National: Paper: Great promise for online voting if security, verification challenges met | FierceGovernmentIT

Without a vast improvement in security, privacy and verification protocols, broad adoption of online voting – which has the potential to make voting easier and more accessible, improve turnout and reduce costs – is unlikely to take off, a new paper argues. For example, if a hacker steals money from a bank, retailer or another company, then the theft can be easily discovered and customers compensated for any loss. “Online voting poses a much tougher problem: lost votes are unacceptable,” writes the paper’s author, Peter Haynes, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security. “And unlike paper ballots, electronic votes cannot be ‘rolled back’ or easily recounted. The twin goals of anonymity and verifiability within an online voting system are largely incompatible with current technologies,” he adds. The paper (pdf), which was released Oct. 8 and sponsored by Internet security company McAfee, spells out the pitfalls and advantages of online voting.

National: GAO report: Voter ID laws stunted turnout | The Hill

Voter ID laws helped contribute to lower voter turnout in Kansas and Tennessee in 2012,according a new study by the Government Accountability Office. Congress’s research arm blamed the two states’ laws requiring that voters show identification on a dip in turnout in 2012 — about 2 percentage points in Kansas and between 2.2 and 3.2 percentage points in Tennessee. Those declines were greater among younger and African-American voters, when compared to turnout in other states. Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) requested the report in light of last year’s decision by the Supreme Court striking down part of the Voting Rights Act. The decision freed a number of states from a pre-clearance requirement to run all changes to voting laws by the Department of Justice.

National: Here’s How Much It Costs to Vote in States With Voter ID Laws | National Journal

For some voters, it costs $58.50 to vote in an election. That’s more than enough to keep voters away from polls, according to a new report. Thirty-three states require all eligible voters to show ID at the polling station and, in doing so, add a hidden cost to voting: While casting a ballot is technically free, getting proper identification is not. Many voter-ID laws came about after Congress passed the Help America Vote Act in 2002, which was intended to address concerns of voter fraud and irregularity in the 2000 presidential election. While concerns about fraud are widespread, research shows that it occurs very rarely. The cost of obtaining an ID affects voter participation, and can disproportionately drive down turnout among African-American voters and 18-to-23-year-olds.

National: How Astronauts Vote From Space |

In November of 2007, Clayton Anderson participated the most ordinary of elections—voting on a handful of local ballot proposals for his Houston suburb. But Anderson cast his ballot in an extraordinary fashion. He was traveling at 17,000 miles per hour, floating in microgravity at more than 200 miles above Earth. The vote made Anderson one of a handful of astronauts who have voted from beyond the reaches of Earth’s atmosphere, both on the International Space Station and Russia’s Mir station. “To be able to hit the button and send it and know that it was coming from outer space to go to somebody down on the Earth through that process—that was pretty cool,” Anderson said. For Anderson, the process held special meaning. His wife, Susan Anderson, was the NASA leader who headed the 1997 effort to allow astronauts to vote from space—a year before her husband was chosen to be an astronaut and a decade before he went into orbit. “We could only dream that I would be able to use that capability,” he said.

District of Columbia: Elections Board Says All Voting Machines Need To Be Replaced | WAMU

The D.C. Board of Elections says that the city’s voting machines are outdated and in need of replacement, an admission that comes only weeks before what could be a close mayoral election. In a report on the Apr. 1 primary published last week, the board said that a majority of the city’s touch-screen and optical scanner voting machines are outdated, exceeding the recommended 10 years of use. As such, they will be difficult to maintain for future elections. “The District of Columbia’s mechanical and digital voting and tabulation system… is in need of replacement,” says the report. “The BOE’s voting systems are over a decade old and are reaching the end of their operational life.” In the report, which was supposed to have been published in July but was delayed by three months, the board says that a large number of the city’s voting machines are refurbished units purchased “at a steep discount” in 2009. Given that they were in use before being purchased by D.C., the report says that the machines are older than what a federal election assistance commission recommends for use by local jurisdictions.

Missouri: The Voter Registration Report From Ferguson Was Impossible | FiveThirtyEight

Sometimes when a number seems like an outlier, it’s not an outlier — it’s wrong. Last week, the St. Louis County Election Board reported that 3,287 people in Ferguson, Missouri, had registered to vote since the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in early August. I wrote at the time that “Ferguson’s 3,287 new registrants (in two months) is more than recorded by any township in St. Louis County in any midterm election since 2002.” On Tuesday, the Democratic leader of the St. Louis County Board of Election Comissioners said, “Turns out that was an incorrect report that we were using.” According to an article by Jessica Lussenhop at Missouri’s Riverfront Times, the initial number reported was the “total number of interactions with Ferguson residents that had anything to do with their voter registration, so that included changes of address and other alterations to records.” The actual number of new registrants from Aug. 9 to Oct. 6 totaled just 128. That’s a little less than 4 percent of the original figure reported by the board.

