The Electoral Commission has warned those calling for an electronic voting system that there is, as yet, none which could completely guarantee the security of ballot papers in the way that the paper-only system does. Speaking at the Justice and Electoral Committee yesterday, the Commission was asked about the security of voting information after a series of privacy breaches across the public sector. Chief Electoral officer Rob Peden said there was virtually no risk of privacy breaches relating to people’s voting information because it was not stored electronically in any form. The law required the Electoral Commission to deliver all ballot papers to Parliament’s clerk where they were stored for six months before they had to be destroyed.
National: Voting Lines Study Shows Minorities Faced Longer Average Wait Times To Cast Ballots | Huffington Post
A new report by Charles Stewart III, a professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, shows that non-white voters faced longer average wait times at the polls than white voters did in November.
From the report:
Viewed nationally, African Americans waited an average of 23 minutes to vote, compared to 12 minutes for whites; Hispanics waited 19 minutes. While there are other individual-level demographic difference present in the responses, none stands out as much as race. For instance, the average wait time among those with household incomes less than $30,000 was 12 minutes, compared to 14 minutes for those in households with incomes greater than $100,000. Strong Democrats waited an average of 16 minutes, compared to an average of 11 minutes for strong Republicans. Respondents who reported they had an interest in news and public affairs “most of the time” waited an average of 13.2 minutes, compared to 12.8 minutes among those who had “hardly any” interest.
The study points out that the findings don’t suggest discrimination on an individual basis, but rather a failure by precincts with high levels of minority voters, typically in urban areas, to appropriately address the issue of long lines. For example, the difference in wait times between black and white voters in the same zip code was less than a minute on average.
Arizona: Rejected ballots reflect continuing problems in Arizona’s elections | Arizona Capitol Times
Tens of thousands of ballots cast in Arizona’s 2012 election were rejected by elections officials, indicating continued communication and voter education problems in the state, according to an analysis by the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting. Nearly 46,000 of the more than 2.3 million ballots cast in Arizona’s 2012 election – or about 2 percent – were rejected. That rate is down from 2.2 percent in 2008, when Arizona led the nation in rejected provisional ballots. The analysis was based on a review of rejected ballots and interviews with experts and legislators. The rejected votes consist of early voting or provisional ballots in which voters went through the voting process but later had their ballots thrown out after review by elections officials. The most common reasons were that voters weren’t registered in time for the election, voted in the wrong precincts or didn’t sign their ballots. Early votes and absentee ballots are cast when a voter is on the permanent early voting list or lives outside the state or country during election cycles. Provisional ballots are cast when voters are not listed on a jurisdiction’s voter roll or registration records, or if they received an early ballot.
Colorado Democrats are planning sweeping changes to how elections are run in the state, to the dismay of Republican leaders who say they’ve been excluded from crafting a bill that that would allow same-day voter registration and require mailed ballots to every eligible voter. A bill of more than 100 pages is expected to be introduced this week, likely sparking a big partisan fight over whether the changes benefit one party over the other. Supporters of the changes, which also include eliminating the so-called “inactive voter” status, say the goal is to make voting more accessible. “I think people are like me, they just want people engaged in the Democratic process,” said Democratic Sen. Angela Giron, one of the bill sponsors. She insisted they didn’t exclude Republicans from the process. Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler, who oversees elections and has butted heads with Democrats on a range of issues, said the bill was “written in complete secrecy excluding anyone who may have a different point of view.”
Four months after Ken Corbet narrowly unseated Ann Mah for the Kansas House 54th District seat, the race continues to reverberate through the halls of the Statehouse and a federal court. Before adjourning until May, the House and Senate passed a bill Friday barring disclosure of information about voters who cast provisional ballots — a bill largely inspired by Mah. Mah, a Democrat, found herself trailing the Republican Corbet by 27 votes out of more than 10,000 cast on election night last November. The race wasn’t over: 104 Shawnee County voters in her district had cast provisional ballots — ballots that had to be reviewed by county canvassers before they could be counted — and there were more 54th District provisional voters in Osage and Douglas Counties. With about 10 days before the canvass, Mah contacted county officials seeking the names of provisional voters so she could contact them. The question of whether she is allowed to do that led to a legal challenge in which Secretary of State Kris Kobach was front and center.
