The Afghan presidential race is set for a June runoff between former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah and former World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani, according to official results released Saturday. The preliminary tally showed Abdullah winning nearly 45% of the 6.9 million votes cast, and Ghani 31.5%. Election officials will examine hundreds of reports of voting irregularities before issuing final results on May 14, but the allegations didn’t appear widespread enough to change the results substantially — or to give Abdullah the absolute majority needed to avoid a runoff. The two men, both polished technocrats well known to the international community, had been regarded as the favorites in the April 5 election. Both have pledged to sign a security agreement that would allow some U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan beyond the end of 2014, a strategic priority for the Obama administration.Full Article: Runoff set for June 7 to settle Afghanistan presidential election - latimes.com.
Voters lamenting that their names were missing from the electoral rolls was again a common sight across many polling stations in the city. Several people who had voted in the last election found their names missing from the voters’ list for no apparent reason. V. Ramesh, an APSRTC employee in Khairatabad constituency said, “I was out of town for a brief period and now my name is not there.” Engineering student Meghna wrote to this newspaper claiming, “I was unable to vote because of the sheer negligence of the government officers. Polling stations don’t have the list of newly registered voters.” Even IAS officer T. Radha found his name dropped from the list. Several people tried calling the toll free number of the Chief Electoral Officer, but it was unreachable. Some 300 voters from Pedda Bazaar, Chinna Bazaar and Veerabhadraiahnagar could not vote as their names were not there on the list, though they have cards.Full Article: Missing names, faulty Electronic Voting Machines criticised.
Egypt: Presidential Election Commission announces presidential candidates, election details | Ahram Online
Hamdeen Sabahi and Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi are Egypt’s final contenders for the 2014 presidential race, the Presidential Election Commission’s (PEC) spokesman Abdel-Aziz Salman said in a press conference on Sunday. PEC – the judicial body supervising the polls – has examined the documents of both contenders and concluded that both candidates meet the eligibility requirements set by the commission, Salman said. Egypt’s elections will be held on 26 and 27 May. Salman also revealed further details of the presidential election process, including the election’s monitoring bodies and the voting process outside of Egypt. The commission has granted approval to six international organisations to monitor the elections and 79 domestic ones who met the requirements. A total of 116 Egyptian organisations applied for monitoring status.Full Article: Egypt's PEC announces presidential candidates, election details - Politics - Egypt - Ahram Online.
This time, voters in Gandhinagar Lok Sabha constituency will be able to verify if their vote has been cast right. Once they press the button of their choice, a slip will be generated which will indicate the vote that has been actually cast by the EVM when the voter pressed the button. On a pilot basis, the Election Commission of India (ECI) is introducing ‘Voter Verifiable Paper Auditor Trail’ (VVPAT) system in eight Lok Sabha constituencies across the country and Gandhinagar is one of them. The VVPAT machine will be attached with the EVM and will generate slips like the receipts one gets at ATMs.Full Article: EVM slip will help verify your vote - The Times of India.
Macedonians began voting for a new assembly and president Sunday in a poll expected to cement the conservatives’ grip on power, despite a shaky economy and a stalemate in Skopje’s bid to join the EU. The legislative vote is being held a year ahead of schedule after the ruling VMRO-DPMNE failed to agree with its ethnic Albanian coalition partner, the DUI, on a joint presidential candidate. The run-off for a largely ceremonial post will be held between incumbent Gjorge Ivanov of the VMRO-DPMNE and his Social Democrat rival Stevo Pendarovski. Polling stations opened at 0500 GMT and will close twelve hours later. More than 1.7 million voters will elect a new 123-seat parliament chosing between 14 parties and coalitions. But opinion polls have given a strong lead to both Ivanov and the VMRO-DPMNE. The ruling party is credited with 28 percent of the vote against 15 percent for the opposition Social Democrats (SDSM).Full Article: Macedonia votes in snap polls, presidential run-off.
