Australia: NSW’s online gamble: why internet and phone voting is too risky | The Conversation

Up to 250,000 votes are expected to be cast using the iVote electronic voting system between March 16 and the close of polls on March 28 in the New South Wales election. That would represent a massive increase on the 46,864 votes at the 2011 state election and could mean about 5% of the total vote is cast electronically, using a telephone or via the internet. It looks set to be by far the biggest test of electronic voting in Australia, which has largely been limited to small trials in the past, and one of the largest online votes worldwide. If the NSW election proves to be close, those electronic votes could prove crucial. But before electronic voting begins on Monday, people in NSW should be warned: there are many unanswered questions about the integrity and privacy of those votes. Late last year, the federal Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters recommended against electronic voting in federal elections. Its report concluded that:

Australia is not in a position to introduce any large-scale system of electronic voting in the near future without catastrophically compromising our electoral integrity.

National: Why Internet voting remains a risky proposition | FCW

Voting in public elections via the Internet could be a national security risk, according to a researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Center for Applied Scientific Computing. In a presentation titled “Intractable Security Risks of Internet Voting,” computer scientist David Jefferson said the risks of electronic ballots cast via the Web far outweigh the conveniences such systems can offer. He presented his conclusions at a recent LLNL Computation Seminar Series, though his efforts in that area are independent of his work at the lab. In addition to his research into high-performance computing applications at LLNL, he serves on a number of state and federal government panels that focus on election security issues, especially those related to electronic and Internet-based voting, and is on the board of directors of the California Voter Foundation.

National: Selma’s Senator Not Really Sure What’s Going On With That Voting Rights Stuff | Huffington Post

It was just last weekend that people flooded into Selma, Alabama, to mark the 50th anniversary of the historic civil rights marches there — marches that led to the Voting Rights Act. Dozens of lawmakers made the trek, including Democrats who have been desperately seeking Republicans to help them pass legislation to restore the landmark 1965 law. The Supreme Court in July 2013 struck down a key provision that determined which states and localities with a history of suppressing minority voters had to get permission from the Justice Department to change their voting laws. The court ruled 5-4 that the section of the law was outdated, and left it to Congress to come up with a new formula for designating which regions of the country warrant special scrutiny. Lawmakers have put forward a bill that offers a solution: It would update the formula to make it apply to states and jurisdictions with voting violations in the past 15 years. But supporters have had a hard time getting Republicans to sign on, which prevented the measure from moving in the last Congress. This year, the House bill has a handful of GOP co-sponsors; the forthcoming Senate bill has none.

National: Sen. Tim Scott Calls For Updating Voting Rights Act, But Opposes Bill That Would Do It | Huffington Post

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) won’t support legislation to restore the 1965 Voting Rights Act. But on Sunday, he called for updating the landmark law in a way that sounds awfully similar to the legislation he opposes. In an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Scott was asked if he supports a bill that would restore a key portion of the law that the Supreme Court struck down in June 2013. That provision, Section 4, determined which states and localities with a history of suppressing minority voters had to get permission from the Justice Department to change their voting laws. In a 5-4 ruling, the court said that section was outdated, and left it up to Congress to come up with a new formula for designating which regions of the country warrant special scrutiny. Lawmakers have put forward a bill that offers a solution: It would update the formula to make it apply to states and jurisdictions with voting violations in the past 15 years. But supporters have had a hard time getting Republicans to sign on, which has prevented the measure from moving forward. The House bill has just a handful of GOP co-sponsors; the forthcoming Senate bill has none.

Voting Blogs: Let them vote: Move is on to allow more 16- and 17-year olds vote in local elections | electionlineWeekly

Not too many folks can say they were “the first” in their industry to do something, but Jessie Carpenter, clerk for Takoma Park, Maryland can wear that label with pride. In 2013, the City of Takoma Park — a Washington, D.C. suburb — gave 16- and 17-year olds the right to vote in local elections and Carpenter was there to conduct the first election. Since then, Takoma Park has been joined by Hyattsville, Maryland in allowing 16- and 17-year olds to vote, and legislators in San Francisco, Lowell, Massachusetts and the state of Missouri are also considering lowering the voting age. Back in Takoma Park, Carpenter said the transition was pretty seamless.

