Election experts and activists are calling for an overhaul of the voting system after hours-long lines, machine malfunctions and other obstacles plagued polling places around the country last week and in some cases delayed the results of races for days. Buoyed by President Barack Obama’s promise to “fix” the system in his acceptance speech, interested parties are coalescing around a campaign to retool the registration and voting process to avoid a meltdown in tight contests down the road.
Election workers in Pima County are still counting ballots nearly a week after the polls closed. Early ballots are nearly all verified and counted. Once that is done, workers can begin working on the estimated 27,000 provisional ballots. Brad Nelson, the elections director said, “We’ve got a really good process involved, it just sometimes takes a little bit longer than people think it might.”
An agreement reached Tuesday at least temporarily resolves a dispute over 130 provisional ballots that could prove decisive in Arizona’s last undecided congressional race. A lawsuit filed on behalf of a voter who supported Republican challenger Martha McSally had sought to block counting results from the 130 ballots, alleging that they were mishandled by Cochise County elections workers who did not seal them in envelopes.
Monday morning, a day most government employees were off for Veterans Day, Cochise County elections staff and volunteers were gearing up to continue the process of checking around 6,600 ballots yet to be tabulated. According to Juanita Murray, elections office director, that number includes the 2,300 provisional ballots that had been verified over the weekend by staff at the Recorder’s Office. The rest are early ballots.
One of the few unresolved congressional races in the nation could come down to whether voters in a heavily Latino precinct in Arizona get their ballots counted this week. Backed by two high-powered lawyers, a supporter of Republican congressional candidate Martha McSally filed a lawsuit on Tuesday to get election authorities to halt counting of provisional ballots from a heavily Latino area of the state’s Cochise County. The suit could be pivotal as McSally is trying to unseat Rep. Ron Barber (D) in southern Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District. At last count, McSally was trailing Barber by just 512 votes, but the lead had changed hands multiple times since election night.
The battle for control of the Arkansas House has come down to a recount in Independence County. Recounts Tuesday in Jackson and Poinsett counties left Republican John K. Hutchison with a 45-vote lead over Democrat L.J. Bryant. Poinsett County has as many as 10 provisional and military ballots to consider before certifying results Friday, but by themselves they cannot overturn last week’s election results. Independence County election officials will recount votes Thursday. Craighead County verified its totals Friday without making a change.
Democratic lawmakers, liberal activists and labor unions on Monday called for sweeping changes in Florida’s voting laws, warning that if Gov. Rick Scott and lawmakers do not act the issues could end up in court. “We are calling upon the state to move very quickly and not to continue to undermine our democracy by cutting off the participation of Florida voters,” said Judith Browne Dianis, co-director of the Advancement Project, a civil rights group. The call came after Florida again became the center of national attention — and ridicule — as the state was the last in the nation to be able to tally its votes and declare a winner in the presidential race.
Florida: West challenges results as Florida declares vote-tally over amid recounts and irregularities | Fox News
Florida Republican Rep. Allen West continues to challenge election officials’ tallies that show he has lost his re-election bid – amid wild ballot swings on Tuesday and a partial recount needed because of voting-machine problems. The Tea Party-backed West demanded a recount after the swing of votes on election night, leading Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy by roughly 2,000 votes, then trailing by 2,400 votes about 35 minutes later.
Nearly a thousand ballots that were not included in Florida’s final count have been found in a warehouse in Broward County. Tuesday morning and into the night, there was a buzz of activity at the Voting Equipment Center in Lauderhill, a week after the general election. There was a recount going on for two commission seats that were too close to call, one in Hallandale Beach and another in Dania Beach. Workers had to count those votes manually.
Florida: Former Florida elections chief on West-Murphy: ‘How do you get away with doing a partial recount?’ | Palm Beach Post
Former Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning, a three-decade veteran of Florida elections, says he understands why Republican U.S. Rep. Allen West would be “a little steamed” by Sunday’s disputed partial recount of early votes in St. Lucie County. A recount wasn’t required by state law because Democrat Patrick Murphy’s margin was larger than 0.5 percent. But St. Lucie County elections officials acknowledged problems with the way electronic memory cartridges of early votes were uploaded on election night and scheduled an emergency canvassing board meeting Sunday to recount all 37,379 early votes for all the races on the ballot.
Long lines that formed on Election Day have prompted at least one Indiana community to look at changing its voting system. Some voters at Bartholomew County polling places waited more than two hours to cast ballots Tuesday, and county officials say they are looking into establishing vote centers.
Attorney General Gary King is investigating what he is calling a “near meltdown of voting procedures” in Rio Rancho last week, when voters had to wait up to five hours to cast ballots. King’s office launched the “high-priority” investigation in response to complaints from legislators, concerned citizens and some of its own attorneys and staffers, spokesman Phil Sisneros said Monday. “We want to find out what caused the delays — who did what, when— and what is being done about it,” he said.
Ohio: Federal court sides with coalition saying Ohio must count provisional ballots with incomplete voter ID | Toledo Blade
A federal court judge sided Tuesday with a homeless coalition and said Ohio must count provisional ballots cast on Nov. 6 that lack or contain incomplete voter identification information. Secretary of State Jon Husted promptly said his office would appeal the ruling to the Cincinnati-based U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. “Secretary Husted will appeal today’s ruling because it allows protentially fraudulent votes to be counted,” said Husted spokesman Matt McClellan. “By eliminating the ID requirment on provisional ballots, the ruling is contrary to Ohio law and undermines the integrity of the election.”
