Editorials: How the Open Source Election Technology Foundation is Remaking the Voter Experience | TechPresident

In its report released earlier this January, the Presidential Commission on Election Administration noted how an online registration tool developed by the Open Source Election Technology (OSET) Foundation that being used by Virginia and groups like Rock the Vote “highlights the way that voter information can be entered by a user in one setting and, through a simple platform, seamlessly integrated with a state’s registration list.” Now, ahead of the 2014 midterms and with an eye to 2016, OSET”s Trust the Vote Project is stepping up its efforts to expand that functionality and other election innovations across the country, at the same time that the Bipartisan Policy Center has taken up the task of more broadly implementing the commission’s recommendations as a whole throughout the states. As techPresident wrote at the time, the commission’s report highlighted how it had identified technology and data problems at the root of the “long lines” that President Obama had directed the commission to address. “We have been working on various piece of what I call the overall ecosystem…of election administration,” Gregory Miller, co-founder and chief development officer of OSET said in a recent interview. “We’ve been looking at the pieces that do not require federal certification since the federal certification model is so broken.” While OSET has also been involved in discussions about changing the certification model, the more immediate focus of the initiative, he said, has been improving the voter experience rather than ballot transactions.

Arizona: New Yavapai County equipment improves process | The Prescott Daily Courier

One fun reason not to join Yavapai County’s Permanent Early Voting List is to check out the latest high-tech voting machines. The Yavapai County Recorder’s Office and its Elections Department have brand new touch-screen voting machines that talk to users and let them know if they voted for too many or too few candidates. While that’s the most visible of the new voting equipment, the county also has new ballot scanning machines. They count ballots so fast that poll workers at vote centers will no longer scan and modem results to the main Prescott office from various voting centers around the county. Instead, vote center workers will drive to Prescott with the ballots so they can be scanned and counted on the new high-speed machines. Noting that three-fourths of voters now vote early anyway, Recorder Leslie Hoffman and Elections Director Lynn Constabile think ballot counting will get done about the same time as it has in the past, since they are restricted on when they can start. “I have a feeling it’s going to be the same amount of time,” Constabile said.

Florida: Arguing Florida Failed Again, Dems Want Court-Drawn Map | Governing

Florida legislators completed their fix of a congressional redistricting map Monday, sending the plan to Gov. Rick Scott for approval as they scramble to meet Friday’s deadline set by a state court. In an attempt to address the concerns by Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis, who said the map violated a constitutional ban on partisan gerrymandering, the legislature ended a three-day special session by moving 368,000 voters in North and Central Florida into new districts as it changed the boundaries of seven congressional seats. The House and Senate voted for the map along party lines, as a handful of Jacksonville Democrats voted with Republicans in solidarity with U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, a Jacksonville Democrat whose winding district was invalidated because it packed Democrats voters into the district so that Republicans in surrounding districts would face less competition. The new map makes the biggest changes to the districts now held by Brown, John Mica, R-Orlando, and Dan Webster, R-Winter Garden. Lewis ordered the Legislature to fix Districts 5 and 10, held by Brown and Webster, by Friday, saying they were in violation of the state’s Fair Districts rules. No South Florida districts were modified.

Hawaii: Hanabusa threatens to sue to block Friday’s election | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa said Tuesday that she is considering a legal challenge to block Friday’s vote in two Puna precincts that could decide her Democratic primary for Senate against U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz. Hanabusa said she would likely argue to delay the vote until residents who are still without power and water can recover from Tropical Storm Iselle. The congresswoman also said that voters in two other Puna precincts that did open on Saturday should also be allowed to vote if they could not get to the precincts because of blocked roads. Hanabusa trails Schatz by 1,635 votes in the primary.

Hawaii: New election set, but how many voters know? | Associated Press

A new date has been set for voting in remote Hawaii precincts that were closed on election day by a tropical storm that clobbered the area, but it’s unclear how thousands of voters will find out in time to cast ballots Friday. The sprawling Puna District could provide the deciding votes in the tight U.S. Senate race between Sen. Brian Schatz and Rep. Colleen Hanabusa. The Democratic primary was too close to call after officials tallied votes over the weekend. Election officials said Tuesday they were notifying voters by mail and contacting them in other ways. Many in the area, however, remain without power and water and say they have more immediate concerns.

Maine: Federal judge hears arguments on Maine campaign finance donation limits for independents | Sun Journal

A federal judge Tuesday heard arguments from the state and from an attorney representing supporters of independent candidate for governor Eliot Cutler over a complaint Maine’s campaign finance laws are unconstitutional in the way they limit the amount of money supporters of independent candidates can donate to campaigns. Cutler is in a race against Republican Gov. Paul LePage and 2nd District Congressman Mike Michaud, D-Maine. In Maine, Republican and Democratic candidates for governor are allowed to collect $1,500 from individuals for their primary contests and $1,500 for their general election contests for a total individual donation limit of $3,000.