Alabama: House committee tables voter registration bill | Montgomery Advertiser

A House commitee Wednesday morning tabled a bill that would have pushed back the deadline to register and vote in an election from 14 days prior to the election to 30 days. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Jack Williams, R-Vestavia Hills, would also have moved out the maximum distance a candidate can campaign outside a polling place from 30 feet to 150 feet. Williams said afterward he believed the committee move effectively killed the legislation for the session.

Arkansas: Benton County officials eye new voting machines | Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette

Benton County’s election commissioners favor staying with the company that now provides electronic voting machines to the state, saying it appears best suited to meet the county’s needs. Arkansas is looking at replacing voting machines and systems now in use as they approach the end of their 10-year life span. The state uses voting machines and equipment from Election Systems & Software, one of three companies vying for Arkansas’ business. A measure to appropriate $30 million for new voting equipment is pending in the state Legislature. Counties could receive new equipment this summer if funding is approved, said Kim Dennison, the county’s election coordinator. The commissioners have attended demonstrations of new voting systems by ES&S and by Unisyn Voting Solutions. A presentation by Hart Intercivic, the third company, is set for 9 a.m. today at the Washington County Courthouse in Fayetteville.

Delaware: Legislation to expand absentee voting ignites fierce partisan battle | Delaware Newszap

Currently, Delawareans hoping to file an absentee ballot must fit into one of several categories. Those with disabilities can vote remotely, as can those in the military or on vacation. But limitations exist — and according to some individuals and organizations, that is done deliberately. The Delaware Constitution does not allow for individuals outside a select group of categories to vote by absentee ballot. Rep. Earl Jaques, D-Glasgow, believes not only does this bar some citizens from doing their civic duty, it also has the unintended consequence of increasing numbers of people making up reasons.

Florida: State attorney investigation into absentee ballots | WPTV

The Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office says they are investigating absentee ballots sent to people in Loxahatchee Groves who say they didn’t request them. “When they showed up I didn’t really think much of it. A computer glitch. Government being silly. Something along those lines,” resident Bill Ford said. But on Saturday after receiving the absentee ballots, Ford says candidate Ryan Liang’s mother and another person showed up to his home. “They told me basically they had requested absentee ballots on behalf of people because they wanted to make sure everyone got an opportunity to vote,” Ford said.

Iowa: Senate likely to take up absentee voting change | Quad City Times

Although it was approved on a largely party-line vote in the GOP-controlled House, a bill changing the deadline for Iowa voters to return their absentee ballots likely will be taken up by the Democratic-controlled Senate. House Democrats were unanimous in opposing House File 506, arguing it that will disenfranchise voters who wait until the end of the 40-day voting period to mail in their ballots. “It’s a sad day in Iowa,” said Rep. Bruce Hunter, D-Des Moines, who said if the law had been in effect in 2014, more than 3,000 votes would not have been counted. “Voters who did what was right. They voted. They did their patriotic duty … and we’re going to tell them their vote doesn’t count.” The final vote was 56-41, with one Republican voting “no.”

North Carolina: Forsyth County officials get look at elections equipment | Winston-Salem Journal

Forsyth County election officials got a close-up look Wednesday at elections equipment that they are interested in buying. Representatives from Printelect, a supplier of Election Systems & Software equipment, set up equipment for demonstrations at the county government center. Mac Beeson, regional sales manager for ES&S, demonstrated how the equipment works. Steve Hines, Forsyth County’s elections director, put in a budget request this year for about $1.4 million to replace the county’s voting equipment, which is about 10 years old. County commissioners will decide this spring whether to approve the request. Elections administrators from several other counties in the region also stopped by to see the demonstrations on Wednesday.

