Rapid advances in the development of cyberweapons and malicious software mean that electronic-voting machines used in the 2012 election could be hacked, potentially tipping the presidential election or a number of other races. Since the machines are not connected to the Internet, any hack would not be a matter of someone sneaking through cyberspace to change ballots. Rather, the concern is that an individual hacker, a partisan group, or even a nation state could infect voting machines by gaining physical access to them or by targeting the companies that service them.
As the frenzied race for the White House comes down to the wire, tens of thousands of partisan lawyers are mobilizing under the radar in battleground states, all steeling for one terrifying scenario: a recount that could decide the presidency. Their objective is to head off a repeat of the Gore-Bush fiasco 12 years ago in which Al Gore won the popular vote and George W. Bush captured the Electoral College and ultimately the presidency.“They are all bracing for Florida in 2000 — everyone wants to be in position so as not to be disadvantaged by a court decision in a tie,” says Steve Schmidt, who ran John McCain’s 2008 campaign. “This [is] a preventive strategy. They are largely in search of problems that don’t yet exist. It’s like the Cold War and nuclear capability. You want to have what the other guy has. ”
Three years ago, the Supreme Court warned there could be constitutional problems with a landmark civil rights law that has opened voting booths to millions of African-Americans. Now, opponents of a key part of the Voting Rights Act are asking the high court to finish off that provision. The basic question is whether state and local governments that once boasted of their racial discrimination still can be forced in the 21st century to get federal permission before making changes in the way they hold elections.
National: Thousands of People Have Used Remote-Controlled Pens Over The Internet To Register To Vote | TechPresident
While it’s a drop in the bucket in numbers, this election cycle has seen one science-fiction like innovation in an area that might seem dry as dust, yet holds significance for the future of voter engagement: Voter registration. This year, more than 100,000 people have used remote-controlled pens over the Internet to sign and complete their voter-registration forms. President Obama’s re-election campaign and Rock the Vote have both used the new service from the five-person startup Allpoint Voter Services in Oakland, Calif. The Obama campaign made the service available through its GottaRegister.com Web site to voters in North Carolina, 10 other states and the District of Columbia. Campaign finance records show that the campaign spent almost $43,000 from August through last week to use the service. Allpoint provided the service to Rock the Vote for free so that they could prove that the model works and can scale, says company spokesman Jude Barry. He claims that the system could potentially process a million voter registration forms a month.
National: Election’s poll workers face a myriad of challenges amid changes in voting rules | The Washington Post
There’s no talking politics on the job. Try not to wear red or blue. No snooping through electronic records to see whether your neighbor is lying about her age. Bring plenty of food for a day that will run from 5 a.m. to as late as 9 p.m. Most important, assistant registrar Keith Heyward told volunteer poll workers in a recent training class, is try to put voters at ease. Months of news reports about photo IDs and other changes have left them confused and leery.“People are coming to the precincts expecting you to give them a hard time,” Heyward said. “We don’t need you to give them a hard time.”
In the dark of night, when they get what little sleep they get these days, the people running the campaigns for president have more than enough fodder for nightmares. Worse, come daybreak, they realize their worst fears may yet come true. Dancing in their heads are visions of recounts, contested ballots and lawsuits. The possibility that their candidate could win the popular vote yet lose the presidency. Even the outside chance of an Electoral College tie that throws the contest to Congress. Now add to that parade of potential horrors one more: a freakish two-in-one storm that could, if the more dire forecasts prove correct, warp an election two years and $2 billion in the making.
Florida: Eager voters waited long lines in Broward and Palm Beach counties as early voting began Saturday | Sun Sentinel
Early voting got off to a robust start in Broward County, where voters eagerly stood in line for five hours or more to cast ballots in a cliff-hanger of a presidential race. “We’ve had very few complaints,” Broward elections official Fred Bellis said outside one voting hall. “People have stood in line five hours and said, ‘Thank you for giving me the privilege to vote.’” Elections officials reported a smooth day at their 17 polling sites, where by 1 p.m., some 13,000 ballots had been cast. Voters were still casting ballots at 10 p.m. in three cities, because of long lines. There were hitches here and there: voters in Tamarac were towed when they parked in a private lot, a printer at the Main Library in Fort Lauderdale was on the fritz in the morning, several voters passed out in lines. But by and large, voters on the first day of early voting in Florida got what they expected – a long, long wait to the ballot box. Early voting continues until Nov. 3.
