Virginia: Fairfax Democrats warn of voting machine problems | The Washington Post

Fairfax Democrats issued a warning Thursday about reports that touch-screen voting machines were malfunctioning during early voting, switching ballot selections to the opposing candidate. Jessica Tripp and Penelope Nunez move a table at Arlington Art Center, a polling center, in preparation for Super Tuesday. (Melina Mara – The Washington Post) Fairfax County elections officials said they were aware of two instances in which voters claimed the machines had changed their votes. But officials expressed confidence that both were cases of user error.

National: Electronic Voting Machines Still Widely Used Despite Security Concerns | Huffington Post

For years, researchers have been aware of numerous security flaws in electronic voting machines. They’ve found ways to hack the machines to swap votes between candidates, reject ballots or accept 50,000 votes from a precinct with just 100 voters. Yet on Nov. 6, millions of voters — including many in hotly contested swing states — will cast ballots on e-voting machines that researchers have found are vulnerable to hackers. What is more troubling, say some critics, is that election officials have no way to verify that votes are counted accurately because some states do not use e-voting machines that produce paper ballots.After the “hanging chad” controversy of the 2000 election, Congress passed a federal law that gave states funding to replace their punch card and lever voting systems with electronic voting machines. But computer scientists have repeatedly demonstrated that a variety of electronic voting machines can be hacked — often quite easily. “Every time they are studied, we find further problems,” said J. Alex Halderman, a computer science professor at the University of Michigan who researches voting machine security.

National: National tribal group focuses on voter ID laws, encourages registration in Indian Country | The Washington Post

New voter identification laws in a dozen states could negatively affect voter participation in Native American and Alaska Native communities, a tribal advocacy group says. The National Congress of American Indians released a report Monday that highlights the states, including some where photo identification will be required at the polls on Election Day. Two of the states — Alaska and Florida — do not list tribal ID cards as acceptable forms of identification at the polls. Problems with other new voter ID laws include requirements that voters provide their home addresses, since some tribal communities have no street addresses, and the “barriers of cost, logistics and distance to obtaining required IDs,” the study says.

Editorials: The Fraud of Voter Fraud | The Atlantic

Jane Mayer’s article on the invention of the voter-fraud myth is required reading as we go into the last day’s of the election. Mayer zeroes in on Hans von Spakovsky, a legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation who has been instrumental in turning gossamer, rumor and myth into state-level election law: Von Spakovsky offered me the names of two experts who, he said, would confirm that voter-impersonation fraud posed a significant peril: Robert Pastor, the director of the Center for Democracy and Election Management, at American University, and Larry Sabato, a political-science professor at the University of Virginia. Pastor, von Spakovsky noted, had spoken to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights about being a victim of election fraud: voting in Georgia, he discovered that someone else had already voted under his name. When I reached Pastor, he clarified what had happened to him. “I think they just mistakenly checked my name when my son voted — it was just a mistake.”

California: UVote voter registration system registers fewer students, centralizes process | Stanford Daily

Stanford’s pilot partnership with UVote, a voter registration program created at Northwestern University, registered 786 students and faculty to vote this year. The California voter registration deadline passed on Oct. 22. The new voter registration program replaced less centralized student group efforts from past years, but did not register as many voters. According to Lindsay Lamont ’13, president of the Stanford Democrats, one of the most effective methods used in past years was having “dorm captains” in each residence responsible for asking students if they were registered to vote. Lamont estimates that approximately 1,000 students registered to vote in each of the 2008 and 2010 election seasons. Sixty-six percent of new voters at Stanford this year registered to vote in California. UVote staff also helped out-of-state students fill out absentee ballot requests and mailed these forms when possible.

Florida: Does Your Vote Count? The Recount Test | CBS4

In the sleepy West Coast Florida town of Inverness, as horses graze and Spanish moss hangs still on a breezeless summer day, an elections experiment was about to get underway. Lightening fast computer scanners, locked up ballots and a team of computer scientists from Boston, embarked on a first ever mission to verify that the votes cast in the August, Citrus County primary, are correct. “Believe me we are not looking for trouble but we want to verify the results independently,” said Susan Gill, supervisor of elections in Citrus County. She is one of 7 county supervisors across Florida, who agreed to allow a number of their elections to be part of the first large scale attempt to independently verify elections cast on paper ballots.

