Pennsylvania: State sending mixed messages on voter ID requirements | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

State agencies stumbled in the rollout of Pennsylvania’s voter ID requirements over the last several months. The rollback hasn’t been perfect, either. Some PennDOT driver’s license centers were still offering materials Thursday saying photo identification will be required to vote on Election Day, Nov. 6, despite a ruling to the contrary last week by a Commonwealth Court judge. A bustling center in Penn Hills was still displaying posters for the state’s “Show It” voter education campaign on the suspended voter ID requirement and had a table with information sheets saying “Photo ID required for November 2012 Election.” The center in Harrisburg had that handout, too. Several complaints about out-of-date voter ID materials in other PennDOT centers have been reported to staff at the Pennsylvania Voter ID coalition in Philadelphia, according to Ellen Kaplan, vice president and policy director of the civic group Committee of Seventy. There are also some billboards still indicating IDs will be necessary next month for voting.

Vermont: State to fight Justice Department lawsuit over late ballots | Burlington Free Press

The state plans to argue it won’t be necessary to extend the deadline to count votes in the upcoming election until Nov. 16 to be sure that ballots from the military and other Vermonters overseas have been returned. The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit Thursday asking a court to require the state to give military and overseas voters more time because some towns failed to send out ballots 45 days prior to Election Day as required under a 2009 federal law. The lawsuit claims local election officials received 894 requests for ballots from citizens overseas and military stationed both abroad and elsewhere in the United States, but failed to respond to 191 of those requests by Sept. 22, which is 45 days before the Nov. 6 election.

Vermont: to fight Justice Department lawsuit over late ballots | Burlington Free Press

The state plans to argue it won’t be necessary to extend the deadline to count votes in the upcoming election until Nov. 16 to be sure that ballots from the military and other Vermonters overseas have been returned. The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit Thursday asking a court to require the state to give military and overseas voters more time because some towns failed to send out ballots 45 days prior to Election Day as required under a 2009 federal law. The lawsuit claims local election officials received 894 requests for ballots from citizens overseas and military stationed both abroad and elsewhere in the United States, but failed to respond to 191 of those requests by Sept. 22, which is 45 days before the Nov. 6 election.

Lithuania: Voters back opposition populists, SocDems, reject nuclear plant plans | The Washington Post

Lithuanians exasperated with economic hardship handed a stunning victory to a populist party led by a disgraced Russia-born millionaire, nearly complete results of Sunday’s election show, while voicing resounding disapproval of plans to build a costly new nuclear power plant. The opposition Labor Party, led by Viktor Uspaskich, once dubbed as the “pickle king” for having made his fortune selling jarred pickles, was leading with 23.4 percent of the vote after nearly three-fourths of precincts was counted.The victory set the stage for a coalition with the Social Democrats, who were second with 19.4 percent, and Order and Justice, a populist party led by Rolandas Paksas, a stunt pilot who eventually became president in 2003 — only to be impeached the following year for violating the Constitution and abuse of office. Paksas’ party was fourth with 9.2 percent.

Russia: Country’s regional elections | Voice of Russia

On October 14, the regional elections are to take place in 77 regions of Russia. More than 57,000 candidates will be running for different posts in the regional and municipal governing bodies. It is expected that about 28 million Russians will come to polling stations. It will be possible to monitor the elections via the Internet. Many polling stations will be equipped with electronic ballot boxes. What makes the election unique is an unprecedented number of new political parties, which are to take part in it: 25 instead of only 4-7 parties, as it was before.

Russia: Country Votes in Putin’s First Election Test Since Kremlin Return | Bloomberg

Russians are electing regional and municipal leaders today in the first electoral test for President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to reassert control after the largest protests in more than a decade. In Russia’s first gubernatorial elections in eight years and about 5,000 other polls, contenders backed by the ruling United Russia party may suffer setbacks in at least 10 mayoral and local legislative elections, the Carnegie Moscow Center projects. Governing-party candidates are leading by double-digit margins in all five gubernatorial races, according to the Civil Society Development Fund. Putin, who handed the chairmanship of the United Russia party to Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev a year ago, is struggling to reverse a slump in approval ratings that are near the lowest level since mass protests broke out in December. A crackdown has since ensued, including prosecution of opposition activists and leaders, increased fines for unsanctioned rallies and tightened controls over the Internet.

Russia: Elections preserve Putin’s dominance, opponents cry foul | Reuters

The ruling United Russia party won elections around the country on Sunday, early results showed, but opponents alleged widespread violations in the voting that will preserve President Vladimir Putin’s dominance. The first big elections since Putin began a new six-year term in May will do little to appease opponents who say he has used election fraud and suppression of dissent to maintain his grip on power. Results from contests from the Baltic Sea to Kamchatka on the Pacific Ocean showed United Russia had won or was heading for victory in all five provincial governorship races, and in several votes for provincial and city legislatures.

