Russia: Ballot stuffing suspected in Russian election |

Dagmein Khaseinova beams with pride recalling the day her Chechen village, devastated a decade ago in a war launched by Vladimir Putin, gave the Russian ruler’s party nearly 100 percent support in a parliamentary vote this month. Her little village of Mekhketi, she said, is even on the way to winning the cash prize she says authorities have promised for the polling station registering the biggest turnout.

“We’ve already won the regional competition. In a few days we’ll hear whether we won throughout all of Chechnya,” Khaseinova, 53, said, wearing a traditional Chechen scarf over her head and squinting in the cold mountain air. “The organizers of the polling station have been promised some kind of prize money if they win,” she adds, hiding a smile. Putin’s United Russia recorded a higher percentage of votes in predominantly Muslim Chechnya, where federal troops fought two wars since the fall of the Soviet Union, than anywhere else in the country. Official results show support at 99.5% and voter turnout of 99.4%.

Nationwide, the party won just under half the votes, securing a slim majority in the State Duma. Even that outcome, critics said, was the result of ballot stuffing and fraud. Countless complaints have been filed; but not in Chechnya. Official monitors here have not lodged a single complaint of voting violations, but among many local residents, the outcome has stirred some incredulity, albeit cautiously expressed.

“United Russia is the party of Putin, and Chechnya would never vote for Putin,” said one middle-aged resident of the regional capital of Grozny, who declined to give his name for fear of retribution. “In the mind of every Chechen he is associated with the bombing that destroyed Grozny and other cities all over the region. Voting for Putin is about as absurd as any vote with a 99% outcome,” he said.

National: Under Partisan Fire, Holder Soldiers On |

For nearly three years, Republicans have attacked Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on national security and civil rights issues. For months, they have criticized him over a gun-trafficking investigation gone awry, with dozens of leaders calling for his resignation. Last week, more than 75 members of Congress co-sponsored a House resolution expressing “no confidence” in his leadership. The intensifying heat on Mr. Holder comes as the Justice Department is stepping into some of the most politically divisive social issues of the day, including accusing an Arizona sheriff known for his crackdowns on illegal immigrants of racial profiling, scrutinizing new restrictions on voting in search of signs that they could lower turnout among minorities and telling judges that a law banning federal recognition of same-sex marriages is unconstitutional.

As Mr. Holder’s third year as attorney general draws to a close, no member of President Obama’s cabinet has drawn more partisan criticism. In an interview last week, Mr. Holder said he had no intention of resigning before the administration’s term was up, although he said he had made no decision about whether he would continue after 2012 should the president win re-election. “I think that what I’m doing is right,” Mr. Holder said. “And election-year politics, which intensifies everything, is not going to drive me off that course.”

With F.B.I. agents standing guard outside his hotel room on Tuesday, Mr. Holder spoke hours before delivering a speech at the Lyndon B. Johnson presidential library here that criticized the largely Republican-led efforts to put new restrictions on voting in the name of fighting fraud. At that moment, protesters were rallying outside the library, some in support of stricter voter identification laws and others holding signs urging Mr. Holder to resign over the disputed gun-trafficking investigation, known as Operation Fast and Furious. Several dozen jeered when his motorcade arrived.

Arizona: Redistricting Nears Endgame | Roll Call

It is the beginning of the end for the Arizona redistricting drama that has put Congressional races in the state in limbo. The state Independent Redistricting Commission, the bipartisan group tasked with redrawing the state’s Congressional lines, passed a map this evening. It is “pending analyses by the panel’s legal counsel and voting-rights consultants,” according to a news release from the commission. The map will then have to be submitted to the Justice Department for pre-clearance approval.

The vote fell along party lines. Five members constitute the commission: two from each party and a registered Independent named Colleen Mathis. The two Democrats voted for the map, the two Republicans voted against it, and Mathis served as the swing vote for passage.

California: Analysis Finds Incorrect Use of Ranked-Choice Voting |

The results are in: San Francisco voters have trouble with ranked-choice elections. Despite a $300,000 educational campaign leading up to last month’s elections, including a new smiley-face mascot, publicity events, and advertising on buses and in newspapers, only one-third of voters on Nov. 8 filled out all three choices in all three races, according to an analysis released this week by the University of San Francisco.

Under the city’s system, voters were asked to rank their top three choices for mayor, sheriff and district attorney. Perhaps the analysis’ most troubling finding is that 9 percent of voters, mostly in Chinatown and southeastern neighborhoods like the Bayview, marked only one choice for each office, either because they considered only one candidate suitable or because they did not know how to fill out their ballot correctly.

