National: Online Voting: Just A Dream Until Security Issues Can Be Fully Addressed, Experts Say |

Allowing citizens to cast ballots online would increase participation in elections and make democracy more accessible. But don’t expect to vote on your iPhone in Connecticut anytime soon; the technology just isn’t there to ensure secure elections, said several experts who participated in a panel discussion at Central Connecticut State University Thursday night hosted by Secretary of the State Denise Merrill.

“The biggest concern I have about Internet voting is that we don’t know how to do it securely,” said Ron Rivest, an expert in cryptology and a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “It sounds wonderful but it’s an oxymoron. … We don’t have Internet experts who know how to secure big pieces of the Internet from attack. Rivest called online voting a fantasy and said it’s at least two decades from replacing the methods currently in use.

Alex Halderman, a computer science professor at the University of Michigan, is another skeptic. He led a team of students from the university who successfully penetrated a test-run of Internet voting in Washington, D.C., in 2010. “We began … role playing — how would a hacker, a real malicious attacker, attempt to break in and compromise the vote and, within 48 hours of the start of the test, we had gained virtually complete control of the voting server and changed all of the votes,” he said.

National: FVAP report shows continued trends in military voting Report highlights successes and future challenges | electionlineWeekly

The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) recently released its 2010 Post Election Report, which included a wealth of information on the participation of military voters and their spouses. This release follows the recent publication of data and a report on military and overseas voting by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

While the report includes numerous details focusing on the specifics of members of this community, the general trend is clear: members of the military and their spouses are highly engaged in the elections process and continue to register and vote at higher rates than the general electorate.

Unlike the EAC, which simply reports data provided by states as part of the Election Administration and Voting Survey, the FVAP adjusted military participation data to account for the age and gender of the generally younger and male population of uniformed voters. FVAP also surveyed a number of populations to ascertain their level of participation in 2010.

Colorado: All-mail election turnout could exceed past off-year contests | Aspen Daily News Online

A total of 1,813 Pitkin County voters have cast ballots in this fall’s all mail-in election and turnout is on track to exceed prior off-year elections. The county issued a total of 10,720 ballots for this year’s election. That included a late addition of about 2,500 “inactive” voters, earlier this month, who were to be excluded, said elections manager Dwight Shellman.

The clerk’s office began receiving high volumes of ballots in the mail on Oct. 17. Wednesday was the most ballots the county had received yet in a single day so far, with 296, Shellman reported. Turnout is typically low in odd-numbered election years, like 2011, in which there are no state or national candidates on the ballot. Over the last decade, those contests have averaged about 3,200 ballots. Before ballots began coming in this year, Shellman said he was expecting between 3,500 and 4,500. “We would be over the moon if we hit the high end of that,” he said.

Kansas: Secretary of state fined $5,000 for errors in campaign reports |

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s campaign was fined $5,000 Wednesday for mistakes made in filing expense and contribution reports for the 2010 election. The Governmental Ethics Commission voted 7-2 to impose the maximum fine after questioning Kobach’s campaign treasurer, state Rep. Tom Arpke of Salina. At issue was nearly $80,000 that was omitted from the reports.

Commission Chairwoman Sabrina Standifer said the maximum fine was imposed, in part, because the campaign maintained that it reported the omissions to ethics officials. “The commission does not condone lack of candor before the commission,” Standifer said. “This is in no way, shape or form self-reporting.”

Maine: Same-Day Voter Battle: It All Boils Down to Winning Elections | MPBN

For nearly 40 years, Maine residents have been allowed to walk into a town office on Election Day, fill out a form and register to vote. But that all came to an end back in June, when the Republican-controlled Legislature changed the rules: Now you have to register at least two business days before Election Day. So why did that happen, and why did it so upset Democrats that they launched a campaign to restore the law, gathering tens of thousands of signatures to get the issue onto the Nov. 8 ballot?

We return to the floor of the Maine House in early June of this year, as Republicans make their case to do away with same-day voter registration. Argument number one: Municipal clerks around Maine are overburdened by the extra work of processing last-minute registrations.

New Hampshire: Legislators to discuss proposed voting laws |

During the upcoming session of the New Hampshire Legislature, State Senate and House members will debate two bills proposed by State Rep. David Bates, R-Rockingham, which would require those wanting to vote in New Hampshire to claim residency in the state, according to Bates. This change would particularly impact college students from out of state by prohibiting them from participating in New Hampshire politics, according to State Rep. David Pierce, D-Grafton.

