Voting machines around the United States are coming to the end of their useful lives. Breakdowns are increasingly common. Spare parts are difficult, if not impossible, to find. That could be a serious problem for next year’s presidential elections. Allen County, Ohio, election director Ken Terry knows how bad things can get. In the last presidential election, he had to replace the Zip disks — a 1990s technology — in the main machine his county uses to count votes. The disks are no longer made. And when he finally got some from the voting machine manufacturer: “They actually had a coupon in them. They were sealed and everything. And the coupon had expired in … 1999,” he said. And, to make matters worse, Terry said his voting machines use memory cards that hold only 250 megabytes of data — a tiny fraction of what you can store today on a $6 thumb drive. “You know, by today’s standards that’s just absurd,” he said.
California: Will California guarantee the right to know the names of political donors? | The Washington Post
When Silicon Valley entrepreneur Jim Heerwagen decided to invest in an effort to reduce the influence of big money on politics, he considered a push for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. “Then I realized I could be dead or not remember where my car keys were by the time that happened,” he said. Congressional proposals to tighten federal campaign finance rules seemed like long-shots, he concluded: “They just weren’t going to go anywhere.” So Heerwagen looked to make a stand in the more hospitable political environs of California. After commissioning a poll and hiring political strategists, the former software executive and his team of election law experts are rolling out an unusual measure they hope to get on the ballot in November 2016.
For all the early excitement stirred by the presidential primary contests, a greater test of democracy than the candidates’ cut-and-thrust will be voter participation, a vital statistic which dropped from 62.3 percent in 2008 to 57.5 percent in the last presidential election. In part because of a welter of obstructionist state laws, more than 90 million Americans did not bother or care to vote in 2012. The Democratic-majority Legislature in California, the most populous state, has just taken a major step toward resisting this alarming trend by approving a system of automatic voter registration for any citizen who obtains or updates a California driver’s license. Modeled on Oregon’s excellent “motor-voter” program, the new system cannot help but increase democratic participation.
As the state’s redistricting reform commission held its first meeting at Towson University on Tuesday, co-chairman Alexander Williams Jr. noted that the group was sitting in Maryland’s 3rd Congressional District. Yet other parts of the Towson campus, Williams said, are in the 2nd Congressional District. That fact illustrates the challenge facing Williams and other members of the commission: How to create a process for drawing political maps to avoid tangled and confused districts that critics say are among the most gerrymandered in the nation. Republican Gov. Larry Hogan created the commission last month, saying he wants a constitutional amendment to put before voters in 2016 that could change how the state’s congressional and General Assembly districts are drawn. Tuesday’s meeting was the first of five scheduled around the state, and the commission’s proposal is due by Nov. 3.
The Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council is pressing Secretary of State Linda McCulloch to establish satellite voting offices for Native Americans in 10 Montana counties. A letter from the council is on its way to McCulloch, calling on her to “issue a directive to Montana counties that have American Indian Reservations within their boundaries telling the counties that they must establish satellite voting offices for in-person absentee voting and later voter registration on those Indian Reservations within their boundaries for the upcoming 2016 general election for the full 30 day late registration and absentee voting period, including election day.”
State Sen. Nia Gill wants Gov. Chris Christie to take some time away from trying to gain voters on the presidential campaign trail to sign legislation impacting voters in his home state. The Montclair resident, who also represents her hometown as well as Clifton, East Orange, and Orange in the 34th District, was one of the primary sponsors of the “Democracy Act,” also known as S-50 and A-4613, which was approved by both the state Senate and Assembly in June. The bill would extend elections from one day to 15 days, allow for online voter registration, set up automatic voter registration through the state Motor Vehicle Commission, establish pre-registration for 17-year-olds, and allow non-English speakers to able to vote and register to vote in their native language.
Shortly following Secretary of State Dianna Duran’s first court appearance Tuesday morning, state lawmakers approved a House subcommittee to consider impeaching her. Lawmakers in the interim Legislative Council, which is made up of members of both the House and Senate, approved $250,000 in funding to pay for the impeachment special committee. The funding will likely go towards the hire of outside counsel. State House of Representatives Speaker Don Tripp, R-Socorro, appointed a panel of bipartisan lawmakers to investigate whether Duran should be impeached last week. He told committee members that he anticipated the panel would want money to spend on lawyers. Tripp also made the committee members official during the Legislative Council meeting.
The end of the line is nearing for Ohio’s electronic voting machines, which a new report indicates could cause trouble during the 2016 election. According to the Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law, 90 percent of Ohio counties are using machines that are 10 years old. Report co-author Christopher Famighetti says that’s much longer than the machines are designed to last. “Most of us don’t keep our laptops, desktops, over a decade, and that’s the type of technology that most of the machines in use today are using,” he explains.
