Russia: Election ‘clearly skewed’ for Putin: OSCE | BBC

Russia’s presidential elections were “clearly skewed” in favour of the winner, Vladimir Putin, monitors with the Organization for Security and Co-operation (OSCE) have said. Preliminary results showed that Mr Putin, who is currently prime minister, won more than 63% of votes. There have been widespread claims of fraud and vote violations, and the OSCE said the result was “never in doubt”. Opposition groups have called for mass protests against Mr Putin’s win. In a statement, the OSCE said while all candidates had been able to campaign freely, there had been “serious problems” from the start, conditions were “clearly skewed in favour of one of the contestants, current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin”.

The Voting News Daily: Secret donors to ‘C4s’ playing behind-the-scenes politics, In Theory And Practice, Why Internet-Based Voting Is a Bad Idea

National: Secret donors to ‘C4s’ playing behind-the-scenes politics | There’s no mystery about why a business or industry group might be shy about how it spends money on election campaigns. Just ask department store chain Target. In 2010, Target, which had been known for its progressive employment policies, faced a customer and shareholder backlash after…

National: Secret donors to ‘C4s’ playing behind-the-scenes politics |

There’s no mystery about why a business or industry group might be shy about how it spends money on election campaigns. Just ask department store chain Target. In 2010, Target, which had been known for its progressive employment policies, faced a customer and shareholder backlash after it donated $150,000 to a pro-business PAC in Minnesota that was backing a gubernatorial candidate who opposed gay rights. Target eventually quelled the furor with a policy change prohibiting trade groups from using its contributions to intervene in elections, but it stopped short of disclosing all its political donations. Yet had it made its Minnesota donation through a nonprofit organization known as a 501(c)4, it might have avoided all that hassle. That’s because such organizations don’t have to disclose who their donors are.

Voting Blogs: In Theory And Practice, Why Internet-Based Voting Is a Bad Idea | Slashdot

A few countries, like Estonia, have gone for internet-based voting in national elections in a big way, and many others (like Ireland and Canada) have experimented with it. For Americans, with a presidential election approaching later this year, it’s a timely issue: already, some states have come to allow at least certain forms of voting by internet. Proponents say online elections have compelling upsides, chief among them ease of participation. People who might not otherwise vote — in particular military personnel stationed abroad, but many others besides — are more and more reached by internet access. Online voting offers a way to keep the electoral process open to them. With online voting, too, there’s no worry about conventional absentee ballots being lost or delayed in the postal system, either before reaching the voter or on the way back to be counted. The downsides, though, are daunting. According to RSA panelists David Jefferson and J. Alex Halderman, in fact, they’re overwhelming. Speaking Thursday afternoon, the two laid out their case against e-voting.

National: FEC’s bad rap getting worse |

The rise of billionaire-driven super PACs that seem to take a loose view of the few rules they’re asked to follow has even late-night comics asking: Who’s in charge here? Meet the Federal Election Commission, the agency tasked with enforcing campaign finance law. This six-person panel has long been slow-moving and frequently divided, but this year its members have taken their reputation to new heights just as money emerges as the biggest legal issue of the season. The FEC routinely stalemates along party lines on the biggest questions it faces, such as whether members of Congress can appear in ads aired by a super PAC affiliated with Karl Rove or whether to write new rules requiring political advertisers to disclose more information — effectively leaving campaigns and super PACs to decide for themselves. When they do manage to reach bipartisan agreement, it’s on relatively small-bore questions.

National: In New Board Ruling, An Early Sign of Financial Trouble at Americans Elect | horizonr

One of the most salient criticisms of Americans Elect — a group that bills itself as seeking to “open up the political process” and “change politics as usual” — is its dogged refusal, using the legal shield of its status as a 501c4 corporation, to disclose the names of its financial backers. This matters, in part, because Americans Elect got off the ground with $20 million of seed money given by only 50-some anonymous donors. That’s 50 nameless investors ponying up an average of $400,000 apiece, although, in one rare case in which the name is known, Americans Elect founder and CEO Peter Ackerman has given at least $1.55 million and, according to Bloomberg — the news organization, not the draft Americans Elect presidential candidate — more than $5 million.

