National: A Citizen’s Guide to Buying Political Access | New York Times

David G. Herro, a well-known money manager in Chicago, has given more than $2 million to political campaigns and causes over the last seven years. So perhaps it is not too surprising that a United States senator and other prominent politicians have dropped by his offices just to chat. “A lot of the time they just want to sit and talk,” said Mr. Herro, the son of an accountant and a nurse who raised six children in Milwaukee, and a partner at Harris Associates. “But the reason they do want to see you, eventually, is for financial support.” Just like his approach to picking investments, his strategy for giving is specific: He supports mostly Republican candidates who share his worldview that people deserve the same opportunities — including education — but that government should serve more as a referee, not an active player. He is more likely to give if a race looks to be tight. And some of his larger donations have been to a political action committee that defended Republicans who were supportive of same-sex marriage and other gay rights.

Editorials: Why Voter ID Laws Don’t Swing Many Elections | Nate Cohn/

Many people have understandably blamed low turnout for the Democratic Party‘s misfortune on Nov. 4, but some have gone a step further. They argue that turnout was so low because of voter suppression, particularly laws requiring voters to present photo identification. They assert that these laws disenfranchised enough voters to decide several elections, even a Kansas governor’s contest where a Republican won by four percentage points. Voter ID laws might well be a cynical, anti-democratic attempt to disenfranchise voters to help Republicans, as Democrats claim. But that doesn’t mean that voter ID laws are an effective way to steal elections. They just don’t make a difference in anything but the closest contests, when anything and everything matters. This may come as a surprise to those who have read articles hyperventilating about the laws. Dave Weigel at Slate in 2012 said a Pennsylvania voter identification law might disenfranchise 759,000 registered voters, a possibility he described as “an apocalypse.” Pennsylvania’s voter ID law was reversed before the election, but it is not hard to see why so many thought it could be decisive when Mr. Obama won the state with a 309,840 vote margin. But the so-called margin of disenfranchisement — the number of registered voters who do not appear to have photo identification — grossly overstates the potential electoral consequences of these laws.

Editorials: 2016: How digital balloting opens doors to election thieves, voter fraud | John P. Warren/Human Events

The constant kerfuffle about voting rights does get your attention, doesn’t it? To the left, it seems that attempts to embed a sense of order and integrity to our voting process is the right’s way of disenfranchising minorities and the elderly. To the right, every attempt to make voting easier and more remote—that is, you don’t have to be “there” to do it—represents just one more dilution what some say is our most precious right: to have our say at the ballot box. … With at least nine different kinds of voter fraud available—as defined by The Heritage Foundation (“Does Your Vote Count?”)—it seems there’s no dearth of opportunity for those with initiative to cheat the rest of us out of our voice at the polls. Some say there’s very little evidence of voter fraud, so what’s the big deal? …  The ninth kind of vote fraud outlined by The Heritage Foundation is “Altering The Vote Count,” and of all of different ways our votes can be stolen, this one is the most understated, threatening, invisible, and probable. For those who might challenge that statement, my answer is that our own life experience shouts an affirmative.

Editorials: Here’s how to clean up messy voter rolls | Reid Wilson/The Washington Post

When Virginia’s Board of Elections said it would remove tens of thousands of names from its voter rolls this year, voting-rights advocates cried foul, and went to court. But while Republicans criticized Democrats for opening elections to fraud, and Democrats complained Republicans were disenfranchising thousands of voters, the spat brought up a very real concern states across the nation face: Voter rolls are messy, and someone has to clean them up. People move. People die. People get married and re-register under new names. Election administrators across the country face the tightrope of making sure their voter rolls are accurate while avoiding erasing a valid record. Seven states believe they have the answer: The Electronic Registration Information Center, or ERIC. Developed by the Pew Charitable Trusts and IBM, ERIC uses several databases to compare voters across state lines. The system compares voter list data with Department of Motor Vehicle records, Social Security Administration records, the Postal Service’s national change of address registry and other databases to match voters across state lines; if the system concludes with a high degree of confidence that a John Doe on one state’s voter roll is the same John Doe in another state, the record is flagged. “You match enough of [the data points] across records that you have a lot of confidence ,” said David Becker, Pew’s director of election initiatives. “It’s impossible for [states], based only on a name and birth date, to keep their lists up to date and identify when someone has died, for example.”

