Verified Voting Blog: Verified Voting Comments on Proposed Changes to Colorado Election Rule 43

On February 14, 2012, Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler held a hearing on proposed changes to existing regulations governing county procedures for the security of ballots, voting equipment, and other election materials.  The public was invited to comment.  Verified Voting reviewed the proposed rules changes (which can be found here) and made the following comment, highlighting concerns about changes to chain procedures of custody of ballots and equipment. Submitted February 21, 2012

Thank you for this opportunity to comment upon proposed revisions to Colorado Election Rules governing county procedures for securing election equipment and materials. Verified Voting is a national nonpartisan organization working to safeguard elections in the digital age. We seek to promote the deployment of election systems and practices that vouchsafe the accessibility, reliability, and transparency of public elections. We believe that the proposed revision contains several positive changes, as well as some that cause concern, or call for more clarity.

The Voting News Daily: Super Tuesday brings super PAC spending milestone, I.R.S. Scrutiny of Political Groups Stirs Harassment Claim

National: Super Tuesday brings super PAC spending milestone | iWatch News by The Center for Public Integrity Heading into Super Tuesday, spending by super PACs aligned with presidential candidates has surpassed spending by all super PACs in the 2010 mid-term election. To date, super PACs aligned with one of the 2012 White House hopefuls have spent…

National: Super Tuesday brings super PAC spending milestone | iWatch News

Heading into Super Tuesday, spending by super PACs aligned with presidential candidates has surpassed spending by all super PACs in the 2010 mid-term election. To date, super PACs aligned with one of the 2012 White House hopefuls have spent more than $66 million, an iWatch News analysis of data filed with the Federal Election Commission has found. Notably, the pro-Mitt Romney super PAC “Restore Our Future” accounts for almost 50 percent of this spending. The super PAC has spent more than $32 million so far this election, nearly all of it on ads bashing his opponents. That’s nearly twice as much as the $16 million spent by pro-Newt Gingrich “Winning Our Future.” And it’s roughly six times as much as the $5.3 million spent by the pro-Rick Santorum “Red, White and Blue Fund.”

National: I.R.S. Scrutiny of Political Groups Stirs Harassment Claim |

The Internal Revenue Service is caught in an election-year struggle between Democratic lawmakers pressing for a crackdown on nonprofit political groups and conservative organizations accusing the tax agency of conducting a politically charged witch hunt. In recent weeks, the I.R.S. has sent dozens of detailed questionnaires to Tea Party organizations applying for nonprofit tax status, demanding to know their political leanings and activities. The agency plans this year to press existing nonprofits like American Crossroads, on the Republican side, and Priorities USA, on the Democratic side, to justify their tax-protected status as “social welfare” organizations, a status that many tax professionals believe is being badly abused. Senate Democrats are readying a fresh legislative push to demand that such groups disclose their donors and attach disclaimers to their political advertising identifying the advertisement’s primary funders. Tax experts are also raising concerns that corporate donors to “super PACs” may be deducting their contributions as business expenses.

Voting Blogs: The Details On How To Elect Futurama’s Bender To Whatever Election Is Using Online Voting | Techdirt

Back in October of 2010, we wrote about how some “hackers” had broken into a test of the Washington DC e-voting system, and had managed to have the system play the University of Michigan “fight song” every time people voted — University of Michigan being where the researchers (led by e-voting security expert J. Alex Halderman) were from. A day later, we discussed some more details of the hack, noting how just a tiny vulnerability could take down the integrity of the entire system.

Voting Blogs: Former U.S. Marine Turned Away From Tennessee Poll For Refusing to Present Photo ID Under New GOP Law | BradBlog

55-year old former U.S. Marine Tim Thompson was turned away from the polls today, Super Tuesday 2012, in the state of Tennessee, after refusing to present a photo ID before voting, as required by a new law recently passed by Republicans. Thompson was documented by videographers attempting to cast his vote under the new polling place Photo ID restrictions instituted by TN’s Republican-majority legislature and signed into law last year by the state’s Republican Gov. Bill Haslam.

Editorials: Crazy Idea: Laws To Encourage Voting | American Prospect

Voter ID laws have been all the rage around the country, with conservative lawmakers pushing to make it harder to vote, often by requiring some form of government-issued photo identification. The goal, at least according to rhetoric, is to keep the process safe from fraud—despite there being no real evidence of in-person voter fraud, the only kind such laws would actually prevent. In the meantime, states struggle with low-turnout rates and sometimes low registration rates. In Texas, which recently passed one of the more stringent ID requirements, residents vote at among the lowest rates in the country.  All of which makes Connecticut’s current voting debate somewhat shocking by comparison. The secretary of state has taken the lead in proposing measures to increase voter turnout by—get this—making it easier to vote. Two proposals make it easier to register by offering same-day registration for those who show up on Election Day and creating an online voter registration system so people can do it from home. Another measure would increasing penalties for voter intimidation. According to officials, the efforts are much-needed to increase turnout.

Wisconsin: Judge bars Wisconsin voter ID law temporarily | Journal Sentinel

A Dane County judge has granted a temporary injunction against Wisconsin’s new voter identification law, which he called “the single most restrictive voter eligibility law” in the country. Circuit Judge David Flanagan’s ruling Tuesday means the voter ID requirement would not apply for the April 3 presidential primary and local general election. A spokesman for Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said the state likely would appeal, and other state election officials pointed out that other aspects of the law will remain in effect, such as having to sign a poll list.

