South Carolina: Audit finds anomalies in Beaufort County’s 2010 election data |

An audit of the 2010 election released late last month by the S.C. League of Women Voters shows a few irregularities in data from Beaufort County’s voting machines. County elections executive director Scott Marshall said he’s not yet certain how many votes might have been affected by problems, but he said that number is small enough that it wouldn’t have affected any results.

Nonetheless, Marshall said irregularities in the data are “unacceptable” and said he will work to understand what caused them. “Anytime there is an opportunity for error in results being reported, I’m concerned about it,” he said. “We want to make sure that we do get it figured out, so we don’t repeat that.”

To perform its audit, the league analyzed the log files stored on memory cards inside county voting machines. “What we have seen around the state is that all the possible things that could go wrong have gone wrong somewhere,” said Duncan Buell, a University of South Carolina computer science professor, who helped lead the project.

Tennessee: Chattanooga woman denied voting ID gains national attention |

Dorothy Cooper may be 96, but she’s become the poster child for Democratic opposition to a Republican-sponsored state law requiring photo identification to vote — she’s even attracted the attention of the nation’s Democrat in Chief. Days after the Chattanooga resident was denied the free photo ID card promised in a new state law, state Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester cited her travails in a campaign fundraising email.

Forrester’s email said that “Tennessee’s new Republican ‘photo ID’ law has successfully suppressed another voter,” as reported by Nashville Scene. It invited potential donors to “Please give $5, $10 or $25 to support our efforts to ensure people like Dorothy — or your grandmother — can be a voter on Election Day.”

Tennessee: After long wait with no seat, 91-year-old voter quits on ID | The Daily News Journal

Ninety-one-year-old Virginia Lasater has voted and worked in campaigns for some 70 years. But Wednesday she ran head-long into the barrier Tennessee’s new voter photo ID law is throwing up for some elderly people. Recently moved to Murfreesboro from her farm in Lewisburg to live with son, Richard Lasater, she registered to vote Wednesday at the Rutherford County Election Commission office but that afternoon found herself facing long lines at the driver’s license testing center in Murfreesboro. She’s never had a photo ID on her license, even though she’s still capable of driving and goes to Sunday school.

Aided by a walking cane to get around, she quickly decided she couldn’t stand up long enough to wait and her son could find no chairs available for her to sit. Richard estimated at least 100 people were in the building, and workers were “way overworked and way understaffed.” He was told at the help desk there was nothing they could do but wait. They left, upset about the law and the long lines.

Argentina: Cristina Fernandez celebrates landslide win | BBC News

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has won re-election in a landslide victory, on the back of strong economic growth in the country. Ms Fernandez secured nearly 54% of vote, with her closest challenger, socialist Hermes Binner on just 17%.

Ms Fernandez told jubilant supporters in Buenos Aires’ Plaza de Mayo that she wanted to keep Argentina growing. She also made an emotional reference to her late husband, former president Nestor Kirchner, who died a year ago.

“Count on me to continue pursuing the project,” she said, watched by supporters on a huge TV screen. “All I want is to keep collaborating … to keep Argentina growing. I want to keep changing history.” Her critics say she has benefited from a weak and fragmented opposition in this election. But Ms Fernandez, 58, has presided over strong economic growth and pursued popular social policies.

Bulgaria: NGO Head Blames Central Electoral Commission for Election Chaos | – Sofia News Agency

Commenting on the chaos surrounding the October 23 presidential and local elections, Antoaneta Tsoneva, President of the Institute for Public Environment Development (IPED), has said that Bulgaria’s inexperienced election administration is to blame for the situation.

Speaking in an interview for the state-owned Bulgarian National Television (BNT), she noted that, instead of allowing cameras in the Sofia Municipal Electoral Commission (OIC), MPs from ruling party GERB had been granted entry. Tsoneva called the presence of a regional coordinator at the vote counting “a total nonsense.”

“Sectional electoral commissions are trained by municipal electoral commissions, which in turn are instructed by the Central Electoral Commission (CEC). We warned CEC repeatedly that it was running behind schedule with the start of the training of municipal electoral commissions,” the head of the Bulgarian non-governmental organization said.

Liberia: ECOWAS to Send More Observers to Monitor Run-off | VoA News

The president of the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) says his organization will send a larger delegation to monitor Liberia’s November 8 presidential run-off. The sub-regional bloc deployed over 150 poll observers across Liberia to monitor the first round of the October 11 presidential and legislative elections.

