The Post’s Aaron Davis reports on a group of technology experts who warned Maryland elections officials last month that the state’s online voter registration system is vulnerable to mischief. Among other things, they warned that wrongdoers with as little as a voter’s full name and birth date could change his or her address or party affiliation. Maryland officials responded that they believed such hacking would be highly unlikely, but the warnings should give some pause to D.C. Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), who wants to allow D.C. residents to register to vote or change their registration data online. (Currently, you can go to the Board of Elections Web site and create a pre-filled form, but you still have to print it out, put it in a stamped envelope and drop it in the mail.)
Editorials: Voter ID: With no evidence of either a current problem or a credible solution, it’s a waste of money | MinnPost
Recently, former Sen. Norm Coleman wrote a piece for the Star Tribune supporting the Voter ID amendment in Minnesota. In his opinion, he wrote:
Is there voter fraud in Minnesota? Yes. Is it rampant and out of control? Not yet. Can the level of fraud, no matter how small, affect the outcome of elections in our state and elsewhere in the nation? Absolutely.
I agree with his premise. Is voter fraud a good thing? No. Is it something we should strive to prevent? Of course. However, what he, and it seems many other conservatives have forgotten is that nothing is free. Everything, including this amendment, has a cost associated with it. Yet, for some reason, this aspect of the voter amendment has completely eluded those who purport to keep government spending in check. This amendment was passed by the Minnesota House and Senate by many politicians who ran on a platform of cutting wasteful government programs. Yet, if this amendment passes, Minnesotans will have to pay for a program that essentially provides no benefit. Is this not wasteful?
A former North Dakota Republican Party chairman who doesn’t want to take down the political signs in his yard before Nov. 6 has filed a federal lawsuit challenging a century-old state law that bans campaigning on Election Day. Gary Emineth argued Wednesday that the ban violates the free-speech rights of Republicans and Democrats alike. The law, which dates to 1911, bars anyone from attempting to influence others to vote, or not vote, for any candidate or ballot measure on Election Day. The current version exempts billboards and bumper stickers, but North Dakota’s political parties believe it applies to all other forms of advertising, including radio and television spots, newspaper ads and yard signs. To comply with the ban, political candidates and their supporters often scurry to take down yard signs and banners before midnight the day before Election Day.
Ohio Senate Democrats sent a letter to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on Wednesday asking them to investigate True the Vote (TTV), a Tea Party group established to combat alleged voter fraud. The Democrats claim TTV is unnecessarily intimidating voters. In the letter, the Democrats say they would find voter fraud to be a serious problem if it was happening, but they also note recent studies have found no evidence of widespread voter impersonation fraud. An Oct. 4 Government Accountability Office study could not document a single case of voter impersonation fraud. A similar study by News21, a Carnegie-Knight investigative reporting project, found a total of 10 cases of alleged in-person voter impersonation since 2000. That’s less than one case a year.
Although Tennessee’s controversial voter ID law faces yet another legal challenge, it remains intact — at least for now. Attorneys representing two Memphis residents whose votes were not counted in the August primary because they lacked a government-issued photo ID asked a three-judge Appeals Court panel on Thursday to throw out the state’s voter ID law. They claim the law is unconstitutional and suppresses turnout among certain segments of the population. Janet Kleinfelter of the attorney general’s office pointed to a lower court’s recent decision upholding the Republican-backed voter ID law on the basis that the constitution allows legislators to enact laws that “secure the freedom of elections” and “the purity of the ballot box.” A decision is expected in the coming weeks, even though early voting for the general election started on Wednesday.
Voting problems are already causing a headache for some people on the very first day of early voting. News Channel 3 received calls from voters saying they had to wait nearly an hour for voting machines to be fixed. Andrea Williams waited in line for an hour and a half to cast her ballot. She says the line was moving pretty fast at Anointed Temple of Praise polling site, but then it stopped, “We asked what`s going on and the young lady came out and said the little ballot that you use to put in to vote stopped working.” The Election Commission says the ballot burner broke causing the machines to reject the cards. The Commission has technicians floating around town in case something like this happens, and they got to the polling site within an hour to fix the problem.
A Pennsylvania man employed by a company working for the Republican Party of Virginia was arrested by investigators from the Rockingham County Sheriff’s office on Thursday and charged with destroying voter registration forms. Colin Small, a 31-year-old resident of Phoenixville, Pa., worked for Pinpoint, a company hired to register voters on behalf of the Republican Party of Virginia. Prosecutors charged him with four counts of destruction of voter registration applications, eight counts of failing to disclose voter registration applications and one count of obstruction of justice. Rockingham County Sheriff Bryan Hutcheson’s office said there was no indication that the activity was widespread in their jurisdiction and said the conduct “appears to be limited in nature.” His office said there is a possibility that additional charges may be filed.
