If, like a growing number of people, you’re willing to trust the Internet to safeguard your finances, shepherd your love life, and maybe even steer your car, being able to cast your vote online might seem like a logical, perhaps overdue, step. No more taking time out of your workday to travel to a polling place only to stand in a long line. Instead, as easily as hailing a ride, you could pull out your phone, cast your vote, and go along with your day. Sounds great, right? Absolutely not, says Stanford computer science professor David Dill. In fact, online voting is such a dangerous idea that computer scientists and security experts are nearly unanimous in opposition to it. Dill first got involved in the debate around electronic voting in 2003, when he organized a group of computer scientists to voice concerns over the risks associated with the touchscreen voting machines that many districts considered implementing after the 2000 election. Since then, paperless touchscreen voting machines have all but died out, partly as a result of public awareness campaigns by the Verified Voting Foundation, which Dill founded to help safeguard local, state, and federal elections. But a new front has opened around the prospect of Internet voting, as evidenced by recent ballot initiatives proposed in California and other efforts to push toward online voting. Here, Dill discusses the risks of Internet voting, the challenge of educating an increasingly tech-comfortable public, and why paper is still the best way to cast a vote.
California: ‘It was just chaos’: Broken machines, incomplete voter rolls leave some wondering whether their ballots will count | Los Angeles Times
California voters faced a tough time at the polls Tuesday, with many voters saying they have encountered broken machines, polling sites that opened late and incomplete voter rolls, particularly in Los Angeles County. The result? Instead of a quick in-and-out vote, many California voters were handed the dreaded pink provisional ballot — which takes longer to fill out, longer for election officials to verify and which tends to leave voters wondering whether their votes will be counted. This year’s presidential primary race has already been one of the most bitter in recent memory. Before Tuesday’s vote, Bernie Sanders supporters accused the media of depressing Democratic turnout by calling the nomination for Hillary Clinton before polls opened in California. Those feelings haven’t gotten any less raw Tuesday as hundreds of Californians complained of voting problems to the national nonpartisan voter hotline run by the Lawyers’ Committee For Civil Rights Under Law. It’s difficult to get a sense for how widespread the problems are or how they compare to recent elections. But experts said the culprit for Tuesday’s voting problems seems to be a confluence of factors — old voting machines, a competitive election that has drawn new voters, plus complex state voting laws that can be hard for poll volunteers and voters to follow.
Kansas cannot prevent thousands of eligible voters from casting ballots in the November federal election because they didn’t prove they were U.S. citizens when registering to vote at motor vehicle offices, a federal appeals court ruled Friday. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling temporarily upholds a court order that required Kansas to allow those individuals to vote in federal elections even though they didn’t provide citizenship documentation when applying or renewing their driver’s licenses, as required under Kansas law. The state has said as many as 50,000 people could be affected. The appeals court judges said Kansas had not made the necessary showing for a stay pending appeal, but agreed to hear the appeal quickly.
Ohio: Federal judge finds Ohio laws on absentee and provisional ballots violate U.S. Constitution | Cleveland Plain Dealer
A federal judge on Tuesday threw out provisions in Ohio’s law that had voided absentee and provisional ballots for technical flaws made by otherwise qualified voters. In a lawsuit filed by the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, the Columbus Coalition for the Homeless and the Ohio Democratic Party, U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley ruled that the laws violated provisions of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that require citizens receive equal protection under the law. Marbley also ruled that the state’s attempt to shorten a period from 10 to 7 days during which voters could fix those technical flaws was also unconstitutional, as was a provision that forbid poll workers from helping to fill out the ballot forms unless the voter declared he or she was either illiterate or disabled. Witnesses in a voting rights case in federal court said this week that in 2014 some legitimate ballots were rejected, while in other cases flaw ballots were counted. The case involves a lawsuit by advocates for the homeless and Ohio Democrats who are challenging the constitutionality of some Ohio election laws.
