Arkansas: Judge formally enters ruling against voter ID law, but keeps decision stayed | Associated Press

An Arkansas judge on Friday continued a stay of his ruling against the state’s new voter ID law, but appeared to leave open the possibility that he could reconsider and block the law’s enforcement during next month’s primary. The secretary of state, meanwhile, told the judge he planned to appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court. Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox formally entered his ruling that requiring voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot is unconstitutional. The five-page order formalizes a ruling Fox issued from the bench on May 2, when Fox issued a preliminary injunction against the law but said he wouldn’t block its enforcement during Tuesday’s primary.

National: Technology Makes Voting Less Private | Government Technology

Where is the line between technology and voter privacy? Secret ballots are one of the tenets of voting, and as technology moves forward there’s a push to keep voting secret, with Monroe County poll sites banning cellphones and photos of the ballots themselves. But what happens once a vote is cast, and it becomes one point in a data set about voting trends throughout the region? Voting data can reveal various trends, from where Democrats and Republicans are voting, to where the most voters live, to the ages of most voters. Data like this was always available in some form, but it was usually buried in hundreds of sheets of paper and information was rarely gathered, given the large time commitment necessary to do so. Monroe County Clerk Linda Robbins said in a particularly busy election, it might take a year to get a precinct-by-precinct breakdown of votes. This election, it took one day due to the first-time use of the electronic poll books. Voter data information is now available with the click of a button, and that information can be pretty revealing for trying to determine how someone voted.

Editorials: Voting Online Is Not in the Foreseeable Future | Hans A. von Spakovsky/National Review

Markos Moulitsas of the Daily Kos recently published a commentary in the Hill claiming that “voting online is the future.” He also accused me of being against Internet voting because I want to “suppress” votes. That kind of ad hominem attack seems to always be the first refuge of those who are unable to argue substantively about a particular issue. I am against it because of the fundamental security problems presented by online voting and the fact that it could result in large-scale voter disenfranchisement. Moulitsas claims that creating a secure online voting system is “possible given current technology.” That is 100 percent wrong and shows how little he understands about the Internet or the voting process. You don’t have to take my word for it — that is the opinion of most computer scientists. In January 2004, a group of well-known computer experts issued a devastating report on the security of an Internet voting system proposed by the Pentagon for overseas military voters. As a result of that report, the project was cancelled. The vulnerabilities the experts discovered “are fundamental in the architecture of the Internet and of the PC hardware and software that is ubiquitous today. They cannot all be eliminated for the foreseeable future without some unforeseen radical breakthrough. It is quite possible that they will not be eliminated without a wholesale redesign and replacement of much of the hardware and software security systems that are part of, or connected to, today’s Internet.”

Editorials: Why does Facebook want you to vote? | BBC

If you’re in the UK or the Netherlands then chances are you may have seen – or be about to see – a message appear in your Facebook news feed. It reminds you that it’s election day, and has a link to where you can find your local polling station. It also tells you which of your friends have hit the “I’m a Voter” button on Facebook, to show they’ve voted. …  Interestingly, research suggests the feature may actually increase the turnout in elections by a small, but statistically significant, percentage. A studypublished in Nature looking at 2010 congressional elections in the US concluded that 340,000 extra people voted as a result. The biggest influencer was not the message itself, but the impact of seeing close friends who had clicked the “I’m a Voter” button.

Arkansas: Voter ID law causes chaos and confusion | MSNBC

Arkansas’s voter ID law was recently declared unconstitutional by a judge, who ruled that it violated the state constitution’s right to vote. But for now, the law is still in effect—and it created chaos and confusion in its first real test Tuesday. Just as troubling, the state’s election administrators are reacting with a collective shrug. Arkansas’s primaries, held Tuesday, were fairly low turnout affairs. But the state is playing host to a crucial and high-profile U.S. Senate race this fall. Among the problems reported from Tuesday: poll workers quizzing voters on their personal information, including address and birthdate, after being shown ID, and using electronic card strip readers to verify ID—both of which go far beyond what the law allows. Some voters without proper ID are said to have been wrongly denied provisional ballots. And large numbers of absentee ballots also are in danger of not being counted, thanks to the ID law. “We’re hearing from some pretty steamed voters,” said Holly Dickson, a lawyer with the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, citing “a smorgasborg of complaints and issues” about the law’s application. The ACLU is challenging the law in court.