The leading opposition party in Macedonia said Sunday that it will not recognize the result of snap parliamentary elections and a presidential run-off vote, claiming that the ruling VMRO party violated election rules. “The Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) and its allies will not recognize the election process, parliamentary and presidential,” SDSM leader Zoran Zaev said after polling stations closed. Zaev dismissed the official assessment by the state election commission that the vote was “fair and democratic,” insisting that Prime Minister Gruevski‘s conservative VMRO party abused their authority to secure a win. Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski “does not have the elementary will to hold democratic elections,” he said, adding that the opposition will seek a repeat of the elections because violations disqualified Sunday‘s results.Full Article: 1ST Macedonian opposition threatens to boycott elections result By Boris Babic, dpa | EUROPE ONLINE.
The Supreme Court heard arguments in a case challenging an Ohio law that criminalizes the spreading of false information about a political candidate during a campaign. Mark Bittman considered the impact of the court’s recent decision eliminating aggregate campaign contribution limits. A judge in Arkansas ruled that the State’s voter ID law was unconstitutional. The Maryland Board of Elections refused to move forward with a plan for an online absentee ballot marking system amid fears it would open the door to widespread fraud. Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman signed a bill that enacts a form of same-day voter registration. A conservative legal group is challenging how Texas Senate voting districts were drawn. While offering flexibility on other issues, Minister Pierre Poilievre pledged that the final version of the Canadian government’s electoral reform bill will require all voters to show identification before they vote and uncertainty about the ability of Ukraine to organize next month’s election process has increased tension and public anxiety in the country.
Voting Blogs: A Constitutional “Right to Participate” in the Electoral Process? | More Soft Money Hard Law
In a close and insightful reading of Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion in McCutcheon, reproduced here with his permission from the election law listserv, Marty Lederman has called attention to this first paragraph:
There is no right more basic in our democracy than the right to participate in electing our political leaders. Citizens can exercise that right in a variety of ways: They can run for office themselves, vote, urge others to vote for a particular candidate, volunteer to work on a campaign, and contribute to a candidate’s campaign. This case is about the last of those options. (McCutcheon v. FEC, 134 S.Ct. 1434, 1440-41).
The right that Roberts cites—the right to participate in the electoral process—is apparently wide in scope and includes a “variety of activities,” including voting. So Marty notes that this rationale does not spring from pure “free speech” jurisprudence, and indeed he argues that “if there were such a basic right, the opinion would make much more internal sense than if viewed through a Free Speech Clause” lens. While disclaiming “naiveté” about the Roberts Court’s commitment to the interests of voters, Marty asserts that if “taken seriously,” this freshly minted right to participate could “be the source of a new flourishing of voting rights and other election-related rights.”Full Article: A Constitutional “Right to Participate” in the Electoral Process? -.
While there are times that it may seem like we have been talking about voter ID forever, the number of states that have strict photo ID requirements to cast a ballot is still relatively low. Currently 34 states require some form of ID in order to cast a ballot, but only eight states are strict photo ID states. Strict photo ID states, as defined by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) are those states where, “[v]oters without acceptable identification must vote on a provisional ballot and also take additional steps after Election Day for it to be counted.” Two of those strict photo ID states are implementing photo ID requirements on a large-scale basis for the first time this year during their primaries: Mississippi and Arkansas.Full Article: electionlineWeekly.
Editorials: Before convicting four Alabama counties of voter fraud, let’s see the evidence | Bob Nicholson/AL.com
If you needed to rotate the tires on your car would you accomplish that task by changing the oil? Silly idea isn’t it? Yet that analogy is on target when you look at the Alabama Legislature’s actions in establishing strong voter ID laws. They claim that they are reacting to fraud allegations and a crowd of onlookers, columnists and pundits, are cheering them onward. Unfortunately, only a brief examination of the “evidence” shows no fraud. I am a Certified Fraud Examiner. The definition of fraud is specific (wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain) and to casually alleging such is irresponsible. In order to prove fraud, not only do you have to show what happened, you have to show intent as well. Lacking a confession admitting intent, fraud is proven in court by ruling out all other possibilities. Let’s look at the latest “evidence” and see if it meets the definition of proving fraud. Four counties in Alabama, Macon, Wilcox, Lowndes and Greene, have more voters on the roll than the US Census Department estimated their adult populations to be in 2012 by a cumulative 2934 people. And, these counties vote with a strong Democratic majority. Not only that, but in 2012 former Alabama Congressman Artur Davis alleged that wholesale voter fraud goes on in parts of the Black Belt. Convinced that there is fraud going on? Don’t convict just yet.Full Article: Before convicting four Alabama counties of voter fraud, let's see the evidence | AL.com.