Editorials: Pennsylvania bill to permit internet voting for military, overseas travelers an invitation to hackers | Daniel Lopresti/The Morning Call
The Pennsylvania Legislature is considering a bill, sponsored by Sen. Pat Stefano, that would permit military and overseas voters to transmit voted ballots over the internet. Despite good intentions, SB 1052 would jeopardize the vote and voice of our troops and compromise the integrity of Pennsylvania elections by exposing them to attacks from hackers operating…
The Supreme Court on Monday said it would intervene in another political redistricting case from Virginia to consider whether state office voting lines were racially gerrymandered. The high court earlier this year examined whether the Republican-led state legislature discriminated against African-Americans in the way they drew Virginia’s districts for the U.S. Congress, a case that ended without a ruling on the merits. In the earlier case a lower court said lawmakers had illegally packed black voters into one district, diluting their influence in other districts. That litigation ended after the Supreme Court said three Republican congressmen didn’t have legal standing to appeal.
Haiti’s major foreign donors reluctantly gave the green light Monday to the country’s elections body to rerun last year’s contested presidential elections in October but they remain “deeply concerned” about the consequences of not having an elected president and government until February 2017. “It is the responsibility of an elected government to address the socio-economic and humanitarian challenges Haiti is facing,” the Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Sandra Honoré, said in a joint statement with the ambassadors of Brazil, Canada, Spain, France, the United States, the European Union and the Special Representative of the Organization of American States. The ambassadors, known as the “Core Group,” and their nations helped contribute to last year’s election price tag that Haiti’s interim president Jocelerme Privert said over the weekend was $100 million. The U.S. government alone contributed about $33 million including providing vehicles for Haiti’s beleaguered police force to provide security for the balloting. Only $8.2 million is left in an overall election fund, according to the United Nations Development Program resident representative in Haiti.
The U.K. government’s website for voter registration crashed Tuesday night, sparking panic that citizens may miss out on casting their ballots. Voters scrambled to submit their application forms before the midnight deadline, in order to participate in a June 23 referendum on whether to leave the European Union. A sudden surge in traffic caused the service to collapse, raising questions about whether online democracy is really ready for primetime. Politicians across the spectrum are now calling for a deadline extension after the fiasco. Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the center-left Labour Party, said on Twitter that the deadline has to be extended, given the circumstances. Corbyn was joined by Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrats, and Nigel Farage, whose right-wing U.K. Independence Party is campaigning for a leave vote. The site was only used to register voters, rather than to actually count votes in an election, but it does highlight some issues that may arise if democracies switched to an online ballot box. What happens if the site crashes near the deadline? Would the cut-off point get extended? If certain groups were seen as disenfranchised, like Firefox users who couldn’t get the site to display, would this draw into question the result’s legitimacy?
Thirty years ago, the Supreme Court expanded the meaning of one of the most important civil rights laws in U.S. history — the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Among other things, the court prohibited a then-common practice among some states of spreading minorities across voting districts, leaving them too few in number in any given district to elect their preferred candidates. The practice became known as “racial gerrymandering.” The court’s solution required that states create majority-minority districts — districts in which the majority of the voting-age population belonged to a single minority. With voting that occurred largely along racial lines, these districts allowed minority voters to elect their candidates of choice. But a fascinating development occurred in the years since. These districts, rather than giving African Americans more political power, might have actually started to deprive them of it. Majority-minority districts, by concentrating the minority vote in certain districts, have the unintended consequence of diluting their influence elsewhere. Experts say some Republican legislatures have capitalized on this new reality, redistricting in their political favor under the guise of majority-minority districts.
American Samoa: American Samoans demand Supreme Court finally grant them full citizenship | Los Angeles Times
Claiming they have been relegated to second-class status, some American Samoans are asking the Supreme Court to correct a historic wrong and overturn a century-old law that denies them the right to be U.S. citizens at birth. Unlike children born in all the states and the other U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, the newborns of American Samoans do not become automatic U.S. citizens. They are instead deemed as “nationals” who owe their allegiance to the United States, but lack the rights as citizens to vote, to serve as officers in the military or hold top government posts. The Carson-based Samoan Federation of America is asking the justices to take up its claim that the Constitution’s 14th Amendment promises citizenship to all persons born on U.S. soil. “We’re proud of the United States, and we want to be recognized as part of it,” said federation President Loa Pele Faletogo, 71, a military veteran living in Carson. “I see young men and women who go to war to fight for the United States. They are willing to die for a country that is not fully theirs and for a nation that doesn’t fully accept them as citizens.”