Editorials: Avoiding the Florida Nightmare in 2012 | Iyer and Norden/Roll Call Opinion

On Election Day 2000, tens of thousands of Floridians accidentally marked their ballots in ways that could not be read by the state’s voting machines. Their votes didn’t count. The identity of our next president hung in the balance for 36 days.

To prevent the Florida debacle from repeating, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act in 2002. The law required states to upgrade their voting machines. Voting machines must now warn voters and give them an opportunity to correct their ballot if they determined there was an “overvote,” the invalid selection of more than one candidate, on the ballot.

This technological fix was supposed to make these kinds of lost votes a thing of the past. Although there is no reliable nationwide data on the number of overvotes in recent elections, it is likely that the voting-machine changes mandated by HAVA have substantially reduced overvoting. But the HAVA requirements haven’t been enough to prevent votes from being lost — sometimes in staggering numbers — in recent elections.

Florida: Federal is the latest challenge to Florida’s politically motivated voting law |

The venerable Florida League of Women Voters has decided to make a federal case out of a restrictive, punitive and politically motivated voting law approved this year by the state Legislature. Good for the league, and its co-plaintiffs.

The league is one of three groups that filed a lawsuit last week in a Tallahassee federal court, challenging the law. The suit asserts that the state law violates the plaintiffs’ rights to free speech and conflicts with the National Voter Registration Act.

Joining the league were Rock the Vote — a national organization that engages young Americans in voting — and the Florida Public Interest Group Education Fund. This lawsuit is one of two federal cases involving the Florida voting law.

Indiana: Judge won’t drop Charlie White voter fraud case | The Indianapolis Star

A Hamilton County judge has denied Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White’s motion to dismiss seven felony charges that were filed against him earlier this year.

White, who is accused of voter fraud and other crimes because of confusion surrounding where he lived while running his 2010 campaign, had argued that the charges should be dismissed because there were problems with the grand jury process that led to his indictment, among other things.

Iowa: Hackers Threaten Voting Systems, Electoral Process |

As the 2012 presidential campaign swings into full gear, there are concerns that hackers may target voting systems and Websites as a form of political protest. An apparent threat to hack into voting systems and disrupt the vote has the Iowa Republican Party on edge, according to the Associated Press.

The state’s Republican Party is boosting the security of the computer systems it will be using Jan. 3 for the first caucus in the 2012 presidential campaign, AP reported Dec. 19. Party officials were acting in response to a video posted on YouTube calling on Anonymous supporters to “peacefully shut down the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses” to protest the corrupt political system that favors corporations.

Investigators don’t know yet whether the threat is authentic and have not yet confirmed whether the Anonymous hacktivist collective is really planning any protests to prevent the vote. As a loose collective of like-minded hackers, Anonymous doesn’t have an official hierarchy or structure, making it very easy for a single person, or a select few, to claim an attack without most of the group’s participation or knowledge.

Maine: Does ranked choice voting have a future in Maine? | Bangor Daily News

Before the final vote tabulations were made, a Southern California man emailed the Bangor Daily News with a prediction about the Portland mayoral race from afar. Terry Reilly, an outspoken nationwide critic of Portland’s newly implemented ranked choice voting system, predicted the winner would end up with about 8,000 votes from the nearly 20,000 ballots cast in the mayoral race. Less than a majority.

The use of ranked choice voting is under fire in Reilly’s state, specifically in San Francisco, with an opposition group working to put a repeal question before voters as early as next year. There, voter turnout waned and campaigning reportedly turned negative this fall. Opponents say ranked choice voting hasn’t delivered on what its supporters promised when it was installed about seven years ago.

Wisconsin: Democrats File Rebuttal To GOP Lawsuit Against Recall Procedures | TPM

Wisconsin Democrats late Tuesday filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit that state Republicans filed on Thursday against state election officials, with the Dems seeking to become legal parties to counter the GOP’s claims that the procedures in the recall targeting Gov. Scott Walker are a violation of Walker’s rights.

A copy of the filing, made in the names of the Committee to Recall Walker and other organizers, was sent to TPM by the state Democratic Party.
The state GOP’s lawsuit filed Thursday afternoon against the state Government Accountability Board, which oversees elections in the state, claims that Walker’s 14th Amendment rights of Equal Protection are violated by putting a burden on his campaign to review and challenge petition signatures within a ten-day period. Instead, they say, the GAB must make a greater effort to look for duplicate signatures, and for invalid names and addresses. (The petitions will be filed in mid-January, which will then kick off the review process. The same procedures were used in a series of state Senate recalls, on both sides of the aisle, earlier this year.)