Lithuania’s Labor Party said it would expel any members found guilty of violating the election law amid allegations that some bribed voters during an Oct. 14 round of parliamentary elections that the party won. Police are looking at a video claiming to show prison inmates being offered money in return for voting for the Labor Party, the Prosecutor General’s Office in Vilnius, the capital, said on its website yesterday. The party called for a swift investigation of the allegations. “Media reports that some members of the Labor Party may have bribed voters are casting a shadow on our authority,” the party said on its website today. “If the mentioned facts are confirmed, the chairman of the Labor Party intends personally to propose the expulsion of any members who have broken the law.”
Last month, the Iranian Interior Ministry announced that the next presidential election had officially been scheduled for June 14, 2013. Despite mechanisms already in place to limit reformers’ influence in the government, including the vetting process performed by the Guardian Council and the willingness to falsify election results as occurred in the 2009 presidential election, Iran’s presidency remains an avenue to liberalize the Iranian government. For this reason, the Supreme Leader considers the presidency a potential threat and will likely influence the upcoming election to make sure one of his allies comes to power. However, the dire economic straits that Iran finds itself in are likely to make an anti-reformist hijacking of Iran’s premier elective office a much harder sell this time around.
Palestinians in the West Bank will head to the polls tomorrow day for the first time in nearly seven years, casting their ballots in local elections. But the long-delayed vote will only be held in the West Bank, with the first stage of voting to take place in 91 of the territory’s 353 municipalities. In another 181 localities, candidates were appointed unopposed, with elections to be held in the remaining areas at a date which has yet to be set, the Central Elections Commission (CEC) said.
The ruling Party of Regions and its allies look set to win Ukraine’s parliamentary election on October 28th. They may even gain a constitutional majority with control of two-thirds of the parliament. This will likely happen despite the fact that most Ukrainians regularly tell pollsters their country is heading “in the wrong direction” and less than a quarter of them plan to vote for the Party of Regions. Perhaps the most important reason for this is that Ukraine has reverted to the mixed proportional and first-past-the-post system last used in 2002. Back then, it allowed Leonid Kuchma, an unpopular president, to secure a working majority in parliament thanks to a divided opposition and post-election defections to his camp. The same conditions are in place now for Viktor Yanukovych (pictured above), the current president. His candidates can come out on top in first-past-the-post constituencies where three or more opposition politicians are competing. On October 14th the two main anti-Yanukovych forces agreed to withdraw some of their candidates in some districts in order to limit this phenomenon, but they have stopped far short of a genuine alliance. It is testament to the current parliamentary opposition’s ineffectiveness that it allowed this electoral reform to pass last year, giving the ruling party a chance to retain power in an election that could be classed as free and fair (given that an elected parliament had agreed to its rules).
The ACT is the only Australian jurisdiction to make extensive use of electronic voting. All pre-poll voting centres use electronic voting equipment, though paper ballots are available for the technology challenged. The six pre-poll voting centres are also used as election day polling places with electronic voting available. In all 20% of votes at the 2008 election were recorded electronically. A total of 43,820 electronic votes were recorded, though only 42,668 were formal votes. The rate of informal and discarded electronic ballots was 2.6% compared to 4% for paper ballots. The electronic voting system guides voters through the numbering sequence, so you cannot make a mistake filling in your ballot paper without being prompted that you have made an error. This means that an informal electronic vote is a deliberate informal, as a voter cannot vote informal without over-ridding the warning message.
The Voting News Daily: Many Strict Election Laws Blocked or Delayed, Is True the Vote Shaking Down States With Nuisance Lawsuits?
National: Many Strict Election Laws Blocked or Delayed | Associated Press Tough new election laws aimed at forcing voters in many states to show photo identification at polling places have been blocked or delayed, delighting opponents who claim they were among a variety of partisan attempts to keep minorities from voting. Supporters of the measures nevertheless…
Tough new election laws aimed at forcing voters in many states to show photo identification at polling places have been blocked or delayed, delighting opponents who claim they were among a variety of partisan attempts to keep minorities from voting. Supporters of the measures nevertheless predict they will prevail in the long run. And court battles continue in some states even as the Nov. 6 election date draws near. The stakes are high especially in swing states where a close margin is expected in the race between Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney, as well as in numerous congressional and local campaigns. Other battles in key states such as Florida and Ohio have been fought over reductions in the number of early voting days and new restrictions on voter registration drives.
