Peg Rosenfield has been monitoring elections for the League of Women Voters in Ohio for almost 40 years and has seen just about every voting glitch imaginable. She says there’s a saying among election workers: “Please, God, make it a landslide.” In a landslide, there is no quibbling over hanging chads or provisional ballots or registration requirements or rigged voting machines or whether ballots were cast by the dead. A winner is declared, a loser concedes — election over. No one expects a landslide when Americans go to the polls on Tuesday. As in 2000 and 2004, there is great potential for the race to be too close to call immediately in some states, and the possibility that the presidency will hang for days or weeks on a recount, or on the counting of provisional or late-arriving absentee ballots. It is possible the election won’t be decided at the polls alone, but, as in 2000, that it will determined in court — or in Congress.
Election officials across the U.S. Northeast say they are determined to minimize disruption to Nov. 6 presidential voting in the region’s hardest-hit areas after super-storm Sandy knocked out power to 8 million customers. Officials are surveying damage and deciding how to conduct voting in areas without power. Service may not be restored for as long as 10 days to more than 2 million New York customers, mostly on Long Island and in New York City. Another 2.6 million customers in New Jersey and 627,000 in Connecticut were without electricity, according to the U.S. Energy Department.
This post highlights a chart containing information about who would decide a post-election challenge in each of the fifty states, broken down by type of election. To access the chart, click here. For a summary and further analysis, read on. Doomsday scenarios abound regarding an election that might last into extra innings. What will happen if, on the morning of Wednesday, November 7, we do not know who won the presidential election, or other races? More menacingly, what happens if post-election challenges last several weeks, beyond the routine provisional ballot and recount procedures?
City and county election officials are imploring Malibu voters to stick to their county-issued voting materials when they mark their ballots after it was discovered that numbers in Santa Monica-issued materials did not correspond to Malibu ballots. The problem is confined to two voting groups in Malibu who participate in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District election. Vote-by-mail ballots include a voter guide that shows the names of candidates or measures and a corresponding number. To vote for that candidate or measure, a voter bubbles in an oval next to the number that indicates their choice.
For months, a group of election activists has complained about Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s oversight of touch-screen voting machines used throughout Colorado that critics say are vulnerable to tampering and malfunctions. Gessler argues strongly that the voting machines are reliable, but critics say that in a close presidential election in swing state Colorado, and in places like Arapahoe County — where touch-screen machines are still the principal means of casting an in-person ballot — a mishap with the devices could tilt the race. Colorado’s touch-screen machines, they say, could become the “hanging chads” of 2012. “The secretary of state has not enforced his own voting security laws and regulations for touch-screen machines since he was elected,” said Paul Hultin, an attorney representing a group of voters who brought a 2006 lawsuit challenging the machines’ reliability.
Can we trust the machines that record our votes in local polling places? That’s the gist of the question that listener Ryan McIntyre submitted to Curious City. Like many people across the country, McIntyre is worried that election results could be manipulated by today’s electronic voting machines. Here’s how he phrased his question: “After watching the HBO documentary, ‘Hacking Democracy,’ I find using the electronic voting machines, usually by the corporation Diebold, very frivolous since they can so easily be tampered with. Entire elections can be manipulated, vote totals, everything. Before I make my vote I demand that I use the paper ballot. What is being done to eliminate these machines from use in the city of Chicago, a city known to be ravaged by dirty politics anyways? My question can include the entire state of Illinois, not just Chicago.” The simplest answer to McIntyre’s question is that elections officials in Chicago, suburban Cook County and other local jurisdictions are likely to stick with the machines they’re using now, at least for the foreseeable future. And for what it’s worth, Diebold, which is now called Premier Election Solutions, didn’t make any of the voting machines used anywhere in Illinois, according to a database maintained by The Verified Voting Foundation, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group based in California.
Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz warned a group of international voting monitors that they face arrest if they monitor polling locations in Iowa next week. “My office met with two delegation representatives last week to discuss Iowa’s election process, and it was explained to them that they are not permitted at the polls,” Schultz said in a statement released Tuesday. “Iowa law is very specific about who is permitted at polling places, and there is no exception for members of this group.”