Florida: Day Three of redistricting: Window into reality and the defense of secret deals as ‘entirely proper’ | Miami Herald

Senate President Don Gaetz testified under oath Wednesday that it was “entirely proper” for him to meet in secret with House Speaker Will Weatherford to reach a deal over a congressional map as part of the Legislature’s once-a-decade redistricting process. Gaetz, R-Niceville, who along with Weatherford was chairman of his chamber’s redistricting maps in 2011-12, told the court that he and Weatherford met twice and agreed to settle on the Senate’s map design for the final joint congressional map. It included a provision that boosted the number of black voters in the meandering congressional District 5, a Democrat-majority district that slices through dozens of towns to collect black voters from Jacksonville to Orlando. “It was entirely proper, it was entirely ordinary that we would meet as two committee chairs to work out differences,’’ Gaetz said during more than three hours of testimony.

Georgia: Cost of a runoff; who can participate | WRDW

And the winner is? For some, that answer is undecided until July. Election day is over, but not all races have been won. That means it’s time to start planning for a runoff. Locally, Ben Hasan and Bob Finnegan will compete for the District 6 seat in the Augusta Commission. Corey Johnson and Harold Jones II will face off for Hardie Davis’ old position as State Senator for District 22. A runoff in a primary election is different than any other. If you did not vote on Tuesday, you can still vote in the runoff. Once again, Richmond County voters will have the power to choose even the ones who didn’t hit the polls on the 20th. “There are special rules in place in a primary that don’t exist in any other type election. For those people who did not vote at all yesterday, they may vote in the runoff,” Richmond County Board of Elections Director Lynn Bailey said.

Indiana: State’s voter registration numbers don’t reflect reality | Indianapolis Star

According to information from the Indiana Election Division that was published in The Star, less than 11 percent of the registered voters in the Indianapolis metro area voted in the primary this year. There was 13 percent turnout in Lake County, 12 percent in Allen County and 6 percent in Vanderburgh County. When we hear people bemoaning turnout like this, it is interesting to note that we are entering the season when political parties, campaigns and other groups begin voter registration drives in earnest, hoping they can increase turnout by their supporters. It is interesting because voter turnout is calculated by a simple mathematical equation. The number of voters is divided by the number of registered voters. If the number of registered voters is increased, then the number of people voting also has to increase or the turnout percent will decline. People who have been involved in campaigns long enough can remember the days before the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 when registering voters was not as easy as it is today. They also remember the days before the Help America Vote Act of 2002 when purging voter files was done more aggressively, sometimes to the disadvantage of certain groups.

Michigan: Judge to rule on Conyers’ case Friday after ballot status decision | The Detroit News

A federal judge said Wednesday he would make a ruling Friday afternoon in an “exceptionally difficult case” that may help determine the political future of U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr. U.S. District Judge Matthew Leitman, an appointee of President Barack Obama, indicated from the bench he wants to make a quick ruling on the constitutional issues involving the Detroit Democrat’s ouster from the Aug. 5 primary ballot. There are two weeks left until the June 6 deadline when Secretary of State Ruth Johnson must certify candidates for the ballot. Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett last week threw the Detroit Democrat off the ballot after disqualifying hundreds of signatures for Conyers’ candidacy because of voter registration problems with his circulators.

Pennsylvania: Kensington election craziness raises doubts about weird poll-watcher rules | Philadelphia City Paper

During Tuesday’s primary, various candidates in Kensington alleged that their opponents were bribing voters, campaigning inside polling places, and, in one instance, distributing anonymous fliers that claimed one candidate was gay — and those were just the complaints made to a reporter over a few hours time. An assistant district attorney showed up at Stetson Middle School in Kensington to respond to reports that campaign workers were accompanying voters into voting booths. After observing a raucous scene that involved dozens of different political supporters in colorful campaign T-shirts, his walkie-talkie crackled and he departed — there had been another report of electioneering at the Bayard Taylor School, on the other side of the neighborhood. In theory, there are poll watchers who can respond to such Election Day complaints. Each candidate is entitled to a certain number of poll-watcher certificates, issued by the City Commissioners office, entitling that person to enter and observe activity at any polling place.

South Carolina: Officials changing gears to advance elections board bill | The State

Legislators are shifting strategies to finish work on a bill to unify how county election boards are set up. Sen. Chip Campsen said proponents are looking ahead to Wednesday for a House vote on a bill giving state election officials authority to perform county functions in some cases. Campsen was one of six legislators on a conference committee that, he said, has informally agreed on new wording on a bill addressing the patchwork of boards that manage elections across 46 S.C. counties. But instead of working through the conference committee, Campsen said, legislators will consider amendments to a similar bill now awaiting action in the House.

Texas: House Lawmakers Debate Online Voter Registration | Texas Public Radio

A committee of House lawmakers heard the reasons why the state of Texas would be better served with an online voter registration system, but some groups remain skeptical about the possibility of voter fraud. As of April, 19 states offer online voter registration. Last legislative session Texas came very close to passing their own version but it was not added the calendar for a final vote. In this period between sessions, lawmakers are re-considering the same thing. David Becker is with the Pew Research Group and testified how this is working in other states. He said online voter registration reduces incidents of voter fraud because there is not a third party involved. “Another big advantage of online registration is its accuracy, because voters are directly putting their information in you get a lot less data entry errors. All of that is going to be correct and often checked against the motor vehicles data base,” Becker said.

