Honduras: Anatomy of Election Fraud: Stealing the 2013 Honduran Election in Five Simple Steps | FPIF

After a heavily contested election, Honduras has a new president-elect. The director of the Honduran Electoral Tribunal, David Matamoros, made it so on December 12 when he announced that conservative candidate Juan Orlando Hernandez led the vote count and that his lead was “irreversible.” The bold announcement from Matamoros came after opposition parties launched a barrage of complaints arguing that fraud, violence, and inconsistencies had marred the electoral process significantly enough to affect the final tally. Throngs of supporters of the LIBRE and Anti-Corruption parties marched in the streets to protest the results. After the late November election, popular pressure was intense enough that Matamoros himself stood awkwardly before cameras and announced a vote re-count. But, as so often happens in Honduras, political expediency overtook any pretense of fairness, and Matamoros returned a few days later to announce the final results—recount be damned. The deal was quickly sealed by congratulatory statements, delivered as if on cue, by OAS Chief Jose Manuel Insulza and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

National: Federal Election Commission attacked by Chinese hackers during government shutdown | ITProPortal.com

The Federal Election Commission was hit by a massive cyberattack hours after the government shutdown began, according to a report from the Center for Public Integrity. The CPI report claimed the Chinese were behind “the worst act of sabotage” in the agency’s 38-year history. Three government officials involved in the investigation confirmed the attack to CPI, and the FEC acknowledged the incident in a statement. However, the CPI report did not explain why the officials believed China was involved, or provide any details of the network intrusion beyond the fact that attackers crashed several FEC computer systems. When asked for a statement, FEC referred Security Watch to the Department of Homeland Security and did not provide any information. The fact that an attack during the 16-day shutdown occurred should not be a big surprise, since many security experts had warned that attackers might take advantage of IT personnel being furloughed to launch an attack. With less people watching the networks, there was a lot of opportunity for attackers. In fact, the FEC had furloughed all 339 agency employees as none of its staff had been considered “necessary to the prevention of imminent threats” to federal property, according to CPI.

Editorials: How Washington starves its election watchdog | Center for Public Integrity

Just after the federal government shut down Oct. 1, and one of the government’s more dysfunctional agencies stopped functioning altogether, Chinese hackers picked their moment to attack. They waylaid the Federal Election Commission’s networks. They crashed computer systems that publicly disclose how billions of dollars are raised and spent each election cycle by candidates, parties and political action committees. As minutes turned to hours, the FEC found itself largely defenseless against what may be the worst act of sabotage in its 38-year history. The government had furloughed all 339 agency employees, save for the presidentially appointed commissioners, and not even one staffer had been deemed “necessary to the prevention of imminent threats” to federal property, the minimum measure for keeping someone on the job.

Editorials: Voting ruling nothing to celebrate | Wichita Eagle

If Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach could claim a minor triumph in federal court Friday, there is nothing to celebrate about Kobach’s law requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote and the absurd roadblock it’s creating for thousands of would-be voters in Kansas. Rather than accept the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling last summer invalidating Arizona’s proof-of-citizenship requirement as also applying to Kansas, Kobach has continued to press the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to alter the federal voter-registration form to reflect both states’ requirements that those registering to vote provide a birth certificate, passport or other proof of U.S. citizenship. The current federal form requires only that applicants sign a statement, under penalty of perjury, swearing they are citizens.

Arizona: High court allowing higher campaign contribution limits to go into effect | Associated Press

The Arizona Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected arguments from the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission and allowed new, higher campaign contribution limits passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature to go into effect. The ruling issued just hours after the court heard oral arguments is a major victory for Republicans, who pushed for the major increases in contribution limits in the past legislative session despite warnings from Democrats that they would run afoul of state law protecting voter-approved laws. The court said it will issue a formal opinion explaining its reasoning later. The court overturned an October decision by the Arizona Court of Appeals that found the law conflicted with the Voter Protection Act. That law requires a three-fourths vote of the Legislature to make major changes to voter-approved laws. The brief court order also lifted the injunction the appeals court put in place blocking the higher limits from taking effect.

