“Your vote counts” is a snappy slogan just short enough to fit on a lapel button, but snappy is not the same as “secure.” As the 2016 campaign unfolds, there’s renewed interest in enabling voters to vote over the Internet. The notion that choosing a president could be as easy as using a smartphone to order a pizza is tempting to some, but until cybersecurity wizards prove that a vote cast is a vote counted, Internet balloting is unreliably risky. Internet voting has its passionate advocates. One California pundit argues that since his bills, banking, shopping, even the data on his children’s homework is on the Internet, why shouldn’t his voting be there, too. It’s not safe to vote where he shops? Exactly, says David Jefferson, a computer scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory who was the chairman of the technology committee of the California Internet Task Force.
Editorials: Scott Walker’s Wisconsin and the End of Campaign-Finance Law | Lincoln Caplan/The New Yorker
When Scott Walker announced last week that he is running for President, he pledged to pursue a conservative agenda that will transfer power back to the states. “We need new, fresh leadership, leadership with big, bold ideas from outside of Washington,” Walker said. “The kind of leadership that knows how to get things done, like we’ve done here in Wisconsin.” A few days later, the conservative-dominated Wisconsin Supreme Court issued a decision that shows an important part of how he and his political allies have gotten things done. They have substituted the misrule of politics for the rule of law. By 4–2, with the four conservatives in the majority, a liberal and a moderate in dissent, and one justice recused, the court halted the John Doe criminal investigation into whether Walker’s successful campaign to retain his post in a 2012 recall election violated Wisconsin law, by coördinating fund-raising and spending with so-called “independent” dark-money groups, and avoiding disclosure of donors’ names. The court did so by rewriting the state law in question, so that the kind of coördination the campaign was being investigated for is now unrestricted in Wisconsin.
A former Guam resident advocating for citizenship rights of American Samoans on Monday asked the full D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to review an earlier decision that said birthright citizenship isn’t a right guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution. In June, a panel of judges decided that citizenship isn’t a “fundamental right” for territorial residents. The case challenges the status of those born in the U.S. territory of American Samoa. Residents there are considered “non-citizen nationals,” which doesn’t carry all the rights and responsibilities of U.S. citizens.
Former Secretary of State Charlie White wants to get all of his felony convictions in a voter fraud case overturned, and he’s willing to go as far as the country’s highest court to do so. Indianapolis attorney Andrea Ciobanu, who is handling White’s appeal, said her client intends to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear his case, following a decision by the Indiana Supreme Court last week to not rule on his 2012 convictions. “He fully intends to exhaust all of his remedies,” Ciobanu said in an email to The Indianapolis Star, adding that White also can file a habeas corpus petition in federal court — an option that she says the embattled former politician will pursue if necessary.
Michigan: Lawmakers call for ‘citizen-led’ redistricting commission to curb gerrymandering | MLive.com
Michigan Democrats in the state House are renewing their call for a citizen-led redistricting commission in the wake of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that affirmed a similar model in Arizona. Reps. Jon Hoadley and Jeremy Moss are reintroducing legislation that would create a bipartisan and independent committee to draw new political boundary lines each decade following the national census.
Following a White House report urging universities to take on a role in training election officials, the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs is launching a new online program that provides a certificate in election administration. The program, which will begin this fall, is the first of its kind in the country and aims to create consistency in election overseers’ training. The program comes at a time of technological change and recent close elections resulting in recounts, which have increased scrutiny on election offices’ operations. In Minnesota, election administrators are already required to attend a two-day training orientation and must receive 40 hours of additional training plus 18 hours for each year they work. Lower-level administrators also have to go to an orientation and receive 20 hours of more training.
State Republican leaders deviated from customary practices to rush through the most significant election law changes in a generation, a Democratic state senator testified Tuesday. State Sen. Josh Stein, D-Wake, took the stand Tuesday afternoon in a trial in U.S. District Court in Winston-Salem. Several groups, including the N.C. NAACP and the U.S. Department of Justice, are suing North Carolina and Gov. Pat McCrory over a 2013 election law that curtailed or eliminated voting practices that they say result in undue burdens on black and Hispanic voters, poor voters and young voters. Stein said that state Republican leaders had worked with Democratic legislators in April to craft a much shorter version of House Bill 589 that dealt strictly with requiring registered voters to have a photo ID when they cast their ballots. The legislation passed the House and then was sent to the Senate Rules committee, where it sat for several months, Stein said.
