South Carolina: Federal judges could decide to delay South Carolina primaries | Anderson Independent Mail

A three-judge panel will meet next week to consider delaying South Carolina’s June 12 primaries in the wake of a state Supreme Court decision that removed nearly 200 candidates from ballots. U.S. District Judge Cameron Currie heard arguments Thursday from an attorney for Amanda Somers, who says her candidacy was thrown into question after justices ruled financial- and candidate-intent paperwork must be filed at the same time. Since Somers was ultimately allowed on the ballot, Currie questioned her ability to sue. The judge allowed a state Senate candidate from Edgefield who was tossed off, Republican John Pettigrew, to join the suit.

National: John Lewis objects, and Paul Broun backs away from attempt to gut Voting Rights Act |

My AJC colleague Daniel Malloy in Washington sends this report of a confrontation between two Georgia members of Congress that you may not have heard about: Around 10 p.m. last night, as House debate over a contentious spending bill stretched on, Rep. Paul Broun, R-Athens, approached with an amendment to end all funding for U.S. Department of Justice enforcement of Section Five of the Voting Rights Act. This is the provision that requires states like Georgia to submit new election laws – last year’s statewide redistricting, for instance — for federal approval to ensure against disenfranchisement of minorities. Broun argued that this is a hammer held over only a few select states, and noted that the U.S. Supreme Court has suggested that the law has outlived its usefulness.

Editorials: Indie Block – Americans Elect Near the End? | TIME

When Americans elect announced last July that it was pouring millions into placing a third-party presidential candidate on the ballot in all 50 states, the political world snapped to attention. Barack Obama’s longtime political adviser David Axelrod revealed his concern by publicly criticizing the group, while pundits gushed. “Watch out,” declared New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who wrote that Americans Elect might change politics the way the iPod changed music. So far, Americans Elect is looking more like the Zune than the iPod. The group canceled a May 8 online caucus after no candidate met the necessary criterion of 1,000 backers in each of 10 states. More voting scheduled for later this month may also be scratched; it’s possible that Americans Elect won’t nominate a single candidate. That might say more about this well-intentioned effort’s shortcomings than it does about the durability of our two-party system. Founded by a group of political centrists, including former investment banker Peter Ackerman, Americans Elect had a promising plan: “break gridlock” and challenge “special interests” by helping elect a President beholden to no party. It invited people to join online, nominate candidates and ultimately select one through Internet voting. (To be eligible, candidates needed credentials meeting the group’s somewhat subjective criteria.)

Voting Blogs: A/B Testing: Could, Would It Work in Elections? | Election Academy

Every now and then, a really interesting piece rolls through my Twitter feed; earlier this week, it was a Wired piece about the growing use of “A/B testing” on the web:

Welcome, guinea pigs. Because if you’ve spent any time using the web today — and if you’re reading this, that’s a safe bet — you’ve most likely already been an unwitting subject in what’s called an A/B test. It’s the practice of performing real-time experiments on a site’s live traffic, showing different content and formatting to different users and observing which performs better.

The article notes that A/B testing (explained in further detail here) has been around for a little more than a decade, most notably by giants like Google and Amazon, who use the procedure to test and tweak virtually every aspect of their online experience.

Alaska: Deputy city clerk fired in Anchorage election aftermath |

Anchorage Assembly chairman Ernie Hall fired a key planner in the troubled April 3 election Wednesday, though the city clerk responsible for overseeing the election remains on the job. Hall said he told deputy clerk Jacqueline Duke she was being dismissed Wednesday. The city clerk and deputy clerk are among the employees who serve at the will of the Assembly. Hall made the decision to remove Duke himself but had been talking with other assembly members about it, he said. The city clerk’s office oversees elections and came under fire this year after ballots ran out at more than half of all voting precincts on April 3. On Tuesday, the assembly voted to pay a retired judge $35,000 to investigate what went wrong and recommend ways to avoid similar problems in the future.

