India: Activist goes to court for no-vote option | The Times of India

An activist has filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Bombay high court seeking directions to include a new panel for the negative vote on Electronic Voting Machines ( EVMs).

Dr Mahesh Bedekar feels this will allow voters to voice their dissent about the candidate or the party through the ballot. “Under the present election rules, a voter who does not want to cast his ballot to the listed candidates can do so by filling up form 17 A of the Election Commission. The presiding officer has to be requested to issue the said form and the voter can record his negative vote in the presence of the election staff. It is contrary to rules which provide for absolute secrecy in voting,” Dr Bedekar said.

National: Students in Crossfire in Battles Over Voting Rights | Brennan Center for Justice

Voting is a fundamental right for all American citizens over 18.  Some states — including Arizona and New York — have prioritized voting rights, with student engagement policies that should serve as models for other states.  Yet even as we should be encouraging the next generation to be civically engaged, in many states students are being targeted by bills that make it harder to register and to vote.

In the current legislative cycle, a majority of state legislatures have explored increasingly restrictive voter ID legislation.  College students are particularly impacted by many of these voter identification proposals, especially when student IDs do not qualify as photo identification for voting.  But even more disturbing is a new trend of bills that seek to explicitly make voting more difficult for college students.  The most notable recent example was New Hampshire House Bill 176, which would have created a special voter residency standard for students and members of the military who lived elsewhere—including elsewhere in the state—prior to matriculating or being stationed in New Hampshire, thereby preventing students from voting in state or local elections.  The Brennan Center forcefully opposed this bill, and argued that it would likely be unconstitutional.  Fortunately, after college students of all political stripes banded together to voice their opposition, the bill died on the House floor.

Estonia: Tallinn Looks to Disallow E-Voting at Local Elections | ERR

The Tallinn City Council has filed a motion with the Supreme Court to abolish e-voting at future local elections. City Council Chairman Toomas Vitsut says there are “questionable aspects” to the current regulations on e-voting.

Although the voting system introduced in 2005 is considered one of Estonia’s success stories, and security concerns are generally dismissed in an era of “hanging chads” and other irregularities with paper ballots, Vitsut made it clear he was talking about a different aspect.

“Voters who use different voting options make their decisions in conditions that are legally completely different,” he said. “Some can change their vote repeatedly while others cannot. Thus the elections are not uniform.”

The Voting News Daily: How state legislatures could affect the 2012 elections, Review of Wisconsin Democrats’ recalls extended a week

National: How state legislatures could affect the 2012 elections | The push to rig the 2012 presidential election is under way. There’s nothing illegal about it: Across the country, state legislatures are embroiled in partisan battles over election-law changes that, by design or effect, could play a significant role in determining the outcome of the…

National: How state legislatures could affect the 2012 elections |

The push to rig the 2012 presidential election is under way.

There’s nothing illegal about it: Across the country, state legislatures are embroiled in partisan battles over election-law changes that, by design or effect, could play a significant role in determining the outcome of the presidency.

So far this year, there’s been legislation aimed at overhauling the awarding of electoral votes, requiring that candidates present a birth certificate, not to mention a wide assortment of other voting rights and administration-related measures that could easily affect enough ballots to deliver a state to one candidate or another. Experts say the explosion of such efforts in the run-up to 2012 is unprecedented — and can be traced back to a familiar wellspring.

“Florida in 2000 taught people that election administration really can make a difference in the outcome of an election,” said Wendy Weiser, director of the Democracy Program at the liberal Brennan Center for Justice at New York University.

Wisconsin: Review of Wisconsin Democrats’ recalls extended a week – No election delay for Republicans; board sets date at July 12 | JSOnline

A Dane County judge on Friday granted state officials a week to determine whether three Democratic senators should be recalled, but declined to delay elections for six Republican senators.

Later Friday, the Government Accountability Board certified recall elections for July 12 for the Republican senators. Any recall elections for the Democrats would be held a week later, on July 19.

Pennsylvania: Will Pennsylvania follow other GOP states on photo ID bill? | Associated Press

About once a month on average since the beginning of the year, Republican-controlled states have approved laws requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls.

Kansas, South Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin, Tennessee — all have either adopted new requirements or expanded existing identification laws to specify photo IDs, pushing the total number of states that require them to 13. Sixteen other states require non-photo identification.

