The Voting News Daily: Why can’t you vote online, At polling places, some fear monitors will challenge some legitimate voters, intimidate others

National: Why can’t you vote online? | The Verge Elections in the United States aren’t perfect. Between rare instances of voter fraud, attempts to make it harder for people to vote, voter intimidation, egregious manipulation of voting districts by major parties, and regularly low voter turnout, there’s plenty of room for improvement — leading governments…

National: New Election System Promises to Help Catch Voting-Machine Problems | Wired

When voting system activists in the U.S. managed to get many paperless electronic voting machines replaced a few years ago with optical-scan machines that use paper ballots, some believed elections would become more transparent and verifiable. But a spate of problems with optical-scan machines used in elections across the country have shown that the systems are just as much at risk of dropping ballots and votes as touchscreen voting machines, either due to intentional manipulation or unintentional human error. A new election system promises to resolve that issue by giving election officials the ability to independently and swiftly audit the performance of their optical-scan machines. Called Clear Ballot, the system is patterned in part after an auditing system that was used in California in 2008. It uses high-speed commercial scanners made by Fujitsu, as well as software developed by the Clear Ballot team, which includes a former developer who worked under Ray Ozzie to create Lotus Notes.

National: Why can’t you vote online? | The Verge

Elections in the United States aren’t perfect. Between rare instances of voter fraud, attempts to make it harder for people to vote, voter intimidation, egregious manipulation of voting districts by major parties, and regularly low voter turnout, there’s plenty of room for improvement — leading governments at all levels in the US federal system to examine alternative voting mechanisms that could alleviate these issues. In the age of the internet, an obvious solution for many is remote internet voting — an option that seems more palatable every year given the adoption of PCs, mobile devices, and broadband internet. And in 2012, more citizens than ever will have access to online voting assistance: more than 30 states and the District of Columbia will offer registration or provide absentee ballots for overseas voters using email or an internet portal. But can internet voting really solve problems in US elections? New voting technologies face a mountain of scrutiny. Elections in the United States require a high level of integrity, across multiple dimensions, either by public expectation or by law. These requirements include secrecy (so people can’t find out how you voted), privacy (so people can’t stand over your shoulder at the ballot box and coerce you), accountability (so votes can be verified as authentic), uniqueness (so people can only vote once), and accuracy (so votes are recorded correctly). Good voting systems should also be reliable, flexible, convenient, and cost-effective. For remote internet voting to be feasible and meaningful, it has to fulfill all of these criteria adequately, and experts are skeptical that an internet voting system could meet all of these needs. Each time an internet voting initiative begins in the US, warnings come from high places. A circle of expert technologists in the United States have been speaking out against the prospect of online voting since various groups began exploring it as early as 2000. And government bodies like the National Institute of Science and Technology have identified serious security vulnerabilities and voter authentication and election auditing weaknesses in pilot systems. According to some critics of internet voting, a secure solution might as well be penciled in on the calendar next to cold fusion; experts say the technical challenges of securing a remote online voting system are insurmountable, at least in the foreseeable future.

National: At polling places, some fear monitors will challenge some legitimate voters, intimidate others | The Washington Post

Kimberly Kelley of Tampa has provided Florida elections officials with thousands of names of people she thinks may be ineligible to vote and should be removed from the rolls. On Election Day, she’ll join thousands more — people of all political stripes — to monitor balloting. “I believe there is fraud both ways. I don’t think it’s a specific group,” said Kelley, a registered Republican whose group is called Tampa Vote Fair. “We’re just there to observe. We’re not going to intimidate anyone.” Poll watchers from unions, immigration groups and other organizations favoring greater voter access will also be on hand. Gihan Perera of the group Florida New Majority said training sessions are being held for observers and communications lines set up to respond to problems. “We’ll be aware and vigilant so that all of the rules and processes are honored and that our people are able to vote with ease,” he said.

National: Voter ID Foes’ Wins in Pennsylvania, Other States Could be Short Lived | Stateline

In recent months, courts have struck down voter identification laws in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Texas, heartening critics who feared the laws would turn away legitimate voters in November. But because the judges declined to reject the laws as unconstitutional, voter ID opponents may be winning battles but losing the broader war. The recent rulings have done little to alter the legal basis that has allowed comparable laws in Georgia and Indiana to stand for years. In Pennsylvania, for example, the judge ruled that state officials did not have enough time to implement the new voter ID law before Election Day. And a federal court ruled that Texas’s specific law would place a disproportionate burden on minority voters, but it left the door open for a different voter ID measure.