Arizona: Brewer signs bill limiting authority of Citizens Clean Election Commission | Associated Press
A bill preventing the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission from investigating possible campaign contribution violations by candidates who don’t participate in the program has been signed by Gov. Jan Brewer. Senate Bill 1344 allows only the Secretary of State and state Attorney General to investigate. The Republican governor signed the bill Thursday. It passed the GOP-controlled Legislature this week mainly along party-line votes.
A measure that would provide a process for the public to register to vote at polling sites on election day will be heard in a final conference committee on Friday, April 25, 2014. Representative Kaniela Ing of Maui who introduced the bill noted that Hawaiʻi has the lowest voter turnout in the nation and said, “It’s time we end this shameful distinction and foster a stronger public voice. There are all kinds of reasons people do not vote; arbitrary registration deadlines should not be one of them.” House Bill 2590 would allow voter registration at absentee polling places beginning in 2016; and late voter registration, including on election day, beginning in 2018.Full Article: Same-Day Voter Registration Bill Heads to Final Conference | Maui Now.
Kansas: Federal lawsuit dismissed, ending challenge to Kansas law requiring voters to show photo ID | Associated Press
Two elderly northeast Kansas men have dropped a lawsuit challenging a state law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls, with a trial in federal court not set until next year. Attorney Jim Lawing said Thursday that Arthur Spry and Charles Hamner asked to have the case dismissed because the case would not be heard before this year’s elections. Also, he said, they found requests for personal information too intrusive. U.S. District Judge Kathryn Vratil in Kansas City, Kansas, granted their request Wednesday for a dismissal. The judge was still considering whether the case should be heard in federal court or state court, as the two men had wanted. Spry and Hamner, both over 80, live in a retirement home in Overbrook, about 20 miles southeast of Topeka. They sued Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the state’s top elections official and the architect of the photo ID law, after Osage County officials refused to count their votes in the November 2012. The two men couldn’t produce a valid photo ID.Full Article: Federal lawsuit dismissed, ending challenge to Kansas law requiring voters to show photo ID.
The South Dakota Secretary of State’s office released a new iOS and Android app called Vote605 this month to help South Dakota residents, including students, get voter information for the mid-term election. After logging in with voter’s name and zip code, information for the upcoming election appears. The app shows a map of the poll location. The app also has a sample ballot for voters to look at prior to voting. The selections made in the sample ballot are not transmitted to or tracked by the state. Information that is considered private such as a social security number or full birthdate is not in the application. The voter record is also not tied to the address of the voter to further protect the voter, according to the Secretary of State’s office.Full Article: App aids South Dakota residents, students in voting | The Volante.
It seems a forgone conclusion that, with everything going digital, voting is sure to follow. Especially after lost paper ballots triggered the recent rerun of Western Australia’s 2013 Senate election, sparking renewed calls to trash pencil-and-paper voting for an online alternative. And why not? Networks can transport data faster than vehicles. Machines can tally numbers faster and, arguably, more accurately than humans. And machines alone can’t be accused of manipulating votes. Estonia and Norway have, with the aid of cryptographic ID checks, launched internet voting without too much controversy. But are machines really any less fallible than error-prone humans?Full Article: 10 ways e-voting could save or destroy democracy.
Limited Internet and telephone voting will be available for Toronto’s upcoming municipal election, but only for residents with disabilities. The city said Thursday that the service will be available during advance voting from Oct. 14-19. “We are very excited to be conducting this pilot project,” city clerk Ulli Watkiss said in a statement. “It is important that our electoral services are accessible and create positive voting experiences for all. By providing greater choices we are working to make voting more accessible to persons with disabilities.”Full Article: Limited Internet & telephone voting available for Toronto municipal election | 680News.