Pennsylvania — with its huge Republican gains in last year’s midterm elections that included the governorship and control of both houses of the Legislature — is now poised to consider a photo ID bill. The House State Government Committee sent it to the floor and initial consideration could come as early as next week. Whether the state will join or buck the national trend is anyone’s guess.

Editorials: An attack on elections with broad implications in Wisconsin | JSOnline

The past few days in Wisconsin were made for the 24-hour news cycle. To start, over the howling protests of their lawyers, bipartisan election officials approved petitions signed by tens of thousands of voters that established special recall elections for three Republican state senators. Then, a circuit judge struck down a controversial new law that would severely curb union bargaining rights, finding that the Senate improperly passed the law without allowing for public comment. “The right of the people to monitor the people’s business is one of the core principles of democracy,” she admonished.

Finally, in case anyone’s blood pressure remained at normal levels, the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee voted to gut the state’s Impartial Justice Act, which provides public funds for judges running for the state’s highest court.

Even worse, the plan is to use the savings – about $1.8 million – toward implementing the new $7 million voter ID law signed by Gov. Scott Walker. Under the plan, all those Wisconsin voters who checked the box on their income tax form designating some of their taxes to fund clean judicial elections will instead see their tax dollars used for an unnecessary ID policy that will make voting in the Badger State more difficult than anywhere else in the country.

Editorials: Voters should be outraged at Florida Legislature | South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Over the past few months, the world’s attention has been focused on the struggle among Muslim states in the Middle East and North Africa toward the first, difficult steps of political freedom. Unfortunately for them, the road to democracy will be difficult at best, and we may not like the results. Americans understand this, as our own path to voting rights for all was long and bloody.

When the nation was founded, not everyone was able to vote, as religious clauses and property requirements limited full enfranchisement. The rights and privileges of citizenship were limited to a few land-owning, white males.

But, in the 1850s, provisions requiring citizens to own property and pay taxes in order to vote were eliminated. Not long after the end of the Civil War, black men were extended the right to vote with the 15th Amendment. Women would have to wait another half-century until the 19th Amendment in 1920 assured their right to vote.

Florida: ACLU, voting rights group sue to stop implementation of new Florida elections law | Palm Beach Post

The Florida ACLU and a Washington-based voting rights group filed a lawsuit Friday asking a federal court to halt statewide implementation of a new voting law until federal officials sign off.

The groups filed the lawsuit against Gov. Rick Scott and his administration in federal court in Miami on behalf of two Democratic state lawmakers and nine voters in five counties that require U.S. Department of Justice approval of changes to elections laws. For federal approval, the state must prove the laws will not result in voter discrimination.

Florida: More details of lawsuit challenging Scott, Browning on election rules overhaul | Florida Independent

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and Project Vote, a national voting rights group, filed suit in federal court Friday to challenge the implementation of Florida’s controversial new election law.

The case is being brought on behalf of nine voters in the Florida counties covered under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, including two state lawmakers, against Gov. Rick Scott and Secretary of State Kurt Browning, the state’s top elections official. It asks a three-judge panel to block implementation of the law until it has been cleared by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The Voting News Weekly: TVN Weekly May 30-June 4 2011

A hearing was held in the dispute between Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler and Saguache County Clerk Melinda Myers over access to ballots from the 2010 election. Barely finished with a grueling statewide recount, the Wisconsin Government Accountability Office came under partisan fire for their request for extension to complete the review of challenges…

Florida: Florida State law battles could be costly |

For the second time this week, the American Civil Liberties Union announced it is hauling Gov. Rick Scott into court — this time, over a controversial makeover of Florida’s election laws — as another group prepares to sue him over a new law restricting what doctors can ask their patients.

More court challenges are expected in what appears to be a building wave of litigation over provocative bills the conservative state Legislature passed this spring. That could cost the state untold thousands, even millions, of dollars in what lawmakers have called the state’s toughest fiscal year in decades.

Canada: British Columbia government says no to online voting in Vancouver | The Vancouver Observer

Vancouver citizens will not be able to vote online in this year’s municipal election after all. Ida Chong, provincial Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, has written to Mayor Gregor Robertson that the province will not amend the Vancouver Charter to allow the city to conduct a pilot test of internet voting because of potential risks associated with voting online.

Recently, the Observer reported that the city was optimistic Chong would give her approval. City Councillor Andrea Reimer, who initiated the internet voting proposal, told the Observer that the provincial government was also interested in exploring giving voters an online option, and so should be willing to allow Vancouver to conduct its pilot.

