National: Hack the vote: Cyber experts say ballot machines easy targets | Fox News

The recent cyber theft of millions of personnel records from the federal government was sophisticated and potentially crippling, but hackers with just rudimentary skills could easily do even more damage by targeting voting machines, according to security experts. Voter fraud is nearly as old as elections themselves, and different states and precincts use different voting systems and machines. But in many cases, even the electronic ballots could be manipulated remotely, according to a new report by the Commonwealth Security and Risk Management for the Virginia Information Technologies Agency. That report found that the AVS WINVote machines Virginia has used since 2002 have such flimsy security that an amateur hacker could change votes from outside a polling location.

Editorials: The election reforms that could heal American democracy | Sean McElwee/Salon

Since America’s founding, the franchise has been dramatically expanded in waves: first, universal suffrage for all men (first, through the abolition of property ownership requirements for white men, then the 15th Amendment) then the expansion of suffrage to women and finally the Voting Rights Act, which abolished poll taxes and literacy tests. Today, the franchise is still under fire, from racially biased voter ID laws and felon disenfranchisement, as well as our complex registration system. Automatic voter registration and the abolition of voter ID laws could be part of the next wave of the slow march to true democracy. Recently, Hillary Clinton called out Republicans for their strategy of suppressing the vote and then called for automatic voting registration. While many pundits quickly chalked this up to an attempt to revive “the Obama coalition,” in fact, Clinton has been pushing for democracy reforms since before “the Obama coalition” existed. In 2005 she and Senator Barbara Boxer put forward the “Count Every Vote Act.” The law would have made same-day registration the law of the land, expanded early voting and made election day a holiday. In addition, Clinton has been fighting against felon disenfranchisement, though Rand Paul, who has a penchant for receiving praise for things he hasn’t done, has recently been garnering credit for his talk on the subject.

Voting Blogs: Alphabetically ordered ballots make elections less fair and distort the composition of legislatures : Democratic Audit UK

Conventional political wisdom suggests the candidate listed first on a ballot enjoys a slight windfall of votes cast by those who don’t know or care enough to consider all their options. By focusing on particular elections, researchers have neglected to consider the broad consequences of arbitrary ballot ordering rules on legislative representation. To evaluate the substantive significance of ballot order rules, I compare the legislators of states that alphabetically order ballots to legislators elected by states that randomize or rotate ballot order. My research suggests that the seemingly innocuous choice of some states to alphabetize ballots has significantly altered the composition of state legislatures and even Congress. Scholarly interest in how ballots are designed and organized predates the explosion of interest in the subject generated by the 2000 Presidential Election. Most studies suggest the first candidate listed on a ballot enjoys an above average number of votes in certain elections. The less that voters know or care about the election, the greater the windfall of votes to the first listed candidate. Think how often you click the first link in Google search results and don’t bother to consider all your options. However, when the stakes are relatively high, as in partisan legislative elections, scholars suggest ballot order has little or no influence on voters. Accordingly, some have concluded that the distortions induced by ballot order are confined to low-level elections and do not affect the general political landscape. I was sceptical of this sanguine assessment of ballot order effects and looked at the impact of alphabetically ordering ballots on high-level legislative offices. I found that the practice of alphabetically ordering ballots, used in a number of states, significantly distorts the composition of their state legislatures and congressional delegations in favour of representatives with early-alphabet names.

Arkansas: Martin Picks Provider New State Voting Gear | Arkansas Online

Secretary of State Mark Martin has decided to purchase a statewide, integrated voting system, including new voting equipment, through a Nebraska-based company although its proposal costs millions more than systems offered by two other companies. The company, Elections Systems & Software (ES&S), submitted a proposal costing $29,928,868; California-based Unisyn Voting Solutions submitted $24,407,805; and Austin, Texas-based Hart InterCivic proposed $18,789,997, Martin spokesman Chris Powell said Monday. When it requested proposals from companies, Martin’s office said they couldn’t exceed $30 million. “The primary factor in the selection of ES&S was capabilities,” Powell said.

Voting Blogs: Arkansas Chooses New Statewide Voting System | Election Academy

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how county clerks in Arkansas were looking forward to a new voting system but worried about plans to upgrade the system before the state’s March 2016 presidential primary.

While much of that uncertainty remains, at least they now know what machines they’re going to get after an announcement by the Secretary of State yesterday – though even that decision is raising some question about costs. … Of course, just identifying the vendor and a potential cost still leaves some very key variables – namely, delivery schedule and cost – though the Secretary’s spokesman suggested that fast-tracking the implementation is no longer on the table as the state continues to work on funding the purchase.