Georgia: Attorney general to investigate Fulton County voting | CBS

The Georgia Attorney General’s Office is expected to investigate the voting problems reported in Fulton County during the 2012 presidential election. The State Election Board voted on Tuesday to refer the case to the attorney general after reviewing the results of an investigation by the secretary of state. In November 2012, voters encountered long lines, confused poll workers and voter registration rolls that were not up to date. The report by the secretary of state concluded: These multiple failures seem to be linked to poor planning, insufficient training, poor communication and poor decision-making. Perhaps most troubling is the apparent utter disregard for the security and integrity of practically the entirety of the provisional ballot process. Almost 10,000 votes were essentially un-documented or under-documented and under-secured.

Illinois: Lake County Elections Board prepares for future purchase of voting machines | News-Herald

Lake County Elections Board officials are preparing for the day — in the not-too-distant future — when the county will have to purchase new voting machine equipment. The county last purchased 864 iVotronic electronic voting machines from Omaha, Neb.-based Election Systems and Software in December 2005 for a total price of $2,749,194, said Janet F. Clair of the Elections Board. Federal funding paid $2,330,770 of that cost through the federal Help America Vote Act and Lake County paid $418,423 toward the purchase, Clair said. That purchase was required to ensure the county was compliant with a new state requirement at the time that voting equipment provide a voter-verified paper audit trail.

Editorials: Iowa voter fraud hunt seems much more buck than bang | Iowa City Press Citizen

Voting experts say that — because the penalties are so high and the payoff is so low — instances of real, intentional voter fraud are exceedingly rare. We agree that, when those few instances occur, the penalty should be severe enough to serve as a future deterrent against others taking such actions. But we don’t think the results of Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schulz’s nearly 18-month and $150,000 investigation have proven that such cases are widespread enough to warrant his near obsession with ferreting out voter fraud. The Des Moines Register reports that, so far, the secretary of state’s partnership with the Division of Criminal Investigation has led to criminal charges in 16 cases. And of those 16 cases, five have resulted in guilty pleas, five have been dismissed and none have yet to go to trial.

Texas: Rights group: Texas passive on voter turnout | Associated Press

Civil rights activists accused Texas officials Monday of not enforcing laws designed to drive voter turnout, while records show that if the first elections under the state’s new voter ID law angered or confused many people, they’ve not complained to the state in force. A report from the Texas Civil Rights Project shifted the dispute over voting rights from whether people would be turned away on Election Day to whether residents are given enough opportunities to simply register to vote. The Austin-based group said a survey of public schools showed districts failed to give eligible students voter registration forms at least twice a year as required by law. It also accuses the state of doing little to promote voter registration opportunities. “It makes the point that the system in Texas is lackadaisical at best,” said Jim Harrington, the group’s executive director. The report comes more a month after Texas held its first election under a voter ID law passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature in 2011. A decision by the U.S. Supreme Court this summer gave the state the go-ahead to finally implement the law. A challenge in federal court has been set for trial in September 2014.

Virginia: Herring’s lead keeps growing on second day of recount in Virginia attorney general race | The Washington Post

Democrat Mark R. Herring continued to widen his slim lead over Republican Mark D. Obenshain in the race for Virginia attorney general Tuesday as the recount of the historically close contest spread statewide. Herring’s lead grew to more than 810 votes, with 73 percent of ballots across the state recounted, according to Herring’s campaign. Fewer than 120 ballots had been “challenged,” the campaign said, meaning recount officials could not agree on how they should be counted and will forward them to a special recount court in Richmond that will begin its work Wednesday. The Democrat’s lead was between 811 and 866, depending on how many of the challenged ballots are ultimately counted, Herring attorney Marc Elias said in a conference call with reporters. Herring’s lead is the larger number if all of the challenges are overturned, the smaller one if they are all upheld.