A Chandler attorney has filed a complaint against Secretary of State Michele Reagan over her decision to not revamp the state’s official election-procedures manual for poll workers ahead of the 2016 primary and general elections. In a letter Thursday, attorney Tom Ryan asked Attorney General Mark Brnovich to force Reagan to reissue the manual, or to refer the matter to the special prosecutor who is already investigating Reagan’s failure to mail publicity pamphlets in advance of last month’s special election. Ryan also asks Brnovich to “take all actions” necessary to ensure the “integrity of Arizona’s elections.” The secretary of state is required to issue the manual no later than 30 days before each election, according to state law, and submit it to the governor and the attorney general at least 90 days ahead of each election.
California: Unusual election outcomes are the new normal with California’s top-two primary rules | Los Angeles Times
For voters who spent decades – even lifetimes – trying to understand the rules for elections in California, the last four years of a new system have been a jarring jumble of candidates and choices. The seismic shock responsible: an overhaul of the rules for congressional and legislative primaries. That change, promised as a way to reform state politics, tore down election rules that had been built by political parties to give a leg up to their preferred candidates. What’s left is a system that’s far from settled, for either voters or candidates. “It has no doubt upped the uncertainty factor,” said Dave Gilliard, a Republican political consultant who managed several legislative races across California on Tuesday’s ballot. As many as two dozen races for the Legislature or Congress will pit same-party candidates against each other on Nov. 8, according to early returns from Tuesday. In most of those contests, it was outside money and the number of candidates on the primary ballot – not political strategy – that shaped the outcome.
Despite the chaos around them — loud voices, clanging metal doors, carts being rolled here and there across cement floors, a line of seven voters stood patiently waiting their turn to cast their ballot in Washington, D.C.’s primary. “John” was first in line to vote and after receiving his ballot he studied it carefully and began to fill it out. Before he had even completed the process, he wanted to know about getting his “I Voted” sticker. Could he have two? After he completed his ballot and put it in the secrecy envelope, “John” carefully peeled the sticker off the paper backing and proudly slapped it on his chest. The red, white and blue “I Voted” “Yo vote” sticker was in stark contrast to the orange prison jumpsuit “John” and his fellow voters were wearing. This week, two teams from the D.C. Board of Elections (DCBOE) headed to the D.C. Jail and to the Correctional Treatment Facility to allow eligible inmates to cast an absentee ballot for D.C.’s June 14 primary.
Eva Eason, 49, is blind, which means that when she goes online, she uses software which can read text on certain web sites aloud or translate it into Braille so she can read it herself. A year and a half ago, she needed to update her voter registration with a new address. But when she went to the Board of Elections web site, her software hit a snag when she tried to select a political party. “For some reason the screen reader was not picking it up. It wouldn’t take me to it. So I had to ask somebody,” Eason told WNYC. She also had problems when she tried the DMV site. “You want to be independent,” said Eason, “and then this is where you get stopped.” Now the New York State Board of Elections and Department of Motor Vehicles are facing a lawsuit over claims by Eason and others that they violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. The agencies are being sued over the accessibility of their websites. The complaint was filed in federal court Thursday.
North Carolina: How North Carolina’s new district map caused a chaotic congressional primary | The Guardian
North Carolina congresswoman Alma Adams was sitting in a campaign meeting at her headquarters in Greensboro, North Carolina, in early February, planning for what should have been an easy primary win. No Democratic challengers had declared their candidacy in time for the 15 March election. Victory was all but guaranteed. Before the meeting ended, one of her staffers interrupted with some unexpected news. A panel of three federal judges had ruled that the 12th district’s congressional map – which resembled a serpent slithering across central North Carolina’s cities – was unconstitutional due to racial gerrymandering. The district would need to be redrawn, the judges said. It was a win for racial justice, legal observers said. But the map redrawing that followed – the latest episode in a decades-old legal saga over the district lines – wasn’t a win for voter enfranchisement this election, in this deep blue district where the primary is likely to decide the race. When state lawmakers two weeks later redrew most of the state’s districts, the 70-year-old black Greensboro lawmaker discovered her home was nearly two hours away from the new Charlotte-centric district.
