In the first known example of an attempt to hack a U.S. election, an online attacker took advantage of the lax security surrounding the online process of requesting absentee ballots in the 2012 primary in Miami-Dade County, Florida, to order more than 2,500 ballots. The scheme could have actually worked if it was done with more skill, stated a grand jury report released in December, but whose findings only recently came to light. The attack failed to affect the outcome of the election, but succeeded in verifying the dangers of election processes that allow voters to cast their ballots via email over the Internet. While voting irregularities have cropped up in numerous U.S. elections, no known hack of a live election has been attempted, said David Jefferson, computer scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and a member of the board of directors of Verified Voting and the California Voter Foundation.
Arkansas could become the newest state to force voters to provide photo identification before casting ballots. The state Senate passed a voter identification bill Tuesday along party lines, after having already passed the House bill with all Republicans supporting the measure and all but one Democrat opposing it. The bill forces anyone without proper identification to cast a provisional ballot that would not be counted unless they return with proper ID. Those acceptable forms of identification include a driver’s license, a passport, an employee badge, military ID, an student ID issued by an Arkansas school, or a welfare card.
In the 1980s, a joke that ran through California political circles was that more turnover occurred in the Soviet Union’s Politburo than in the state’s U.S. House delegation. The laugh-line still worked well after the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. From 2002 to 2010, the partisan re-election rate for California House seats was 99.6 percent. Only once in 265 House races in general elections during those years did a district’s representation flip parties, going from Republican to Democratic. That stability ended last year after California (STOCA1) voters in 2010 gave a citizen’s panel the power to redraw the House districts. The impact, combined with a new primary system, was immediate. One out of four of the state’s 53 congressional incumbents departed through retirements or defeats in the 2012 primaries and elections. “You’ve had voters shoehorned into districts for the sake of maintaining incumbency and we aren’t doing that in California anymore,” said Kim Alexander, founder and president of California Voter Foundation. “It was a big shakeout. That’s probably what would happen everywhere if you had fair redistricting.”
Voting Blogs: Arbitrary and Outrageous Costs for ‘Recounts’ of Paper Ballot Elections in California Continue to Stymie Citizen Authentication of Results | BradBlog
Early last month, The Brad Blog offered an exclusive special report on how a single Registrar of Voters in Fresno County, CA effectively stopped a citizen-organized attempt to confirm the results of last November’s Prop 37 initiative dead in its tracks. She was able to stop an attempted post-election hand count of the paper ballots in her county by charging the proponents of the count an outrageous and seemingly arbitrary high price to carry out the count. Now, a very similar story is being reported in regard to an attempt to confirm the results of a mayoral race in another California county where the “losing” candidate is said to have lost by just 53 votes. In that case, rather than an outrageous $4,000 per day to count the paper ballots again, as was the case for Prop 37 in Fresno, the candidate has been charged $2,000 per hour for her attempt to verify that the results of her contest were accurately reported by the computer system.
Kentucky: Democrats say online voting would be more secure than vulnerable Florida system | The Courier-Journal
As Kentucky Democrats make a last-minute push to allow U.S. military to vote online, Florida is reporting what appears to be the first case of someone trying to manipulate U.S. voting through the Internet. A Miami-Dade County grand jury report reveals Internet requests from computers in locations such as Ireland, England and India sought more than 2,500 absentee ballots during the primary election last August. The report said officials blocked the ballots from going out when they saw “an extraordinary number” of ballot requests from the same group of computers. Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said her proposal for Kentucky differs from the Florida system, which didn’t require users to sign in with a password. “That example isn’t applicable to what Kentucky is trying to do,” Grimes said. But Candice Hoke, a law professor and director of the Center For Election Integrity at Cleveland State University in Ohio, said the Florida case shows that Internet voting is a potential target and that there may have been other attempts to manipulate the voting that haven’t been uncovered.
If state Rep. Andy Schor has his way, voting will be uneventful the next time Lee Abramson casts his ballot. The East Lansing man — unable to hold a pen because of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — won’t have to vote twice or have an election official pay him a visit. He’ll simply sign his ballot envelope with his signature stamp and know his vote will be counted. Schor took action Friday by proposing to change election law that narrowly dictates how voters with disabilities must sign their absentee ballots.
North Carolina lawmakers continue to consider legislation that would require some type of voter ID when citizens go to the polls. This week the House Elections Committee will hold more panel discussions on the issue. If an ID requirement were put in place, citizens such as Rocky Reese would be unable to vote. Homeless for 15 years, he is currently unable to secure the proper documents to get an ID. “Being out on the streets, you’re not thinking about your ID,” Reese declared. “You’re thinking about survival. You’re thinking about where am I going to eat next. If you have never been there, you don’t know. You don’t feel accepted.” Reese voted in last November’s election.