Mississippi: McDaniel lists own lawyer as irregular vote | Clarion-Ledger

As Chris McDaniel’s team continues to scour voting records to add to an expected legal challenge of his loss to Thad Cochran, it has listed McDaniel’s lead lawyer in the challenge, and his wife, as irregular votes that should be tossed out. McDaniel lawyer Mitchell H. “Mitch” Tyner Sr. on Monday sent Cochran’s attorneys additional affidavits listing hundreds more alleged illegal or irregular votes from the June 24 runoff. Problem is, Tyner and his wife, Sloane Tyner, were flagged by a McDaniel volunteer as “CROSSOVER/IRREGULAR VOTING” in one of the new affidavits claiming problems with Madison County voting. The affidavit says that with Tyner and his wife’s votes, records showed “voted written in margin and on June 24.” It would appear, given McDaniel’s assertion that he really won the election by 25,000 votes and other claims, that the Tyners are alleged to have improperly voted for Cochran.

New Jersey: Gloucester County ballot draw business as usual, while third parties see change in sight | NJ.com

It was business as usual for Gloucester County Clerk Jim Hogan on Monday afternoon. He was joined by his staff and a handful of party members and candidates as he drew names for the November general election ballot, something he’s done twice a year for more than 15 years. Third-party advocates, however, are hoping for a new routine next time around. At exactly 3 p.m., Hogan began dropping tiny glass vials stuffed with  candidates names into a eight-sided wooden tumbler, locking a small door on one side, shaking it to the left, the right, over his head, left and right again, before unlocking the hatch and pulling out names and handing them to Elections Supervisor Tiffany Pindale. She carefully pulled each piece of paper out of the vial with long red tweezers, and they repeated the semi-annual ritual over and over again for the next 55 minutes to decide the ballot placement for the U.S. Senate, Congressional and local nonpartisan school board races.

Editorials: Open primaries something Dems, GOP can agree on | Albuquerque Journal

It’s rare in New Mexico when Democrats and Republicans see eye-to-eye on an issue. So it’s refreshing to see Republican Gov. Susana Martinez support a reasonable plan put forth by two Democrats, Sen. Bill O’Neill and Rep. Emily Kane, that would open up party primaries to independent voters. O’Neill and Kane plan to introduce legislation in January that would allow voters who decline to state a party affiliation to choose whether to vote in the Democratic or Republican primary, but not in both. Members of a party could not vote in the other party’s primary, which had been a sticking point for many partisans. The goal is to increase voter participation – only about 20 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in the June primary – and to attract young voters who increasingly don’t want to affiliate with either party.

North Carolina: After loss in court, voting rights activists turn attention to mobilizing in the streets | Facing South

Following a federal judge’s decision last week to deny a request by the U.S. Department of Justice and civil rights groups to block North Carolina’s restrictive new voting law from being enforced during this November’s election, voting rights activists are turning their attention from the ongoing legal battle in the courtroom to organizing voters to turn out despite the new rules. “We will not falter in our efforts to mobilize until this extreme law is completely repealed,” said Rev. William Barber of the N.C. NAACP, one of the civil rights groups that sought the injunction. “Our movement against this voter suppression law is built on the legacy of those who have testified before us, with their feet and blood, to fight for equal rights in North Carolina and the nation.” On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas D. Schroeder declined to issue a preliminary injunction that would have prevented restrictive provisions in the voting law passed last year by the Republican-controlled North Carolina legislature and signed by Gov. Pat McCrory (R) from taking effect during this year’s general election. Those provisions include a shorter early voting period and an end to same-day registration, out-of-precinct voting and straight-party voting.

Texas: No Attorney Fees for Challengers in Texas Voter ID Case | Legal Times

Texas won’t have to pay more than $300,000 in attorney fees to a group that challenged the state’s voter identification law in court, a federal judge in Washington ruled on Monday. The ruling came several weeks after the same judge, U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer, ordered Texas to pay $1 million in fees to groups that challenged the state’s redistricting plans. The two cases raised similar issues, Collyer said in Monday’s decision, but different facts led to the different outcome. Texas sought approval of its voter ID law from the U.S. Department of Justice, a process known as “preclearance.” Under a section of the federal Voting Rights Act, Texas was one of a number of jurisdictions required to get permission from a federal court or the Justice Department before making changes to election procedures.