National: Disabled voters face Election Day challenges | CNN

On Nov. 6, there’s a very real possibility that many Americans with disabilities will not be able to vote because their local polling places will be inaccessible. Advocates for the disabled are worried that local governments aren’t doing enough to prepare — as are some of the small businesses that outfit polling sites with ramps. “We’ve gotten quite a few inquiries from major municipalities, but they’re not following through to actual sales,” said Dave Henderson, sales manager at EZ-Access in Algona, Wash.

National: Parties Prepare for Post-Election Legal Battles | Roll Call

Election Day is still weeks away, but both parties are already gearing up for post-election legal battles over the House and Senate race outcomes.   Recounts in close races are only one scenario among many that party operatives refer to as “overtime” or “post-
election activities.” Lawyers and campaign committees are trying to be ready for whatever they may face on the morning of Nov. 7.  “On a weekly basis, we have been doing training with lawyers in key districts,” a national GOP operative said. “Each state is different; each process is different.”  Party committees are also actively fundraising to cover post-election legal fees.  Aides say that elections can be lost after the polls have closed and that being caught unprepared for a post-election dispute could be fatal to a campaign. One Democratic operative said he considers preparations for legal challenges as important as get-out-the-vote efforts.

National: The controversy over state photo ID laws for voting continues to heat up | Washington Times Communities

I have a dirty little secret: I am legal to vote in two different states. Neither state requires photo identification. I can vote in either or both this year. How cool is that? What a great country! This came about because I moved from one state to another a few years ago, but the voter registration records in my previous location were apparently never updated to reflect my move. The government makes mistakes? There’s something I never would have guessed. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 7 million people move from state to state each year. If other state agencies are as efficient as the one where I used to live, that means up to 7 million people could be registered to vote in more than one state every year. Mix in some illegal aliens who want to be citizens, the illiterate and the clueless, some political corruption – and there goes the liberal theory that current voter registration laws are fine just as they are.

Florida: Palm Beach County’s 2012 Ballot Debacle | CBS Miami

Al Paglia yearned to hear that he had won the Wellington, Florida city council election. “It was ecstasy I had 50 people at my house at 11:00 at night it finally came across the TV screen.” Paglia recalled. “On the election website Al Paglia upsets incumbent – it was wonderful.” The supposed win took place earlier this year in March. Even in the world of politics – his honeymoon was shorter than anyone could have imagined. Just days after being declared the victor in a city councilman race, he got a call saying he was indeed… a loser. It was Palm Beach Supervisor of Elections, Susan Bucher, and her team who discovered the mistake. In two races, winners including Paglia were announced and certified… when they were actually the losers.   Bucher said Palm Beach’s optical scan election system had – unbeknownst to anyone-mixed up the race results. As a result, the wrong winners and losers were called.   When asked by CBS4 Investigative reporter, Michele Gillen, what is was like to declare the wrong winners? Bucher said, “It humiliating. It was awful. It was never our intent.” Bucher is one of several election supervisors we’ve met, who are taking aim at Florida’s audit process — the review of the paper ballots– only a sampling is done, and only after elections are certified.

Editorials: What’s the Truth about True the Vote? |

Two years ago, the week before Election Day, I drove to Harris County, Texas. More specifically, I drove to the Acres Homes Multi-Service Center, a polling location for early voting in one of Houston’s poor, predominantly black neighborhoods. After alleging that Harris County had a widespread problem with voter fraud, a Tea Party group called the King Street Patriots had launched a project called True the Vote, which had trained hundreds of volunteer poll watchers. As the early-voting period began, reports had begun to trickle out about white poll watchers arriving at minority precincts and intimidating voters. In Texas, poll watchers, appointed by a political party to watch the proceedings, aren’t allowed to do much; they’re barred from communicating with voters. But these poll watchers, foreign to the neighborhoods they were working in, were apparently not all observing the rules.

Connecticut: Voter database plagued by glitches | Connecticut Post

Election officials said they endured lengthy wait times to print out voter lists or simply to verify who is eligible to cast ballots next month in a host of marquee races, including the presidency. Some registrars of voters eventually gave up, choosing to try again during off-peak periods. The Secretary of the State’s Office acknowledged it has a problem on its hands and said it will convene a special meeting Thursday with the state’s technology team. The agency can least afford any mistakes after a ballot shortage in Bridgeport two years ago cast a dark cloud over the gubernatorial election won by Democrat Dannel P. Malloy over Republican Tom Foley by 6,500 votes.