Less than a month before Election Day, the “election integrity” group True The Vote is battered, bewildered and disappointed. The upcoming election landscape will hardly resemble the “ground war” they were hoping for. Voter fraud as a thing has been exposed by civil rights watchdogs and a wide range of journalists as pure conspiracy theory. And civil rights legal advocates have at least temporarily blocked all of the most strict voter ID laws for which they fought so hard. But while True the Vote is down, they’re certainly not out. The group still hopes to make an impact in November, though they’ve downgraded their self-descriptors from “armies” prepared for “ground wars” to “grannies with clipboards.” Besides their cheering for billboards warning that voter fraud is a felony targeted in poor, black neighborhoods in Ohio, their last operative hope is to shake down states, including Ohio, that don’t comply with their purging demands with frivolous lawsuits.
Imagine going to the polls November 6th and casting your vote for President Barack Obama or Governor Mitt Romney and somehow the machine thinks you voted for both candidates. That’s called an overvote, and your vote may be thrown out. Sound impossible? It isn’t. “You are getting to the crux of the problem with this technology. We are supposed to trust what goes on back there blindly,” voting rights advocate and attorney Lida Rodriguez-Taseff told CBS4 Chief Investigator Michele Gillen. Rodriguez-Taseff has spent a decade battling to pull back the curtain on election transparency. She helped get the touch screen machines tossed in Florida in favor of getting voters a paper ballot and paper trail – only to learn that the variety of optical scan machines now in use now across America and Florida may have flaws no one could have predicted. Or could they have?
“We have made a substantial change since the primary in 2008 when we had that vote count hold up,” said Steve Shamo, with MicroVote Indiana, the company that provides the county’s election technology. Shamo Tuesday told the Lake County Board of Elections during the test of the 2012 voting machines that the problem in 2008 arose when it came to entering the 15,000 absentee ballots into the computerized system election day. Once workers began entering the absentee ballots for a precinct, they could not access the polling place results for that precinct, even though those results were available, until all the absentee ballots were manually entered causing the delay in reporting.
Voters don’t have to have their IDs scanned with the new electronic equipment that Sedgwick County uses to quickly pull up voters’ information at polling places, a top state elections official said Tuesday. The electronic devices, which are similar to a grocery store bar-code scanner, speed up the voting check-in process by quickly verifying voters’ identification if they have a Kansas driver’s license or other state-issued ID. But some voters didn’t want to have their IDs scanned or had alternative IDs that can’t be scanned. Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, D-Wichita, said some of those voters told her that poll workers forced them to cast provisional ballots, which are more likely to be rejected. “That’s a mistake,” said Brad Bryant, deputy assistant secretary of state.
A voting rights group and some of the nation’s leading researchers on election technology are urging Maryland voters to check the accuracy of their online voter registration files after warning that the data had been left vulnerable to tampering. Researchers at the University of Michigan, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and a former president of the Association for Computing Machinery wrote to Maryland officials late last month urging them to take immediate steps to better protect a new system that allows Marylanders to update their voter registration online. The letter warned that anyone with access to a Maryland voter’s full name and birth date could exploit a simple online tool to change the voter’s address, party affiliation or other information. Such changes, especially a change of address, could lead to a voter’s ballot not being counted normally on Election Day.
A conservative group that helped lead the legal battle that would eventually allow for the creation of super PACs is now working to overturn North Dakota’s ban on election day campaigning, arguing it violates the First Amendment. The Center for Competitive Politics is representing former North Dakota Republican Party Chairman Gary Emineth in a lawsuit Emineth filed in federal court Tuesday to overturn the state law. “We think the law is unconstitutional and it should be invalidated,” Allen Dickerson, the center’s legal director, told The Huffington Post. The suit has garnered opposition from Democrats — including the campaign of Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp — who believe the suit is intended to help Republican Senate nominee Rep. Rick Berg win the seat.
If Secretary of State Jon Husted becomes aware of voter intimidation in this year’s election, he will act swifty to investigate and seek prosecution of any offenders, spokesman Matt McClellan said today. His comments came in response to a warning to Husted from the 10 Democratic Ohio senators about the activities of a Houston-based group, True The Vote. The tea party group “insists that voter fraud is a pervasive problem and has taken it upon itself to employ questionable, and possibly illegal, methods to combat the ‘problem’. These methods have turned up no fraud and have posed a serious threat of intimidation of entirely eligible voters,” the senators said in a letter today to Husted. “Working through an affiliated group, the Ohio Voter Integrity Project, True the Vote has challenged hundreds of voters in Hamilton (380 challenges) and Franklin (308 challenges) counties. The overwhelming majority of these challenges were rejected, but not before the voters involved were frightened by the prospect of being denied the opportunity to vote.”
Military veterans have moved front and center in the debate over Minnesota’s proposed voter ID constitutional amendment. For voter ID supporters, veterans are a symbol to sell their message of election integrity. Opponents have turned to veterans to point out the potential problems that soldiers could face when they try to vote. The pro-amendment campaign organization Protect My Vote started airing its first television ad last month. The 30-second spot features Robert McWhite of Minneapolis, a 91-year-old World War II veteran and former prisoner of war in Europe, who talks about defending the nation and its ideals. “Nothing is more central to America’s success than the right to vote,” McWhite says in the ad. “That’s why I’m supporting the effort to protect that right by showing photo ID.” Dan McGrath, chairman of Protect My Vote, told Minnesota Public Radio that the ad is certain to appeal to voters who respect the military.
