Ohio: Pettis clerk to assist with Ohio election | Sedalia Democrat

After implementing new technology during the August special election in Pettis County, Clerk Nick La Strada has been asked to help implement the tech in another state. The new poll pads launched in Pettis County in August, the first county in Missouri to do so. La Strada said an election authority from St. Louis watched the Pettis election to see how the tech works before implementing it in their county. La Strada was then asked a few weeks ago by vendor KnowInk to help with the November election in Allen County, Ohio, since he is an election authority already familiar with the process. The county has a population of about 105,000, more than double the population of Pettis County. “I’m excited to go out and do that,” La Strada said. “It’s an honor to even go see a process in such a high profile state for electoral college for the upcoming election.”

Voting Blogs: Both Lawmakers and Citizens Push for Voting Reforms Before 2016 Election | Project Vote

In 2015, nonpartisan voting rights group Project Vote monitored 315 bills, introduced by state and federal lawmakers, that could change the way people vote in 2016 and beyond. “It was a historic year in voting rights. Not only did we mark the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, but we also saw citizens and advocates on the ground demanding that our elected leaders restore voting rights protections,” said Project Vote President Michael Slater. “Although there has been a rise in positive election reform proposals, we still have a long way to go, particularly when it comes to protecting voters from new laws that undermine access to the ballot.”

California: Los Angeles County’s $13M touch-screen voting system gets previewed at Austin’s SXSW | KPCC

Los Angeles County Registrar Dean Logan presented his much-anticipated voting makeover project this week at South by Southwest Eco, an offshoot of the famous music festival in Austin, Texas. The conference is a flocking ground of sorts for new products and technology that focus on social change. “South by Southwest was a great platform for us to come and share this specifically from a design element,” Logan said. “We felt like it was very well-received.” Since 2009, the county has been working on a major elections revamp that, if fully implemented, will allow voters to mark their choices using touchscreen devices, submit ballots via smartphones and vote on one of several days.

Illinois: State lawmakers debate voter registration change | Bloomington Pantagraph

Illinois could boost voter participation if it begins pre-registering teenagers when they get their first driving permit. That was just one idea that emerged during an hourlong hearing Tuesday on a plan to make voter registration automatic whenever someone updates or gets a driver’s license. Automatic registration, already in place in Oregon and California, has the backing of a number of groups and government officials. “Creating an automatic registration makes voting simpler and knocks down a major barrier that keeps people from voting,” Delia Ramirez of Common Cause Illinois told a panel of senators discussing the plan.

Indiana: Federal Court Hears Arguments Over ‘Ballot Selfie’ Law | Indiana Public Media

The ACLU says an Indiana law barring voters from taking pictures of their ballot in the voting booth violates the First Amendment, but the state is countering that the legislature is trying to prevent voter fraud. A federal court heard arguments Tuesday over the law’s constitutionality. The state offered several potential problems the so-called “ballot selfie” law seeks to prevent: taking photos of one’s ballot could help facilitate buying and selling votes. Barring pictures of a ballot could also help prevent voter intimidation and coercion. Simply put, the state argues that ballot secrecy has been vital for more than a hundred years, and the “ballot selfie” statute is a natural offshoot of an existing law that bars people from showing their ballot to others.

Indiana: ‘Ballot selfie law’ faces scrutiny from federal judge | Indianapolis Star

If you enter the voting booth this November and, as a proud voter, you snap a selfie with your ballot and share it on Facebook, you could be committing a felony. Indiana’s “ballot selfie law,” which was created by state lawmakers to prevent voter fraud, made it illegal to take such photos. Whether that law will remain in place in the upcoming municipal elections is now up to a federal judge to decide. The issue of ballot selfies reached the federal court in August when the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed a lawsuit that says the new law, which took effect in July, is unconstitutional because it violates free speech rights. The ACLU of Indiana is asking U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker to issue an order that would prevent state officials from enforcing the law next month — and until the lawsuit reaches a resolution.

Kansas: Kris Kobach files to prosecute three voter fraud cases in Kansas | The Wichita Eagle

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has filed criminal charges against three people he says committed voter fraud in the 2010 election. They are the first charges filed since the Legislature granted Kobach prosecutorial power earlier this year. Gov. Sam Brownback signed the bill making Kobach the only secretary of state in the nation to have such authority in June. Kobach filed two criminal cases in Johnson County and one in Sherman County on Friday. His office released the criminal complaints on Tuesday. The felony complaint against Lincoln L. Wilson in Sherman County, which borders Colorado, alleges that he perjured himself on voting forms and voted in 2010, 2012 and 2014 despite not being lawfully registered. His first appearance in court is set for Nov. 3.