A Philadelphia election official says more than 27,000 voters had to cast provisional ballots in the city last Tuesday, apparently confirming reports from citizens and election watchdogs that there were an unusual number of glitches at city polling places. City Commissioner Al Schmidt said the 27,100 provisional ballots is roughly twice as many as were cast in the last presidential election. The number is equal to about 4 percent of the ballots cast using electronic voting machines. Provisional ballots are paper ballots used when a voter’s registration status is in doubt. The ballot is sealed and opened once the voter’s status is verified.
South Carolina’s Supreme Court has ordered state police to return ballots and voting machines to Richland County officials so that they can be tallied, ruling on Tuesday that a lower court didn’t have jurisdiction to order a recount. The justices also gave county officials until noon Friday to canvass the votes and give the results to state authorities, who will certify them later that day. Any disputes with election results must be filed by Nov. 21.
Richland County voters could learn as early as this afternoon what the county’s official results are in the Nov. 6 county elections. Votes will be tallied beginning at 1 p.m. on the fourth floor of the county administration building on Harden Street, Election Commission chairwoman Liz Crum said Tuesday evening. “We will get this done, and we will get it done right,” Crum said. Election observers and news media can observe county officials do the count. “Everybody on hand can watch the canvassing,” she said. “We never finished counting the vote – this is not a recount.”
The St. Croix Board of Elections continued throughout the weekend to count paper ballots from Tuesday’s General Election. The board put in 19 hours beginning Friday and continuing Saturday and Sunday. They counted close to 2,000 paper ballots that left little changes from the initial results of the Senate races after electronic votes were tallied Tuesday night. According to the unofficial results, which includes tallies from 13 of 14 precincts, the paper ballot votes widened the gap between some of the candidates and narrowed the gap between others, but the positioning stayed the same.
At first blush, it appears electronic voting did little to conquer voter apathy in Halifax Regional Municipality. The 37 per cent total turnout in October matched that of the 2008 election. That plateau has prompted several councillors to call for a staff review to gauge how effective the $500,000 spent on telephone and online voting was compared to using paper ballots. Coun. Waye Mason questioned the system’s security and said he doesn’t think it should necessarily be used in 2016.
Officials failed to forecast the record turnout at polls on Tuesday. Woodbridge’s River Oaks voting precinct has more than 4,000 active registered voters assigned to it and saw a 64 percent voter turnout rate Tuesday. Voters here waited in long lines, and in line before the polls closed at 7 p.m. waited for up to four hours to cast their votes. President Barack Obama won handily over Mitt Romney with 84 percent of the vote at this precinct. Democrats also turned out in droves to other precincts in eastern Prince William County like Lynn in Woodbridge, and Godwin and Dale in Dale City.
A week after Virginians waited in line for hours to vote for president, there’s a new push in the state to allow residents to vote early. Sen. Janet Howell, D-Reston, has tried repeatedly over the years to loosen the state’s early voting restrictions without success. But she said voter frustration with long lines may have given her new momentum. “A lot of voters are very angry because they had to wait in such long lines,” Howell said. “I’m hopeful that anger will help get it passed. This shouldn’t be a partisan issue. It should be about making it easy for people to vote.”
Lingering fears of political violence haunt Ghana ahead of the General Election on December 7. Out of eight declared presidential candidates, it is looking like a two-horse race between the incumbent John Dramani Mahama of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and Nana Addo Akufo-Addo of the main opposition group, the New Patriotic Party (NPP). Attempts by former First Lady Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings to have her name on the ballot as presidential candidate for the National Democratic Party, a breakaway group from the NDC, fell flat.
Romania: Anti-graft agency says faces political intimidation in run up to election | The Star Online
A Romanian anti-corruption watchdog has said it is under political pressure to drop its investigations of senior figures in the run-up to a December parliamentary election. The head of the National Integrity Agency (ANI) said politicians were trying to intimidate his organisation after it notified three ministers and a state official last week that it was investigating them for possible conflicts of interest.
Editorials: Sierra Leone: elections are a chance to ride the wave of economic development and democracy | IndepthAfrica
On 17 November Sierra Leoneans will go to the polls in presidential, parliamentary and local elections. Over a decade ago, after years of turmoil and unrest, Sierra Leoneans were encouraged to embrace democracy as the means of restoring peace and reviving this once flourishing West African country. Great sacrifices were made for the cause of democracy – just by voting people ran the risk of having their hands and legs chopped off. It took the largest UN peace operation and the deployment of British troops to finally bring an end to the 11 year rebel war and usher in Sierra Leone’s democracy.
Florida Rep. Allen West said Tuesday he filed a circuit court complaint challenging the official result of his House race, which ended with him losing re-election by 2,442 votes. The lawsuit asks the St. Lucie County court for a preliminary injunction that would order election officials to recount early votes in the state’s 18th Congressional District and refrain from certifying the results until the process in complete. The court could not be reached late Tuesday afternoon to verify the filing.