Wisconsin: Battle Over Voter Photo ID Law Could Soon Reach an End | WUWM

Legal challenges to Wisconsin’s voter photo identification law have been underway for four years. Next week, the U.S. Supreme Court might decide whether to rule on the law’s constitutionality. Justices blocked the photo ID law last fall – just weeks before the November election. Now, some organizers wonder if the justices could do an about-face, with only weeks left before next month’s election. “As has often occurred in the past, we find ourselves sort of in this moment of uncertainty – both voters and election administrators,” says Neil Albrecht, the City of Milwaukee’s election commissioner. Like others, he has prepared materials to inform people about the law. Then he put them away, pulled them out, and last fall put them back in storage, as courts changed the status of Wisconsin’s law.

Canada: Ontario urged to hold next election on a weekend | Toronto Star

Ontario’s chief elections officer is urging Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government to change the law requiring a provincial election every fourth year on the first Thursday in October. Greg Essensa said in a new report that a Saturday, Sunday or school holiday in June could make it easier for citizens to cast ballots and to put polling stations in schools. “Other democracies, such as Australia, hold elections on weekends and their experience suggests that, should Ontario follow suit, voter turnout may increase,” he wrote in a new report issued Tuesday, noting just over half of eligible voters — 52.1 per cent — cast ballots in the last general election. Essensa says such a move would cut down on voter burnout as well by eliminating campaign overlap with municipal elections held in late October and make life easier in farm communities, where October is harvest time.

Israel: What happens to my vote? – Israeli Elections 101 | TLV!

Israel is getting ready for the big day: On March 17th, citizen residents in Israel will vote for the 20th Knesset since the country’s founding. Then, the politicians we see every night on TV will go head to head for 120 Knesset seats. … Each citizen has one vote. Unlike other democracies, this vote is not given to a candidate, but to a list. And this list is either a political party or a union of parties, such as for example the Zionist camp that unified Zipi Livni’s HaTnua and Avoda, the Labour Party. … Anyone with Israeli citizenship and over the age of 18 is eligible to vote: So that’s Arabs, Druze, Christians and Jews alike. People in prison or who currently do their army service are also eligible to vote. However, this does exclude most of the inhabitants of East Jerusalem who only have a permanent residency and not an Israeli ID. This is due to the difficult status of East Jerusalem. Israeli citizens can’t vote from abroad. You just have to ensure you’re in Israel on election day. That is, apart from diplomats and Israeli embassy staff based abroad. These people vote at the earlier date of March 5th to ensure their votes arrive in Israel to be counted on election day. It is debatable, but many parties and politicians think that you need to live in Israel to influence its future because it is much too easy to sit thousands of miles away and make a decision that probably won’t influence your life.

Nigeria: Protest rocks INEC over planned use of card readers | Nigerian Tribune

Protesting youths, under the umbrella of “Middle Belt Concerned Youths” on Wednesday, stormed the national headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Abuja, protesting the use of permanent voter cards (PVCs) and the card readers for the elections. This was just as they also called on the Federal Government to sack the INEC chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega with immediate effect. However, the youth, who arrived the Maitama headquarters of INEC in hired luxury buses around 8.00 a.m. were prevented by armed policemen and other security agents, who cordoned the INEC office. The youths, armed with various placards, were received by an Assistant Director in charge of security, Victor Egbo, on behalf of the commission. He received their protest letter with a promise to deliver same to the commission’s chairman.

Philippines: Poll watchdog: Smartmatic will ensure administration bet’s victory in 2016 | Business Mirror

Election watchdog Citizens for Clean and Credible Election (C3E) on Tuesday accused proadministration legislators of paving the way for the victory of President Aquino’s presidential candidate in 2016, by ensuring that Smartmatic-Total Information Management will remain as the country’s sole provider of automated voting machines for next year’s elections. C3E co-convener Nicanor Elman said this could be the main reason key leaders of the proadministration House of Representatives “are suspiciously turning a blind eye on the frailties” of the Venezuelan company’s Precinct Count Optical Scan machines used in the past national and local polls. “What we are trying to understand is, why some leaders of Congress had apparently turned defenders and apologists for Smartmatic,” Elman said in a statement. “If ever the elections push through, the Smartmatic cheating machine seems part of the grand equation for the administration,” he added.