Arizona: Election officials oppose redrawing districts | Arizona Daily Star

Election officials from around the state are lining up to oppose a bid by a Republican-backed group to get a court to force new lines to be drawn for this year’s legislative elections. Maricopa County Elections Director Karen Osborne, who is leading the charge, filed legal papers late Wednesday to intervene in the federal court lawsuit. The county’s position is a panel of judges being convened to look at the work of the Independent Redistricting Commission should keep its hands off the lines, at least for the time being. Osborne said the issue has nothing to do with politics. She said it does not matter to her who runs for the Legislature and where their districts are. And Osborne said she takes no position on the charge by critics of the commission that the maps are biased against Republicans. The problem, she said, is timing.

New York: Overvotes: Phantoms of the Ballot Box | ReformNY

The New York State Board of ElectionsNew York City Boards of Elections, and voting machine manufacturer ES&S each released reports yesterday detailing the results of an investigation into the abnormally high numbers of lost votes attributed to “overvoting” in the South Bronx in 2010. The upshot is that a machine defect led to “phantom votes” on at least one machine used in the 2010 election, resulting in some candidates receiving more votes than they should have, and the choices of many more voters being voided when the machines detected both actual and phantom votes in the same contest. Now that the reports on how this happened are out, election officials must make sure that what happened in the Bronx in 2010 does not happen again in the future. Voting machines record overvotes when they detect more than one candidate selected for a contest. In such cases, no vote is recorded for any candidate in the overvoted contest, regardless of the voter’s actual intent. The Brennan Center first uncovered a high number of overvotes in the South Bronx while reviewing documents produced for discovery in a litigation it brought against the State and City. It published its findings in Design Deficiencies and Lost Votes; the report notes that in some election districts up to 40% of the votes cast did not count.

Florida: Despite state oversight, vote-counting errors abound in Florida | Palm Beach Post

Harri Hursti may be the best-known hacker you’ve never heard of. Largely unknown to the voting public, the Finnish computer programmer gained national notoriety among elections officials in 2005 when he broke into voting equipment in Leon County – at the supervisor of elections’ invitation – just to show it could be done. Hursti has since gone on to examine voting systems for other states. His conclusion: “Some systems are better than others, but none is nearly good enough.” In fact, a decade’s worth of Florida vote counting has been tripped up by technology of all makes and models, despite a state certification process designed to guard against such problems. Nationally, studies of the secret code underpinning election software have uncovered an array of troubles.

Idaho: Potential perfect storm of changes await Idaho voters next week | electionlineWeekly

Recently, an election official noted that “uncertainty is the enemy of election administration.” This year in Idaho, which holds its primary on May 15, not only has uncertainty been an enemy, but so has change. In addition to redistricting, the state legislature made several major changes to how Idahoans vote and that has left many local election officials scrambling to implement the changes and explain them to voters. This year will be Idaho’s first-ever closed primary. Every voter will have to declare a party affiliation for the first time. About a week before the election, the secretary of state’s office figured that about 85 percent of the state’s voters had yet to officially declare a party. “Redistricting and closed primaries have the potential of creating a perfect storm,” said Christopher Rich, clerk for Ada County. “We have done substantial outreach with the media and they have been very helpful in explaining closed primaries and directing the public to our web site for further information.” According to Sara Staub, Bingham County clerk, her county sent out new registration cards to registered voters, precinct by precinct and asked that they fill them out and designate their party so that this could be done prior to the primary election.

Editorials: With Failures Rapidly Mounting, What Is Americans Elect’s End-Game? | AE Transparency

Having now been forced to cancel two primary ballots in a row due to the American electorate’sutter failure to respond to its spiel, Americans Elect may now be judged by any rational observer of the political scene to be an abject failure, and dead in the water. So what happens now? When Americans Elect’s predecessor, Unity08, failed similarly in 2008 (albeit much earlier in its existence, before a single ‘vote’ had been cast), that organization simply silently evaporated. That was really the only option available to Unity08’s leadership, because it was a worthless property: it was merely a thin web site, with no money behind it, and its founders had scattered to the four winds (many to their next failure, a ‘Draft Bloomberg’ initiative). So its operators simply abandoned it. Like a rusty old Buick up on cinder blocks in a weed-choked vacant lot, its twisted carcass had no significant scrap value.

