National: Could the US election really be hacked? | International Business Times

The United States presidential election is a complex, drawn-out affair. After months of raucous campaigning at the expense of hundreds of millions of dollars, the lengthy voting process to choose Barack Obama’s successor finally got underway with the Iowa caucuses. Once the two main political parties – Democratic and Republican – choose their respective nominees through party-sponsored contests in each of the states and overseas territories, the process of electing the 45th President of the United States in the general elections scheduled for November will begin. But how secure is the all-important process of marking and casting ballots and then collecting and counting them? Could the use of outdated electronic voting systems with dubious safety controls compromise the integrity of the entire electoral process, or is the threat exaggerated?

Editorials: Donald Trump Becomes the GOP’s Newest Voter-Fraud Fraudster | Ari Berman/The Nation

I knew something like this was coming and quite frankly I’m surprised it took Trump so long to play the voter fraud card. It’s a logical extension of his demonization of Hispanics, Muslims, refugees and all the other people he believes are preventing America from being great again. It’s become an article of faith among Republicans that Democrats must cheat to win elections. The only difference here is that Trump is accusing another Republican of doing so. The GOP’s fraud crusade goes back to the George W. Bush administration. The 2000 election in Florida, which was marred by a disastrous voter purge of alleged ex-felons, empowered a new right-wing voter fraud movement, which hyped the threat of fraud in order to restrict access to the ballot for partisan gains. The Justice Department was taken over by ultra-conservatives like Attorney General John Ashcroft who made combating fraud a top priority. US Attorneys in states like New Mexico and Washington were fired for not undertaking new prosecutions, and new voting restrictions, like Georgia’s voter ID law, were approved by the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division over objections from career lawyers. Rick Hasen dubbed these people the “fraudulent fraud squad.” (I write extensively about this in my book Give Us the Ballot Though little fraud was ever found, the fraud craze grew much louder when Barack Obama ran for president. John McCain alleged in 2008 that ACORN “is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history.” After the election, one poll found that 52 percent of Republicans believed that ACORN had stolen the election for Obama.

Connecticut: Justice Department probe how state handles disabled voters’ ballots | Connecticut Post

Federal authorities are investigating possible privacy and disability act violations in the way Connecticut’s towns and cities require handicapped Americans to vote in referendum elections. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ndidi N. Moses sent a letter dated Feb. 1, to most, if not all, of the first selectmen, mayors and town managers of the state’s 169 municipalities informing them of the probe. It advises them a complaint was filed contending violations of federal civil rights laws and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Specifically, the allegation charges that voting by paper ballots, which are then segregated and hand-counted, violates privacy and secrecy requirements that are afforded non-disabled voters. U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly said her office is acting on a complaint “that certain cities and towns in Connecticut may not be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act during referendum voting.”

Massachusetts: Galvin believes Baker underfunded new early voting requirement in budget | WWLP

Saying he is confident that more than 3 million ballots will be cast in the November general election and that political parties will be “very active” in encouraging early voting, Secretary of State William Galvin told a state budget writing committee that Gov. Charlie Baker’s budget proposal falls short of adequate election funding. “The governor’s appropriation proposal is better than, obviously, it was this time last year,” Galvin told the Joint Committee on Ways and Means on Tuesday morning. “Nevertheless, there are still things that need to be addressed that I can’t speak to at this time with total confidence, but I don’t think the funding is adequate at the present time.

Mississippi: Election-Law Reform May Actually Happen in Mississippi | Jackson Free Press

Election-law reform has been a slow process in Mississippi, but with the help of a bi-partisan committee’s report, that could change soon. Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann formed a committee of legislators, circuit clerks, election commissioners and other citizens to review the state’s election code. The 2016 Election Law Reform Committee met from June through September 2015 and published a report of their recommendations on Jan. 19. The committee suggests several changes to Mississippi’s election code, including online voter registration, campaign-finance reporting and election official conduct. Hosemann views the changes as “phase two” of election-law reform that he says started with the voter-ID laws that went into effect in 2014. Hosemann told the Stennis Press Forum on Feb. 1 that the committee looked at several other state election laws to help inform their recommendations.

