Tunisia: Election feat sets high bar for Arab Spring nations lacking its rigor and enthusiasm | The Washington Post

No matter what the results, Tunisia’s landmark election was a monumental achievement in democracy that will be a tough act to follow in elections next month in Egypt and Morocco — and later, in Libya. In just five months, an independent Tunisian commission organized the first free elections in this North African nation’s history. The ballot attracted 80 parties offering candidates, drew a massive turnout by impassioned voters and was effusively praised by international observers.

“I have observed 59 elections in the last 15 years, many of them in old democracies … and never have I seen a country able to realize such an election in a fair, free and dignified way,” said Andreas Gross, a Swiss parliamentarian and the head of the observer delegation for the Council of Europe. “I was elected in Switzerland on the same day in elections that were not much better than here.”

The Voting News Daily: Emanuel Cleaver, Artur Davis Spar Over Voter ID Laws, The Internet can’t fix democracy—only citizens can

National: Emanuel Cleaver, Artur Davis Spar Over Voter ID Laws | Roll Call Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) criticized former Rep. Artur Davis today for his recent support of voter ID laws, saying that his changed stance has led to speculation that the Alabama Democrat is considering becoming a Republican. “I don’t know…

National: Emanuel Cleaver, Artur Davis Spar Over Voter ID Laws | Roll Call

Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) criticized former Rep. Artur Davis today for his recent support of voter ID laws, saying that his changed stance has led to speculation that the Alabama Democrat is considering becoming a Republican.

“I don’t know why Artur Davis … wrote what he did,” Cleaver said about an opinion column by Davis that appeared last week in the Montgomery Advertiser. Davis wrote in support of voter ID laws like the one in his native Alabama and alleged that voter fraud is widespread in parts of the black community.

“I saw it and was frustrated by it,” Cleaver said. “I don’t know what that’s all about. There are some people [who] believe he’s getting ready to switch parties. I have no idea. Needless to say, he doesn’t confide in the CBC.”

Editorials: The Internet can’t fix democracy—only citizens can | Macleans.ca

The technology of voting has changed substantially since ancient Athenians tossed coloured stones in jars and scratched names on pottery shards. Today it’s paper ballots that seem ancient and outdated.

Poor turnout by voters in Manitoba and Ontario this month has prompted renewed calls for online voting. “We have to do something,” vowed Greg Selinger, recently elected premier of Manitoba, referring to his province’s depressing turnout numbers. “We’re going to take a look at e-voting.” Elections Canada plans to test electronic balloting in a federal by-election by 2013 sometime after 2013. Many municipalities across the country are already using the new technology.

The appeal of online voting is obvious. Voter turnout is poor across the board, but particularly dismal among the youngest cohort of voters. Since this generation has grown up immersed in online communications, its members might be enticed to vote in greater numbers if the ballot was in a format familiar and convenient to them. Voting at home via a smartphone certainly seems more attractive than walking down the street to a public school or community hall, standing behind a cardboard screen and putting an X on a piece of paper.

And yet it is not clear online voting actually has the power to draw more people to the polls, whatever their age. From the municipal election evidence in Canada, it appears online voting may boost the number of people who vote in advance polls, but does little to change overall voter turnout. A large-scale experiment in Britain was abandoned in 2007 after numerous technical glitches and no appreciable improvement in turnout. All of which suggests online voting provides already-committed voters with a more convenient means of voting, but fails to address the underlying apathy of those who don’t.

Voting Blogs: L.A.’s Elections Overhaul Could Provide a New Model | governing.org

Dean Logan, the registrar-recorder/county clerk in Los Angeles County (the largest voting district in the country), is currently facing a daunting goal that will affect over 4 million voters: completely overhauling its dated election system over the next five years. Recognizing that it’s time for a change, Logan and his office are now trying to determine what, exactly, should they replace their election system with. They might wind up with something truly unique, something of the people.

The current system, Logan says, lacks the flexibility to suit the county’s increasingly diverse population. The county currently uses something like a punchcard voting system adapted from technology developed more than 40 years ago. Voters slide a paper ballot into a template with candidate names and mark it with ink. The ballots can be tabulated quickly, are easy to store, and provide a physical record of each vote. But they don’t list candidate names on the actual paper — those appear on the template — so it’s difficult for those who use the increasingly popular mail-in option to case their votes. The system also offers little in the way of of sophisticated language assistance or help for disabled voters.