Indiana: Voting Machine Critics Worry About Possible Tampering | Indiana Public Media

Indiana counties will publicly test their voting machines this week to make sure they are tallying votes correctly. But some activists contend the test does not address a larger problem. A Stanford computer scientist created the Verified Voting Foundation in 2004 to lobby states to implement more safeguards against voting-machine tampering, starting with a paper trail to verify vote counts if necessary.

Minnesota: Nations racial legacy shapes Minnesotas voter ID debate |

Josie Johnson gathered petitions against the Texas poll tax as a teenager in 1945 and worked for the right to vote in Mississippi in the violent “Freedom Summer” two decades later. Now, nearly a half-century after the Voting Rights Act was enacted to open the polls to all, the 82-year-old civil rights warrior is bringing those sad tales home to fight Minnesotas proposed photo ID requirement for voting.”Our ancestors died, young children were punished, homes were bombed, churches were bombed,” Johnson, the first black regent at the University of Minnesota, told a group of elderly voters, mostly black, at Sabathani Community Center last week. “People were denied the right that we take for granted. And well lose it, on Nov. 6, if we dont get out and vote no.

Minnesota: Voter ID would require new legislation to fill in the blanks | Post Bulletin

If Minnesota voters approve a constitutional amendment that would require voters to present photo identification at the polls, state lawmakers will still have to sort out many of the details needed to implement the new election system. The push for a voter ID requirement has been a deeply partisan battle, so much so that – if the amendment passes — many of the specifics in next year’s legislation could hinge on which party wins control of the House and Senate. The proposed amendment requires all in-person voters to show a “valid government-issued” photo ID before receiving getting a ballot. It also requires the state provide free identification. Not yet known is which IDs will be considered valid, how the state will distribute the free ones and how much that will cost.

New Mexico: Groups take out ads hoping to combat voter suppression | New Mexico Telegram

Groups took out ads in the state’s three largest papers attempting to combat what they see as voter suppression. The office of Attorney General Gary King and the Congressional House Oversight Committee are investigating the claims of voter fraud by Republican-aligned groups. The ads are running in the Albuquerque Journal, Santa Fe New Mexican and the Las Cruces Sun-News. The 1/2- and 3/4-page ads try to rebut some incorrect information that was given to Republican poll challengers at at least one training in Sandoval County.

North Carolina: ‘112-year-old voters’ a result of change in data collection, not voter fraud |

Since early voting started last week in North Carolina, data from the state Board of Elections shows 899 ballots cast by 112-year-old voters. Either a surprising number of people who could have chosen between Calvin Coolidge, John Davis and Robert La Follette in 1924 remain alive and politically-engaged, or something else is going on.  A local conservative political blog was the first to suggest that “massive voter fraud” was taking place, and a bandwagon of similar claims have followed. The Examiner, a conservative website, posted a story that has been shared by several thousand people on Facebook and Twitter. State elections director Gary Bartlett said the story spread quickly enough on social media that his phone started ringing during church Sunday and hasn’t let up since – and a glance at the widely-circulated story shows why: “Of these voters, over 70 percent were slated as Democrats, with a diminutive 25 percent counted as Republicans…Obviously there is a problem, one in which voter ID might clearly provide a solution. A thing that only the Democratic Party swears against.” Just one problem: “It’s not voter fraud at all,” Bartlett said.

Ohio: State Prepares for Close Election Amid Fears of Another Florida 2000 Mess | The Daily Beast

Less than two weeks ahead of Election Day, only one thing seems clear amongst the constant noise about Big Bird, a nuclear Iran, and bayonets and horses: the presidency will hinge on how Ohio votes. Ohioans seem to be taking their task seriously: 7.9 million residents are registered to vote, and more than 800,000 Ohioans have already cast their ballot for president, according to data released Tuesday by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s office. Ohio voters will have 246 hours to vote in person before Election Day and 750 hours to cast their absentee ballots; 1.6 million Ohioans have requested or cast an absentee ballot for the general election, and almost 6.9 million absentee ballot applications have been sent out.

