National: New report ranks voter turnout in all 50 states | The Pampa News

As the nation commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Nonprofit VOTE releases its biennial voter turnout report, America Goes to the Polls 2014, based on final data certified by state election offices. The report ranks voter turnout in all 50 states to look at major factors underlying voter participation in this historically low-turnout election. While just 36.6% of eligible citizens voted, the lowest in a midterm since World War II, turnout varied widely across states by as much as 30 percentage points. Maine led the nation with 58.5 percent turnout among eligible voters, follow by Wisconsin at 56.8 percent, and Colorado at 54.5%. Nevada, Tennessee, New York, Texas and Indiana made up the bottom five all with less than 30 percent of their eligible voters participating. “Clearly there’s much work to do to foster a healthy democracy when well below half the electorate votes in a national election,” states Brian Miller, executive director of Nonprofit VOTE. “The good news is that higher turnout states show us how we can increase voter turnout across the nation.”

The America Goes to the Polls 2014 report is available at

Editorials: 50 Years After Selma and the Voting Rights Act, Americans Have Become Apathetic About Democracy | Eric Liu/The Atlantic

In this 50th anniversary year of Selma and the Voting Rights Act, there’s been a lot of talk about the right to vote: how it was secured for black citizens in the South, and how it is being compromised anew by legislatures and a see-no-evil Supreme Court. But for the most part, the public has ignored the talk. The whittling away of the VRA plays as a technical matter, the concern of partisan insiders. Which, increasingly, is how voting itself is seen by the large pluralities of eligible voters who sit out most presidential contests, and the outright majorities who skip other elections. The sources of this apathy are familiar: people are too busy, the money game seems rigged, campaigns have become an ugly, unsatisfying spectator sport. The net effect is that the act of voting feels severed from personal purpose or collective identity. But it’s possible to change that. A playbook exists. There was a time when voting meant much more than just voting. In fact, that was true for most of this nation’s history. From the Revolution through the Civil Rights era, as historians like Mark Brewin and David Waldstreicher describe, the United States had a robust participatory culture of voting: parades, yes, but also raucous street theater, open-air debates, broadsheets and pamphleteering, committees of correspondence, rituals of toasting and fasting and even fighting, festivals and bonfires, and outrageous wagers.

Editorials: The Supreme Court’s History on Voting Rights: An ‘Injustices’ Excerpt | Ian Millhiser/The New Republic

Chief Justice John Roberts’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder may be the most politically naïve decision of our era. Rooted in the notion that there simply isn’t enough racism left in the United States to justify a full-functioning Voting Rights Act, Shelby County struck down the law’s preclearance provision—which required new election rules in states with a history of voter suppression to be reviewed by federal officials before they took effect—and left voters to the mercy of a judiciary that is increasingly skeptical of voting rights. Yet, even if the Roberts Court were champions of the franchise, the history of voting rights in the United States reveals that a vigorous judiciary is simply not enough to protect these rights. Politicians determined to keep certain Americans from voting are too creative and too nimble for a judiciary that, by its very nature, must take months or even years to consider cases. And that’s exactly what happened for decades in the South before the passage of the Voting Rights Act.

Editorials: Concerns grow over voting rights for the South’s language minorities | Facing South

Amid concerns over the rollback of the Voting Rights Act and introduction of voter ID laws, election watchdogs worry about another critical voting rights issue: language barriers faced by limited English proficient (LEP) voters. For people who don’t speak English as their first language, language barriers can be a significant hurdle to voting. Difficulty understanding registration forms, ballots and other voting materials for LEP voters such as recently-naturalized citizens may discourage them from turning out to the polls. In 1975, Congress acknowledged the barriers an English-only voting process created and amended the Voting Rights Act to require certain jurisdictions to provide bilingual materials and translation support to voters. Under Section 203, jurisdictions — usually counties — where a certain level of a language minority are LEP and have an illiteracy rate higher than the national average must provide translated voting materials and an interpreter at the polls.