Alabama: Voter ID, immigration laws take center stage as demonstrators re-enact Selma-Montgomery march | The Washington Post

It won’t just be about history when crowds cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge this weekend and recreate the famous civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery — it will be about targeting Alabama’s toughest-in-the-nation immigration laws and its new voter ID requirements. Organizers expect thousands to participate in the crossing of the Selma bridge for the 47th anniversary of the 1965 incident when peaceful demonstrators were attacked by police in what became known as “Bloody Sunday.” The violence helped spark passage of the Voting Rights Act. They say hundreds plan to make the 50-mile march between Selma and Montgomery over the next week.

District of Columbia: Hackers Elect Futurama’s Bender to the Washington DC School Board | PCWorld

Electronic voting has earned a pretty bad reputation for being insecure and completely unreliable. Well, get ready to add another entry to e-voting’s list of woes. One Bender Bending Rodríguez was elected to the 2010 school board in Washington DC. A team of hackers from the University of Michigan got Bender elected as a write-in candidate who stole every vote from the real candidates. Bender, of course, is a cartoon character from the TV series Futurama. This was not some nefarious attack from a group of rogue hackers: The DC school board actually dared hackers to crack its new Web-based absentee voting system four days ahead of the real election. University of Michigan professor Alexander Halderman, along with two graduate students, did the deed within a few hours.

Minnesota: Voter ID legislation in Minnesota seen widely elsewhere |

A proposed constitutional amendment to require a photo ID for Minnesota voters is part of a surge of similar legislation nationwide, much of it springing from a conservative organization that’s well-known to politicians but operates largely out of public view. Six states enacted a strict photo ID requirement last year, and this year lawmakers in 31 other states are considering it. Minnesota’s Republican-controlled Legislature actually passed such a requirement last year but Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed it — prompting its backers to seek an amendment on the November ballot that Dayton cannot block. The dispute over voter ID is Exchange deeply partisan. While Republicans cast it as a common-sense requirement that foils voter fraud, many Democrats say it would make voting more difficult for the poor, minorities, the elderly and disabled — constituencies that often favor them.

Pennsylvania: Judge expects to decide on Monday if Altmire can stay on ballot | Post Gazette

A Commonwealth Court judge is expected to make a ruling Monday that may determine whether U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire, D-McCandless, will make the ballot for a fourth term. Supporters of his Democratic primary opponent in the 12th District race, U.S. Rep. Mark Critz of Johnstown, filed legal objections to Mr. Altmire’s nominating petitions, saying many were circulated by a 23-year-old staffer who lives in Shadyside, outside the district boundaries. Over several hours of testimony during a hearing Friday that touched on Twitter posts, Steelers games and car payments, the campaign drew close to rejecting so many of Mr. Altmire’s nominating signatures that he could be tossed off the April 24 primary ballot.

Washington: Local Washington GOP apologizes for turning 1,500 away from caucuses in Kennewick | Tri-City Herald

About 1,500 people were turned away from pooled Benton County caucuses in Kennewick by event organizers after rooms at the Three Rivers Convention Center reached capacity this morning. Some potential caucus voters said they arrived at 9 a.m. to find the large hallways at the convention center packed to the rafters and were told no more people could enter the caucus rooms. Ray Swenson, a Richland lawyer, criticized local GOP officials for poor organization and said the results today should be invalidated. “I think it’s illegal,” Swenson shouted to a gathered crowd, many of whom were filming him with cell phone cameras. “The Republican party leadership is taking away our freedom.”

Australia: Western Australian Electoral Commission to develop telephone voting system | Techworld

The WA Electoral Commission (WAEC) has commenced work on a telephone-based voting system after the funding for its internet voting system was withdrawn by the Federal Government. WAEC IT manager, Desmond Chenik, told Computerworld Australia the full internet voting system it was scheduled to develop this year, for the blind and vision impaired along with the armed forces, had been put on hold after several months of work. According to Chenik, the WAEC has put in another request with the government for the funding but even if the request is approved later this year, the internet-based system would not be ready in time for the next state election in March 2013 (the state now has fixed four year election periods).

Canada: Canadian Conservatives Acknowledge Vote Suppression in 2011 |

Canada’s Conservative government said Saturday there appeared to have been deliberate and illegal efforts to suppress votes in one constituency during last year’s national election, though a spokesman didn’t say whether the party now thought members, or those working for them, were responsible. Canada’s election agency is probing allegations that some Canadian voters were misled about the location of polling places by automated phone calls, or robocalls, during an election in May 2011. Opposition politicians have accused the Conservatives of an orchestrated attempt at suppressing votes, a charge the party has denied. The comments by Dean Del Mastro, a Conservative legislator and the main government spokesman for the controversy, marked the first time the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper has acknowledged there may have been specific wrongdoing.

