In a final vote of no confidence, Ireland’s ill-fated e-voting machines are finally headed to the scrap heap. An Offaly-based firm, KMK Metals Recycling, was declared the Government’s preferred bidder out of seven tenders. The company paid a mere €70,267 for the machines – a steal when one considers the €55 million they have cost the State to date. The price paid also works out at just half the annual €140,000 cost of storing them. Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan said he was “glad to bring this sorry episode to a conclusion on behalf of the taxpayer”. “From the outset, this project was ill-conceived and poorly delivered by my political predecessors and as a result it has cost the taxpayer €55 million. “While this is a scandalous waste of public money, I am happy to say that we will not incur any further costs in the disposal of the machines,” he said.Full Article: E-voting machines scrapped for €70,000 - The Irish Times - Fri, Jun 29, 2012.
Yesterday was a big news day. We learned of the long-awaited health care decision and the historic contempt finding of Attorney General Eric Holder by the House of Representatives. But less attention was paid to the Supreme Court’s decision to vacate Justice Kennedy’s temporary stay of a 9th Circuit decision overturning Arizona’s law requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote. This means that for the November 2012 election voters in the Grand Canyon State will be able to register without first having to produce additional documentary proof of their citizenship beyond what is currently required on the federal voter registration card.Full Article: Arizona Proof of Citizenship Requirement Struck Down | Brennan Center for Justice.
In the ongoing controversy over Pennsylvania’s move to require voter identification at the polls starting in November, a Republican leader’s moment of campaign swagger has given opponents new ammunition. State House Majority Leader Mike Turzai of Allegheny County last weekend stood before a political gathering in Hershey, ticking off victories for the Republican-run state legislature and Gov. Corbett. Voter ID, said Turzai, “is going to allow Gov. Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.” Big surprise, said his political foes. State Sen. Daylin Leach (D., Montgomery) said Turzai’s comments confirmed what Democrats have suspected all along: that voter ID is “part of a national effort by the Republican Party to pass laws disenfranchising large numbers of voters who tend to vote Democratic.”Full Article: Some truth about voter ID rules.
Arizona: Supreme Court declines to let Arizona require citizenship proof from voters | Tucson Sentinel
The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way Thursday for a lower court ruling that would stop Arizona election officials from rejecting voter registration forms that do not have evidence of citizenship. Arizona has been requiring proof of citizenship with voter registration forms since 2005, shortly after voters passed Proposition 200. But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in April ruled that the proof-of-citizenship requirement conflicted with federal voter registration law. The Supreme Court had stayed that decision earlier this month at the request of Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, who was planning a challenge to the lower court decision. The justices Thursday, without comment, lifted that stay, clearing the way for the circuit court to issue an order banning the practice of requiring citizenship proof. That order is likely to come in the next week, said attorneys involved in the case.Full Article: High court declines let Az require citizenship proof from voters.
Voted ballots are indeed public records open to inspection by any citizen, the Colorado Supreme Court affirmed Thursday, vindicating local resident Marilyn Marks in her three-year-old lawsuit against Aspen City Hall. The court, which in April said it would hear the case of Mark v. Koch, issued a one-page order Thursday announcing that it had reversed itself and would not review the case, meaning a Court of Appeals decision in Marks’ favor from September 2011 will stand. The city had appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court in November 2011. The brief order stated that the court’s initial decision to review the case had been “improvidently granted. Colorado elections once again belong to the people,” Marks said in a statement released Thursday. “This decision puts to rest a long-standing controversy between the public and election officials across the state who improperly prohibit the public and press from verifying Colorado’s elections.”Full Article: Supreme Court affirms ballots can be inspected | Aspen Daily News Online.
Delaware: Bill Eliminating 5-Year Waiting Period for E-Felon Voting Rights Passes Legislature | WGMD
The state Senate Thursday passed the first leg of a constitutional amendment that would allow eligible felons to vote after completing their sentences instead of having to wait for an additional five years. House Bill 9 would eliminate a five-year waiting period that eligible felons who have fully discharged their sentences must endure before they can have their voting rights restored.
Between April 11 and June 7, 107 residents in 15 of the state’s 67 counties were removed from the state’s voter rolls on account of being “potential noncitizens.” That’s roughly 0.00096% of the 11.2 million people currently registered to vote in the Sunshine State. (Some perspective on the numbers: In the 2008 General Election, some 1,774 voters in Miami-Dade County alone mailed absentee ballots to the Supervisor of Elections, but they were rejected by the county canvassing board. Another 833 voters, out of the thousands of voters in Miami-Dade County who had to cast provisional ballots in the 2008 presidential election, never had their votes counted.) But back to the ongoing voter purge in Florida. According to data I received through a recent public records request from Chris Cate, the spokesman for Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, of the 107 registered voters in Florida who were removed from the voting rolls by the Florida Division of Elections, more than a third were purged on May 4, 2012.Full Article: The Failed Florida Secretary of State’s Voter Purge EXCLUSIVE « electionsmith.