National: Election administration issues on ballot in several states | electionline

This year, some ballots, like those in Florida, are so long and filled with candidates and issues that elections officials are encouraging voters to vote early to avoid possible lines on Election Day. The issues on the ballot range from gay marriage to gambling to ethics to tax levies. In several states however, the issues on the ballot are the elections themselves. In Minnesota voters will decide whether or not photo ID should be required to cast a ballot in future elections, in Arizona voters will decide whether or not to revamp the state’s entire primary system and in Illinois, residents in East Saint Louis will vote whether or not to eliminate city’s election board.

Minnesota: ‘Voter ID’ will cost as much as $500,000 | DL-Online

If the Voter ID amendment passes, it could cost Becker County as much as $500,000, according to Becker County Auditor-Treasurer Ryan Tangen, who is in charge of local elections. The Voter ID Act is one of two constitutional amendments (the other is an anti-gay marriage amendment) placed on the Nov. 6 ballot by the Republican-led Legislature. That $500,000 estimate is based on a variety of factors, including $65,000 for equipment needed by the county to make photo IDs and $120,000 for election equipment that will be needed by the county’s 10 townships that now vote by mail-in ballot.

Montana: Federal appeals court reinstates Montana campaign contribution limits as election looms | The Washington Post

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated Montana’s campaign donation limits, telling the federal judge who struck down the limits that the panel needs to see his full reasoning so it can review the case. The court intervened late Tuesday less than a week after the judge’s decision opened the door to unlimited money in state elections — during the height of election season. In response, U.S. District Judge Charles Lovell issued a 38-page conclusion Wednesday morning that reinforced his earlier decision finding that the state’s limits are too low to allow effective campaigning. He suggested the state Legislature would have a “clean canvas” to perhaps establish new, higher limits that could meet constitutional muster.

Montana: Tribal members sue for voting access | Missoulian

A group of American Indians from the Crow, Northern Cheyenne and Fort Belknap reservations sued state and county election officials in federal court on Wednesday, seeking equal access to voting through satellite offices. The lack of satellite election offices on reservations, the plaintiffs allege, forces Indians to drive long distances to vote at the county seat, is discriminatory and denies Indians their voting and civil rights under federal law and the U.S. and Montana constitutions. A few of the 15 plaintiffs and consultants assisting with the case gathered outside the federal courthouse in Billings on Wednesday to discuss the issue. Plaintiff Marty Other Bull, a Crow tribal member and registered voter who lives in Crow Agency, votes in person. While he has a greater opportunity to vote at the Big Horn County election office in Hardin, about 15 miles away, Other Bull said many tribal members in Wyola, Lodge Grass and Pryor have to travel farther. “For us to be traveling to Hardin, it’s a hardship for most of us. This is a good step to work together,” Other Bull said.

Montana: Tribes Demand Equal Access to Early Voting |

On October 10, members of three Montana tribes—Northern Cheyenne, Crow and Gros Ventre and Assiniboine—filed a voting-rights lawsuit in federal court in Billings. One defendant is Montana’s head election official, Secretary of State Linda McCulloch. The other 13 are commissioners and election officers of Rosebud, Big Horn and Blaine counties, which overlap the three tribes’ reservations, respectively, and handle their non-tribal elections. The tribal members are suing because the officials do not plan to provide the three reservations with satellite offices for early voting, which got underway in Montana on October 9 and runs through election day. The 16 plaintiffs say this violates rights protected by the United States and Montana constitutions and the Voting Rights Act (VRA). All three counties named have lost or settled VRA suits. Today’s failure to provide satellite early voting reinforces a “history of official racial discrimination in voting,” the suit said.

Editorials: Queens Voters Forced to Trek a Mile After Polling-Place Swap |

On Tuesday, 59-year-old Ditmars resident Wendy Rodriguez crossed the street with the help of a crossing guard outside of P.S. 2 on 21st Avenue. The two began chatting, and the guard asked Rodriguez, a school administrator, if she had received a letter earlier this year from the Board of Elections, explaining that the polling site at the school would be closed for November’s election. The crossing guard explained that voting would now be done about a mile away, at P.S. 84, on 41st Street near 23rd Avenue. “That’s ridiculous,” said Rodriguez, who lives in the neighborhood. “You know what’s going to happen? People aren’t going to vote.” Rodriguez’s situation has become a familiar one. With redistricting after the 2010 census, concerns have risen across the city that new districts formed earlier this year would cause mass confusion on Election Day in November.