Ohio: Romney-linked voting machine company to count votes in Ohio |

Voting machine provider Hart Intercivic will be counting the votes in various counties in the crucial swing states of Ohio and Colorado and elsewhere throughout the country come Nov. 6 — even though it has extensive corporate ties to the Mitt Romney camp, and even though a study commissioned by the state of Ohio has labeled its voting system a “failure” when it comes to protecting the integrity of elections. Reports of Hart Intercivic’s ties to Romney first surfaced in late September, in a blog post by Gerry Bello and Bob Fitrakis in the Free Press, an Ohio website that reported that a key investor in Hart was HIG Capital, seven of whose directors were former employees of Bain & Co., a consulting company of which Mitt Romney was once CEO. (Romney left the company in 1984 to co-found a spinoff company, Bain Capital.) HIG Capital announced its investment in Hart on July 6, 2011, just one month after Romney formally announced the launch of his presidential campaign.

Virginia: Despite new law, military absentee ballot requests fall | HamptonRoads

In the hotly contested swing state of Virginia, where a small number of votes could tip the presidential election, requests for absentee ballots from military members are down sharply from 2008. The trend is raising concerns that despite a new law aimed at getting out the military vote, many of those serving will not be involved in choosing the next commander in chief. The Military Voter Protection Project released figures in August indicating steep declines in absentee ballot requests in five swing states, with Virginia lagging the farthest behind. Numbers in Virginia have rebounded somewhat since then – perhaps a result of a big final push by state, Pentagon and military officials to get service members registered before the Oct. 15 deadline. Still, State Board of Elections figures show a stark drop from 2008, with just 9,852 military voter absentee ballots requested this year, compared with 20,738 in 2008.

United Kingdom: Tories bow to European court of human rights over prisoner voting rights | The Guardian

The government is planning a draft bill introducing limited prisoner voting rights to comply with the European court of human rights, despite fierce opposition from Eurosceptic backbenchers. But embarrassed government ministers are likely to defer the hugely controversial announcement until just before a late-November deadline, allowing it to be made after the police commissioner elections on 17 November.

Russia: Russia’s Opposition Gets Its Act Together Electronically | TIME

Many years from now, if the Russian opposition movement ever manages to budge President Vladimir Putin from power, it will take a scrupulous historian to trace all the groups that have claimed to be its leader. Only 10 months have passed since the movement was born, in December 2011, when the mass street protests against Putin’s rule began. But there have already been at least a dozen revolutionary councils playing the role of its vanguard. The most legitimate one to date was formed on Monday, Oct. 22, after about 90,000 Russians voted to elect a set of leaders for the movement. Before that, all of these groups were self-proclaimed, and all of them dissolved in their infancy.

New Mexico: Voter turned away in possible ID mixup |

Ralph Perdomo wasn’t given his right to vote; he had to earn it. The 63-year old Belize native came to the United States in the 1960s and didn’t become a citizen until decades later. “I had to go through a lot of hoops to get my citizenship,” Perdomo said. “It wasn’t easy.” Perdomo’s been an enthusiastic voter and was excited to cast his ballot with his girlfriend on day one of expanded early voting. But when the two got to a voting center at Paseo del Norte NW and Golf Course Road, Perdomo got a rude surprise. “When they pulled up my name, it showed I had already voted, and I definitely, no way, no how did I vote,” Perdomo said.

The Voting News Daily: Despite e-voting improvements, audits still needed for ballot integrity, Getting to Vote Is Getting Harder

National: Despite e-voting improvements, audits still needed for ballot integrity | Computerworld Technology and process upgrades implemented since the controversial 2000 presidential election have made electronic voting machines more secure and reliable to use, the Caltech-MIT Voting Technology Project said in a report last week. Even so, the only way to ensure the integrity of votes cast…

National: Getting to Vote Is Getting Harder |

A wave of at least 180 proposed laws tightening voting rules washed over 41 statehouses in 2011 and 2012, by the count of New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice. Only a fraction of those bills passed and survived the scrutiny of the courts, but the new rules cover voters in 13 states, several quite populous, in time for next month’s election. More laws are to start afterward. Partisans and experts are arguing, over the airwaves and in the courts, about the effects of all this on voter turnout, for which few studies exist. (The most rigid voter ID laws are believed to affect about 10 percent of eligible voters, said Lawrence Norden of the Brennan Center.)