These recent legislative attempts follow a failed effort in March to pass legislation that sought to redefine residency for voting eligibility, preventing out-of-state students from voting in state or local elections. Although those bills did pass through the House due to issues of unconstitutionality, the new bills are consistent with the 14th Amendment and could legally be enacted, Bates said.

New Jersey: South Jersey voting-machine incident makes waves | Philadelphia Inquirer

When the returns came in for the Cumberland County Democratic Committee last summer, Cynthia Zirkle couldn’t believe what she was seeing. Only 86 votes were cast in the race to represent her district in Fairfield Township, and despite assurances from dozens of friends, Zirkle and her husband, Ernest, had managed to win just 19 votes between them. “I can’t believe that’s correct,” Zirkle told her husband, a retired veterinarian and the town’s deputy mayor.

The couple sued the Cumberland County Board of Elections and discovered that due to a programming error, their results had been switched with those of their opponents. In a rare turn of events, a new election was ordered, which the Zirkles handily won.

The case caught the eye of a Rutgers law professor who has spent years arguing that the touch-screen voting machines in use across New Jersey are prone to malfunction and hacking and need a paper backup that would allow for manual recounts. Provided with that real-life example of the machines’ fallibility, Penny Venetis, codirector of the constitutional litigation clinic at Rutgers-Newark Law School, is fighting to get the state Appellate Court to reopen her 2004 lawsuit and rewrite the rules on how elections are conducted in New Jersey. “The issues involved extend way beyond Cumberland County,” Venetis said. “It’s only because it was such a small election we know about this. If it was Newark, forget it. But that’s our point, stuff like this happens. Computers can be told to do whatever you want. They can play Jeopardy!; they can cheat in elections.”

Pennsylvania: State voter ID measure expected to see some changes in Senate | Post Gazette

A hotly debated bill that would require voters to show a government-issued photo ID before they could cast a ballot will undergo changes to lengthen the list of acceptable IDs, a key Pennsylvania state senator said Friday. That list in an amendment being written could include work IDs, college student IDs and, for elderly voters, expired driver’s licenses, said Senate State Government Committee Chairman Charles McIlhinney, R-Bucks.

The bill that passed the Republican-controlled House in June over the loud objections of Democrats was too stringent, Mr. McIlhinney said. Still, a requirement that some form of photo identification be required is still appropriate to guard against voter fraud, he said. “We’re looking to ensure that there is a voter ID requirement, that people need to produce some type of identification to ensure the one person, one vote rule is not violated,” he said.

Texas: New laws to cost KISD $50K to rent voting machines | Katy Times

Katy Independent School District board of trustee elections will proceed as scheduled, but at additional cost due to changes in electoral regulations. Katy ISD will attempt to rent voting equipment from Election Systems & Software (ESS) for next year’s elections at a cost of $51,463. “When I look at the options (not including changing election schedules)…

Canada: Canada urges Egypt to allow international monitors for elections | The Vancouver Sun

Canada is pressing Egypt’s interim rulers to overturn a ban on international monitors as the North African country prepares for parliamentary elections next month that will set the tone for democracy there and in the region. Egyptians will begin going to the polls on Nov. 28 to elect their first Parliament since a wave of protests ousted former president Hosni Mubarak in February.

The elections will be held in three stages lasting until March, with the winners coming together to draft the country’s first post-Mubarak constitution. A presidential election is expected in late 2012 or early 2013. A senior Foreign Affairs official told Parliament’s Foreign Affairs committee on Tuesday the three-month parliamentary elections represent a critical period in Egypt’s transition to democracy and, “like the rest of the world, Canada is watching closely.

Jordan: Reforms irreversible, preps underway for municipal, parliamentary elections | Jordan News Agency

His Majesty King Abdullah II said in an interview published today that there is no back-pedaling on reforms, unveiling that preparations are underway to hold municipal and parliamentary elections soon.

In an interview with the Kuwaiti Al Rai newspaper’s Khairallah Khairallah during the just-concluded World Economic Forum on Dead Sea shores, the King said “the next phase in Jordan’s march is one of issuing legislation and laws to go ahead with the process of political and socio-economic reforms.” The Kingdom, he said, had taken major milestones along the path of reform, mainly completion of constitutional amendments that required a drastic review and passage of legislation with a vision of comprehensive reform.

He said the new government’s priority is pursuit of the reform and modernization drive and “fulfillment of the requirements of this stage,” adding that the choice of Awn Khasawneh to form the government was due to his credentials as a reputable international jurist and for his acceptance at the domestic scene. He said the new administration will seek to put in place new legislation governing political life, first and foremost of which are the electoral and political parties laws, which should be ratified through consensus, in addition to an independent commission overseeing elections and the constitutional court.

