British Columbia should not adopt online voting because it won’t necessarily improve voter turnout and is less secure, a report from an electoral panel says. The 106-page report, released Wednesday, makes four recommendations for municipal and provincial elections. Chief among them is that online voting not be used at this time. “There’s no consistent relationship between the use of Internet voting and increased voter turnout in those jurisdictions that have used Internet voting,” Keith Archer, the chief electoral officer and panel chair, told reporters. “Sometimes turnout goes up, sometimes it stays the same, and sometimes it has gone down.” Online voting advocates have argued such a system would engage younger voters. But Mr. Archer said the five-person panel – which formed last year, after being invited by the provincial government to study the issue – found the people most likely to use online voting were middle-aged or older. “Those findings led the panel to conclude that moving towards Internet voting in British Columbia is likely not the panacea for the challenges of declining voter turnout that we’ve seen in the last generation or so,” he said. Mr. Archer described the report as “cautionary” and said it’s important to maintain the integrity of the electoral process. Although traditional voting is not without risk, the report said, “it is much harder to perform and conceal large-scale fraud in traditional voting than in Internet voting.”
We have long assumed that the infestation of special interest money in Washington is at the root of so much that ails our politics. But what if we’ve had it wrong? What if instead of being bribed by wealthy interests, politicians are engaged in a form of legal extortion designed to extract campaign contributions? Consider this: of the thousands of bills introduced in Congress each year, only roughly 5 percent become law. Why do legislators bother proposing so many bills? What if many of those bills are written not to be passed but to pressure people into forking over cash? This is exactly what is happening. Politicians have developed a dizzying array of legislative tactics to bring in money. Take the maneuver known inside the Beltway as the “tollbooth.” Here the speaker of the House or a powerful committee chairperson will create a procedural obstruction or postponement on the eve of an important vote. Campaign contributions are then implicitly solicited. If the tribute offered by those in favor of the bill’s passage is too small (or if the money from opponents is sufficiently high), the bill is delayed and does not proceed down the legislative highway.
Voting Blogs: More Unhappiness About Judge Posner’s Second Thoughts, From Another Direction | More Soft Money Hard Law
Ed Whelan in the National Review is frustrated with Judge’s Posner’s renunciation of his Crawford opinion on voter ID. He contends that Posner’s admission of error—and his new, more critical judgment about voter photo ID requirements—is a demonstration of the flaws in the “pragmatic” adjudication that the Judge has long championed. Posner is now convinced that photo ID requirements have led to voter suppression, and Whelan counters that Posner is just expressing a personal judgment, “sloppy and ill-considered,” that follows from an open-ended mode of judging that invites subjective judgments. In support of his view, he cites from Posner’s book for the proposition that “how a judge should decide a case ‘will often depend on moral feelings, common sense, sympathies, and other ingredients of thought and feeling that can’t readily be translated into a weighing of measurable consequences.’” Whelan, citing Richard A. Posner, Reflections on Judging 6 (2013). This is not fair representation of Posner’s views, and it cannot help account for his change of heart on photo ID. If pragmatic adjudication failed Posner in this case, it is not in the way Whelan suggests.
Blind voters in California can advance claims that the voting machines meant for them in Alameda County malfunctioned and violated their rights, a federal judge ruled. The California Council of the Blind and five individual voters sued Alameda County because the accessible voting machines for the blind failed to work properly, forcing them to vote with the help of another person. The county has Sequoia AVC Edge voting machines at each of its polling places. Using voice prompts, headphones and a tactile keypad, a blind person can vote independently. But the machines allegedly malfunctioned several times on Election Day, and the plaintiffs say they endured long delays as poll workers failed to get the machines working. More than one plaintiff said they were shuttled to another voting site, only to discover that the machine there did not work either.
The Colorado Supreme Court has reaffirmed its decision in two Colorado legislative recall elections that voters do not have to first vote “yes” or “no” on the recall to have their votes for a successor validated. The Colorado high court said Monday a state constitutional requirement that voters must first vote on the recall before voting for a candidate violates rights to voting and expression under the U.S. Constitution. The court’s written ruling came in response to a question from Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper.
