Press Release: Trending in Ohio: Electronic Pollbooks | Election Systems & Software

The hot elections topic in Ohio can be summed up in two words: electronic pollbooks. With the recent state-provided funding for the purpose of upgrading and automating voter check-in with electronic pollbook solutions, many counties are now evaluating their options. The ExpressPoll from Election Systems & Software provides a proven solution— meeting county’s voter validation needs. With the ExpressPoll system already implemented in 27 counties (and counting) ES&S isn’t a newcomer to the Ohio elections sphere. Richland County for example, has used the ExpressPoll electronic pollbook family of products for eight years. When asked, their Director of Elections, Paulette Hankins had the following to say about the ExpressPoll:

“We have used the Express Poll Book system in Richland County for the past eight years with great success. It was a very easy process to train our Poll Workers, and we were especially pleased with the elimination of any poll worker error in determining which ballot style to issue to the voters. The Express Poll system creates the correct ballot style according to the voters’ registration records.”

For 30 years, ES&S has been providing voting solutions for the State of Ohio. Our existing, experienced service and support structure makes us a valuable asset for Ohio counties when implementing new pollbook technology. The eight Ohio residents we employ are uniquely positioned to meet the needs of jurisdictions and their constituents, being a part of the voting public themselves. These individuals also have the full support of our 400 employee strong company, ensuring their attention can be focused on local customers and their needs.

National: Hoyer: Alabama DMV Closures Prove That Voting Rights Act Must Be Restored | TPM

House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) renewed his call for the restoration of the Voting Rights Act, suggesting Monday that it would have stopped Alabama from implementing a law requiring a photo ID at the ballot box. Scrutiny of the voter ID law has increased with the announcement that Alabama will close 31 driver’s licenses offices in the state – many in rural counties with a high percentage of black residents – which voting rights advocates fear will make it harder for African-Americans to obtain the IDs required vote. “The Voting Rights Act was born from the bloody actions in Selma, Alabama, in March 1965, and since the Supreme Court struck down one of its most important protections – the federal Justice Department’s ability to prevent discriminatory rules like Alabama’s photo identification requirement – our democracy has been weakened,” Hoyer said in a statement Monday evening.

National: Super PACs stretch the rules that prohibit coordination with presidential campaigns | Los Angeles Times

Long before Ben Carson jumped into the presidential race, some of his biggest fans were scouring the country for supporters. They set up a super PAC and began sending out brochures, eventually attracting thousands who signed up and gave money. When Carson actually got around to running, his campaign used those names to jump-start his early fundraising, according to John Philip Sousa IV, great-grandson of the composer and chairman of the 2016 Committee, a super PAC backing Carson. “It was that list that launched his campaign,” Sousa said, saying those names helped Carson build his $20 million in contributions.

Editorials: America’s voting machines are in need of a serious upgrade | The Washington Post

Americans tend to replace their smartphones every two or three years. By contrast, most Americans use voting machines that are at least a decade old and based on engineering and designs from the 1990s. The perils of ignoring the latter may not be apparent until the electoral system is suddenly wracked by mishaps — think of Florida, circa 2000. Unfortunately, the likelihood of major dysfunction grows as voting machines age. It’s fair to blame Washington for a portion of the mess and assume it won’t play a critical role in the solution. Determined to avoid a reprise of the Florida mishap, Congress allocated funds and mandated the purchase of new equipment in 2002. Then, with the mandates still in place, lawmakers turned off the funding spigot, leaving state and local governments to take up the slack. In next year’s presidential election, some voting machines in 43 states will be at least a decade old and dangerously close to the end of their expected lifespan, according to a new report from the Brennan Center for Justice. In 14 states, some voters will encounter machines that are 15 or more years old, meaning they pre-date Facebook and the widespread use of flat-screen televisions.

Florida: Tension mounts over which lawyers get access to Florida Senate redistricting maps | Miami Herald

Tensions mounted Wednesday more than a week before the special session on Senate redistricting is set to begin as House and Senate leaders acknowledged that staff had begun drafting maps using guidelines agreed to exclusively by the leaders and their lawyers, but the lawyer hired to represent Senate Democrats would not be allowed to take part in the process. Senate Redistricting Chairman Bill Galvano acknowledged that the drawing of Senate districts is well underway by House and Senate staff for the three-week special session that begins Oct. 19. They are working in a sequestered space in the Senate redistricting suite and are being advised by the lawyers hired by the GOP-led Senate and House but, he said, the Senate Democrats will not have a separate lawyer at the table. Senate Democrat Leader Arthenia Joyner told the Herald/Times she has hired Tallahassee attorney Mark Herron to represent Senate Democrats in the redistricting process, using funds from the Florida Democratic Party, after Senate President Andy Gardiner twice rejected her request to allow the Democratic caucus to have its own lawyer advise them during the drawing of the Senate redistricting map.