Germany: MPs elect Merkel as chancellor for third term | AFP

Germany’s parliament elected Angela Merkel as chancellor for a third term Tuesday, ending nearly three months of uncertainty since elections that forced her to seek a ‘grand coalition’ with her rivals. Merkel, 59, who is now set to govern Europe’s top economy for another four years, was re-elected by 462 members of the Bundestag lower house of parliament, with 150 voting against and nine abstentions. “I accept the election result and thank you for your trust,” said Merkel, dressed in a black trouser suit, having accepted a bunch of flowers before shaking the hands of supporters. Eighty-six days after she swept to victory in general elections but failed to grab an outright majority, the Bundestag vote, although secret, came as no surprise.

Libya: Few register for constitution commission poll | The Daily Star

Few Libyans have registered to vote for a constitutional commission, official figures showed Tuesday, as the country grapples with growing unrest two years after the toppling of Moammar Gadhafi. The High National Election Commission’s website said only 436,000 Libyans had signed up out of a total electoral list of 3.4 million ahead of a December 21 deadline. The low level of interest comes despite official calls to register, including a fatwa, or religious decree, issued by the highest religious authority in the Muslim country. Voters are apparently “not motivated enough to register,” said Tarek Metri, who heads the UN mission in Libya.

Madagascar: Landmark run-off election in Madagascar | Al Jazeera

Madagascans are taking to the polls in a run-off elections aimed at pulling the island out of the political and economic doldrums and restoring democracy. Citizens hope Friday’s vote will end the crisis sparked by Andry Rajoelina’s coup four years ago, which paralyzed much of the government and caused foreign donors to cancel aid. Both Rajoelina and the man he ousted in March 2009, Marc Ravalomanana, have been blocked from running, amid international pressure over fears of a return to violence. Instead, proxy candidates took part and won the two top places during a first round of voting on October 25. Freemason doctor and former health minister Robinson Jean Louis is seen as a slight favourite after winning 21.16 percent in the first round.

Mali: President’s party wins parliamentary election | BBC

An alliance of parties supporting Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has won parliamentary elections, according to provisional results announced by the government. The Rally for Mali (RPM) and its allies won 115 of 147 seats in the national assembly following a run-off on Sunday, officials announced on state TV. Turnout for both rounds of voting was said to be low. The vote marks Mali’s return to democracy after a coup in 2012. France still has up to 3,000 soldiers in the country after intervening in January to oust Islamist and secessionist rebels who had occupied the north of the country. The West African nation held a peaceful presidential election in August, but since then has seen a surge in violence.

Ukraine: Canadian election monitors question Ukraine irregularities as Kiev inks $15B deal with Russia | iPolitics

Canadian election observers sent to Ukraine to monitor repeat elections in five ridings that saw election fraud in 2012 have found irregularities, the observer team said, putting in doubt the legitimacy of the ruling party’s victory in those ridings. President Viktor Yanukovich’s Party of Regions won four of the five open seats in Sunday’s election despite the vote taking place amid the biggest anti-government protests the country has seen since 2004. The election findings also came as Yanukovich signed a $15-billion loan deal with Russia, a move that protesters had been mobilizing against for weeks. The elections in the ridings — which were so marred by election misconduct in 2012 the national election commission could not even compile results — were again beset with irregularities, including vote buying, Canadem, the election observer group, said in a release Monday on their preliminary findings. The group said it was “unable” to determine whether the elections “met international democratic standards.”

United Kingdom: Some U.K. Prisoners Should Be Allowed Vote, Panel Says | Bloomberg

U.K. prisoners serving sentences of less than a year should be given the right to vote in elections, a cross-party panel of lawmakers said today. It would be better for Britain to uphold the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights than continue to deny the vote to all prisoners regardless of length of sentence, the panel, drawn from members of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, said in a report.Prime Minister David Cameron said in November 2010 that the thought of giving prisoners the vote made him feel “physically ill” after a ruling by the ECHR that banning prisoners from voting was incompatible with the convention.