International: Research in India suggests Google search results can influence an election | Washington Post

Google long ago went from being a mere directory of the Internet to a shaper of online reality, helping determine what we see and how. But what power does Google have over the “real” world – and especially the volatile one of closely contested elections? Psychologist Robert Epstein has been researching this question and says he is alarmed at what he has discovered. His most recent experiment, whose findings were released Monday, found that search engines have the potential to profoundly influence voters without them noticing the impact. Epstein has coined a term for this power: Search Engine Manipulation Effect, with the acronym SEME. Epstein, former editor-in-chief of Psychology Today and a vocal critic of Google, has not produced evidence that this or any other search engine has intentionally deployed this power. But the new experiment builds on his earlier work by measuring SEME in the concrete setting of India’s national election, whose voting concludes Monday.

Alaska: Voting rights lawsuit says state ballot translations were wrong | Alaska Dispatch

If you think it’s hard to understand ballot measures when they’re written in English, consider the translations into Yup’ik prepared by the Alaska Division of Elections. Walkie Charles, an assistant professor of Native languages at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, spent 30 minutes trying to decipher a translated 2010 ballot measure proposing a law to combat corruption. He gave up on the version given to Yup’ik voters by the state and went to the original English to figure it out. “I have spoken Yup’ik my entire life, I teach it, write papers about it, and speak it almost daily. I should be able to review this ballot and understand it with ease. In fact, I had to ask for a copy of the English version to compare and try to discern the meaning of it,” Charles wrote in a report. Charles is expected to be a key witness in the U.S. Voting Rights Act lawsuit brought last July by four Native villages and two western Alaska elders against Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, the state’s top election official, and three members of the Elections Division he supervises. Because it involves elections, the case has been moving quickly for a civil matter and is scheduled for trial June 23 in U.S. District Court in Anchorage.

Florida: Faulty filter let Hillsborough County voters list unlawful addresses | The Tampa Tribune

Hillsborough County elections officials are supposed to flag any voter registration that’s submitted with a business rather than a home address, but they’ve discovered that a filter designed to help them with the process hasn’t worked for years A citizen alerted the elections office in December to 117 names he found on the voter rolls listing UPS stores as home addresses. UPS, like the U.S. Postal Service, rents secure space for mail delivery. A search afterward by the elections office added 34 names to the list, for a total of 151. “If we had known they were on there, we would have taken appropriate steps to get them off or get them in a right residential address,” Elections supervisor Craig Latimer said. It turns out the problem isn’t new; a Tampa Tribune analysis shows that 106 of those voters had been on the supervisor’s rolls at those addresses in March 2012. Latimer said his research shows many of the voters had been on the rolls since the 1990s.

Massachusetts: Early voting, online voter registration bill gaining momentum at Statehouse | Daily Journal

A bill designed to overhaul Massachusetts voting laws — including allowing early voting up to 11 days before Election Day — is one step closer to winning approval. The legislation would also allow online voter registration and let 16- and 17-year-olds pre-register to vote. They would be automatically be registered once they turn 18. The compromise legislation reconciles separate bills already approved by the House and Senate. It was released Tuesday by a conference committee made up of members of both chambers. The legislation would also create an online portal to check voter registration status and provides for postelection audits of randomly selected precincts after presidential elections.

Michigan: Wayne County clerk: I won’t allow Conyers on August primary ballot | Detroit Free Press

he fate of U.S. Rep. John Conyers’ re-election campaign now lies with the Secretary of State’s Office after Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett announced Tuesday the longtime congressman won’t appear on the Aug. 5 primary ballot after a majority of signatures turned in to certify him for a 26th term were invalidated. Conyers plans to file an appeal with the state office, and has three days to do so. The office then will review the work done by Wayne County, said Chris Thomas, director of elections for the state. A decision won’t come until some time next week, he said. “It’s a verification process, we’ll be looking at registration status and the spreadsheet they provided us. It won’t take all that long,” he said. Conyers also could be headed down the same path as Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, who waged a write-in campaign in last summer’s primary, eventually prevailing over Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon in the general election.

