National: Voting For the Leader of the Free World…From Your Couch? | Fox Business

Imagine if casting a vote for the next president of the United States were as easy as waking up and turning on your PC. Cyber security experts say online voting may not be that far off in the U.S. and could breathe new life into the American electoral process. Perhaps because Americans are already comfortable using the Internet to trade stocks, manage their finances and make online purchases, calls to modernize the voting system and potentially bring it online have started to grow louder. Barriers exist today, but voting for the leader of the free world via smartphone, laptop or tablet could be a reality within the next few presidential election cycles. … The biggest threats are malware on personal devices that could, unbeknownst to the voter, alter their vote or track who they voted for, as well as hostile people or groups who could hack into the system for malicious purposes and disrupt the voting process. Another major challenge is ensuring that a vote is anonymous while at the same time re-countable for auditing purposes.  “My concern is the potential for some rogue nation to attack our voting if it moves online, and not being prepared,” Snell said.

National: Report sees decline in voting glitches … but vote-by-mail sparks concern | NBC

The good news about voting technology is that the upgrades put into place since the controversial 2000 presidential election have made ballot tallies twice as accurate as they were — but the bad news is that the rise of early vote-by-mail systems could erode those gains. That’s the assessment from the Caltech-MIT Voting Technology Project, which has been monitoring voting technology and election administration nationwide for nearly a dozen years — ever since the “hanging-chad” debacle of the Bush vs. Gore election. Coming less than three weeks before this year’s Election Day, the project’s latest report includes some recommendations that could improve the election process in as little as two years. But first, project co-director Charles Stewart III, a political science professor at MIT, wants to celebrate the good news. “Voter registration is gradually getting better,” he told me. “Voting machines are clearly better. This is a voting-technology feel-good story. We’re getting the voter registration process into the 20th century, if not the 21st century.”

National: Effect of States’ Voter Laws Is Hard to Identify |

Voters in more than two dozen states next month will be asked to provide some form of identification before casting a ballot. How many Americans who would otherwise vote will be turned away or won’t turn up at all remains a hotly contested number. Some researchers have tried to count the number of voters affected, by surveying people about whether they have the required ID. This has produced a wide range of results, though, and some researchers question whether people whose IDs aren’t valid are aware of it, and whether they would rectify the situation if their state passed a tough ID law. Other researchers instead study actual effects of voter-ID laws on past turnouts. But the strictest forms of such laws—which require photographic identification and are studied most closely because they are thought likeliest to exclude the greatest number of people—took effect just before an exceptional presidential election that made it difficult to isolate their effect. As a result, such studies haven’t been able to convincingly demonstrate that these laws suppress turnout. “It’s so tricky to filter out unrelated factors, some of them unique to the election cycle, that may dissuade people from voting,” said Tim Vercellotti, a political scientist at Western New England University in Springfield, Mass.

National: Romney Family Investment Ties To Voting Machine Company That Could Decide The Election Causing Concern | Forbes

It’s 3:00 a.m. on November 7, 2012. With the painfully close presidential election now down to who wins the battleground state of Ohio, no network dares to call the race and risk repeating the mistakes of 2000 when a few networks jumped the gun on picking a winner. As the magic boards used by the networks go ‘up close and personal’ on every county in the Buckeye State, word begins to circulate that there might be a snafu with some electronic voting machines in a number of Cincinnati based precincts. There have already been complaints that broken machines were not being quickly replaced in precincts that tend to lean Democratic and now, word is coming in that there may be some software issues. The network political departments get busy and, in short order, discover that the machines used in Hamilton County, Ohio—the county home of Cincinnati— are supplied by Hart Intercivic, a national provider of voting systems in use in a wide variety of counties scattered throughout the states of Texas, Oklahoma, Hawaii, Colorado and Ohio. A quick Internet search reveals that there may be reason for concern.

National: States struggling to meet deadlines for delivering absentee ballots | Stripes

Nearly three years after Congress passed a law to guarantee military and overseas voters receive their absentee ballots at least 45 days before a federal election, several states are still failing to comply with the law. The Department of Justice announced last week that it had filed a lawsuit against Vermont and its chief election official for not complying with the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act, also known as the MOVE Act, which was passed in 2009 to safeguard the voting rights of the military, their family members and U.S. citizens overseas by allowing them adequate time to request, receive and send in their ballots from overseas.

National: Supreme Court Arizona voter ID case may shape the future |

The fight over whether states can demand some sort of identification before allowing voters to cast ballots has finally reached the U.S. Supreme Court as the justices agreed to hear argument on Arizona’s law requiring voters to show proof of U.S. citizenship. In the heat of the final days of the U.S. presidential election the case is not drawing much attention. Any argument and decision in the case won’t come until long after Election Day. And the arguments advanced by both sides in the case may seem as dry as unbuttered toast to the average American. The battle probably appeals mainly to political activists or Supreme Court wonks. But an eventual Supreme Court decision will help shape the voting landscape of the future.

Alabama: Tea Party offshoot working to clear names from Alabama voter rolls |

A volunteer network started by Tea Party members in Texas has taken steps to verify the addresses of college students in Huntsville, prompting local Democrats to cry foul. True the Vote last month sent a fax to Oakwood University, a historically black Seventh-day Adventist college in Huntsville, to verify the addresses of more than 120 students who are registered voters. The list included names alongside dates of birth. “I’m outraged about this,” said Clete Wetli, chairman of the Madison County Democratic party. Wetli on Friday said True the Vote is “aligned with the far right and Tea Party activists” and is using “fear and suppression” to attempt to influence elections.