Wisconsin: More organizations agree that Wisconsin’s voter ID law is unconstitutional |

On December 16, 2011 the Milwaukee chapter of the NAACP and Voces De La Frontera, a Wisconsin group that fights for immigrant rights, filed a suit against the state of Wisconsin’s new voter ID law. The new law is Wisconsin Act 23 and will require voters to show photo identification at the ballots beginning in 2012.

Voces De La Frontera and the NAACP are challenging the law, saying that it is unconstitutional and is intended to marginalize voters. The two organizations’ challenges follow the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) that was announced on December 13, 2011. The ACLU is challenging the law because they say that it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment as well as the 24th Amendment which was enacted to protect against poll taxes.

Algeria: Algeria invites observers for 2012 vote | News24

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on Sunday invited international observers to monitor a spring 2012 legislative vote he promised would be the country’s most open ever. At a Cabinet meeting, Bouteflika tasked the government with inviting foreign organisations “to massively deploy their observers for the next legislative election”, a statement said.

The statement cited the Arab League, the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation, the African Union but also the United Nations and the European Union, which has never monitored polls in Algeria. “I look forward to the upcoming legislative election which will be held amid unprecedented plurality,” the president said.

Indonesia: Strict Registration Rules for Elections Ensnare 13 Indonesian Parties | The Jakarta Globe

The number of new players on the political scene ahead of the 2014 general elections will be limited to one, as only the National Democrat Party met the official verification requirements, the government announced on Friday.

“Out of the 14 political parties that applied for verification, the only one that qualified was the NasDem Party,” Justice and Human Rights Minister Amir Syamsuddin told a press conference.

The government was supposed to announce the verification results last month. Deputy Minister Denny Indrayana said that since only NasDem qualified at that time, the ministry had given three other parties more time while the other 10 withdrew their bid. “But until the scheduled deadline passed [the three] failed to meet the requirements set by the law,” he said.

Malaysia: Malaysian Political Parties Asked To Scrutinise Electoral Roll To Clear Doubts | Bernama

The Election Commission (EC) has called on political parties to assist in scrutinising the electoral roll to clear doubts on the voters’ list for the coming 13th general election. EC deputy chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar said it was regrettable that certain groups, especially the opposition parties, have often alleged that the electoral roll contains phantom voters.

“Allegations linking the electoral roll with phantom voters are stale issues, as we have taken many measures to ensure the electoral roll is clean,” he told Bernama here. Wan Ahmad said the opposition, who frequently raise the issue of phantom voters, should come out with proof and not make wild allegations. “Who are the phantom voters? Why not expose them, as EC would like to catch them and bring them to court as well,” he said.

Malaysia: New reforms by Election Commission spell transparency | The Star

The use of indelible ink, among other reforms announced by the Election Commission on Monday, will go a long way in assuring people that the next general election will be above board. The Election Commission’s (EC) decision to use indelible ink in the next general election, among other ground-breaking measures recommended by the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC), has been welcomed and will put an end to persistent allegations of double voting and other forms of electoral fraud.

In a situation where belief in the voting process has taken a knock, it is only natural that indelible ink be brought into play to restore faith in the electoral system. The acceptance of the ink also shows that the Government welcomes any move to ensure greater credibility of the vote and electoral transparency.

Russia: Election results cancelled at some Russian polling stations | RT

The results of Russia’s December 4 parliamentary election have been cancelled at 21 polling stations, according to the deputy head of the Central Election Commission, Leonid Ivlev. Overall, 39,000 people cast their votes at the named ballot stations, which were scattered across the country, he said during a meeting of the Public Chamber on Tuesday.

“Those responsible for the election process there will be held accountable. I think they will be banned from working in the election system,” Ivlev stated.

The official added that so far, the Central Election Commission has received 1,686 reports and complaints of violations. All of them have been studied, and 124 cases have been forwarded to either the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Interior Ministry or the Investigative Committee. “Most complaints have not been confirmed,” Ivlev reported. He also commented on amateur videos of alleged violations circulating on the Internet.

Russia: Putin registered as candidate for Russian president |

Russian election authorities officially registered Prime Minister Vladimir Putin Monday as a candidate for president in next year’s election, they announced on their website. Putin will represent his United Russia party, the Central Election Commission said.

The move is the latest step toward Putin’s reclaiming the presidency after switching to the prime minister’s office because of a law barring him from serving more than two consecutive terms as president.

Russia’s third-richest man, the billionaire New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, announced this month that he will run against Putin for president. Many ordinary Russians suspect the Kremlin put Prokhorov up to it to give the impression the contest is fair.

