National: Voters encounter faulty machines, website crashes and other sporadic Election Day problems | Associated Press

Voters around the country encountered malfunctioning machines, website crashes and delayed polling place openings, but the problems for the most part appeared sporadic rather than systemic and there was no immediate indication that they factored in the outcome of an election. Beyond routine mechanical problems, the midterm elections Tuesday also represented for some states the first major tests of new voter identification laws that opponents say disenfranchise minorities and the poor. In Texas, where the U.S. Supreme Court last month let stand a strict photo ID law, there were reports of “voter confusion about how and whether their votes would be counted,” according to Election Protection, a voter advocacy coalition. The law, which Democrats had said would prevent roughly 650,000 people from casting a ballot, meant voters had to show one of seven approved kinds of photo identification. The law has not previously been used in congressional elections or a high-profile race for governor such as the one Tuesday, won by Republican Greg Abbott.

National: Midterm Voter Suppression Election Protection Hotline Swamped | New Republic

t may never be possible to calculate exactly how many eligible voters were unable to vote Tuesday due to new voter-ID laws, registration problems, and polling location misinformation. Wendy Weiser, the director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center, wouldn’t give an estimate of how many people were likely blocked from the polls this year, but she did say that millions of Americans were affected by new changes, particularly laws passed after the Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act last summer. In Texas alone, the implementation of a new voter-ID law meant that 600,000 registered voters lacked the proper identification. You can get a sense, though, of the scale of voter difficulties from the Election Protection Hotline (866-OUR-VOTE). The hotline is a project of the Election Protection Coalition, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. The hotline handles calls from voters who need to know if they’re registered, find their assigned polling locations, and report difficulties in their attempts to vote. Yesterday, the national hotline had taken over 16,000 calls by 8 p.m., with 3.5 hours to go until polling ended. (By comparison, the hotline received 12,857 calls all day on Election Day in 2010.)

National: States ditch electronic voting machines | The Hill

States have abandoned electronic voting machines in droves, ensuring that most voters will be casting their ballots by hand on Election Day. With many electronic voting machines more than a decade old, and states lacking the funding to repair or replace them, officials have opted to return to the pencil-and-paper voting that the new technology was supposed to replace. Nearly 70 percent of voters will be casting ballots by hand on Tuesday, according to Pamela Smith, president of election watchdog Verified Voting. “Paper, even though it sounds kind of old school, it actually has properties that serve the elections really well,” Smith said. It’s an outcome few would have predicted after the 2000 election, when the battle over “hanging chads” in the Florida recount spurred a massive, $3 billion federal investment in electronic voting machines. States at the time ditched punch cards and levers in favor of touch screens and ballot-scanners, with the perennial battleground state of Ohio spending $115 million alone on upgrades. Smith said the mid-2000s might go down as the  “heyday” of electronic voting. Since then, states have failed to maintain the machines, partly due to budget shortfalls.

Verified Voting Blog: Online voting rife with hazards

Today Americans are voting in an election that could shift control of the U.S. Senate and significantly impact the direction our nation will take in the next few years. Yet, 31 states will allow over 3 million voters to cast ballots over the Internet in this election, a practice that computer security experts in both the federal government and the private sector have warned is neither secure nor trustworthy.

Most states’ online voting is limited to military and overseas voters, but Alaska now permits all voters to vote over the Internet. With a hotly contested Senate seat in Alaska, the use of an online voting system raises serious concerns about the integrity of Alaska’s election results. Alaska’s State Election Division has even acknowledged that its “secure online voting solution” may not be all that secure by posting this disclaimer on its website: “When returning the ballot through the secure online voting solution, your are [sic] voluntarily waving [sic] your right to a secret ballot and are assuming the risk that a faulty transmission may occur.”

Unfortunately, faulty transmission is only one of the risks of Internet voting. There are countless ways ballots cast over the Internet can be hacked and modified by cyber criminals. The National Institute of Standards and Technology, at the direction of Congress, has conducted extensive research into Internet voting in the last decade and published several reports that outline all the ways votes sent over the Internet can be manipulated without detection. After warning that there are many possible attacks that could have an undiscovered large-scale impact, the institute concluded that secure Internet voting is not yet achievable.