“It’s old technology,” Logan says. “It’s not going to sustain a whole lot longer.”
None of the system’s original developers are employed by the county, and it’s become increasingly difficult to find people “with requisite skills in obsolete mainframe technologies” to replace retiring staff, according to a county report. Purchasing a new system don’t fit well with L.A. County’s operations: direct-recording electronic (DRE or touchscreen) machines are too expensive to be rolled out and maintained across 5,000 polling locations. A low-tech system — such as one that relies on hand-counting — could yield inaccuracies in a county as large as Los Angeles.

California: Voter Fraud Allegations Hit San Francisco Mayor’s Race | Fox News

Shocking voter fraud allegations are rocking the mayor’s race in San Francisco. District Attorney George Gascon has launched an investigation and demands are growing for federal authorities to move in.  One campaign official fears the election could be stolen if nothing is done. Supporters of incumbent Mayor Ed Lee, who is running for a full four-year term next month, are accused of illegally handling vote-by-mail ballots.

Witnesses say workers for the group, SF Neighbor Alliance, set up a makeshift sidewalk voting site in the city’s Chinatown and accuse it of illegally casting absentee ballots for elderly Chinese voters. The witnesses claim cell-phone videos show workers telling voters to vote for Lee, filling out ballots for the voters and even using a stencil to hide the names of rival candidates so the voters could only chose one — Lee. They also say that the completed ballots were stuffed in plastic bags, which is prohibited by state election law.

Florida: Legislator to Scott: Stop fighting Voting Rights Act | Florida Independent

State Rep. Perry Thurston, D-Plantation, the House Democratic Leader-designate, has written an open letter to Gov. Rick Scott criticizing the state’s latest effort to undermine the Voting Rights Act.

Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning recently filed a complaint in court claiming that the Voting Rights Act’s federal preclearance provision is “unconstitutional.” Five counties in Florida fall under the preclearance rules; the state must receive approval from the federal government in order to implement the new voting laws in those areas. The other 62 counties have already implemented the new elections regulations.

The state is currently awaiting a D.C. court’s approval of controversial parts of the new election laws limiting third-party voter registration drives, shortening the “shelf life” for signatures collected for ballot initiatives, adding new restrictions on voters changing their registered addresses on election day, and reducing the number of early voting days in the state.


Georgia: State seeks to strike down Voting Rights Act  | ajc.com

The state of Georgia wants three federal judges in Washington to declare a portion of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional. Georgia filed suit earlier this month asking that the court approve Republican-backed plans to redraw the state’s legislative and congressional districts. But in that filing, the state asks that if the court rejects its redistricting plans, that it also rule the law that requires that approval to be unconstitutional.

Georgia is one of nine states that must get any change in election law, including district maps, pre-approved by either the Justice Department or the federal court in Washington. That preclearance is required by Section V of the Voting Rights Act, the landmark 1964 law passed in the wake of Jim Crow and voting laws aimed at limiting the ability of African-Americans to vote.

“The state of Georgia and its voters are being subjected to the continued extraordinary intrusion into its constitutional sovereignty through Section 5 and its outdated preclearance formula based upon discriminatory conditions that existed more than 47 years ago but have long since been remedied,” the state says in its filing.

Louisiana: Secretary of State’s website crashes during election | WVLA

Secretary of State Tom Schedler says he and his staff are looking into what crashed their website, which slowed results on election night. If you were paying attention to the races this past weekend, you probably noticed when the Secretary of State’s website shut down. Everyone, including the news media, couldn’t get the numbers they needed.

Schedler says it had to do with the amount of people accessing the website with smartphones. He says with people checking on the elections inside and outside the state, the website was bound to crash.

Mississippi: Ballot snafu discovered by happenstance | gulflive.com

An assistant district attorney from Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood’s office was reviewing another matter a few weeks ago when the assistant DA discovered that Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann’s office had failed to place the fiscal analysis on the three ballot initiatives as is required by the state Constitution, according to Hood.

The snafu is going to end up costing the Secretary of State’s office, since most counties had already ordered their ballots and had to have them reprinted with the fiscal information — most notably involving the voter ID initiative which is estimated to cost taxpayers $1.49 million.

South Carolina: Minority Precincts Hit Hardest by Voter ID Laws, AP Analysis Shows | Campus Progress

Voter ID laws have been called the modern-era Jim Crow—and evidence keeps piling up to support that notion. A new analysis by the Associated Press reveals that South Carolina’s Voter ID law is hitting precincts with a large amount of black voters the hardest—including some colleges.