National: Voter ID Laws, Registration Challenges Create Hurdles For College Students Ahead Of Election

College students who want to vote in the state where they go to school have some hurdles to jump. In Minnesota, for example, a proposed Voter Restriction Constitutional Amendment on the state’s November ballot would require a valid state photo ID to vote. Under the law, students in the University of Minnesota system would be able to vote with their U-Cards, issued by the school at voting booths on campus, according to the Twin Cities Daily Planet. However, the same is not true for students at private colleges in the state; they would be required to seek an ID from the Department of Vehicle Services stations. At Minnesota private schools like the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University or Concordia University, the 17 to 28 percent of students who come from out of state would find it harder to vote in local and federal elections in Minnesota. At the Minneapolis College of Art and Design the 42 percent out-of-state students would also need a Minnesota ID to vote.

National: Will voter suppression and dirty tricks swing the election? |

On Thursday of last week, Virginia authorities charged a man working for the Republican Party with dumping the voter registration forms of Democrats. In Albertis, Pa., authorities arrested the town’s 19-year-old Democratic city council member after he allegedly stole yard signs of his Republican opponent.  In minority urban areas of Ohio and Wisconsin, an anonymous group has paid Clear Channel (owned in part by Mitt Romney’s former company Bain Capital) to put up billboards proclaiming that “Voter Fraud Is a Felony.”  And a Tea Party-affiliated group, True the Vote, is promising to send observers into polling places in Democratic areas, leading Democrats to cry voter intimidation. Does this stuff matter? Or is it just a bunch of noise before our hyper-polarized and hyper-partisan election, as polls show both sides expect the other to try to steal the election? The answer is probably a little bit of both. But the real action when it comes to affecting election turnout probably happened months or even years ago.

Colorado: Covering the search for noncitizen voters in Colorado | Columbia Journalism Review

A young Associated Press reporter has won accolades for staying on the story of the search for noncitizen voters in Colorado—a search spearheaded by Secretary of State Scott Gessler whose 2011 estimate of 11,805 potential noncitizens on state voter rolls recently shrank to 141 and then shrank some more. Earlier this month, AP awarded Ivan Moreno its weekly $300 “Best of State” prize for his work showing how Gessler, a Republican elected in 2010, based his controversial campaign to weed out illegal voters this election year on gross overestimates of the problem. In an October 4th memo to AP staff, Kristin Gazlay—the AP’s managing editor for state news, financial news, and global training—cited Moreno’s “diligent, determined and deft accountability reporting on a key political issue.”

Iowa: Searching High and Low for Voter Fraud in Iowa | Mother Jones

Earlier this month, two Iowa felons were arrested and charged with felony and aggravated misdemeanor counts of election fraud because they had registered to vote when they picked up their new driver’s licenses. One, Stacy Brown, told an investigator from the Major Crimes Unit of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation that she’d registered because “she was in a hurry and wasn’t paying attention [to] what she was signing.” The other, Jason Rawlin, told the investigator that he believed his voting rights had been restored following his release from prison. Two years ago, both of them would have been in the clear. Yet on the day that he reclaimed the governor’s mansion in January 2011, Republican Terry Branstad overturned a 2005 executive order that had automatically restored the franchise to released convicts. Branstad hailed the reversal as a “major priority” of incoming Secretary of State Matt Schultz, a Republican who’d been elected on a platform of smoking out voter fraud in the swing state.

Michigan: Michigan Secretary of State urges clerks to replace forms that have U.S. citizenship question | Detroit Free Press

The Michigan Secretary of State’s Office is recommending that municipalities use applications to vote that don’t contain the U.S. citizenship question for the Nov. 6 election. The state is encouraging clerks to use older versions of the small forms — on which voters fill out their name, address and date of birth — without the question or obtain an adequate number of new forms without it, according to a Wednesday bulletin sent to clerks. Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Paul Borman in Detroit granted a permanent injunction ordering Secretary of State Ruth Johnson to keep the question off the forms. But ordering new forms could cost clerks. New forms cost about $600 in Rochester Hills, City Clerk Jane Leslie said. She said her office personnel and election aides started to obscure the question on the forms but said new forms were ordered to avoid any problems. She said the question was blackened out on all applications for absentee ballots. “It’s much simpler to replace those forms,” she said. “We want to make it as simple as possible and limit disputes.”

Minnesota: Fine print to be determined in Legislature if Minnesota voter ID passes | Minnesota Public Radio

If Minnesota voters approve a constitutional amendment that would require voters to present photo identification at the polls, state lawmakers will still have to sort out many of the details needed to implement the new election system. The push for a voter ID requirement has been a deeply partisan battle, so much so that — if the amendment passes — many of the specifics in next year’s legislation could hinge on which party wins control of the House and Senate. The proposed amendment requires all in-person voters to show a “valid government-issued” photo ID before receiving a ballot. It also requires the state to provide free identification. Not yet known is which IDs will be considered valid, how the state will distribute the free ones and how much that will cost.

