When Gov. Scott Walker kicked off his presidential bid this month, supporters who visited his website could view photographs of him, peruse his announcement speech, and read about the Wisconsin Republican’s life and accomplishments. Using a bit of code embedded on its website, the Walker team was able to track who visited the donation page, tell which potential backers shared interests with existing supporters, and determine who was learning about the candidate for the first time. It could then use that information to target prospective voters with highly personalized appeals. Those supporters who had already given money, for instance, were served an ad seeking another donation. But new supporters received a more modest request: to provide their email address or to click on a link to the campaign’s online store.
Maptitude for Redistricting may not be a household name, but it is dominant in the niche market of redistricting software and is used to literally shape the political landscape. Its client roster features a majority of state legislatures, two national party committees and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, plus the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, which was upheld in a Supreme Court decision last month. Caliper Corporation President Howard Slavin credited Maptitude for Redistrictring’s dominance in part to its simplicity and effectiveness. “You can be productive and it doesn’t require you to be an expert user of the software,” Slavin said. “You have a good product when you know it’s simple enough for a politician to use it.” But the software’s dominance in the redistricting market happened almost by accident. “We just sort of fell into it, it wasn’t part of any grand plan or scheme,” Slavin said.
The Kansas division of a federal civil rights commission will investigate whether voter identification laws have affected turnout around the state. The Kansas Committee of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission voted Tuesday to hold hearings to determine if turnout in some communities has been suppressed, KCUR-TV reported (http://bit.ly/1SMwZAi ). The committee also agreed to ask Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who strongly advocated for the laws, to testify at its hearings, which are expected to take place early next year. “My office would be happy to appear before the Kansas advisory committee and point out the success of the Kansas photo ID law,” Kobach told The Associated Press late Wednesday afternoon.
Five of Mississippi’s 82 counties are reporting high rates of absentee voting, the state’s top elections official said Tuesday. Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said about 5 percent to 6 percent of voters usually cast absentee ballots. Hosemann said the rate so far this year is nearly 14 percent in Noxubee County, 11 percent in Quitman County, 8 percent in Claiborne County, 7 percent in Tallahatchie County and 6 percent in Benton County. All five are Democratic-leaning counties.
North Carolina: State elections director discusses prevention of voter fraud | Winston-Salem Journal
Kim Strach, the executive director of the State Board of Elections, took the stand Tuesday for a second time in a closely watched federal trial over North Carolina’s controversial election law. But this time she was on much friendlier ground. Unlike last week, she was called as a witness by attorneys representing the state and Gov. Pat McCrory. Several groups, including the N.C. NAACP and the U.S. Department of Justice, are suing the state and McCrory over House Bill 589, legislation passed in 2013 that eliminated same-day voter registration, reduced the days of early voting from 17 to 10, prohibited out-of-precinct provisional voting and eliminated preregistration for 16- and 17-year-olds, among other provisions.
A new vote tabulation system in Multnomah County will “completely revolutionize the way we process ballots,” said the county’s election director Tim Scott. On Tuesday, the county unveiled the ClearVote system which will scan both sides of a ballot at once and then create an image. The system will also be able to count about 4000 ballots an hour instead of the current pace of 1000 per hour. If there is a questions over a voter’s intent, a bipartisan group will work to determine what the voter meant, and do it in a separate room.
Two Canadians stripped of the right to vote because of their lengthy stay abroad are hoping the Supreme Court of Canada will hear the case, their lawyer said Wednesday. Shaun O’Brien said last week’s split Appeal Court decision affirming the voting ban prompted an outpouring of support “There’s been a strong response,” O’Brien said in an interview. “People (have been) reaching out to us – expats living around the world – who are very disappointed and dismayed by the decision, and who are urging us to move forward and who are offering their support.” Among those unhappy with losing their right to vote is veteran Canadian actor Donald Sutherland, an Officer of the Order of Canada, who wears his Canadian citizenship on his sleeve.
On Monday, Tory MP Pierre Poilievre announced a re-elected Conservative government would pass a law to prevent any future government from changing the voting system without a referendum. The NDP wants to bring in proportional representation, electing some MPs from party lists to make the House of Commons more representative. The Liberals want ranked ballots — where second choices are counted in — but say they would have a parliamentary committee consider both ideas. Neither party has promised a referendum on the change, and the Conservatives think that’s bad. “Both Justin Trudeau and the NDP say they will revolutionize how Canadians elect their government and neither is willing to give the Canadians a say in the matter,” Poilievre said.
A team of researchers in Athens say they’ve designed the world’s first encrypted e-voting system where voters can verify that votes cast actually go to the intended candidate. The process happens on a distributed, publicly-available ledger, much like the blockchain — the peer-reviewed software architecture that underpins bitcoin. The digital ballot box, called DEMOS, decreases the probability of election fraud as more voters use the system to verify their votes. The voting system starts by generating a series of randomized numbers. Each voter gets two sets of numbers, or ‘keys’: a key corresponding to the voter, and a key that corresponds to the voter’s preferred candidate. This is akin to the blockchain’s private and public key combination which authenticates bitcoin transactions.
Myanmar’s democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi Wednesday registered for November elections to keep her seat in parliament and challenge the ruling military-backed party. Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy will contest almost all the 498 parliamentary seats in the Nov. 8 polls, and expects heavy gains, according to party spokesman Nyan Win. He said the party will announce the first batch of candidates Wednesday.
The first round of Niger’s presidential election will be held on February 21 in 2016, the country’s election commission said, with incumbent Mahamadou Issoufou set to seek a second term. “The first round of the presidential election, along with legislative elections, will take place on Sunday, February 21, 2016,” Ibrahim Boube, the president of the Independent National Electoral Commission (Ceni), announced at a press conference. A run-off round in the presidential vote is scheduled for March 20.
Poll body Chairman Andres D. Bautista told lawmakers during a briefing at the House of Representatives that the Comelec en banc has already denied the pending appeals filed by two rival firms also vying for the P2.5-billion deal for the additional optical mark readers (OMRs). “The Comelec en banc ruled on the MR (motion for reconsideration) on 23,000 new OMRs. This is the green light for us to issue a notice of award to Smartmatic,” Mr. Bautista told members of the House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms. Mr. Bautista had said in a July 14 briefing that the contract was not immediately awarded because of pending motions by rival providers, Indra Sistemas, S.A., and Miru Systems Co.