Arizona: Proposal would make it illegal to collect early ballots | Associated Press

An effort to revive a major piece of a repealed 2013 election law by making it a felony for anyone but a family member or candidate to collect early ballots from voters failed in a House committee Thursday. The proposal was tacked on to a bill during a special meeting of the House elections committee, but it went down on a 3-3 vote. Rep. Heather Carter, R-Cave Creek, joined two Democrats in opposition. The so-called ‘strike-everything” amendment backed by Secretary of State Michele Reagan revived a part of a major election overhaul that angered Democrats, some conservative Republicans and third-party candidates. After a successful signature-gathering effort to block the 2013 law, pending a statewide election, the Legislature repealed House Bill 2305.

Illinois: Special election for Schock seat has election officials worried | The Southern

A new law allowing voters to register and vote on election day has county clerks in western and central Illinois on edge. With a special election to replace scandal-plagued U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock expected to occur in June or July, the clerks say they don’t have enough time or money to get the new system up and running. “There’s no way we can be ready for that,” McLean County Clerk Kathy Michael said Friday. At issue is a pending special election in the 18th Congressional District, which had been held by Schock for eight years.

Iowa: Absentee ballot change would affect Democrats’ practices | Chronicle Bulletin

Democrats and older Iowans would have to adjust their early voting habits the most if a bill that needs absentee ballots to be in county auditors’ hands by the time polls close on Election Day becomes law. Republicans would see an effect too, legislators say, but they vote in particular person on Election Day with much more frequency than Democrats or those registered for no celebration, and also Iowans 65 and older, an IowaWatch analysis of voting data in common elections more than the final 20 years shows. Regardless of who feels the impact, Republican and Democratic state legislators trying to amend Iowa’s absentee voter registration law agree that modifications are crucial since ballots are not being counted when they possibly really should be. The explanation: U.S. post offices are not putting time-stamped postmarks on lots of of the absentee ballots. “So we are throwing ballots out, and we don’t want to do that,” state Sen. Jeff Danielson, D-Cedar Falls, stated.

Louisiana: Bobby Jindal’s budget won’t fund presidential primaries in 2016 | The Washington Post

This is a story about the $1.6 billion hole in Louisiana’s budget. This is also a story about how Louisiana is so poor that — despite his White House ambitions — Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) didn’t budget anything for presidential primaries in 2016. Last year, Jindal even signed a law to move up the primaries by two weeks to attract more national attention to Louisiana. But the money for those elections was nowhere to be found in the governor’s budget proposal for the coming fiscal year, as legislators discovered Wednesday. “I have no funding for elections past the fall elections,” Secretary of State Tom Schedler said during a review of the governor’s budget before the state House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday. Whose oversight was this? It’s something of a mystery how this item, which everybody agrees is vital, got left out.

New Hampshire: House asks court to review bill requiring voters to abide by motor vehicle requirements | Associated Press

The New Hampshire House of Representatives is asking the state Supreme Court to weigh in on a bill requiring people registering to vote — including out-of-state students or military personnel — to also register their cars and obtain drivers’ licenses in New Hampshire. The request for an advisory opinion was made in writing Wednesday and made public by the court Thursday.

Australia: Online voting system may have FREAK bug | The Register

Next weekend, voters in the Australian State of New South Wales go to the polls to elect a new government. Some have already cast their votes online, with a system that may be running the FREAK bug. So say Vanessa Teague and J. Alex Halderman, respectively a research fellow in the Department of Computing and Information Systems at at the University of Melbourne and an assistant professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Michigan and director of Michigan’s Center for Computer Security and Society. The system in question is called iVote system and was launched in 2011 to assist voters who live 20 kilometres or more from a polling station, or those will be overseas or interstate on election day. But Teague and Halderman say their proof-of-concept probe on a “practice” system showed it is possible to “… intercepts and manipulate votes … though the same attack would also have succeeded against the real voting server,” the pair wrote in analysis.

