Egypt’s military and the Muslim Brotherhood traded blame for rising tensions Friday as the country awaited the outcome of a presidential runoff vote that pits an Islamist against ousted leader Hosni Mubarak’s former prime minister. Brotherhood leaders said the ruling military council is holding the election results hostage as it bargains to maintain its lock on power. Tens of thousands of Brotherhood supporters have rallied in the capital’s Tahrir Square in a show of force backing candidate Mohammed Morsi, who has warned against manipulating results in a vote that he says he has won. The military for its part declared it was acting for “higher national interests’’ and vowed to crack down on any violence by any group unhappy with the electoral outcome. At stake is whether or not Egypt will emerge from the instability of the 16-month transition that followed Mubarak’s 2011 overthrow, or whether the power struggles will continue or even escalate to a more dangerous level. The Brotherhood has said repeatedly that it would not resort to violence, but several media outlets have launched a vigorous campaign against the movement claiming it will plunge the country into chaos if Morsi does not win.
National: Left girds for voting rights battle | Politico.com Democrats, labor unions and civil rights groups are convinced Republicans are scheming to steal the election from President Barack Obama by suppressing the liberal vote, and they’re girding for battle. Groups on the left are spending more than they have in any previous election to lawyer up,…
In the next several years, new voting equipment will need to be begged, borrowed or bought in most of the nation’s jurisdictions. This raises at least two questions: In an age of galloping technological advancement, what should we buy? And, who’s going to pay for it? … When levers and punch cards went out, what came in? Two systems, one based on electronics (often with a touch screen) and the other based on optical scanners that “score” hand-marked paper ballots in the same way that standardized tests are scored. The electronic machines (aka DREs, short for “direct recording electronic” voting machines) dominated the market in the early part of the 2000s; but by 2008, optical scanning equipment had become more common. (See the map provided by Verified Voting.org for details.) A debate still rages between advocates of the two systems. Those who distrust electronic machines say they make votes hard to recount when an election is contested. Additionally, “there should be a way that a voter can check on a hard copy—independent from the software—that their vote was captured as they intended it to be,” says Pam Smith of Verified Voting.org, an organization that advocates for a voter-verifiable paper trail for elections.
With the Presidential elections looming up, some have been asking why the United States is not making more of electronic voting. It’s being adopted in many other countries around the world, with India, Brazil, Estonia, Norway and Switzerland as notable examples. However, the United States has several examples in recent years where it has backed out of electronic voting that it had already implemented. For example, in 2010, a trial system for remote voting over the Internet in Washington DC (known as the “Digital vote by mail”) was shown to be vulnerable, when it was penetrated by a research team from the University of Michigan, demonstrating how a real attack could render any results unsound, without detection. The attack was documented in a recent paper by researchers from the University of Michigan. So who is right?
Democrats, labor unions and civil rights groups are convinced Republicans are scheming to steal the election from President Barack Obama by suppressing the liberal vote, and they’re girding for battle. Groups on the left are spending more than they have in any previous election to lawyer up, get voters registered early and flood polling locations with trained poll workers and election watchdogs. “We’re not going to be fooled again,” said Michael Podhorzer, political director of the AFL-CIO, which recently launched a new campaign focused on voter protection and registration in battleground states. For the left, he said, “a potentially naive mistake in 2000 was not understanding the implications of election administration and the extent to which Republican election officials can tilt things their way.”
Many questions hang over the 2012 election. What will the unemployment rate be, and will it hurt Barack Obama’s prospects? How will Mitt Romney hold up in one-on-one debates? How will both candidates bridge the enthusiasm gaps in their parties’ bases? Who’ll control Congress? Will Scott Brown or Elizabeth Warren carry the day in Massachusetts? Here’s one Democrats are asking: Will new state actions requiring photo IDs for voters, purging voter rolls and restricting voter registration drives hurt their candidates? And here’s one almost no one wants to think about: Will the private companies who build and handle voting machines steal the election?
In a Thursday press reelase, the state of Alaska has expressed its opposition to the federal requirement that Alaska obtain federal pre-clearance for changes the state makes to its election process. The announcement comes more than a week after a U.S. District court judge ruled in Anchorage that preparations for the next Alaska election can proceed, pending federal approval of a revised plan to redraw the state’s election districts based on data from the 2010 Census. The judge didn’t rule on the merits of the plan, but did pave the way for a three-judge panel to consider on June 28 whether election planning can proceed pending final approval from the U.S. Department of Justice under Section 5 of the U.S. Voting Rights Act.