Michigan: ACLU: Michigan law that bars Conyers from ballot unconstitutional | The Detroit News

The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit Monday in federal court to argue U.S. Rep. John Conyers belongs on the Aug. 5 primary ballot because it’s unconstitutional for Michigan to require that petition collectors be registered voters. The ACLU is suing on behalf of two of Conyers’ constituents, including Tiara Willis-Pittman, one of Conyers’ petition circulators whose signatures were tossed because she was deemed an unregistered voter at the time of collection. The lawsuit comes on the eve of a scheduled decision by Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett whether Conyers qualifies for the ballot. A clerk staff investigation released Friday found the Detroit Democrat has 592 signatures — 408 less than the 1,000 required to make the ballot for the 13th Congressional District. More than 640 signatures for Conyers, 84, were disqualified after a challenge by primary opponent the Rev. Horace Sheffield of Detroit resulted in a clerk office staff’s finding that the petition circulators were not registered voters as required by state law. Willis-Pittman, 19, had submitted 80 signatures.

Missouri: Senate endorses early voting measure | Associated Press

Missouri voters could cast ballots during several weekdays before Election Day under an early voting measure endorsed Tuesday by the state Senate. The proposed constitutional amendment approved by senators would allow ballots to be cast on six business days ending the Wednesday before the election. In-person ballots would be cast during the regular business hours of local election officials, who could not take any action or incur expenses for early voting unless funding was included in the state budget.

South Carolina: Richland County looks to avoid 2012 voter headache remake | WISTV

Samuel Selph, the interim director of the Richland County Elections Commission, says plenty of mistakes were made in 2012 and 2013 when it comes to voting in Richland County, and he says we can’t afford to make the same mistakes in the June 2014 primary less than 30 days away. That’s why the Richland County Election Commission has made big changes by adding 25 more precincts, including one at the southeast branch of the Richland County Library. The 25 extra precincts keep the number of voters at each polling place lower. In a statement, Selph says now there are only two precincts in Richland County with more than 3,000 voters.

Texas: Election machine analysts arrive in Hidalgo County | The Monitor

Voting machine experts arrived in the Rio Grande Valley on Tuesday and began auditing machines used in the MArch 4 Democratic primary that unsuccessful candidates in that election say might have been tampered with. Three employees of Chicago-based Data Defenders set up laptops and organized some of the equipment from the previously impounded electronic voting machines at the Hidalgo County elections annex building shortly after a 9 a.m. meeting with Hidalgo County elections administration and District Attorney’s Office officials. The Data Defenders scheduled themselves to be in town collecting data for the rest of the week. Then they’ll return to their Chicago facilities for the “analysis part” of the process, said Murray Moore, an assistant district attorney overseeing a grand jury investigation into potential criminal conduct related to tampering with the machines. Moore said she hoped to have results from the analysis next month. “Think of it more like a DNA test, not like an autopsy,” she said, explaining that the process takes weeks instead of hours to complete. The data collection is open to the public, though only three media members and two members of the general public, including Sergio Muñoz Sr., sat in the observation area of the Hidalgo County elections annex to watch the process Tuesday morning.

Canada: Both sides claim victory as Fair Elections Act clears the Commons | Montreal Gazette

Late Tuesday, MPs stood in the House of Commons to vote on third reading of Bill C-23, sending it to the Senate, which is expected to speedily pass it, leaving only the formality of royal assent. On Thursday, when the government brought in time allocation to limit debate on the bill, Democratic Reform Minister Pierre Poilievre declared victory. “The Canadian people widely support this bill,” he said. “It is a very popular piece of legislation. We won the debate on it and now we will pass it into law.” On Monday, the NDP said they won the debate, rallying opposition to C-23, forcing the government to accept changes. “What was at the beginning a very bad bill is simply today only a bad bill,” NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said. Either way, the long, strange process by which the Fair Elections Act — or Unfair Elections Act, as the opposition calls it — is coming to an end, and the most significant piece of legislation in this session is about to be law, not quite as either side intended.

Denmark: ‘Sexist’ Voteman video pulled after online storm | Financial Times

It could be entitled: how not to get people to vote. The Danish parliament on Tuesday pulled a controversial video replete with cartoon nudity that was meant to encourage young people to vote in this month’s elections for the European Parliament. The 90-second video features “Voteman”, a muscleman first seen in bed with five naked women who then proceeds to beat up young people to force them to vote. He then decapitates one man, interrupting a couple having sex to throw them and their bed out of a window, and using his dolphin to help him chuck people into voting booths. Morgen Lykketoft, speaker of Folketinget, the Danish parliament, had previously warmly endorsed the video. “We are trying to inspire the very young to go out and vote. It is important we get a higher turnout, especially among the young. You have to use all sorts of methods,” he told state radio on Monday. He added: “I think it’s rather innocent. You can find much worse.”