Mississippi: Mississippi Secretary of State Hosemann’s Office Says No Voter ID Needed | Jackson Free Press

Up until recently, a Mississippi citizen looking for voting information on the secretary of state’s website might have been confused. As recently as last week, the site offered voters oodles and oodles of assistance in procuring state-issued photo identification, but didn’t let people know that the IDs are not yet required to vote. However, SOS website users are now advised upon visiting the site: “Mississippi’s Voter ID law will NOT be in effect for the November 6, 2012, General Election.” Previously, a message on the website said, “Need a photo ID? Click here for more information,” which suggested that voter ID was required.

Nevada: Early Voting Problems in Nevada | KOLO

The Washoe County Registrar of Voters reports more than 9,600 people came out for the first day of early voting on Saturday, but the process wasn’t without problems. Voters at the Sun Valley Neighborhood Center were forced to wait hours to cast their ballots. For most of the day, only three machines were available, resulting in long lines of people. “I’ve never waited in line, ever,” Debbie Shade, a long-term resident of Sun Valley said. Multiple complaints to the Registrar of Voters Office resulted in two more machines becoming available. Luanne Cutler, Administrative Assistant for the Washoe County Registrar of Voters said they did send fewer machines to the location for two reasons. One reason being the space available to them only fit three machines, and the second reason is they based the number of past voter participation. But some voters aren’t buying that excuse.

Ohio: All Ohioans’ votes will count, Husted says | Toledo Blade

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said he believes every Ohioan will be able to easily vote in Nov. 6 election — a message somewhat overshadowed by his opinion that recent federal court rulings hinder the state’s ability to run an election. He was the keynote speaker at a day-long symposium Friday at the University of Toledo college of law. During a half-hour talk, the Republican secretary of state addressed voting accuracy and accessibility and spoke of updates in the state’s voter information that will lead to increased confidence in elections. Sponsored by the Toledo Law Review, the legal symposium focused on how elections are financed and monitored. Titled “Votes and Voices in 2012: Issues Surrounding the November Election and Beyond,” the conference included four panels discussing issues.

Ohio: The Campaign To Steal Ohio | The New Republic

When I heard the sound of loud drumming on a sleepy Toledo street on a Tuesday afternoon, I knew I had come to the right place. I followed the beat to a garage, where I found a guy in his forties hammering away on a large drum kit. He no longer had the shaggy hair or the leather jacket, but I knew it was Jon Stainbrook, the frenetic former drummer of ‘80s punk band The Stain. In its heyday, The Stain released an album and a couple EPs, and played venues in New York and Hollywood. It had a small group of hard-core fans, although its peak notoriety came from taking more famous bands to court for trademark violations, such as in the case of The Stain v. Staind. To be clear, I am not actually a fan of The Stain, which I had never heard of until a month ago. I had tracked down Stainbrook because he is the most important Republican official in one of the most important counties in Ohio and I needed to ask him some questions about the election.

Puerto Rico: Puerto Rico Voters Who Didn’t Vote in 2008, and Who Didn’t Re-register in Time, Lose Ability to Vote in 2012 | Ballot Access News

Puerto Rico has elections for important office only every four years, not every two years. The Puerto Rico Delegate to the U.S. House, and the Governor, have four-year terms, up in presidential election years. The federal National Voter Registration Act of 1993 requires that states (as well as Puerto Rico) not remove voters from the registration rolls unless or until they miss two elections. But Puerto Rico law says voters should be removed from the rolls if they miss voting in one election. On October 17, a U.S. District Court in Puerto Rico ruled that the federal law has precedence over Puerto Rico law, and ordered that the 330,902 voters who had been removed from the registration rolls because they didn’t vote in 2008 be restored to the rolls. But late on October 18, the First Circuit reversed that, saying it isn’t practical to put the voters back on the rolls. They cannot now vote, because it is too late for them to re-register. The First Circuit vote was 2-1. The majority include Judges Kermit Lipez, a Clinton appointee; and Jeffrey Howard, a Bush Jr. appointee. The dissenter is Judge Juan Torruella. On October 19, one of the voters who had filed the case asked for a rehearing en banc.