Congressman Joe Garcia’s former chief of staff will head to jail for orchestrating a fraudulent, online absentee-ballot request scheme during last year’s elections. Jeffrey Garcia, the Miami Democratic congressman’s longtime political strategist, will spend 90 days in jail as part of a plea deal reached with the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office, the Miami Herald has learned. The deal, expected to be inked Monday, will require Garcia, 41, no relation to the congressman, to plead guilty to requesting absentee ballots on behalf of voters, a felony. His attorney, Henry Bell, noted Garcia never “touched a ballot, manipulated a vote or otherwise interfered with anyone’s vote.” “He accepts responsibility for his conduct which involved requesting absentee ballots for voters when it was the voters themselves who are required to make the requests,” Bell said in a statement. “Jeff is a good person who made a mistake. He is sorry and is doing the right thing in admitting this and accepting responsibility.”
Indiana: Ex-elections chief questions lawyer’s health at 2012 trial, wants convictions tossed | Associated Press
Indiana’s former elections chief raised questions about his attorney’s health during his 2012 voter fraud trial and said he thought it was “a joke” that his defense strategy was to call no witnesses. Charlie White testified Monday in a Hamilton County court that attorney Carl Brizzi appeared exhausted and “worn down” and was taking medication during the trial. “Every night he complained he couldn’t sleep,” White said. White was ousted as secretary of state in February 2012 after being convicted of voter fraud and other felonies. The charges stemmed from his use of his ex-wife’s home in Fishers as his voting address in 2010 while serving on the Fishers Town Council and running for secretary of state. Prosecutors said White lived in a townhouse outside his council district with his then-fiancee but continued to receive his council salary and vote in his old precinct.
Saying Kentucky state senators have been the historical roadblock, Democrat Gerald Neal of Louisville has pre-filed a bill to restore voting rights to certain former felons. Movement on the proposal comes weeks after U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., spoke out in favor of restoring felons’ voting rights at the state and federal levels, which many observers argue is an indication the GOP may be changing its view on the issue. For the past six years, the Democratic-led state House has passed similar proposals by wide, bipartisan margins to give convicted felons their rights back. All of those measures have died in the Republican-controlled Senate and often without a hearing. Neal says senators in the Republican caucus are beginning to come around and putting the bill in his chamber first is a better strategy given its history.
Last month, the office of the Minnesota secretary of state launched online voter registration to deliver a less expensive and more secure method for our citizens to register to vote (“Online voting system needs bipartisan OK,” editorial, Oct. 15; “Beware of online voter registration,” editorial counterpoint, Oct. 18). Minnesotans have responded enthusiastically to this new tool, with nearly 1,500 applications submitted. Along with praise of the system, we’ve also been asked: “What took you so long?” It is fitting that the state that regularly records the highest voter turnout in the nation has access to all the available tools that support voter participation. Online voter registration joins a series of other innovative web-based services from our office that help voters find their polling place, look up registration or absentee ballot status, view a sample ballot, and request an absentee ballot if in the military or working overseas.
Gov. Pat McCrory and other state officials filed their first official response Monday to two of the three federal court lawsuits that challenge the extensive election-law changes adopted this past summer. In response to allegations by the NAACP, the League of Women Voters, several voters and other civil rights organizations, attorneys for the governor and state officials dispute plaintiffs’ contentions that the new measures are a blatant attempt to suppress the African-American vote. The filings offer few details of the legal strategy the attorneys representing the governor and the Republican-led legislature plan to employ in fighting the suits. They ask for the cases to be dismissed. Also on Monday, McCrory defended North Carolina’s law at an event in Washington held by the conservative-leaning Heritage Foundation.
Attorneys for the state of North Carolina and Gov. Pat McCrory on Monday requested that a pair of federal lawsuits challenging substantial changes to portions of a law overhauling elections in the state be dismissed. Offering their initial formal responses to litigation filed in August on the same McCrory signed the bill into law, the lawyers denied all of the racial discrimination allegations made by civil rights and election advocacy groups and voters about the legislation. The lawsuits seek to throw out new rules requiring photo identification to vote starting in 2016, reducing the number of early-voting days by a week and eliminating same-day registration during the early-voting period, among other steps. The lawsuits argue the changes are dramatic and would make it disproportionately harder for black citizens to vote, turning back the clock on voting rights.