New Hampshire: The effort to save New Hampshire’s midnight vote | The Keene Sentinel

Each election cycle, political journalists make a late-night pilgrimage over icy roads to this Narnia-like region near the Canadian border, where the locals have a tradition of voting at midnight. When the clock strikes 12, a handful of voters traditionally gather at the Balsams Resort to cast ballots, giving them the bragging right of being the one of the first precincts to participate in the first-in-the-nation primary. The event is a celebration filled with food, drinks and live hook-ups for media trucks to broadcast the results around the world. (Not to mention the public relations boost for the resort.) And many presidential candidates historically made it a point to visit before the vote in hopes of securing the early-morning boost of winning the overnight vote. But last year, Dixville’s once-grand tradition appeared to be at risk. In 2011, the Balsams closed down, and employees who lost their jobs left the area. The remaining residents held a much smaller vote at the Balsams in 2012. This election cycle, only one candidate — Ohio Gov. John Kasich — has journeyed to these far northern reaches of the state.

North Carolina: State NAACP to redouble efforts to get out vote in light of photo ID requirement | Winston-Salem Journal

A day after a federal trial on North Carolina’s photo ID voting requirement wrapped up, the president of North Carolina chapter of the NAACP announced a massive effort to register voters across the state. The Rev. William Barber said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday that it is imperative that he and others do everything they can to make sure every voter is able to cast a ballot in the March primaries. Early voting for the primary starts March 3. “On today, we understand that we must fight to overcome burdens as we fight to undue those burdens,” he said.
Monday marked the end of a six-day trial in U.S. District Court in Winston-Salem over the requirement, which took effect this year, that voters show a photo ID at the polls.

North Dakota: Motion to dismiss voter ID lawsuit filed | Bismarck Tribune

The North Dakota Secretary of State’s office filed a motion on Wednesday to dismiss a lawsuit filed by seven members of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa over what they call illegal state voter identification laws. In the lawsuit filed Jan. 21 in US. District Court for the State of North Dakota against Secretary of State Al Jaeger, tribal members allege that the state’s voter ID laws are unconstitutional as they force a disproportionate burden against Native Americans. Some tribal members can’t afford an ID and those who have paid for one are essentially having to pay to vote, according to the lawsuit.

Utah: Bill to eliminate straight party voting is defeated | The Salt Lake Tribune

Straight-ticket voting will remain an option for Utah voters. A House committee Tuesday rejected Rep. Patrice Arent’s HB119 to eliminate the option when six of the panel’s eight Republicans opposed it. Two GOP lawmakers joined the committee’s two Democrats in favor. Straight-ticket voting allows for a resident to vote for all candidates of one party with a single push of the button. Arent, D-Millcreek, said it has caused confusion in the past, citing as an example the 2006 election when the little-known Personal Choice Party received 14 percent of the vote in Salt Lake County.

Utah: Judge allows Democrats to intervene in GOP, state fight over election law | Deseret News

A federal judge Wednesday allowed the Utah Democratic Party to intervene in the ongoing fight between the Utah Republican Party and the state over the primary election nominating process. The Democratic Party last month said it wants to make sure the Utah GOP is not allowed to rewrite the state’s election laws or circumvent the will of the Legislature and a recent court decision. It also wants to weigh in on the case as it moves to the Utah Supreme Court. U.S. District Judge David Nuffer found there is a common question of fact regarding the election law’s direct and collateral effect on political parties in Utah. The Republican Party objected, calling the Democrats’ motion to intervene a “crass” political statement, according to court documents.

Wisconsin: Bills to allow online voter registration, bar local IDs | Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

The state would implement online registration for voters by the spring of 2017 and forbid Milwaukee officials from moving forward with a plan to provide local IDs, under bills approved by a Senate committee Wednesday. Republicans on the Senate Elections Committee approved the registration proposal, SB295, on a party-line 3-2 vote. As rewritten by a late-breaking amendment, the bill would in turn make a number of changes to state elections law. By another 3-2 vote, the panel also approved a separate proposal, SB533, that would prohibit county and town governments from issuing — or spending money on — photo identification cards. That legislation would also make it even more clear that photo ID cards issued by cities or villages could not be used for things like voting or obtaining public benefits, such as food stamps.