Tunisia: Election marred by clashes | The Irish Times

The Islamist Ennahda party has been officially declared the winner of Tunisia’s election, setting it up to form the first Islamist-led government in the wake of the “Arab Spring” uprisings. But the election, which has so far confounded predictions it would tip the North African country into crisis, turned violent last night when protesters angry their fourth-placed party was eliminated from the poll set fire to the mayor’s office in a provincial town.

Ennahda has tried to reassure secularists nervous about the prospect of Islamist rule in one of the Arab world’s most liberal countries by saying it will respect women’s rights and not try to impose a Muslim moral code on society.

The Islamists won power 10 months after Mohamed Bouazizi, a Tunisian vegetable seller in the town of Sidi Bouzid, set fire to himself in an act of protest that led to the fall of Tunisia’s autocratic leader and inspired uprisings in Egypt and Libya.

The Voting News Daily: Cyber Attacks Hit South Korean Election Commission, Candidate, Tennessee veteran had to pay for voter photo ID

South Korea: Cyber Attacks Hit South Korean Election Commission, Candidate | The Chosun Ilbo The websites of the National Election Commission and the pan-opposition candidate for Seoul mayoral by-election, Park Won-soon, were paralyzed by cyber attacks on Wednesday morning as voters went to the polls. The onslaught was a so-called distributed denial-of-service attack whereby hackers effectively…

National: Congressional Black Caucus targets state voter laws as hostile |

Minority voters have long had problems simply exercising their right to vote in certain parts of the country – and minority lawmakers fear the situation will become worse in 2012. Their worries are heightened by new laws in 13 states that they say will restrict access to the ballot box. Some of the changes would require voters to show government-approved identification, restrict voter registration drives by third-party groups, curtail early voting, do away with same-day registration, and reverse rules allowing convicted felons who’ve served their time the right to vote.

In addition to the states that have passed such laws, 24 other states are weighing similar measures, according to New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice.

Proponents of the measures say they are needed to protect the integrity of the vote, prevent illegal immigrants from casting ballots, and clamp down on voter fraud, although several studies indicate that voter fraud is negligible.

Voting Blogs: Badger Ballot Blues: Early Issues with Wisconsin’s Voter ID Law | State of Elections

Could Wisconsin soon be the center of another political controversy?  A test run of the state’s new voter identification law on Oct. 11 led to long lines and frustrated voters, which could cause state Democrats to amplify their attacks on a law they already claim is costly and intended only to suppress voter turnout. State Republicans have expressed strong support for the law since its passage in May, and have expressed no desire to make any changes before it takes full effect before February’s primary elections.

Madison City Clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl called for the mock election after noticing irregularities during July’s State Senate recall elections. Poll workers in those elections were instructed to request voters’ identification even though it was not yet required.  Witzel-Behl indicated that the workers were inconsistently following this instruction.  Following Tuesday’s mock election, Witzel-Behl estimated that it took each voter two minutes to present identification and sign the poll book, a standard she found “very alarming.” She also noted that several people left the line due to the long wait.

Florida: Nelson urges Scott to revamp elections law after teacher draws warning | Post on Politics

Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson has sent a critical letter to Republican Gov. Rick Scott and plans to meet Wednesday with a Volusia County high school teacher whose student voter registration drive could violate Florida’s tough, new elections law.

The law is already being challenged in court by the ACLU and allied organizations. But Nelson is calling on Scott to push for revamping or repealing the measure following the case of Jill Cicciarelli, a New Smyrna Beach teacher and adviser to a local high school’s student government association.

Cicciarelli was registering students to vote since the beginning of the school year. But county Elections Supervisor Ann McFall said she was required to report Cicciarelli to the Florida Department of State apparently for violating the new  standard for those acting as third-party registration organizations.

Michigan: State Considers Major New Restrictions On Voting Rights | ThinkProgress

Michigan may soon join states like Florida and Tennessee in implementing major new voting rights restrictions.

A new bill designed to make registering voters more difficult is currently working its way through the Republican-controlled legislature. As Project Vote detailsSB 754 would put new regulations in place to require photo ID in order to register, create new restrictions on nonprofit organizations who register voters, and undercut voter registration drives by requiring completed registration forms to be submitted with 24 hours when the election is nearing.

New Hampshire: New Hampshire secretary of state to set primary date next week |

New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner said Tuesday he will hold off making a final decision on the state’s presidential primary until next week. Gardner’s office had been working toward announcing the date as soon as Tuesday, but ultimately changed course and decided to wait until after the close of the two-week period when candidates can qualify for the state ballot.