National: Voter laws: Stumbling blocks | The Economist

According to some civil-rights groups, voting on Tuesday was a bit of a mess. Changes to voting laws in more than a dozen states caused confusion, frustration, long lines and turned-away voters. Some people arrived at the polls in Texas without a valid photo-ID, while others in North Carolina were sent packing even though the state’s voter-ID law doesn’t take effect until 2016. Thousands of voters called hotlines complaining about inaccurate voter rolls, malfunctioning machines and bewildering new rules. Some volunteers at polling stations were reportedly just as flustered as everyone else. Such complaints are unsurprising. America wins few awards for administering orderly and streamlined elections. The way citizens register and vote is “still in the dark ages in many ways,” says Wendy Weiser of the Brennan Centre for Justice, a public-policy think-tank. Most states rely on a paper-based registration system, and many close registration weeks before election day. Few allow voters to vote early, which leads to crowding and last-minute hiccups at polling stations. Polling staff tend to be untrained volunteers, and many machines are either incredibly old or new and untested. Different states also have different voter laws, with little integration of voter data, which makes it tricky when people move.

Editorials: Did Voting Restrictions Determine the Outcomes of Key Midterm Races? | Ari Berman/The Nation

Bryan McGowan spent twenty-two years in the US Marine Corps, including four tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. When he was stationed at Camp LeJeune in North Carolina from 2005 until 2010, McGowan used same-day registration to register and vote during the early voting period in the state. He relocated to Georgia in 2010 because of his military service and returned to North Carolina in 2014. On the first day of early voting this year, McGowan arrived at his new polling place in western North Carolina to update his registration and vote, like he had done in the 2008 presidential election, but this time he was turned away. North Carolina eliminated same-day registration as part of the sweeping voting restrictions enacted by the Republican legislature in the summer of 2013. The registration deadline had passed, and McGowan was unable to update his registration and vote. “All I want to do is cast my vote,” the disabled veteran said. After fighting for his country abroad, McGowan felt betrayed by not being able to vote when he returned home. Sadly, McGowan’s story was not atypical this election year. Voters in fourteen states faced new voting restrictions at the polls for first time in 2014—in the first election in nearly fifty years without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act. The number of voters impacted by the new restrictions exceeded the margin of victory in close races for senate and governor in North Carolina, Kansas, Virginia and Florida, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.

Alaska: Knowns and Unknowns Among Uncounted Ballots | Alaska Public Media

With a few candidates up and down the ticket unsure whether they won or lost, a lot of Alaskans are looking to the thousands of ballots that remain uncounted. Division of Elections chief Gail Fenumiai says it’s too early to say exactly how many ballots are outstanding. “Right now we have, in the offices within the state, 23,608 absentee and early votes that are eligible to be counted,” said at mid-day today. They are from voters who live throughout the state, not in any particular district. “The majority of them are from non-rural areas of the state, meaning Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, the Mat-Su area,” she said. Those are, if you will, the known unknowns. But there are thousands of other kinds of ballots to be added to the total. It’s not clear how many are in these other categories.

Arizona: Glitch in Cochise County puts thousands of ballots on hold | KGUN

A major glitch in Cochise County held up thousands of ballots. The problem discovered hours after the polls closed last night. Cochise county elections officials had to scramble to fix it and asked Graham County to help out. A UHAUL full of black cases of ballots were rushed to Graham County where the ballots were re-tabulated — overnight and then transported back to Bisbee by 1 o’clock the next day. So what caused the glitch? The interim elections director Jim Vlahovich thought it was the machine that tabulates the votes. “We discovered last night that the sheets were 85 ballots short than what the machine was,” he said.

Arkansas: Voters Approve Extended Term Limits | Governing

A ballot measure aimed at tightening ethics laws and changing term limits in Arkansas bucked expectations and passed with 53 percent of the vote. The measure, officially called Issue 3, bans lobbyist gifts to state officials, prohibits direct corporate and union contributions to candidates and lengthens the time period before former lawmakers can become lobbyists (from one to two years). Those anti-lobbying and campaign finance reforms appeared to be headed for defeat because they were linked to an unpopular provision that sought to extend term limits for state lawmakers. Polling by Talk Business Research and Hendrix College showed that most likely voters supported the ethics reforms, but opposed a package that also included term-limit extensions. Arkansas term limits appeared untouchable. The 1992 ballot measure setting the term limits received a higher percentage of the vote than Bill Clinton, the state’s then-governor and a presidential candidate that year. Voters later rejected another ballot measure aimed at extending term limits by 40 points.