“We have a mandate from a protocol on democracy and good governance…that expects us to observe all presidential elections,” said Ambassador James Victor Gbeho. “[For] the second round, which is even more important, we might field an even bigger number to make sure that our observation is flawless. And also to make sure that we are in a position to certify whether that election or the run-off will be free fair and credible.” He warned that ECOWAS has no tolerance for some candidates, who he said create problems after losing a vote. ECOWAS judged the first round to be free fair and transparent.

Libya: Libya paves the way for elections | CBS News

Libya’s interim leaders are moving to put the war-torn country back together. A declaration of liberation is expected Sunday. On Saturday acting Prime Minister Makhmoud Jibril resigned, clearing the way for an interim government and elections. CBS News Elizabeth Palmer in Tripoli has the latest. Just before stepping down, Libya’s interim prime minister also set an ambitious deadline for elections.

“The first election after the liberating of the country, which should take place today, should be within a period of eight months, maximum,” he said.

Maldives: Electronic voting depends on public awareness | Minivan News

The Maldives has expressed support for electronic voting systems in India and Pakistan, and is taking steps to introduce Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) to its own electoral process. At an informal meeting of Electoral Commissioners from SAARC member countries in India, the Maldives joined Bhutan, Afghanistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka in praising India’s use of EVMs and indicated that “legal amendments would be thought of to see that EVMs were made popular to ensure free and fair polls in their countries,” Indian news outlet The Hindu reported yesterday.

Commissioners met to discuss Afghanistan’s voting procedures in light of waning financial and other aid from NATO allies. Maldives Elections Commission President Fuad Thaufeeq said the commission, which is developing a proposal for Parliament regarding EVMs, has met with the Committee on Independent Commissions to discuss their implementation.

Switzerland: Expats pleased with e-voting, disappointed no candidates elected | swissinfo

The parliamentary elections on Sunday were both a success and failure for the large community of Swiss voters living abroad. On the one hand, electronic voting worked in the four cantons that introduced the system for expatriate voters. However, none of the Swiss abroad who stood for election were voted in.

“We are both delighted and grateful to the cantons for carrying out these tests and to the government for allowing them,” Rudolf Wyder, director of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA), told It was the first time that electronic voting was possible.

More than 3,500 expatriates registered to vote were able to benefit from e-voting in cantons Basel City, St Gallen, Graubünden and Aargau. That amounts to 53.1 per cent of the Swiss abroad who cast ballots in these cantons, the Federal Chancellery said on Monday.

Tunisia: Islamist party claims election victory, set to dominate writing of new constitution | The Washington Post

A moderate Islamist party claimed victory Monday in Tunisia’s landmark elections as preliminary results indicated it had won the biggest share of votes, assuring it will have a strong say in the future constitution of the country whose popular revolution led to the Arab Spring. The Ennahda party’s success could boost other Islamist parties in the North Africa and the Middle East, although Ennahda insists its approach to sharia, or Islamic law, is consistent with Tunisia’s progressive traditions, especially in regards to women’s rights.

Party officials estimated Ennahda had taken at least 30 percent of the 217-seat assembly charged with writing a new constitution for the country. Other estimates put the party’s share from Sunday’s vote closer to 50 percent. Official results are expected Tuesday. International observers lauded the election as free and fair while emphasizing that the parties in the new government must work together and safeguard the rights of women.

National: How Voting Equipment Varies in the U.S. | Digital Communities

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 the morning before voting began then were padlocked. Voters would insert their paper ballots, and when the polls closed, officials would unlock the boxes and count the ballots. Smith, the foundation’s president, isn’t advocating a return to those simpler days, but she says that some modern electronic voting systems present unique challenges that make democracy vulnerable to tampering.

With some systems, said Smith, the voter marks a paper ballot, which then goes through an electronic scanner for tallying the vote. With that kind of system, she said, there’s a hard-copy record of the vote that can be used to audit accuracy, or in the event of a recount. The foundation’s map of “America’s Voting Systems in 2010” show a broad range of systems, from Oregon’s vote-by-mail to South Carolina’s “DRE without VVPAT,” which signifies a direct recording electronic voting machine that has no voter-verified paper audit trail.