Through Monday, 17 candidates — 15 Republicans and two Democrats — had done so by submitting a one-page declaration of candidacy and a $1,000 filing fee.

Gardner, empowered by state law to call what traditionally has been the nation’s first primary at the time of his choosing, is widely expected to set the contest for Jan. 10.

New Jersey: Bergen County clerk candidates clash over ballot printing costs |

The two candidates for Bergen County clerk sparred Tuesday over how much the county spends to print ballots. Democratic challenger John Hogan of Northvale contends the clerk’s office could trim about $200,000 from its printing bill by putting the work, which cost $2.4 million last year, up for a competitive bid.

GOP incumbent Elizabeth Randall of Westwood countered that election-related printing is a specialized line of work that only a few New Jersey companies do. That’s why the state Legislature exempted such work from competitive bidding, Randall said.

The candidates clashed on the printing issue twice this week, first at a forum sponsored by the Korean-American community in Fort Lee on Monday and again at a forum hosted Tuesday by the Bergen County League of Women voters at Bergen County Community College in Paramus.

After the League debate, Hogan called Randall’s argument “ridiculous.”

New York: Off-Year Election Still Costs NYC $17 Million |

Next month’s general election will cost the city $17 million, even though the so-called “off-year election” has almost no contests. NY1’s Courtney Gross filed the following report. There might be something missing from the ballot next month — an actual race. The thousands of voters that could head to the polls next month might be even more disappointed than typical off-year elections.

Citywide, only three of the 12 judicial contests are contested. Of the three district attorney races, only one incumbent, Dan Donovan on Staten Island, is seeing a challenge.

Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson and Queens District Attorney Richard Brown have secured every party line.

Nonetheless, every polling place will be open for business.

Ohio: Board of Elections must hire 8,000 temporary Election Day employees |

In order for Election Day to run smoothly in Cuyahoga County, the Board of Elections must hire more than 8,000 temporary employees to work the polls. The Board of Elections is currently looking to hire temporary scanner operators and supply bag handlers.

Temporary scanner operators are paired with another employee and serve as a work team responsible for scanning vote-by-mail ballots. Each team consists of an input operator and output operator who must stand next to a high-speed scanner for the majority of the workday. Together they are responsible for loading vote-by-mail ballots into a high-speed scanner and collecting the scanned ballots and placing them into location specific files. The scanner operator must monitor the high-speed scanner for jamming and any other equipment issues. This position also requires individuals to assist with the preparation of equipment and materials to be scanned and the subsequent storage of the scanned materials. The scanner operator is also required to perform all other duties assigned, delegated or required of management as well as those prescribed by law.

South Carolina: Counting the Vote – Some Say South Carolina’s Outdated Machines Cause for Concern | Free Times

Barbara Zia has seen enough miscounts. As the president of the state chapter of the League of Women Voters, Zia is fighting for the state to replace its outdated voting machines in hopes of preserving another layer of security for democracy in South Carolina.

The league, praised for its nonpartisan concern for voting rights and access, recently commissioned an independent study of the state’s voting technology after snafus in the 2010 elections. According to Zia, the report found three basic problems with the current system.

One, the iVotronic machines were aging and replacement parts were no longer being manufactured. Two, the machines were too complicated for the committed poll managers to use, workers whom Zia said were basically volunteers working from before dawn to after daylight in some cases. And three, the electronic touch-screen machines do not provide enough of a paper trail to ensure truly correct elections.

South Dakota: National Popular Vote movement fails in South Dakota |

Remember the talk a few months ago about asking South Dakota voters whether they want to join the winner-take-all movement for electing U.S. presidents? That issue won’t be on the November 2012 statewide ballot after all.

“We haven’t circulated any petitions and we haven’t collected any signatures,” state Sen. Craig Tieszen, R-Rapid City, said. Tieszen and three other legislators — Senate Democratic leader Jason Frerichs of Wilmot; Rep. Tad Perry, R-Fort Pierre; and Rep. Peggy Gibson, D-Huron — were going to be the official sponsors for the petition drive. They would have needed to file valid signatures of at least 15,855 South Dakota registered voters with Secretary of State Jason Gant no later than 5 p.m. Nov. 1.

Tennessee: Veteran had to pay for voter photo ID | The Daily News Journal

World War II veteran Darwin Spinks is wondering why he had to pay $8 to get a voter photo ID that should have been free when he recently went to the driver’s license testing center here. The state Legislature passed a law this spring requiring voters to show a photo ID in order to cast a ballot. It included the requirement that any Tennessee resident who didn’t have a photo ID could get one free of charge.

