Mississippi: Democrat contests primary result in House race | The Clarion-Ledger

The loser in the Hinds County House District 73 Democratic primary is formally contesting the results. Terry resident Gay Polk said she hand-delivered a notice of contest Thursday afternoon to Hinds County Democratic Executive Committee chairman Claude McInnis. She lost by 90 votes to attorney Brad Oberhousen, also of Terry.

Polk, a registered nurse, wants a review and recount of all ballots – paper, electronic, affidavit, absentee and disqualified – plus poll books, sign-in registries and signature counts in the 13 precincts that are part of District 73.

While several other candidates have complained about election irregularities in the Democratic primary in Hinds County, none has taken the same step as Polk. Polk’s notice puts into motion what could end up as a court challenge.

West Virginia: County surprised that it is responsible for voting machine maintenance | ReviewOnline.com

Hancock County Clerk Eleanor Straight called news that the county would soon be responsible for maintenance on its touch-screen voting machines “a surprise” with renewal of the five-year maintenance agreement due Sept. 1.

Straight told the Hancock County Commission on Thursday that all the county clerks in the state responsible for election operations just learned of the local responsibility.

In a letter to the commission, West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant said that the acceptance agreement approved five years ago states the county commission would take over ownership of the voting machines and be responsible for maintenance after the five-year maintenance agreement ended. At that point, she said, her office would be released of responsibility.

Editorials: Is ‘open primary’ system for Mississippi? | Desoto Times Tribune

Once again, Mississippi voters, frustrated by not being able to cross party lines to cast ballots for their favorite candidates, are excited about installing an “open primary” election system that neighboring Louisiana has had since 1975.

Not that the Legislature hasn’t tried to scrap the state’s traditional closed primary system. In fact, four times since 1966, lawmakers have passed legislation to put candidates for all parties (and independents) on the same primary ballot without party designation and require a runoff between the two highest finishers.

For various reasons, none of the bills have become law. Mostly it’s been the Justice Department disapproved Mississippi’s proposed changes under Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Blacks objected it would block them running as independents in general elections after being historically shut out of the closed Democratic primaries.

Voting Blogs: Suddenly, the Voter ID Debate is Unpredictable | PEEA

Over the last several years, the debate about voter ID, especially requirements that voters show photo identification as a condition of casting a ballot, has become so predictable as to seem almost routine.

ID proponents – usually Republicans – argue that the spectre of voter fraud demands safeguards like ID to protect the sanctity of the ballot box, while opponents – usually Democrats – see ID requirements as barriers to the polls and thus vow to fight them in the name of combating disenfranchisement.

Indeed, in recent years the best predictor of whether voter ID would advance in a given state was whether or not Republicans held legislative majorities and the governorship. Recently, however, the headlines have brought new twists that suggest that the voter ID debate is no longer the predictable partisan storyline we have all come to know – if not love.

Texas: Voter fraud allegations stir Waller County TX controversy | Houston Chronicle

Sid Johnson, a self-described junk man who ran a scrap business from his modest home, had enough of the back-room dealings in Waller County. So he worked under cover for the FBI to help convict five local politicians on corruption charges in recent years. He then decided to seek political office himself. Johnson, 47, had high hopes of becoming the first black councilman elected in his hometown of Waller, population of 2,200, nestled in the hilly prairie off U.S. 290.

However, when ballots were tallied May 14, Johnson lost by five votes. But his defeat has since sparked so many rumblings of voter fraud that he joined forces with the town’s mayor, Danny Marburger, who is white, to take voter complaints of intimidation and being turned away from the polls to the FBI and U.S. Justice Department.

The FBI will not confirm whether an investigation is in progress. But Marburger said that during the last two months, FBI agents have circulated through the town 40 miles northwest of Houston taking statements from voters and city secretary Jo Ann London, who serves as election chief. Adding mystery to the controversy, Marburger discovered this week that London had cameras disguised as smoke detectors installed around City Hall.

