Australia: Negligent AEC practices means mystery of lost votes will remain unsolved: Mick Keelty | Brisbane Times

Former federal police commissioner Mick Keelty has criticised “lax” and “complacent” practices with the Australian Electoral Commission in concluding the fate of 1370 missing Western Australian Senate votes may never be known. The Australian Electoral Commission asked Mr Keelty to investigate what happened to the ballot papers after the loss of the votes was discovered in October during a recount. In a report released on Friday, Mr Keelty said while his investigation had not excluded the possibility of criminality, he had not discovered any evidence to suggest it was more likely than that the ballot papers had simply been misplaced. “It is tempting to say that the ballots are most likely to have been mistakenly destroyed with recycling material but the system put in place by the WA AEC office was so parlous that such a conclusion would be difficult to prove,” Mr Keelty wrote.

National: No political ads on public radio and TV, 9th Circuit Court rules | Los Angeles Times

A divided federal appeals court upheld a federal ban Monday on paid commercial, political and issue advertising on public broadcast radio and television stations. Rejecting a free-speech challenge to the ban, an 11-member en banc panel of the U.S. 9thCircuit Court of Appeals ruled that Congress was entitled to establish regulations to ensure that public broadcasting would be educational and noncommercial. Monday’s ruling overturned a smaller panel’s decision last year that would have permitted paid political and issue advertising. That ruling opened the door to hundreds of millions of dollars in ads for struggling public stations — and could have caused economic headaches for radio and TV stations who depend on political ad spending.

Voting Blogs: Pricey Tuesday? New Pew Dispatch Highlights Cost of Uncontested Elections | Election Academy

With the year-end holiday season underway, we are in the midst of a series of days marketed to consumers as unofficial shopping days: Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Buyers on these days are looking to save money and make cost-effective purchases for everyone on their gift list. These shoppers likely wouldn’t flock to the deals offered in a new Pew Election Data Dispatch examining the high cost of uncontested elections. The Dispatch looks at (and links to) several stories of where localities were forced to spend funds on elections where the winner was already clear:

Voting Blogs: The IRS Proposed Rules on (c)(4) Political Activity | More Soft Money Hard Law

Immediately upon the Treasury and IRS’s publication of proposed rules on 501(c)(4) activity, the political jockeying began. Reformers said high time; critics replied that the suppression of free speech was at hand. The IRS Notice is not all that dramatic because what the Service may eventually do is up in the air: the IRS invites comments on all aspects of the definition of (c)(4) political activity. There is no way of knowing how this will all end up many months from now. But the IRS appears to be doing what both sides had demanded that it do for different reasons—improve on current rules—and its notice of proposed rulemaking simply calls for comment on a baseline proposal, which is fairly normal for this type of agency rulemaking setting. This is a reasonable place to begin. Moreover, the goal of clarity the IRS is emphasizing is a sound one. The tax authorities should not be called upon to make nuanced political judgments about what does or does not constitute political activity. And the IRS should not be asked to bear the full burden of disappointments over the enforcement of the campaign finance laws. To the extent that the Service has in mind simplifying its task and keeping quite limited its presence in political activity, it seems to be marching in the right direction.

Editorials: Common sense and the Constitution should guide Arizona voting policy | Arizona Capitol Times

It makes absolutely no sense that someone would be qualified to vote for president but not for governor. Yet that’s the logic of Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne and Secretary of State Ken Bennett. In order to get around a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Bennett and Horne have proposed implementing a two-tiered voting system — based on the form people use to register. People who register using the state form will be able to cast ballots in all elections; those who register with the federal form will be limited to federal races. If all goes as Horne and Bennett hope, Arizona will have two classes of voters for next year’s mid-term elections. It will be a significant policy shift — prior to Horne’s opinion on the matter in October, Arizonans could vote in any election after registering with the federal form. Moreover, dividing the voter rolls will be costly for taxpayers, burdensome for elections officials and confusing for voters.

California: Palmdale Voting Rights Act Ruling Could Change Political Landscape | KHTS Radio

Palmdale politics could be changed forever if a judge’s ruling in a California Voting Rights Act lawsuit stands. Don’t miss a thing. Get breaking Santa Clarita news alerts delivered right to your inbox. A tentative ruling by Judge Mark V. Mooney called for Palmdale to scrap at-large elections in favor of four districts and a citywide mayoral position, which is currently held by Mayor Jim Ledford. Furthermore, Mooney’s judgment states no member of Palmdale‘s City Council, save Ledford, can hold office after July 9, 2014, calling for a special election in June. “As always, we’re pleased with Judge Mooney’s ruling and reasoning,” said attorney Kevin Shenkman, who represented the plaintiff. “It’s a very well thought-out decision. We’re happy because we think the remedy that Mooney has set out will provide an opportunity for Latinos and African Americans in Palmdale to elect their candidates of choice.”

