National: Use of e-voting machines unaltered despite power outages caused by Hurricane Sandy | Computerworld

Plans to use electronic voting machines in Tuesday’s presidential election appear to be largely unaltered in states that were hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. Despite widespread power outages and other hurricane related damage, election officials in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Delaware remained confident that their electronic voting machines would be up and running on Election Day.

National: Campaigns Brace to Sue for Votes in Crucial States |

Thousands of lawyers from both presidential campaigns will enter polling places next Tuesday with one central goal: tracking their opponents and, if need be, initiating legal action. It will be a kind of Spy vs. Spy. The lawyers will note how poll workers behave, where voters are directed, if intimidation appears to be occurring, whether lines are long. And they will report up a chain of command where decisions over court action will be made at headquarters in Chicago and Boston. This will go on in every battleground state — including Wisconsin, Virginia, Florida, even Pennsylvania — but it will be most focused in Ohio and especially in Greater Cleveland, which is heavily Democratic and where many people believe history teaches a simple lesson: the more votes cast here, the likelier President Obama is to win.

National: Some Jurisdictions Switch to Lower-Tech Voting Systems After Experiencing Problems, See Value in Paper Trail |

In a digital age, you might be surprised to learn that many states once using electronic voting are actually switching back to paper — some after disastrous elections that resulted from the lack of a paper trail. Florida, New Mexico, Michigan and Washington state are a few that in recent years made the move to require use of paper ballots instead of electronic voting systems, according to Verified Voting President Pamela Smith. But they’re not shying away from technology altogether, these and some other states using paper ballots employ specialized scanners to count the ballots.

National: Hurricane Sandy Brings Obstacles Before Election |

Hurricane Sandy spurred Maryland to suspend its early voting program for a second day on Tuesday and forced the closing of some early voting sites in battleground states like North Carolina and Virginia. But the bigger question that many state and county elections officials in storm-battered states were asking themselves was how to get ready for Election Day next week. The obstacles are formidable. More than 8.2 million households were without power by midday Tuesday, with more than a fifth of them in swing states — a potential problem in an age when the voting process, which once consisted of stuffing paper ballots into boxes, has been electrified. Roads were impassable in some states, and mass transportation was hobbled in others. And Postal Service disruptions threatened to slow the delivery of absentee ballots to election boards.

National: Poll watchers could bring “chaos” in Ohio and elsewhere, national expert says | Dispatch Politics

Forget all that concern about provisional ballots, improperly denied absentee ballot applications and the like. What is really the biggest wild card for next week’s presidential election in Ohio and elsewhere? Citizen poll watchers. So says Doug Chapin of the University of Minnesota, a widely acclaimed expert in how elections are conducted. “I think the biggest thing to watch next Tuesday is the impact of citizen poll watchers, including but not limited to those affiliated with Houston-based True the Vote,” he said yesterday on his Election Academy blog.

National: Scant evidence of voter suppression, fraud in states with ID laws |

Democratic claims that a large number of Americans could be prevented from voting because of photo identification laws are probably overstated based on evidence from Georgia and Indiana, the two states where the laws have been in place for multiple elections, Reuters found. Data and numerous interviews by Reuters reporters also suggest there is little evidence to bolster Republican assertions that ID laws are needed to combat rampant voter fraud.

Editorials: Alabama, Texas voting rights cases keep political storms churning | Fort Worth Star Telegram

It might seem a stretch for Texas’ top elected officials to be intensely interested in such minutiae as the planning commission’s jurisdiction and voting boundaries in Shelby County, population almost 200,000, in the middle of Alabama. But a lawsuit that Shelby County has taken to the U.S. Supreme Court could determine Texas’ flexibility under the federal Voting Rights Act. And Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is aggressively cheering on Shelby County’s claim that a key part of the 1965 law is an unconstitutional imposition on states’ sovereignty.

Voting Blogs: OSCE vs. Texas and Iowa: The Facts Behind the Fight | Election Academy

One of the stranger stories to emerge from the pre-election “silly season” is the fight between state officials in Texas and Iowa and international observers from the Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), who are in the United States preparing for their sixth mission to observe the election process since 2002. Specifically, last week Texas’ Attorney General threatened to arrest observers from the OSCE/ODIHR team if they come within 100 feet of a Texas polling place on Election Day. Iowa’s Secretary of State issued the same warning earlier this week regarding any observers within 300 feet of an Iowa polling place.