Editorials: Are voter ID laws protective or restrictive? |

Voter identification — considered a safeguard against fraud by some and an effort to disenfranchise voters by others — was a hot topic in state legislatures this year. Twenty states that didn’t have requirements requiring voter ID at the polls at the beginning of 2011 considered legislation this year. Two states — Kansas and Wisconsin — so far have enacted new voter ID requirements, statistics posted on the National Conference for State Legislatures indicate.

Governors in Minnesota, New Hampshire and North Carolina vetoed voter ID bills in 2011, but backers in Minnesota vowed to pass a similar ID bill next year that would skip the gubernatorial step and take the matter to the voters instead, similar to what the Oklahoma Legislature did in 2009 and 2010. Mississippi voters will weigh in on a citizen initiative proposing voter ID in November. Of the 30 states with voter ID laws, 14 require a picture ID of the voter.

California: San Francisco uses complex rank-vote system in mayoral race | The Associated Press

Karla Jones knows that voting in the upcoming election for San Francisco mayor won’t be as simple as completing the arrow next to one name. She’ll have to pick a first, second and third-choice candidate. “It’s more choices to make and now you’ve got to get to know three of them,” Jones said on the first day City Hall opened for early voting in the Nov. 8 election for the city’s mayor, district attorney and sheriff.

Jones was there to pick up some brochures that explain the ranked-choice voting system — also known as the instant runoff — so she could better understand the process before returning to cast her vote. “It’s good for the city in terms of cost, but it’s harder on the voter,” Jones said with a sigh. “I’ve got to go home and study now.”

Florida: New Florida election law stirs up controversy | Daytona Beach News-Journal

The teacher who heads up New Smyrna Beach High School’s student government association could face thousands of dollars in fines. Her transgression? Helping students register to vote. Prepping 17-year-olds for the privileges and responsibilities of voting in a democracy is nothing new for civics teachers, but when Jill Cicciarelli organized a drive at the start of the school year to get students pre-registered, she ran afoul of Florida’s new and controversial election law.

Among other things, the new rules require that third parties who sign up new voters register with the state and that they submit applications within 48 hours. The law also reduces the time for early voting from 14 days to eight and requires voters who want to give a new address at the polls to use a provisional ballot.

Michigan: Recall vote against Rep. Paul Scott is back on | Detroit Free Press

The on-again, off-again recall election targeting state Rep. Paul Scott, R-Grand Blanc, is on again for Nov. 8 following a ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court to dissolve a lower court injunction to block it that was issued only last week.

The ruling is the latest twist in a political battle fought largely in the courtroom in recent weeks as Scott’s attorneys challenged the validity of recall petition signatures that had been collected at a time when an earlier legal challenge to petition signatures was pending.

Ohio: Remap dispute churns toward legal showdown | Toledo Blade

Republicans repeatedly have warned that the Statehouse stalemate over congressional district lines could place pencil and eraser, or at least the computer mouse, in the hands of unelected federal judges, possibly even from outside Ohio.

But Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern, who is preparing a petition drive to put a GOP-drawn map on next year’s ballot, said he doesn’t fear court intervention. “It couldn’t get any worse,” he said, referring to the map that, at least on paper, looks like it would establish 12 safe or leaning-Republican districts and four solidly Democratic districts.

Talks continue as House Republicans hope to peel off enough Democratic votes by making some minor changes to their existing map that would bolster minority voting clout in a handful of districts. They would need a minimum of seven Democratic votes to achieve a super-majority of 66 votes to allow the map to take effect immediately and head off a referendum at the pass.

Bulgaria: Plevneliev, Kalfin and the quest for allies in the second round | Sofia Echo

With exit polls showing that Bulgaria’s ruling party GERB presidential candidate Rossen Plevneliev will face off in a second round against the socialists’ Ivailo Kalfin on October 30 2011, the big question was for whom other political forces would declare.

Ahmed Dogan, whose Movement for Rights and Freedoms did not nominate its own presidential candidate, was declining to be drawn in doorstep interviews as he arrived on the October 23 election night at the election centre.

Dogan, whose party served in the previous governing coalitions and which is supported in the main by Bulgarians of ethnic Turkish descent, has a stable electorate that could sway an election – and yet, according to polling agencies – that electorate was divided in its decisions at the first round.