Despite pleas to slow down and reconsider portions of a bill that would limit how long signatures can be collected for ballot initiatives, the House will vote this week on the measure that already has Senate approval. Senate Bill 47 was voted out of the House Policy and Legislative Oversight Committee yesterday afternoon on a 9-5 vote after former Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner advised the committee members, “If you pass this lickety-split, it’s going to make you look bad.” No one testified at yesterday’s hearing in favor of the petition part of the bill, though a representative from the Ohio Association of Election Officials spoke in support of other parts of the bill.
Oregon: Secretary of State wants to use driver licenses to automatically register voters | OregonLive.com
Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown will present Oregon legislators with an ambitious plan Wednesday that would ensure that almost all eligible Oregonians are automatically registered to vote. Brown plans to unveil legislation that would use driver-license data and — eventually — data from other government agencies to register citizens. “I do not think that voter registration should be a barrier to participation in voting,” Brown said in an interview Tuesday, “and our goal is to get ballots in the hands of every eligible Oregonian.”
Lawmakers in the Tennessee House of Representatives dropped a proposal to let college students use their campus identification cards at the polls. The House Local Government Committee amended a bill Tuesday to strip out language that would have let students at public colleges and universities in Tennessee show their IDs to vote. The decision put the House at odds with the Senate, which agreed to accept college IDs at the polls just last week. State Rep. Susan Lynn, the measure’s sponsor, said she agreed to the amendment after consulting with committee members and the co-sponsor, state Sen. Bill Ketron.
Last November, some Fairfax County residents reported long lines and wait times of more than three hours to cast their vote at the polls; some abandoned voting all together. But some 50 recommendations from Fairfax County’s new election commission — many of them focused on technology that will speed up parts of the voting process — could solve the problem. How quickly changes are made, though, depends on how much room officials can find in this year’s budget to implement new programs in time for the next presidential election. … The commission, which Chairman Sharon Bulova formed in December 2012, also recommended officials make electronic scanning voting machines – which scan paper ballots – available countywide. The commission argued the optical scanning machines were both faster and more reliable than the county’s touch-screen voting machines. Virginia’s General Assembly placed restrictions on the touch-screen voting machines in 2007 because of performance issues, and the commission noted in ots report that vendor has since gone under. “The [touch screen machines] are old and sometimes unreliable, taking time to reboot frequently or to get a replacement machine,” the report reads. Read the Report
A coalition of voter-rights advocates, including Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Ald. Milele Coggs and community leaders, expressed opposition Tuesday to a proposed Assembly bill that would trim hours for in-person absentee voting. The group also urged city voters to turn out on April 2 and vote yes on an advisory referendum in favor of same-day voter registration. The referendum asks voters: “Should the State of Wisconsin continue to permit citizens to register to vote at the polls on election day?” Barrett and others said Wisconsin has a long and rich tradition of open and accessible voting laws. The Assembly bill threatens that, he and others said.
Kenyan presidential contender Raila Odinga didn’t provide tangible evidence to support his challenge to the outcome of the election, a voting official said. Chairman of the Kenyan Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Issack Hassan declared Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta beat Prime Minister Odinga in the March 4 election.
The PN and two candidates Claudette Buttigieg and Frederick Azzopardi have filed a Constitutional court application against the Electoral Commission, over the 9 March election result which the PN insists “did not reflect the will of the people,” and distorted proportionality in Parliament. In its application the PN, Buttigieg and Azzopardi are asking the Constitutional court to declare the Electoral Commission’s actions in breach of the right to free elections which uphold the will of the people and consequently address the injustice suffered by the party and the two candidates by correcting the number of MPs elected to reflect proportionality.
South Africa: E-voting an option for South Africa, but reports cites security concerns, voter dissent and high costs | IOL SciTech
South Africa could soon join countries like India, Brazil and the Phillipines in replacing traditional paper ballot-based voting with electronic voting (e-voting). The director of e-Skills CoLab at the Durban University of Technology, Colin Thakur, recently completed an 18-month study on e-voting to determine the impact it could have here. He announced his findings at a two-day seminar on the subject, which the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) held in Cape Town last week. … But many countries – such as the Netherlands, Ireland and Australia – introduced and then stopped e-voting. The reasons cited included security concerns, voter dissent and the high costs involved. E-voting would also remove the auditability of an election by taking away the paper ballot and making a recount impossible.
The Supreme Court took up its second voting rights case in less than a month on Monday, with the justices appearing narrowly divided on whether the National Voter Registration Act, or “Motor Voter” bill, trumps state registration requirements. At issue in the case is Arizona’s Proposition 200, which requires proof of citizenship, and whether or not the federal registration form under the NVRA preempts Arizona’s more stringent requirements. The liberal justices criticized Arizona’s eligibility requirements as overly restrictive and in direct conflict with the federal voter registration form, which requires people to attest to their citizenship via signature but does not require documentation of citizenship. Some of the Court’s conservative judges, however, parsed the wording of the NVRA and suggested the states do, in fact, have the ability to add requirements such as proof of citizenship.