A mistake could cost a state representative hopeful his chance to get on the ballot, as the Democratic registrar of voters reportedly gave him the wrong paperwork to petition for a primary. The registrar, Michelle Hufcut, meanwhile, has withdrawn her candidacy in a primary for the Democratic registrar job, citing health reasons. David C. Forsyth, who is hoping to be the Democratic candidate for state representative in the 116th District, officially learned Thursday that he should have used petition forms from the secretary of the state’s office. Forsyth needed to collect signatures to bring an August primary against state Rep. Lou Esposito of West Haven, the party-endorsed candidate. Forsyth is vowing to sue Hufcut and the secretary of the state’s office to get his name on the primary ballot.
A name that has graced the city political scene for four decades is on its way to the dustbin of history: The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics is now officially the D.C. Board of Elections. The change follows enactment of the city’s new ethics law; that established the new Board of Ethics and Government Accountability to handle the matters encompassed under the “ethics” portion of the BOEE name, which dates back to the earliest days of home rule. Legally speaking, the BOEE became the BOE in late January, when the ethics bill became law. But only in the past few weeks has the board — busy earlier with a primary and special election — moved to publicly change its name.
Florida officials appear to be backing away from a controversial law that put new restrictions on voter-registration drives and roused complaints that it discourages participation by African-Americans and other potential voters in this year’s elections. An attorney representing Florida told a federal three-judge panel in Washington on Thursday that the state may withdraw its request for judicial approval of the registration limits, part of a 2011 rewrite of the state’s elections law. The panel is reviewing this and other controversial aspects of the new law passed by the Republican-run Legislature. The state had requested the judicial “pre-clearance” rather than seek approval from the U.S. Department of Justice under requirements of the Voting Rights Act.
Lawyers for the state of Florida and the Justice Department argued in federal court on Thursday about whether Republican-backed changes to Florida’s voting laws constitute a violation of the federal Voting Rights Act. William S. Consovoy, a lawyer representing Florida, said the disputed changes to Florida’s law – which include provisions trimming the number of days for early voting, placing restrictions on voter registration drives and requiring voters to cast provisional ballots if they change their addresses from another county on Election Day – are not discriminatory. “There is not even remotely enough evidence of a disproportionate impact,” on minority groups, he told three federal judges. Elise S. Shore, a lawyer for the Justice Department, countered that these changes to Florida’s law have a clear “racial impact.” “The evidence is compelling that each of the changes was done for a discriminatory purpose,” she said.
Jacqueline Paulausky has been a registered voter in Florida since she moved to the state in 1981. So when she received a voter registration form in the mail recently, the 72-year-old Democrat was suspicious. The document, which looked official, asked her to affirm that she was a U.S. citizen and that she hadn’t committed a felony. None of her neighbors got one. Nor did her husband. She had eight days to turn in the papers to the state’s Division of Elections, the instructions told her. “I thought I was being picked out of a group,” Paulausky said. She was. Just not in the way she feared. Similar forms were sent to more than 420,000 people in Florida this month. But the sender was the Voter Participation Center, a Washington group that’s trying to increase — not decrease — voting among women and minorities. “Really?” Paulausky said. “Maybe they should have been more clear.” Paulausky actually received the letter in error. It was addressed to Jacqueline “Walker,” her name from a prior marriage that ended in 2005.
Georgia: DOJ: Runoff election dates violate federal law on military and overseas absentee ballots | The Republic
The federal government has sent a letter to Georgia officials saying the state’s schedule for runoff elections violates federal law on military and overseas absentee ballots and threatening a lawsuit if the matter isn’t resolved quickly. U.S. Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez on June 15 sent the letter to Attorney General Sam Olens and Secretary of State Brian Kemp. Olens’ office declined to comment on the letter, but Kemp said the state is in the middle of the primary election and doesn’t intend to make changes suggested by federal officials. Runoff elections are required in Georgia if no candidate earns more than 50 percent of the vote. Federal law requires that absentee ballot be sent to military and overseas residents at least 45 days before federal elections, including runoffs, the letter says. Georgia’s state primary runoff is scheduled for three weeks after the state primary election, and Georgia’s general election runoff is scheduled for four weeks after the general election. Both of those elections have federal offices on the ballot, and the time between the election and the runoff is less than 45 days in both cases.
Gov. John Lynch on Thursday vetoed a bill that would require voters to show a photo ID or sign a qualified voter affidavit, setting up a showdown with legislators next week. Using a qualified voter affidavit shouldn’t be used to establish a voter’s identity to vote and “will cause confusion, slow the voting process and may result in the inability of eligible voters to cast their vote,” Lynch wrote in his veto message for Senate Bill 289. Handicapping next week’s vote to override the governor’s veto, Rep. David Bates, R-Windham, said, “I think it’s entirely up to the Senate at this point.” Sen. Russell Prescott, R-Kingston, said he would push for the Senate next week to pass a corrections bill to satisfy the governor’s concern by substituting the use of the qualified voter affidavit with a simpler challenged voter affidavit, which is now used to challenge a person’s qualifications to vote. A corrections bill, if approved by the Senate, would go to the House for a vote and on to the governor to sign or veto, he said.
