If the term “audit” either makes you shudder or makes you want to snooze, you’re not alone. But a post-election audit can be an integral step in ensuring the integrity of the election process. Voting machines go through lots of pre-election testing. They are tested against federal guidelines and state requirements, and then election officials do trial runs called “logic and accuracy testing” before each election to ensure they are working as they should (see NCSL’s webpage on Voting System Standards, Testing and Certification). But the pre-election testing doesn’t tell you whether or not the machine actually functioned correctly during the election. To do that, many states do additional testing after the election—a post-election audit. As explained by Pam Smith from the Verified Voting Foundation, “A post-election audit is a tool that election officials can use to prove that their voting systems are working properly and a tool that the public can use to have confidence that the outcome of the election was correct.”
At election time we inevitably hear earnest pleas for everyone to vote. Voter participation is a data point often cited in political studies, along with an assumption that the higher the percentage, the better: 100 percent participation is the goal. But we rarely question this belief, or objectively consider whether everyone who can vote ought to vote. Pleas for everyone to vote ignore the fact that not voting can itself be a way of voting. The trumpery of the current Republican primary campaign has led some of us to decide that they want no part of it and so will not vote. Not voting, then, can be a protest against all the available candidates. It’s hard, however, to distinguish such protest from mere apathy or forgetfulness, and we ought to provide a way of registering it in the polling booth. We might, for example, add as a ballot choice “No Acceptable Candidate.”
Voters dismayed with Arizona’s problematic presidential primary voiced frustrations with long lines and registration issues Monday during a hearing for a court challenge to have the election results thrown out. Testimony came in the wake of the March 22 election where Arizona’s most populous county drastically cut polling places. The move emboldened Tucson resident John Brakey, elections integrity activist to sue Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan and all 15 counties. In a courtroom packed with elections officials and onlookers, voters described waiting in long lines and arguing with elections about problems with their party affiliation. “The judge is going to have to extrapolate and see how that is a representative example of the variety of similar things that happened to people,” said Michael Kielsky, Brakey’s attorney.
California: How California’s U.S. Senate ballot could cause problems for the June 7 primary | Los Angeles Times
If elections officials could send just one message to California’s 17.2 million registered voters about the U.S. Senate primary in June, it would probably be this: Read the instructions carefully. “It’s not necessarily intuitive on how to properly mark this ballot,” said Kammi Foote, registrar of voters for Inyo County. And a mistake could keep a ballot from counting. On primary day, the race to replace retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer will feature 34 candidates. Only four of those candidates have received appreciable support in public polling so far, and five will appear at the first Senate debate Monday night. But the full field is larger than any single roster of statewide contenders since the colossal list of 135 candidates who ran in the 2003 special election that recalled then-Gov. Gray Davis. (To make the ballot, candidates must pay about $3,500 or collect 10,000 signatures.)
Legislation to restore a presidential primary in Colorado passed its first committee hurdle Monday, as lawmakers race to get it done by the end of the session May 11. House Bill 1454 would allow every voter — even those registered as unaffiliated with a party — to cast a mail ballot in a presidential primary in 2020. Coloradans would have their first presidential primary since 2000, before the state returned to the caucus system in 2004. The House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee voted 5-4 along party lines, with Republicans in opposition. Under the bill, unaffiliated voters would pick which party’s ballot they wish to receive, then that temporary affiliation would go away 30 days after the vote.
A proposal to host a pilot program of an electronic voter checklist in three New Hampshire communities next fall, including Manchester, is the subject of a public hearing before a state Senate subcommittee later this week. A hearing on proposed amendment 2016-1514s — an act relative to reports of death of voters and authorizing an electronic poll book trial program — is scheduled for Wednesday, April 27 at 10 a.m. before the Senate Public and Municipal Affairs Committee in the Legislative Office Building, Room 102. The proposed amendment would be tacked on to HB 1534, relative to reports of death of voters. If approved by committee members, the amendment would go before the full Senate on May 5.
It hasn’t exactly been a banner week for the New York City Board of Elections, and it’s only Monday. The fallout of a problem-plagued presidential primary last week continued today with an offer of $20 million in extra city funding from Mayor Bill de Blasio—but only if the board cleans up its act. That would include making “systemic changes” based on recommendations from an outside consultant and publicly posting all job vacancies, improving poll worker staffing with better pay and better training, and communicating more clearly with voters about poll sites, election days and registration statuses. “We’ve said this is, in effect, a challenge grant,” Mr. de Blasio said. “There’s a lot we’d like to help the Board of Elections do, but we must see commitment to reform and modernization, or we’re not going to spend the taxpayers’ dollars.”