Canada: Some Canadian voters will cast ballot at home | The Whig Standard

Voters who’ve had difficulty in the past getting to polling stations or returning offices due to disability will have a new voting option in October. Elections Ontario will introduced home visits as a voting alternative for the Oct. 6 provincial election. By calling Elections Ontario or its local returning office, electors who qualify can have a special ballot officer come to their home so they can cast their vote.

“It one of a series of amendments to the Election Act that was aimed to make voting more accessible,” said Barbara McEwan, director of electoral events for Elections Ontario. Providing a person is eligible to vote in the Oct. 6 election, one of two criteria must be met in order to qualify for the home visit, McEwan said.

The first is that it would be impossible or unreasonable for the elector to vote at the returning office, said McEwan, which is one of the options available for those who vote by special ballot. The second is that the elector would be in need of assistance to apply to vote by special ballot because of a disability or an inability to read or write, she said.

Egypt: Electoral commission to issue regulations of political rights law | Daily News Egypt

Egypt’s Supreme Electoral Commission (SEC), which will monitor the upcoming parliamentary elections, is slated to issue the regulations for the political rights laws in the upcoming days. The regulations will include 38 articles that will guide the electoral process and give the power to the SEC to manage every stage, from preparing the voters’ lists to the complaints related to the elections.

Regulations will also include forming a committee headed by a member of the SEC, Judge Samir Abdel Moaty, to prepare the first database for voters.

One of the articles will stipulate forming an electoral committee in every governorate to include members of the judiciary, authorizing them to supervise the presentations of the voters’ database as well as inspecting voting stations and reviewing candidates’ proxies inside the stations.

Kazakhstan: Kazakhstan’s Ruling Party Takes All Seats In Senate Election | Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Kazakhstan’s ruling Nur-Otan party has claimed all 16 seats available in today’s election to the Senate, or upper house of parliament.

This was not a popular election, as the new deputies were chosen by regional and provincial officials as well as MPs from the Mazhilis, or lower house of parliament, rather than by the country’s electorate. The lower house is comprised entirely of Nur-Otan members.

The Voting News Daily: Florida Secretary Of State Pens Incomplete Defense Of Controversial Voting Law, New Indiana election law could affect voter turnout — Candidates running unopposed may not be on ballot

Florida: Secretary Of State Pens Incomplete Defense Of Controversial Voting Law | TPM Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning wrotein an editorial on Thursday that the Justice Department had determined “all 76 provisions” of Florida’s new elections law were not discriminatory, except for the four controversial parts of the law he didn’t want the department to…

Florida: Secretary Of State Pens Incomplete Defense Of Controversial Voting Law | TPM

Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning wrotein an editorial on Thursday that the Justice Department had determined “all 76 provisions” of Florida’s new elections law were not discriminatory, except for the four controversial parts of the law he didn’t want the department to review.

In fact, Browning retracted his submission of four controversial provisions of Florida’s new election law from the pre-clearance process at the Justice Department after the agency started asking questions.

Florida instead took the more expensive route of asking a federal court to decide whether additional provisions — including one that reduces the early voting period from 14 days to eight; another that requires voters who moved from another county to cast provisional ballots; one that requires third-party groups registering voters to turn in all forms within 48 hours — passed the smell test.

Indiana: New election law could affect voter turnout – Candidates running unopposed may not be on ballot | WLFI

A new state law takes candidates running unopposed off your November ballot. It has election officials concerned about voter turnout for this year’s Municipal Election. “I would say the reaction was shock and disappointment,” said Heather Maddox.

Heather Maddox and Jared Bond, Co-Directors for the Board of Elections and Registration Office in Tippecanoe County aren’t happy with House Bill 1242. Part of that new law, effective on July 1, 2011, has a provision about uncontested municipal elections.

“I expect when we start sending out absentee ballots and people start voting in the satellite voting locations, that we will get some phone calls from people saying, ‘I think my ballot was wrong’,” said Bond. Lafayette voters will not be able to cast a vote for Mayor Tony Roswarski, since he has no Republican challenger.

