Smartmatic, the world’s leading election technology and services provider, empowered Chilean citizens during a three-day election in the Commune of Maipu last weekend. Using Smartmatic’s multi-channel voting platform, Chileans had the opportunity to cast a ballot either online or to vote in person in precincts equipped with electronic voting machines. Citizens 14 years of age and older were eligible to vote from December 11-13 to decide on how best to allocate public funds. “We are proud to bring to Chile an integrated solution which includes class-leading electronic voting machines and the world’s most advanced Internet voting system,” said Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, Smartmatic’s Chairman.
A spending deal that Congress is poised to pass this week will give the Election Assistance Commission $9.6 million next year to help states run elections, including congressional and presidential contests. The $1.1 trillion spending bill released Wednesday ends the threat of a year-end government shutdown and will fund federal agencies through the rest of fiscal 2016. Funding for the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) was included in the bill over objections by Rep. Gregg Harper and other Republicans who complain the commission has outlived its usefulness. Harper, a member of the House Administration Committee, re-introduced a bill earlier this year to eliminate the agency. … Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi said not all Republicans share Harper’s disdain for the EAC. “It’s obvious the Republican leadership in the House and Senate did not agree with him, otherwise it wouldn’t have been in there,’’ he said.
In September 2000, Oscar Del Toro of Monterrey, Mexico, arrived with his wife and three children at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston to start a new life in the United States. Del Toro, then 38, had spent his whole life in Mexico. His mother and father were naturalized American citizens who lived near Houston and had wanted to bring him to the United States with them. But because he was already an adult, with a wife and a child, he was subject to a long waiting period for a green card. He went on with his life in Mexico, building a business selling laser printers and buying a comfortable four-bedroom house. He had more or less forgotten all about the prospect of moving to the United States when, around Christmas in 1999, his mother told him she had a present for him: an Immigration and Naturalization Service letter inviting him and his family to apply for permanent residency.
Editorials: Political Campaigns Are Spying on You, and There Are No Rules to Stop Them | Brendan Sasso/National Journal
If Internet companies like Google or Facebook mislead users and violate their privacy, they can find themselves in trouble with federal regulators. If government agencies spy on people without the proper authorization, they can get slapped down by a judge. Political campaigns, however, face no such hurdles when it comes to scraping information from private citizens. Instead, they operate in a legal dead zone outside the reach of federal regulators. The Federal Trade Commission regulates commercial privacy issues, but has no jurisdiction over political campaigns. The Federal Election Commission regulates campaigns, but has no privacy regulations.
In recent years, campaigns have become increasingly aggressive in their efforts to build psychological profiles on millions of potential voters. “There are no limits, and there should be,” said Jeff Chester, the executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, a privacy advocacy group. “Do you really want the Left or the Right to have a dossier about you to figure out how to manipulate you?”
An opponent of an election for Native Hawaiians says the decision to cancel the process proves it’s discriminatory. Kelii Akina is one of those challenging the election terminated Tuesday. He is a plaintiff in a lawsuit that argues Hawaii residents without Native Hawaiian ancestry are unconstitutionally excluded from voting. The challenge reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which recently granted an injunction to stop ballots from being counted.
Maine: Bill to control video recording at polling places among 50 vying for consideration | The Portland Press Herald
A proposal designed to ensure that video recording at polling places doesn’t intimidate voters is among about 50 bills that could be considered when a panel of legislative leaders meets Thursday. The Legislative Council will vote to determine if any of the bills will advance to the second regular session when the Legislature convenes in January. The poll recording bill was motivated by complaints that gun rights activists were intimidating voters when they gathered at several southern Maine polling places on Election Day to film the signature gathering effort by gun control activists hoping to advance a referendum next year. The proposal by Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, is one of 26 bills that have been submitted after the Sept. 25 deadline. Others include a proposal to allow towns to prohibit firearms on municipal property, a bill to improve college graduation rates and a bill to encourage roller derby.
Michigan: Senate GOP plans to pass straight-ticket voting ban, ditch absentee voting bill | MLive.com
Michigan will ban straight-ticket voting without expanding absentee ballot options — if Senate Republicans have their way. Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, said the upper chamber will move Wednesday to separate elections bills linked and approved last week by the House. Senate Bill 13 would eliminate the option for voters to choose all candidates of a single political party by marking a check box on their ballot. The proposal, which could help Republicans win down-ticket education seats they’ve struggled to secure in recent years, has faced pushback from local clerks who believe that eliminating the faster voting option will lead to longer lines on Election Day.