The US Supreme Court on Tuesday declined an invitation to enter a raging election-year legal dispute in Ohio over the state legislature’s decision to eliminate one form of early voting for most voters in the three days prior to the Nov. 6 election. The action lets stand earlier decisions clearing the way for all Ohio voters to engage in early voting on the Saturday, Sunday, and Monday before Election Day. The high court action comes less than three weeks before Election Day and more than two weeks after voters in Ohio began casting early ballots on Oct 2.
Voter rights groups in Ohio took issue Tuesday with an order from the state’s elections chief that bans local boards of elections from calling or emailing voters in the presidential battleground state about errors or incomplete information on their absentee ballots. According to the Oct. 4 directive, “notification may not be made via telephone, email, facsimile, or by any means other than in writing by first class mail.” Voters would then need to appear at their board during office hours to address any problems. Husted also has told boards to provide accommodations for the disabled. The order is a change from how absentee voters were notified of errors in 2008. Former Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat, permitted boards to alert voters by phone, email or letter that there were problems with their ballots.
The Oklahoma State Election Board demonstrates how a new voting machine can help visually impaired voters cast their ballot on Election Day. “It is an interface that allows voters with disabilities to vote without assistance while the regular voting is still going on,” said Pam Slater with the Oklahoma State Election Board. The new voting machine uses an audio-tactile interface (ATI) which allows blind voters to listen and scroll through an audio version of the general election ballot to make their choices. “It is very easy to feel around and feel exactly what you need,” said Cathy Tuton who is visually impaired. “It tells you everything you need to know.”
South Dakota: Decision puts responsibility for ballot statements on secretary of state | Aberdeen News
In one respect Circuit Judge Mark Barnett brought clarity to a vaguely written piece of South Dakota election law last week. He decided the secretary of state must compile “pro” and “con” statements about measures on the statewide election ballot. The judge said the Legislature specifically directed that the secretary of state shall perform that duty and therefore it must be don. That answered the question of whether a “con” statement submitted by state Sen. Stan Adelstein should be added to the voter pamphlet that Secretary of State Jason Gant had already prepared and published for this fall’s general election.
Is it a case of election fraud, voter suppression, or something far less sinister? That’s what Rockingham County investigators are trying to find out, after someone trashed a folder of voter registration forms. Just hours before the Monday deadline for voter registration, a Harrisonburg store manager made a discovery that will keep eight citizens from being silenced. Their completed registration forms were discarded like trash. Investigators don’t yet know if it’s criminal activity or just bad business. A typical Monday afternoon at Tuesday Morning, a store in Harrisonburg, took a strange turn, when the manager Rob Johnson spotted someone putting a bag of trash in his recycling bin. Johnson went to retrieve the misplaced refuse. “That’s when I realized, this bag is really light and looked inside,” Johnson said. “There was the manila folder with the eight voter registration applications, and I was like, we’ve got something here.”
A political and legal tussle is gaining force in Northern Virginia over guaranteeing a fair vote on Election Day. Fairfax County Democrats are complaining that Republican-appointed county elections officials are breaking or twisting some rules to help the GOP in the biggest jurisdiction in a key swing state. The arguments might end up in court in the next two weeks. The disputes are mainly over Republicans’ plans to restrict activities by party lawyers and other elections observers inside polling places and to limit access to provisional ballots while a decision is made on whether to count them. The GOP says that federal and state law support its policies. Democrats say that the Republicans are violating or misinterpreting the law, with the possible result that legitimate votes will go uncounted.
Belgium has been voting in local elections that have taken on added significance in light of the country’s linguistic divide. Flemish nationalists looked set to make strides in pulling away from French-speaking Wallonia. With nearly 80 percent of votes counted late on Sunday, the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) had taken a 36 percent share in the port city of Antwerp, Flanders’ largest city. Across Flanders, the N-VA appeared be garnering 20-30 percent of the vote, compared with just 5 percent in municipal polls six years ago.
Foreign election monitors in Ukraine said they’ve observed campaign violations roughly two weeks before parliamentary elections are scheduled. Anna Szyptur, a coordinator for the Canadian observer mission in Ukraine, told reporters there was evidence of bribery and other irregularities observed ahead of the Oct. 28 contest. “Canada’s mission remains concerned about drawbacks in the administration of elections, improper access to balanced and reliable information in the media, the ineffective consideration of complaints and the absence of changes in the issue of accountability for the violation of election procedures,” she was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying.