National: Wireless voting still has a long way to go | Computerworld

With the widespread adoption of smartphones and the use of mobile tactics in U.S. presidential campaigns, could there come a day when Americans might vote wirelessly? That question was posed to a panel of mobile campaign experts at the Brookings Institution during a webcast Tuesday. The prevailing view was that wireless voting in the U.S. is a long way off. Considering that much voting in the U.S. is still done with paper ballots, electronic voting over a wireless device such as a smartphone is “a long ways away,” said Katie Harbath, associate manager of policy for Facebook. She noted that delegates to the Iowa Republican Caucus in February still voted with pen and paper.

National: Republicans rethink the caucus format | The Washington Post

Top Republicans are calling for a review of the methods used in presidential caucuses after a series of vote-counting mishaps in three early states. Maine on Tuesday became the latest state to fall victim to the caucus bug, with a local report noting that the state GOP declared Mitt Romney the winner of a close race without many localities reporting votes in the totals, including some that had submitted their results and some whose caucuses were set for later this month. It was just the latest foible in what has been a very rough year for the caucus format.

Editorials: All Quiet on the Voter Fraud Front – ACLU Offering Reward for Evidence of Voter Impersonation | Andrew Rosenthal/

The Minnesota ACLU has offered a $1000 reward for an example of voter impersonation, which a proposed amendment requiring photo ID at the Minnesota polls would have prevented. Anyone looking to compete for the cash should know the following restriction:  the case must have been prosecuted in Minnesota within the last 10 years. I’m eager to see if the ACLU will have to start issuing checks. My guess is they won’t.

The proposed Minnesota amendment, and the ACLU challenge, is part of a larger story, which I’ve written about many times Let’s review this history so far. There is a campaign around the country to impose ID requirements on voters. Opponents of these measures, including me, say they are onerous and unconstitutional since they discriminate against the elderly, minorities, rural populations and poorer, less educated voters. It just so happens that many of these groups vote Democratic.

Editorials: Congress should kill the Republican and Democratic state caucuses and mandate primaries instead | Rick Hasen/Slate Magazine

In the last few weeks, the Keystone Kops have taken over the Republican presidential caucuses.  First Mitt Romney was declared the winner of the Iowa caucuses by a scant eight votes, and then Republican Party officials in Iowa said that there were so many local reporting problems that a winner could not be declared even though Rick Santorum was 34 votes ahead. Oops, they declared Santorum the winner anyway. In Nevada, Republican officials decided to hold a special late-night session of their Saturday caucus to accommodate Orthodox Jews and Seventh-day Adventists.  This caused an uproar when Ron Paul supporters objected to requiring the late-comers to sign a statement that their religious obligations prevented earlier attendance, saying that people who had to work during the day should have the right to vote at the late-night caucus, too.  Adding to the tumult, it took election officials in one Nevada county an extra day to count a small number of votes and deal with a “trouble box” of disputed ballots. Now comes news from Maine that Mitt Romney may not have won the Maine caucuses by 200 votes as initially reported, because some ballots have gone uncounted.

Editorials: Let’s Get Voter Registration Right – and Make it Universal | ACS

This November’s presidential election will present a stark choice between President Barack Obama and a Republican challenger, and voter turnout analysts predict a decline in voter turnout from our 62 percent turnout of eligible voters in 2008. Voter motivation is one reason why American turnout lags behind that of many nations. Most Americans experience limited choice and a relatively low chance of electing strongly favored candidates. For example, in 2010 only one in four eligible voters elected a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives (what we call “the Representation Index”). In contrast, in Denmark’s last elections, nearly five in six eligible voters elected representatives to its national legislature from an array of choices, voter turnout was more than 85 percent, and its system of proportional representation led to more than 95 percent of voters electing their preferred choice.