Connecticut: Hartford voting snafu may prompt changes to registrar system | New Haven Register

Yet another embarassing misstep during an election is prompting officials to seriously look for changes on the role of registrars of voters, but the political implications of doing so may prove daunting. A Hartford registrar of voters failed to get the voting lists to a number of polling stations in that city for the 6 a.m. opening, which meant that some voters were turned away. Those lists are supposed to be available for inspection by the public a week ahead of time and delivered to the polling sites by 5 a.m. on Election Day. Among the voters who were able to wait until the list was delivered was Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who was delayed a half-hour. Others, however, didn’t have that kind of flexibility and left without voting. The Democrats then obtained a court order that two polls remain open an additional half-hour Tuesday based on the testimony of people who had to leave.

New Hampshire: More people posting ballot selfies online in protest of law; legislators say they will move to repeal | Concord Monitor

Jonathan Spear barely made it to the polls in Hampton before they closed at 8 p.m. on Tuesday. He filled out his ballot and voted for all Republicans, with one exception: He just couldn’t bring himself to vote for Scott Brown. Instead, he wrote in the name of Revolutionary War Gen. John Stark. When he was done, he snapped a photo of himself inside the voting booth holding his completed ballot, a quick ballot selfie. Then, he decided to commit a crime – he posted the photo on Twitter. And Spear knew exactly what he was doing. “It’s a stupid law, and I don’t agree with it,” he said. “I’ve always been a bit of a rebel, and nothing beats a little civil disobedience to get your point across.” State law says it’s illegal to show another person your ballot, including through social media.

New Mexico: Glitches plague voting machines, clerk resorts to hand tallies | The Taos News

Taos County Clerk Anna Martinez spent nearly 12 hours Tuesday (Nov. 4) driving around from voter precinct to voter precinct troubleshooting issues with the new ballot machines supplied by the state. Due to problems with machines in nearly half of the county’s 36 precincts, staff at the clerk’s office had to hand-tally the ballots from 16 precincts — delaying the election result reports until 1 a.m. Wednesday morning. ”It’s hard to get into a new machine that you don’t know anything about,” Martinez told The Taos News Wednesday. The Taos News received a handful of comments and calls complaining of problems with the machines. Despite the problems, Martínez insisted the vote totals were accurate.

North Dakota: Determined voter derailed after driving 200 miles | Bismarck Tribune

A man spent his election day in a failed attempt to cast his ballot by first learning his new address wasn’t on file at a polling location in Bismarck then crisscrossing the state to his old voting location in Dickinson at the suggestion of poll workers. Kyle Thiel, of Bismarck, is one of a handful of voters who reported being turned away from the polls Tuesday when his updated address information wasn’t found in the state’s central voter file. Thiel, 32, explained Thursday via email that he moved to Bismarck in August from Dickinson. On Aug. 25, he updated his address online through the North Dakota Department of Transportation website as directed on the back of his driver’s license. Although he’d updated his information online, Thiel said his license still had his Dickinson address on it. He said he hadn’t found the time to go get a new license, something he acknowledged would have helped. When Thiel went to vote in Bismarck, local election workers couldn’t find his updated address information in the system. After being directed to the DOT office for verification, he was told that information couldn’t be accessed.

Texas: Jefferson County Clerk blames faulty voting equipment for delay | KBMT

Jefferson County Clerk Carolyn Guidry seemed pleased at voter turnout for the 2014 mid-term elections in Jefferson County. She says 37% of the county’s 146,039 registered voters cast ballots, that’s 53,710 voters who participated. However Guidry, who won re-election herself, was not pleased at how the county’s electronic voting system performed. Malfunctions caused the vote count to be delayed, and final results were not available until 4:00 a.m. the day after the elections. Guidry said, “It’s very frustrating when I have employees working 24 hours on elections, because of the flaws of a system.” Guidry blames ES&S voting equipment the county purchased in 2006.  Tuesday’s flaw was with the scanner that counts mail-in ballots, forcing Guidry to call for a technician to fix it, the closest one was in Tyler. It would take until 4 a.m. the next day to count all 3900 mail-in ballots, and when they were all counted some Republicans who had been in the lead, ended up losing.  Guidry says that’s because two-thirds of the mail-in ballots favored Democrats. But the mail-in ballot scanner was not the only problem of the night, not all voting machines had been shut down which made it impossible for votes in those machines to be counted.

