Iran: Iran election results show Ahmadinejad rivals making gains | The National

Conservative rivals of Iran’s hardline president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, were leading the race for seats in parliament, according to initial results yesterday from Friday’s elections that the reformist movement shunned as a sham. The trend, if confirmed by final official results, will leave the president facing a more hostile house during his remaining 18 months in office. Analysts had predicted a strong showing by Mr Ahmadinejad’s hardline opponents. They are loyal to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has been locked in a power struggle with the unruly president he once championed. Mr Ahmadinejad had hoped a robust performance by his candidates would give him a political lifeline and a say in who succeeds him in the presidential election next year when his second term ends.

National: ‘Super PACs,’ Not Campaigns, Do Bulk of Ad Spending |

The crucial role the “super PAC” now plays in modern presidential politics has been on vivid display in the week before the Super Tuesday primaries, as these outside groups have all outspent the campaigns and become their de facto advertising arms. The super PACs supporting Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have poured nearly $4 million into advertising in Ohio ahead of the primary next week, accounting for most of the spending on commercials there in what has become an overwhelmingly negative contest. Beyond Ohio the story is the same. The money spent by super PACs, another $8 million, continues to outpace what candidates themselves are willing and able to spend. Mr. Romney, whose campaign spent almost three times as much as it brought in during January, has chosen not to advertise in any Super Tuesday state but Ohio. He has committed about $1.2 million to advertising there, according to figures provided by media strategists.

National: Internet voting systems too insecure, researcher warns | Computerworld

Internet voting systems are inherently insecure and should not be allowed in the upcoming general elections, a noted security researcher said at the RSA Conference 2012 being held here this week. David Jefferson, a computer scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories and chairman of the election watchdog group Verified Voting, called on election officials around the country to drop plans to allow an estimated 3.5 million voters to cast their ballots over the Internet in this year’s general elections. In an interview with Computerworld on Wednesday, Jefferson warned that the systems that enable such voting are far too insecure to be trusted and should be jettisoned altogether. Jefferson is scheduled to participate in a panel discussion on the topic at the RSA conference on Thursday. Also on the panel are noted cryptographer and security guru Ron Rivest, who is the “R” in RSA, and Alex Halderman, an academic whose research on security vulnerabilities in e-voting systems prompted elections officials in Washington to drop plans to use an e-voting system in 2010. “There’s a wave of interest across the country, mostly among election officials and one agency of the [Department of Defense], to offer Internet voting” to overseas citizens and members of the military, Jefferson said. “From a security point of view, it is an insane thing to do.”

Voting Blogs: Election Stunts: Just Because You Can(ine) Doesn’t Make It Right | Election Academy

recent story out of New Mexico has made Buddy, pictured above, the latest (would-be) four-legged cautionary tale about the nation’s registration system. Buddy’s owner was walking across campus a while back at the University of New Mexico when he saw a voter registration booth. He said he decided to “test” the system by submitting an application for Buddy using a fake birth date and Social Security number. A short time later, he had a voter registration card for Buddy in hand – and took his story to the media to “expose” the flaws in the state’s election system, saying “[t]hey should verify. Somebody should have verified this information and somebody should have come out and took a look at exactly who it was.” Let’s go ahead and set aside this notion of in-person followup visits – can you imagine this person’s reaction had he received such a visit in response to a legitimate application? – and focus instead on this notion of “testing” the system to expose its perceived flaws.

Editorials: Ranked-Choice Ballot Upholds Voter Rights | Richie and Gronke/Roll Call

Once Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman dropped out of the Republican presidential nomination contest, their South Carolina and Florida backers who cast ballots early, including many military voters living overseas, essentially wasted their votes. They voted for candidates who didn’t want their support. Florida and South Carolina voters are not alone. Several upcoming primary states allow “no excuse required” absentee voting, meaning a far higher percentage of votes are now cast early. More than a quarter of Florida’s 400,000 absentee ballots had already been returned before Perry and Huntsman withdrew, and in 2008 nearly two-thirds of all Tennessee ballots were cast early. If you add in other states, more than a million voters have received ballots with the names of Perry, Huntsman and fellow candidate dropouts Herman Cain and Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.). Although many “early voters” cast ballots close to Election Day, that option isn’t available to service personnel whose ballot may need to traverse 10,000 miles.