Maine: Group wants voters to change Maine’s voting system in 2016 | Sun Journal

A group that hopes to ask voters statewide to change the way Maine votes in 2016 will begin its campaign in earnest later this month. Ranked Choice Voting Maine wants Maine to become the first state in the U.S. to fully use a ranked-choice ballot system for its elections and has gathered the more than 61,123 signatures from registered voters needed to add a ballot question to next November’s election. Former state Sen. Dick Woodbury, a Yarmouth independent and a spokesman for the group, said they expect to turn their signatures into Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap on Oct. 19. Woodbury says the signature-gathering drive started in October 2014 and has collected more than 70,000 signatures. He said the group collected more than 40,000 signatures on Election Day 2014.

Minnesota: Group Launches Opposition Campaign to Ranked Choice Voting Referendum | WDIO

Without much organized opposition, supporters have been campaigning to adopt ranked choice voting in Duluth, but on Sunday, a citizen group announced it has launched a formal effort to oppose the ballot measure. Five city councilors announced last week that they opposed ranked choice voting and all are now members of a citizen group against a switch to ranked choice for mayoral and some city council seats. The “Keep Voting Simple — Vote No RCV Campaign” gathered on the Duluth City Hall steps to give remarks and field questions from reporters. Among those speakers, Mayor Don Ness who said, the current voting system is working for the city.

Ohio: Why Boehner’s resignation may cost Butler County taxpayers $1 Million | Journal-News

Speaker of the House John Boehner’s sudden resignation could cost Butler County up to $1 million, and the state even more, depending on when the governor schedules the special congressional elections. Jocelyn Bucaro, deputy director of the Butler County Board of Elections, told the county commissioners this week it will cost about $1 million to hold special congressional elections for Boehner’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. The cost would be half that if Ohio Gov. John Kasich schedules one of the elections to coincide with the March 15 presidential primary. Elections would need to be held in each county of Ohio’s 8th Congressional District, which includes Butler, Clark, Darke, Miami and Preble counties, and part of Mercer County.

Vermont: Online Voter Registration Now Open | Vermont Public Radio

Starting today, Vermonters can register to vote from the comfort of their own homes. Secretary of State Jim Condos says the new online voter registration system will improve access to democracy, and will also make elections less vulnerable to fraud. About 90 percent of Vermont’s nearly 500,000 eligible voters are already eligible to vote. But for the 50,000 or so people who have yet to join the checklist, or for those newly eligible to vote, the process needed to cast a ballot just got easier. “So they can actually register whenever it’s most convenient for them – they don’t have to take time away from work,” Condos says.

Wisconsin: Lawmakers clash on campaign finance law, dismantling GAB | Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Lawmakers on two committees clashed Tuesday over bills to overhaul the Government Accountability Board and rewrite campaign finance laws, with the head of the board accusing one state senator of McCarthyism in his line of questioning. One of the bills on a fast track in the GOP-controlled Legislature would eliminate the accountability board — the state’s elections and ethics agency — replacing it with a pair of commissions made up equally of Republicans and Democrats. Another would double the amount donors can give candidates. A third would allow people to use the Internet to register to vote, while keeping in place the requirement that people cast ballots in person or by mail.

Wyoming: Chief election officer steps down, citing ‘philosophical differences” with newly elected secretary of state | Caspar Star-Tribune

Wyoming’s top elections official has stepped down due to “philosophical differences” with Secretary of State Ed Murray. Peggy Nighswonger, who has been the state’s elections director since 1996 and worked in the Wyoming Department of Education before that, retired last month. In an interview Monday, she said her working relationship with Murray was one of the reasons she decided to end her career with the state. “I have worked for nine elected officials, and sometimes you just don’t have the same philosophy as they have,” she said. “I’m old enough to retire, and as much as I hate to leave, I just felt it was time.”

Belarus: Election ‘neither free nor fair,’ says UN human rights expert | United Nations News Centre

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in Belarus, Miklós Haraszti, today said that while the Presidential polls conducted in the country this past Sunday were not met with violence as in previous cases, no progress was made in serving the Belarusians’ right to free and fair election. “The election process was orchestrated, and the result was pre-ordained. It could not be otherwise, given the 20 years of continuous suppression of the rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and association, which are the preconditions for any credible competition,” Mr. Haraszti said in a press statement. The Special Rapporteur noted that none of the international and local independent election monitors could verify the official claims of 86 per cent voter turnout or 84 per cent endorsement of the incumbent. “Such high scores have never been claimed in elections in Europe since the end of the Soviet Union,” Mr. Haraszti stressed. “The observers’ documentations highlighted that not even the four days of coerced participation of prison inmates, army conscripts, and public servants under the label of ‘early voting,’ can give up the stated numbers,” he added.

