The Voting News Daily: The Strange Career of Voter Suppression, Oscar voting by computer invites cyber attacks – Academy’s plan to allow voting by computer is an open invitation for cyber attacks and fraudulent outcome

Editorials: The Strange Career of Voter Suppression | NYTimes.com The 2012 general election campaign is likely to be a fight for every last vote, which means that it will also be a fight over who gets to cast one. Partisan skirmishing over election procedures has been going on in state legislatures across the country for several…

Editorials: The Strange Career of Voter Suppression | NYTimes.com

The 2012 general election campaign is likely to be a fight for every last vote, which means that it will also be a fight over who gets to cast one. Partisan skirmishing over election procedures has been going on in state legislatures across the country for several years. Republicans have called for cutbacks in early voting, an end to same-day registration, higher hurdles for ex-felons, the presentation of proof-of-citizenship documents and regulations discouraging registration drives. The centerpiece of this effort has been a national campaign to require voters to present particular photo ID documents at the polls. Characterized as innocuous reforms to preserve election integrity, beefed-up ID requirements have passed in more than a dozen states since 2005 and are still being considered in more than 20 others. Opponents of the laws, mostly Democrats, claim that they are intended to reduce the participation of the young, of the poor and of minorities, who are most likely to lack government-issued IDs — and also most likely to vote Democratic.

National: Oscar voting by computer invites cyber attacks – Academy’s plan to allow voting by computer is an open invitation for cyber attacks and fraudulent outcome | latimes.com

It’s often been said that Oscar season reflects the broader splendors and dysfunctions of American public life. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ ideals of scrupulous fair play have been under constant challenge in recent years, on such issues as the promotional pull of A-list stars, the power of big-studio money and negative advertising campaigns designed to undermine the competition.

Now, though, the academy may be committing a blunder of its own making. It recently announced that it would be ditching its current all-mail secret ballot system, and that its more than 5,000 members would be voting through their own computers, starting next year. The academy said the software developed by the San Diego-based computer voting company Everyone Counts would incorporate “multiple layers of security” and “military-grade encryption techniques” to ensure that nothing untoward or underhanded could occur before PricewaterhouseCoopers, its accountancy firm, captured the votes from the Internet ether. Unfortunately, leading computer scientists around the world who have looked at Internet voting systems do not share the academy’s confidence. On the contrary, they say the technology is vulnerable to a variety of cyber attacks — no matter how many layers of encryption there are — and risks producing a fraudulent outcome without anyone necessarily realizing it.

National: Super PACs: Real life, or Comedy Central? | Kenneth P. Vogel/Politico.com

When it comes to super PACs, it’s getting hard to tell the difference between reality and a Comedy Central bit. Stephen Colbert made an ongoing gag last month out of lampooning the rules barring coordination between outside groups and campaigns. When he announced a plan to run for president, he made a big show of handing off his super PAC to his fellow Comedy Central host Jon Stewart. Stewart promised not to coordinate with Colbert — giving the camera a wink and a nod. But it was no joke last week when President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney cleared their top aides to raise cash for the super PACs supporting their campaign.

National: U.S. Voter Registration Rolls Are in Disarray, Pew Report Finds | The New York Times

The nation’s voter registration rolls are in disarray, according to a report released Tuesday by the Pew Center on the States. The problems have the potential to affect the outcomes of local, state and federal elections. One in eight active registrations is invalid or inaccurate. At the same time, one in four people who are eligible to vote — at least 51 million potential voters — are not registered. The report found that there are about 1.8 million dead people listed as active voters. Some 2.8 million people have active registrations in more than one state. And 12 million registrations have errors serious enough to make it unlikely that mailings based on them will reach voters.

Alabama: Is it bribery or just politics? | The Washington Post

All elected officials, and those who help finance elections in the expectation that certain promises will be kept — and everyone who cares about the rule of law — should hope the Supreme Court agrees to hear Don Siegelman’s appeal of his conviction. Until the court clarifies what constitutes quid pro quo political corruption, Americans engage in politics at their peril because prosecutors have dangerous discretion to criminalize politics. Siegelman, a Democrat, was elected Alabama’s governor in 1998 and was defeated in 2002. In 2006, he and a prominent Alabama businessman — Richard Scrushy, former chief executive of HealthSouth — were convicted of bribery.