The federal Conservative Party says it stands vindicated by Canada’s top elections watchdog after a three-year probe failed to produce evidence of a deliberate or widespread conspiracy to suppress votes through the use of automated or live robocalls in May 2011. However opposition critics say Yves Côté’s conclusion does not clear the governing party and only highlights the need for more investigative powers for the Commissioner of Canada Elections. Côté released a report Thursday after an exhaustive investigation into “deceptive communications,” or robocalls, that occurred across Canada in the last federal election and directed voters to the wrong poll station. The commissioner said that beyond the riding of Guelph — where a separate investigation is ongoing and one Conservative staffer, Michael Sona, has been charged — the complaints were “thinly scattered” across the country and no pattern or deliberate attempt to mislead voters could be determined.Full Article: Canada’s elections watchdog halts robocalls probe | Toronto Star.
The sixth phase of India’s protracted general election took place on April 24th. Voters trooped to polling stations in 117 constituencies in various states including Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. As with other rounds there was much to cheer: first-time voters, enthusiasm in cities and villages, determination to take part despite the heat. Momentum seems to be with the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Narendra Modi. A late surge of support for the BJP is reported even in places—West Bengal, Odisha—where the party has traditionally not done well. If true, its prospects of forming the next government look stronger by the day. Three more rounds of voting are due, the last on May 12th, before results are published on May 16th. It constitutes a marathon election. The voting period is eight days longer than last time, in 2009. Count in all the official campaigning and India will have been busy with its general election for a whopping 72 days. The local devotion to voting looks more remarkable with each successive election. As the population grows, and so the electorate, the process will presumably get more protracted yet. The next national poll is likely in 2019, by when more days of voting, and further rounds, may be needed to accommodate many more tens of millions of new voters. Are long elections a problem? They can certainly grow tedious, as some rightly point out that other big countries hold elections much quicker. Brazil, Indonesia and America can all get it done in a single day. The European parliamentary elections next month, across the whole of the European Union, will wrap up within four days. One of the reasons Thailand’s recent general election was annulled was because of a failure to abide by its constitution and hold it in a single day.Full Article: India's protracted election: Speed it up | The Economist.
National: Supreme Court suspicious of Ohio law that criminalizes false speech about candidates | The Washington Post
Supreme Court justices across the ideological spectrum seemed deeply suspicious Tuesday of an Ohio law that criminalizes the spreading of false information about a political candidate during a campaign. Now they have to find a way for someone to bring them the proper challenge. Technically, the court was reviewing a decision by a lower court that an antiabortion group did not have the legal standing to challenge the constitutionality of Ohio’s law, which is similar to ones in more than a dozen other states. But the justices couldn’t resist giving a preview of their skepticism about what Michael A. Carvin, the Washington lawyer representing the group Susan B. Anthony List, called Ohio’s “ministry of truth” during oral arguments.Full Article: Supreme Court suspicious of Ohio law that criminalizes false speech about candidates - The Washington Post.
In the food world, change from the ground up is all well and good. We desperately need cooks, gardeners, farmers and teachers. But we also need legislation. The recently passed and almost uniformly abysmal Farm Bill is a lesson in how legislation affects those of us working to change the chaotic so-called food “system.” Pittances were tossed at supporters of local and organic food, fortunes’ worth of agribusiness subsidies were maintained, and much-needed support for the country’s least well-off was slashed. That’s a Republican-led Congress at work, but when it comes to supporting Big Ag and Big Food, most of the Democratic representatives from states where farm income matters most are not much better: While the majority of Big Ag’s financial support for candidates goes to Republicans, Democrats are close behind. For big-time change on a national scale, we need representatives who put the needs of a sustainable food system and all that goes with it ahead of those of the chemical and processed food manufacturers who are currently running the show.Full Article: Why Care About McCutcheon? - NYTimes.com.