Thailand: Election Commission prints extra ballot papers for Thailand election | Bangkok Post :

The Election Commission says the reason why it is producing millions more ballots than the number of eligible voters for the July 3 election is because it has to cater to advance voting.

EC deputy secretary-general Boonyakiat Rakchartcharoen yesterday said that although there were only 47.3 million eligible voters in Thailand, the commission ordered 53.5 million ballots to be produced for the party-list system because it had to prepare ballots for advance voting on June 26 as well.

He was responding to the Pheu Thai Party’s query as to why the EC was producing what it viewed to be an excessive number of ballots.

India: Plea to make provision for ‘negative vote’ in Indian Electronic Voting Machines | Business Line

A [Public Interest Litigation] PIL has urged the Bombay High Court to direct the Election Commission to introduce electoral reforms by making a provision for “negative vote” in the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) during elections.

The PIL filed by Thane resident Mahesh Bedekar also urged the court to ensure that secrecy of the “negative vote” is maintained during elections as it is not being done under the existing rules.

The Voting News Daily: Saguache County, Colorado state officials at odds over access to ballots, Clerk Myers produces ES&S M650 audit logs

Colorado: Saguache County, Colorado state officials at odds over access to ballots | The Pueblo Chieftain Attorneys in a dispute between the Saguache County clerk and recorder and the secretary of state exchanged arguments Tuesday over the state’s authority to conduct an election review and the privacy of voted ballots. Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler…

National: Most Security Measures Easy to Breach, Expert Says | NBC Chicago

When things go really, really wrong, Roger Johnston has a really, really good day. After all, he’s usually the man who made them go wrong.

Johnston has a PhD, 10 patents to his name, and what every 10 year old kid would think is a dream job. As chief of the Vulnerability Assessment Team at Argonne National Laboratory outside Chicago, he has made it is his mission to crack into every security system labeled as foolproof by their creators.

… One of the most frightening examples Johnston has turned up is in one of the nation’s most treasured franchises: the right to vote. He said he’s found that most voting machines have almost no security to reveal tampering. Thus, he said, it’s a fairly simple matter to tinker with the electronics while machines are in storage or being transported by the truckload. He has even demonstrated how he can turn cheating mechanisms in voting machines on and off by remote control.

“It’s much easier to steal the election, right at the electronic voting machine,” said Johnston. “In many cases, we see security devices or electronic voting machines where we really have to wonder, ‘Did anybody spend 60 seconds figuring out the security issues?”

Colorado: Saguache County, Colorado state officials at odds over access to ballots | The Pueblo Chieftain

Attorneys in a dispute between the Saguache County clerk and recorder and the secretary of state exchanged arguments Tuesday over the state’s authority to conduct an election review and the privacy of voted ballots. Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler sued Clerk Melinda Myers in March for access to the ballots, prompting 3 1/2 hours of testimony and argument in Saguache County District Court.

Gessler called for a review of the election that would include a hand count of the ballots, although the findings would not change the election results.

The aim of the review is to calm controversy over an election in which the clerk’s office conducted a second count of the ballots with state approval that flipped the results in favor of Myers and Linda Joseph, an incumbent Democratic county commissioner.

Colorado: Saguache County Clerk Myers produces ES&S M650 audit logs | Center Post Dispatch

Assisted by two election judges, County Clerk Melinda Myers supervised the printout of 49 pages of audit logs from the M650 voting machine last Thursday, covering machine operation records from Oct. 25 to April 13.

Judge Jessica DuBoe printed out the logs while a second judge, Peggy Godfrey, stood watch. The operation took just about an hour.

“ES&S [the machine’s distributor] first said we couldn’t do it,” Myers said. “It would have been nice to know Nov. 3.”

Colorado: Judge hears Colorado Secretary of State Gessler ballot request | Center Post Dispatch

Few surprises were in evidence Tuesday at the hearing on Sec. of State Scott Gessler’s request that he be allowed to obtain the ballots for the 2010 Saguache General election to conduct a hand review with citizens present.

… Hagihara told Knaiser that the logic and accuracy pre-election test was run properly except for the fact that test ballots were used. He also said Myers asked the SOS to come to Saguache to review the November 2010 election after discovering “votes cast didn’t match votes counted.”

According to Hagihara, when the SOS came Nov. 15-16 to run the ballots back through the M650 (only the number of ballots, not the votes themselves were counted), the totals that were recorded were the correct totals, even though a commissioner’s and the clerk’s race were overturned. This determined that the Nov. 5 retabulation, not the Nov. 2 totals was the correct result.