Colorado: Voters file suit against Gessler, six county clerks over ballots | The Denver Post

A group of Colorado voters filed a federal lawsuit against Secretary of State Scott Gessler and six county clerks today, saying their election practices are unconstitutional because they allow some ballots to be traced to the person who cast them. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Denver, argues that voters in those counties are being deprived of their right to a secret vote, and asks a federal judge to order the practices stopped. “The right to a secret ballot is a revered principle of American democracy,” said Marilyn Marks, a voting integrity activist who founded Citizen Center, the group that filed the lawsuit. “No one, most particularly government officials, should have access to information that can connect ballots with voters,” Marks said.

Indiana: Romney Indiana co-chair could decide Santorum fate | Post-Tribune

Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney’s Indiana co-chairman could decide whether opponent Rick Santorum makes it onto the state’s May primary ballot. Dan Dumezich is guiding Romney’s effort to win Indiana. He also chairs the Indiana Election Commission, which considers challenges to candidates’ ballot access. Santorum is eight signatures shy of the 500 needed from Indiana’s 7th District.

Maine: Could Ron Paul Still Win Maine? | NYTimes.com

Ron Paul’s campaign is claiming that it could still win the presidential preference poll in the Maine caucus because of a county that postponed its vote and will hold its caucus next Saturday, Feb. 18. On Saturday, the Maine Republican Party declared Mitt Romney the winner of the presidential preference vote, which he led by 194 ballots based on the caucuses that have been held so far. State Republicans said they considered the results of the straw poll final. However, Washington County, in the easternmost part of the state, postponed its caucus after a snowstorm was forecast there. The Washington County G.O.P. Chair, Chris Gardner, said his county would conduct the straw poll at its caucuses and will report the results to the state. All if this will be moot unless Mr. Paul is able to make up 194 votes in the county.

Voting Blogs: Hurry Up Already: In What Could Be a Busy Election Year, New York City Urged to Pick Up the Pace | Doug Chapin/PEEA

This blog has already covered – in great detail – the frustrations many feel about New York state’s seeming inability to find a way to schedule and administer elections in a way that doesn’t do violence to common sense and, potentially, the state’s finances. An editorial in today’s Daily News suggests that this approach is not unique to Albany, but also exists in New York City as well. In particular, the Daily News complains that the City Board of Elections is treating its new voting machines like old technology in a way that unnecessarily complicates and delays the count.

Texas: Voting rights group files suit over Texas registration practices | Houston Chronicle

The nonprofit Voting for America filed a federal lawsuit Monday alleging Texas voter rolls have been actively suppressed by excessive restrictions on volunteers who conduct registration drives, aggressive purges of county voter rolls and poll workers who improperly requested identification from voters. “A developing body of state practices and provisions targeted at voter registration activities is endangering the rights of many Texas voters,” the lawsuit alleges. The group, affiliated with the Washington D.C.-based Project Vote, runs nonpartisan voter registration drives nationwide and has previously mounted legal challenges to state voter registration procedures in Missouri, Ohio, Indiana and New Mexico, among other states.

Virginia: Federal Redistricting Lawsuit in Virginia Dismissed | Roll Call

One of two lawsuits filed by Virginia residents over the General Assembly’s inability to complete Congressional redistricting last year was dismissed in federal court Friday. According to the office of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia dismissed the case brought by six residents in part “based on its finding that the recent actions of the General Assembly in passing a new redistricting rendered the case moot.”

Belarus: Belarusian Opposition in “Status Quo” Survival Mode | Belarus Digest – News and Analysis of Belarusian Politics, Economy, Human Rights and Myths

While the presidential election campaign of December 2010 saw a revival of dynamism and interest in the opposition in Belarus, the subsequent violent clampdown ended hope of an opening in Belarus. The opposition, rattled and weakened by these events and continued government pressure, has not been able to turn the economic crisis, mismanagement by the government and falling ratings of Alexander Lukashenka to their advantage. Instead, the opposition parties since the elections have been in “status quo” survival mode. Dependent on modest Western aid, they have been caught up primarily in their own parallel political reality. Disengaged from the wider population, they have missed opportunities such as the economic crisis to explain how their plans would positively impact individuals in society. Meanwhile, a resurgent “political middle” is now more disappointed with Lukashenka’s leadership than ever before.