Voting Blogs: Coordination Controversy in the Twitterverse | More Soft Money Hard Law

It may have been legal, or perhaps not, depending on the facts, which are so far not fully known.  But the use of  Twitter to feed polling information to outside groups lends itself to various conclusions about the state of campaign finance law.  The content of the FEC rule against coordination can be brought into question, or its enforcement criticized, or the problem can be passed off as another instance of shenanigans by a regulated community always exploring paths around the law.  Or the issue could be, more profoundly, the very conception behind the current anti-coordination rules. The rules in place have been given considerable thought and are quite complicated. On their face, they’re not unreasonable. They attempt to distinguish between the case where a candidate is merely picking somebody’s pocket, in control of what is spent on her behalf, and the case where the spender retains control but, looking to make the most effective use of the money, wants to incorporate in this assessment the candidate’s view of the state of the campaign.  The coordination rules apply where the candidate has requested an ad, or the spender and candidate have engaged in discussions about particular proposed public communications—for example, “substantial discussions in the course of which “material information” is shared that would affect the choice of content or the timing of campaign advertising. In sorting out when a discussion becomes substantial, the agency inquires into whether information has been “conveyed … about the candidate’s or political party committee’s campaign plans, projects, activities, or needs.” See 11 C.F.R. 109.21(d)(1)-(2). (These rules also apply to advertising paid for in coordination with parties, or with the “agents” of parties or candidates.

Arizona: Barber team open to legal challenge as recount looms | CNN

An attorney for Rep. Ron Barber (D-Ariz.) is raising the prospect of a long, drawn-out battle over control of his Tucson-area district, a seat once held by his former boss Gabby Giffords, as his contest with Republican Martha McSally looks increasingly likely to head to a recount. Kevin Hamilton, Barber’s legal counsel, said Wednesday that the campaign isn’t taking “anything off the table” in potentially challenging the outcome of the race when it’s certified next month. “There are lots of potential options. There is the ability to file an election contest under state law. There’s a recount that goes forward, and as we’ve seen in other states that can affect the outcome of the election,” he said. “There’s a range of options and we’re not taking anything off the table.”

Indiana: Voter ID laws reduce Indiana election turnout | Tribune-Star

A decade ago, Indiana legislators worked hard to address an imaginary voting problem. It’s time they worked even harder to fix a real one. The Hoosier state ranks at the bottom in citizen participation in elections. This month, a mere 28 percent of the state’s voting-eligible population — a measure of people who could vote, regardless of their registration status — voted, according to early projections by the United States Election Project, based at the University of Florida. Those calculations put Indiana dead last in America in turnout. The Indiana voting system deserves most of the blame. It is true that the pathetic turnout for the 2014 election can partly be attributed to the low-profile offices at stake. Once every 12 years, the ballot features no races for president, U.S. Senate or governor. That was the case on Nov. 4. But a smaller percentage of Hoosiers cast ballots election after election, compared to residents of other states, including 2008 when Indiana turnouts peaked.

New Jersey: Appeals panel revives challenge to state’s 21-day advance voter registration |

A state appeals panel today revived a lawsuit challenging New Jersey’s requirement that residents must register to vote no later than 21 days before an election, finding ample evidence suggesting the mandate may no longer be needed or constitutional. The challenge, filed in 2011 against the Middlesex County Board of Elections and the commissioner of registrations by several Rutgers University students and statewide advocacy groups, contended the requirement “severely burdens the right to vote” of New Jersey residents. They argued that burden outweighed any interest the county, and by extension, all counties and the state, had in maintaining the advance registration requirement, which was established in order to prevent voter fraud and ensure public confidence in the system.

Australia: MPs reject e-voting over cost, integrity fears |

A committee of Australian MPs has firmly staked its opposition to the large-scale implementation of electronic voting, pointing to expensive and embarrassing failures of the technology worldwide. The House of Representatives electoral matters committee today rushed out an interim report hosing down suggestions Australia should move to electronic polls, following the controversial loss of WA senate ballots in the 2013 federal election. The panel of MPs concluded there was no feasible way of rolling out electronic voting in Australia without undermining the integrity, security and civic importance of the process – and incurring a massive cost to the Commonwealth. The committee pointed to expensive and embarrassing mishaps across the world as other nations experimented with different versions of electronically enabled polls, from static and isolated machines to full web-based voting.