Canada: Will Canadians ever be able to vote online? | rabble.ca

Like rocket-packs and hover boards, the ability for a Canadian to vote in a federal election via the Internet continues to be a sci-fi dream. “With elections it’s unlike any other system in a cyber security system because everyone’s a potential adversary — the voters, the voting vendors, election officials, third parties. So you have to imagine how to protect against all those possibilities,” explains Aleksander Essex, an Assistant Professor of Software Engineering at the University of Western Ontario. “Internet voting has been used at the national level in other countries, but none as big as Canada,” says Nicole Goodman, Research Director, Centre for e-Democracy and Assistant Professor at the Munk School of Global Affairs. She has a list of factors that she says are stopping us from implementing it at the Federal level “from concerns about security and the process of authentication, to the reluctance of government to embrace digital technology to policy and scalability.”

Canada: Vote hinges on immigrants at center of rights debate | The Guardian

A Canadian election campaign that began amid widespread concern over a faltering economy has turned into a national referendum on the rights of immigrants, with the Conservative government of Stephen Harper, the prime minister, gaining support for its hardline stance against Muslim women who veil their faces in public. The so-called “niqab issue”, inspired by the…

Congo: Electoral Body Pleads Lack of Funds | VoA News

A leaked letter from the Democratic Republic of Congo’s electoral commission says the commission has not received the funding it was allocated for upcoming elections, holding up preparations for the vote. The letter from the Independent National Electoral Commission, known by the French acronym CENI, was a reaction to a government minister’s statement that the commission had enough money to prepare for national, provincial and local elections between now and the end of next year. But Hans Hoebeke, an analyst for the International Crisis Group who follows the DRC’s electoral process, said that according to CENI’s letter, it has received only 17 percent of the funds allocated to it since 2013.

Guinea: Opposition alleges fraud, calls to cancel election | Associated Press

Guinea’s opposition candidates said Monday they will not recognize provisional results for the country’s presidential election, citing fraud — a move criticized by the government. “The Guinean opposition will not recognize the outcome of the poll. We call for outright cancellation of this election,” main opposition candidate Cellou Dalein Diallo said at a news conference alongside six other candidates who are running against President Alpha Conde. Diallo said there were flagrant violations of the laws, ballot boxes were stuffed and voters intimidated.

Ivory Coast: What to expect from upcoming elections in the Ivory Coast | Ventures Africa

Ivory Coast presidential elections will take place on the 25th of October, and barely 2 weeks to the set date, there are already whispers of a ‘rigged’ election. Ivory Coast’s President, Allasane Quattara has been accused of colluding with the Electoral commission of the Ivory Coast to ‘sabotage’ the elections. Quattara, who is contesting for a second term in office through his party Rally of the Republicans, is receiving backlashes from opposition candidates who have called for dialogue with him. They reportedly want the dissolution of the Electoral Commission in the country. October’s election marks the first election held in this West African Country since 2010. The President of Ivory Coast in 2010, Laurent Gbagbo, refused to cede the Presidency to Allasane Quattara who had been declared the winner. This triggered a civil war that lasted 5 months and killed about 3,000 people. Allasane Quattara was later installed as the President through the combined efforts of the African Union and French forces. Laurent Gbagbo is currently awaiting trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Myanmar: Poll to go ahead despite delay talk | BBC

Myanmar’s election commission has announced the country’s historic election will continue as planned, after brief talk of a possible delay. The commission had consulted Myanmar’s political parties on the possibility of postponing the poll because of the impact of flooding and landslides. A delay seemed likely, but later on Tuesday the commission said it would go ahead on 8 November as planned. The poll is set to be the first openly contested general election in 25 years.

Myanmar: Government Seeks to Calm Fears of Election Postponement | The New York Times

A proposal to postpone elections in Myanmar caused an outcry among democratic forces on Tuesday, and the government then issued a public reassurance that the voting would take place as scheduled on Nov. 8. The fear and confusion over a possible delay reflected the democracy movement’s underlying mistrust of the military establishment, including the bureaucracy and the government of President Thein Sein. Early on Tuesday, U Tin Aye, a former soldier who represented the governing party before taking his current post as leader of the election commission, summoned representatives of the political parties and proposed a postponement on the grounds that some areas of the country struck by flooding in July and August might not be ready to accommodate voters by the time of the election.

Voting Blogs: £2.6bn: the price of an unfair voting system | openDemocracy

The first past the post electoral system can result in undemocratic and potentially corrupted one-party councils. We need electoral reform for local government in England and Wales. For a long time it’s been clear that Britain’s first past the post voting system is hugely damaging for our democracy. But a new study has just shown that it’s damaging for our finances too – and poses big risks when it comes to corruption. Councils dominated by single parties could be wasting as much as £2.6bn a year through a lack of scrutiny of their procurement processes, according to a University of Cambridge analysis for the Electoral Reform Society.