The Voting News Daily: Nevada caucuses: State GOP rolls snake eyes, Tempers flare at chaotic ‘sundown caucus’

Nevada: Nevada caucuses: State GOP rolls snake eyes | The biggest loser in Nevada’s Republican caucuses? The state’s feckless GOP. Unable to control how its county parties count and report results, state Republicans were scrambling Sunday to explain why, almost 24 hours after most caucuses ended, the votes still have not been counted. Here in Clark…

Nevada: State GOP rolls snake eyes |

The biggest loser in Nevada’s Republican caucuses? The state’s feckless GOP. Unable to control how its county parties count and report results, state Republicans were scrambling Sunday to explain why, almost 24 hours after most caucuses ended, the votes still have not been counted. Here in Clark County, home to two-thirds of the state’s population, officials counted ballots, by hand, until 4 a.m. before calling it a night. Counting resumed again at 9 a.m. By 11 a.m. local time Sunday, only half of the county’s ballots had been counted. “About midway through the night I said, ‘This is ludicrous,’” state GOP Chairman Amy Tarkanian said Sunday morning. “So I sent my state party people down there, including my husband, and said, ‘Go help them count, this is crazy.’”

Nevada: Tempers flare at chaotic ‘sundown caucus’ |

A Republican caucus event timed to accommodate observant Jews who wouldn’t break Sabbath devolved into a fracas about religion and politics and made for a feisty conclusion to Nevada’s presidential nominating process. Hundreds of people crowded into the Adelson Educational Campus in Summerlin witnessed repeated clashes between local Republican party officials and would-be caucus-goers who resented being required to affirm their religious beliefs before being allowed to participate. The disputes overshadowed the intent of the caucus to choose a Republican nominee for president, especially since former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney had already been declared the winner in Nevada before the evening event started.

National: Oscars vote vulnerable to cyber-attack under new online system, experts warn |

Computer security experts have warned that the 2013 Oscars ballot may be vulnerable to a variety of cyber attacks that could falsify the outcome but remain undetected, if the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences follows through on its decision to switch to internet voting for its members. The Academy announced last week that it would be ditching its current vote-by-mail system and allowing its members to fill out electronic ballots from their home or office computers to make their choices for best picture and the other big Hollywood prizes, starting in 2013. It announced a partnership with Everyone Counts, a California-based company which has developed software for internet elections from Australia to Florida, and boasted it would incorporate “multiple layers of security” and “military-grade encryption techniques” to maintain its reputation for scrupulous honesty in respecting its members’ voting preferences.

The change will be a culture shock for an Academy voting community that tends to skew older and more conservative: indeed, concerns are already surfacing whether all of the Academy voters even have email addresses. And the claims have been met with deep scepticism by a computer scientist community which has grappled for years with the problem of making online elections fully verifiable while maintaining ballot secrecy – in other words, being rigorous about auditing the voting process but still making sure nobody knows who voted for what. So far, nobody has demonstrated that such a thing is possible.

National: Stephen Colbert’s not-so-super super PAC |

Reporting from Washington –— Determined not to be “the only chump” without a committee to collect “unlimited corporate money,” satirist Stephen Colbert went to the Federal Election Commission last summer to petition for permission to form his own “super PAC.” He won, and instantly started swiping credit cards as he delivered a knock-knock joke to the throng of fans who’d gathered to greet him.
“Knock knock?” Colbert said.
“Who’s there?” the crowd replied.
“Unlimited union and corporate campaign contributions.”
“Unlimited union and corporate campaign contributions who?”
“That’s the thing,” he said. “I don’t think I should have to tell you.”

Like all super PAC operators, Colbert, the host of Comedy Central’s late-night faux news show “The Colbert Report,” filed forms this week that disclosed the source of the nearly $1 million his super PAC raised last year. It turns out the vast majority of it would have been legal without the much-maligned Supreme Court ruling that prompted the creation of super PACs and has been the butt of Colbert’s jokes.

Alabama: Justice Department move might propel Shelby County, Alabama voting case to U.S. Supreme Court |

The chances that Shelby County’s challenge to the Voting Rights Act will make it to the U.S. Supreme Court have improved since the Justice Department announced it is rethinking its position in a similar North Carolina case. In a Jan. 30 letter to a lawyer for a group of voters in Kinston, NC., the assistant attorney general for civil rights said the agency has new information and will reconsider its 2009 objection to the city’s switch to nonpartisan elections. Assuming the Justice Department formally withdraws that objection, Kinston’s related lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act goes away.