Colorado: Voter turnout spurred by registration, mail ballots, hot issues | Denver Post

Whether it was local issues like secession from Colorado, or statewide school taxes, pot taxes or a new law that mailed a ballot to every voter, the numbers don’t lie. Turnout on Tuesday was remarkable: 319,225 more ballots cast this year compared to 2011, the last election without a presidential, gubernatorial or congressional race driving the fervor. To put it in perspective, that’s close to the whole population of Aurora joining the electorate this time around — or two Fort Collinses or three Boulders or 30 Lone Trees. You get the idea. (OK, one more 72 Ouray counties.) What drove the increase? A lot of things. Some of it could be attributed to almost 212,000 more registered voters since 2011 — from 3,350,219 two years ago to 3,562,184 on Tuesday. Colorado legislators this year also made mail-balloting the law, rather than just an option. The state has allowed voters to chose to get a ballot mailed to them for quite awhile, and in the general election last year 74 percent chose to do so. This year, that number grew to 100 percent of those, plus many more who had been deemed “inactive” for not voting in recent elections. Getting a ballot without leaving home likely pulled many of them still living in the state back into the fold.

Voting Blogs: Standing Aside, D.C. Federal Court May Have to Determine What “After January 1, 2014” Means in D.C. Attorney General Election | State of Elections

When asked, many District of Columbia residents will be quick to point out that the district is not a state, and is subject to the control of Congress, per the U.S. Constitution. The slogan “Taxation without Representation” adorns the city’s vehicle license plates, and it is an issue which fires up many residing in the “202″. While the merits of this question are actively debated, they are not the subject of this modest post. However, one particular consequence of constitutionally-mandated Congressional control over the district is that many laws passed by the D.C. Council, the district’s elected rulemaking body, are subject to congressional approval before they take effect.  While almost all D.C. legislation is approved by Congress – in fact, in the past 40 years Congress has only vetoed D.C. legislation 3 times – there is a congressional review period, and thus a wait-time, of 30 legislative days before D.C. legislation may be approved. This wait time can be critical, especially when elections and election cycles are fixed dates by law.

Florida: Pinellas supervisor bucks Secretary of State Detzner’s directive on absentee ballots | Palm Beach Post

With a special election for a Pinellas County congressional seat looming, the county’s elections chief has signaled she will defy a directive issued by Secretary of State Ken Detzner on where voters can deliver absentee ballots. The standoff, which once again pits Gov. Rick Scott’s secretary of state against independent county elections supervisors, could ultimately end up in court. The wrangling comes little more than a month before a Jan. 14 primary in the campaign to replace the late Congressman C.W. Bill Young, who died in October. The general election is slated for March 11. Detzner issued the directive Nov. 25, in response to what his office said are questions from some county supervisors about new language in the state’s voter-registration guide telling voters not to return their completed absentee ballots to early voting locations.

Nebraska: Without a single candidate to back, Americans Elect calls it quits in Nebraska | Omaha World-Herald

A little-known political party is being officially dissolved in Nebraska after failing to field even one candidate for public office. The Americans Elect Party, an effort launched to nominate presidential and vice presidential candidates in 2012 via an online convention, has informed the Nebraska secretary of state of its intention to dissolve. The party had about 275 members in Nebraska and was able, in 2012, to gather more than 9,000 signatures to qualify as an official party in the state. “Pick a President, Not a Party” was its slogan. But Americans Elect was unable to field a presidential slate through what it called “the first nonpartisan, national online presidential primary.” It also didn’t field any candidates for state offices in Nebraska.

Editorials: Early voting legislation a disservice to Ohio voters | Ellis Jacobs/Cleveland Plain Dealer

During the 2004 presidential election, Ohio became famous for its dysfunctional election system. Lines snaked around city blocks in many areas, causing people to wait for hours to cast their vote or simply give up and leave. In response, the Republican legislature passed sweeping election reform in 2005 that included expanded early voting hours and no-fault absentee voting, and we haven’t seen dysfunction like 2004 since then. Until now. On November 20, the Ohio Senate passed SB 238, a bill that slammed the doors on the first week of early voting in Ohio.

Virginia: Judge with Obenshain family ties recuses self from recount in attorney general race | The Washington Post

The Richmond judge who would normally preside over the recount in the tight Virginia attorney general race has recused himself, possibly because of his close ties to the family of state Sen. Mark Obenshain. Under Virginia law, the special court that will oversee the recount of the contest between Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg) and state Sen. Mark Herring (D-Loudoun) — which Herring won by 165 votes, according to the results certified by the State Board of Elections — should be led by the chief judge of the Richmond Circuit Court. But Bradley B. Cavedo, holder of that title, recused himself from the recount case last week, according to Ed Jewett, the court’s chief deputy clerk.

