National: The Problems with Online Voting | Wall Street Journal

Two years ago, hackers gained access to an online voting system created by the District of Columbia and altered every ballot on behalf of their own preferred candidates. On the “Thank You!” page that ran at the end of the voting protocol, they left their trademark—the University of Michigan fight song. The online voting system was real, intended for use that November, but the compromised election, fortunately, was just a mock-up for testing security. The infiltrators were a team of graduate students led by University of Michigan computer scientist J. Alex Halderman. Which candidates got the fake votes? Skynet from the “Terminator” movies and Bender, the alcohol-fueled robot from TV’s “Futurama.” But the hackers had a serious point: that Internet voting systems were a real threat to the integrity of the democratic process. “The question of whether Internet voting is secure is really not a political question,” Dr. Halderman says. “It’s a technical question.” As many as three million voters will be eligible to vote online this fall, according to Pamela Smith, executive director of the Verified Voting Foundation, a nonpartisan fair elections watchdog group. In all, 31 states will offer some form of online voting, usually for overseas voters.

National: New database of US voter fraud finds no evidence that photo ID laws are needed | News21

A new nationwide analysis of 2,068 alleged election-fraud cases since 2000 shows that while fraud has occurred, the rate is infinitesimal, and in-person voter impersonation on Election Day, which prompted 37 state legislatures to enact or consider tough voter ID laws, is virtually non-existent. In an exhaustive public records search, reporters from the investigative reporting projecdt News21 sent thousands of requests to elections officers in all 50 states, asking for every case of fraudulent activity including registration fraud, absentee ballot fraud, vote buying, false election counts, campaign fraud, casting an ineligible vote, voting twice, voter impersonation fraud and intimidation.

Click to search the national database of voter fraud cases compiled by News21.

Editorials: Ignoring the real threat of fraud | Lawrence Norden/

Why are states with new voting restrictions so unconcerned about fraud that is the real threat to our elections? Over the past 18 months, in a bitterly partisan environment, several states have passed new restrictions on access to voting. They often say they did so to prevent fraud. But something doesn’t add up. The very states that passed the most restrictive laws have also failed to take basic security steps recommended by experts to prevent fraud — steps that nearly every other state in the country has taken. Let’s look at the most controversial (and common) of the new voting laws. Nine states have passed restrictive voter ID requirements that could be in effect this November, depending on the outcome of legal challenges. Under these laws, if a voter cannot produce a specified type of government-issued photo identification — most commonly, a driver’s license — his or her vote will not count. Period. Because millions of Americans do not have the kind of ID required by these laws, the Brennan Center for Justice and others have objected to them. We argue that there should be some way for people who don’t have the ID required by these laws to verify who they are and cast a ballot that will count.

Editorials: Mitt Romney’s tax returns: the ‘voter fraud’ theory | MS Bellows Jr/

Friday’s exchange of letters between the election campaigns of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, in which Romney rejected Obama’s offer to drop the tax return issue if Romney will produce just three more years’ records, has moved the long-simmering brouhaha over Romney’s tax returns back to the front media burner. That’s many fewer than any presidential candidate has disclosed in decades, setting up the hearsay accusation disseminated joyfully by Harry Reid (who may or may not actually believe it) that Romney is afraid to tell voters that he sometimes pays no taxes at all. (Romney has answered that, saying he has never paid less than 13% in taxes on his income.) Meanwhile, Romney appears to have escaped relatively unsinged from the apparently unrelated revelation that he may have committed voter fraud in January 2010, when – despite not owning a house inMassachusetts and having given every appearance of having moved to California – he registered and voted in the Massachusetts special election to replace the deceased Senator Ted Kennedy. Given the GOP’s ongoing use of the “voter fraud” fable to justify modern Jim Crow laws and its highly-publicized persecution of the voter registration groupAcorn, an actual case of felony voter fraud committed by the Republican nominee could have been a big story – but Romney was able to tamp down the flames by claiming, not very credibly but also not disprovably, that he and Ann actually were living in their son Tagg’s Belmont, Massachusetts basement in 2010. Without proof that Romney lied about where he lived, there’s no felony – and no big national story.

Arizona: Judge: Arizona must accpet federal voter registration forms | YumaSun

A federal judge has given state and county election officials until the end of the month to finally comply with a court order to make sure that alternate voter registration forms are readily available – forms that do not require proof of citizenship. Judge Roslyn Silver rejected claims by Attorney General Tom Horne that all election officials need to do to comply with her order is accept the federal voter registration form if someone actually finds one and fills one out. Horne said the state has no obligation to actually provide those federal forms. Instead, the judge said the state and counties “shall ensure widespread distribution of the federal form through all reasonable channels.” And she said that, by the end of the month, election officials must make that form available “where they make the state form available, including websites.”