Kansas: Davis rejects GOP call to step aside from voting rights case | Lawrence Journal-World

Lawrence attorney and former Democratic Rep. Paul Davis on Tuesday dismissed suggestions by Republicans that he should recuse himself from a federal lawsuit challenging a controversial state voting law. “These guys either need a good lawyer or they’re trying to mislead you,” Davis said in response to a statement from Kansas GOP Chairman Kelly Arnold. Davis is representing two clients who are challenging a law enacted in 2011 that requires voters to show proof of U.S. citizenship to register. Since that law took effect, more than 30,000 would-be voters have had their registrations placed “in suspense” because they have not provided the required documentation. Davis is also challenging a new administrative regulation that requires county election officers to cancel those applications after 90 days. That new regulation took effect Oct. 2.

Mississippi: Hinds County absentee ballots muddle education initiative | The Jackson Clarion-Ledger

The ballot sent out to absentee voters in Hinds County has complicated what many say is an already confusing voting process. According to the sample ballot approved in September by the governor and secretary of state, the two proposed constitutional amendments should be clearly differentiated on the ballot. The options for voters who vote to change the state constitution should read “FOR Initiative Measure No. 42” and “FOR Alternative Measure No. 42 A,” the two dueling education initiatives. However, the ballot sent to absentee voters in Hinds County leaves out the last “A” in “FOR Alternative Measure 42 A,” leading to concerns that voters intending to vote for Initiative 42 could accidentally vote for Initiative 42A instead. 525 ballots have been sent out to Hinds County voters as of Tuesday, according to the circuit clerk’s office.

Virginia: Use of electronic signatures for absentee-ballot requests causes alarm | The Washington Post

Some Republican elections officials expressed concern Tuesday over a practice both major parties are using to streamline the process of signing up absentee voters, saying it encourages voter fraud. Earlier this year, members of the state Board of Elections said that voters may sign ­absentee-ballot request forms electronically instead of printing the forms, signing them with a pen and ­e-mailing back a scan or mailing the forms through the post office. The change allows voters to skip the step of printing the forms. That guidance was offered during a contentious primary this summer, when House Speaker William J. ­Howell (R-Stafford) set up a secure Web site to make it easier for voters to request absentee ballots electronically.

Virginia: McAuliffe says his redistricting plan deserves ‘special deference’ | Richmond Times-Dispatch

Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s plan to redraw Virginia’s congressional boundaries deserves “special deference” because of his elected position, his lawyers told a federal three-judge panel Wednesday. The judges have twice ruled that Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District is unconstitutional because state legislators packed too many additional African-Americans into its boundaries, diluting their influence elsewhere. Last month McAuliffe submitted one of 11 proposed fixes sent to the court. He urged a “comprehensive redrawing” of the congressional map, arguing that tinkering would be insufficient.

Wisconsin: Republicans propose splitting Government Accountability Board into elections, ethics commissions | Wisconsin State Journal

Calling Wisconsin’s nonpartisan Government Accountability Board a “failed experiment,” Republican legislative leaders on Wednesday proposed splitting it into two commissions guided by partisans. They also called for a sweeping revision of state campaign finance laws, one of the board’s areas of oversight. The announcements signal an ambitious effort by GOP lawmakers to change how Wisconsin’s elections — and elected officials — are overseen. Supporters said the GAB has overstepped its authority, and the new boards would be more publicly accountable. But critics of the bill said it would return Wisconsin to the model that predated the GAB, in which election and ethics laws proved difficult to enforce under partisan oversight.