Ohio: Elections chief Jon Husted restricts methods to notify voters of absentee ballot errors |

For the presidential election, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has placed new restrictions on how local boards of elections can notify voters if their absentee ballot contains an error. Husted, a Republican, issued a directive Oct. 4 that limits the method of communication to first-class mail when a voter’s absentee ballot identification envelope contains errors, such as a missing name or signature, or if the information on the envelope does not match voter registration records. Election officials cannot notify voters by email or phone, even though voters may provide that information when applying for an absentee ballot, the directive said. Husted’s office says the directive was issued to ensure uniformity across the state. But Democrats say the directive is another example of Husted making it more difficult to vote. Earlier this week, Husted appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court an appellate court decision that allows in-person early voting the weekend before the Nov. 6 election.

Ohio: State Fights on Early Voting, Provisional Ballots | Roll Call

One of two legal challenges to Ohio’s voting procedures could end up before the Supreme Court in the next few weeks,  creating the possibility of an eleventh-hour decision affecting the nearly 8 million voters in  the crucial swing state. President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign has until Friday evening to respond to a request by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) that the Supreme Court stay a lower court’s ruling blocking changes in the state’s early voting rules that would allow only military voters to cast ballots during the three days before Election Day. The same federal appellate court that made that ruling is considering another case related to provisional ballots. The Service Employees International Union challenged the state’s refusal to count ballots cast in the wrong precinct as a result of poll worker error. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is expected to weigh in on that case within the next week, and the decision could lead to another high court appeal.

Oregon: Automated calls generate concern among recipients in Oregon | Statesman Journal

Automated telephone calls questioning the registration status of voters, including several received in the Mid-Valley, apparently will not trigger legal action by Secretary of State Kate Brown. Based on inquiries by the state Elections Division, “there’s really not a lot we can do” because no violation of election law turned up, said Andrea Cantu-Schomus, Brown’s spokeswoman. However, she said Wednesday, the Oregon Department of Justice is looking at whether the calls violated do-not-call lists that people can sign up for. The do-not-call law has an exception for some political purposes.

Pennsylvania: Revised voter ID ads air in Pennsylvania | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The state is back on the air with voter ID advertisements updated to reflect a court order that photo identification will not be required at the election next month. After the Commonwealth Court last week ordered the state to allow voters without photo identification to cast regular ballots next month, the Department of State pulled its TV and other advertisements about the voter ID law. Revised advertisements aired in some markets Tuesday and across the state Wednesday, said Ron Ruman, a spokesman for the Department of State. The original TV ad told viewers, “to vote in Pennsylvania on Election Day, you need an acceptable photo ID with a valid expiration date,” but the revised one says: “When voting in Pennsylvania this Election Day, November 6th, you will be asked but not required to show a photo ID.”

Russia: Putin’s power push makes Russia’s regional elections irrelevant | Alaska Dispatch

Russians in a number of regions go the polls on Sunday to elect governors, mayors and provincial legislatures in what was once seen as a critical test for the opposition. Its leaders had hoped at least some victories would provide a political foothold to harness the public displeasure with Vladimir Putin’s return as president that prompted mass protests in December. That’s not going to happen thanks to a campaign by the authorities to strong-arm, cajole and undermine opposition candidates that has forced them back into the political margin. One of the candidates became a prominent opposition leader by launching a movement to stop the felling of parkland trees outside Moscow to make way for a highway. Now running for mayor of her suburb, Yevgenia Chirikova says she is the victim of a plot to stop her from winning. The 35-year-old businesswoman is running third, behind the incumbent and a heavy metal rocker with Kremlin ties who says he would cut down the forest because it’s “dirty.” He’s accused the United States of bankrolling the opposition, a common claim by officials. While it’s undeniable that the protests reflected a change among many who were frustrated and humiliated by the Kremlin’s authoritarianism, they didn’t mean the country had irrevocably changed. Making bold proclamations to that effect is the opposition’s job. Others would be well-advised to heed an unchanging pattern in Putin’s governance since his rise to power a dozen years ago.