Editorials: Maine, Iowa Caucus Mishaps Prove It’s Time for a Better System | John Avlon/The Daily Beast

After the epic fail of Iowa’s caucuses—falsely naming Mitt Romney the winner for more than a month—now it looks like there’s trouble brewing in the Maine caucuses as well. Romney was named the narrow winner in Maine on Saturday over Ron Paul—gaining him a triumphant top-of-the-fold photo in the Sunday New York Times—but it now appears that several counties that held caucuses were not calculated in the “final” tally. According to the Bangor Daily News, there is growing pressure on the state GOP to reassess the votes and at least potentially declare a new winner. There’s got to be a better way to pick a presidential nominee.

Voting Blogs: Not Dead Yet: President’s FY13 Budget Has (Reduced) Funds for EAC | Doug Chapin/PEEA

Anyone looking for clues about the future of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) got at least a hint on Monday, when the President’s Fiscal Year 2013 (FY13) budget was released. Tucked into the $3.8 trillion budget is a relatively tiny ($11.5 million, or about 0.0003%) amount in new funds for the EAC. Only about two-thirds is slated to go directly to the agency; $2.75 million is earmarked for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for its work on voting technology, and $1.25 million is designated for the agency’s Office of Inspector General, which audits both the EAC’s spending and HAVA fund spending by states. The remaining $7.5 million will be used to support an agency which continues to downsize; the budget shows a reduction in full-time equivalent (FTE) staff from 48 in FY11 to 29 in FY13.

Voting Blogs: Pew Study Shows Need for Modern Voting System | Brennan Center for Justice

Today, the Pew Center on the States released a report detailing some of the serious flaws in our voter registration systems, the lynchpin of election administration. Their study reaffirms what election administrators and voter advocates have known for a long time — that the voter rolls are filled with errors, and an unconscionable percentage (almost a quarter, according to Pew) of American citizens who are eligible to vote are not registered. The flaws identified in the Pew study are the result of an outdated, paper- based voter registration system that is not only inefficient and costly, but prone to inaccuracy. Worse, the clunky system leaves off millions of eligible voters or contains errors in their records that could prevent them from voting effectively. The question is no longer whether we should upgrade the system, but how we should do so. Recent technological innovations point the way to the solution: modernizing the system.

Colorado: Group Claims Colorado Can Snoop on Voters | Courthouse News Service

The Colorado Secretary of State and six county clerks have “unconstitutionally arrogated” to themselves an election system that can trace ballots “to the individual voters who cast those ballots,” a watchdog group claims in Federal Court. Citizen Center, a nonprofit, seeks declaratory judgment and an injunction against the Colorado Secretary of State and the clerks of Mesa, Larimer, Jefferson, Boulder, Chaffee and Eagle Counties.

Colorado: Opponents of Colorado proposal to relax oversight of electronic voting want to strengthen safeguards, not reduce them | Pueblo Chieftain

Opponents of Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s proposal to relax oversight of electronic voting machines testified Tuesday that now is the time to strengthen safeguards, not reduce them. Gessler and Pueblo County Clerk and Recorder Gilbert “Bo” Ortiz countered during a rule-making hearing that they believe sufficient protections against voter fraud still would exist under the proposed rule change. In its present form the change would reduce the required number of seals designed to prevent tampering with voting machines, end the continuous video surveillance of the machines that is presently required before and after elections and leave investigations of suspicious incidents involving the machines to county officials rather than Gessler’s office. Mandatory inspection of the machines by the secretary of state’s office also would be eliminated under the proposed rule.

Indiana: Election Commission, led by Romney state co-chair, to decide Santorum’s ballot fate | The Daily Caller

Dan Dumezich, a Scherville, Indiana lawyer–lobbyist who chairs the Hoosier State presidential campaign organization of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, also chairs the election board that will decide whether former Senator Rick Santorum will appear on the state’s May primary ballot. “I can be impartial,” Dumezich told the Indianapolis Star on Monday. “It doesn’t present a problem for me. Of course, if someone wants to argue [that he should step aside] I’d listen to it.”