North Carolina: Federal judge who backed limits on early ballots upholds voter ID requirement | The Charlotte Observer
A federal judge has upheld North Carolina’s voter ID law in a ruling posted Monday evening. U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder issued a 485-page ruling dismissing all claims in the challenge to the state’s sweeping 2013 election law overhaul. Schroeder, a George W. Bush appointee, also upheld portions of the 2013 law that cut the number of days people could vote early, eliminated same-day registration and voting and prohibits people from casting a ballot outside their precinct. The decision comes nearly three months after a trial on the ID portion of the law. Schroeder noted that North Carolina had “become progressive nationally” by permitting absentee voting, having early voting for 17 days before the Election Day, a lengthy registration period, out of precinct voting on Election Day and a pre-registration program for 16-year-olds. “In 2013, North Carolina retrenched,” Schroeder said in his opinion. Ultimately, though, Schroeder said the state had provided “legitimate state interests” in making the changes and the challengers failed to demonstrate that the law was unconstitutional.
Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea is coming under stinging criticism for the organization and lack of polling places available for tomorrow’s primary in RI. Much of the criticism has come from those supporting Bernie Sanders that fear long lines will deter new voters. Gorbea has endorsed Hillary Clinton for President. Gorbea ran for Secretary of State on her platform of expanding access for voters. Her campaign web site promised, that she would “ensure fair, fast and accurate elections.” Her leading campaign priority on her campaign website promised,”Nellie Gorbea believes that democracy works best when people actively participate in voting. She will increase voting levels through public education campaigns, expand access to mail ballots and begin online voter registration to make it easier to vote. She will ensure that all eligible voters can vote.”
Austria’s governing coalition was thrown into turmoil after its candidates were humiliated in the first round of presidential elections by the Freedom Party, a nationalist force that took the most votes following a campaign that played on discontent with the handling of the refugee crisis. The Freedom Party’s Norbert Hofer, 45, who placed first with 35 percent of the first-round ballots on Sunday, said he may fire the current government or veto some of its decisions if elected, raising the stakes for the May 22 runoff. Hofer will run against Alexander van der Bellen, 72, a candidate backed by the opposition Green party, who took 21 percent, according to official results.
Bulgarian citizens, angered over controversial changes to the electoral code, planned to stage a protest in front of parliament in Sofia on Tuesday. Protesters oppose the introduction of mandatory voting, a ban on opening polling stations outside Bulgarian diplomatic missions abroad as well as the launch of experimental online voting in the presidential elections in October, which they view as hasty. ‘We are warning MPs that… any attempt to technically limit our rights will not pass without consequences,” the organizers said on Facebook. Bulgaria’s parliament gave a green light to mandatory voting on April 21, qualifying it as a “civil duty” following a legislative proposal of the far-right Patriotic Front party.
Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang received 99 percent of the early vote count from Sunday’s election in the two most-populous areas, the government said. Obiang, 73, obtained 40,600 votes out of 40,926 in partial results tallied in the capital, Malabo, and the port city of Bata, according to a statement on the government’s website. Already Africa’s longest-serving leader, Obiang is on track to beat out six other candidates for another seven-year term.
Kenyan police fired tear gas into a crowd of opposition leaders and their supporters as they marched on the office of the country’s electoral commission to demand it disband before next year’s election. Several protesters were arrested and at least two policemen were injured by stones, police said. The opposition rejected the outcome of the last presidential vote in March 2013. Its leaders petitioned the supreme court to overturn the result. The court upheld it. Raila Odinga, the leader of the opposition and its candidate for president, said then that he accepted the court’s decision and the victory of his opponent, Uhuru Kenyatta. That helped avert the kind of violence that broke out after Kenya’s 2007 election, when more than 1,200 people were killed.
Mexico: Millions of Mexican voter records leaked to Amazon’s cloud, says infosec expert | Ars Technica
A leaked database containing the voting records of millions of Mexican voters has been discovered by a security researcher. Chris Vickery, who works for MacKeeper, said he first spotted the Mexican voters’ roll—containing the records of 87 million voters in Mexico—on April 14. Vickery told Ars that he found the database with Shodan, a search engine that can find pretty much anything connected to the Internet. “The search term that returned this database was just ‘port:27017’ (the default MongoDB port),” Vickery said. “There really was nothing special about the search terms. It was just a stroke of luck that I saw it and followed up.” He added that the database was not accessible over HTTP: “You had to use a MongoDB client, but all you needed was the IP address. There was nothing protecting it at all.”
The international election observation mission led by the OSCE and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, PACE, on Monday declared that the elections in Serbia were generally conducted in accordance with the law, but admitted problematic issues at polling stations. “The design of the voting screens and the layout of the PSs [polling stations] did not ensure the secrecy of the vote, which is not in line with OSCE commitments and other international obligations and standards,” an official statement said. The OSCE/PACE mission said it had received reports about the intimidating presence of members of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party, SNS, in and around some polling stations.