Voting Blogs: ‘There is No Way for Them to be Tampered With’: Mississippi Election Clerk Gets Approval to Remove Paper Trail Printers from Diebold Touch-Screens | The Brad Blog

The Jones County, Mississippi slogan is “A Great Place to Live”. While they may or may not be true, I’ve never been there, it’s clearly not a great place to vote. At least if voting in a way that is verifiably accurate for the citizenry is something one might care about. A remarkable statement by the county’s Circuit Clerk, and a unanimous decision in support of it by the County’s Board of Supervisors this week has made that as clear as can be.

You may recall that just last week, e-voting system failures — such as, as e-voting machines that wouldn’t start up at all, and votes that were counted twice — led to chaos and uncertain results in Mississippi’s state primaries, leading one official to declare days afterward, as they were all struggling to sort out results of several close elections: “At this point there is no election…Everyone is baffled.”

Against that back drop then, behold what Jones County, MS Circuit Clerk Bart Gavinis now calling for — and receiving unanimous approval from the Jones County Board of Supervisors for(!) — as irresponsibly reported without even a hint of fact-checking by Laurel Leader-Call reporter Charlotte Graham under the laughably misleading headline “Improving the voting process” [emphasis added].

Maryland: Baltimore mayoral candidate calls for media campaign to educate voters about correct primary date after sample ballot error | baltimoresun.com

Baltimore mayoral candidate and state Sen. Catherine Pugh called Thursday for city officials to launch a media campaign to educate residents about the correct date for the Democratic primary after sample ballots mailed to voters listed the wrong one. Pugh said that the city should have the correct date — Tuesday, Sept. 13 — on a banner running on every show broadcast by its cable station and resend the entire corrected sample ballot.

“Please engage in corrective action that will inform the public of what this date is and, more importantly, the mistake that has been made,” she said during a news conference.

The error on one part of the 2011 Official Primary Sample Ballot incorrectly stated that the primary is on Saturday, Sept. 3 — an early voting date. The date was printed correctly in other places on the ballot.

Wisconsin: Clearing up election confusion amid transition | Green Bay Press Gazette | greenbaypressgazette.com

Voters across the state involved with the recent recall elections experienced first-hand some of the changes to the election process that were “effective immediately” this summer pursuant to passage of the new voter photo ID bill. The special procedures of this new legislation brought about some confusion and frustration, so I’m hoping the following information will help to clear it up.

For all elections before 2012, electors who are voting must be asked to show a photo ID but are not required to provide one in order to vote before the 2012 February primary.

Ohio: Election law foes OK to resume repeal effort | Connecticut Post

Opponents of Ohio’s new election overhaul were cleared Thursday to proceed with their effort to ask voters to repeal the law, which makes changes such as moving the 2012 presidential primary from March to May in the traditional presidential swing state.

Fair Elections Ohio had wanted to challenge only parts of the law — not the primary switch — but hit a snag earlier this month when Attorney General Mike DeWine ruled against wording the group planned to use to collect signatures needed to make the ballot. Based on DeWine’s ruling, organizers resubmitted their phrasing to challenge the entire bill.

DeWine gave the group his approval on Thursday, and the state’s top elections official also said Fair Elections Ohio had the 1,000 valid signatures it needed to continue with its effort. Opponents must now gather roughly 231,000 signatures by Sept. 29 to get a referendum on the 2012 ballot.

Nevada: State board OKs funds to pay for special CD2 election | LahontanValleyNews.com

The Board of Examiners today approved a request for more than half a million dollars from a legislative contingency fund to pay the counties for the cost of the Sept. 13 special election in the 2nd Congressional District. The board, made up of Gov. Brian Sandoval, Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and Secretary of State Ross Miller, approved the $539,000 request, which will be considered Aug. 31 by the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee.

Miller said the other options to pay for the election were to pass the costs on to the counties or to use a dwindling pool of federal funds, but that the request from the contingency fund is the best choice. Requiring cash-strapped counties to pay the costs could lead to cutting corners, and Miller said it is important to ensure the integrity of the election. Miller said his office made every effort to reduce the expenditures to reasonable levels. Initial estimates put the cost at in excess of $1 million.

Mississippi: Absentee vote rate attracts attention | The Commercial Appeal

Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann Thursday questioned the high number of absentee votes, mostly in the Democratic-dominated Delta region, that were cast Aug. 3 in the state’s primary election. The highest percentage of absentee votes, more than 29 percent, was reported in Quitman County, compared to just 2 percent in Jackson County. Only 3 percent of DeSoto County votes — 847 out of 24,812 total — were absentees.