North Carolina: Budget stripped of funding needed to receive federal election money | NewsObserver.com
Absent from the budget approved Wednesday by legislators is a previously included $664,000 appropriation that would have automatically released around $4 million of federal funds to maintain and improve the state’s election system. Allocating the funds would have kept the state in compliance with guidelines set under the Help America Vote Act, passed in 2002 as a reaction to controversy in the 2000 presidential election that brought phrases like “dimpled chad” into the country’s lexicon. Under the act, states must contribute money to take advantage of federal cash set aside to maintain and improve voting systems. Previous versions of the House and Senate budgets included the funding, but cost-saving efforts won out at the last minute.
Five months away from Election Day with marquee races for president, governor and dozens of other offices, North Carolina legislators have again voted to slash the battleground state’s election budget — a move that will cause N.C. to forfeit $4 million in federal funds and which election watchdogs fear could make voting more chaotic this fall. The budget just passed by Republican lawmakers includes $102,000 in cuts to the N.C. State Board of Elections, which oversees the state’s voting systems. That’s on top of a $660,000 slashing of the Board’s budget in 2011 for a critical state agency whose core operating budget for running elections had been just under $3.5 million a year. That means that the state election board will have less money to train poll workers, maintain voting machines and other measures to keep elections running smoothly. It also triggers a more damaging blow to election funding: By failing to maintain a level of core election spending outlined by the Help America Vote Act, or HAVA, it will also cause North Carolina to forfeit $4 million in federal funds to improve voting systems in the state.
For college students attending one of the 14 schools in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, the opportunity to vote Nov. 6 comes down to a sticker. Efforts to update student identification cards to meet new Pennsylvania voting regulations are under way on campuses, system spokesman Kenn Marshall said Thursday. In April, the legislature passed a bill requiring voters to show photo identification with an expiration date before casting a ballot. The bill has received criticism for its changing definitions of acceptable IDs and for making it more difficult for people to vote.
Judge Larry Hyman ordered the South Carolina Election Commission to count all ballots cast for withdrawn Democratic candidate Ted Vick in the 7th Congressional District primary, thereby leading to a runoff election Tuesday between top vote-getters Gloria Tinubu and Preston Brittain. Election Commission Executive Director Marci Andino said the commission would abide by the court’s ruling and not appeal. The commission’s long-standing policy – in place since 2006 – stating votes for withdrawn candidates are not counted when it comes to determining majority vote in a primary was the focus of Hyman’s ruling. The policy stemmed from state law that said the majority is determined “by dividing the total votes cast for all candidates by two,” and that anything in excess of that sum is a majority. Without Vick’s 2,341 votes, Tinubu had 52 percent of all votes counted and was declared the winner of the June 12 primary.
Egypt’s election commission announced Thursday that it would delay the official results in the nation’s first contested presidential election until possibly as late as Sunday, fueling already-rampant speculation that the ruling military council may be trying to rig the results. The Presidential Election Commission, which is led by a judicial holdover from the regime of toppled President Hosni Mubarak, announced the delay a day after saying the results would be released Thursday. He said the delay was necessary so that the commission could be deliberate in its review of more than 400 complaints by the candidates, Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi and Ahmed Shafiq, Mubarak’s last prime minister. Among the accusations is that the Morsi campaign stuffed boxes with 1 million forged ballots in polling stations nationwide. According to Morsi’s campaign, its candidate leads Shafiq by 887,014 votes out of nearly 25.6 million cast.
With presidential and local elections slightly more than two weeks away, violence _ some of it political, some of it part of a raging drug war _ is surging in Mexico, with candidates killed, journalists snatched and major arrests threatening to touch off a wave of reprisals. And in a sign of the profound corruption that a new president will face, a video released this week shows police officers marching men from a hotel in the middle of the night. The men turned up dead the next day, the police suspected of acting on orders from drug gangs. In the coastal state of Veracruz, the body of reporter Victor Baez was discovered early Thursday in the main plaza of the state capital, Xalapa, hours after gunmen intercepted him as he left his newsroom.
Depending on whom one believes, Mongolia’s former president Nambaryn Enkhbayar is either a champion of democracy targeted for judicial persecution by an increasingly authoritarian regime or he is a corrupt charlatan whose finely crafted portrayal of martyrdom hoodwinked Washington, the United Nations and the European Union. The evidence suggests the second view is nearer the truth and Mongolia’s Constitutional Court has upheld a General Election Commission ruling that because Enkhbayar, president from 2005 to 2009, is facing five corruption charges, he is not eligible to run in parliamentary elections on June 28. That ruling has stalled and perhaps ended Enkhbayar’s attempts at a political comeback after his defeat in the 2009 presidential election.