Editorials: Africa – ‘Decisive Moment for Democracy’ | John Kerry/

Last May, I shared in an extraordinary moment. I had the privilege, together with many leaders from across Africa, of bearing witness to the first peaceful, democratic transition of power between two parties in Nigeria. I traveled to Lagos earlier this year to emphasize that for the United States, Nigeria is an increasingly important strategic partner with a critical role to play in the security and prosperity of the region. I also said that it was imperative that these elections set a new standard for democracy across the continent. There is no question that this is a decisive moment for democracy in Africa. Later this month, four countries – Guinea, Tanzania, Côte d’Ivoire, and the Central African Republic – are scheduled to hold presidential elections, and soon after we hope to see elections in Burkina Faso. People across Africa must seize this opportunity to make their voices heard; and leaders across the continent must listen. The challenges are real. For decades, poverty, famine, war, and authoritarian leadership have held back an era of African prosperity and stability. These and other challenges should not be underestimated, but neither should we ignore the gains that are being made.

Belarus: Presidential Elections: Will They Actually Count the Votes? | Belarus Digest

On 11 October, Belarus will hold presidential elections. The Belarusian authorities try to create an image of democratic elections at a time when Alexander Lukashenka looks weak due to the economic recession. Realistically no one expects a fair vote count. The official results will be produced to bring victory to Alexander Lukashenka. But there are three things that can significantly change the perception of the campaign: access to the vote count, the number of votes against Lukashenka and the post-election period. These elections differ from the 2006 and 2010 presidential elections. Although the nature of the political regime remains the same: a small amount of opposition in election commissions, forcing students and civil servants to vote in advance or lack of system liberalisation, many minor improvements have actually taken place.

Congo: Congo to hold referendum on third presidential term | Reuters

Congo Republic’s government announced on Tuesday it would hold a referendum this month on constitutional change, in a move that could allow veteran President Denis Sassou Nguesso to extend his decades-long rule. The 71-year-old former military commander has ruled Congo Republic, an oil producer, for all but five years since 1979. He won his previous terms in disputed elections in 2002 and 2009. While Sassou Nguesso has not officially declared his candidacy for the June 2016 presidential election, he is widely expected to seek a third term. The constitution of 2002 limits the number of terms to two and excludes candidates over 70.

Guinea: Distrust High as Guinea Prepares for Presidential Poll | VoA News

Guinea is preparing for its second presidential election since returning to democracy in 2010. But a survey shows many are distrustful of the election authorities. Incumbent leader Alpha Conde is seeking a second term in Sunday’s election. His main challenger is former prime minister Cellou Dalein Diallo, who ran against Conde in the 2010 vote and lost. During his 2010 campaign, Diallo accused Guinea’s election authority, the National Independent Electoral Commission, of bias. A new survey from research firm Afrobarometer shows that suspicion has lived on.

Guinea: Amidst fears of post-election violence Guinea heads to the polls | Deutsche Welle

As the Guinean presidential election draws closer, the population is growing increasingly nervous. Many fear a repetition of the 2010 unrest and violent clashes in the capital Conakry. On October 11 some six million Guineans, about half the population of the West African nation, will elect a new president. There are eight candidates, including incumbent president Alpha Conde and his two main rivals, opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo, of the Union of Democratric Forces in Guinea (UFDG), and Sydia Toure of the Union of Republican Forces (UFR), a former prime minister. However, the opposition lacks a clear position. First there was a boycott threat, then the demand for a postponement, then the threats were withdrawn. A little over a week before the election, the seven candidates running against Conde called for the poll to be postponed by a week, claiming there were mistakes in the electoral register. Vincente Foucher, a Guinea expert at the International Crisis Group, says the idea is not unreasonable “when you see for how many months this election has provoked controversy, demonstrations, violence and arrests.”

Myanmar: Aung San Suu Kyi vows to lead Myanmar if her party wins election | The Guardian

Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s opposition leader, has said she plans to lead the country if her party triumphs in forthcoming parliamentary elections despite a ban on her serving as president, indicating there will be a fierce post-poll battle with the country’s entrenched military rulers. Her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), is expected to win the polls, but Aung San Suu Kyi, who received the Nobel peace prize in 1991, is barred from the presidency due to a constitutional provision that excludes those with foreign children from the office. Her late husband was British and she has two British sons and the clause was specifically aimed at denying her the post. “If the NLD wins the elections and we form a government, I am going to be the leader of that government whether or not I am the president. Why not?” she said in an interview with prominent Indian journalist Karan Thapar to be broadcast by the India Today TV network on wednesday. “Do you have to be president in order to lead a country?”