As ballot measure sponsors prepare to turn in their signatures Friday, perhaps only one of proposals will likely qualify for the November election, with one still up in the air. A campaign finance measure is expected to qualify, but proposals to legalize marijuana for adults and to let a person accused of a crime to argue the merits of the law to the jury won’t make the ballot, backers said. It was unclear Thursday whether a so-called “personhood” measure, which would essentially ban abortion, will qualify. Backers were confident Thursday they had enough signatures to qualify Initiative 166. It is a policy statement saying that corporations aren’t human beings with constitutional rights and that money isn’t speech. It is a nonbinding measure telling Montana’s congressional delegation to support a federal constitutional amendment to nullify the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in the Citizens United case that removed restrictions on political speech for corporations and unions.Full Article: Campaign finance initiative expected to qualify for Montana ballot.
Wisconsin: Opened Ballot Bags Raise More Questions in Wisconsin Recall Recount | Mount Pleasant-Sturtevant, WI Patch
Officials with Republican Van Wanggaard’s campaign Thursday questioned why a number of bags containing ballots from the City of Racine were opened and then “double-bagged,” or placed in a second bag. Under Wisconsin’s election procedures, after the polls close, election workers remove the voted ballots and place them into a secured container or bag. The bag is secured using a tamper-evident numbered seal, according to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board. Ballot bags are supposed to have all potential openings secured in such a manner that no ballot may be removed, nor any ballot added, without visible interference or damage to that ballot container. But Racine County Clerk Wendy Christiansen said that bags in nine of the 36 polling places in Racine in the June 5 recall election were found double-bagged.Full Article: Opened Ballot Bags Raise More Questions in Recount - Mount Pleasant-Sturtevant, WI Patch.
Western monitors representing the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) reaffirmed on Tuesday their cautious assessment of Armenia’s recent parliamentary elections, praising the election campaign but criticizing voting in a “considerable” number of polling stations. In its final report, the largest international vote-monitoring mission deployed in the country by the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) again avoided concluding whether the May 6 elections were democratic. “The voting process was orderly and well organized in the large majority of polling stations observed,” says the report. “However, international observers assessed voting negatively in nine per cent of polling stations, which is considerable. This assessment was mainly due to organizational problems, undue interference in the process, generally by proxies, and cases of serious violations, including intimidation of voters.”Full Article: OSCE Reaffirms Armenian Election Verdict - Vote 2012 | ArmeniaNow.com.
Azerbaijan: Opposition considers election code. “If no amendments are made to the Code, there are calls to boycott the 2013 elections.” | Caucasus Elections Watch
The Azerbaijan Public Chamber on June 21st held a round table discussion on the proposed amendments to the Electoral Code of Azerbaijan. About 60 participants attended the public debate which was moderated by Mr. Vidadi Mirkamal, the chairman-in-office for the Coordination Council of the Public Chamber. There was one keynote speaker, Mr. Hafiz Hasanov, an elections expert, who presented his views on the general electoral environment in the country as well as his suggestions for potential amendments, generating further discussion. After the panelists spoke, several party leaders, NGO heads and experts were involved in an interactive discussion that brought forward a wide range of electoral concerns. This included the seven priority recommendations made by the OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission following the 2010 Parliamentary Elections that left all major opposition parties without a single seat in the parliament.Full Article: Azerbaijani opposition considers election code. “If no amendments are made to the Code, there are calls to boycott the 2013 elections.” « Caucasus Elections Watch.
As Icelanders go to the polls on Saturday to decide on their next president, the sitting candidate faces a challenge from an unlikely contender – a 37-year-old mother of three, with a newborn baby. The baby is called Sky, which means “cloud”. It’s only a nick-name, a stop-gap sobriquet because her parents have many other things to think about before they decide what to call their new child. “It’s just until her mother has time to choose one,” says the baby’s father, Svavar Halldorsson. Admittedly it’s not unusual for babies to be nameless for up to six months in Iceland. What’s different in this case, is that Sky’s mother is too busy to decide on a name because she’s running for president.Full Article: BBC News - Election in Iceland: Campaigning with nappies in hand.
The Government has sold the infamous €54m e-voting machines for scrap — for €9.30 each. A huge fleet of trucks will begin removing the 7,500 machines from 14 locations on Monday. They will be taken to a Co Offaly recycling company, KMK Metals Recycling Ltd in Tullamore, where they will be stripped down and shredded. Ironically, the owner of the firm, Kurt Kyck, cast his vote on one of the machines in the 2002 elections. He has now paid €70,000 for the lot. Scrapping the machines brings to an end the embarrassing e-voting debacle which has cost the taxpayer more than €54m since it emerged the expensive equipment was faulty. They could not be guaranteed to be safe from tampering. And they could not produce a printout so that votes/results could be double-checked. But last night the man who first proposed using them washed his hands of the affair.Full Article: €54m voting machines scrapped for €9 each - National News - Independent.ie.
