliminary approval to a pair of bills that will change how and when Mainers vote. The House voted 74-70 along party lines to approve LD 1376, a bill backed by Republican leadership and Secretary of State Charlie Summers that eliminates Maine’s 38-year-old, same-day voting registration and bans absentee voting two business days before Election Day. The House also voted 75-69 to give preliminary approval to LD 199, a bill requiring voters to present photo identification at the polls.

Proponents of LD 1376 say the legislation is designed to ease the workload of town clerks overwhelmed by an increasing number of voters who cast absentee ballots and who wait until the election to register. But critics counter that the absentee voting issue should be handled separately and without eliminating same-day registration, which they say will affect students, the elderly and the disabled.

Ohio: County plans to prevent provisional ballot problems |

On the eve of the 2011 election, one Hamilton County race from the 2010 election – held 364 days ago – remains unresolved. At the heart of a federal court suit on that race – over a juvenile judge race – are provisional ballots, which are cast when people who say they are registered don’t appear on voting rolls. County election officials are working hard to cut down on the number of provisional ballots cast on Tuesday.

Yet the issue of provisional ballots seems likely to be front and center again in 2012, when the bigger turnout from a presidential race will stress voting systems. The fact is, Democrats generally like having provisional ballots as an option, because the numbers show that they come in greater numbers from inner city areas that tend to vote Democratic.

Ohio: Toledo crowd protests early vote center closure | Toledo Blade

Shelia Stewart thought the buses parked outside the Lucas County Board of Elections Early Vote Center meant there was a crowd ahead of her in line to vote. The buses, however, had brought protesters who were there to register opposition to a newly passed state law that shut down the early voting office at 13th and Washington Streets as of 6 p.m. Friday.

“I’m surprised,” said Ms. Stewart, 55, of Toledo’s Old West End after she tugged on the locked door. “My husband said I would not be able to vote, but I did not believe him.” The confusion over the canceled voting exemplified the complaints of the group of black clergy and union leaders about the shutdown of early voting. Several said early voting would have peaked this weekend as voters, having absorbed just about all the information there was to get about the many candidates and issues in the election, were ready to cast their ballots.

South Carolina: Voter ID Law Could Hit GOP Seniors |

South Carolina’s new voter ID law could affect an unlikely group: older white voters who have higher incomes, are reliably Republican and live in retirement homes and gated golf communities along the state’s southern coast, according to an analysis by The Associated Press. There are roughly 217,000 active voters in the state who do not have a driver’s license or state ID card, election officials said. Of those, almost a third are 65 or older, and nearly 1,600 of them live in precincts in Beaufort County’s Sun City retirement community or affluent neighborhoods nearby, according to AP’s analysis.

The law has drawn criticism from Democrats and others who say it will hit the state’s black, poor, elderly and disabled voters the hardest because they don’t have a photo ID and face many challenges to get one.

Liberia: Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) Monrovia protest turns deadly | BBC News

At least one person has died after shots were reportedly fired during an opposition protest in Monrovia ahead of Liberia’s presidential run-off. A BBC reporter saw the body of a young man who had been shot in the head.

Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) candidate Winston Tubman has pulled out of Tuesday’s vote, alleging fraud. Nobel Peace laureate Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Africa’s first elected female head of state, is running for another term. She was first elected after Liberia’s first post-war election in 2005.

Liberia: Sirleaf seen winning Liberia run-off vote | Reuters

Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is poised to win reelection in a run-off on Tuesday, though her rival has vowed to reject the results after pulling out of the race over allegations of fraud. The vote was meant to gauge the West African state’s progress since a devastating civil war ended in 2003 and pave the way for new investment, but fears are rising it could instead open the door to open-ended political turmoil.

“I will go pray tonight that there will be peace for Liberia,” said Akisame Johnson, a 50-year-old resident of the crumbling seaside capital Monrovia. “Ma Ellen’s people come up and down here to say of course election will take place Tuesday, but Tubman’s people come and say no. The children confused. We don’t know what will happen,” he said in the local pidgin dialect.

Nicaragua: Daniel Ortega winning re-election in Nicaragua by wide margin |

President and one-time Sandinista revolutionary Daniel Ortega appeared to have won easy re-election in Nicaragua, according to results released Monday, overcoming a constitutional limit on re-election and reports of voting problems. Ortega had a roughly 2-1 lead over his nearest challenger, Fabio Gadea, while former President Arnoldo Aleman was a distant third with 6 per cent with about 44 per cent of the votes counted by midday.

Electoral council President Roberto Rivas said shortly after Sunday’s vote that a representative quick count of the results gave Ortega a large advantage as well, but he did not describe how that survey was conducted.

Nicaragua: Opposition candidate calls Ortega win ‘fraud’ | BBC News

The opposition candidate in Sunday’s presidential poll in Nicaragua has rejected the victory of the incumbent President, Daniel Ortega. Fabio Gadea said he could not accept the results presented by the electoral council because “they did not reflect the people’s wishes”.