Indiana: Democrats hope to have their candidate in elections office next week | The Washington Post

While Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels held off Saturday on appointing a permanent replacement for the state elections chief convicted early that morning of voter fraud, Democrats said they planned to move quickly to wrest control of the politically powerful office from the GOP. A jury from Hamilton County, just north of Indianapolis, deliberated for 13 hours before convicting Republican Secretary of State Charlie White on six felony charges. Among other things, White was accused of lying about his address on voter registration forms. Indiana law does not allow felons to hold statewide office, and Daniels quickly appointed White’s chief deputy, Jerry Bonnet, as interim secretary of state. But the governor said he was holding off on naming a permanent replacement because a judge could reduce the charge to a misdemeanor, allowing White to regain the office.

Indiana: Jury finds Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White guilty on 6 of 7 felony charges | The Indianapolis Star

Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White was convicted of six felonies early this morning, and consequently lost his job. But the Republican could get it back soon. White, 42, Fishers, plans to ask a judge to reduce his convictions – all class D felonies – to misdemeanors at sentencing. It’s uncertain whether that move would allow him to reclaim his job. “We don’t know the right answer to that,” White said. “This is all very new.” Shortly after White’s verdict was read, Gov. Mitch Daniels announced in a news release shortly before 3 a.m. that he has appointed Jerry Bonnet, White’s chief deputy, as interim secretary of state.

Indiana: Politics around White’s office ‘a mess’ | Journal and Courier

Fifteen months have passed since the polls closed in Indiana’s last secretary of state election. But the battle over who should hold the office is far from being finished. There have been political challenges and a lawsuit; a criminal trial and a conviction but still no definitive result. Simply put, it’s “a mess,” said one political expert. Charlie White, the elected officer, was convicted of six felony charges, including voter fraud, early Saturday morning, which removed him from office. But he could be reinstated on a technicality. Meanwhile, Gov. Mitch Daniels appointed White’s chief deputy, Jerry Bonnet, as to be his interim replacement. Democrats, however, claim they’ve won the office because of a Marion County judge’s ruling that has not yet been enforced.

Indiana: Voter Fraud Verdict ‘a Travesty,’ Says Convicted Indiana Secretary Of State | Fox News

Calling the jury verdict, “a travesty,” Indiana’s former top elections official vows to appeal the decision that found him guilty of multiple counts of voter fraud, which has resulted in his temporary removal from office. Republican Secretary of State Charlie White was charged with illegally registering to vote at his ex-wife’s house and was convicted on six of seven felony voter related counts in the early hours Saturday morning by a Hamilton County jury in Noblesville, Ind., just north of Indianapolis. “I found out that Indiana is a land of men and not of law,” White said in an exclusive Fox News interview on Sunday in which he contended that the jury was not given the full instructions on the charges by prosecutors. “What I think happened yesterday was a total miscarriage of justice and a perversion. The law allows me to do everything I did and the jury did not get all the law.”

Kentucky: Kentucky weighs restoring voting rights to felons | The Courier-Journal

Restaurant manager Jason Marvin Smith of Elizabethtown said he accepts full responsibility for a felony that landed him on probation as an 18-year-old for possessing a half-ounce of marijuana while driving his car with an improperly stowed gun. But what riles him is that after completing his probation, he still could not vote. “I was in civil purgatory,” said Smith, now 32, who lost his voting rights for years before a governor’s pardon restored them last year. Kentucky is one of only four states that permanently bar all felons from the polls — unless they get a pardon from the governor. Smith and others are fighting to change that.

Maine: Caucuses begin in Maine, results kept under wraps | Bangor Daily News

A group of Unity Republicans cast their votes Sunday afternoon at the Unity Union Church meeting hall in a straw poll that capped one of the very first caucuses to be held in Maine. But the winner of the poll will remain secret for two more weeks, organizers said, as Republican party members in Maine work to make the state’s scattered caucus system more relevant nationally. The caucus information will be compiled by state party officials, who will release statewide presidential straw poll results on Feb. 11 at a big party meeting at the Portland Regency, according to Susan Russell, the longtime chairperson of the Unity Republicans.

Nevada: Move Over, Iowa, Nevada Has A Caucus Problem Too | NPR

Imagine this: You’re the Super Bowl host city, and you’ve gone to a lot of trouble to get the big game in your town. Now everyone’s watching as the game comes to an end, and you can’t get the scoreboard to work. Suddenly no one’s sure who’s ahead or how much time is left to play. That nightmare scenario probably could not happen. But we have seen some highly improbable events lately that embarrassed the host states in the presidential nominating process. Iowa Republican Party Chairman Matt Strawn resigned this week, taking the hit for the botch that was made of the caucus count in his state last month. Mitt Romney was initially declared the winner, then told he had finished second by 34 votes behind Rick Santorum. But the party admitted it was not really sure, and some votes might be missing. Ouch.

Nevada: GOP dealing with ‘trouble box’ of questionable ballots | Las Vegas Sun

Republican Party officials are trying to figure out how to deal with a “trouble box” of ballots from the presidential caucus Sunday as the count in Nevada’s largest county stretches into its second day. Party officials have confirmed that ballots in multiple precincts exceeded the number of voters who signed in. The “trouble box” also includes ballots on which two candidates were marked and other irregularities. David Gallagher, executive director of the state party, could not confirm or even give a rough estimate of the number of ballots in question. “It’s a small number,” he said.