“Absentee balloting appears to be increasing in this state,” Hosemann, a Republican who handily won his primary race, said in a news release. About 6 percent of total ballots cast statewide were absentees. That compares of only 2 percent absentees cast in the 2008 presidential election, Hosemann said.

Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh Ads Telling Ex-Cons to Vote Should Have Run | Courthouse News Service

The Pittsburgh Port Authority discriminated against public interest groups by blocking an advertising campaign that would inform felons of their right to vote in Pennsylvania upon release from prison, the 3rd Circuit ruled. The groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Pittsburgh League of Young Voters Education Fund, wanted to run an advertisement campaign that would educate former prisoners about their voting rights.

In contrast to some other states, Pennsylvania allows former offenders to vote after they leave prison. Allegheny County Port Authority sales director Anthony Hickton and in-house counsel Chris Hess refused to run the ads on its buses, citing an advertising policy against “noncommercial” ads. When the officials “refused to budge,” in the words of the opinion, the advocates filed suit under the First Amendment’s free-speech clause.

After a five-day bench trial, U.S. District Judge Terrence McVerry said the Port Authority had violated the coalition’s free-speech rights since other groups freely ran noncommercial ads on local buses.

Kazakhstan: CIS mission confident of transparent elections in Kazakhstan | Trend

The CIS observer mission head has expressed confidence that the elections to the upper house of Kazakhstan’s parliament on August 19 will be transparent and will comply with all democratic principles, Itar-Tass reported. The mission’s head and the CIS Executive Committee chairman, Sergei Lebedev, met with the head of the Kazakhstan’s central election commission, Kuandyk Turgankulov, on Thursday.

Lebedev underlined that the CIS observer mission has been repeatedly monitoring the elections in the Central Asian republic and its goal “is to ensure transparency of the election process and citizens’ expression of will.” The mission that has been staying in Kazakhstan since August 11 includes 68 representatives from eight CIS member-states, except for Moldova and Azerbaijan.

Kazakhstan: Senate elections under way in Kazakhstan | Eng.Gazeta.kz

The Senate elections will take place in Kazakhstan today. Election of senators will start at 10:00 am Astana time (in some regions – at 11:00). By this time all over the country about 3 thousand deputies of maslikhats of different levels will gather at polling stations to elect 16 members to the upper house of Parliament.

The Central Election Commission registered 39 Senate candidates, including 14 nominated by local representative bodies (maslikhats) and 25 self-nominated ones. According to the CEC, the average age of candidates is 54 years, while the youngest is Erlan Bazekenov, self-nominated from the Aktobe region, born in 1981, and the oldest – Erbolat Sadvakassov, self-nominated from Almaty, born in 1945.

Egypt: Election fever hits as parties form coalitions to compete for first post-Mubarak parliament | Ahram Online

Two main coalitions have already been formed in preparation for Egypt’s first elections following the fall of the Mubarak regime. The coalitions are: The Democratic Coalition for Egypt, formed months ago and the recently created Egyptian Bloc. Although the differences between the two are unclear, there seems to be an Islamic vs. civil split. While some say the groups are distinctly different, others argue that they have not been formed in opposition to each other.

Despite expectations that Egypt’s coming elections will have one of the highest turnout rates ever, similar to the 2011 constitutional referendum conducted months earlier, political parties and coalitions are still in the making. According to statements made by the military council and Egypt’s interim government, the elections are expected to take place in November. The candidates are to be announced by September, less than one month from now.

Jordan: Senate endorses draft municipalities law | Jordan Times

The Senate on Thursday endorsed the municipalities draft law for 2011 as referred from the Lower House, with some amendments. During a session chaired by Senate President Taher Masri with the attendance of Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit, members of the Senate made suggestions over the recommendations presented by the Chamber’s Legal Committee on the law before endorsing it.