Australia: NSW Electoral Commission scrambles to patch iVote flaw | ZDNet

The analytics service used by the New South Wales electronic voting system, iVote, left voters vulnerable to having their ballots changed, according to security researchers. The iVote system was originally implemented ahead of the 2011 state election for vision-impaired voters and those living in rural areas who have difficulty reaching polling places, but the government is expanding the use of the iVote system as part of the election on March 28, and has taken approximately 66,000 votes since early polling opened last week. Researchers Vanessa Teague from the Department of Computing and Information Systems at the University of Melbourne, and J Alex Halderman from the University of Michigan Centre for Computer Security, found that while the voting website uses a safe SSL configuration, it includes JavaScript from an external server that is used to track site visitors. This, they said, would leave the iVote site open to a range of attacks, including FREAK.

Australia: iVote flaw ‘allowed vote to be changed’; electoral commission fixes vulnerability | ABC

A “major security hole” that could allow an attacker to read or change someone’s vote has been discovered in the New South Wales online iVote platform, security experts say. The iVote system allows people to lodge their votes for Saturday’s state election online, instead of visiting a physical polling station. It aims to make voting easier for the disabled or for people who live long distances from polling booths. However computer security researchers said they found a critical issue and alerted the NSW Electoral Commission on Friday afternoon. University of Melbourne research fellow Vanessa Teague, who found the security vulnerability, said it was a difficult hack to pull off, but could potentially affect ballots en masse. “We’ve been told repeatedly that votes are perfectly secret and the whole system is secure and it can’t be tampered with and so on, and we’ve shown very clearly than that’s not true – that these votes are not secret and they can be tampered with,” Ms Teague said.

Australia: Security flaw in New South Wales puts thousands of online votes at risk | Freedom to Tinker

New South Wales, Australia, is holding state elections this month, and they’re offering a new Internet voting system developed by e-voting vendor Scytl and the NSW Electoral Commission. The iVote system, which its creators describe as private, secure and verifiable, is predicted to see record turnout for online voting. Voting has been happening for six days, and already iVote has received more than 66,000 votes. Up to a quarter million voters (about 5% of the total) are expected to use the system by the time voting closes next Saturday. Since we’ve both done extensive research on the design and analysis of Internet voting systems, we decided to perform an independent security review of iVote. We’ll prepare a more extensive technical report after the election, but we’re writing today to share news about critical vulnerabilities we found that have put tens of thousands of votes at risk. We discovered a major security hole allowing a man-in-the middle attacker to read and manipulate votes. We also believe there are ways to circumvent the verification mechanism.

France: Vote blunts rise of France’s far-right National Front | Associated Press

France’s governing Socialists never expected to do well in Sunday’s first-round elections, and their strategy worked just as planned: Their conservative rivals took first place. Before the elections for 2,000 local councils, the Socialists urged people to vote, hoping that turnout would blunt the rise of Marine Le Pen’s far right National Front, even if it meant Nicolas Sarkozy’s conservative UMP would be the victor. Initial projections gave the UMP party 31 percent of the vote compared with 24.5 percent for the National Front and 19.7 percent for the Socialists and their allies. Turnout was 51 percent, compared with about 45 percent in the same elections in 2011. With little air of a man in third place, Prime Minister Manuel Valls was the first to praise the far right party’s defeat. “This evening, the extreme right, even it is too high, is not at the forefront of French politics,” Valls said. “When we mobilize the French, it works.”

Philippines: Comelec willing to shelve Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) technology | The Manila Times

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) may abandon a planned pilot-testing of a touchscreen voting system or Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) technology in Pateros, Metro Manila for the 2016 elections as some lawmakers and information technology experts criticize the system for being expensive and less transparent. If it will do away with the DRE testing, the poll body will have no choice but to use the existing Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines. Acting Comelec Chairman Christian Robert Lim, during a recent hearing of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on the Automated Elections System (JCOC-AES), said the poll body can still cancel the pilot-testing of the DRE technology since the contract for the supply of DRE machines has not been awarded. Sen. Aquilino Pimentel 3rd, chairman of the joint panel, asked Lim about the possibility of shelving the touchscreen voting in 2016 and use PCOS or the transparent and credible election system (TCrES), which is being pushed by various election watch groups and Filipino IT experts.