Afghanistan: Lack of cash and monitors add to Afghan election troubles | GlobalPost

Organizers of Afghanistan’s make-or-break presidential election next year say poor security, a shortage of monitors and funding holes are undermining their ability to safeguard the process from the widespread fraud that marred the last poll in 2009. Another deeply flawed election would undermine the attempts of Washington and its allies to foster democracy ahead of the withdrawal of foreign troops later in 2014. “The foundation of the election due to technical issues was not done in the proper way,” said Noor Mohammad Noor, spokesman for the Independent Election Commission (IEC). “We need measures to secure the process through observers.” Western nations, who have spent hundreds of billions of dollars on a conflict that has failed to end the Taliban insurgency, have pledged about a third less cash to the United Nations (U.N.) fund that will cover most of the election’s costs compared with 2009, official U.N. figures shows. The reduced budget is partly because some land and equipment that had to be bought last time is being reused and fewer foreign advisers are needed, say the U.N. and IEC chief Yousof Nooristani.

Egypt: Proposed constitution would choose president before parliament | Middle East Online

Egypt’s political transition was pitched into uncertainty on Sunday when a draft constitution was amended to allow a presidential election to be held before parliamentary polls, indicating a potential change in the army’s roadmap. The roadmap unveiled when Islamist President Mohamed Morsi was ousted in July said a parliamentary election should take place before the presidential one. But the draft finalized on Sunday by the 50-member constituent assembly avoids saying which vote should happen first, leaving the decision up to President Adly Mansour. “Now we have approved the draft,” Amr Mussa, the head of the 50-member constitution-drafting panel, announced on live television. “The draft will be given to (interim president) Adly Mansour on Tuesday,” he said, adding: “Long live Egypt.” The draft also says the “election procedures” must start within six months of the constitution’s ratification, meaning Egypt may not have an elected president and parliament until the second half of next year.

Honduras: Computer ‘geeks’ check election tally | The Washington Post

Four Honduran computer programmers watching their country’s debate over the vote count in the hotly contested presidential race decided to check the results themselves, using the power of the Internet and its many users. The idea was to show that computer technology and the Internet now mean that important information which once had to be taken on faith from the government can be verified by the public. The tech entrepreneurs, who all have studied abroad and live in the U.S., Honduras and El Salvador, went to Honduras’ official election website and downloaded scanned copies of vote tally sheets from polling stations. They then posted the sheets publicly and recruited hundreds of volunteers through social media to help check the results.

Honduras: Honduras to recount presidential election vote tallies | BBC

Electoral authorities in Honduras have agreed to review vote tallies from last week’s presidential elections. Defeated left-wing candidate Xiomara Castro demanded the recount, saying she had been robbed of victory by “fraud”. The governing party’s candidate, Juan Orlando Hernandez, has been declared president-elect. Head of the electoral authority David Matamoros said he hoped Ms Castro would admit defeat if the review confirms Mr Hernandez’s victory. The electoral court’s official results gave Mr Hernandez 37% of the votes to Ms Castro’s 29%.

India: 10 percent of voting devices malfunctioned in Mizoram polls | Assam Tribune

Ten percent of the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines, which verify to a voter that his or her vote was cast as wished, malfunctioned in the November 25 polls in Mizoram, an official said here Monday. “In all 21 VVPAT machines of 212 placed in 10 constituencies in Aizawl district failed. Eleven VVPATs failed during routine checkup a day before the assembly polls, 10 more were unsuccessful during the polling day and had to be replaced,” Mizoram Chief Electoral officer (CEO) Ashwini Kumar told reporters. He said that the Electronic Corporation of India Ltd (ECIL) delivered the machines to the Mizoram election department two weeks late which, coupled with the breakdown of the devices, led to “administrative challenges”.

Italy: Letta prepares to tackle Italy’s voting law stalemate | Reuters

With Silvio Berlusconi now out of parliament, Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta is under pressure to overhaul a voting law blamed for dragging Italy into political and economic stalemate after the last election. Letta was appointed to lead an unwieldy government of left and right forces after a vote in February this year yielded no clear winner. When he named the 47-year-old centre-left politician, President Giorgio Napolitano gave him the task of overhauling a dysfunctional political and justice system that has stifled Italy’s economic growth for years. Letta’s administration was supposed to repair the system to prevent chronic political instability. The ripple effects of Berlusconi’s legal battles – in particular the lead-up and aftermath of the former premier’s conviction for fraud in August – largely sidetracked the government during its first seven months, however. That disruption has ostensibly subsided after Berlusconi’s ejection from the Senate.

Honduras: Anonymous Hacks Honduras’s Elections Website | Panam Post

As of the evening of December 2, the international network of hacktivists, Anonymous, has successfully hacked the website of Honduras’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE). This came just a few hours after the tribunal announced its willingness to recount the votes and review the official electoral records of the recent presidential elections, held on November 24. In the website, Anonymous Honduras declares “we commit the sin of giving you the benefit of the doubt, even when we are certain that your institutions are useless, and don’t serve anyone but the one that has the money and the power in this country. We can no longer tolerate this and the help of your bribed media, who want the people to stay quiet and consume the process no matter what.”