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National: Federal Election Commission still in ‘significant’ danger of hacking | Center for Public Integrity

The Federal Election Commission’s computer and IT security continues to suffer from “significant deficiencies,” and the agency remains at “high risk,” according to a new audit of the agency’s operations. “FEC’s information and information systems have serious internal control vulnerabilities and have been penetrated at the highest levels of the agency, while FEC continues to remain at high risk for future network intrusions,” independent auditor Leon Snead & Company of Rockville, Md., writes. The audit, released today, comes less than two weeks after a Center for Public Integrity investigation that revealed Chinese hackers infiltrated the FEC’s IT systems during the initial days of October’s government shutdown — an incursion that the agency’s new leadership has vowed to swiftly address. The Chinese hacking attack is believed by FEC leaders and Department of Homeland Security officials to be the most serious act of sabotage in the agency’s 38-year history. Read More

Indiana: Judge rejects ex-secretary of state’s request to overturn voter fraud conviction | Associated Press

A judge has denied former Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White’s request to have his conviction on voter fraud and other charges overturned and ordered White to begin serving his sentence of a year of home confinement. Hamilton County Superior Court Judge Daniel Pfleging ruled Monday that there was no evidence to show that White’s trial attorney, Carl Brizzi, shouldn’t enjoy the “strong presumption of competence” and that Brizzi’s trial strategy was “objectively reasonable.” Pfleging wrote that White couldn’t point to a single piece of evidence or a witness that would have swayed the jury’s decision, and that White hasn’t presented anything during post-conviction evidentiary hearings that challenged Pfleging’s “confidence in the outcome or the process which produced it.” White’s current attorney, Bryan Ciyou, didn’t respond to an email seeking comment Thursday. His office said he wouldn’t be at work Thursday. Read More

Iowa: Gronstal pushes for online voter registration | KMAland

The Democratic leader in the Iowa Senate plans to push for on-line voter registration in Iowa. Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs says young people, in particular, expect to be able to conduct most of their personal business on-line and legislators should take steps to allow eligible Iowans to register to vote online. “Twenty states have on-line registration and have no problems with that, so that’s one of the things I’d like to see,” Gronstal says. Read More

Kansas: Voter citizenship law facing new scrutiny | Associated Press

A proof-of-citizenship requirement for Kansas voters is likely to come under attack once the Legislature opens its annual session, but the debate over the policy championed by Secretary of State Kris Kobach also will play in out in federal court and his re-election campaign. The law took effect at the start of the year and requires new voters to produce a birth certificate, passport or other documentation of their U.S. citizenship when registering. As the year ends, more than 19,000 Kansas residents find their registrations on hold — keeping them from legally casting ballots — because they haven’t complied. Several Democratic lawmakers have proposed rewriting or repealing the proof-of-citizenship law, and even some of Kobach’s fellow Republicans in the GOP-dominated Legislature want to look for ways to shrink the list of affected voters. Former state Sen. Jean Schodorf, the expected Democratic challenger for Kobach, is calling on legislators to audit how Kobach’s office has administered the law once they convene Jan. 13. Read More

Editorials: An interesting effort to expand ballot access in New Hampshire | Concord Monitor

State politicians across the country, including in New Hampshire, have spent the past few years debating a variety of ways to limit access to the ballot box – various forms of voter ID requirements, limiting hours and polling places, changing same-day registration rules and more. That context makes it all the more encouraging that there are two state legislators in New Hampshire actually working in the opposite direction: a plan to expand access to the voting booth. When the Legislature returns in January, one of the proposals on their agenda will be a constitutional amendment to allow 17-year-olds who will be 18 by November to vote in that year’s primary elections. The idea sounds sort of random until you think about it a bit: The target audience are those teenagers who will have the right to vote in November but – without the change – get no say in whose names appear on that general election ballot. If you consider party primary elections part of that year’s total election process, why not let them participate in the entire operation? Read More

Oklahoma: Cherokee Nation Election Commission votes to buy election equipment | Cherokee Phoenix

The Cherokee Nation’s Election Commission on Dec. 10 unanimously voted to purchase election equipment from Texas-based Hart InterCivic with the expectations of running its own elections in 2015. Election Services Director Connie Parnell said she first contacted the Tribal Rights Employment Office to see if there were any Cherokee-owned election manufacturers from which the EC could purchase the equipment. After learning there were no such companies, the EC moved forward with finding a provider. “There is not a lot of companies left. They’ve all bought out each other,” Parnell said. “And of those that are left – ES&S, Dominion, Hart InterCivic – those are your three major companies that produce election equipment. And they are the manufacturers. They aren’t the middle man.” Parnell said she contacted five companies but only two were interested in working toward the EC’s goal of running its own elections, Hart InterCivic being one. Read More

Costa Rica: Electronic Voting Comes to Thousands of Voters Abroad | The Costa Rica News

Over 82% of the 12,654 Costa Ricans registered to vote abroad in the elections on February 2 may use a new electronic voting system, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) announced today. Electronic voting, which will be implemented for the first time in Costa Rica presidential elections, is a pilot plan that can be used at the consulates of 31 countries with more than 50 people registered in each. TSE President, Luis Antonio Sobrado, said at a press conference that the voting and the use of electronic voting is “the most important of the major innovations for the elections.” Each voter will have the opportunity to choose the electronic ballot, which includes the option to vote on a touch screen computer. Read More

Egypt: Roadmap likely to change, presidential vote to be held first: sources | Reuters

Egypt’s government is likely to call a presidential election before parliamentary polls, officials said on Monday, rearranging the political timetable in a way that could see army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi elected head of state by April. Parliamentary elections were supposed to happen first under the roadmap unveiled after the army deposed Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in July after mass protests against his rule. But critics have campaigned for a change, saying the country needs an elected leader to direct government at a time of economic and political crisis and to forge a political alliance before a potentially divisive parliamentary election. Read More

Thailand: Poll faces new threats | Bangkok Post

Even if the election takes place as planned, there is still the risk a new government will not be established, an Election Commission (EC) insider said. This is because the House of Representatives cannot be convened if less than 95% of the 375 constituency MPs, plus 125 from parties’ lists, are endorsed by the EC. The EC must endorse up to 95% within 30 days of the election day. However, the 125 list-MPs are based on the proportion of votes each party obtains nationwide. If votes cannot be cast in any constituency, then the calculation cannot be made. The proportion of each party’s list-MPs will be based on the nationwide vote it obtains. If voters cannot cast their ballots in any constituency, then the number of votes for party list-MPs cannot be counted. Up until yesterday, registration of constituency candidates, particularly in several southern provinces, was still being disrupted by anti-government protesters. Read More

International: 2014: A year of electoral fireworks | Global Post

Some of the largest nations on Earth — along with some of the most violent — will hold important elections in the coming year, any of which could affect the global political landscape profoundly. The United States has entered a midterm election year, with all the sound and fury (and distortion) that brings. But in a world now dotted with democracies, that’s only the start. National votes in Indonesia, Afghanistan, Egypt, India, Colombia and Brazil should command significant attention as all have the ability to improve or set back global growth and stability. In the huge democracies of India, Brazil and Indonesia, corruption and lowered growth expectations will dominate political debate. Brazil’s opposition parties seem weak so far, but voters in the two Asian giants look likely to spark a power change after more than a decade of consistent rule by one party. Read More