More and more often these days, Neal Kelley and his staff find themselves rooting through shelves at used computer stores in Orange County, Calif., looking for something they can’t find anywhere else: laptops that run on Windows 2000. Kelley is the registrar of voters in Orange County, and one component of his election equipment still runs on the Microsoft operating system from 14 years ago. As in most places around the country, Orange County’s voting technology is based on federal standards set after Congress passed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) in 2002. The razor-thin presidential election in 2000 between Al Gore and George W. Bush revealed that outdated technology had left thousands of votes uncounted. With HAVA, Congress encouraged local governments to install electronic voting equipment, resulting in a wave of upgrades across the country. Between 2002 and 2004, Congress allocated more than $3 billion for some 8,000 local jurisdictions to replace the punch card devices and lever machines they had been using for more than 30 years. But today, a decade later, that upgraded election infrastructure is quickly becoming obsolete. In a worst-case scenario, current equipment will start to fail in the next couple years, forcing fewer voting booths to process more ballots, a recipe for longer lines and voter frustration. “What you don’t want is disenfranchised voters who are deciding not to cast a ballot because of these issues,” says Kelley. “We can’t let ourselves get to that point. We need to be ahead of this curve.”
Edna Griggs keenly remembers the anger and outrage she felt during the 2012 general election when she watched as African-American senior citizens were forced to wait in long lines in the Houston heat as they cued up to vote at the Acres Homes Multi-Service Center. A member of her local NAACP chapter, Griggs says she was told that she couldn’t bring them water to drink or chairs to rest in. “A poll watcher approached me and said, ‘What are you doing?’ He told me I couldn’t do that. They thought we were trying to sway their votes by giving them water,” she said. “It was really sad to me because it was like a reflection of the stories I heard from my grandmother and mother when they had to pay to vote. It was a reflection of everything our people have gone through.”
A top Alaska elections official testifying in a federal Native voting rights trial disputed claims that villages with sizable populations of limited English speakers vote in lower proportions than elsewhere in the state. Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai took the stand Wednesday as the state’s last witness in the Voting Rights Act lawsuit filed by village tribal organizations and elders against her and other election officials. Fenumiai testified that most of the village precincts beat the state’s average turnout in the 2012 presidential election if only precinct-level turnout numbers were examined, the Anchorage Daily News (http://is.gd/5OYggI ) reported. Fenumiai’s office, however, provides more voter services in urban areas, such as easy access to early voting and absentee balloting. She said voters who cast absentee or early ballots aren’t counted in the turnout numbers of their home precincts.
Guam: Equality: No matter where they live, all citizens should have vote for president | Pacific Daily News
Today is Independence Day, when we mark the decision of the Founding Fathers to break away from a tyrannical monarchy and establish our representative democracy. The hallmark of our form of government is that it is of, for and by the people. We, the people, decide who will lead us in government, including who will serve us as president — unless you are a U.S. citizen who’s a resident of Guam or one of the other territories. Then you have no vote, and thus no voice, in who will lead the country. A new federal lawsuit being developed by the We the People Project, a nonprofit that fights for the day residents of Guam and other U.S. territories, aims to change that.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office will drop its defense of a controversial plan to take election-running powers from the Lake County clerk and create a new government commission instead. A lower court had previously struck down part of a law that would create the new government, and Madigan’s office appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court because the attorney general is responsible for defending state laws. Madigan spokeswoman Natalie Bauer said Thursday the office would drop that appeal.
Challenger Chris McDaniel is offering $1,000 rewards for voter fraud evidence as he moves to overturn results of the June 24 Republican Senate primary he lost to incumbent Thad Cochran. McDaniel is asking supporters for donations to fund up to 15 such bounties for evidence that leads to arrests and convictions and for help financing his challenge of the vote. He claims Cochran and others stole the primary through vote buying and other skullduggery. The Cochran campaign says the claims are baseless.
The American Civil Liberties Union charges the legislature has put a misleading early voting proposal on the November ballot. The ACLU has filed a lawsuit saying the ballot language written by the General Assembly is “untrue.” The ballot language says, “Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to permit voting in person or by mail for a period of six business days prior to and including Wednesday before the election day in all general elections.”
On Tuesday, independent gubernatorial candidate Mike Myers will announce a new running mate after his previous pick for lieutenant governor backed out due to a family health problem. Whoever Myers unveils next week, however, it will be Caitlin Collier’s name who appears on the ballot in November. In a possible oversight, South Dakota law doesn’t provide for an independent candidate to replace his or her running mate. “Her name cannot be removed from the ballot,” said Secretary of State Jason Gant. “There is not a law that states how an independent candidate can be replaced.” Lieutenant governor candidates nominated by a political party might be able to be replaced, though Gant said needed to review the law before speaking definitively.