In the 1780s, Patrick Henry tried to shape Virginia’s House district lines to block James Madison from serving in the first U.S. Congress. The grudge between the two men: Henry opposed the U.S. Constitution freshly written primarily by Madison. The gambit failed and Madison won his seat. More than two centuries later, the politics of redistricting still are shaping Congress. A majority of Americans disapprove of the Republicans in Congress, yet the odds remain in the party’s favor that it will retain control of the House. One big reason the Republicans have this edge: their district boundaries are drawn so carefully that the only votes that often matter come from fellow Republicans. The 2010 elections, in which Republicans won the House majority and gained more than 700 state legislative seatsacross the nation, gave the party the upper-hand in the process of redistricting, the once-a-decade redrawing of congressional seats. The advantage helped them design safer partisan districts and maintain their House majority in 2012 — even as they lost the presidential race by about 5 million votes. Also nationwide, Democratic House candidates combined to win about 1.4 million more votes than Republicans, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News.
I attended yesterday’s U.S. Supreme Court oral argument in the Arizona voter registration case. The argument went well generally, but Justice Alito suggested the Justices would create a “crazy” double standard by requiring that Arizona election officials accept the federal registration form. Alito’s concerns are unwarranted. Arizona chose to create two standards when it chose to add special “proof of citizenship” to register. The National Voter Registration Act requires that all states “accept and use” a single, uniform voter registration form for federal elections (states can also still use their own registration forms). The Federal Form requires that prospective voters check a box and sign an affirmation that they are U.S. citizens under penalty of perjury. Arizona, however, adopted a state law requiring “satisfactory proof” of U.S. citizenship to register, such as a birth certificate, U.S. passport, or state driver’s license that shows citizenship. As a result, Arizona rejected over 31,000 registrations that lacked its “proof of citizenship”–including Federal Forms–even though Arizona concedes it has no evidence that any of these individuals were non-citizens.
Monday marked yet another Supreme Court showdown for Arizona and the Obama administration. At issue, this time, was the state’s Proposition 200 measure, which requires voter registration applicants to provide documentation proving U.S. citizenship. Critics of the measure say the state has no authority to go beyond what’s required on the simplified federal voter registration form. On the federal form applicants must check a box indicating U.S. citizenship, sign attesting to that fact and drop the form in the mail. Arizona officials, citing hundreds of cases of non-U.S. citizens registering to vote, say additional barriers need to be put in place. Under Proposition 200, applicants can present a number of various documents, including driver’s license, birth certificate and certain Native American tribal documents. “If somebody’s willing to fraudulently vote, that person would be willing to sign falsely,” said Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, who argued the case Monday. “We need evidence that the person is a citizen,” he added.
The Arkansas state Senate approved a measure on Tuesday to require voters to show photo identification before they can cast a ballot, sending it to Democratic Governor Mike Beebe who has not said whether he would sign it into law. The measure passed on a 22-12 vote along party lines in the state’s Republican-controlled Senate. It had already passed the Republican-led House on a 51-44 vote, with support from one Democrat. If it does become law, Arkansas would join the nearly three dozen states that have similar laws on the books, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Legal challenges to those laws are pending in several states where the measures have passed, and challenges to the Arkansas law would be expected to follow.
Arkansas lawmakers gave final approval Tuesday to legislation that would require voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot, sending the Republican-backed measure to Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe’s desk. After rejecting a committee recommendation that the measure needed a two-thirds majority, 24 votes, the Senate voted 22-12 to approve the bill. The Republican-led chamber had approved an earlier version of the bill, but had to sign off an amendment attached by GOP-controlled House to exempt active duty military personnel who file absentee ballots. Beebe has questioned the need for such a law since poll workers are already required to ask for ID, but stopped short of saying whether he’ll veto the bill. Earlier Tuesday, the Senate’s Rules, Resolutions and Memorials Committee voted 8-6 to recommend that the voter ID bill require a two-thirds majority to pass the Senate. The panel made the recommendation based on arguments that the legislation amends constitutional requirements on voter registration.
It was bound to end sooner or later, and it did on Monday. The bipartisan cooperation that marked early work on an elections bill vanished as Democrats on the Senate Ethics & Elections Committee repeatedly forced roll-call votes on amendments the Republican majority opposed. The GOP prevailed on a series of 8-5 votes and on final passage of the bill (SB 600), sponsored by Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, the panel’s chairman. A visibly peeved Latvala at one point said he would consider giving way on a point the Democrats wanted, “but not now,” he said, and he quickly left the hearing without speaking to reporters. With other Republicans rallying around Latvala, the GOP-crafted bill has two major provisions that worry election supervisors: a requirement that anyone voting absentee must have an adult witness their signature, and a requirement that anyone who wants an absentee ballot mailed to an address other than their voting address must fill out an affidavit.