Australia: Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters rules out move to electronic voting in elections | ABC

The days of voters lining up to use a pencil and paper to cast their ballot will continue, with a federal parliamentary committee ruling out a move to electronic voting. The Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters has released an interim report which finds there are too many risks associated with the move. It said shifting to electronic voting for federal elections was not feasible before the next election or in the near future without “catastrophically compromising electoral integrity”. The committee found machine electronic voting was vulnerable to hacking and measures to mitigate that risk would be costly and would still require voters to visit a polling booth. The prospect of voters being able to cast their ballot on the internet also seems a long way off, with questions about privacy for individual voters, security and potential coercion of voters.

Australia: Risks of e-voting outweigh benefits – for now | Computerworld

An interim report of a parliamentary committee tasked with examining the 2013 Senate ballot in Western Australia has concluded that the nation is not yet ready for the widespread use of e-voting in federal elections. In December last year the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters was given the job of examining the fiasco which saw Western Australian voters return to the poll after ballots were lost in the state’s tightly contested 2013 Senate race. “Ultimately, the committee has concluded that electronic voting can’t be introduced in the near future without high costs and unacceptable security risks,” the chair of committee, Liberal MP Tony Smith, said in a statement. “The Committee believes that it is likely that technology will evolve to the point that it will be possible to vote electronically in federal elections,” the interim report states. “At that stage the question for a future Parliament, and the voting public, will be whether the convenience of electronic voting outweighs the risks to the sanctity of the ballot. “The view of this Committee is that the answer to this question at this time is that no, it does not.”

Canada: Conservative staffer Michael Sona given 9-month jail sentence in Robocalls case | CTV

Michael Sona, the former Conservative staffer convicted in the 2011 robocalls scandal, was sentenced Wednesday to nine months in jail for what the judge called “an affront to the electoral process.” Justice Gary Hearn called his task “a difficult and troublesome sentencing.” The Crown had wanted Sona, 26, to spend at least a year and a half in custody for his role in a scheme to misdirect voters on the morning of the 2011 federal election. Sona hung his head and typed on a BlackBerry, his family members beside him in tears, as Hearn delivered his decision. Sona will also spend 12 months on probation.

Poland: Hackers, IT problems disrupt Polish local elections | My Broadband

Poland’s president on Wednesday sought to calm a row over key weekend local and regional elections after computer glitches left the final tally up in the air. Exit polls in the Sunday vote, seen as a test for the centre-right government ahead of next year’s general election, showed voters handing a surprise victory to the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) opposition. But final results have not yet been released due to repeated crashes by the PKW national election commission’s servers. “We cannot allow for the integrity of the ballot to be called into question, namely through calls for the elections to be repeated. That’s complete madness,” said President Bronislaw Komorowski. He pledged after discussing the matter with justice officials that the votes would be counted “honestly”.

Poland: Opposition Calls for Local Vote Rerun After Tally Glitch | Businessweek

Poland’s political opposition called for a repeat of Nov. 16 local elections and for the State Election Commission to be fired after its new computer system prevented it from tallying the ballot on time. Voting results for Poland’s 16 regional assemblies can’t be determined within three days of the vote after a technical error prevented the printing of totals from individual precincts, the commission said late yesterday. Exit polls by Warsaw-based researcher Ipsos showed the opposition Law & Justice party took 31.5 percent of the vote, compared with 27.3 percent for the ruling Civic Platform, scoring its first victory since 2005.

Solomon Islands: Police investigate ballot box theft as vote counting underway | ABC

Police in Solomon Islands have recovered a ballot box after it was briefly stolen by an election official following yesterday’s historic polls. Vote counting is underway in the country’s general election, the first to be led by the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force. The 10-year Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) was reduced to a police mission supporting local police last year. Solomons police confirmed a ballot box was stolen by an election official as a boat was being loaded to go to a central counting station. The incident happened near Auki, in the eastern part of the island of Malaita.