More than 200,000 active, registered voters in South Carolina lack satisfactory IDs under the state’s law, which would be a sobering number even without racial inequality. Statewide in South Carolina, 66 percent of voters without proper ID are white and 34 percent are non-white, fairly close to the ratio of all registered voters—70 percent white, 30 percent non-white. But at the precinct level, the numbers tell a different story.

South Carolina: The Maddening Effect of South Carolina’s Proposed Voter ID Law | COLORLINES

he voter ID laws that are sweeping the country could possibly keep five million people away from the polls in next year’s election. And voting rights advocates in South Carolina think the situation in that state could be especially dire.

The state just passed a new measure that requires voters to show a government-issued photo ID at the polls. Advocates say the requirement will be a big burden for some, especially the elderly and the poor, who may not have transportation, money, or the required paperwork to obtain the IDs.

Tennessee: Group says poll shows Tennesseans confused by voter photo ID law | The Daily News Journal

A new poll issued by the MTSU Survey Group reveals that most Tennesseans are aware of the state’s new voter ID law, but many confused about the details. Tennessee Citizen Action released the following statement:

“We’re not surprised that many Tennesseans are confused about the details of the new photo ID to vote law because it’s in the details that the devil lives. The requirements necessary for Tennesseans to comply with the law are restrictive, excessive, and extremely confusing.

“For instance, the law states that the ID must be a ‘valid government-issued photo ID’ but we’re being told we can use an expired driver’s license. We’re not sure when ‘valid’ and ‘expired’ started to mean the same thing. We’re also being told that certain government-issued photo IDs, such as those issued by state universities and colleges, cannot be used, while others, such as gun permits, can.

Texas: Voter ID law examined | Cherokeean Herald

With early voting already underway across Cherokee County, many are learning about the state’s new voter ID bill – and the United States government wants to know more about it, as well. The bill, signed into law in May by Gov. Rick Perry, requires voters to present one of five accepted forms of voter ID – a drivers license, military ID, passport, concealed handgun license or a special voter ID provided by the state free of charge – before voting. Individuals over the age of 70 are exempt from the law.

“This simple action, no more complicated then cashing a check down at the HEB or applying for a library card down the street, will appropriately help maintain the integrity and fairness of our electoral system here in the Lone Star State,” Gov. Perry said prior to the signing.

Voting Blogs: Meet our election experts: Douglas Jones | fyi

Computer technology has enabled humanity to make great advances in aircraft design, communications, and countless other fields. But when it comes to recording the results of elections, it’s often unclear to election officials in towns across the country whether the introduction of computers has been a help or a hindrance.

That’s where Douglas W. Jones, associate professor of computer science in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, comes in. In 2010, he was appointed by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) as one of four new technical and scientific experts to its Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC). The TGDC is charged under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) with assisting the EAC in developing federal voluntary voting system guidelines that are used to test and certify voting systems.

Previously, Jones served on the Iowa Board of Examiners for Voting Machines and Electronic Voting Systems for 10 years, where he helped examine and approve voting systems before they were sold to the state’s county governments. He testified at the U.S. Civil Rights Commission hearings in Tallahassee, Fla., on Jan. 11, 2001, and was involved in reviewing the federal 2002 Voting System Standards.

Bangladesh: Shamim, Ivy back Electronic Voting Machines Taimur opposes | bdnews24.com

BNP-backed Taimur Alam Khandaker has altogether opposed use of Electronic Voting Machines in the Narayanganj City Corporation, Selina Hayat Ivy preferred it in three instead of nine centres while Shamim Osman went the whole hog for it. Ivy said she will make relatively fewer promises as she is against tall talks after Shamim Osman rattled off his successes when he was the Narayanganj-1 MP.

The war of words between Ivy and Shamim began in earnest in the televised debate, with Ivy firing the first salvo at her ‘elder brother’, saying he puts the party behind everything else. The people are behind me, the former Narayanganj municipality said during the primetime Election Commission debate. Shamim, on his part, said it is difficult to work without party support. “BNP did it first. We did it in response.”

Bulgaria: Nationalists Seek Recount of Election Results | Novinite.com

Bulgarian nationalist leader Volen Siderov has called for a nationwide recount of the results of the October 23 presidential and local elections. Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday, he presented photos showing ballot bags with ballots falling out.

Demanding a recount in which individual ballots would be counted one-by-one, the leader of the nationalist Ataka party urged all members of electoral commissions and party-affiliated observers to come clean and present facts as they stand.

Siderov suggested that all representatives of all political parties which had participated in organizing and staging the elections, all media outlets and representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) should gather in one hall and start the recount. In his words, the step would reveal the manipulations of the election results.