North Carolina: Supreme Court allows North Carolina to implement voting law for midterm elections | The Washington Post

The Supreme Court Wednesday night allowed North Carolina to implement for the coming election changes in the state’s voting law that an appeals court had blocked. The action means that the state can eliminate same-day registration and not count ballots cast by voters who show up at the wrong precinct. A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit had blocked both changes because it said they would disproportionately affect African-American voters. The Supreme Court’s order did not detail the majority’s reasoning. But Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor said they would have kept the lower court’s order in place.  “The Court of Appeals determined that at least two of the measures — elimination of same-day registration and termination of out-of-precinct voting — risked significantly reducing opportunities for black voters to exercise the franchise in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act,” Ginsburg wrote. “I would not displace that record-based reasoned judgment.”

Wisconsin: Opponents again ask for relief from voter ID requirement | Wisconsin State Journal

The fate of Wisconsin’s voter ID law, set to take effect in one month, is pending before two federal courts, both of which have been asked to issue an emergency order halting implementation of the law. Meanwhile, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen on Tuesday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to leave the law in place for the Nov. 4 election , when voters will select Wisconsin’s next governor. On Tuesday, one day after a three-judge appeals court panel affirmed that Wisconsin’s voter ID law is constitutional, opponents including the League of United Latin American Citizens and the American Civil Liberties Union asked the full 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to stop implementation of the requirement that residents show a state-issued identification or other photo ID before voting.

Bolivia: Campaigning Closes in Bolivia’s Elections | teleSUR

Bolivian presidential candidates ended their electoral campaigns on Wednesday with final rallies taking place across the country. The ruling Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) party concluded its campaigning with a rally in El Alto, a poor area overlooking the capital La Paz. President Evo Morales called on his supporters to turn out in force for Sunday’s presidential elections. Morales is set for a landslide win on Sunday, according to most poll results. To win outright in the first round, Morales will need over 50 percent of the vote, or win 40 percent of the vote by at least 10 percentage points.

Bosnia: The world’s most complicated system of government? | The Guardian

Bosnia and Herzegovina holds its seventh general elections on 12 October. Since the end of the war, political allegiance has been usually based on ethnic identity. Ethnic politics will play its role in Sunday’s elections too, but there are other issues too. The debate, following protests earlier this year, has centred most on economic and social issues, allegedly corrupt politicians, stagnation and jobs – at 27.5%, the unemployment rate in Bosnia is consistently among the highest in the Balkans. The employment rate remains below 40%, and two-thirds of young people are jobless. Meanwhile, the salary of lawmakers is six times the country’s average wage – a rarely lopsided difference, making Bosnia’s MPs, relatively speaking, among the richest in Europe. An additional blow to the economy were the devastating floods in May, which inflicted damages of €2bn (about 15% of the country’s GDP). … Bosnia and Herzegovina comprises two entities: the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Republika Srpska. The main cities in the Federation are the capital Sarajevo, and the cities of Mostar, Tuzla, Bihac and Zenica, while in the Republika Srpska entity the main cities are Banja Luka, Bijeljina, Prijedor and Trebinje. Formally part of both entities is theBrčko District, a multi-ethnic self-governing administrative unit.

Philippines: Comelec to reuse Precinct Count Optical Scan machines in 2016 polls | Manila Bulletin

The call of a non-government organization to junk the reuse of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines in the May 2016 polls was rejected by the Comission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday. Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said they cannot junk the PCOS machines because they were not given enough budget allocation for a new automated election system (AES). “We don’t have money for that,” he said in an interview. Earlier, Government Watch urged the Comelec to use a new AES in the next polls instead of reusing the PCOS machines citing alleged cases of discrepancies between the results of physical count of ballots and the voting machines as reason.

Editorials: In Spain, Politics via Reddit | Jonathan Blitzer/The New Yorker

Last summer, Erik Martin, the general manager of the link-sharing site Reddit, whose job requires him to oversee online conversations about everything from My Little Pony to Islamic State propaganda, noticed something strange. A Spanish political party that he’d never heard of was using the Web site to organize. “We’ve never seen anyone use Reddit as an organizing tool, not like this,” he said. The party, called Podemos (We Can), was only a few months old at the time, but it had created a subreddit—in effect, a party home page hosted by Reddit—with more than two thousand subscribers and significant traffic. About two hundred people were visiting the page at any given time, and there were a million page views in the month of July alone. “This was all in a market”—in southern Europe—”where Reddit is not even that popular,” Martin said. On the party’s page, an array of filters directs users to caches of videos, proposals, debate topics, and news. There are “digital assemblies” (a sort of virtual plebiscite), “Ask Podemos” (question-and-answer sessions with party leaders), and “Podemos Plaza” (a freewheeling discussion via message board). The other day, one user linked to a grim news item meant to spawn a local protest initiative: the municipal government of Madrid had dedicated a plaza to Margaret Thatcher. When Martin and I spoke over the summer, he admitted that he didn’t know much about Podemos: Was it a serious party with serious prospects or was it a group of idealistic interlopers? That question has been on the lips of Spaniards for months.