National: Savvis lands $10M contract from Federal Election Commission | St. Louis Business Journal

Savvis Federal Systems, a subsidiary of Savvis Inc. in St. Louis, said Thursday it has been awarded a $9.8 million, five-year contract to provide information technology services for the U.S. Federal Election Commission.

Under the terms of the agreement, Savvis will provide managed hosting, security and network services to the FEC in two Savvis data centers. Savvis also will host the website.

Canada: Voter ID, North and South of the Borders | The Thicket

In light of all the attention that American legislators have been giving voter identification, I wondered about what our North American neighbors, Canada and Mexico, do. What I learned is that American states fall somewhere in the middle, geographically and administratively.

Here is how the Voter ID page from Elections Canada reads:

To Vote, you must prove your identity and address. You have three options:

Option 1: Show one original piece of identification with your photo, name and address. It must be issued by a government agency. Example:  driver’s license.

Option 2: Show two original pieces of authorized identification. Both pieces must have your name and one must also have your address. Example:  health card and hydro bill.

Option 3: Take an oath and have an elector who knows you vouch for you. This person must have authorized identification and be from the same polling division as you. This person can only vouch for one person. Examples:  a neighbor, your roommate.

Texas: Floor Amendment to Texas SB 100 Preserves May Uniform Election Date in Limited Circumstances | The Austin Chronicle/Texas Municipal League

It’s slow going at City Hall. No City Council meeting, and a Public Health committee meeting on nonprofits has been postponed to next week. It’s worth looking outside City Hall for action – and luckily, action obliged, as a state senate bill looks to throw local elections into chaos.

S.B. 100 from San Antonio Dem Leticia Van de Putte, brings the state in line with federal law requiring federal ballots be delivered to military and overseas voters at least 45 days before the election. It preserves Texas’ current March primary date, while lengthening any primary run-off by the 45 day requirement, to the fourth Tuesday in May.

Colorado: Gov. Hickenlooper signs bill setting Colorado primary earlier to help military personnel vote | Daily Journal

Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill Friday that changes some election dates in Colorado so the state complies with a federal law aimed at giving military and others living overseas enough time to vote.

The bill Hickenlooper signed into law makes Colorado’s primary elections and precinct caucuses happen earlier on even-numbered years and requires that mail-in ballots be delivered or mailed to military personnel serving overseas 45 days before an election so they have enough time to vote and have their ballots counted. It’s part of a provision of the Military and Overseas Voter Act that Congress passed in 2009.

Before the new law, Colorado mailed out ballots to military and other voters overseas 30 days before elections.

New Jersey: Norcross bill would return date for presidential primary elections in New Jersey to June |

Legislation to return the date of the February presidential primary election to June was approved Thursday by the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee.

The bill , sponsored by Sen. Donald Norcross, D-Camden, would eliminate the separate presidential primary election held in February and require, instead, that it be held during the regular June primary election, as it was prior to 2005. The move would save approximately $11 million in fiscal year 2012, according to the Office of Legislative Services.

Florida: Miami-Dade Lobbying ban voted down, recount shows |

It’s officially a clean sweep. After a manual recount, Miami-Dade County elections officials determined Thursday that a majority of voters rejected the charter amendment prohibiting former county politicians from returning as paid lobbyists for two years after leaving office.

The result reverses what appeared to be slim voter approval of the measure following the May 24 election. Under state law, a manual recount is held if the yes and no voters are separated by one half of one percent or less.

The final tally was 87,418 voting to approve the measure, 87,602 against.

Delaware: Political leaders seek later presidential primary | The Daily Times

To appease the political national parties, leaders of the Delaware Democratic and Republican parties are seeking to push the state’s 2012 presidential primary back by nearly three months to April 24.

The primary is slated for Feb. 7, but the two major political parties are pressuring states to hold later primaries to keep the focus on the traditionally early states, said John Daniello, chairman of the Delaware Democratic Party.

The Iowa caucuses are set for Feb. 6, followed by the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 14 and the Feb. 18 Nevada caucuses.

Bangladesh: Prime Minister asks: Hartal [Strike] against Bangladesh government or court? | The Daily Star

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday castigated the main opposition BNP for calling a countrywide dawn-to-dusk hartal on Sunday on the caretaker government issue.

“Has BNP called for the hartal against the government or the court that declared the caretaker government system illegal?” she questioned when a delegation of Nitol-Niloy and IPSSL groups called on her at her office in the afternoon.