North Dakota: Judge says North Dakota ban on Election Day campaigning violates free speech rights | Grand Forks Herald
A federal judge on Wednesday barred state and local prosecutors from enforcing North Dakota’s ban on Election Day campaigning, saying the century-old restriction violates political speech rights. “There is no valid justification for the law in modern-day society, nor any compelling state interest offered to support its continued existence,” Judge Daniel Hovland wrote in his 13-page decision. Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said Wednesday that Hovland’s ruling will not be appealed. He will ask the Legislature next year to repeal the law, Stenehjem said.
If the presidential election really does come down to Ohio, and the Buckeye State is as close as some recent polls indicate, America might not know its next president until December. That could plunge Ohio into the middle of a bitter legal drama reminiscent of the 2000 presidential election in Florida. From hanging chads to butterfly ballots, the Sunshine State came under heavy criticism for how it conducted the vote, which was eventually decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. Could Ohio withstand similar scrutiny? “Truthfully, it will likely come down to one simple question: Is it close?” said Aaron Ockerman, executive director of the Ohio Association of Elections Officials. “If it is, and the scenarios (outlined below) come true, things will get ugly.
Right-wing activists bent on exposing the alleged epidemic of in-person voter fraud suffered a major misfire over the weekend when anonymous pollwatchers set off alarms over groups of Somalis getting rides to a central Ohio early voting center. Many members of the large Somali community in and around Columbus are U.S. citizens and therefore have the constitutional right to vote. But that didn’t stop the conservative Human Events website from warning of “troubling and questionable activities” — or the Drudge Report getting its readers exercised about “Vanloads of Somalians driven to the polls in Ohio.” The Human Events story quoted two anonymous pollwatchers complaining of “Somalis who cannot speak English” arriving in groups, being given a slate card by Democratic party workers outside the polling place, then coming in and being instructed by Somali interpreters on how to vote. The article also raised the question of “whether a non-English speaking person is an American citizen.” One regular contributor to the right-wing American Thinker website likened the voters to “Somali pirates” being used by Ohio Democrats to “hijack the election.” Somali leaders in central Ohio said the charges in the article were upsetting as well as unfounded.
Ohio: State data glitch delays delivery of thousands of Ohio voter registration records | cleveland.com
A small fraction of Ohio voters’ absentee ballot requests may have been mistakenly rejected due to a recently discovered glitch in the transfer of change-of-address records. Even though the deadline for voters to register or change their address was three weeks ago, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted just this week sent about 33,000 updated registration records to local elections officials. The local boards had to immediately process the records to ensure those voters could properly cast a ballot in the Nov. 6 election. An unknown number of absentee ballot applications across the state have been rejected due to the delay because election officials did not have some voters’ current addresses.
Election officials say all the machines used to check voter registrations in the state of South Carolina were down for a time on Tuesday morning, causing long lines for absentee voters. Initially, Greenville County Registration and Elections Director Conway Belangia told News 4’s Nigel Robertson that the voting machines in Greenville County were down. News 4 checked with other counties, and was told that the machines were down across the state. Robertson called the State Elections Office, and clarified that the machines that were down were the ones used to check voter registration and identification and to determine what ballot voters should be using, not voting machines.
A misplaced bar code slowed the processing of absentee ballots in Utah County, frustrating campaigns that rely on voting data for 11th hour electioneering. The vendor that printed the county’s absentee ballot envelopes placed the bar code on the outside but under the flap. That means election workers have to open each envelope to scan the code just to check the ballot into the computer system.
Guinea’s opposition blocked the swearing-in ceremony of the country’s new election commission Wednesday and reiterated that it will sue if the panel’s members are not changed. Disagreements over the electoral process in this West African nation already have spilled over into violent protests and made it impossible for the country to hold legislative elections.
When Russian protesters took to the streets last year following allegations of mass fraud in the parliamentary elections, Vladimir Churov became a popular hate figure. Many held the head of the central elections commission responsible for massaged results that had given the ruling United Russia party up to 99% of the vote in some regions of the country. In a comment widely lampooned by protesters, the then-president Dmitry Medvedev referred to Churov as a “wizard” for his success in predicting the election’s outcome. As the presidential vote looms in the US, however, Churov has gone on the offensive with his own scathing criticism of American democracy.