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 Day in 2002 when Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. ran for governor against Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. November 6 would be too late to vote; it was a Wednesday. Failure to pay the rent or parking or motor vehicle tickets is not a barrier to voting; neither is an outstanding warrant.

The Maryland General Assembly first outlawed voter suppression efforts in 1896, making it illegal to use “force, threat, menace, intimidation, bribery, or reward, or offer…[to] otherwise unlawfully, either directly or indirectly, influence or attempt to influence any voter in giving his vote.”

Pennsylvania: Voter ID bill undergoes changes |

Changes made to a proposal that would require all voters to show photo identification at their polling place are intended to address concerns about potentially disenfranchising some legitimate voters.

An amendment added to the House-passed voter ID bill by the Senate State Government Committee this week would allow voters to use IDs issued by colleges and nursing homes in addition to official state IDs, such as drivers’ licenses. In addition, absentee voters would be required to include their drivers’ license or Social Security number on the form for their absentee ballot. Another change would allow voters without a valid ID to cast a provisional ballot that would become official if they supply a valid ID — via mail, fax or in person — to their county election officials within six days of the election.

“This is a balancing act. We’re not trying to disenfranchise anyone, but at the same time we do not want our system of underlying democracy to be manipulated in any way,” said state Sen. Charles McIllhinney, R-Bucks, chairman of the committee. Democrats and other opponents of the voter ID proposal said the bill puts voting rights at risk, particularly for the elderly and minorities.

Voting Blogs: AAUGH! South Carolina GOP Funding Decision Scrambles Counties’ Primary Plans | Doug Chapin/PEEA

Earlier this week, the South Carolina GOP stunned election officials by announcing that they would not, as promised, be paying $650,000 to the cost of the state’s January primary but would instead limit their contribution to $180,000 from filing fees by the candidates in the January 21 vote.

Party officials claim their decision is required by the recent state Supreme Court ruling – described by the party chair as a “game changer” – that the state and county election officials are required to run the primary as part of their authority under state law. The party’s executive director suggested that county election officials only had themselves to blame: “The state party was negotiating in good faith with these four counties through the state Election Commission, and yet they filed a hugely expensive lawsuit knowing this was one of the potential outcomes.”

US Virgin Islands: Elections reform bill passed | Virgin Islands Daily News

Senators passed multiple bills at Thursday’s Legislative session, including a bill that makes changes to the territory’s election system. The elections bill passed Thursday is separate from the election reforms recently submitted to the V.I. Legislature by the Joint Board of Elections.

The approved bill, sponsored by Sen. Usie Richards, was based on proposed legislation submitted by prior boards of elections. The measure clarifies definitions, prevents board members running for office from participating in election activities and gives the boards of elections the discretion to use the legal counsel provided by the V.I. Attorney General’s Office or hire outside counsel. It also raises the per diem pay for election workers.

Tennessee: Governor Bill Haslam voices concerns about requiring photo ID for voting | Knoxville News Sentinel

Gov. Bill Haslam says he has voiced concern to legislators that the new state law requiring voters to have photo identification will make it “unnecessarily hard” for some people to cast ballots in next year’s elections. The governor said he is not recommending changes in the new law or delaying implementation.

“We haven’t made that recommendation to them yet,” Haslam said in an interview. “I think the way government works, you know, is that our job is to carry out things and also to propose things. At this point in time, all we’ve done is raise the issue.”

Texas: Redistricting creating chaos in 2012 primary | El Paso Times

Another attempt to redraw political districts in Texas brings yet another appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of politicians are anxiously waiting to see if the nine judges in Washington will give them a fighting chance to keep or win a seat in the Texas House, Texas Senate or Congress. With dozens of incumbents retiring, the stakes are high and who ends up winning depends largely on what the final district maps look like.
One proposed map guarantees Republican dominance for the next 10 years. The other would likely give Democrats a big boost. And the Supreme Court could order a new, third version.