Estonia: Online voting system could easily be rigged by hackers | The Verge

Estonia’s online voting system could easily be hacked by attackers working on behalf of an outside government, researchers have discovered. That’s alarming news considering how much faith Estonia has shown in its e-voting system; it’s the only country that uses web-based voting “in a significant way” for national elections, researchers said in a report published Monday. Other countries including the US have steered clear of web-based voting out of security concerns.  And Estonia is a good example of why they’re reluctant to make the jump. After putting together a replica of the Estonian voting setup, a research team found that they were able to infiltrate the voting technology and change the result of an entire election — without leaving any real trace of the digital break-in.

India: Highest-ever voter turnout recorded in 2014 polls | Times of India

The 2014 Lok Sabha election, which finally drew to a close on Monday, has earned the distinction of recording the highest voter turnout ever at 66.4%. This surpasses the 64% polling witnessed in the 1984 polls, held in extraordinary circumstances following the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, and makes the 58.2% turnout of 2009 pale in comparison. This general election cost the government Rs 3,426 crore, which is 131% more than the Rs 1,483 crore spent on the 2009 polls. Apart from inflation, which has soared over the last five years, the Election Commission on Monday attributed the surge in poll costs to its rising spend on new measures including the voter awareness initiative titled Systematic Voter Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP). Interestingly, the first Lok Sabha polls in 1952 had cost just Rs 10.45 crore.

Russia: How Russia could easily hack its neighbors’ elections | Washington Post

In 2007, the Estonian government came under a massive denial-of-service attack that crippled the country’s banking, government and law enforcement infrastructure. Nobody took responsibility for the flood of bogus Internet traffic, but some suspected Russia was the culprit. Given what we know about Russia’s aggressive border policies, it’s a plausible theory. The Kremlin, after all, had a motive: Estonia had recently taken down a Soviet-era statue, and ethnic Russians were up in arms about it. If Moscow wanted to take the opportunity to meddle in Estonia’s affairs, according to research by an international team of security experts, it could do so cleanly and silently without anyone being the wiser. The attack could come via Estonia’s online voting system. Estonia’s is one of the only such ballot systems in the world, which makes it a fascinating test case for other countries or governments weighing the costs and benefits of e-voting. Unfortunately, the researchers discovered, this system is vulnerable to hacking in ways that could change the outcome of entire elections.

Thailand: Interim Prime Minister to meet election body as coup fears mount | Reuters

Thailand’s interim prime minister will meet the Election Commission on Wednesday, in the hope of fixing a date for polls that the government sees as the best way out of the country’s protracted crisis but its opponents will probably reject. Six months of anti-government protests have brought sporadic violence to the streets of Bangkok, threatened to tip the economy into recession and even raised fears of civil war. The crisis is the latest phase in nearly 10 years of hostility between the royalist establishment and Thaksin Shinawatra, a former telecommunications billionaire who won huge support among the rural and urban poor but angered the Bangkok-based elite and was deposed by the military in a 2006 coup.

Ukraine: Separatists May Be Exaggerating Ukraine Referendum Turnout By 300% | Forbes

Separatists in Luhansk oblast have officially announced that 96 percent of eligible voters approved the referendum on independence (See: Ukrainska Pravda). According to the KyivPost election update, separatist officials are reporting 89 percent for seceding and 10 percent against in Donetsk Oblast. Donetsk and Luhansk make up the lion’s share of the contested Donbass region. East Ukraine separatists are celebrating what they claim is a huge electoral victory in the May 11 referendum. These Crimean-scale election results are pure falsification.  I report here more believable results that show one third the turnout of the separatist claims and confirm earlier polling data that show 70 percent of East Ukrainians want to keep a united Ukraine. As Moscow eagerly accepted as gospel truth the referendum results, the Western media reacted with confusion. German television news led with “a majority voted clearly in the referendum for separation.”

Editorials: Inside Putin’s Rigged Ukraine Election | The Daily Beast

Shortly before separatist leaders here declared a huge majority had voted in a referendum to break from Ukraine, their press spokeswoman had chortled at the idea that a result would be declared a mere three hours after polling stations closed. “Are you crazy? How would we have time to count the ballots?” said Claudia. Precisely, how indeed? But then despite a series of opinion polls over the past few weeks showing only a minority of eastern Ukrainians wanted to follow the example of the Black Sea peninsula and secede, the plebiscite in Donetsk—one of two of Ukraine’s easternmost regions voting Sunday—was always a foregone conclusion. The procedures in the plebiscite managed by Denis Pushilin, a former casino croupier who is the co-chairman of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, followed the Kremlin’s house rules: the cynical strategies and plays of Russian-style “managed democracy,” not the electoral models outlined by organizations such as the United Nations or the International Foundation for Electoral Systems.