Connecticut: State Used Primary to Pilot New Election Results Reporting System | CT News Junkie

Despite some opening-night hiccups, the Secretary of the State’s office is hoping municipal election officials will embrace an instantaneous, public, digital returns reporting system in time for November. The new program, which is intended to replace a laborious and outdated system of paperwork and faxes, is entirely web-based and would allow for immediate public access to real-time election results. The Secretary of the State’s office did a trial run of the new system on primary night with a handful of towns including Wilton, New Britain, Manchester, Stamford, Simsbury, and Danbury. The new system allows moderators at individual polling locations — or anywhere with Internet access — to log in and post results as soon as they have them. Townwide moderators will have more administrative privileges within the system, but it is designed to make results available to the public as soon as individual moderators post them, according to Av Harris, spokesman for the Secretary of the State Denise Merrill.

Florida: Scott must figure out what to do with early voting |

Twelve years after Florida decided the 2000 presidential election, one of the nation’s biggest swing states is confronting a legal and political quandary over its voting standards. A federal court in Washington D.C., ruled late Thursday that new restrictions on early voting passed by the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature cannot take effect in five counties covered by federal voting laws. The ruling — which said the changes could hurt participation by blacks — raises the prospect of having longer early-voting periods in places such Tampa than in urban areas such as Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando. Some voting groups — and Democratic politicians — called on Republican Gov. Rick Scott to immediately force all counties to impose the same time period for early voting. The law passed last year kept the maximum total hours of early voting hours the same, but it reduced the days in which early voting was available. The Scott administration on Friday was still reviewing the 119-page ruling.

Hawaii: State Office of Elections blasts Hawaii County Clerk | Hawaii News Now

In a scathing six-page report, the state Office of Elections criticized Hawaii County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi after several problems at Big Island polling places during Saturday’s primary election. In the report, state elections chief Scott Nago said his staff witnessed “poor planning, implementation and leadership by the County Clerk. Essentially, the County Clerk on election day is supposed to be like a field general with a plan of attack, who acts confidently, and has the support of his or her troops,” the report said. “The County Clerk was in no way, shape, or form that type of leader.” The report also slammed Kawauchi for not knowing how many polls opened late on the Big Island. “Specifically, the County Clerk at no specific time had a handle on how many polling places out of the forty in the county opened late.”

Iowa: Secretary of State continues voter fraud hunt despite lack of evidence | Watchdog News

Efforts by Iowa’s top election official to uncover voter fraud may prove difficult. A new study analyzed 2,068 alleged cases of voter fraud nationwide and found only 10 cases related to voter impersonation, according to the research from a national investigative reporting project funded by the Carnegie-Knight Initiative. Iowa had no such cases. Here, Republican Secretary of State Matt Schultz has vowed to put a voter ID law in place and prove fraud in the state does exist. Schultz, 33, has yet to produce such results since taking office in 2011, despite his expansive efforts to purge voter rolls, which led to a lawsuit brought by two civil rights groups. “When you enact these voter ID laws it will basically change the outcome of an election in favor of Republicans by one or two percentage points,” said Seth Masket, an associate political science professor at the University of Denver in Colorado. “Usually, it’s not enough to affect the outcome of the election. But in a close race like this year’s presidential election, it can make a difference.”

Minnesota: An expensive proposition: Voter ID passage could increase Minnesota county’s election-related costs | The Stillwater Gazette

Washington County faces spending more than $750,000 for new voting machines and a central counting machine in 2013. But the county also stares at a hidden cost next year if Minnesota voters approve a proposed state constitutional amendment requiring voters show identification at the polls. That was the message from Property Records and Taxpayer Services Director Jennifer Wagenius Tuesday during a Board of Commissioners budget workshop. Although the majority of the department’s projected 2013 revenue, more than $5.684 million, comes from non-levy fees collected by recording documents, assessments and revenue collected at license centers, Wagenius said her office will rely more on levy revenue to replace election equipment.

Minnesota: Judge interrupts voter ID spin |

For political spinmeisters, timing can be tricky. You never know when something like a federal judge’s ruling might disrupt your spin cycle. That apparently happened Friday to the folks at Protect My Vote, the group promoting the amendment that would allow only people bearing government-issued photo identification cards to vote. They issued an email at the crack of dawn to journalists upbraiding DFL Secretary of State Mark Ritchie for saying that if adopted, their amendment would impede Election Day voter registration for many Minnesotans. “No legislators have stated any intent to eliminate Election Day registration,” said Dan McGrath, Protect My Vote’s chair and the executive director of the conservative advocacy group Minnesota Majority.