Some legal experts say charging people for photo identification cards in order to vote in North Carolina might violate the state constitution. House Republican leaders unveiled their proposal Thursday for a voter ID law, and they plan to hold a public hearing on the legislation next Wednesday before beginning debate on it. House Bill 589 would be one of the strictest voter ID laws in the country. Unlike other states, those who need IDs would be expected to pay for them if they can. “This amounts to a poll tax, and it must be challenged,” said Bob Hall, executive director of voting rights group Democracy North Carolina. Charging someone money to vote is a poll tax, which is outlawed by the 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Other states with voter ID laws offer free IDs to anyone, regardless of their ability to pay.
In 20 years as Rowan County’s elections’ board director, Nancy Evans recalls only one obvious instance of voter fraud. A playboy who wanted to test the system in 2008 completed an early voting absentee form and later penned a second ballot at the polls, she said. When investigators found the inconsistency, Evans said, the rogue voter admitted he wanted to see if he could fool the system. “He might have got away with voting but he only voted once because the other vote was removed,” Evans said. “I turned his name over to the state and that was dealt with that way.” But voter ID supporters say officials often aren’t aware of voter fraud, igniting a statewide debate between voter confidence and voter suppression. On Thursday, N.C. Rep. Harry Warren (R-Salisbury) introduced the anticipated — and controversial — Voter ID bill that Republicans hope will curb voter fraud and boost confidence in the election process. The measure would require voters to show a government-issued photograph at the polls, starting in 2016.
Hamilton County election officials said the current voting machines are worn out and a new system needs to be in place by the next major election in May 2014. Charlotte Mullis-Morgan, election administrator, said, “We prayed our way through the November and March elections.” She said the new machines may cost in the range of $1 million. She said there are federal funds available to cover the cost. When the election office purchased the current machines in 1998, they were in advance of a number of other election offices on the new-type machines. The cost was covered by county taxpayers. When federal funds later became available to buy voting machines, the county applied for retroactive funds but did not get them.
Washington: Superior Court Judge rules ballot tracking software part of “election system” | San Juan Islander
San Juan Superior Court Judge Don Eaton issued a letter March 27 ruling VoteHere MiBT (Mail-in Ballot Tracker) is an integral part of the voting system, and required to undergo certification by the Secretary of State. State law prohibits voting systems not certified under the legislature’s program of public examination and expert testing. The court did not say that the county must discontinue use of the ballot tracker software during the pendency of the case, though that may come up at a later date.
The letter is in response to a citizen suit originally brought by Orcas Island residents Tim White and Allan Rosato in 2006. The two seek to remove the unique ballot bar codes. The VoteHere MiBT, is a paperless election tracking, processing and auditing software package. A series of processing station time stamps are used to track each ballot from the time it was sent to the voter to the time it was counted.
The list of the 705 voters submitted by the Electoral commission as being names of Ghanaians registered in various diplomatic missions abroad to vote in the December 2012 polls, “was actually forged and contained several instances of multiple names and fake identities.” This was revealed in the affidavit of the petitioners challenging the outcome of the 2012 presidential elections. On Sunday, the petitioners filed their affidavits with supporting evidence to enable the hearing of the case to begin on April 16. According to the affidavit filed by Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, the 2nd petitioner, the list of 705 names from various diplomatic missions abroad furnished by the EC (2nd respondent) contained “51 instances of repeated names to a total of 102.” Furthermore, many of the names supplied by the EC cannot be found in the general voters’ register presented to political parties before the election, the affidavit alleged.
Election authorities in Montenegro have named incumbent Filip Vujanovic as the winner of Sunday’s presidential election, with 51.21 percent of the vote. The opposition have cried foul, calling for an EU investigation. The election commission in Montenegro named incumbent Filip Vujanovic as the narrow winner late on Monday, after both candidates claimed victory in the presidential poll. However, the commission cautioned that these were preliminary results, still subject to change. Both sides had complained about the length of time it took to publish the results in a small country with around half a million eligible voters, only 60 percent of whom cast their ballots. Vujanovic, running for a third term in office, secured 51.2 percent of the vote, according to the official results. Vujanovic, president since 2003, represents the same Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) that control the country’s legislature. Although Montenegro’s constitution states that a president can serve only two terms, the Constitutional Court ruled prior to the vote that Vujanovic’s first term did not count because it began before Montenegro’s 2006 independence from Serbia. PDS official Caslav Vesovic said the election commission’s result “removes all doubt over who the citizens chose as president of Montenegro, and they chose Filip Vujanovic.”