Wisconsin: Judge grants temporary injunction barring enforcement of Wisconsin voter ID law in April election | Wisconsin State Journal

A Dane County judge on Tuesday barred the enforcement of the state photo ID law at polling places during the general election on April 3, calling it an “extremely broad and largely needless” impairment of the right to vote. Circuit Judge David Flanagan said the Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP and Voces de la Frontera had demonstrated that their lawsuit against Gov. Scott Walker and the state Government Accountability Board would probably succeed on its merits and had demonstrated the likelihood of irreparable harm if the photo ID law is allowed to stand. (Read the injunction) But hours after news of Flanagan’s ruling broke, conservative activists began circulating a link that showed that Flanagan had signed a petition to recall Walker. (See the recall petition)

Canada: Elections Canada expands probe into fraudulent messages in 2011 vote |

Elections Canada has extended its probe of phony election calls to include yet another Ontario riding as the watchdog agency launches an online complaint form to help field reports from concerned voters. Canadians who think “fraudulent calls interfered with their right to vote, or who have information about such calls” are being asked to pass along what they know to elections investigators, it says. Elections Canada has enlarged its “inquiry” centre to handle the high volume of phone calls and email traffic, agency spokesperson Diane Benson said. The agency has been flooded with reports from voters — 31,000 by last Friday — about harassing or misleading phone calls in the 2011 federal election.

East Timor: Waiting for the top-two among 13 in Timor Leste election | The Jakarta Post

Thirteen registered candidates will contest Timor Leste’s presidential election on March 17 and the campaign season just began last week. Despite the lack of surveys to measure the chances of potential candidates, four figures are strongly predicted to lead the pack including the incumbent, Jose Manuel Ramos-Horta, head of the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor (Fretilin); Francisco Lu-Olo Guterres, head of the Democratic Party (PD); Fernando Lasama de Araujo; and former armed forces chief Gen. Taur Matan Ruak. Deputy Prime Minister Jose Luis Guterres (Lu Gu), a Fretilin powerbroker with his new party, Frenti-Mudanca (Fretilin-reformist), may have been included. The second-largest party in 2007, the National Reconstruction Congress of Timor Leste (CNRT), led by Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao, did not name its candidate, however. Xanana, currently the prime minister, and his rival Mari bin Amude Alkatiri (Fretilin’s secretary-general) will focus on the legislative election, which will be held in June 2012.

El Salvador: Local Elections in El Salvador May Test FMLN Legislative Plan | AS-COA

On March 11, El Salvador will hold elections for the country’s legislature and mayors in a test for the former guerrilla-group-turned-governing-party, the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN). In 2009, the FMLN won the presidency with the victory of President Mauricio Funes, as well as 35 of 84 congressional seats. This ended the two-decade-long rule of the conservative Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) following the civil war from 1980 to 1992. In the last election, the FMLN also won 96 out of 262 municipalities, but lost the vital mayoralty of San Salvador, which ARENA hopes to keep this year. In this election, the FMLN hopes to win at least 43 seats in order to have a congressional supermajority, but faces fractures within the party, as well as discontent among its base. The country’s legislative agenda could be at stake as the FMLN tries to push through reforms—and ARENA hopes to stop them.

Iran: Some Iran parliament candidates to face second round of voting | The Washington Post

Iran’s interior minister on Monday announced a second round of parliamentary elections in April in several key cities, including the capital, after candidates in a number of consituencies failed to reach the necessary vote threshhold to be elected. Under the Iranian electoral system, a candidate must receive at least 25 percent of the votes to be elected. In Tehran, the largest constituency in Iran, only five of 30 pre-selected candidates received enough votes. Several seats in large cities such as Mashhad, Shiraz and Abadan also remained undecided. A date for the second round has not yet been set.

Papua New Guinea: We will not defer elections: Papua New Guinea PM | TVNZ

Papua New Guinea’s government will not try to defer national elections due in June, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill says, potentially closing the lid on calls from his deputy to suspend the poll. PNG’s parliament last month raised the idea of suspending the elections for up to 12 months so anti-fraud biometric voting systems could be installed, after it was revealed the electoral roll was only 60 per cent complete. Since then, Deputy Prime Minister Belden Namah has been a vocal advocate of putting off the elections.

Russia: Observers slam Russian vote as Putin declares victory |

Thousands of people in Moscow rallied for and against Vladimir Putin in separate rallies Monday after official election results showed the Russian prime minister handily winning back the presidency. International observers blasted the Sunday election, saying the outcome was never in doubt. Some foreign governments pledged to work with the new leader despite concerns about electoral violations. “The election has not been exemplary, to say the least,” said French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe. With more than 99% of the votes counted, Putin received 63.75% of the vote, easily avoiding a runoff in a field of five candidates.

Russia: Fraudulent Votes for Putin Abound in Chechnya – 107% turnout in one precinct |

While there were charges of fraud in Russia’s presidential election Sunday, officials throughout most of the country appeared to be on notice to avoid the appearance of cheating in obvious ways like ballot stuffing. But some here seem not to have gotten the memo. Deyeshi Dautmerzayeva has lived with her son’s family since he disappeared in 2003, presumably at the hands of the Russians. Mrs. Daudmerzayeva said she voted for Vladimir V. Putin because she believes he knows what happened to her relatives. At Precinct 451, members of the local electoral commission set about counting a pile of glistening white ballots. “Putin, Putin, Putin,” they muttered. “Good, more Putin.” Vladimir V. Putin did well in Chechnya, a place that he virtually declared war on after becoming president in 1999, and whose people have suffered grievous human rights abuses at the hands of Russian security forces. The final tally: Putin, 1,482 votes; Gennady A. Zyuganov, the Communist Party leader, one vote.