Yesterday morning, we heard a story about the nation’s aging voting machines and the problems they could present in the future. But that same report, which warns of trouble ahead for some municipalities, also details how Travis County has developed a new voting system, set to premiere in time for 2018 elections. To anyone over 18, the following scene might sound familiar. “It looks like you’re standing in front of an ATM machine with kind of a pad-like device in front of you, and you click through and make selections for the candidates or the propositions that you’re choosing, and then you cast your vote,” says Ronald Morgan, Travis County’s Chief Deputy Clerk.
If the Ministry of Interior refuses to issue new identification cards to the country’s estimated 50,000 monks so that they can vote in the next election, monks will find other ways to make their voices heard in the electoral process, two national leaders of monks told Khmer Times yesterday. “The ruling party will lose more support if monks are not allowed to vote,” Venerable But Buntenh, leader of the Independent Monk Network for Social Justice, said. He suggested it would be bad karma to deprive monks of their constitutionally guaranteed right to vote. “We have a lot of support through our religious activities and we can disseminate information to people and tell them that we have been deprived of the right to vote,” he said.
Kyrgyzstan, as I have detailed before, is using a new biometric registration system for voting in the upcoming parliamentary election, scheduled for October 4. The law making registration — which requires submission of a fingerprint, photo and signature — mandatory in order to vote was recently upheld as constitutional by the Constitutional Chamber of Kyrgyzstan’s Supreme Court. The precise substance of the decision is unknown, but one of the human rights activists, Toktaim Umetalieva, who filed the claim against the mandatory biometrics law told AKIpress that “the decision was made in nobody’s favor in fact. That is, the Chamber recognized [the] constitutionality of the law on biometric registration, but ordered the Parliament to rework the law in terms of a precise formulation of goals and objectives, mechanisms and criteria. In such case the law can be changed significantly.” The court’s decision on the constitutionality of the law was preceded by the summer ousting of the judge originally tasked with the case after she was accused of revealing her views on the biometric data law – that it was unconstitutional – before making her ruling public.
New Zealand: Wellington opts into online election despite Ashley Madison-style hack warnings | The Dominion Post
Wellington has been warned it faces an Ashley Madison-style election hack as it opts for online voting for 2016. In a split vote, councillors have agreed to join a trial of online voting for next year’s election – despite warnings from IT experts about potential security risks with e-voting. At Wednesday’s extraordinary full council meeting, software developer Nigel McNie said online voting opened up the process to “massive risk”. “Hacking is a risk. Consider the Ashley Madison hack, which I’m sure most of you have heard of.” He said “one small hole” in the adultery hookup site led to its hack, and eventual destruction. In July, it was revealed about 36 million members globally had their details leaked in the 9.7-gigabyte data dump on the dark web.
The Philippines said today it had shifted production of voting machines for the 2016 presidential election from China to Taiwan due to fears that Beijing might “sabotage” the vote. Christian Lim, a senior official at the government poll watchdog Commission on Elections (Comelec), said the agency had moved the production site to avoid the risk of China interfering with the May 9, 2016 vote, or deliberately failing to deliver the machines. “We want to emphasise that the move to Taiwan was a product of the contract negotiations because we have received intelligence reports that there may be an attempt to sabotage the elections by China,” he was quoted by television reports as telling a congressional budget hearing.
The parties of Ukraine’s President Petro Poreshenko and Kiev’s mayor Vitaly Klitschko’s merged in August, and with local elections upcoming all eyes are on Ukraine as pro democracy parties seek to consolidate their seats against more pro-Russian sentiment. The recent actions by President Poroshenko to grant more autonomy to the separatist regions have angered the nationalists within Parliament, and the far right. Along with the parties merging, this has caused upheaval in Kiev and has raised the possibility of snap elections in which a slew of new candidates could be vying to take over for Poreshenko and Yatsenyuk’s embattled governments. There’s talk that Mikhail Saakashvilli, the current Odessa governor and former President of Georgia, will go for the position.Saakashvilli recently received 26,000 signatures on a petition to President Poreshenko demanding that Saakashvilli become Prime Minister. The petition supporting Saakashvili’s candidacy for the prime minister’s post was officially submitted on September 3. The same day, Ukraine’s Channel 5 television network, which is owned by Poroshenko, aired an interview with Saakashvili, who lambasted current Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s reform agenda, Radio Free Europe reports.. While Saakashvilli has said that he will not run for the position, many believe that he is still entertaining at least some notion of running for election, particularly when his popularity has risen of late.