The Taxpayer faces the prospect of a bill of more than €350,000 to rent an empty shed which was used to store the controversial e-voting machines. The Irish Independent has learned that the Department of the Environment is locked into a 25-year lease at a premises in Co Monaghan, and that there is 17 years left to run at an annual rent of more than €21,500. This means that unless there is a break-out clause in the lease — which allows either side to terminate the contract — the State faces paying almost €370,000 between now and February 2029 to rent an empty shed. The shed is located outside Clones in Co Monaghan, and is owned by Martin Duffy. Mr Duffy was awarded the lucrative contract in 2004 by his aunt, former Cavan/Monaghan returning officer Josephine Duffy, after she viewed a number of premises. The Government announced earlier this week it had sold the infamous €54m e-voting machines for scrap for just over €70,000, or €9.30 each.Full Article: €370,000 bill for empty e-voting shed - National News - Independent.ie.
What is in an election? As Mexico gears up for Sunday’s presidential vote, much of the chatter has centred on the possible return of the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) under Enrique Peña Nieto, its candidate and far-away favourite, according to opinion polls. And with little wonder: when the party finally lost power in 2000 after ruling for 71 consecutive years of pseudo democracy, many political analysts predicted that the party would shrivel and die as the country embraced a new, more pluralistic future. But let’s step back a moment from the constant questions of “will a PRI victory mean a return to the past?” and consider the political and economic stability that this election season offers investors compared with six years ago. Back then, investors were scrambling to put their business plans on hold as many doubted whether the centre-right Felipe Calderón could catch up with and overhaul the fiery front-runner Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the leftwing Democratic Revolution (PRD).Full Article: Mexico elections: why boring is good | beyondbrics.
The opposition Democratic Party edged out Mongolia’s ruling party in a tightly contested legislative election that centered on how best to use the wealth generated by the still poor but fast-developing country’s mining boom. It was not yet clear if the Democrats would win an outright majority in the 76-seat parliament. The party won 20 of the 48 seats awarded by outright majority in Thursday’s vote, compared with 15 for the ruling Mongolian People’s Party and fewer seats for two other parties, results released Friday by the General Election Commission showed. Under a new system, the remaining 28 seats are awarded based on the parties’ proportion of the overall vote, giving the Democrats a commanding but not a decisive edge in the new parliament. A coalition government between the major parties or with smaller parties would likely perpetuate slow policy-making and partisan bickering that has characterized Mongolia’s fledgling democracy.Full Article: Democrats beat ruling party in Mongolian election - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports.
Philippines: Comelec plans to create special body on precinct count optical scan machines | The Philippine Star
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) plans to create a special committee to hear and address the concerns of critics of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines. Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said yesterday the Comelec would have a continuing dialogue with those questioning the decision to purchase and use the PCOS machines in next year’s elections.Full Article: Comelec plans to create special body on PCOS machines - The Philippine Star » News » Headlines.
Senegal’s President Macky Sall is seeking to win a parliamentary majority in a July 1 election to push ahead with plans to combat corruption and cut government spending. Sall, 51, leads the Benno Bokk Yakaar coalition that’s running for the National Assembly’s 150 seats. The main challengers are the Parti Democratique Senegalaise, headed by ex-President Abdoulaye Wade, and the Bokk Gis Gis coalition led by the current head of the parliament’s upper house, Pape Diop. The president needs control of parliament to help implement changes, such as audits of government departments, that he’s made since defeating 86-year-old Wade in a March presidential election, said Abdou Fall, a Senegal analyst at the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, South Africa.Full Article: Senegal’s Sall Seeks Parliament Control for Graft Fight - Bloomberg.
With more and more people choosing alternative methods to casting their ballot than at a polling place on election day — the U.S. Election Assistance Commission estimated that 23.7 million voted absentee in 2008 — making sure voters have access to what they need to do so has become a top priority. This month, the U.S. Vote Foundation (US Vote) launched an online absentee ballot tool that allows U.S. voters anywhere in the world to download and complete a state-specific absentee ballot request. “We created this tool so that anyone who wishes to vote can be assisted – whether it be a traveling executive, a working parent, a home-bound person, or a college student away from home,” said US Vote President and CEO Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat. “The point of our services is access. We want to make sure all Americans are equipped with the tools they need to vote, from the polling place to the kitchen table.”Full Article: electionlineWeekly.
The U.S. Supreme Court decision giving corporations the same rights as people to spend money independently to support political campaigns didn’t overturn a century-old ban on direct corporate donations to candidates, a federal court ruled. A three-judge appeals panel in Richmond, Virginia, made its ruling today in reinstating a criminal campaign-finance charge against two fundraisers for Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid who were indicted for improperly reimbursing $186,600 to donors.Full Article: Company Campaign Funds Ban Survives Citizens United Test - Bloomberg.