Egypt: Courts grant expats voting rights for national elections | Bikya Masr

Egyptian courts decided today to allow Egyptian nationals living abroad to vote in national elections. Egypt will set up voting centers at embassies abroad to allow expat nationals to vote for parliamentary elections.

The decision comes pending approval from Egypt’s interim ruling government, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). Egyptians living abroad could change the face of Egyptian elections, as their numbers near an estimated 8 million people. Social networking sites have lit up with celebrations regarding the announcement, as expats congratulate one another for their long-awaited political gain.

Kenya: Use electronic voting, urges US envoy | The Nation

The 2012 General Election should be conducted electronically if the voting is to be free, fair and transparent, US Ambassador to Kenya Scott Gration has said. The envoy faulted manual voting that the country has been using, stating that it was prone to malpractices and suggested that it be discarded.

On Tuesday, Mr Gration advocated for the electronic voter registration arguing that it was the only way to improve the confidence of Kenyans in elections. “Let the government put in place electronic system of voting ahead of the General Election in the country for transparent results to be seen in the electoral process,” the ambassador said.

Liberia: Election Commission Declares Final Result | CRI

Liberia’s National Elections Commission (NEC) has released final results of the Oct. 11, 2011 legislative and presidential elections, saying that none of the 16 presidential candidates obtained an absolute majority to be declared winner. The election law of Liberia provides that a presidential candidate must obtain 50 percent plus one vote of valid ballots counted as prescribed in article 83 b of the 1986 Liberian constitution.

At a news conference on Tuesday evening, NEC Chairman James Fromayan said this provision was never met during the last elections. “Consequently, none of the candidates is qualified to be declared winner in the presidential contest,” he told reporters, adding that a run-off will be held on Nov. 8, 2011.

“In this connection, I herewith declare that a run-off election will be contested by the two presidential candidates who received the highest number of votes in these elections including Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of the UP and Winston A. Tubman of the opposition Congress of Democratic Change,” he added.

Philippines: House biometric voting system pushed | Tempo

An administration congressman wants House Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” R. Belmonte Jr. to revive the Biometric Electronic Voting System (BEVS) project that two of his predecessors failed to install due to a glitch in the installed system. Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez filed House Resolution No. 1783 seeking a review of the status of the P15-million electronic plenary voting system that was initiated by then House Speaker Jose C. de Venecia Jr. in late 2007.

However, De Venecia’s predecessor, House Speaker Prospero C. Nograles, decided to abandon the project when testing of the computerized voting showed grave errors.

Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe elections will cost $220-million, says commission | Mail & Guardian

Zimbabwe needs $220-million to hold a constitutional referendum and fresh elections at dates yet to be set, a state daily reported on Wednesday.

“We came up with a budget we submitted to treasury and as long as we get the money we are ready to roll,” Joyce Kazembe, deputy chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) told the Herald newspaper. “We have already trained our officers.”

The Voting News Daily: How Voting Equipment Varies in the US, Tunisian Islamist party claims election victory, set to dominate writing of new constitution

From the Verified Voting Blog: How Voting Equipment Varies in the U.S. The following article was posted at Digital Communities on October 24 2011. Pamela Smith and the Verified Voting Foundation (VVF) are on a mission — in her words — “to safeguard elections in the digital age.” In an earlier time, she said, ballot boxes were inspected…

California: Mayoral candidates contact Department of Justice over reports of election fraud | KTVU San Francisco

Seven San Francisco mayoral candidates sent a letter to federal and state officials Sunday requesting an investigation into media reports that supporters of Mayor Ed Lee were filling in ballots for voters Friday. The letter points to reported witness testimony and video allegedly showing staff members from the group SF Neighbor Alliance for Ed Lee for Mayor 2011 “completing ballots for voters” and “preventing voters from marking their ballots for other mayoral candidates”.

In the letter, the mayoral contenders ask Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas Perez and California Secretary of State Debra Bowen to investigate these claims. The letter was signed by Public Defender Jeff Adachi, County Supervisor John Avalos, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, City Attorney Dennis Herrera, state Senator Leland Yee, Michela Alioto-Pier and Joanna Rees.

Colorado: Law prohibits U.S. Postal Service from forwarding Boulder County ballots | Longmont Times-Call

The Boulder County Clerk and Recorder’s Office reports that more than 9,000 blank ballots it mailed to voters earlier this month have been returned as undeliverable. That typically means that those voters moved but didn’t update the addresses on their official voter-registration records.