National: EAC: The Phantom Commission – Agency Formed to Restore Confidence in Elections Is in Disarray | Roll Call

A federal agency created to restore confidence in the election process in the wake of Bush v. Gore sits all but leaderless as the country approaches Election Day. As local election officials scramble to sort out last-minute issues — Palm Beach County, Fla., for example, recently hired dozens of workers to hand copy about 27,000 misprinted absentee ballots — the U.S. Election Assistance Commission operates, on its 10th anniversary, as a shell of what Congress designed it to be. Its four commissioner spots are vacant. The executive director resigned last year. Its general counsel left in May. It has lacked a quorum to conduct official business for almost two years. Congressional gamesmanship has hamstrung the commission by neither giving it necessary resources nor eliminating it outright. “It’s a national embarrassment that this agency, whose only mission is to provide information, doesn’t have a single commissioner,” said Rick Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California, Irvine.

Voting Blogs: The Counting Rules for Overtime: Materiality | ElectionLaw@Moritz

Recently, in this space, Ned FoleySteve Huefner, and Josh Douglas have offered some characteristically thoughtful comments on election overtime. Ned reminded us thatpatience is a virtue; we have a process to work through narrow margins of victory, and even in a world a-Twitter, we should let the process run its course without panic. Steve mentioned a model calendar for shaping that process, at least in the context of a Presidential dispute. And Josh discussed the fora provided by state law in which to work through the details. At the kind invitation of the Moritz team, I would like to add a fourth element to the discussion: neither the appropriate emotional disposition for a post-election process nor timing nor location, but the substantive standards to be deployed. I think it extremely unlikely that the Presidential race will head into overtime. But it is virtually certain that some race, somewhere in the country, will. And it is therefore important to be prepared.

National: Experts warn hackers will breach online voting systems |

As one of the world’s biggest electoral showdowns nears its conclusion over in the US, fears are growing in IT security that hackers may soon be able to affect the outcome of such a contest by breaching online voter databases. With governing bodies continuing to utilise Internet platforms for voter registration, and hacking collectives growing in sophistication, some experts believe a serious breach of electoral data is inevitable. While Barack Obama and Mitt Romney jostle for power in America, states including Maryland, Washington, Arizona and California have either implemented online voter registration systems already, or have passed bills proposing the move.

Colorado: GOP cites voting-machine errors | The Denver Post

The Republican National Committee on Thursday called upon Secretary of State Scott Gessler and elections officials elsewhere to look into reports of malfunctioning touch-screen voting machines that may be casting votes for Barack Obama when a voter meant to pick Mitt Romney. In Colorado, Republican officials pointed to a single example of a malfunctioning machine in Mesa County. The GOP asked that voting machines be recalibrated before the polls open Tuesday, that extra technicians be provided and that polling places remind voters to double-check before submitting their selections. In Arapahoe County, where touch-screen machines are the principal means of in-person voting, Clerk Nancy Doty, a Republican, said the request to recalibrate the machines on Election Day was unreasonable. “We have 650 machines,” Doty said. “They’ve already been tested.”

Colorado: Potential voting machine error could cast incorrect ballot |

The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office is reviewing a letter from the Republican National Committee that claims action needs to be taken to remedy reports of voting machine errors. The letter, released Thursday, was written to election officials in six states, including Colorado. The Secretary of State’s Office is currently reviewing the requests in the letter. The RNC writes, “In a significant number of cases, voting machines in your states have populated a vote for Barack Obama when a voter cast his or her ballot for Mitt Romney.” The RNC requests four actions to “mitigate any potential machine errors.”

Florida: Glitch in Florida’s Voter Registration System can Disenfranchise Absentee Voters | electionsmith

A couple weeks ago, when we were investigating for our academic research patterns in rejection rates of absentee and provisional ballots cast in the August 14, 2012 primary election, we discovered some anomalies in the Florida statewide voter file. Upon further investigation, and after following up with some county Supervisors of Elections, we believe that we have found a troubling anomaly in Florida’s Voter Registration System. This oversight that we stumbled upon has the potential to disenfranchise registered voters who mailed in absentee ballots from their counties of residence and then subsequently updated their voter registration addresses with new information to reflect having moved.  By being vigilant and updating their voter registration information to reflect their current addresses, these voters risk becoming “self-disenfranchised.”

Minnesota: Minnesota voter ID amendment: Judge rejects GOP senators’ complaints on Ritchie’s comments |

An administrative law judge has dismissed a complaint filed by two Republican state senators that Secretary of State Mark Ritchie violated state law through his comments on the proposed voter ID constitutional amendment. Sens. Scott Newman of Hutchinson and Mike Parry of Waseca complained to the state Office of Administrative Hearings in October that Ritchie, a Democrat and amendment opponent, made false statements and improperly used his office to work against the amendment. The complaint focused on statements that Ritchie made on the Secretary of State website and through other communications.