Kansas: House sends voter registration bill to Senate | Topeka Capitol-Journal

The House gave final approval Wednesday to a bill that would move up new proof of citizenship requirements for voter registration to June 15, as recommended by Secretary of State Kris Kobach. The bill, which passed 72-51, now heads to the Senate, where leadership has shown little interest in taking it up. The Senate voted last year to stagger the implementation of photo ID voting requirements and the citizenship measure, delaying the latter until Jan. 1, 2013.

Mississippi: Proponents working to avoid problems that nixed voter ID laws in other states | Delta Business Journal

As part of a national trend towards states adopting voter ID laws, about 62 percent of Mississippi voters approved a referendum in 2011 that would require voters to show a photo ID before being allowed to vote. But the failure of similar laws in other states to be approved by the U.S. Dept. of Justice (DOJ) has led to questions about whether Mississippi’s new law will receive clearance from the DOJ and, if so, if it will be in time for the November presidential elections. Sec. of State Delbert Hosemann said careful planning has been done in drafting legislation to implement the state’s voter ID requirement to address the kinds of concerns that led to voter ID laws in others states such as Texas and South Carolina not being approved by the DOJ. Hosemann met with representatives of the DOJ to review the history of states where voter ID bills were approved. He said he told the DOJ the State of Mississippi wants to adopt a voter ID bill that meets all constitutional requirements at minimal cost to the taxpayers.

New York: Machine Casts Phantom Votes in the Bronx, Invalidating Real Ones: Report | WNYC

Tests on an electronic voting machine that recorded shockingly high numbers of extra votes in the 2010 election show that overheating may have caused upwards of 30 percent of the votes in a South Bronx voting precinct to go uncounted. WNYC first reported on the issue in December 2011, when it was found that tens of thousands of votes in the 2010 elections went uncounted because electronic voting machines counted more than one vote in a race.

North Carolina: Voters Report Frustrating Issues At Some North Carolina Polling Sites |

North Carolina voters went to the polls in large numbers to vote for Amendment One on Tuesday but the primary elections were not without issues. Over the course of the day, voters called and emailed the News 2 Information Center about problems they experienced at the polls. Some voters tell us there were party and ballot mixups at some voting locations. In Forsyth County, for example, our news crews visited the Sedge Garden Recreational Center where a voter told us she asked for a Republican Ballot but was forced to vote unaffiliated. “They told me to go to the computer because I wasn’t registered as a Republican, I was registered as Unaffiliated. So, I said, ‘well, can I have a ballot?’ and they said no you need to go to the computer.'”

South Carolina: Federal judges could decide to delay South Carolina primaries |

A three-judge panel will meet next week to consider delaying South Carolina’s June 12 primaries in the wake of a state Supreme Court decision that removed nearly 200 candidates from ballots. U.S. District Judge Cameron Currie heard arguments Thursday from an attorney for Amanda Somers, who says her candidacy was thrown into question after justices ruled financial- and candidate-intent paperwork must be filed at the same time. Since Somers was ultimately allowed on the ballot, Currie questioned her ability to sue. The judge allowed a state Senate candidate from Edgefield who was tossed off, Republican John Pettigrew, to join the suit. While disregarding several arguments, Currie said allegations the state violated the Voting Rights Act in sending separate ballots overseas for federal and local races may have merit.

West Virginia: Voting machine problems cause election night confusion in Brooke County West Virginia |

Elections officials in Brooke County were counting ballots well into Wednesday morning because of problems with two voting machines. Brooke County Clerk Sylvia Benzo said she lost track of time as poll workers tried to sort through election night confusion. Benzo said there was a problem in one of the Follansbee precincts early on that elections officials knew they would have to remedy. But there was another issue with a voting machine at a Weirton precinct. “I didn’t know about the one with the problem in Weirton until later in the evening, and that one ironed out and we were able to upload that information into our system and that one was OK. But this last machine that had a total of 12 votes left on it, we couldn’t get those off of there,” Benzo said.