Lawmakers who think it’s time to end Ohio’s hyper-partisan process for drawing congressional districts aren’t giving up the fight. As Ohio voters prepare to vote this fall on changing how Ohio draws its legislative districts, a bipartisan pair of senators is again pushing to also change congressional redistricting. Sens. Frank LaRose, R-Copley, and Tom Sawyer, D-Akron, introduced a resolution on Wednesday that would give a bipartisan commission the authority to draw congressional lines, instead of the current process in which the House and Senate draw the districts to benefit the majority political party.
The two special elections held after the political jockeying of former Del. Joseph D. Morrissey have cost taxpayers about $134,000, according to estimates provided by local elections officials. Voters in the 74th House District — which covers Charles City County and parts of Henrico County and Richmond — have gone to the polls twice in seven months as Morrissey battled to keep his seat while serving a jail sentence and, after winning, gave up his seat to run for the state Senate. Henrico, where most of the district’s voters reside, spent about $116,000. That includes $53,000 for the January special election and $63,000 for Tuesday’s special election, which Democrat Lamont Bagby won in a lopsided contest against independent David M. Lambert.
On Monday, Gov. Scott Walker piled on with the other Republicans who are attacking the state Government Accountability Board, arguing that it should be replaced by something more accountable. The GAB is the nonpartisan state elections and ethics watchdog agency Republicans are mad at because it did its job and dared investigate Walker’s election campaign. What some of these Republicans really mean by “more accountable” is more subservient to their partisan interests. What these folks would love to do with this watchdog is pull all its teeth and keep it on a very short leash. The people of Wisconsin should tell their legislators that’s unacceptable, just as citizens did a couple of weeks ago when 12 GOP legislators tried to shut down public access to certain records.
Votes were being counted Wednesday in Burundi, a day after a controversial presidential election was marred by pre-election violence that has led thousands of people to flee the country over the past few months. Results from the polls, which were condemned as illegitimate by the international community, are expected Thursday. The presidential election Tuesday is believed to have had low turnout, as President Pierre Nkurunziza ran without significant opposition for a third term. But electoral commission head Pierre-Claver Ndayicariye told The Associated Press Wednesday that between 72 and 80 percent of Burundi’s 3.8 million voters cast their ballots.
In a 2-1 ruling, the Ontario Court of Appeal overturned a decision that would allow 1.4 million Canadians who have been studying, working and living abroad the right to vote. The two justices that voted to upheld federal voting restrictions base their entire ruling on a new argument put forward by the federal government about the social contract. They argue that the social contract is a citizen’s right to elect a Member of Parliament to represent them and their obligation to obey the laws that are enacted. Permitting non-resident Canadians the right to vote, “would allow them to participate in making laws that affect Canadian residents on a daily basis, but have little to no practical consequence for their own daily lives. This would erode the social contract and undermine the legitimacy of the laws,” argued Chief Justice George Strathy for the majority, joined by Justice David Brown.
North Korea: In a world of absurd election results, North Korea is in good company | The Washington Post
Local elections in North Korea over the weekend went just about as expected. State-run Korean Central News Agency reported that 99.97 percent of voters participated in Sunday’s ballot, which is held every few years and essentially involves predetermined candidates who are rubber-stamped into office. Any lingering curiosity about the remaining .03 percent quickly evaporates, as the agency acknowledged that they were “on foreign tour or working in oceans” at the time. If that feels, well, unbelievable, in a world of strongmen and staged elections, think back to these past examples. (Yes, North Korea makes an appearance.)
Taiwan has the kind of democracy that gives you goose bumps. Throughout its history the little island has been squashed and shaped by the closest super-power, China. Beijing continues to claim sovereignty over Taiwan and seems to view it as a renegade sibling that will inevitably be subsumed. If Taiwan should at some point officially declare independence, China has refused to rule out military intervention. Despite that, since 1996 the plucky Taiwanese have been electing their own leaders. Election turnout is consistently around 75 per cent. Here, democracy really matters. This year the Taiwanese are preparing to use their votes to do something extraordinary. No matter who wins, the next president is almost certain to be a woman. The election is a two horse race between the ruling Kuomintang party (KMT) and the opposition Democratic Progression Party (DPP). Both have nominated women candidates.