Bulgaria: OSCE observers assess Bulgarian elections positively, but raise concerns about vote-buying, media coverage | OHDIR

In a statement issued today, the observer mission of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) made an overall positive assessment of yesterday’s presidential and municipal elections, but said continued reform is needed to address concerns such as pervasive allegations of vote-buying and the near absence of any editorial coverage of the campaign in the media.

“These elections provided voters with a wide choice of political options, and they took place in an environment which showed respect for fundamental freedoms,” said Vadim Zhdanovich, the Head of the OSCE/ODIHR Limited Election Observation Mission. But he stressed that further efforts are needed to enhance the integrity of the election process and increase public confidence.

Canada: Vancouver online voting pilot nixed by province | CBC News

A pilot program for online municipal election voting in Vancouver won’t get off the ground in time for the upcoming civic election. Earlier this year, Vancouver city council passed a resolution to set up online voting for the advance polls of this year’s municipal election on Nov. 19, which would have allowed eligible voters to cast a ballot by home or mobile computer.

However, the city needed provincial approval to get the program up and running — and the province says there’s not enough time to ensure a fair and accurate process is in place.

Morocco: Moroccans protest polls, violence in the capital | Top News | Reuters

Thousands of Moroccans demonstrated in cities across the country on Sunday, calling for a boycott of early parliamentary polls next month whose outcome will be key to the future of reforms crafted by the royal palace. The protests are the latest in a series of regular peaceful demonstrations by the youth-led opposition February 20 Movement, inspired by uprisings that ousted leaders in Tunisia and Egypt to demand a parliamentary monarchy and punishment for officials accused of graft.

In the capital Rabat, a Reuters reporter saw dozens of riot police with truncheons beating and kicking protesters who had gathered in front of the parliament building at the end of a march by around 3,000 people. A local elected official in the country’s biggest city, Casablanca, said about 8,000 people took part in a similar protest there. Several thousand took part in protests in other cities including Fes and Tangier.

Tunisia: Tunisians Hold First Vote Since Revolution |

Millions of Tunisians cast votes on Sunday for an assembly to draft a constitution and shape a new government, in a burst of pride and hope that after inspiring uprisings across the Arab world, their small country could now lead the way to democracy.

“Tunisians showed the world how to make a peaceful revolution without icons, without ideology, and now we are going to show the world how we can build a real democracy,” said Marcel Marzouki, founder of a liberal political party and a former dissident exile, as he waited for hours in a long line outside a polling place in the coastal town of Sousse. “This will have a real impact in places like Libya and Egypt and Syria, after the fall of its regime,” he added. “The whole Arab world is watching.”

In another first for the region, a moderate Islamic party, Ennahda, is expected to win at least a plurality of seats in the Tunisian assembly. The party’s leaders have vowed to create another kind of new model for the Arab world, one reconciling Islamic principles with Western-style democracy.

Tunisia: Tunisia Election Faces Financing Questions |

As Tunisians prepare to vote on Sunday in the first election of the Arab Spring, the parties and their supporters have ramped up a bitter debate over allegations about the influence of “dirty money” behind the scenes of the race. Liberals, facing an expected defeat by the moderate Islamist party Ennahda, charge that it has leapt ahead with financial support from Persian Gulf allies. Some Islamists and residents of the impoverished interior, meanwhile, fault the liberals, saying they relied on money from the former dictator’s business elite. And all sides gawk at the singular spectacle of an expatriate businessman who made a fortune in Libyan oil and returned home after the revolution to spend much of it building a major political party.

In the first national election since the ouster of the strongman Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in January, voters will choose an assembly that will govern the country while writing a new constitution. The vote is a bellwether for the Arab world, and the debate over the role of political spending is a case study of the forces at play here and around the region.

Editorials: The real significance of Tunisia’s election | Al Jazeera

The view from the Tunisian city of Sousse is good. Voters are enthusiastically queuing up to cast their vote. However, the importance of the poll in Tunisia is not which party wins the popular vote for the constituent assembly. The true significance will be whether Tunisia votes, and “which” Tunisia votes for which party or list.

Three questions must be addressed: Will Tunisians vote? What are Tunisians voting for? To whom are they giving their vote? Most political observers and media pundits have turned the bulk of their attention to al-Nahda, a moderate Islamist party. Here in Tunis, the focus is on al-Nahda and many assume that they will win. Islamists define all things political in the Arab world. This applies to extremist Islamism as well as to civic Islamism.