Ohio: Voting hours order doesn’t end debate |

Dissatisfied that a statewide plan for early absentee voting includes no weekend hours, Democrats, labor leaders and voting rights groups on Thursday pressed for expansion of that schedule – and warned that the issue may ultimately be resolved in court. The day after Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted ordered all 88 county boards of elections to stay open for limited extra evening hours in October, about 150 people rallied outside the Hamilton County Board of Elections and later jammed a meeting room to demand even more hours, particularly on weekends. “What he did was equally disenfranchise voters,” senior citizen Patricia Youngblood said, drawing murmurs of approval from the impassioned, frustrated crowd.

Ohio: Secretary of State Suspends Democrats From Montgomery County Board | BuzzFeed

The top Ohio elections official, a Republican, has suspended two Democratic elections board members as the state’s regular, bitter battles over voting procedures intensify. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, after setting a uniform standard for early voting hours across the state on Wednesday, is facing a revolt from some Democratic elections board members, who had voted against complying with the new rule. In response to the move by two Montgomery County Democrats, Husted suspended them this afternoon, writing to Thomas Ritchie Sr. and Dennis Lieberman, “[Y]ou are hereby suspended from acting in any official capacity as a member of the montgomery County Board of Elections.” He also set a hearing for Monday on the two men’s permanent removal from the board.On Wednesday, Husted had issued a directive that his office says stopped county boards of elections from allowing weekend early voting hours within their counties, but this morning the Democratic members of the Montgomery County Board of Elections ignored the directive, claiming the directive only set a minimum, and voted to allow it.

Pennsylvania: Groups appeal judge’s ruling in voter ID case | Reuters

A coalition of civil rights groups has asked Pennsylvania’s highest court to review a voter identification law that it says will disenfranchise over 1 million voters ahead of the U.S. presidential election in the battleground state. A state judge this week rejected their challenge to the law, which requires voters to present photo identification such as a driver’s license in order to cast a ballot. Republican lawmakers say it will help prevent voter fraud. Critics charge that it is a ploy to keep mainly Democratic voters from casting ballots. Katherine Culliton-Gonzalez, a lawyer for the Advancement Project — one of the groups behind the appeal filed on Thursday — said she had requested the top court hear oral arguments in the case during its next session, which runs September 10-14. “Obviously if we wait for the damage to be done, the election will be over,” Culliton-Gonzalez said on Friday.

Editorials: A judicious opinion on a silly voter ID law |

As someone who writes a lot about court decisions, I can vouch for the fact that actually reading the opinions can spoil the fun. A court’s rationale is often more complicated and technical than the first takeaway from the decision would suggest. Sometimes, it’s true, the jurisprudential rigmarole is just a rationalization for an outcome-driven discussion, but that happens less often than cynics think.  I offer these observations to explain why I’m less outraged than some people about a Pennsylvania judge’s refusal to block implementation of that state’s voter ID law — a law, I think, that is mischievous and politically motivated. Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson’s opinion is closely reasoned, careful  (perhaps too careful; see below) and as far as I can see untainted by partisanship, though he was elected as a Republican.

Texas: GOP vows to defend Voter ID; Latino vote in Southwest could decline | Open Channel

Every month for the next two decades, 50,000 Latinos in the U.S. will turn 18 years old. With that many new eligible voters and dramatic population growth expected, Latinos could dominate voting in the Southwest, particularly Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center. Every year, 600,000 more Latinos become eligible voters, making them a potentially potent voting force. However,  Latinos have a historically low turnout at the polls: Only around 30 percent of eligible Latinos vote, according to the non-profit Pew Hispanic Center in Washington, D.C. Advocacy groups see the national push toward more stringent voter identification laws as a way to suppress an already apathetic Latino vote.

Angola: Elections An Opportunity For Democracy | VoA

On August 31, the Angolan people will have an historic opportunity to voice their democratic aspirations.  For only the second time since the end of Angola’s devastating civil war, the southern African nation’s citizens will go to the polls and choose their leaders by voting. Angola has an opportunity to demonstrate to the world the stability, vibrancy and plurality of its young democracy. The United States supports the Angolan people’s democratic aspirations and will accompany them through this electoral process. Our government has provided $2 million this year in support for civil society to train domestic observers and conduct voter education, as well as to train journalists in objective electoral coverage.

Venezuela: US Carter Center: Venezuelan Electoral System one of the Most Reliable in the World |

The Venezuelan electoral system is the most reliable in the world, because it can be audited and verified at every stage, said Jennifer McCoy, director of the Carter Center’s Americas Program. She made the comments while visiting the Panorama publishing house, where she was welcomed by its president, Patricia Pineda. McCoy came to Venezuela a few days ago and observed the mock electoral test of last Sunday (5 Aug 2012) in Vargas state. She noted that the Carter Center is currently discussing whether it will participate as an international observer in the October 7 [presidential] election.