Florida: Are shark attacks more common than voter fraud in Florida? | PolitiFact Florida

On March 1, 2012, Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert moved in on Florida’s controversial new election law for a recurring segment, “People Who Are Destroying America.” The target: a Panhandle teacher named Dawn Quarles, who turned in 76 voter registration forms from her students beyond the state’s new 48-hour deadline. She could face a $1,000 fine. One of the people Colbert interviewed for his sarcastic report is Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida. Florida officials claimed they needed to pass the law to prevent voter fraud, but these cases are actually pretty rare, he said. “There are probably a larger number of shark attacks in Florida than there are cases of voter fraud,” he said. We couldn’t resist diving in: Are there more shark attacks than cases of voter fraud in Florida?

Florida: DOJ Opposes Florida Laws On Voter Registration Groups, Early Voting | TPM

The Justice Department objected late Friday to new provisions of Florida election law which place strict regulations on third-party voter registration groups and cut down on the early voting period. DOJ alleged in a court filing that Florida was unable to prove the new provisions were not discriminatory under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. “As to the third-party voter registration and early voting changes enacted… respectively, the United States’ position is that the State has not met its burden, on behalf of its covered counties, that the two sets of proposed voting changes are entitled to preclearance under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act,” according to a court filing.

Michigan: Santorum camp accuses Michigan GOP of ‘political thuggery’ in awarding delegates to Romney | The Washington Post

Presidential candidate Rick Santorum’s campaign is accusing Michigan Republicans of engaging in “political thuggery” for awarding the state’s two at-large delegates to Mitt Romney (R) instead of dividing Republican presidential candidates (L-R) former U.S. senator Rick Santorum (Pa.) and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. (JESSICA RINALDI – Reuters) them evenly between both candidates. Romney won Tuesday’s Republican presidential primary in the Wolverine State with 41 percent to Santorum’s 38 percent. Each candidate won 7 of the state’s 14 congressional districts, evenly splitting the 28 of Michigan’s national convention delegates that are awarded winner-take-all by district. There has been confusion over how the remaining two at-large delegates were to be awarded. Originally, the state GOP had announced that those two delegates would be allocated proportionally based on the statewide vote – meaning Romney and Santorum would each get one. But the state Republican Party’s credentials committee voted Wednesday night to award both delegates to Romney, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Ohio: Rick Santorum’s Ohio Delegate Problems Pile Up | ABC News

Even if Rick Santorum wins Ohio on Super Tuesday, he won’t be able to claim all of its delegates. In fact, he is at risk of forfeiting more than one-quarter of them. In three of the state’s 16 congressional districts, including two that are near Ohio’s border with Pennsylvania, Santorum will lose any delegates he might have won because his campaign failed to meet the state’s eligibility requirements months ago. Those three districts alone take 9 delegates out of a total of 66 off the table for Santorum. But it gets worse: Nine more Ohio delegates may also be in jeopardy. Sources say that in six other congressional districts — the third, fourth, eighth, tenth, twelfth and sixteenth — Santorum submitted fewer names than required to be eligible for all three delegates up-for-grabs in each district. That means even if he wins in those places, he might not be able to receive the full contingent of delegates.

Wisconsin: Government Accountability Board seeks more time to review Walker recall petitions | Journal Sentinel

State election officials say they likely will need extra time to review recall signatures even though Gov. Scott Walker has said he will not challenge the petitions against him – a move that would give Walker more time to raise unlimited sums of money. Meanwhile, Republican legislators groused Wednesday that the Government Accountability Board was not doing a thorough enough analysis of the signatures even as it was asking them for $975,000 to do its work. “It just seems like they are doing the bare minimum but not enough to instill confidence in the system,” said Rep. Robin Vos (R-Rochester), co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee.