Virginia: Calibration problems blamed in Virginia Beach vote | The Virginian-Pilot

Taking a lunch break from canvass Thursday, two members of the Electoral Board said they weren’t happy with how things went on Election Day but still believe voting machine calibration problems and operator misunderstanding were to blame. Voters throughout the city reported Tuesday that the touch screens on the AccVote TSX machines switched their selections, requiring them to recast their votes or change machines, sometimes multiple times. Others said their machines required them to register two votes in the at-large City Council race – in which there were four candidates for two seats – when they only wanted to vote for one person.

Ireland: Calls for Irish diaspora voting rights | RTÉ News

Minister of State for the Diaspora Jimmy Deenihan has said that Irish citizens abroad should be able to vote in Irish Presidential elections. The Minister is currently on his first official visit to the United States since taking up the newly created office during the summer. Today he announced Government funding of nearly €2m for services supporting Irish emigrants in the US. The Constitutional Convention recommended that a referendum be called to extend voting rights in Irish Presidential Elections to people in Northern Ireland and Irish citizens around the world. The Department of the Environment is currently putting together a proposal in response to this which will be brought to the Government before Christmas, the Minister said.

Namibia: Electoral Commission Makes U-Turn On Foreign Voting |

The Electoral Commission of Namibia yesterday backtracked on an announcement that only voters registered at Namibia’s foreign missions would be allowed to cast their votes at polling stations outside the country on Friday next week. In a media statement issued yesterday, ECN chairperson Notemba Tjipueja denied that the ECN had taken a decision to exclude any registered voters outside Namibia from exercising their right to vote at the country’s foreign missions. “It is, and always was, the Commission’s point of view that all registered voters in possession of a valid voters’ registration card be allowed to vote in terms of Section 98 of the Electoral Act,” Tjipueja stated.

Alaska: Online Voting Leaves Cybersecurity Experts Worried | IEEE Spectrum

Some Americans who lined up at the ballot boxes on Tuesday may have wished for the convenience of online voting. But cybersecurity experts continue to argue that such systems would be vulnerable to vote tampering — warnings that did not stop Alaska from allowing voters to cast electronic ballots in a major election that had both a Senate seat and the governorship up for grabs. There was no evidence of tampering during the first use of Alaska’s online voting system in 2012. But cybersecurity experts have gone on the record as saying that hackers could easily compromise or alter online voting results without being detected. Alaska’s own election site includes a disclaimer about votes cast through online voting or by fax. “When returning the ballot through the secure online voting solution, your are voluntarily waiving your right to a secret ballot and are assuming the risk that a faulty transmission may occur,” according to Alaska’s Division of Elections website.

Kansas: Appeals court overturns state proof-of-citizenship requirements on federal voting forms | The Wichita Eagle

A federal appeals court has ruled that Kansas cannot force a federal agency to add state proof-of-citizenship requirements to federal voting registration forms. The decision by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver is a significant setback to Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s efforts to require documents proving citizenship – almost always a birth certificate or passport – to register to vote. Arizona has a similar requirement and Kobach argued the case on behalf of both states in conjuction with Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett. Wichita District Judge Eric Melgren had ruled that the Election Assistance Commission, a federal agency, was required to add state-specific citizenship-proof requirements to the instructions for using the federal form in Kansas and Arizona. The appeals court overturned Melgren’s ruling.

National: States ditch electronic voting machines | The Hill

States have abandoned electronic voting machines in droves, ensuring that most voters will be casting their ballots by hand on Election Day. With many electronic voting machines more than a decade old, and states lacking the funding to repair or replace them, officials have opted to return to the pencil-and-paper voting that the new technology was supposed to replace. Nearly 70 percent of voters will be casting ballots by hand on Tuesday, according to Pamela Smith, president of election watchdog Verified Voting. “Paper, even though it sounds kind of old school, it actually has properties that serve the elections really well,” Smith said. It’s an outcome few would have predicted after the 2000 election, when the battle over “hanging chads” in the Florida recount spurred a massive, $3 billion federal investment in electronic voting machines.