On Jan. 23, city council will decide whether Edmonton should begin using Internet voting next October in our municipal election. While city clerk Alayne Sinclair and others think Internet voting is secure, in reality it is not. Hackers have gained access to secure systems at the Pentagon, CIA and Canadian government organizations. If these groups with large budgets for network security can be penetrated, what makes a private firm think it can provide secure online voting? As a computer programmer and former network administrator, I embrace technology as much as I embrace democracy. While there are many technologies that benefit our lives, electronic voting is not one of them.
Tradition trumped suspense Monday as members of the Electoral College cast the official, final votes in the 2012 presidential election, a constitutional formality on President Barack Obama’s march to a second term. The rite playing in state capitols involved party luminaries and tireless activists carrying out the will of each state’s voters. The popular vote from state-to-state dictates whether Democratic or Republican electors get the honor, but the outcome wasn’t in doubt. Obama had well more than the 270 votes required to win the White House. Obama was on course to get 332 votes to Republican Mitt Romney’s 206, barring defectors known as “faithless electors.” California’s 55 electoral votes — the largest cache in any state — helped put the Democratic president over the top by late Monday afternoon. Electors also were affirming Joe Biden for another term as vice president. “Everybody votes for president, but nobody gets a real vote except a presidential elector,” said elector Mike Bohan of Oregon, which was in Obama’s column.
National: Senate Judiciary Committee taking postelection look at November’s voting problems | kspr.com
A polarized and gridlocked Congress is taking its first look at problems voters had in November, including long lines that left many waiting for hours to cast ballots. The problems went well beyond lengthy waits. A rise in the number of provisional ballots delayed the results for days in some cases. Growing photo ID requirements placed on voters by Republican-controlled state legislatures sparked intense partisan fights. And the time allowed for early voting was too short for many, too long for others. The Senate Judiciary Committee was to examine last month’s balloting during a hearing Wednesday on the Voting Rights Act. But with Congress expected to adjourn within days, any focus on possible fixes won’t occur until next year — if at all. The 1965 law is the federal government’s most potent weapon against racial discrimination in elections, requiring all or parts of 16 states with a history of discrimination in voting to get U.S. approval before making election changes.
Monday was the first day that the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences unveiled its new electronic voting system for the Oscars, and today didn’t exactly go off without a hitch. I figured the big problem would be getting older voters (some are over 100) to warm up to using the world wide web. But the big problem today occurred when the system temporarily went on the fritz and voters couldn’t log in. I’m not sure if there was an avalanche of attempts to vote, but I’m told that the system wasn’t working for much of the day today, one frustrated Academy member told me. The member added that the support center, whose number was included with the ballot instructions, wasn’t sure when things would be back online.
Florida: Former Gov. Charlie Crist to testify in U.S. Senate about Florida election law | Palm Beach Post
Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist will testify about the electoral process in Florida on Wednesday before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington. Crist left the Republican Party at the end of his gubernatorial term in 2010 to run for the U.S. Senate as an independent when it became apparent he would lose the primary to Marco Rubio. Last week he registered as a Democrat and he has told The Palm Beach Post he is weighing whether to run for governor as a Democrat in 2014. Crist has been critical of changes made to Florida election laws by the GOP-controlled legislature and Republican Gov. Rick Scott in the past two years.
Voters can expect a mad scramble to replace U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa if she is appointed to replace U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye. About half a dozen names are already being floated as potential candidates for the District 1 Congressional seat if Hanabusa vacates her house post, political analysts say. “This is a sprint. It’s not a long distance run. It’s going to be a short election span,” said Hawaii Pacific University Professor John Hart. “So the person who can put the boots on the ground and the checks in the mail … those are the people who can compete in this situation.”
Michigan: Legislature passes recall election reforms to the ire of Democrats | Washington Free Beacon
Republicans in Michigan capped off a prolific lame duck session that included turning the home of the United Auto Workers into a right-to-work state by passing recall reforms. The Michigan legislature on Friday pushed through a bill that will limit the ability of interest groups and residents to recall elected officials. Challengers now have 60 days to file recall petitions, down from 90, and recall votes now require opposition candidates rather than up-or-down votes. Liberal activists have campaigned to recall Republican Gov. Rick Snyder since May 2011. That chorus has gained a few key labor voices since Dec. 11 when Snyder made Michigan the 24th right-to-work state in the nation and the second in the industrial Midwest.
On the same day Minnesota’s presidential electors will ceremonially cast their votes for President Barack Obama, a bipartisan bunch of Minnesota lawmakers proposed exchanging the power of the Electoral College and making the national popular vote supreme. The new system, backed by a diverse group of legislators, would give weight to the number of actual votes presidential candidates get, rather than just number of Electoral College votes, in presidential elections. A diverse group of Minnesota backers say it would mean every vote would have equal value during presidential campaigns, removing the candidates’ incentive to focus primarily on the handful swing states. “Everyone understands that places like Ohio, Pennsylvania, swing states, this is a really good process for them right now. Unfortunately, the rest of the country gets hosed,” backer Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, said Monday.