The Voting News Daily: The Texas Redistricting Case and the Likely Continued Erosion of the Section 5 Process, Americans Elect Candidate Will Be on California Ballot

Editorials: The Texas Redistricting Case and the Likely Continued Erosion of the Section 5 Process | Concurring Opinions The Supreme Court has decided to take up Texas’ redistricting plan on an expedited briefing and argument schedule. Even though it’s not directly a case involving preclearance under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, functionally the Court’s decision…

Editorials: The Texas Redistricting Case and the Likely Continued Erosion of the Section 5 Process | Concurring Opinions

The Supreme Court has decided to take up Texas’ redistricting plan on an expedited briefing and argument schedule. Even though it’s not directly a case involving preclearance under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, functionally the Court’s decision will likely have significant implications for Section 5. While it’s never easy to predict what the Court might do, as I explain below, I think that ultimately the Court will find a way to continue down its recent path of decisions limiting the procedural protections afforded to minority voters by Section 5.

Boiled down to the essentials, the facts of the Texas case are relatively simple. Texas is a jurisdiction covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. So in order to implement any redistricting plan, Texas needs to go through the process of securing preclearance (or pre-approval) from the federal government—either from the Department of Justice (DOJ) or from a three-judge panel of the D.C. District Court where DOJ serves as defendant. DOJ had some issues with the substance of Texas’ congressional and State House plans, alleging that the plans were discriminatory in effect and purpose in their treatment of Latino voters. Texas sought preclearance of its plans by moving for summary judgment, but the D.C. District Court decided that DOJ had created material issues of fact that necessitated a trial.

California: Americans Elect Candidate Will Be on California Ballot | ABC News

Americans Elect, an organization trying to draft a nonpartisan presidential ticket through online voting, has achieved what it called a “major milestone” in its effort, securing access to the ballot in California, the group announced today.

After collecting a record-breaking 1.62 million signatures, Americans Elect announced its nominee will be on the ballot in California, making the largest state in the nation’s 55 electoral votes up for grabs for an independent presidential candidate in 2012. “It’s a huge hurdle,” said Americans Elect Spokeswoman Ileana Wachtel. “It is probably the hardest state to get access in. Once California is accomplished I think anything could be accomplished. Any state is doable.”

Americans Elect now has a spot on the ballot in 12 states. It joins six other parties on the California ballot including, of course, Republicans and Democrats but also the Green Party, the Libertarian Party, the American Independent Party and the Peace and Freedom Party.

Florida: NAACP report: Florida has ‘most restrictive’ felon disenfranchisement ‘approach’ | Florida Independent

A report released earlier this month by the NAACP found that Florida is among the states with the “most restrictive” felon disenfranchisement “laws in the country” — one of many aspects of the state’s voting practices that will limit voter participation among minorities, according to the group.

The subject of voting rights in the U.S. has received renewed attention since sweeping changes to voting laws were passed in states across the country. Voting rights advocates in Florida have largely focused on new limitations on third-party voter registration, early voting days and ballot measure signatures. Little scrutiny, however, has been given to a rollback of voting rights for ex-offenders, also referred to as returning citizens.

According to the NAACP report (.pdf), Florida is one of only four states in the country that “denies the right to vote permanently to all individuals convicted of any felony offense.”

Iowa: GOP worried by hacker threat to caucus vote | Yahoo! News

With two weeks remaining before Iowa kicks off the 2012 campaign with its first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses, the state Republican Party is taking steps to secure its electronic vote collection system after receiving a mysterious threat to its computers.

A video claiming to be from a collective of computer hackers has jolted party officials with a worst-case scenario: an Iowa caucus marred by hackers who successfully corrupt the database used to gather vote totals and crash the website used to inform the public about results that can shape the campaign for the White House.

While confident in the safeguards protecting the vote count itself, and aware the video may be a hoax, members of the state Republican Party’s central committee told The Associated Press they are taking the threat seriously and have authorized additional security measures to ensure hackers are unable to delay the release of results.

Myanmar: Election Chief Vows By-Election Will Be Free and Fair |

The chief of Burma’s Election Commission (EC) said in a press conference on Friday that upcoming parliamentary by-election will be free and fair and the country’s existing political parties can now start their election campaigns. During the by-election, expected to be held in March, the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development party (USDP), opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) and Burma’s other political parties will compete for 48 vacant parliamentary seats.

Ex-army general Tin Aye, the EC chairman, vowed during the press conference in Naypyidaw on Friday that the by-election will be held in a free and fair manner and that the EC will be independent and not submit to any outside influence. If his prediction comes to fruition, it would stand in contrast to the 2010 parliamentary elections, Burma’s first in 20 years, which the NLD boycotted and observers condemned as widely fraudulent.