Russia: Putin Loyalists Assert Control in Russian Regional Elections | Bloomberg

Kremlin-backed candidates dominated Russia’s first gubernatorial elections in eight years, which were reinstated by President Vladimir Putin to quell the discontent that fueled the biggest protests in a decade. The ruling United Russia party’s candidates won all five races for governor and six local legislative contests, according to preliminary results announced today by officials from local election commissions on state television channel Rossiya 24. Voter turnout was low, dipping below 8 percent in the Primorsky region on the country’s Pacific coast. The election was the first major electoral test for Putin since he reclaimed the presidency in May and thousands of protesters took to the streets following a December parliamentary ballot the opposition said was rigged. The Kremlin winnowed the contenders in gubernatorial elections by using a so-called municipal filter to screen candidates, while the heads of at least 20 of Russia’s 83 regions were replaced or reappointed before legislative changes went into effect.

Russia: Reported violations mar Russias first polls since Putins return | AFP

Russians on Sunday voted to elect governors and mayors in the first such polls since President Vladimir Putin’s return to the Kremlin, as observers complained of numerous and egregious violations. The government was quick to dismiss claims of voting irregularities, with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev late Sunday saying the polls had been carried out in a “civilised manner”. “As far as I know, nobody found any serious irregularities,” Medvedev said. “This gives hope that in the future, elections will be held in the same civilised and democratic manner.”

Thailand: Regulators divided on Thailand electoral reform | Bangkok Post

Former and current election regulators and academics were divided yesterday over a proposal to switch to a new national electoral system. While most former regulators and academics favour changes to the system, a current member of the Election Commission believes the format in place now should be retained. Former election commissioner Gothom Arya said the current electoral system was being blamed for contributing to political conflict, and needed to be amended. The system has led to two major political parties dominating parliament, he said, and they were competing for power often at the expense of national interest. Mr Gothom was speaking at a seminar on electoral system reform organised yesterday by the Election Commission. He proposed three alternative options: A parallel system; a multi-member proportional (MMP) system; and a single transferable vote (STV) system.

Zimbabwe: Another 2013 Presidential Poll Delay Imminent | ZimEye

On Friday, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) Acting Chair, Joyce Kazembe was reportedly quoted by ZBC reiterating that the ZEC had a right to delay issuing of election results in the event of procedural irregularities. She also noted that the five day window period to release results as stated through the amended electoral law was subject to review. In other words, her message was that the release of results is a prerogative of the ZEC. This is a red flag marked by the ZEC’s failure to exercise free and fair reporting. Even the five day grace period is more than enough for results to be counted and reported to the nation at large. Such a statement could be a harbinger of issues to come in 2013. A delayed election result means undue prejudice to the citizenry. Such a delay also signifies ill motives to rig elections and tamper with the vote because there is no guarantee for safe, secure and proper accountability of election results in Zimbabwe especially after the 2008 experience. Regardless of arbitrary legislation in place, such promissory words by ZEC call for strict scrutiny because they already have a direct bearing on what is to come.

The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly October 8-14 2012

The Verge examined the security concerns surrounding internet voting. The potential for disruptive crowds of observers at some precincts has sparked fears that voters may be intimidated or harassed or have their eligibility to vote challenged directly. Federal courts have blocked voter ID laws in several States but legal battles are likely to continue after the November election. CBS Miami investigated the programming errors that marred a local Palm Beach election that raise fears of another meltdown next month. Security issues were uncovered in online registration systems in Maryland and Washington. Montana’s campaign donation restrictions were reinstated by a Federal appeals court. The dispute over early voting in Ohio has reached the Supreme Court and South Carolina’s Voter ID law has been put on hold until 2013.

Verified Voting Blog: Internet Voting in the U.S.

The assertion that Internet voting is the wave of the future has become commonplace. We frequently are asked, “If I can bank online, why can’t I vote online?” The question assumes that online banking is safe and secure. However, banks routinely and quietly replenish funds lost to online fraud in order to maintain public confidence. We are told Internet voting would help citizens living abroad or in the military who currently have difficulty voting. Recent federal legislation to improve the voting process for overseas citizens is a response to that problem. The legislation, which has eliminated most delays, requires states to provide downloadable blank ballots but does not require the insecure return of voted ballots.

Yet another claim is that email voting is safer than Web-based voting, but no email program in widespread use today provides direct support for encrypted email. As a result, attachments are generally sent in the clear, and email ballots are easy to intercept and inspect, violating voters’ right to a secret ballot. Intercepted ballots may be modified or discarded without forwarding. Moreover, the ease with which a From header can be forged means it is relatively simple to produce large numbers of forged ballots. These special risks faced by email ballots are in addition to the general risks posed by all Internet-based voting schemes.

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.