American politicians face this problem every 10 years when states redraw political maps based on the latest census. The state needs to ensure every political district has roughly the same number of people. Texas law gives that task to incumbent members of the Legislature, and they seize upon this rare opportunity to choose the voters they want. Since their first priority is to get re-elected, they draw their districts to suit them. Then the party in power usually tries to draw districts that will hurt their opponents.

Wisconsin: Waukesha County Clerk feels exonerated in election flub | Green Bay Press Gazette

Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus said last week she believes she has been exonerated even though her office is undertaking numerous changes in how it handles ballots following the nonreporting of 14,000 votes in the spring Supreme Court election. State investigators in September determined that Nickolaus likely broke the law by not reporting the votes in the hotly contested race between Justice David Prosser and challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg, but her conduct was unintentional and not criminal.

… The Government Accountability Board on Tuesday approved numerous changes designed to improve the procedures used by Nickolaus’s office on election night. Both before the meeting and during a break, Nickolaus told reporters that the investigative report vindicated her handling of the votes.

“I’ve been exonerated,” she said. Government Accountability Board director Kevin Kennedy disagreed. “I would not characterize it that way,” Kennedy said. The September report, led by former Dane County prosecutor Timothy Verhoff, found that Nickolaus likely broke state law requiring the posting of all returns on election night.

Congo: Tshisekedi Says He Won, Can He Prove It? | Congo Planet

Unlike the Independent National Electoral Commission, which published the results of the presidential election showing why it says Joseph Kabila won and for everyone to see and scrutinize, Etienne Tshisekedi has so far provided no proof to support his claim of an outright victory. Yet, the longtime opposition leader has said, once again, that he now considers himself president.
Does Mr. Tshisekedi expect all Congolese to just trust his word? He must have proof that he is the one who was elected. Not Joseph Kabila, Vital Kamerhe, or Kengo wa Dongo. There must be pictures out there, videos, signed summaries of the tallies at polling stations,…  These claims of victory, coming from such a respected politician, cannot be baseless.

Of course, Mr. Tshisekedi declared himself president even before the Nov. 28 presidential elections. His proof then was that “the Congolese people have already chosen me.” Well, maybe in a parallel universe they did. But in this world, we humbly ask for proof of Mr. Tshisekedi’s victory. The Carter Center, the European Union, the United States, have said that the elections “lacked credibility”, “were not transparent”, “were seriously flawed.” Great! Maybe someone out there has the proof that Mr. Tshisekedi won. Or do they? It’s one thing to say that the 2011 elections were marred with irregularities; it’s completely different to claim that the opposition won. Even these international observers missions have not gone that far.

Egypt: Accusations of ballot abuse flare up as Egyptians vote in 2nd round of parliamentary elections | The Washington Post

Islamists and liberals accused election officials Thursday of filling out ballot forms for elderly or confused voters at some polling stations during the second round of parliamentary elections. If confirmed as a pattern, the reports could chip away at the credibility of what has so far been the freest and fairest vote in Egypt’s modern history.

Under Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year regime, elections were systemically rigged and the corruption was a major impetus behind the popular uprising that ousted the authoritarian leader in February. But as the polls closed, it was still unclear how widespread the problems were.

Russia: Russia after Duma election |

On December 4, 2001 the Russians voted in the State Duma election.
The outcome of the election and the subsequent protests in several Russian cities have inflamed the media on many meridians. Almost all comments on the Russian legislative election have featured quite incendiary headlines in the international media. The demonstrations in Russia were put in parallel with the developments in the ‘Arab spring’ or the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement in the US.

It has been alleged that the election of the State Duma had been evidently fixed, had not taken place in a free context and according to democratic norms and, more than that, in the initial phase (about 1,000 arrests have been mentioned), the authorities had taken reprisals against the protestors taking to the streets in major cities and particularly in Moscow.

United Russia, the party that supports the sitting premier and the candidate for a new presidential term (the third) in March next year, Vladimir Putin, obtained between 49 and 50 per cent of the votes cast (apart from the 19 percent gathered by the Communists and 12 per cent going to other parties close to the power), losing therefore roughly 15 per cent of the votes it had presumed to get. Analyses have shown that, should results have not been defrauded, the ruling party in Russia would have actually lost one third of the total number of cast votes (just over 30-35 per cent instead of 49-50 per cent).

Russia: Thousands rally over fraud-tainted vote |

Thousands took to the streets of Moscow and St. Petersburg on Sunday, braving strong winds and torrential rains for a second week of protests over Russia’s fraud-tainted parliamentary vote. About 4,000 supporters of the Communist Party rallied just outside the walls of the Kremlin on a snowy afternoon, demanding a re-count and the government’s resignation. Wind and rain later turned into a blizzard.

Frustration has grown with the ruling United Russia party and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who has dominated Russian politics for over a decade. “I think it’s a crime to keep silent,” said Vyacheslav Frolov, who was at the Moscow protest. In St. Petersburg, a rally in a central square drew about 4,000 people from various political parties. Protesters chanted: “Russia without Putin!” and held posters saying “We want to live in an honest country!”

Syria: Within Atmosphere of Democracy and Free Will, the Syrians Cast Their Votes to Elect Their Representatives at Local Administration Councils | SANA

Within an atmosphere of  democracy and  mass popular participation that reflected the Syrian citizens’ commitment to practice their electoral right with a free will to elect whom they see more fit and qualified to represent them at Local Administration Councils, the Syrians cast their votes to select their representatives who competed for 17588 seats in different Syria cities.

Judge Nazir Kheir Allah, Head of the Elections’ Sub-Committee in Damascus said in a statement to SANA  that the voting process was run within an atmosphere of democracy and transparency, adding “The committee is permanently sitting at the Palace Justice till the final announcement of the results.” He underlined that the electoral process has been run successfully without any breaches, saying that the Committee has provided all facilitations needed to make the election process a success.

Yemen: Noncompetitive Presidential Election Draws Wide Support | VoA News

As Yemen transitions towards democracy, it is organizing a presidential election with only one likely candidate: Vice President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. And that idea is drawing wide support from opposition parties and Yemen’s diplomatic partners. For months, they have been pushing for the replacement of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who recently agreed to end his 33-year rule after months of protests against him.

Analysts say those with interests in Yemen’s future have differing motives for backing an uncompetitive democratic process. The election is scheduled for February. In the view of Yemen’s opposition coalition, known as the Joint Meeting Parties, Hadi is a neutral figure who played no role in Saleh’s violent crackdown on opposition protesters.

The Voting News Weekly: TVN Weekly – December 13-18 2011

Opposition supporters demonstrate in Kinshasa

The Supreme Court’s decision to hear a case challenging redistricting plans in Texas has brought preparations for the State’s March primary on hold. A hearing will be held to settle a dispute over custody of voting machines under investigation in Horry County, South Carolina. Following the conviction of an aide to former Governor Robert Ehrlich in Maryland prompted the introduction of a bill to prohibit deceptive election practices. Attorney General Eric Holder indicated in a speech that the Department of Justice would be addressing the wave of restrictive election laws passed in several State legislatures. The United Nations and the Carter Center have expressed concern over vote rigging and fraud in the Congo elections. The New York times reported on details of election fraud tactics provided by a Russian election official. An initial report from a forensic review of ES&S iVotronics used in Venango County Pennsylvania showed that the central tabulators were accessed remotely on multiple occasions and Doug Chapin discussed the future of the embattled Election Assistance Commission.

Verified Voting Blog: Developing Standards for Election Data


One of the challenges faced by advocates of election audits and transparency is that current voting systems each record and store election file data in unique ways. This is no surprise given that vendors have long claimed that their systems are proprietary. But the current model of storing election data in ways that prevent easy sharing and analysis is proving difficult for election officials, statisticians, election integrity advocates, and even voting systems vendors. Because of these problems, serious discussion is taking place about what can be done about standardizing election data.

Often, within a single state there are many different voting systems from multiple vendors. At the same time, many elections, including most federal and statewide races, cross election jurisdictions so that votes for the same race are reported in different ways, depending on the system type used in each district. Even a single polling place may have different types of equipment – an optical scanner and a touch screen device for accessible voting for example – which report results in incompatible ways but which must be combined after the polls close.

New Zealand: Questions over Waitakere vote | NZ Herald News

Evidence of dodgy voting has emerged in the battle for Waitakere. A judge has found nine people voted twice and 393 people voted despite not being on the electoral roll. The result has changed twice: National’s Paula Bennett won by 349 votes on election night, then Labour’s Carmel Sepuloni inched ahead by 11 after the special vote count, only to have Bennett reclaim victory on Friday by nine votes after a judicial recount.

The Herald on Sunday has obtained a copy of Judge John Adams’ initial judgment. It shows Bennett gained eight votes after the recount while Sepuloni lost 12. Labour bosses will meet on Tuesday to decide whether to accept defeat or pursue an electoral petition. Former president Mike Williams, who was a scrutineer in the recount, did not favour an electoral petition as he thought it unlikely Sepuloni would win.

The Voting News Daily: The Dangers of Man-in-the-Middle in Voting Machines, Real Solutions Needed on Voter Deception

National: The Dangers of Man-in-the-Middle in Voting Machines | The Election Day is fast approaching in every state in the country. Security experts and researchers from Vulnerability Assessment Team or VAT at Argonne National Laboratories made a video that demonstrates a simple and non-cyber man-in-the middle or MITM attacks on the voting machine –…

National: The Dangers of Man-in-the-Middle in Voting Machines |

The Election Day is fast approaching in every state in the country. Security experts and researchers from Vulnerability Assessment Team or VAT at Argonne National Laboratories made a video that demonstrates a simple and non-cyber man-in-the middle or MITM attacks on the voting machine – the Diebold AccuVote TS Electronic Voting Machine. The researchers Jon Warner and Roger Johnston inserted customized hardware costing only 10 dollars into the Diebold AccuVote TS.

They were able to read the touchscreen vote using it and they were able to alter the information that was stored within. Changing the electronic votes isn’t really new; however, with the addition of a 16 dollars, the team was able to have a remote control that can operate and perform the MITM attacks even if they were miles away from the machine.

It was even stated that the levels of sophistication needed to accomplish the deed was comparably easy; even starters can accomplish it without any hardships. The same multi-disciplinary team of Argonne National Laboratories that is composed of physicists, digital computer forensics experts, computer engineers, white hat hackers, security researchers and also social scientists has demonstrated the same flaws on the machines of Sequoia Voting Solutions.

Florida: Voter registration groups sue over new Florida election law | Tampa Bay Times

Florida’s new election law attracted more legal attention Thursday with a lawsuit from a trio of civic groups that contend the new rules are too burdensome on their voter registration efforts. The groups — League of Women Voters of Florida, Rock the Vote and Florida Public Interest Research Group Education Fund — are plaintiffs in a lawsuit that asks a federal court in Tallahassee to block the registration restrictions in the elections overhaul, which is in effect in 62 of 67 counties.

Attorneys argue the law is unconstitutional and violates the “motor voter” law by imposing burdensome regulations on volunteers and steep penalties for mistakes, such as not turning in voter registration applications within 48 hours. The window used to be 10 days.

South Carolina: Atlantic Beach in court Thursday over voting machine issue | SCNOW

Attorneys for Horry County vs. Town of Atlantic Beach argued their case before the Horry County Magistrate Thursday and they will meet again next week. Judge Brad Mayers did not rule on the case and decided to continue it until next Wednesday morning. The court will hear from someone at the State Election Commission and Atlantic Beach also plans to call a witness.

Attorney for Atlantic Beach Kenneth Davis filed a motion for the county to return its property to Atlantic Beach for use as evidence. The judge took it into consideration. This comes after Horry County Sheriff’s deputies seized county-owned voting machines Tuesday which the town held in its evidence room for weeks a month and a half after its Nov. 1 municipal election.