Algeria: Elections being called fairest in 2 decades, but little enthusiasm from voters | The Washington Post

As parliamentary elections unfolded across Algeria on Thursday, voting was light for much of day in the capital, despite these contests being billed the freest in 20 years. A coalition of Islamist parties is hoping to replicate the election successes of other Islamists across North Africa in the wake of the Arab Spring pro-democracy uprisings of 2011, but they face stiff competition from two government parties with deeply entrenched networks. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika spent the past several months urging Algerians to come out and vote, alternating promises of bold new reforms after elections with warnings that foreign powers might invade Algeria if there is a low turnout. No party is expected to dominate the parliament, though the real question will be if there is a substantial turnout. Just hours before the polls closed, the government put the participation rate at 35 percent, suggesting it will be more than in 2007, but not by much.

Armenia: Top election official calls Armenia’s polls “essential progress” |

Tigran Mukuchyan, the head of the Central Election Commission (CEC), described the May 6 parliamentary elections in Armenia as “essential progress” as he gave a press conference in Yerevan on Wednesday. In the view of the head of the body administering the process, the elections giving the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) a landslide victory amounted to the “most transparent, public and controlled” elections in Armenia ever. Mukuchyan’s comments were in harmony with what the political leadership in Armenia has said before and after the elections. President Serzh Sargsyan and other senior members of the government had pledged to hold the best elections in the history of independent Armenia – a circumstance also attached a great deal of importance to by Armenia’s international partners, notably the European Union and the United States.

Egypt: Presidential elections: Who will clinch the expat vote? | Ahram Online

Egypt’s first post-revolution presidential poll will technically begin on Friday, as millions of Egyptians living abroad begin casting ballots for Egypt’s next head of state. Egyptians residing overseas, who number between five and six million, will cast votes for one of 13 approved candidates in Egypt’s first presidential election since the ouster early last year of longstanding president Hosni Mubarak. Many analysts say that Egyptian expatriates were not given enough time to study the candidates’ various electoral programmes, noting that they would begin voting only 12 days after the official launch of presidential campaigning. Many expats, meanwhile, are finding it difficult to follow candidates’ respective campaigns from abroad, or don’t possess the national identification cards required to cast ballots. After 30 years of Mubarak-era autocracy, during which most national elections were rigged, fair and democratic elections are a novelty for Egypt. The idea that their voices will actually count has stirred up strong feelings in many Egyptians, who espouse opinions as diverse as the candidates they are expected to vote for. And, according to various Ahram Online surveys, Egyptians living abroad are no different.

Kenya: Elections in Kenya among world’s most costly | Standard Digital

Kenya will have one of the world’s most expensive elections next year if electoral officials get their way. Standard Digital can report that taxpayers risk paying several times more per voter than people in other countries fork out. This raises serious questions on whether the proposed costs of the next General Election have been inflated. Officials with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission today rejected Sh17 billion set aside by Treasury for the planned March 4, 2013 poll. Instead, they are demanding Sh35 billion to conduct the first election under the new constitution as well as an anticipated run-off shortly thereafter. IEBC chairman Mr Isaack Hassan said if they plan the March 4, 2013 elections using the Sh17.5 billion Treasury  has allocated the commission in the 2012/2013 budget, they will be forced to extend the election date by  two or three days. He said the commission’s budget has a deficit of Sh23 billion and it will cost them at least Sh17.5billion to carry out a re-run in case of a tie in the presidential election.

United Kingdom: Election recount for Glasgow after votes in ballot box not included | STV

Glasgow City Council is set to hold a recount for a city ward after it emerged hundreds of votes cast had not been included in the official count. The mistake came to light after the Battlefield Primary ballot box in Langside was registered as having no votes. It is thought that the box contains around 385 votes, which although scanned and registered, were not added to the final tally. The missing votes could be enough to change the overall result for the ward. Glasgow City Council is now seeking court approval to look at the votes and hold a recount.