Nevada: States rebut RNC complaints about e-voting systems | Computerworld

In a sign of increasing anxiety over the use of electronic voting machines, the Republican National Committee this week alleged problems with e-voting machines in six states that use them for early voting. John Phillippe, general counsel of the RNC, contended in a letter to the secretaries of state in Nevada, Ohio, Kansas, North Carolina, Missouri and Colorado that voting machine errors caused some early votes cast for Gov. Mitt Romney to be credited to President Barack Obama. Phillippe said in the letter that the RNC learned about the alleged voting machine errors from media and citizen reports. The RNC letter evoked an angry response from a Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller, who called the RNC claims “irresponsible” and “unfortunate,” and said that they are based on rumor, hearsay and unconfirmed media reports.

North Carolina: Guilford County Voting Issues Make National News | Greensboro Times

This week Guilford County Board of Elections Director George Gilbert said he had a major, major scoop for The Rhinoceros Times. “There are other inhabited planets,” Gilbert said. “There are other planets with life on them.” He said that, though he had wondered before, he could now confirm that fact because, after some recent nationwide publicity over a few calibration errors in Guilford County’s voting machines, he was hearing not only from other parts of the country, but also, seemingly – based on the content of the calls – from those who lived in other solar systems. “Some of the calls I’ve gotten – well, they’re from another planet,” an exacerbated elections director said.

North Dakota: A recount could put spotlight on North Dakota’s unique voting rules | INFORUM

A tight U.S. Senate race in North Dakota between Rick Berg and Heidi Heitkamp has some people talking about a possible recount. There is also talk a recount would create nightmares based on North Dakota’s election rules and the fact it is the only state without voter registration. North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger finds this kind of talk irritating. “We’ve done recounts in the past. We know how to do them. If we have a recount, we are prepared,” said Jaeger, who expects strong scrutiny from political parties and their attorneys if a recount is necessary. And he knows what he will tell them: Look, here’s the law, here’s what we’re going to do and this is the plan we’re going to follow.

Ohio: Voting machine problems: Reports across county of wrong candidates being selected |

Sophie Rogers, director of the Marion County Board of Elections, said the incident involving an errant vote has been settled. “We have to assure the members of Marion County that there is nothing wrong with the election,” she said on Wednesday. When a Marion Star article pointing out the problem a local early voter had getting her vote to register properly hit the internet, it sparked national attention. With numerous callers and emailers contacting The Star, including readers from Florida, Oregon, Texas and New York, it is not an isolated incident.

Ohio: Problems pop up as Election Day draws near | The Columbus Dispatch

Unlike past elections, an initial wave of election results should pour in from across the state Tuesday night within 45 minutes after the polls close. But that doesn’t mean it will be time to call the race. “My expectation is we will be able to declare a winner on election night,” Secretary of State Jon Husted said yesterday during a briefing about Election Day and beyond.But he also projected that final, unofficial counts might not be finished until 3 a.m. the day after the election.

Oregon: Ballot tampering reported in Clackamas County |

Authorities said Friday they were investigating suspected ballot tampering by an election worker in one of Oregon’s most populous counties. Clackamas County Clerk Sherry Hall said a criminal violation of election law was uncovered by her office Wednesday and reported to the secretary of state’s Elections Division. Hall declined to identify the worker or describe the specific nature of the violation.

Virginia: Election Results Could Come Late Due to Virgina Voter ID Law | Newsplex

The new voter ID law in Virginia, which took effect earlier this summer, just doesn’t change how people vote — it also changes when the official results of the election will be released. “I don’t really know, since this is the first time really that the ID law has been into affect, what it’s going to do,” Charlottesville registrar Sheri Iachetta said. When Virginia’s voter ID law went into effect, it wiped out the affirmation of identity, the alternative for voters who didn’t have an ID with them. The signature would allow the person to vote.

Virginia: Fairfax Democrats sue over polling-place observers | The Washington Post

The Fairfax County Democratic Committee is suing state and local elections officials over what the committee says is an illegal attempt by Republicans to change rules about elections observers with the aim of reducing votes in Virginia’s biggest Democratic stronghold. The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Fairfax County Circuit Court, centers on what Democrats say are new restrictions on party observers inside polling places.

Guinea: Guinea swears in new electoral commission | Reuters

Guinea has sworn in a new electoral commission after an initial boycott by the opposition, which claimed the government had tampered with its list of nominees, state television announced on Thursday. A political stalemate in the world’s top bauxite producer has since last year stalled legislative polls needed to complete a shift to civilian rule after a 2008 coup and unblock international aid.

Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Goes Digital |

Election results will be electronically transmitted countrywide to undo claims of vote tampering, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has said. Acting ZEC chairperson Mrs Joyce Kazembe said the commission was installing software linking the national command centre with all district offices nationwide to enable ZEC to electronically transmit election results without fear of people tampering with the outcome.