National: Why Online Voting Isn’t So Safe – FBI investigating student who hacked college election | Mobiledia

A California student tried to win a college government election by hacking into classmates’ accounts, which may lead to federal charges and increased privacy for not only colleges, but national and state elections as well. Matt Weaver, a junior, ran for student government president at California State San Marcos, located near San Diego, when school officials said he hacked into a computer and stole 700 voters’ passwords and identifications to alter the polling results. School police detained and released Weaver, but have yet charge him for the accusations, which include unlawful access to a computer, election fraud and identity theft. The FBI, which usually isn’t interested in the college student government results, is investigating Weaver’s hacking skills. School officials said they caught Weaver working on a school computer, and in possession of a device, used to steal passwords. … Federal authorities are also examining Weaver’s activities to decide if such hacking may interfere with state or national elections.

Editorials: A vote for universal registration | The Washington Post

I recently visited Russia, where a mild-mannered historian from the city of Astrakhan, Oleg Shein, is on a hunger strike protesting a stolen mayoral election he believes he won. But as Russia starves for free and fair elections, Republicans across the United States are starving our democracy — and too few have noticed. And their furious assault on voting rights is no less destructive to democracy than the vote-rigging we deplore in Russia. Over the past year, Republican legislators in 34 states have proposed legislation that would drastically restrict voting for an estimated 5 million eligible voters. Seven states have passed laws requiring voters to show photo ID — which more than one in 10 Americans lacks — and dozens of others have eliminated early voting, disenfranchised ex-felons or limited the ability of civic organizations to register voters. The consequences are clear in Texas, for example, where you can now register to vote with a handgun license but not a college ID.

Editorials: Overcoming Obstacles to Photo ID Laws | Robert M. Brandon/Huffington Post

This past week, the decision by the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) to shut down its Public Safety and Elections Task Force, the task force that refined and promoted strict photo ID legislation that has been popping up in state legislatures over the past two years, was a significant victory for voting rights advocates. However, the damage is already done. Strict voter photo ID laws will be in place in several states this election, potentially disenfranchising millions if they don’t get the ID they need to vote. While several voting rights groups are fighting to get these laws overturned in the courts, organizers and community groups on the ground are stepping up to make sure that voters will have the IDs they need to be able to vote. Already, in Tennessee and Wisconsin, community groups and statewide organizations have developed programs to identify voters that lack a photo ID and to help them get the ID they need to vote.

National: Voter Registration: Naturalization Push Ahead Of November Election | Huffington Post

A coalition of groups supporting immigrants has recruited teams of volunteers to help push programs they hope will add thousands of new U.S. citizens to the voter rolls in several states in time for the November presidential election. The national push comes after Democratic President Barack Obama has failed to deliver on promised immigration reforms in his first years in office and his likely opponent, Mitt Romney, adopted harsh rhetoric on undocumented immigration to win support from conservatives while campaigning for the GOP nomination. The Department of Homeland Security says an estimated 12.6 million people were holding so-called green cards given to legal permanent U.S. residents in 2010, including 8.1 million people who already qualify for naturalization but have not applied for citizenship. Latinos, considered a Democratic-leaning constituency, account for the largest immigrant community. Immigrants and other minority voters helped Obama to a comfortable win over Republican John McCain in the 2008 presidential election.

Alaska: Anchorage Election Commission Digs Into Ballot Mess |

The Election Commission for the Municipality of Anchorage will hold a final public meeting today (Monday) to interview people who were unable to vote in the April 3rd Municipal Election due to ballot shortages. The Commission began interviewing voters Saturday at the Loussac Library. KSKA’s Daysha Eaton was there and filed this story. Dozens of voters sat down with members of the Election Commission in the Loussac Library’s Wilda Marston Theatre to tell their stories in one-on one interviews. Jed Whittaker was one of them. He voted a question ballot, and he was angry to find out that his vote was not counted. He argued with Commission member Sue Kinney. “You are required to follow election law and you didn’t do it. (Commission worker: We did.) No you didn’t. (CW: Well you have to address that with the clerk’s office.) No, tell me how you follow election law when you do not count my vote? (CW: Sir)

Alaska: Final Vote Tally Leaves Anchorage Election Unchanged | Alaska Dispatch

Official election results are in for the wild and flawed April 3 election — which produced the largest turnout in at least 18 years. The new numbers changed no outcomes and huge spreads remain between most winners and losers, according to the municipal clerk’s office. In the most-watched contests, Mayor Dan Sullivan and Anchorage School District board candidate Natasha Von Imhof held onto their leads by blowout margins. Also failing substantially was Proposition 5, an ordinance that would have extended the municipality’s equal-rights protections to gays, lesbians and transgender people.