The Lower House endorsed the law in late July, raising the women’s quota and ensuring more independence and funds for municipalities. Under the law, inhabitants of any district with a population of 5,000 or more can request the establishment of their own municipality or disengagement from a merger with a larger municipality.

UAE: 477 candidates file nominations to run in UAE parliamentary election | Arab News

More than 475 candidates have filed their nominations to run in parliamentary election which is slated for Sept. 24. According to the National Election Committee (NEC), the total number of registered candidates in different emirates of the UAE includes 121 in Abu Dhabi, 125 in Dubai, 97 in Sharjah, 60 in Ras Al Khaimah, 34 in Ajman, 19 in Umm Al Quwain and 21 in Fujairah.

The government sources said 477 people had registered so far to run for half the seats in the 40 member Federal National Council. The other half of the seats will be chosen by the rulers of each emirate. A number of women candidates also have filed their applications this time, especially from Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah.  Every individual from among the 129,000 voters who have been chosen by the government is eligible to file nomination papers abiding by the set rules.

Bulgaria: Bulgaria: Bulgaria’s Electoral Body Vows to Welcome OSCE Observers | Novinite.com

Bulgaria’s Central Electoral Commission (CEC) has made it clear it would welcome observers for the presidential and local elections on October 23, 2011, if the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe decides to send any. “We are not afraid of being observed,” one of the CEC spokespersons, Biser Troyanov, stated Wednesday.

The CEC statement came in response of concerns raised Tuesday by the ethnic Turkish party DPS (Movement for Rights and Freedoms) whose Deputy Chair Lyutvi Mestan complained that the ruling center-right party GERB, the nationalist party Ataka and the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party had been cooperating in order to eliminate DPS representatives from key positions in the municipal electoral commissions around the country. That is why, the DPS party demanded observers from the OSCE.

Malaysia: Knives out for Malaysia’s Najib | Asia Times

Just over a month after a large rally in Kuala Lumpur to demand clean and fair elections rattled Malaysia’s ruling elite, Prime Minister Najib Razak has announced that a bipartisan parliamentary select committee will be set up to review the electoral system. The move comes as Najib’s government faces rising pressures on several political fronts, including a speculated challenge to his leadership from inside his own party.

Najib’s announcement has been interpreted as an attempt to placate disquiet about the integrity of the electoral process before the next general election, which must be held before mid-2013, and to prevent any repeat protest rally to press home the demands. The political opposition has claimed elections are structurally set up to favor the long-ruling United Malays National Organization (UMNO) and Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.

Mauritania: Civil society divided on national dialogue | Magharebia.com

In a phone-in conversation with the nation, Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz reiterated his readiness to talk to the opposition and civil society. But some activists insist that no meaningful dialogue can occur without prior reforms.

“Some opposition parties pose certain conditions before the start of any dialogue, while these conditions are precisely the issues that must be addressed in the dialogue,” Ould Abdel Aziz said August 5th as he marked the second anniversary of his vote of confidence. “Through a reading of the political scene, it appears that the success factors of this dialogue exist,” said Mohamed Yahya Ould Horma, Vice-President of the ruling Union for the Republic (UPR).

The Voting News Daily: Elections Canada lobbies for test of online voting, South Carolina audit of 2010 Elections Shows Widespread Problems

Canada: Elections Canada lobbies for test of online voting | CBC News The head of the agency in charge of federal elections says it’s time to modernize Canada’s elections, including testing online voting and ending a ban on publishing early election results. In a report on the May 2 election (pdf), released Wednesday, Chief Electoral Officer…

Canada: Elections Canada lobbies for test of online voting | CBC News

The head of the agency in charge of federal elections says it’s time to modernize Canada’s elections, including testing online voting and ending a ban on publishing early election results. In a report on the May 2 election (pdf), released Wednesday, Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand writes about his plan to test online voting and encourages parliamentarians to update the Elections Act. Improvements to the electoral process, Mayrand writes, will depend on changes to the law.

“Elections Canada has reached a point where the limited flexibility of the current legislation no longer allows us to meet the evolving needs of electors and candidates,” Mayrand reports. “We look forward to working with parliamentarians as we prepare for the 42nd general election.”

See also – Readers’ Responses: Would you trust your vote to a computer?