Editorials: A powerful argument for blocking Wisconsin’s voter ID law | Cap Times

University of Wisconsin political scientist Ken Mayer is one of the most serious and responsible analysts of the politics of the state. Widely respected as fair player, whose work is well regarded by members of both major political parties, Mayer is someone conservatives and liberals listen to for reasoned comment on the political processes of the state. So when Mayer talks about the challenges raised by Wisconsin’s new voter ID law, we should all take him seriously. In testimony this week before Dane County Circuit Court Judge David Flanagan, Mayer estimated that roughly 220,000 potential voters would be unable to cast ballots in coming elections because of the new voter identification measure.

Texas: Minority groups: New voting maps ‘total devastation for the Latino community across Texas’ | Associated Press

Disheartened and angry over the latest Texas voting maps handed down by federal judges, Democrats and minority rights groups looked Wednesday to a separate court in Washington as their last likely hope of cutting deeper into a solid Republican majority in the 2012 elections. The GOP stands poised to hardly lose any power under the latest Texas congressional and state House maps delivered this week by a San Antonio federal court, which confronted how the state’s political boundaries should be changed with more than 3 million new Hispanic residents.

Canada: Storm brews in Canada over election ‘robocalls’ | AFP

A probe into “robocalls” that misdirected Canadian voters to fake polling stations during last year’s election, won by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Tories, is casting suspicion on the results. It is not yet clear who was behind the automated telephone calls to voters in the town of Guelph, Ontario in spring 2011 that reportedly led to a chaotic scene at a polling station, and likely led some to give up on voting. The opposition parties, whose supporters were apparently targeted, pointed fingers at the Conservatives, but the Conservatives denied any involvement while hitting back at what they claimed was a “smear campaign.” Elections Canada, after being inundated with complaints, is now investigating the rogue calls, aided by the federal police, as new allegations are raised daily. At a press conference on Tuesday, outspoken New Democratic Party MP Pat Martin described the misleading pre-recorded calls claiming to be from Elections Canada as a “heinous affront to democracy.” “How is this different from a bunch of goons with clubs blocking the door to a voter station,” he said.

El Salvador: Parties Prepare Campaign Closing | Prensa Latina

El Salvador’s political parties prepare on Friday the closing of their campaigns when there are just eight days to the municipal and legislative elections on Sunday 11. The first party to announce their activities was the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), which will hold this weekend a caravan that will travel throughout the country. Previously, the general secretary of the FMLN, Medardo Gonzalez said the party is working to expand the number of its deputies in the Legislative Assembly, in which it has 35 seats of 84.

Canada: Government shifts blame in robo-call scandal | AFP

Elections Canada said Friday it is investigating more than 31,000 complaints of alleged dirty tricks during last year’s election won by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Tories. The “high volume” of complaints regarding “robocalls” that misdirected voters to fake polling stations for the May 2, 2011 election is 100 times more than the elections watchdog usually receives for any Canadian ballot. “Elections Canada is reviewing these and will take action as appropriate,” spokesman John Enright said in an email.

Iran: Conservatives contest poll for parliament | BBC News

Voting in Iran’s parliamentary election has been extended by two hours because of a high turnout, state media report. It is the first poll since mass opposition protests were sparked by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed presidential election victory in 2009. The vote is widely viewed as a contest between his supporters and those of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The opposition Green Movement is not taking part. Its leaders have been under house arrest since February 2011.

Iran: High turnout reported in Iran for parliamentary elections | The Washington Post

Iranians voted Friday in parliamentary elections, the country’s first major ballot since the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009 led to months of anti-government protests. No disturbances are expected to follow the vote this time around. The key question Friday was how many of the more than 48 million eligible voters would go to the polls to elect 290 new legislators. Late in the day, state TV reported a preliminary turnout of 64.5 percent, and voting was extended by five hours. While it was difficult to verify turnout, with no independent monitors on the ground, several polling stations in Tehran were receiving a constant stream of voters. Results are expected Sunday for larger cities and Monday for rural areas.