Early in-person voting would have to start 10 days later in Nebraska to comply with a federal law that requires special machines to be available for blind voters. Secretary of State John Gale said Monday that he will seek a new law in the upcoming session of the Nebraska Legislature to cut early voting from 35 to 25 days. The change would not affect mail-in or absentee voting. Starting early in-person voting 10 days later would give officials more time to program AutoMark machines, which allow visually impaired voters to cast secret ballots without assistance.
After serving a combined 14 years on both the Richland County Election Commission and the Richland County Board of Elections and Voter Registration, Liz Crum has resigned. Crum, who served as the board’s chairperson, first announced her intention to resign Monday night. Tuesday, her resignation letter made clear she was not happy with management at the Richland County Election Commission. “I have lost confidence in Ms. McBride’s ability to serve as Executive Director and to manage the office effectively,” she writes.
The time may be short for the Supreme Court to act on the state of Texas’s power to impose a new voter photo ID law, but the state nevertheless plans to pursue a prompt appeal in hopes of a quick final decision, perhaps during the Justices’ current Term. The state got permission on Monday to pursue an immediate appeal from a three-judge U.S. District Court in Washington. That court had ruled against the voter ID law in August. Texas officials already have taken steps to try to get the Justices to rule during the current Term on new redistricting plans for the Texas delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives and for the two houses of its state legislature. The Justices will consider that appeal at their January 4 Conference, after the state gave up some of its filing rights in order to advance the case. That would be in time, if the Court accepts review, for a decision before the Justices’ summer recess in late June. (That case is Texas v. United States, docket 12-496). If the Court were to move ahead this Term on one or both of the new Texas cases, that would mean a further exploration of the scope — and even the constitutionality — of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Wisconsin: State would need to spend $1.2M to check for illegal voters, report says | Wisconsin State Journal
Wisconsin would need to spend $1.2 million to begin checking federal databases for names of non-citizens who should be removed from voter registration lists, says a report from the state’s election agency. Two other states have found relatively few illegal voters on the lists, and there’s no reason to suspect more would be detected in Wisconsin, an agency spokesman said Monday. The Government Accountability Board is to decide Tuesday on sending the staff report to the state Legislature, which would need to enact new laws before the agency could use the federal Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements program.
Voters have ousted the political party that has ruled the wealthy British territory of Bermuda for 16 years, according to preliminary general election results early Tuesday. Bermuda Premier Paula Cox’s Progressive Labor Party was defeated by the One Bermuda Alliance, which was founded following the 2007 elections and will rule the territory for the first time. Cox also lost her seat in the House of Assembly, where the One Bermuda Alliance claimed 19 of 36 seats for a two-seat majority.
Egypt’s Supreme Election Commission regarded the claims of fraud and violation in the constitution referendum raised by opposition as baseless and non-objective, Counselor Mahmoud Abou Shoosha, a commission member, told reporters during a press conference Tuesday. Condemning violation and fraud claims as “lies,” Abou Shoosha said that the voting was based on the voters’ national ID number that was impossible to be duplicated and that the referendum was held under full judicial supervision.
After the controversial and pressure-filled referendum to oust President Traian Basescu in July 2012, the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the OSCE carried out a “Needs Assessment Mission Report” and issued its findings on the upcoming “Romanian Parliamentary Elections 9 December 2012” in Warsaw on 18 October. The OSCE concluded from its research that “While the mission would visit a limited number of polling stations on election day, systematic observation of voting, counting, or tabulation of results on election day is not envisaged.” The 9 December parliamentary elections in Romania, in fact, seemed not to have been as shot through with fraudulent practices as those in July. After the elections took place, there were very few protests about abuses at the polling places.
South Koreans have started casting their votes in a potentially historic presidential election that could result in Asia’s fourth-largest economy getting its first female leader. Polling stations opened on Tuesday, with polls showing a tight race between ruling conservative party candidate Park Geun-Hye and her liberal rival from the main opposition party, Moon Jae-In. The booths were schedule to close at 6pm with a national holiday declared to allow maximum turnout among the country’s more than 40 million registered voters.
The voter turnout for this year’s president race is expected to hover around 70 percent, the country’s National Election Commission (NEC) said Tuesday. The prediction by the state election watchdog comes a day before people cast their votes to pick the country’s next chief executive and is based on a nationwide poll it commissioned earlier in the month. The survey of 1,500 people by local pollster Korea Research Center showed 79.9 percent claiming they will definitely vote.