With 85.8% of the ballots counted, the electoral authorities announced that Daniel Ortega had won with 62.65% of the votes. They said Mr Gadea got 31% of the vote. After announcing the latest figures, president of the Electoral Council Roberto Rivas congratulated Daniel Ortega, because “the trends shown by the results could not be reversed”.

National: When Voter Registration is a Crime |

Dawn Quarles, a high school teacher, is facing a $1,000 fine for doing something Florida has been cracking down on lately: registering students to vote. The state’s leaders want to stop registration drives that add more qualified voters to the rolls – and they are having a disturbing level of success.

Florida’s crackdown on voter registration is part of a larger national campaign against voting, which includes tough new voter ID laws in many states, rollbacks on early voting and other anti-democratic measures. Supporters of these laws argue that they are concerned with deterring fraud. But the real driving force is keeping down the number of voters – especially young, old, poor, and minority voters.

Quarles is a government teacher at Pace High School in the Florida Panhandle. Along with teaching her students about democracy, she has tried to get them to participate, by helping them register to vote. This should be a good thing. Our nation’s founders insisted that government should operate with the consent of the governed. Ideally, everyone who is eligible should be registered and vote.

National: Watchdogs accuse FEC of lax oversight | The Boston Globe

Transparency advocates yesterday excoriated the Federal Election Commission for what they called increasingly lax oversight of campaign finance as the country barrels toward what are expected to be the most expensive elections in history next year. The advocates – including nonpartisan watchdogs Democracy 21, Public Citizen, and the Campaign Legal Center – said the FEC has repeatedly failed to issue new regulations clarifying aspects of a Supreme Court ruling last year allowing companies and other organizations to spend unlimited amounts on elections.

Among the questions still unanswered: Can foreign companies with some US operations legally contribute to US elections? In the past, foreign citizens and companies have been barred from spending money in the American political system. Also unanswered: Should American organizations that spend money to influence elections have to disclose the source of the money?

California: Ranked Choice Put To The Test In San Francisco Mayor Race | NPR

Voters in San Francisco will use a system called ranked-choice voting, or instant runoff, to elect a mayor on Tuesday. The city is one of many around the country, including Portland, Maine, and Telluride, Colo., using the system, which allows voters to rank their favorite candidates; the winner is determined using a complicated mathematical formula. Ranked-choice voting, which eliminates the need for primary elections, will be put to the test in San Francisco where 16 candidates are on the ballot.

At a city senior center recently, elections worker John Draper explained the system to some elderly voters, assuring them that it was simple. “We just want to ask ourselves: Who do we want to win this election; Who is our favorite candidate? And vote for them in the first column,” Draper said.

Indiana: Tuesday’s paper ballots will be counted by hand |

When Bloomington residents vote in municipal elections on Tuesday, they’ll be making marks on paper ballots, which they’ll slip into a box. At the end of the day, the votes will be tallied by hand. That’s the same system local voters used more than 100 years ago.

In the November 2010 general election, Monroe County voters used electronic voting machines that automated tallying. Even in the May 2011 primary election, the votes — on paper ballots — were tallied using a high-speed optical scanner. Monroe County voters have been using voting machines, mechanical or electric, since the ’60s, but on Nov. 8, 2011, they will use the same system used by America’s founding fathers.

What happened? ES&S contract In December 2010, Monroe County signed a contract with Elections Systems and Software, of Omaha, Neb., for the purchase of digital scanners that would read paper ballots and tally votes. Such a system allowed verifiability: paper ballots, or a sample of them, could be compared to the machine’s tally to ensure accuracy.

Maine: Bring Same-Day Registration Back? Maine Votes | NPR

For nearly 40 years, voters in Maine have been able to walk into a polling place or town hall on Election Day and register to vote. But the Republican-controlled legislature this year decided to remove the option, citing the stress on municipal clerks and concerns about the potential for voter fraud.

Angry Democrats responded by launching a people’s veto campaign, and come Election Day this Tuesday, voters will consider whether to restore same-day registration. When Richard Vargas retired from the Marine Corps and returned home to coastal Maine 16 years ago, he was surprised to run into problems at the local polls, not once, but twice.

Editorials: North Carolina voter law changes hinder ballot access | Salisbury Post

In cities across the state, North Carolinians are going to the polls this week to exercise the most fundamental right of our democracy: the right to vote. The underlying principle of our democracy is that we are all equal in the voting booth: black or white, young or old, rich or poor. When we cast our ballot, we all raise an equal voice to determine the shape of our government.

Sadly, some North Carolina legislators seem determined to reduce the chorus of voices that will be heard in the 2012 elections. Earlier this year, the General Assembly passed an onerous bill to make voters show a government photo ID when they vote. It may seem like a common-sense requirement, but more people than you may imagine don’t drive or have a photo ID — and they are disproportionately people of color, the elderly, low-income citizens, women who change their names and the young. For example, a match-up of motor vehicle and election databases shows that while African Americans are 22 percent of N.C. registered voters, they are 32 percent of the roughly 500,000 registered voters without a state-issued ID.