Three Maine towns will continue hand-counting ballots on election night after turning down a state offer of free machines to tabulate the results. Litchfield, Greenville and Winterport ultimately rejected the offer after being given one last chance to get in on the deal by Friday. The Secretary of State’s office last fall offered new state-leased tabulating machines to 67 municipalities with more than 1,500 voters that still counted ballots by hand. The offer aimed to get more accurate returns and ease the burden on ballot clerks who sometimes count ballots into the wee hours.
A bill to allow residents to cast votes at polling places starting 15 days before Election Day is one step closer to reaching the governor’s desk. The Senate today voted 24-16 to pass the early voting bill (S2364), which would let voters cast their ballots early until the Sunday before the election. State Sen. Nia Gill (D-Essex) said she wants to encourage residents’ participation in democracy. “Early voting would ensure that even in an emergency, just as a natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy, or in case of unforeseen personal scheduling conflicts, residents will still be able to get to the polls and exercise their most fundamental right to vote.”
Legislation to modernize Pennsylvania voter registration is advancing in the Senate. The Senate State Government Committee today passed legislation that would allow citizens 18 years and older to register to vote online until 30 days before the election. The measure, sponsored by Sen. Lloyd Smucker, R-Lancaster County, now goes to the full Senate for consideration. Twelve states already allow for online registration, while 13 others are moving in this direction, said Barry Kauffman, executive director of Common Cause/PA, a government reform group. “It allows every citizen of voting age increased access to voter registration. This further elevates citizens’ right to vote,” Kauffman said. Plus, it “will dramatically reduce counties’ and the state’s voter registration processing costs, improve the accuracy of registrations and official voter rolls, and improve security of registrations by preventing bad actors from intercepting confidential information or failing to turn in legitimate registrations.”
It has emerged that in spite of the fact that the government provided GH¢198 million (198 billion old cedis) through budgetary allocations to the Electoral Commission (EC), for the biometric registration of voters and electronic verification for the December, 2012 elections, the Commission is reported to be owing over GH¢120 million (120 billion old cedis) in respect of the registration and the elections. According to finance ministry officials, the EC has not provided evidence on the over expenditure given the fact that the budget of the EC even included allocations for run off of the Presidential elections between the first two contestants, if no outright winner emerged. The EC is in a debt crisis following its inability to settle debts owed to suppliers of biometric equipment and election material as well as printers and EC officials, regarding the registration exercise and the December, 2012 general elections.
Pakistani voters living abroad would not be able to cast ballots in the upcoming elections, as it would take almost a year to develop an e-voting system for the country, Attorney General of Pakistan Irfan Qadir informed the Supreme Court on Tuesday. “Though the ministry of information technology has expertise to bring in the e-voting system, it needs time to develop different softwares and anti-hacking firewalls and legislation to make it workable,” said Qadir . A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and comprising Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed was hearing two identical petitions seeking right to suffrage for overseas Pakistanis.
The Election Commission Tuesday allotted symbols to different political parties for the upcoming general elections. Symbol of Tiger has been allotted to PML-N‚ Bicycle PML-Q ‚ Scale Jamaat-e-Islami‚ Lantern Awami National Party‚ Kite MQM‚ Flower Pakistan Muslim League-F‚ Wheel Jamhoori Watan Party‚ Missile Tehrik-e-Tahafuz Pakistan‚ and Book has been allotted to JUI-F. The Commission allotted the symbol of Bat to Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf‚ Tree to PMAP‚ Inkpot with pen to Pakistan Awami Muslim League and Camel to Balochistan National Party.
The Kremlin said on March 13 that the author of a report that claims the ruling United Russia party actually lost the 2011 elections to the Communist Party of the Russian Federation thanks to fraud needs “psychiatric help.” The report is surprising and extremely embarrassing, as its conclusions are not in dispute: it is widely accepted that the Duma elections were fixed, which engendered the widely publicized protests in December that year. And it is surprising because the institute, the Governance and Problem Analysis Center (GPAC), is a state-run body that is chaired by state-owned Russian Railways (RZhD) and by its CEO Vladimir Yakunin. While it is highly unlikely that this is a political play by Yakunin to embarrass his masters in the Kremlin — Yakhnin is a consummate politician and former ambassador to the EU — it is interesting that a prestigious state controlled institution has had the shariki to come out with this sort of claim in public. The deputy head of United Russia’s executive committee, Konstantin Mazurevsky, said in a statement on his party’s website that Sulakshin’s report was based on data “snatched out of thin air.” And a senior Russian Railways representative told Interfax that Yakunin, a Putin loyalist, had nothing to do with the report and said his boss could give up his role at the think tank in light of its conclusions.