Mayor Retha Pierce said Atlantic Beach police confiscated $7,500 worth of machines to do an investigation into fraud and abnormalities during the elections. “My understanding is when a crime is committed that authorities have the right to deal with that crime,” Pierce said. “You’re sending my people here a mixed signal in Atlantic Beach when all of the sudden you say that when a crime is committed and the property belongs to the county and you can overlook the crime.”

Wisconsin: Walker, GOP sue state elections and ethics agency over recall effort | JSOnline

Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign and the state Republican Party director sued the state’s elections and ethics agency in Waukesha on Thursday over its handling of duplicate and bogus signatures in the ongoing recall effort against the governor. The top GOP lawmaker in the Assembly also took a shot at the Government Accountability Board – which he voted to create – saying it had strayed from its nonpartisan mission and might need to be replaced.

The lawsuit filed Thursday in Waukesha County Circuit Court asks a judge to order the accountability board to look for and eliminate duplicate signatures, clearly fake names and illegible addresses. The lawsuit can be brought in one of the most conservative counties in the state because of a change in state law earlier this year by Republican lawmakers and Walker that allowed lawsuits to be brought against the state outside liberal Dane County, the seat of state government.

Congo: Supreme court upholds Joseph Kabila’s election victory |

Congo’s supreme court has upheld President Joseph Kabila’s victory following a contested election, raising fears of more violence in sub-Saharan Africa’s largest nation because the main opposition candidate has already rejected the results. The November election was only the second democratic vote in Congo’s 51-year history, and the first to be organised by the Congolese government rather than by the international community. Observers have expressed concern about irregularities, saying voter turnout results were impossibly high in some districts.

Kabila, Congo’s incumbent president, faced 10 candidates, including Etienne Tshisekedi, a 79-year-old longtime opposition leader who is enormously popular with the country’s impoverished masses. Observers fear unrest if Tshisekedi orders his supporters to take to the streets. So far, Tshisekedi has called for calm, telling his supporters to await his instructions.

Another opposition candidate, Vital Kamerhe, appealed to Congo’s supreme court to annul the presidential vote, but the court said late on Friday that his complaint was groundless and lacked sufficient evidence. The decision was announced by Justice Jerome Kitoko, the court’s vice president.

Congo: Top court declares Kabila president | ABC News

Democratic Republic of Congo’s Supreme Court has confirmed Joseph Kabila as the winner of a disputed November 28 presidential election, rejecting demands by the opposition for the vote to be annulled over fraud allegations. The court’s president, Jerome Kitoko, said Mr Kabila had won 48.95 per cent of the vote. “In consequence, Joseph Kabila is proclaimed president-elect of the republic with a simple majority,” he said at the justice ministry.

The court said the opposition had failed to provide proof of their allegations. Congo’s election commission last Friday declared Mr Kabila winner of the vote which observers said lacked credibility and was marred by irregularities and violence.

The opposition reacted immediately to the court’s decision saying they “totally rejected” the ruling. “The supreme court is just an instrument of Mr Kabila, just like the electoral commission,” said Alexis Mutanda, campaign president of veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi.

Belgium: Brussels Raises Election Concerns At Russia Summit |

The European Union used a summit with Russia today to highlight concerns over claims of massive fraud during this month’s Russian parliamentary elections. Russia’s December 4 State Duma elections and their aftermath — including the detention of demonstrators — were not officially on the agenda of the summit, which otherwise focused on economic and visa liberalization issues.

But the EU made clear in the run-up that it would raise its worries with Dmitry Medvedev during his last summit with the bloc as Russia’s president. EU President Herman Van Rompuy told a news conference after the summit that the EU had been perturbed by election monitors’ reports of irregularities and lack of fairness in the December 4 vote, and about the detention of protesters.

Russia: Russians Out In Force Against ‘Election Fraud,’ More Rallies Threatened |

The Russian opposition has called on the authorities to annul election results marred by alleged violations and threatened more anti-Kremlin rallies as tens of thousands demonstrated across the country.   Officially, police estimates put the crowd on Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square on December 10 at 20,000, although organizers cited much higher figures of up to 100,000. The event went off without significant incident and police say no one was detained.