Europe: Fringe Parties May Gain in European Parliament Voting | New York Times

Starting with Britain and the Netherlands, Europe began voting on Thursday for a new European Parliament, an election in which fringe parties of the right and left are expected to capitalize on low voter turnout and anger over immigration and anemic economies in the wake of the financial crisis. Results will not be officially announced until Sunday night but exit polls cited by Dutch media late on Thursday indicated that the far-right Party of Freedom, led by anti-immigration maverick Geert Wilders, had performed less well than forecast. In a 10-party Dutch race, Mr. Wilders’ party, weakened by campaign blunders and infighting, placed third or fourth behind solidly pro-European political forces, worse than its second place finish at the last European elections in 2009, Dutch media reported. Whether the expected success for the fringe parties elsewhere marks a lasting shift in Europe — or whether it will die away in future elections — the results may provide Europe’s extremists an outsized platform to influence the politics of their home nations and beyond. With centrist groups struggling to contain radicals on both flanks, the new parliament is expected to have more populist lawmakers than ever before from parties opposed to free trade and European integration.

Iraq: Were Iraq’s polls rigged? | Ahram Online

An alliance headed by prime minister Nuri al-Maliki has been declared as having received the largest number of seats in Iraq’s elections last month, but many of his political opponents doubt the vote’s fairness and claim massive fraud. If proved, the allegations of irregularities and vote-rigging will cast shadows over the legitimacy of the new parliament elected on 30 April and may further worsen the decade-long political ructions and sectarian violence that have been largely blamed on the nation’s political class. Iraq’s Independent Higher Election Commission (IHEC) announced on Monday that al-Maliki’s State of Law Alliance had won 92 out of 328 parliamentary seats. His main rivals finished with between nine and 34 seats overall. Smaller blocs received between one and six seats. A potential new prime minister would need the support of a total of 165 members. Negotiations to build a coalition to form a new government will likely drag on for weeks, if not months, observers say.

Malawi: Vote counting systems collapse, official resort to fax, e-mails | Business Standard

Malawi election officials have had to resort to fax and email to tally votes from this week’s election after the electronic system broke down, the chief elections officer said today, delaying the release of results. The system “is refusing to take the information from the ground where our data clerks are stationed to send the results,” chief elections officer Willie Kalonga told AFP two days after the vote. As a “back-up solution,” officials in the southern African country’s 28 districts were sending the results manually via fax and email to the national elections centre in Blantyre. The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has yet to release preliminary results after Tuesday’s tight-run polls, which pit incumbent Joyce Banda against her rival and predecessor’s brother Peter Mutharika.

Netherlands: The Dutch are perfecting the controversial art of the voting-booth selfie | Quartz

The Dutch are known for their candor. This openness even extends to the ostensibly secret act of voting in national elections. Tweeting selfies while voting became something of a phenomenon during municipal elections in March. When subsequently asked to clarify the law on taking photos in the voting booth, Dutch courts gave it their blessing (link in Dutch), as long as the photo is of your own ballot and not somebody else’s. Today, Dutch voters went to the polls for the European Parliament, and a flood of selfies burst forth. (For many more “stemfies”—a mashup of selfie and the Dutch stemmen (to vote)—follow the #stemfie hashtag.) The UK is also voting in European elections today, but you won’t see many tweets of Brits beaming with their ballots. The country’s election authority warned that voting-booth selfies could endanger the secrecy of the vote, and staff have put up warnings against taking photos inside polling stations. The penalty for revealing someone else’s ballot is a £5,000 ($8,430) fine or six months in prison.

Thailand: Military says it’s taken over the country in a coup | CNN

The Thai military has taken control of the government in a coup, the country’s military chief announced in a national address Thursday. It’s the latest development in a chain of failed attempts to defuse tensions that have simmered since November. The discord has its roots in politics, and led to both pro- and anti-government factions to fight over the country’s leadership. Three days ago, the military imposed martial law in an attempt to end the instability, but said it was not a coup. Now, it has taken power outright. The move came after rival factions were unable to come up with a suitable agreement to govern, the military chief said. Thai military organizing political talks Life under martial law in Thailand Bangkok park at center of protests Thailand’s economy threatened by turmoil. Hours earlier, members of the military and opposition parties met for a second day to try to find a solution to the crisis in Thailand. Members of the political parties involved in the talks were seen being escorted by the military after the meeting.