While Republicans across the state look to pass legislation on photo voter ID laws (or get it on the ballot via petition in the case of Secretary of State candidate Jay Ashcroft), two house Democrats have a different idea concerning voter accessibility. Reps. Randy Dunn, D-Kansas City, and Kimberly Gardner, D-St. Louis, have both put forth separate pieces of legislation which would enable automatic voter registration based on driver’s license information instead of the current independent registration process. Dunn, speaking only for his own bill, hopes this bill boosts voter turnout by removing certain hoops that must be jumped through by individuals to become registered voters. “For me, I believe we need to be engaging as many people as possible in the political process,” Dunn said. “This is one vehicle to make sure we are getting more people registered.”
Vermont voting has entered the twenty-first century with a new online voter registration system. On October 12, 2015, Vermont’s Secretary of State, Jim Condos, launched a new online voter software allowing eligible Vermont citizens to prepare for election day online. The system allows voters to register to vote, find their polling place, request an absentee ballot and track its status, as well as view sample ballots. The software also includes features to aid local election officials in processing ballots, entering election results, and registering voters. The new software cost Vermont $2.8 million. However, 70% of the funds came from the federal government through the Help America Vote Act.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed into law on Wednesday measures that transform campaign finance rules and a government accountability board — two bills pushed by the very same conservative political groups implicated in an investigation into his campaign. The new laws arrive five months after Wisconsin’s state Supreme Court closed a three-year investigation into whether Walker and moneyed conservative nonprofits illegally coordinated campaign strategy during the Republican’s 2012 recall campaign for governor. The court cleared Walker and conservative allies of any wrongdoing on the basis that Wisconsin’s campaign finance laws were “unconstitutionally vague and broad,” opening the doors for legislative rewrite.
Central African Republic: CAR votes yes on constitutional referendum, partial results show | Associated Press
Central African Republic’s National Election Authority says partial results show citizens have voted yes on a constitutional referendum meant to usher stability into a nation wracked by years of sectarian violence. Authority spokesman Julius Rufin Ngoadebaba said Thursday 90 percent approved the proposals put forward in the referendum, while 10 percent voted against it.
Haitian Prime Minister Evans Paul called Thursday for creation of a special commission to guarantee the credibility of the Caribbean country’s elections before presidential and legislative runoffs can be held. In a statement posted on his Twitter account, Haiti’s No. 2 official said the commission should have three days to produce its recommendations to Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council and the government. A week-and-a-half before the scheduled Dec. 27 presidential and legislative runoffs, Paul said he advised President Michel Martelly that it’s now necessary to “ensure the credibility of the process” because “transparent, participatory and inclusive” elections are a must amid deepening suspicions of official results from earlier rounds of voting. He did not detail how many commission members would be needed, how they would be chosen or what the scope of their review would be.
Victoria (Seychelles) (AFP) – Residents in the Indian Ocean archipelago of the Seychelles voted Thursday, the second of three days of polls, with incumbent president James Michel facing the first serious challenge to his decade-long rule. Michel, 71, who is seeking a third five-year term, was forced into a second-round run-off against opposition leader Wavel Ramkalawan after falling short of an outright majority in the first round in early December, winning just under 48 percent. Ramkalawan, 54, an Anglican priest who took 34 percent of the vote on his fifth run at the country’s top job, now has the backing of the second runner-up, Patrick Pillay, a former foreign and health minister, who won almost 15 percent.
European eyes will turn anxiously toward Spain on Sunday. At the end of a turbulent year that saw a far left government take office in Greece and a left-wing coalition backed by communists empowered in Portugal, Spanish voters will go to the polls on Sunday to pass their verdict on four years of conservative government under Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who has led Spain through a period of extraordinary economic hardship following the country’s banking bust and now into recovery. Even before a vote is cast, the election promises to take Spain into uncharted waters. The old two-party system that has dominated the political landscape since the end of dictatorship in 1975 is being challenged by not one but two newly-arrived populist parties: the far left Podemos, a close ally of Greece’s Syriza party, and the centrist Ciudadanos, or “Citizens”.
The electoral commission of Uganda has issued the final voters list for next year’s general election to all participating presidential candidates and their parties. The country’s electoral law demands the electoral commission present an electronic copy of the voters list to the parties and their candidates after the nomination process. Two weeks before the presidential, parliamentary and local elections, the law requires the electoral commission to issue a paper copy, also called a hard copy, to the candidates.