Tomorrow, as the sun rises, Bishop Victor Curry of New Birth Baptist Church will wake up and race to the Stephen P. Clark Government Center in downtown. At 7 a.m., he will help lead south Florida’s first early-vote rally. As soon as he can, he will hotfoot it to the South Dade Regional Library, 30-odd minutes away, for the day’s second early-vote rally. He will find some way to flee in time to make the start of the EBA Higher Education Awareness and Dropout Prevention Initiative in Miami Gardens, the heart of black south Florida, and take the stage next to Rev. Al Sharpton. Then back on the road, north to Broward County.
The plan, coordinated by at least 150 black pastors, is called “Operation Lemonade.” On Wednesday, I visited New Birth, parking near the van that promotes his radio talk show, and finding Curry’s office in the sprawling, 10-year-old gated complex. Outside the chapel, there’s a signed message from President Obama congratulating Curry on the church’s anniversary. Inside Curry’s office, there are multiple pictures commemorating his meetings with Sharpton and with Bill Clinton, next to his lifetime membership plaque from the NAACP, and a picture from election night 2008. That year, churches got two whole weeks to turn out the early vote. This year they get one.
A billboard along a busy interstate proclaimed the state “#1 in voter fraud.” A sitting governor fingered felons for tilting an election. A national pundit blamed fraudulent votes for the passage of national health-care reform. Could this be Minnesota we’re talking about? Once praised as the gold standard for ethics in government and election administration, Minnesota’s voting system is under fire from those who say the state’s election integrity is at stake.
A handful of voters throughout the state have reported problems making a choice on touch-screen voting machines used in roughly a quarter of North Carolina counties. Newspapers in both Cumberland and Guilford counties have reported on voter complaints. Callers to WRAL-TV have also asked about problems their friends encountered when voting early. “We don’t even question the voter as to whether it’s true or not,” said Terri Robertson, director of the Cumberland County Board of Elections. She said her staffers are instructed to shut down any voting machine that a voter is having problems with and service it. Voters, meanwhile, are directed to another machine, she said.
ne part of the story of the 2012 voting wars is well known: Republican legislatures have passed a series of laws making it at least modestly harder for people to vote. These GOP-inspired rules have included limits on early voting, stricter rules for voter registration, and new voter ID laws to stamp out unproven allegations of voter fraud. Less well-known is that courts have reined in some of these excesses, including a decision to block Texas’s stringent voter ID law, an injunction putting Pennsylvania’s voter ID law on hold for this election, and a settlement blocking the worst of Florida’s voter registration hurdles. The judicial record has been decidedly mixed. The Pennsylvania law will likely be approved by the 2014 elections, courts have allowed Republican secretaries of state to pursue purges of noncitizens from voting rolls despite ample evidence that the lists erroneously included many eligible voters, and federal courts recently refused to roll back Texas’ tough new voter registration rules.
Editorials: Could Romney-Linked Electronic Voting Machines Jeopardize Ohio’s Vote Accuracy? | Keith Thomson/Huffington Post
In 2006, a group of computer hackers reprogrammed a Dutch electronic voting machine to play chess. The Dutch government subsequently imposed a moratorium on the use of electronic voting machines. In 2009, German Federal Constitutional Court ruled the country’s electronic voting systems unreliable to the point that their use was deemed unconstitutional. In June, Ireland paid a metal recycling company €70,267 to dismantle and recycle the country’s €55 million worth of electronic voting machines. In the United States, 35% of this year’s general election votes will be cast on electronic voting machines that, “in terms of effort required to compromise the systems, are in the same ballpark as the Irish voting machines,” according to Dan Wallach, a professor in Rice University’s Department of Computer Science and a computer systems security specialist. “The current voting machines were designed with insufficient attention to computer security.”