The Voting News Weekly: TVN Weekly October 17-23 2011

The Colorado County Clerks Association objected to a court ruled that voted ballots are public documents. The League of Women Voters filed a lawsuit challenging Wisconsin’s voter ID law. Slate Magazine suggested that proponents of such laws should consider the legacy of laws restricting access to the polls. Charlie White’s request for a special prosecutor to investigate former US Senator Evan Bayh for voter fraud was denied. Tunisians went to the polls this week in the first elections resulting from the “Arab Spring.” Budget woes in California have threatened funding for vote-by-mail. The Federal Voting Assistance Program released a report on military voting in the 2010 election – the first since the passage of the Military Voting Empowerment Act of 2009. The Brennan Center wrote about efforts to restrict voting in Maine. Liberia’s presidential election heads for a run-off after no candidate received the required 50% of the vote.

Editorials: Colorado county clerks crying wolf | Vincent Carroll/The Denver Post

Get ready for a battle royal over the integrity of elections in Colorado — and just in time for this state’s apparently pivotal role in the 2012 presidential race. If the clash shapes up as expected, lawmakers will have to choose sides between a would-be election priesthood exempt from public oversight — I’m referring to the county clerks — and advocates for a fully open and accountable government.

The clerks, you see, are in a panic about a recent appeals court ruling that says voted ballots are public documents under the Colorado Open Records Act, so long as “the identity of the voter cannot be discerned from the face of that ballot.”

The court’s definition should include the vast majority of ballots, assuming election officials and voters follow the law. But if you listen to the clerks, you’d think the opposite. Embracing Chicken Little as their role model, the clerks’ association issued a statement after the ruling, claiming it “has removed the curtain from our voting booths. Most Coloradans believe their votes should be a secret from their friends, coworkers and even spouses, but today’s ruling means Coloradans’ personal choices can be seen by anyone who asks.” The clerks’ statement is either contemptible fear-mongering or an admission that they supervise a system that comprehensively thumbs its nose at the state constitution’s mandate of anonymous ballots.

Florida: New Technology to Help Voters Check Status | WMFE 90.7

The Florida League of Women Voters is teaming up with Microsoft to offer a new way to check voter registration status. The new technology allows citizens to scan a special bar code with any smart phone and be automatically connected to their county Supervisor of Elections office. Deirdre Mcnab is president of the League of Women Voters of Florida. She said voters can easily check on their current registration status.

“They can check that their address is up to date. They can check if their name is correct.” Mcnab said. “If they want change parties, if they want to request a vote by mail ballot. They’ll be directly connected to their county Supervisor of Elections office.” Mcnab says the new technology is helpful but doesn’t address other voting changes instituted by state lawmakers.

“It does not address the cutting in half of early voting days.” Mcnab said. “It does not address taking away the most popular early voting day, the Sunday before the election and it does not address the drastic cutbacks in the ability of groups like ours to register new, eligible voters.”

Florida: Senator’s call to check citizenship of Hispanic voters draws fire |

A state senator’s comments ignited a fierce rebuke from his colleagues Thursday when he said that voters should be screened for citizenship before legislators draw a congressional district to favor Hispanics.

Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, rekindled the divisive debate over illegal immigration when he told the Senate committee reviewing a series of congressional redistricting plans that “before we design a district anywhere in the state of Florida for Hispanic voters, we need to ascertain that they are citizens of the United States. “We all know there are many Hispanic-speaking people in Florida that are not legal,’’ he said. “And I just don’t think it’s right that we try to draw a district that encompasses people that really have no business voting anyhow,” he said.

“He is calling on a witch hunt before a Hispanic district can be realistically considered,’’ said Rep. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa.

Indiana: No special prosecutor will be appointed for voter-fraud allegations against Bayhs | The Indianapolis Star

The Marion County Election Board will review allegations by Secretary of State Charlie White that former U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh committed voter fraud. Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry referred the case to the board Thursday after rejecting a request by White to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate.

Curry said despite owning a home in Washington, D.C., Bayh and his wife could vote in Indiana’s May 2011 primary. “The mere fact that a person maintains a residence in a state other than Indiana — even if the out-of-state property is more valuable than the Indiana property — is insufficient to conclude that the person has committed fraud by voting in Indiana,” Curry wrote in a statement.

White’s attorney, Carl Brizzi, said he never expected the prosecutor to pursue the matter criminally. And that was the point.