With just two weeks remaining before voters go to polls to elect the state’s next governor, Virginia’s State Board of Elections is engaged in an ill-advised effort to purge voters from the registration rolls. While all agree that it is important that Virginia election officials maintain an up-to-date registration list, this hurried review undertaken immediately before a major statewide election is not the way to ensure a fair and appropriate election process. As history has shown us, when politicians purge lists this close to an election, mistakes invariably happen and valid citizens may be denied their right to vote. In an attempt to engage in list maintenance, Virginia is participating in a data-matching program known as the Interstate Voter Crosscheck Program (IVCP). The IVCP collects registration data from all participating states (including each voter’s full name, date of birth, address and, if provided, the last four digits of her or his Social Security number). The IVCP then attempts to match the records to identify any duplicates, and makes the results of this matching effort available to each participating state.
Four days ahead of Czech parliamentary elections, a giant middle-finger salute directed at Prague Castle – seat of the head of state – appeared on October 21. The sculpture appears a protest both at the cynicism of Czech politics, and the efforts of President Milos Zeman to leverage the disillusionment within the country to increase his power. At ten metres tall, the purple finger – mounted on a barge floating on the Vltava River which weaves through the capital – leaves little room for interpretation. Artist David Cerny refused to discuss the work, except to say that the gesture is well-known and clear. More important, he told state broadcaster CTK, is the direction in which it is facing. Zeman is not currently in the country and through a spokesperson said that he did not want to comment on something he has not seen. The election on October 25-26 follows the collapse of the previous centre-right coalition amid a corruption and spying scandal. The left-leaning Zeman, who took office in March, exploited loopholes in the constitution to install a “caretaker” government, despite objections from all the major parties. Many have likened the move to a “quiet coup” by the president.
Europe’s longest-serving leader Jean-Claude Juncker risked losing power in Luxembourg as three rival parties were set to begin negotiations on Tuesday to form a coalition without him. The heads of the Liberal and Socialist parties said a day after parliamentary elections they would open talks with the Green party, a move that could see Juncker’s centre-right Christian Social People’s party (CSV) ousted, despite winning the largest share of the vote. The 40-year-old head of the Liberal Party, Luxembourg city mayor Xavier Bettel, told journalists he had been given a “mandate” to open talks on forming an unprecedented coalition of the three parties. “We need different policies to pull the country out of crisis,” he said.
Madagascar is set to hold elections Friday, trying to shrug off the effects of a 2009 coup that plunged millions of people into poverty and hunger due to subsequent African and Western sanctions and withdrawal of budget aid. The efforts of donors to punish the country’s politicians have backfired and hurt its most vulnerable people, especially children, U.N. humanitarian agencies said Monday. Madagascar, a country that relied on donors to cover about 40% of its budget in 2008, is a study on what goes wrong after a coup: Tourism evaporates, investors go elsewhere and international donors drastically cut their support. “Before the coup, Madagascar was seen as a donor darling. Things were coming up. They were going to reach their Millennium Development Goals,” said UNICEF’s Madagascar representative, Steven Lauwerier, who was in Johannesburg on Monday.
Maldives: New dates set for presidential election 2 days after police stopped scheduled revote | Associated Press
Maldives officials on Monday set a new date for the country’s presidential election two days after police stepped in to prevent a scheduled revote, claiming that the balloting was illegal. The move comes as a breakthrough in ending a political stalemate and as a reassurance to this troubled young democracy. But questions remain over how the island nation would bypass a constitutional vacuum because the new schedule may not produce a new president before the end of the incumbent’s term. Vice Elections Commissioner Ahmed Fayaz told reporters that the new election date would be Nov. 9 and if no candidate wins 50 percent of the vote, a runoff election would be held on Nov. 16. The constitution of the Maldives requires a president to be elected by Nov. 11, when sitting President Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s term ends.