Wisconsin: Just Ask Us: Are student IDs accepted under the new voter ID laws? | Wisconsin State Journal

All 26 campuses in the UW System use “smart” cards for student identification. These cards can be used for a wide array of monetary and security functions. But the issue at hand is that across the System’s 26 campuses, there are as many as 14 different versions of student IDs, and not all of them meet the new requirements, said David Giroux, spokesman for the System.

For example, the cards currently issued by UW-Madison do not meet the new voter ID law’s standard for voter identification. Wiscard IDs expire every five years, exceeding the two-year allowable time between issue and expiration dates on student IDs for voting, said Government Accountability Board Spokesman Reid Magney.

Bulgaria: Bulgaria’s Vote Fully Legal despite Organizational Trouble | Sofia News Agency

The first and the second round of Bulgaria’s presidential and local elections were held in compliance with the law, according to Krasimira Medarova, Chair of the Central Electoral Commission (CEC). In a Saturday interview for Darik radio, she confessed that the electoral process had been riddled with difficulties which led to “substantial problems in the processing of the protocols and the announcement of the results”,   but nevertheless insisted that no serious irregularities had taken place.

The CEC Chair noted, however, that it was the courts and not CEC which had the final say on contested election results. Medarova was adamant that she had not come across any of the allegedly flawed protocols from Sofia containing signatures of representatives of the Municipal Electoral Commission instead of the respective sectional electoral commissions.

Indonesia: Higher legislative threshold: Threat or remedy for democracy? | The Jakarta Post

The New Indonesia Party (PIB), the majority party on the Singkawang Legislative Council, may not be able to maintain its existence on the council should the much-debated bill on legislative elections be enacted in its current state. Singkawang regency, which is dominated by Chinese-Indonesians, saw four of its 25 legislative council seats filled by members of the PIB, a party known for its policies that accommodate the interests of the Chinese descents.

Although the party only gained 0.19 percent of votes nationwide in the 2009 polls, putting it in 34th position on the list of the total 38 political parties in the country, the PIB managed to win the majority of 11.91 percent of regional legislative votes in Singkawang. But that would mean nothing if the House of Representatives decided to approve the election bill that critics say would jeopardize democracy in the regions.

Liberia: Campaigns for presidential run-off ends|Africa|

Official campaign for the 2011 run-off presidential election in Liberia scheduled for Tuesday ends mid-night Sunday, according to the National Election Commission guideline. The election takes place despite boycott by main opposition party Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) leaded Winston Tubman.

Tubman was recently summoned to the Nigerian Federal Capital, Abuja by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan to convince him to take part in the run-off following his party’s boycott threats. The ruling party, UP and the CDC were winners and runners-up in the first round of voting and were scheduled to contest for the presidency in a run-off on Nov 8, 2011. Despite the resignation of the former chairman of National Electoral Commission (NEC), James Fromayan, the commission said the election process will go ahead as all election materials and staffs have been deployed throughout the country.

Nicaragua: Daniel Ortega winning re-election in Nicaragua by wide margin | The Washington Post

President and one-time Sandinista revolutionary Daniel Ortega is headed for a mandate to stay in office in Nicaragua, overcoming a constitutional limit on re-election and reports of voting problems. Ortega had 64 percent of the votes in a count early Monday, compared with 29 percent for his nearest challenger, Fabio Gadea. Conservative Arnoldo Aleman, a former president, was a distant third with 6 percent after national elections on Sunday.

Only 16 percent of the votes have been counted, but electoral council President Roberto Rivas said a quick count representative of the entire vote gave Ortega a large advantage as well. The methodology of the quick count was not released.

Nicaragua: Observers decry vote irregularities as Nicaragua’s Ortega seeks new term |

Observers from the European Union and the Organization of American States reported Sunday that they had detected serious irregularities in voting in what is expected to be a re-election victory for Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega. Ortega, a onetime leftist guerrilla leader and acolyte of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, is seeking his third term in office despite the Nicaraguan Constitution’s ban on presidents serving consecutive terms.

Voting was marred by scattered violence, including reports of gunfire that wounded four people near the coffee-growing city of Matagalpa and arson attacks on several rural precincts. Elsewhere, voting occurred without incident as Nicaragua’s 3.4 million voters aged 16 and older cast ballots for president, vice president and 90 deputies of the National Assembly. Even so, chiefs of the two major international observer teams in Nicaragua for the election voiced deep reservations about how the vote was conducted.

Pakistan: EC urged to impose system of proportional representation | Pakistan Observer

The advisor to the Ex-CM Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on political affairs, Sikandar Aziz Khan has suggested to the Election Commission of Pakistan to immediately impose the system of proportional representation for the larger interest of the country and the people as in this system votes will be cast in support of the political parties and not candidates that will result in enhancement of the percentage of cast votes.

Addressing a press conference in the press club on Thursday, Sikandar Aziz Khan advised the Election Commission of Pakistan to make immediate amendments in the law in this connection and adopt the system in which the seats in the national and provincial assemblies would be allotted to the political parties according to the percentage of received votes. He said the existing system had created a lot of defects in the ruling party and majority of the people were reluctant to cast their votes. He said from the existing system it was clear that those rich candidates were being brought to power who had spent huge funds on the elections and after wining the polls use every underhand method to get the money back.