Montenegro’s opposition refused on Monday to accept a third term for President Filip Vujanovic, a stance that could trigger instability in the tiny Adriatic state seeking European Union membership. Montenegrins were still awaiting the official results of Sunday’s closely fought election for the largely ceremonial post that both sides said they had won. Both Vujanovic and his opposition challenger, former diplomat Miodrag Lekic, claimed victory. The state electoral commission has until 8 a.m. (0600 GMT) on Tuesday to announce the official result. The dispute looked set to usher in an unstable period for the ex-Yugoslav republic of 680,000 people, which last year embarked on the long process of membership talks with the EU.
Pakistan: ‘Prohibitively expensive’: Election Commission opposes online vote for expatriates | The Express Tribune
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) took an unexpected U-turn when it opposed an online voting system for overseas Pakistanis, terming it expensive, time-consuming, and impracticable. In its report submitted to the Supreme Court on Monday, the ECP contended that facilitating eligible overseas Pakistanis to cast their votes in the upcoming general elections was not advisable.
Quoting the unanimous decision of a committee comprising officials from ECP, NADRA and IT ministry, the commission stated that allowing overseas Pakistanis to vote through an uncertified computer system could be disastrous for the electoral process. The Supreme Court had earlier directed the secretaries of law and justice, information technology, foreign affairs, ministry of oversees Pakistanis and the ECP, as well as the chairman NADRA to undertake coordinated efforts for devising a mechanism which would enable overseas Pakistanis to cast their votes in the coming polls.
Venezuela: Plots and sabotage: Chavez candidate spins conspiracy theories ahead of Venezuelan election | The Washington Post
Salvadoran mercenaries are plotting with Venezuela’s opposition candidate to assassinate interim President Nicolas Maduro. But wait, the plot thickens. Central American agents, along with former U.S. diplomats, are also plotting to kill the opposition candidate, Henrique Capriles. Those are just two of the conspiracy theories that Maduro has put forth ahead of Sunday’s election to replace Hugo Chavez. Maduro, who is running as Chavez’s hand-picked successor, also says the government has launched an investigation to determine if someone — U.S. agents, he has hinted — inoculated Chavez with the cancer that killed him March 5.Opposition leaders called the allegation laughable, but government officials insist it’s no joke. Such conspiracy theories don’t seem all that wild to some Latin Americans who resent decades of U.S. meddling in their affairs. In Venezuela, relations with the U.S. deteriorated after Washington briefly endorsed a coup that toppled Chavez for two days in 2002.
Zimbabwe is on track for another flawed election this year unless it can refresh outdated voter lists, approve “an army” of outsider observers and find foreign donors willing to pay for the vote, Finance Minister Tendai Biti said on Monday. However, postponing the poll to maintain a stop-gap unity government between President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is not an option, with the fractious coalition well past its sell-by date, Biti told a Reuters Africa Summit. “I don’t think we are in a position today, right now, of having legitimate, credible, sustainable elections,” Biti, a leading member of Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change, said. “At the rate we are going, it is obvious that we are going to have another flawed election … Zimbabweans cannot afford another flawed election.”
Already short one officer, the Federal Election Commission will soon have a dubious distinction: As of April 30, all five of its remaining commissioners will be serving expired terms. By now President Barack Obama’s failure to fully staff the dysfunctional agency barely even riles government watchdogs. In theory composed of three Republicans and three Democrats, the FEC has been deadlocked for so long that, some argue, the agency could hardly grind to more of a halt. But the FEC’s growing backlog of work, protracted stalemates and failure to enforce or even explain the rules is taking a toll. At a minimum, political players are increasingly confused about how to reconcile already-complicated election laws with the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling to deregulate political spending. (The FEC has yet to issue regulations interpreting that ruling.) At worst, the FEC’s failure to act on even the most blatant violations is sending an “anything goes” signal to political players, who are becoming increasingly brazen about testing what’s allowed. True, most candidates, elected officials and donors simply want to understand the rules and follow them. But a growing number, election lawyers say, see their competitors pushing the envelope and are tempted to follow suit.