Alaska: Another day, another rejected Alaska redistricting plan | Alaska Dispatch

It’s been about a month since the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that most recent Alaska redistricting plan failed to strike a balance between federal and state voting bloc requirements, and on Friday a Superior Court judge determined that the latest redistricting failed to meet requirements set forth in the Alaska Constitution. The Supreme Court in March ordered the Superior Court to re-evaluate the plan, which it said placed too much emphasis on the federal Voting Rights Act and not enough on the Alaska Constitution. Superior Court judge Michael McConahy made a similar finding Friday, saying that the plan failed to abide by what the court is calling “the Hickel process.”

Voting Blogs: Geolocation, Geolocation, Geolocation: Nebraska Precinct Map Shows Impact of New Polling Places | Election Academy

Last Thursday, the Omaha World-Herald published an online precinct map examining the impact of some new controversial precinct lines in Douglas County. As we discussed here on the blog a few weeks ago, the county election official has come under considerable fire for the new map, which Democrats believe will result in the disenfranchisement of large numbers of voters in Nebraska’s largest city. The newspaper’s map is intended to examine this concern, and combines voter addresses with digitized precinct boundaries to determine how far voters are from their assigned polling place. Overall, the map suggests that three in five voters are more than half a mile from their polling place, up from two in five before the change. The screenshot above is from the article, and shows the percentage of voters in each precinct who are inside the half-mile radius.

New York: Special election to replace Kruger costs $1 million for vanishing seat |

Talk about throwing good money after bad. Taxpayers will shell out about $1 million to elect a replacement for disgraced Brooklyn pol Carl Kruger — who pleaded guilty to taking more than $1 million in bribes — although the eventual winner will spend no more than eight months in office. That’s because Kruger’s 27th District state Senate seat will be wiped off the map by the redistricting process by the end of the year. There still hasn’t been a winner declared in the March 20 special election to replace Kruger — who resigned in disgrace in December — between Republican David Storobin and Democratic Councilman Lew Fidler. Storobin unofficially won by a mere two votes. So now, officials will recount all 22,000 ballots by hand — a lengthy process that could take months and hours upon hours of overtime at the Board of Elections. But the Legislature will adjourn for the year in June, which means the eventual winner may never cast a vote in Albany.

North Dakota: Unlike the rest of the State, Medora voters must register to vote in North Dakota. | The Jamestown Sun

Attention Medora residents: By the time you read this article, you will have less than 12 hours to be eligible to vote for city elections. Medora is the only city in North Dakota that requires its residents to register. If they don’t register, they don’t vote — no way around it. Voter hopefuls must fill out a form, get it notarized and hand it in to the Medora City Auditor’s Office by 5 p.m. today to register to vote for city elections, according to a public notice from the city auditor. Voter registration in Medora was adopted in the early 1990s due to seasonal workers voting in the June elections, Mayor Doug Ellison said. “It’s up to the municipality to initiate (voter registration) or not, but Medora decided to do it back then just to avoid a repetition of this disputed election,” he said.

Pennsylvania: On eve of primary, voter-ID law still being tweaked |

In a less-imperfect world, Tuesday’s primary would be a dry run for the debut of Pennsylvania’s voter-identification requirements, a chance for election officials throughout the state to gauge the law’s impact and make appropriate adjustments before the presidential contest in November. But the voter-ID legislation was passed so close to the primary – Gov. Corbett signed it into law on March 14, and state officials were still tinkering with ID possibilities last week – that Tuesday’s election will be like holding a dress rehearsal while the writer is still working on the script.

Pennsylvania: Officials plan review of absentee ballot system | Standard Speaker

State election officials plan to review the state’s labeling of absentee ballot envelopes with letters that identify if a voter is a Republican or a Democrat, a state spokesman said. To help election officials in counties sort absentee ballots, the return envelopes used to send back completed ballots have a letter ‘R’ or ‘D’ after voters’ name on the return address part of the envelopes. “We have not had complaints about it and we’re not aware of tampering with because of ballots with this issue,” state Department of State spokesman Ronald G. Ruman said. Several constituents of state Sen. Lisa Baker raised concerns that the party labeling could encourage someone with access to the ballots to remove the ballots of a party they dislike. Baker was concerned enough to introduce a bill last year to remove the party designations from return envelopes.