Nevada: Nevada GOP caucuses include unusual rules | San Francisco Chronicle

Today’s Republican caucuses in Nevada differ from primary elections by requiring voters to devote a block of time to make their preferences known in a process that takes more time than just filling out a ballot. There are also some unusual rules set this year by the GOP officials in the state.

Timing: Republican Party officials in each county decide when to hold caucus meetings. In Clark County, home to Las Vegas and 70 percent of state residents, the meetings are at 9 a.m. today – a time that is inconvenient for the city’s taxi drivers, waitresses and other service employees who work on weekends.

Ohio: Senate Republicans take another crack at election reform before the fall presidential election |

Ohio might have new voting laws in place before the November presidential election after all. Senate Republicans are working on a plan that would repeal last year’s controversial election overhaul package and replace it with a more narrow set of reforms that could take effect before the Nov. 6 election. The latest changes would incorporate some ideas from the GOP’s previous attempt at reform – House Bill 194 – and prior legislative efforts that ultimately failed. Democrats say the sudden push for new election laws is nothing more than a political ploy to tilt the presidential election in Republicans’ favor. But Republicans insist their only interest is to improve election day operations.
Regardless of motive, the potential for voter confusion is high, because lawmakers have been tinkering with election laws since the beginning of last year. If they pass new legislation before the fall election, voters will be casting ballots under different rules than the March 6 primary.

Finland: Election Victory: 62.6% for Niinistö | YLE Uutiset |

With nearly 100% of the vote counted, National Coalition candidate Sauli Niinisto has won the second and decisive round of Finland’s presidential election. Green League candidate Pekka Haavisto conceded the race just before 9 PM. The win by the National Coalition’s Sauli Niinistö will bring to an end a 30-year era of Social Democratic Party presidents in Finland Green League candidate Pekka Haavisto conceded defeat in his bid for the presidency when about 80% of the vote had been counted and it was evident that Niinistö had polled over 60%. Despite a final spurt in Haavisto’s campaign, support simply did not grow enough to bring him a victory. Even so, Haavisto said he was satisfied with the count. “From the summer’s five percent it is a good rise. Over a million people gave me their backing.”

Finland: Finland votes in second round to elect new president | AFP

Polling stations opened across Finland Sunday for the second round of presidential vote, with conservative Sauli Niinistoe widely expected to triumph over green liberal challenger Pekka Haavisto. Voting began at 9:00 am (0700 GMT) and ends at at 8:00 pm (1800 GMT) with final results expected around 2000 GMT on Sunday. The most recent public opinion poll, published Thursday, gave the National Coalition Party’s Niinistoe 62 percent support against 38 percent for the Green League’s Haavisto.

Finland: Pekka Haavisto triples presidential election budget – Niinistö also gets more money in second round | Helsingin Sanomat

Green League candidate Pekka Haavisto has received massive amounts of donations from supporters in the second round of Finland’s presidential elections. By Thursday evening Haavisto’s campaign budget had brown to more than EUR 710,000 – nearly three times higher than the EUR 250,000 reported for the first round. Olli Muurainen, chairman of the executive of Haavisto’s support group, Suomi-Finland 2012 said that most of the money is being spent on advertising. “In the last four days we will spend approximately as much on campaigning in the media that we have spent on the campaign so far”, Muurainen says.

Malaysia: Election Commission chairman clarifies postal voting issue | BorneoPost

Election Commission (EC) chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof said yesterday he had never suggested that only tax-paying Malaysians overseas are allowed to become postal voters. Instead, he said, what he suggested was that in determining the eligibility of Malaysians abroad to become postal voters, they might need to fulfill certain conditions as practised in other countries. This is due to the fact that not all Malaysians abroad are eligible to become postal voters, he told reporters after receiving the Umar Abdul Aziz Award at the state-level Maulidur Rasul celebration here yesterday. For instance, he said, there were countries which allowed their citizens to become postal voters provided that they had been abroad no longer than five years and had made a trip back home during the period. In some countries, he said, the period allowable was four years.

Russia: Russians stage rival protests over Putin | Reuters

Tens of thousands of Russians defied bitter cold in Moscow on Saturday to demand fair elections in a march against Vladimir Putin’s 12-year rule, and supporters of the prime minister staged a rival rally drawing comparable numbers. Opposition protesters also organized smaller protests in other cities across the vast country, trying to maintain pressure on Putin one month before a March 4 presidential election he is expected to win. Their breath turning to white vapor clouds in the frigid Moscow air, tens of thousands of protesters marched within sight of the red-brick Kremlin walls and towers, chanting “Russia without Putin!” and “Give us back the elections!”