Maine: Pressure mounting for GOP caucus reconsideration | Bangor Daily News

Pressure is mounting on the Maine Republican Party to reconsider its weekend declaration that Mitt Romney won the state’s caucuses, at least until all votes have been counted. The Maine GOP announced Saturday that Romney narrowly edged Ron Paul, 39 percent to 36 percent, in a non-binding presidential preference poll taken during the caucuses. The margin was fewer than 200 votes. A number of communities were not included in that poll because they had not held their caucuses by the deadline spelled out by the state party.

Maine: Ron Paul isn’t going to ask for Maine recount | USAToday

Ron Paul’s national campaign chairman says the GOP presidential candidate isn’t going to press for a recount in the Maine caucuses. Jesse Benton e-mailed to say that a recount is “irrelevant” because the Paul campaign believes the Texas congressman will end up with a “strong majority” of Maine’s 24 delegates when the dust settles over the caucus votes.  The Bangor Daily News reported Tuesday that the pressure is on for the state Republican Party to “reconsider” its declaration that Mitt Romney won the GOP caucuses when votes were announced Feb. 11.

Minnesota: Voter ID to deter fraud? Prove it, ACLU says |

The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota offered a $1,000 reward Monday to anyone who can prove a case in which someone in the state has been charged or convicted of impersonating a voter. State ACLU Executive Director Charles Samuelson said his organization put up the bounty to show a Republican-proposed constitutional amendment to require voters to show photo identification at the polls is not needed. Samuelson said ACLU attorneys have not been able to find a single case of voter impersonation in the past 10 years.

Minnesota: Voter ID measure passes first state Minnesota Senate committee | – The Minnesota Daily

A state Senate committee passed legislation Wednesday that would allow voters to decide the voter ID debate. If added to the November ballot and approved by voters, the state constitutional amendment would require voters to show photo identification at the polls. The amendment passed the Local Government and Elections Committee along party lines 8-6 — Republican supporters claimed it would prevent voter fraud, while opponents said it would make it harder for some people to vote. It will move to the Senate State Government Innovation and Veterans Committee.

Editorials: Montana and the Supreme Court |

When the Montana Supreme Court upheld the state’s 1912 Corrupt Practices Act in December, the majority opinion described the lead plaintiff challenging the law, Western Tradition Partnership, as “a conduit of funds for persons and entities including corporations who want to spend money anonymously to influence Montana elections.” In upholding the law, the court ruled that the United States Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which struck down bans on campaign spending by corporations and unions, did not apply because the Montana law was tailored to meet a compelling state interest and any burden on speech was minimal.

Pennsylvania: GOP Leaders Threaten to Move Primary Date | Roll Call

Chaos over the state legislative redistricting maps might delay Pennsylvania’s April 24 primary — a move that would effect Congressional and presidential races, too. A later primary would give the Keystone State less prominence on the presidential nominating calendar, as well as influence several House contests, including the high-profile primary between Democratic Reps. Jason Altmire and Mark Critz in the redrawn 12th district.

Texas: April primaries ruled out in Texas | Star Telegram

The chances of Texas voters having much influence in the Republican presidential race faded Tuesday after a panel of federal judges acknowledged that the state’s deep divisions over political maps had made it nearly impossible to preserve an April primary. Texas was originally scheduled to be a part of next month’s slate of Super Tuesday primaries, but the redistricting clash forced the state to reschedule its contest to April 3. With that date now all but dead, too, elections workers who squeezed into a packed San Antonio courtroom Tuesday advocated a new date of May 22, which could be long after Republicans settle on a nominee to face President Barack Obama.

Texas: Partial deal reached in Texas redistricting case | The Statesman

The Texas attorney general’s office and a coalition of minority groups announced a deal Wednesday on one of three disputed electoral maps, a step forward in resolving when Texas will hold its primary elections. Texas holds the country’s second largest number of delegates in the presidential race, but is unlikely to influence the Republican nomination because a dispute over the state’s political maps has pushed back the primary, originally scheduled to be part of next month’s Super Tuesday contests. Election administrators told a three-judge panel that the soonest reasonable date now is May 22.