With all the spin, false claims, and counter-claims, elections are confusing enough. But the on-again, off-again Pennsylvania voter-ID law and the way the state has dealt with it are worse. So much confusion has been created that many voters may not show up at the polls. This is the outrageous result of bad, partisan-stained legislation bullied through the legislature so fast the Corbett administration had little time to even think about how to implement it. For the record: Voters do not need a state-sanctioned photo ID to vote in this election.
Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. gave a lawyer’s answer when asked what would happen if the Tennessee Legislature might amend the state law requiring a photo voter ID in light of the Thursday, Oct. 25, Tennessee Court of Appeals ruling on the matter. The court upheld the law but also ruled that the city of Memphis photo library cards are a valid form of ID under that law. Wharton was specifically asked what the city’s reaction would be if legislators return to Nashville in January and amend the law to specifically prohibit photo library cards.
As the national scandal over United Nations-linked “elections monitors” in the United States continues to grow after Texas threatened potential prosecutions, the international outfit deploying “observers” demanded that the Obama administration come to its aid. The U.S. State Department promptly claimed that the UN-affiliated monitors would have “full” diplomatic immunity. But in the Lone Star State, officials fired back and upped the ante: Don’t mess with Texas. On October 23, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott sent a strongly worded letter to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) warning that its representatives could be prosecuted if they violate state law or are found within 100 feet of a polling place. Among the most serious concerns was the fact that the UN partner organization was working with discredited far-left radical groups to supposedly seek out conservative “voter suppression” schemes — mostly state laws aimed at preventing election fraud.
Lithuanians are voting in the second round of national elections, with budget cuts and joining the euro seen as key issues. Polls opened at 07:00 (05:00 GMT), with half the seats being contested. Two centre left parties, the Labour Party and the Social Democrats, finished first and second in the first round on 14 October. PM Andrius Kubilius’ governing conservatives, unpopular for cutting pensions and public wages, came third. Having won 34 seats in the first round, Labour and the Social Democrats hope to win enough of the 67 seats available on Sunday to allow them to form a coalition government.
The pressure is on for Ukraine as it heads into their parliamentary elections today. So far, the country seems to be doing beautifully with the process. Six hundred observers – three times the normal amount – will help monitor the process along with cameras at polling stations. Ukraine should be commended for being open to international inspection of their process, while other post-Soviet states remain unwilling or unable to endure international scrutiny. One major and excellent change to Ukraine’s reformed process is the advent of the Single Mandate District. Essentially, the reform changes the old closed party list proportional system so that half the elected parliament (Verkhovna Rada) now comes from geographically defined districts, much like US congressional districts. So on Oct. 28, Ukrainians will cast two votes, electing 225 deputies proportionally from party lists and 225 representatives of their respective districts.
Ukraine is preparing for its parliamentary elections on October 28th. The main question is as old as Ukrainian history: will it be a transparent and fare election by western standards or will the ruling party use questionable methods to win their seats in Parliament? The main players in this election are the government’s Party of Regions and the United Opposition party, Fatherland (Batkivshchyna). In addition to those, there is UDAR (Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reforms), lead by famous Ukrainian boxer, Vitali Klitschko, the Communist Party and about thirty other smaller groups. With Yulia Tymoshenko, former prime minister and the leader of the opposition, in prison, her party is still remarkably strong. Tymoshenko is serving her seven-year term over a gas deal with Russia and abuse of the office – charges that she denies.
United Kingdom: Prisoner Disenfranchisement as a Sovereign Issue: Britain’s Conundrum | The International
After a final ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, the UK government is believed to be planning a draft bill that will introduce limited voting rights for prisoners despite widespread opposition to the move in the legislature. The announcement of the draft bill is expected to be deferred until just before a late November deadline but after the November 17 election for police commissioner. All judgements made by the European Court of Human Rights are binding and member states are expected to abide by their judgements or face penalty, usually monetary. If Britain fails to change their prisoner voting laws, they could face a fine amounting up to £150 million.