Recent developments have diminished the trust of Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission IEC in the public mindset and further weakened the institution’s credibility and impartiality. Public trust in the IEC reached a new low following a press conference in which the IEC Chairman, Ahmad Yusuf Nuristani, announced that the voter turnout was above 7 million only two hours after polling had closed. The basis on which this figure was calculated is highly problematic as election staff from all thirty-four provinces could not have had enough time to report their data to the IEC. Moreover, the trouble with the IEC’s 7 million-plus figure was that it crossed the record voter turnout of 6.9 million in the first round of the presidential election. As the first round fielded nine presidential candidates and the provincial council elections, it was expected that the combination of the two would generate a higher voter turnout. Critics therefore called into question the IEC’s seven million-plus number as the second round of the presidential election did not have provincial council elections and only fielded two presidential candidates.
On June 25, Libyans went to the polls to elect a new 200-seat Council of Deputies that would replace the General National Congress. Three years after Libya’s revolution overthrew Muammar Gaddafi’s regime, the country’s security continues to deteriorate, and its economy has been crippled by endless protests at its oil facilities. The ruling Congress, whose mandate expired in February but which has continued to limp along until these latest elections, became so dysfunctional that many of its members simply stopped attending meetings. Most Libyans feel their politicians have failed to deliver basic government. As such, many hoped the elections would offer the promise of a much-needed new start and help salvage the country’s ailing transition. But these elections may not usher in a new era. Libya’s political institutions have proved weak and ineffectual, and there is little to suggest that the new ruling body will be any different. Moreover, the struggle between liberal and Islamist political forces, which left the Congress paralyzed and prompted calls for its dissolution, continues to play out in the country.
In compliance with stipulations in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Protocol on Good Governance which asks parliaments to pass electoral acts not less than six months before elections, the Senate yesterday passed 2014 Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill with a provision empowering the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to adopt electronic voting device if it so wishes. This decision was a marked departure from the parliament’s earlier decision which prohibited the use of electronic voting machine as provided in Section 152 (2) of the 2010 Electoral Act. This provision was however, amended in 2014 Electoral Act with a view to enabling INEC to determine the form of voting it chooses to adopt whether it is electronic or otherwise. “Voting at an election under this Act shall be in accordance with the procedure determined by the INEC,” it said.
Slovenia is halting all privatizations until a new government is formed after a snap election on July 13, outgoing Prime Minister Alenka Bratusek said on Thursday, drawing a sharp response from the finance minister in her own government. Analysts said the move was aimed at raising Bratusek’s popularity with voters, who generally oppose attempts to sell local companies. Finance Minister Uros Cufer called the decision a part of “pre-election hysteria”. The decision could ultimately deter investors or bring down the prices of companies sold, analysts said, and delay much needed revenue for a country that had to inject 3.3 billion euros ($4.5 billion) into its banks in December to avoid an international bailout.
Alaska: Expert in Native voting rights trial says Alaska has long history of discrimination | Anchorage
An expert testifying in the federal voting rights trial in Anchorage said Monday it’s possible to trace Alaska’s current failure to provide full language assistance to Native language speakers to territorial days when Alaska Natives were denied citizenship unless they renounced their own culture. “This represents the continuing organizational culture, looking at the law as something they’re forced to do, instead of looking at the policy goal of being sure that everyone has the opportunity to participate,” said University of Utah political science professor Daniel McCool. “It’s part of a pattern I see over a long period of time, a consistent culture — they’re going to fight this. When forced to do something, they’re going to do it, but only when they’ve been ordered to.”
In preparation for the upcoming primary and general elections, Juanita Murray, director of the Elections Department and Special Districts, held a meeting for poll workers and the interested public to update them on the changes in technology that they will be able to use. “We’re 100 times more prepared for this election cycle,” Murray said. “I’m a firm believer that there is always room for improvement to make the process more efficient. One of my main goals today is to improve communication, so that when the election rolls around you’ll be able to answer any questions at the polls.” More than 300 people will be hired to help with the elections from poll workers to troubleshooters. That means a lot of training time to get them ready for the election days.
Whether residents of Guam should be able to vote for President may be brought up in federal court. We the People Project, a nonprofit organization that aims to fight for the rights of residents in Guam and other U.S. territories, is hoping to file a federal lawsuit on the issue by fall, according to a press release. “It’s simple — the right to vote for president should not depend on where you live,” Neil Weare, president and founder of the project, said in the release “That’s not how democracy is supposed to work. Guam’s sons and daughters proudly serve in uniform to defend democracy overseas; they should have the right to fully participate in democracy at home.”