A state law intended to prevent no-longer-eligible voters from casting prohibits the U.S. Postal Service from forwarding ballots. Residents who think they’re properly registered but who haven’t received a ballot in the mail can call their county clerks’ elections divisions or check their registration information online and still get a ballot. Voters also can get replacement ballots if they’ve spoiled, defaced or lost the originals.

Connecticut: Absentees: Early ballots bring victories, sometimes fraud | Connecticut Post

“Goal: 1,200 absentee applications,” read a sign hanging in Mayor Bill Finch’s campaign headquarters last month. By the time polls opened at 6 a.m. on Sept. 27, that goal had been surpassed — more than 1,300 applications were turned in and nearly 900 ballots returned. Before the first paper ballot was marked, Finch already had a 420-vote lead over Democratic challenger Mary-Jane Foster on Primary Day, the fruits of a well-organized absentee ballot operation.

“We, the politicians, we will do whatever we can to get that vote,” said Lydia Martinez, an East Side city councilwoman who for years has led the most successful absentee ballot operations in the city. “You can give transportation to people. You can call people to ask if they got their absentee ballot. I do have a record of who votes by absentee every year. I’ve been doing this for 30 years. I know who the people are.”

Voting Blogs: Allegations of absentee “voter fraud” in Indiana don’t add up | Early Voting Information Center

We need to invent a catchy phrase in the elections community to describe overblown allegations of voter fraud.  As Lorraine Minnite has documented, most charges of fraud don’t stand up to scrutiny.  It’s important that Americans have faith in the security and integrity of the ballot, but it’s just as important that overblown charges of “fraud” be challenged.

Take the latest series of charges and counter charges regarding voting irregularities in Indiana.  Rick Hasen noted the “latest salvo” from the state GOP chair.

I am careful to use the word “irregularities” and not “election fraud” because, regardless of the rhetoric, even a cursory examination of the list of charges only reveals one case that rises to any level of concern: allegations regarding absentee ballot fraud for a single UOCAVA ballot.  (I’ve been searching fruitlessly for the reasons why there are 65 counts in the indictment; some stories refer to absentee ballot “applications” while other stories note a single ballot in question.)

Nevada: Nevada GOP folds; opens January date for New Hampshire primary | Union Leader

Nevada Republicans on Saturday cleared the way for New Hampshire to host the nation’s first GOP presidential primary Jan. 10 and avoid voting during the Christmas shopping season. “We’re happy; we’re relieved; we’re grateful,” New Hampshire Republican Party Chairman Wayne MacDonald said after the vote by the Nevada GOP to move its caucuses to Feb. 4.

The spotlight now shifts to New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner, who sets the date and who has considered a December primary to comply with state law. “Now,” Gardner said Saturday, “New Hampshire will make its decision soon based on the schedules of all the other states as required by our law.”

If Gardner puts his stamp on Jan. 10, New Hampshire Republicans would follow Iowa caucus-goers by a week and enjoy an 11-day buffer before South Carolina residents voted on Jan. 21.

New Hampshire: Once more, elections chief plays a primary role | The Associated Press

New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner was a stickler for the rules from the start. In 1976, after the state Legislature chose him to oversee state elections, the Republican speaker of the House moved to swear in Gardner, just 28, immediately, but the young Democrat asked whether that was proper procedure. Without realizing the microphone in front of them was on, the speaker sneered, “Do you want the job, kid, or not?”

Gardner did and, 35 years later, he still does. He’s the nation’s longest-serving secretary of state, and every four years his influence in election matters extends far beyond New Hampshire. State law requires that New Hampshire’s presidential primary be held at least seven days ahead of any other state, and it gives the secretary of state exclusive authority to select a date.

New Mexico: Doña Ana County considers using at-large voting centers | Las Cruces Sun-News

Amid rushing the kids to school, zipping through a busy day at work, squeezing in a few other chores and picking the kids up from soccer, gymnastics or guitar lessons, finding time to cast your election-day ballot as important as it may be sometimes falls by the wayside.

That’s especially the case if your memory is a bit fuzzy about where to vote. Was it Alameda Elementary School? Or that community center a few streets away? Or just possibly that neighborhood church used two years ago?
County officials said they’re hoping a proposal up for consideration Tuesday will streamline the process of election-day voting and make it more accessible to voters.

The proposal would change the way the county hosts election-day voting moving it from precinct-based polling places to at-large voting centers.
Instead of voting at a designated precinct or casting a provisional ballot if you show up at the wrong precinct you’d visit to any one of 39 voting centers throughout Doña Ana County, said County Clerk Lynn Ellins, a Democrat.