Canada: Liberals’ no-referendum stance on electoral reform appears to soften | Ottawa Citizen

Another Liberal MP responsible for electoral reform won’t absolutely rule out a national referendum to change how Canadians vote. “It’s not something that we’re ruling in or ruling out,” Mark Holland, parliamentary secretary to Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef, told reporters Wednesday. His remark follows a recent, similar comment from Monsef. Compare that with the statement by Government House Leader Dominic Leblanc in late December that seemed to categorically reject the possibility: “Our plan is not to have a national referendum. Our plan is to use Parliament to consult Canadians,” said Leblanc. “That’s always been our plan, and I don’t have any reason to think that’s been changed.”

Haiti: Protesters take to the street to protest country’s election process | PBS

Haiti’s current president is supposed to leave office on Sunday, but there is no one to take his place. Haitians have been protesting all week against the nation’s electoral process after disputed elections in the fall saw current President Michel Martelly’s chosen successor take the lead. The Caribbean island held presidential elections on Oct. 25, 2015. Since no candidate won a majority of the vote, a run-off election was scheduled for Dec. 27. In the first round, Banana exporter Jovenel Moise and mechanical engineer Jude Celestin won most of the votes at 32.8 percent and 25.3 percent, respectively. Moise is Martelly’s chosen successor. More than 50 others ran for the nation’s top post. The runoff was postponed several times due to protests — which sometimes turned violent — against what the opposition called fraud in the first election.

Macedonia: Election Date Still on Table | Balkan Insight

“Early elections can be scheduled for the end of May or the beginning of June at the earliest, mostly because there is no time to check the electoral roll. The option of moving the election date to September is also on the table,” the ambassador of an EU member country told BIRN under condition of anonymity. The same diplomat said spending more time to adopt reforms that guarantee free and fair elections and the participation of the opposition is more important than sticking to the ruling VMRO DPMNE party’s April 24 timetable. The EU-brokered deal reached last summer “is a process that should lead to fair and inclusive elections, not to sticking to predefined [election] dates,” he added. “Many deadlines [in the agreement] were breached. If the ruling party insists that the polls go in their favour, they should agree to a new election date,” the ambassador continued.

Pakistan: Election Commission told to buy electronic voting machines by September | The Express Tribune

After months of wrangling, a parliamentary panel on electoral reforms on Wednesday directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to procure electronic voting machines (EVMs) by September 2016 for experimental use with a view for formal deployment, despite strong reservations from the top electoral body. “ECP will procure EVMs by September this year and use it in any by-polls,” announced Minister for Climate Change Zahid Hamid, who heads an eight member sub-committee of the parliamentary committee on electoral reforms, in Islamabad on Wednesday. “If the experiment is successful, next general elections will be held through electronic voting.”

Press Release: Clear Ballot Expands Senior Leadership Team; Election Technology Company names Jordan Esten as COO and Edwin Smith as Vice President, Products | Clear Ballot

Today Clear Ballot signaled that the company is poised for further growth by naming Jordan Esten as the company’s Chief Operating Officer and Edwin Smith as Vice President, Products.

“I am very pleased to announce Jordan as our COO and Ed as Vice President, Products,” said Larry Moore, CEO of Clear Ballot. “Both of these individuals have contributed significantly to Clear Ballot’s expansion and the creation and launch of our innovative election technology into the marketplace.”

Jordan Esten developed his expertise in guiding technology companies through important stages of growth as an investment banker at Robert W. Baird where he held positions in both Europe and the US. In that role, he advised management and boards of directors of technology companies on corporate strategy, mergers & acquisitions, and equity offerings. Esten earned a BS, from Carnegie Mellon University and an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. At Clear Ballot, where Esten previously served as Director of Business Development since 2012, he applied his critical operational and project finance experience to expand Clear Ballot’s team of employees and investors.