Virginia: Governor weighs options on voter ID restrictions |

Gov. Bob McDonnell faces a tough choice on legislation to tighten requirements for voter identification: veto the bill after his attempt to soften it failed, or let it reshape election law without his preferred modifications. McDonnell has said he’s concerned that the bill, in its present form, could “disenfranchise people whose votes would have otherwise counted.” As written, the legislation would require voters without valid identification to cast a provisional ballot. They would then have to confirm their identity with election officials for the ballot to count. The General Assembly last week rejected McDonnell’s key amendments, which would have given election officials the authority to verify identities by comparing provisional ballot signatures to voter registration signatures.

Armenia: Local Election Observers Fear Risk of Prosecution |

With less than two weeks to go until Armenia’s parliamentary vote, election observers are becoming an issue. Rights activists are voicing worries that a change to the Armenian election code could leave observers potentially vulnerable to defamation suits over statements made about the polling and vote-counting processes. Fifteen observer organizations with a total of 12,778 observers have been registered to monitor the May 6 election, the first national poll since the disputed 2008 presidential vote, an event that was marred by the deaths of 10 people in post-election violence. The changes made to the election code in 2011 were supposed to address inadequacies with the presidential vote three years earlier. One electoral code amendment involved the removal of Chapter 6, Article 30, Section 6, which stated: “Observers and representatives of mass media shall not be prosecuted for their opinions about the course of the elections or the summarization of their results.”

Canada: Poll shows Liberal, NDP supporters targeted for vote-suppression calls |

A poll being released Tuesday morning by the Council of Canadians shows a pattern of misleading election calls targeting opposition supporters in the seven ridings where the organization is seeking new elections. The poll, conducted April 13-19 by Ekos Research Associates, found that Liberal, NDP and Green party supporters in the seven ridings were more much more likely to report receiving a telephone call late in the election directing them to the wrong polling station than Conservative supporters, or opposition supporters in other ridings.

France: How WWII Codes on Twitter thwarted French vote law |

Dutch cheese, Hungarian wine, rotten tomato and flan were just a few buzzwords thrown around in the French Twitter community on Sunday, when users wittily tweeted in code to skirt a French law prohibiting voting predictions in the first round of the presidential election. French election regulations ban anyone from leaking predictions before polls closed at 8 p.m., resulting in fines up to $100,000. In response, French Twitter users posted predictions and voting tallies using nicknames for the candidates to evade the attention of election officials appointed to monitor social networking sites for violations. They also paid homage to their past by using the hashtag #RadioLondres, a reference to codes broadcast from London’s BBC to resistance fighters in Nazi-occupied France during World War II, the AFP reports. “Tune in to #RadioLondres so as not to know the figures we don’t want to know before 8:00 pm,” the AFP reports of one ironic tweet.

Greece: Election a puzzle that could derail bailout |

Greek voters are unlikely to pick a clear winner in a snap election that is expected to send a record number of parties to parliament next month and test the international bailout keeping the country afloat. Political analysts say the outcome of the May 6 election is hard to predict. The conservative New Democracy party is seen ahead but not by enough to take sole charge of the indebted euro zone member. This could lead to days or weeks of negotiations while it forges a coalition with the Socialist PASOK party to impose austerity and reforms to meet the terms of a second 130 billion euro bailout from Europe and the International Monetary Fund. “It’s a great puzzle,” said Theodore Couloumbis of the ELIAMEP think tank. “I hope the pro-bailout parties will be able to form a government. This is the most likely scenario.”

United Kingdom: Welsh voters could be given right to recall AMs and force by-elections | WalesOnline

Welsh voters could gain the right to recall their AMs who are guilty of crimes and force a by-election, according to the leader of the House of Commons. Sir George Young has confirmed that the UK Government will consider extending legislation, which would give citizens the power to recall MPs, to cover members of the National Assembly and the other devolved bodies. Under the proposals, a by-election will be held if at least 10% of people on a constituency’s electoral register sign a recall petition. However, petitions will only be triggered under two strictly defined situations where an MP is convicted in the United Kingdom of an offence and receives a custodial sentence of 12 months or less or when the House of Commons resolves that an MP should be recalled.