Canada: Tory election official Guy Giorno wants ‘full weight of law’ applied against those responsible for robo-cal|s |

The Conservative Party campaign co-chair agrees with a former top Elections Canada official on one thing — the courts should throw the book at whoever is behind calls to deliberately mislead voters in the 2011 election. Lawyer Guy Giorno, Stephen Harper’s former chief of staff now back in the private sector, told CTV’s Question Period that “suppression of vote is a despicable, reprehensible practice and everybody ought to condemn it. “So I wish Godspeed to Elections Canada and the RCMP investigators. We want them to get to the bottom of this and let’s hope the full weight of the law is applied to any and all.”

Iran: Iran claims high turnout in elections – but there’s no way to verify |

High turnout was everything that mattered for the Iranian leaders in parliamentary election on Friday. They were desperate to portray a country united against western pressure, predicted high turnout and announced more than 64% voted in the election, higher than 57% parliamentary vote in 2008. In absence of independent observers and opinion polls, it is impossible to say whether the official figures are correct. The opposition had largely boycotted the vote and was quick to find contradictory signs. They pointed to a gaffe made on live TV by Seyed Solat Mortazavi, the head of election centre at the interior ministry. On state television, Mortazavi quoted the interior minister, Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar, as saying that the turnout was almost 34%, but instantly corrected to 64%. The other blunder came from the Mehr news agency, which had reported 373,000 people eligible for voting in the province of Ilam. The same agency reported 380,000 had voted there. Mehr later amended the figure on its website to 280,000.

Iran: Khamenei loyalists trounce Ahmadinejad in Iran election | JPost

Loyalists of Iran’s paramount clerical leader have won over 75 percent of seats in parliamentary elections, a near-complete count showed, largely reducing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to a lame duck in a contest between conservative hardline factions. The outcome of Friday’s vote, largely shunned by reformists whose leaders are under house arrest, will have no major impact on Iran’s foreign policy including its nuclear dispute with the West. But it will give Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s camp a significant edge in the 2013 presidential election. The widespread defeat of Ahmadinejad’s supporters was likely to erode the authority of the president, under fire from Khamenei’s allies for challenging the utmost authority of the supreme leader in Iran’s multi-layered ruling hierarchy.

Russia: Putin set to reclaim the Kremlin in Russian vote | The Star

Vladimir Putin is almost certain to win a third presidential term in an election that began on Sunday in Russia’s far east, though opponents have challenged the legitimacy of a vote they say is skewed in his favor. Putin’s aides hope a strong win will take the sting out of an urban protest movement that casts the former KGB spy as an authoritarian leader who rules by allowing a corrupt elite to siphon off the wealth from the world’s biggest energy producer. In interviews from the Arctic to the shores of the Pacific Ocean, Russians gave a mixed picture: some expressed anger at being offered no real choice while others said Putin had proved he was a leader who could rule Russia.

Russia: Voting Fraud Allegations Mar Putin’s Win | Huffington Post

A few days before Russia’s presidential election, Sergei Smirnov received a phone call from a man who called himself Mikhail and told him the terms of the deal: you will vote for Vladimir Putin four times and receive 2,000 roubles ($70) in return. The sum was promised to dozens of other young men and women who met on Sunday outside a popular fast food joint on the southwest fringe of Moscow, waiting to be taken to various polling stations in the province that rings the capital. Smirnov, a journalist, said he found the group a few weeks prior to the election through a friend. Mikhail, whom he met at Moscow’s Yugo-Zapadnaya (Southwest) metro station on Sunday morning, gave him final instructions. “He said we should vote for Vladimir Putin, photograph the ballot, and send him the photograph by phone,” Smirnov said.

Russia: Complaints in Russian election mount | AP

Opposition leaders and Russian observers say they are seeing widespread violations in elections that are expected to return Vladimir Putin to the Kremlin. Putin, who was president in 2000-2008, is expected to easily win the Sunday election against four challengers. But if credible evidence of vote manipulation emerges, it would bolster the determination of opposition forces to continue the unprecedented wave of protests that arose in December. Lilia Shibanova of the independent elections watchdog agency Golos said her organization is receiving reports of so-called “carousel voting,” in which busloads of voters are driven around to cast ballots multiple times. Mikhail Kasyanov, who was Putin’s first prime minister and later went into opposition, said “These elections are not free … we will not recognize the president as legitimate.”