Many media outlets said it marked the largest protest since the collapse of the Soviet Union. In a resolution laid before demonstrators in Moscow, the opposition also demanded the release of opposition leaders Aleksei Navalny and Ilya Yashin and others who were jailed in protests this week.

Editorials: Still no voting rights in UK for British expats | Expat – My Telegraph

A year ago I wrote about one man’s crusade to force the UK government to allow British expats to vote in parliamentary elections after a 15 year absence from the country. Recently James Preston, a British fund manager living in Madrid, took the matter to the High Court with the assistance of a legal firm working on a pro bono basis but his case was summarily dismissed. He intends to appeal.

In effect this ruling means that current legislation continues to penalise Britons choosing to live abroad, and could disenfranchise 5.5 million British expats from voting in UK parliamentary elections in the future. Other countries in the EU such as France and Germany and those such as the USA do not treat their citizens with such derogation.

The Voting News Daily: Voting Rights Debate Promises Burgeoning Partisan Battle, Supporters seek ‘tweaks’ in ranked-choice voting

National: Missouri researchers to study online voting | Washington Examiner Civic-minded soldiers stationed across the world could one day obtain absentee ballots from their laptops or mobile phones as part of a new federal research effort to increase participation among overseas troops and other voters who are out of the country during elections. A team…

Voting Blogs: Real Solutions Needed on Voter Deception | Brennan Center for Justice

Last week, Paul Schurick, the campaign manager for former Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich, was convicted of two counts of conspiracy to violate election laws and two counts of election fraud for orchestrating a scheme of robo-calls intended to deter 100,000 Democratic African-American voters from voting in the City of Baltimore and Prince George’s County Maryland.

The robo-calls, delivered in a woman’s voice, assured Democratic voters that the Democratic Governor Martin O’Malley had already won the election as of 6:00 p.m. on Election Day 2010. “Our goals have been met. The polls are correct and we took it back. We’re OK. Relax. Everything’s fine. The only thing left is to watch it on TV tonight.”

At trial, Schurick argued his intention was to anger voters sympathetic to his candidate in order to motivate them to vote. A jury rejected his argument and found Schurick’s intent was to mislead and discourage Democratic African‑American voters from going to the polls. Schurick’s conviction comes in the midst of a robust national debate about the importance of ballot security and how to protect American elections.

Texas: Elections Paralyzed by Hearing Before Supreme Court |

Jacquelyn F. Callanen was neither a plaintiff nor a defendant in the redistricting case that the Supreme Court decided to hear last week. But her life — and her office — went from calm to chaos because of it. Ms. Callanen is the elections administrator for Bexar County in south-central Texas, home to San Antonio and 1.7 million residents. The Supreme Court’s decision temporarily blocked a set of district maps that Ms. Callanen and other officials around the state were going to use in next year’s elections.

Less than 90 days before the scheduled March 6 primary, Ms. Callanen has no electoral map in place for Congressional and State House and Senate districts in Bexar County, and none are in effect in any other county either. Much of the political geography of the country’s second-biggest state, in other words, has essentially vanished.

National: Missouri researchers to study online voting | Washington Examiner

Civic-minded soldiers stationed across the world could one day obtain absentee ballots from their laptops or mobile phones as part of a new federal research effort to increase participation among overseas troops and other voters who are out of the country during elections.

A team of Missouri researchers trained in technology, cyber-security and elections management will use a $740,000 Department of Defense grant to explore Internet-based and mobile phone voting applications.

The project initially will focus on speeding the delivery of overseas ballots, Boone County Clerk Wendy Noren said at a Thursday press conference announcing the collaboration. Noren emphasized that voters won’t actually cast ballots online, but researchers will study ways to surmount the security obstacles to online voting. “The time it takes to deliver ballots and have ballots returned is unacceptable,” she said. “This has been a long, ongoing problem by military and overseas voters.”