But when the 86-year-old Spinks visited the testing center about a month ago on Samsonite Boulevard to get a photo ID for voting purposes, he said he had to pay.

Spinks said Tuesday he needed the photo because when his driver’s license with a photo expired the last time, the driver testing center issued him a new license without a photo on it. State law allows people over 60 to get a non-photo driver’s license.

Tennessee: Voting law impacts seniors | The Tennessean

Robertson County seniors who don’t have a picture on their government-issued ID cards will have to obtain new cards if they want to vote next year. A new law which requires all voters to present government-issued photo ID at the polls was created to put an end to voter fraud, but one group that will be affected by this change will be seniors, who have the option not to use a photo on their driver’s licenses or state-issued ID cards.

“I just don’t think it’s right,” said Frances Swearingen, 86. “I’ve worked at the polls, and if you hand me your voter registration and your ID, there’s not going to be any fraud.”

Swearingen has not had her photo on her identification since she turned 65.

Washington: Ballots’ journey juggles security, transparency | The Issaquah Press

King County Elections places a huge mail order each year. Officials must secure enough ballots for more than 1 million voters spread across a county larger than Rhode Island. Then, the elections office is responsible for ensuring a secure — and hassle-free — process to distribute, authenticate and tally ballots on a strict deadline.

The complicated process starts on a printing press in Everett and ends in a tabulation machine in Renton. The voter is situated in the middle, black ink pen at the ready. The job to print almost 1.1 million ballots is delegated to a commercial printer. The elections office oversees the process as Everett-based K&H Election Services prints and inserts ballots into envelopes. The printer creates ballots for King County and jurisdictions across the United States. Then, ballots stacked on pallets await shipment to voters.

India: Security fears put spanner in Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation e-voting plan | Indian Express

The plan to introduce e-voting and increase voter participation in next year’s BMC elections is expected to be shelved due to delays and security fears.
E-voting was considered as an option to facilitate voting for the urban middle class and increase their share in the overall voting percentage that was a dismal 47 per cent in 2007. The BMC and the State Election Commission were to jointly develop a system of online voting for the elections due in February.

But the BMC’s election department has received more than 30 objections from individuals and organisations against the implementation of e-voting, citing security concerns. An official from the election department said the system is not robust and can lead to rigging. “The plan was announced in February this year, but authorities sat on it for many months. Now, there is hardly any time left now and the demo trial is yet to take place. We have inspected the existing system and have observed a number of potential security breaches,” he said. The estimated cost of implementing e-voting is Rs 35 crore.

Philippines: Former presidential couple gets subpoenas for poll fraud | Asia News Network

“The process of accountability has formally begun,” Philippine Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Tuesday told reporters shortly after Department of Justice (DOJ) personnel started serving subpoenas on former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband, Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo.

The joint investigating panel of the DOJ and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has formally summoned the Arroyos and close to 40 others to appear at its first hearing on November 3 into the purported fraud in the 2007 midterm elections in Mindanao. “We’re definitely serious in this undertaking,” De Lima said.


South Korea: Cyber Attacks Hit South Korean Election Commission, Candidate | The Chosun Ilbo

The websites of the National Election Commission and the pan-opposition candidate for Seoul mayoral by-election, Park Won-soon, were paralyzed by cyber attacks on Wednesday morning as voters went to the polls. The onslaught was a so-called distributed denial-of-service attack whereby hackers effectively overload certain websites by activating masses of zombie computers that have been infected with a virus.

“A DDoS attack interrupted access to the commission’s website from 6:15 a.m. to 8:32 a.m.,” an official with the election watchdog said. “We took an emergency measure with a DDoS defense system, but to no avail. So we diverted web traffic to a cybershelter provided by KT.”

South Korea: Election watchdog’s website attacked by DDoS | Korea Herald

Police are investigating what and who caused the state election watchdog’s website to crash for about two hours on Wednesday morning, keeping in mind the possibility of a so-called “distributed-denial-of-service” attack, officials said. The website of the National Election Commission crashed between 6:15 a.m. and 8:50 a.m. when many voters visited it to locate polling stations where they could cast their ballots for the by-elections for Seoul mayor.

Investigators suspect that the website crashed due to a “DDoS” cyber attack. The attacks swamp selected websites with massive traffic, using virus-infected “zombie computers” to launch simultaneous access to them. “Due to what appears to be a DDoS attack, problems intermittently occurred on the website. We are now trying to verify where the attack originated,” a government official said, declining to be named.