Florida: Florida elections officials to oversee duplication of flawed Palm Beach County absentee ballots | Palm Beach Post

Underscoring the deep concern surrounding Palm Beach County’s latest election snafu, Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner is sending two observers here on Monday as workers begin an unprecedented process of duplicating an estimated 27,000 absentee ballots. In a letter to Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher late Friday, Detzner said he is sending two deputies to “observe and examine the registration and election processes and the condition, custody and operation of voting systems and equipment.” The deputies, he wrote, are empowered to “supervise the preparation of the voting equipment and procedures for the election.” Both will report their findings to him and file a written report with Palm Beach County Clerk of Courts Sharon Bock. State law allows the secretary of state to take such action “as he sees fit.” But the law also allows candidates, party leaders and others to request that observers be sent in. A spokesman for Detzner said, “This was the secretary’s decision.”

Texas: The Texan behind the charge for voter ID laws | Houston Chronicle

Anyone listening to Catherine Engelbrecht for any length of time is likely to be convinced that voter fraud is one of the most insidious evils the nation faces. The articulate and passionate founder of True the Vote, a Houston-based tea party organization dedicated to strengthening laws against voter fraud, has convinced several state legislatures of the need for voters to show photo identification at the polling place. But after three years of national attention – and much success – opponents are pushing back. Courts have struck down, limited or delayed recently enacted voter ID laws, including in Texas. Election officials in several states, including the swing states of Ohio and North Carolina, have rejected many of the challenges that True the Vote volunteers have provided, usually on grounds of paltry evidence.

Pennsylvania: Ads create confusion and fear on voter ID, voting rights advocates say | Washington Post

Despite an Oct. 2 ruling by a Pennsylvania judge putting the state’s new voter ID law on hold, a series of misleading ads and announcements is sowing confusion and fear among residents with just two weeks until Election Day, civil rights and union leaders contend. Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson ruled that election officials can still ask voters for photo identification but cannot require it. Simpson called the photo ID requirement reasonable and non-discriminatory but said there was not enough time before the Nov. 6 election to ensure that voters who lacked it were not disenfranchised by the change in the law. That critical detail in Simpson’s opinion — that photo ID is not required in this election — has been lost in much of the $5 million advertising campaign by the Pennsylvania Department of State, voters rights advocates charge. On buses, an ad displays a photo ID with “SHOW IT” in big block lettering. In smaller type, it says photo ID is not mandatory. Moreover, state officials acknowledge that it was not until Tuesday, a full two weeks after the court opinion, that the last of the pre-decision billboards announcing photo ID as a requirement came down.

Virginia: Man registering voters for GOP accused of tossing forms in trash |

A man who was being paid to register voters by the Republican Party of Virginia was arrested Thursday after he was seen dumping eight registration forms into a dumpster. Colin Small, 31, was working as a supervisor as part of a registration operation in eight swing states financed by the Republican National Committee. Small, of Phoenixville, Pa., was first hired by Strategic Allied Consulting, a firm that was fired by the party after suspect voter forms surfaced in Florida and other states. The owner of a store in Harrisonburg, Va., told a local television station that he became suspicious when he saw a car with Pennsylvania plates dump an envelope in back of his store. He recovered the envelope and alerted authorities. “He made a mistake and he’s being charged with it, which we fully support,” said Sean Spicer, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee. The committee paid more than $3 million to state committees to finance the get-out-the-vote operation.

Canada: Turnout down slightly–hard to measure effect of e-voting in Nova Scotia election | Nova News Now

Turnout for Digby’s first electronic vote was down from 2008. In town, roughly 53 per cent or 786 of the 1467 eligible voters cast a ballot over the week-long voting period. In 2008, with the added interest of a race for mayor, 75 per cent or 933 people voted out of 1236 eligible voters. Information was not available by press time about the percentage of voters from 2004, the last time the town had mayoral election.

Russia: Russian Opposition Vote Derailed by Hacker Attack | RIA Novosti

Electronic voting to the coordination council of Russia’s street opposition was temporarily suspended Saturday over a hacker attack, the movement’s central election committee said via Twitter Saturday. “It is possible that the online voting has been affected by DDoS attacks,” the committee said, referring to a Distributed Denial-of-Service attack, a common form of hacking that denies users access to targeted websites. More than 165,000 people have registered to vote electronically for official leaders to the coordinating committee, which claims it is following up on the 10-month-old protest movement’s demand for free elections and fair representation.

United Kingdom: Scottish Nationalist Party threatens to defy watchdog on vote spend | Herald Scotland

In a speech to the SNP conference in Perth, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon gave the clearest indication yet that the Scottish Government is preparing to disregard impartial advice on campaign funding from the Electoral Commission. The neutral watchdog – handed a key role in setting referendum rules under the terms of the Edinburgh Agreement last week – favours higher spending limits for the two main campaign groups than those proposed by ministers.The commission also wants higher spending caps for political parties under a formula which the SNP claims would put it at a £1 million disadvantage.