Editorials: In voting, will California finally enter the 21st century? | LA Times

The era of the neighborhood polling place with its paper voter rolls and rickety booths isn’t quite over, but it is well on its way out in California. No tears will be shed here: It’s high time the state entered the 21st century. That’s the opinion of new Secretary of State Alex Padilla as well. Last week he unveiled his second proposal to encourage voter participation in California: a plan to send mail-in ballots to every registered voter and to encourage counties to set up voting centers for their voters to use, regardless of precinct, up to 10 days before election day.

Texas: In Voting Rights, Who’s a Person? | The Texas Tribune

When most people hear the phrase “one person, one vote,” they don’t stop to think about who counts as a person. The U.S. Supreme Court gets to answer that in a case — Evenwel v. Abbott — that started here in Texas. The plaintiffs contend their votes don’t count as much as those of voters in other state Senate districts because the districts are designed to have the same number of humans in them, not the same number of voters. It’s a simple idea, but changing who’s counted — the voters, instead of the humans — would wreck the country’s political maps, particularly in states like Texas where large numbers of people are not eligible to vote.

Argentina: Santa Fe Begins Recount After Vote Split Three Ways | Bloomberg

Argentina’s fourth biggest voting district will carry out a recount after the election for state governor was evenly split three ways on Sunday.Electoral authorities for Santa Fe province, which represents about 8 percent of the electorate, should complete the recount within 10 days, Cabinet Chief Anibal Fernandez said on Monday. With 95 percent of votes counted, Miguel Lifschitz of the Socialist Party alliance that currently holds the governorship had 30.69 percent of the total, against 30.58 percent for Miguel Del Sel of Mauricio Macri’s PRO alliance. Omar Perotti of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s Victory Front alliance had 29.5 percent of the votes.“There are many strange things,” Del Sel said in a press conference Monday. “The people and us want to know what the final result was because if not we will begin to lose our trust in democracy.”

Bangladesh: Election Commission weighs no holiday on vote days | bdnews24

The Election Commission (EC) is weighing doing away with the general holiday on election days, arguing it affects voter turnout. But former chief election commissioner ATM Shamsul Huda has scoffed at the idea, dubbing it as “unrealistic”. Voting days are public holidays in Bangladesh to facilitate balloting. The country enjoys holiday during general elections, but in local polls, only areas where balloting takes place enjoy the facility.

Canada: Trudeau wants to do away with first past the post | Macleans

Justin Trudeau wants this fall’s national vote to be the last federal election conducted under the first-past-the-post electoral system. And, if the Liberal leader becomes prime minister, it may also be the last election in which Canadians can choose not to vote and the last in which they can only vote by marking an X on a paper ballot. Changing the way Canadians vote is just one element of a sweeping, 32-point plan to “restore democracy in Canada” that Trudeau is poised to announce today.

China: Hong Kong Election Plan Appears Unlikely to Win Lawmakers’ Approval | New York Times

Six months after the protests that paralyzed parts of Hong Kong for weeks, lawmakers here are set to reject the proposal that triggered the demonstrations, intending to vote down a plan vetted in Beijing that would change the way this former British colony selects its top official. Barring last-minute changes of heart by a handful of representatives, backers and opponents alike say the local government lacks the votes to secure passage of the proposal, which would allow all of Hong Kong’s registered voters to pick the chief executive from a slate of up to three candidates chosen by a panel dominated by Beijing loyalists. If the measure is defeated, Hong Kong will keep its current system, in which a small, elite group of about 1,200 selects the chief executive. Any future efforts to expand the franchise would be put in limbo.

China: Hong Kong Democracy Protesters Take to the Streets Ahead of a Crucial Reform Bill | TIME

Nine months after the Umbrella Revolution began, pro-democracy protesters again took to the streets of Hong Kong to demand a say in the way the city’s leader is elected in polls slated for 2017. A crowd of 2,000 to 3,000 people — workers and families as well as students and democracy activists — marched on Sunday afternoon from Victoria Park, a traditional gathering place for protests, to the legislature buildings downtown. Many carried yellow umbrellas — adopted as the symbol of Hong Kong’s democracy movement after protesters took to carrying them during last year’s unrest to protect themselves from police pepper spray.

Japan: Government scrambles to help young voters-to-be navigate elections law minefield | The Mainichi

Eighteen-year-olds will likely soon be able to vote and participate in political activities in Japan, but this may have some young people wondering: If it’s legal for an 18-year-old to go out campaigning, is it legal for that person’s 17-year-old friend to join them? Amendments to the Public Offices Election Act lowering the voting age to 18 are expected to pass the Diet on June 17, in time to allow some high school students to vote in next summer’s House of Councillors election. As such, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports Science and Technology are scrambling to develop educational materials for these soon-to-be voters. The materials won’t cover just the basics of the electoral process and casting ballots, but also provide concrete examples of and warnings against elections law violations.