Virginia: Voter ID Bill A Solution In Search Of A Problem | TPM

There are no reports of anyone ever signing an affidavit claiming they were another person in order to vote in Virginia. But that isn’t stopping Republican Virginia Del. Mark Cole from pushing legislation that would prevent such a scheme from taking place. His bill — which would make voters who lack an accepted form of identification cast provisional ballots — has passed the House. It’s raised the ire of Virginia Democrats who say it’s just one in a line of legislative measures proposed by Republicans in states across the country who are trying to suppress Democratic turnout.

Australia: Automatic voter registration up for vote in Australia | Sydney Morning Herald

About 1.6 million people who are eligible to vote but have not enrolled may soon find themselves signed up after the government introduced a bill yesterday to allow automatic enrolment. The bill, which will be opposed by the Coalition, will enable the Australian Electoral Commission to use ”trusted sources” such as driver’s licence databases or school-leaver records to identify eligible voters and enrol them. Once identified, an eligible voter would receive a letter from the commission asking them to confirm their address. They would then be enrolled and compelled to vote under Australia’s compulsory voting laws.

Egypt: Voting begins for second round of Shura Council elections | Egypt Independent

The second round of elections for Egypt’s upper house, the Shura Council, began Tuesday. The end of this round, after runoffs, will mark the official conclusion of polling for Egypt’s first post-Hosni Mubarak Parliament, for which elections began in late November last year. Polling will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday in 14 governorates: Aswan, Beheira, Beni Suef, Giza, Ismailia, Kafr al-Sheikh, Luxor, Matrouh, Minya, Port Said, Qalyubiya, Sharqiya, Sohag and Suez.

Kosovo: Kosovo Serbs hold referendum on Pristina government | Reuters

Ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo voted Tuesday in a referendum on whether to recognize the government in Pristina, which they have ignored since Serbia’s former province became independent in 2008. Kosovo is 90 percent ethnic Albanian. Serbs dominate in a small swathe of the north bordering Serbia and pledge allegiance to Belgrade. They have so far resisted efforts by the Kosovo government to extend its authority there. The result of the two-day referendum is expected on February 19. The decision will have little practical impact but could further stoke ethnic tensions.

Latvia: Latvia vote poses question on Russian as EU language |

A referendum on making Russian an official language in Latvia has raised the dim possibility of it also becoming an official language of the EU. The country’s Central Election Commission (CEC) itself predicts the poll, on 18 February, will be a non-starter. A CEC spokeswoman, Kristine Berzina, told EUobserver on Tuesday (14 February) that “the level for the vote is so high it will never happen.” According to the rules, half of all eligible voters in Latvia – 1.5 million people – must turn out in order to make a quorum, and half of all 1.5 million must vote Yes to get a positive result. Around one third of Latvians are Russian speakers. But in some rural communities the figure is 60 percent. If the bid comes through, it will put pressure on Riga to take steps at EU level.

India: EVMs must have ‘no-vote’ option: Citizens | The Times of India

During first two phases of Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, over 300 voters chose not to vote for any candidate and exercised the “Section 49-o” option available to them under Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961. However, lakhs of others who did not find any contestant “suitable” preferred to skip voting by staying at home. Citizens now want that ‘no-vote’ option must be available on Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) and number of such voters should be counted. During 2009 Lok Sabha (LS) and assembly polls, many exercised the Section 49-o They, however, had to face nightmares at polling booths as officers were completely unaware of this provision.

Pakistan: Increasing voter pool: ECP grants overseas Pakistanis voting rights | The Express Tribune

Voting rights were finally granted by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to 3.7 million overseas Pakistanis on Tuesday. “The decision will pave the way for overseas Pakistanis to actively take part in national politics,” observed ECP Secretary Ishtiak Ahmed Khan. The move was immediately praised by parties across the political spectrum. Overseas Pakistanis Minister Farooq Sattar said, “This decision will enable them to become a part of Parliament, as they are sending over $11 billion in remittances (to Pakistan) per annum”. They should also be given representation on reserved seats in the national and provincial assemblies, he added. “The ECP’s move is a historic step for strengthening democracy by involving more and more people in electoral process,” observed Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Mushahidullah Khan.