Myanmar: The race is on: Burmese Election Commission |

Candidates can start campaigning freely now for the by-election, Union Election Commission (UEC) chairman Tin Aye said on Friday. The date of the election has not been set, but it is expected to be about 90 days after the start of campaigning.

A total of 48 seats at the union or regional level are open. Political parties are free to campaign without informing the EC of their plans, according to sources. There are some constituencies in which there may be no election due to fighting in ethnic areas.

EC chairman Tin Aye said this election would be free and fair. The commission will spend 700 million kyat (US$ 897,436) in comparison to nearly 1,100 million kyat (US$ 1.41 million) for the 2010 election, according to the EU announcement. UEC member Myint Oo said an education campaign would begin on the procedure for absentee ballots and the regular voting process.

Congo: Opposition leader seeks army backing | Al Jazeera

Congo’s top opposition figure has urged the armed forces to obey him after losing elections he says were fraudulent. Etienne Tshisekedi said on Sunday he would offer a “great prize” to anyone who captured President Joseph Kabila.

A close aide to Kabila dismissed Tshisekedi’s comments as showmanship and said the opposition leader had made similar calls against former President Mobutu Sese Seko that had been ignored by the people. However, the veteran politician’s comments do threaten to escalate a row over the results of a November 28 presidential contest, which international observers say lacked credibility.

“I call on all of you to look for [Kabila] wherever he is in the country and bring him here alive,” Tshisekedi said in his first news conference since official figures showed he was soundly beaten by Kabila. “If you bring Kabila here to me you’ll receive a great prize,” he said, urging the armed forces to obey the country’s “legitimate authority”.

New Zealand: Challenge Could Oust Paula Bennett |

Labour is weighing up legal advice over a challenge in the Waitakere electorate, after it emerged National Cabinet minister Paula Bennett could be tossed out of Parliament if Labour won an electoral petition.

With the Waitakere result hanging on just nine votes, the Electoral Commission has confirmed there are no guarantees that any candidate who loses their seat as the result of an electoral petition would automatically be returned to Parliament off the party list. But it acknowledges that the outcome is far from certain and the courts could take different views.

Voting Blogs: Thousands protest over alleged Russian election fraud |

The exact number of protesters present is unknown; estimates for the Moscow protest vary from twenty thousand to one hundred thousand, and rallies on a more minor scale also took place in other Russian cities—including Saint Petersburg. Voice of America (VoA) reported the demonstrations as the largest pro-democracy protests since Vladimir Putin came to power eleven years ago. Other reports describe the demonstrations as the greatest since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Police estimated that ten thousand people were present at demonstrations in St. Petersburg. Corruption and a rejection of Putin were the most commonly-cited grievances from questioned protesters.

Opposition leader Evgenia Chirikova told VoA the protests were in favour of fresh elections, and the release of political prisoners. During the demonstrations, protesters chanted “[p]olice, part of the people” at the riot police. Echo of Moscow host Alexei Venediktov described the protesters as “the new generation, the Putin generation”. These people “voted, had their votes stolen, and now they want a fair system”, said Venediktov.

Konstantin Kosachyov, a United Russia parliamentarian, dismissed the concept of discussions with the protest organisers. “With all respect for the people who came out to protest, they are not a political party,” he stated. Student Daniil Klubov, a leader of the St. Petersburg rally, told the BBC that he does not “belong to any political movement” and is “just a student who is tired of all these lies”.

The Voting News Daily: Voter suppression: No free speech protection for fraud, South Carolina GOP Funding Decision Scrambles Counties’ Primary Plan

Maryland: Voter suppression: No free speech protection for fraud | “Come out to vote on November 6.” “Before you come to vote make sure you pay your parking tickets, motor vehicle tickets, overdue rent, and most important any warrants.” That’s the text of a flier distributed in African-American and Hispanic communities the weekend before Election…

National: Civil rights groups fighting voter ID law | Hattiesburg American

National and local civil rights groups are asking federal officials to aggressively challenge new election laws in Alabama, Mississippi and other states, saying the laws threaten to reverse decades-old efforts to expand voting rights to all Americans. “

It’s a widespread rollback of voting rights the likes of which we haven’t seen since poll taxes,” said Judith Browne Dianis, co director of the Advancement Project, a voting rights group based in Washington. “So we’re going to fight like we did in 1964.” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said he understands the fight, calling voting rights protection a priority for the Justice Department.

“Despite so many decades of struggle, sacrifice, and achievement, we must remain ever vigilant in safeguarding our most basic and important right,” Holder said in a speech in Texas Tuesday. “The reality is that in jurisdictions across the country, both overt and subtle forms of discrimination remain all too common.”