Texas: DA: No evidence of voter fraud in Hidalgo County forensic audit | The Monitor

The results of a forensic audit ordered monhs ago to validate the results of the March 4 Democratic primary showed no sign of malfunction or malfeasance, Hidalgo County District Attorney Rene Guerra said Tuesday. “Nothing,” Guerra said, when asked what the report showed. An election contest based on the possibility the machines were tampered with is scheduled for trial Wednesday afternoon. Guerra said the report will likely lead to the plaintiffs dropping the case. “If you don’t got nothing, nothing’s going to happen,” he said.

Afghanistan: Ashraf Ghani rejects sharing power if he wins Afghan presidential recount | The Washington Post

Ashraf Ghani, one of two candidates competing to become Afghanistan’s president, said Tuesday that the deadline to finish a vote recount is slipping and that a U.S.-brokered agreement for the rivals to form a joint government afterward does not mean the winner will fully share power with the loser. Speaking to foreign journalists at his fortified compound in the capital, Ghani appeared to be trying to tamp down a surge of discontent among his supporters and allies, many of whom are reportedly upset that he agreed under U.S. pressure to a full recount of ballots from the troubled presidential runoff in June and the formation of a “unity” government with his rival.

Afghanistan: Marathon presidential election brings country to standstill | The Guardian

Eleven months into Afghanistan’s marathon presidential vote, strains are being felt across government institutions. The two candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, made progress by publicly agreeing to respect the results of the audit, but it will take some time still for observers to go through all 8.1 million votes. Meanwhile, the rest of the country has ground to a halt, and stasis is most keenly felt in government bureaucracies, where senior officials have expressed concern over the potentially damaging effects of a prolonged stalemate. Hakim Mujahed, the deputy chairman of the high peace council, a government body responsible for negotiations with the Taliban, said all meaningful work had stopped in early spring, during the first round of the elections. Now he whiles away his hours crossing off the administrative chores from his to-do list.

Editorials: Compulsory voting for Sydney businesses makes a mockery of democracy | Jason Wilson/The Guardian

The decision by the NSW state government to automatically enrol Sydney businesses and compel vote in city council elections might seem like a petty, parochial matter. At a basic level, it could look like a political game arranged to get rid of the current mayor. The full details of the arrangements are yet to emerge, but on the basis of yesterday’s news it seems that non-resident businesses owners will have to vote; residents with businesses will have to vote more than once; and presumably those with several rate paying businesses will get a vote for each one. Clover Moore’s decade-long administration will very probably come to an end as a result. While the political right once needed to invoke totalitarianism and spies to fiddle the political system, now, apparently, the world-historical danger that requires an effective gerrymander in favour of business is bike lanes and public art.  No one really believes the justifications that have been trotted out by premier Mike Baird, and nor are they expected to. The players know that their explanations misdescribe the underlying political and social realities, they know we know, they mouth the words anyway, and we too-readily accept that this is just what politics is.

Indonesia: Prabowo camp silenced due to weak data | The Jakarta Post

The Constitutional Court’s (MK) panel of justices silenced the camp of the losing Prabowo Subianto-Hatta Rajasa presidential ticket during a hearing on Tuesday. MK chief Hamdan Zoelva reprimanded one of witnesses presented by the Prabowo-Hatta camp for presenting inaccurate data related to accusations of vote-rigging. The incident began when Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) advocate team secretary Yanuar Arif Wibowo, a witness in the case, claimed that the legal team had identified instances of vote-rigging in 48,164 polling stations. He said the fraud could have affected as many as 20.5 million voters. “This is very significant in affecting the election results,” Yanuar said before Hamdan at the court on Jl. Medan Merdeka Barat in Central Jakarta on Tuesday. He alleged that of the total 48,164 polling stations, 46,013 had C1 recapitulation forms indicating election organizers had tampered with the data.

United Kingdom: UK prisoners denied the vote should not be paid compensation, ECHR rules | The Guardian

The European court of human rights (ECHR) has ruled that prisoners who have not been allowed to vote should not be paid compensation. However, in a ruling that will stoke anger within the Conservative party, the court on Tuesday upheld its earlier ruling that the prisoners’ human rights were breached when they were not allowed to vote. The case concerns 10 men serving sentences in Scottish prisons – some of whom are convicted sex offenders – who claimed their human rights were breached when they were not allowed to vote in the European elections in 2009. Had the court ruled that the men were entitled to compensation, the government would have had to make payouts in hundreds of similar cases. In its decision on Tuesday, the court unanimously said that its finding that the prisoners’ rights had been violated was sufficient. “The finding of a violation constitutes in itself sufficient just satisfaction for any non-pecuniary damage sustained by the applicant,” it said.