Betsy Heer spent her birthday in November 2004 standing in a cold rain, waiting 10½ hours to vote. She’s runs a bed-and-breakfast in the tiny town of Gambier, Ohio. Many of the 1,300 people who joined her in line were students at Kenyon College. “So yeah, it was exhausting and it was exciting and it was frustrating and it was all those things. But it definitely was democracy in action.” And in nearly every election since, Heer has opted instead to vote early. The reason she can is an overhaul of Ohio’s early voting laws spurred by what one judge called the “disastrous” 2004 election. The changes helped make election days smooth. But they’ve also created cycle of laws and lawsuits that make courts in Ohio a big player in the national debate over voter access. “They know how to ski in Colorado, we know how to litigate elections in Ohio,” laughs Ned Foley, director of Ohio State University’s election-law program. He notes that the fights in Ohio include one that’s been dragging on for a decade. There are battles over rejected ballots and efforts to eliminate “Souls to the Polls” Sunday. Over purging voter rolls and eliminating same-day registration-and-voting.
With the vocal support of GOP legislative leaders Wednesday, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted appealed the latest of two voting rights rulings against the state, blaming them for creating “ chaos and voter confusion.” “Unfortunately, in the time span of just two weeks, the integrity of our elections has been jeopardized as two federal judges have issued decisions that directly conflict with each other and put our elections process in limbo with no clear path forward absent a clear ruling from the appellate court,” Husted said. Democrats who won both court cases say if the Republicans want someone to blame for “chaos” in Ohio’s voting laws, they should look in the mirror. “Their handiwork continues to violate the Constitution — that’s where the chaos and confusion comes from,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper. “They’re just playing games at this point.”
The Australian Electoral Commission has still not “finalised” its plan for counting more than 12 million Senate ballots, with a little more than three weeks to polling day. The commission looks likely to turn to scanning machines for the first time to help it cope with a counting task massively expanded by the government’s changes to upper house voting. But the AEC insists it will have all the votes and preferences finalised by the mandated August 8 deadline. The commission is confronted with the task of entering up to 12 million ballots onto its system, up from about 500,000 under the old voting rules, and one electoral expert says it is unsurprising the AEC is battling to cope after the changes were rushed through by the government.
The far-right Freedom Party of Austria filed a legal challenge on Wednesday over the results of the country’s presidential election, disputing the outcome of the May 22 runoff, in which the party’s candidate, Norbert Hofer, was narrowly defeated. Officials said there was no precedent for a challenge to the outcome of a presidential election in the history of modern Austria, a federal republic that was reconstituted in 1945 from the ashes of Nazi Germany, which annexed the country in 1938. The challenge, submitted by the party’s chairman to the Constitutional Court, injected an element of uncertainty into a debate that has already stirred questions over the strength of the far right in a nation with a fraught wartime past. Mr. Hofer led the first round of voting, on April 24, in which the country’s two mainstream parties were handed a humbling defeat.
Kenya: President Moves to Resolve Electoral Body Stalemate With Joint House Committee | allAfrica.com
Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta has set up a joint committee of both the National Assembly and the Senate to resolve the stalemate over the electoral body. Speaking at State House Wednesday shortly before the reading of the budget, President Kenyatta agreed to the formation of the committee outside parliament that will hear and collate views of various stakeholders on the issue of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC). The move could be a breakthrough for the country which has been facing a standoff between the government and the opposition over IEBC. Five people have been killed and properties destroyed in the weekly demonstrations called by the opposition.
It could hardly have been closer. As the final votes were counted in the run-off ballot for Peru’s presidency, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, a liberal economist, seemed to have defeated Keiko Fujimori by just 39,000 out of almost 18m votes, a margin of 0.2%. After months in which Ms Fujimori had led opinion polls, this was a surprising reversal. It shows how deeply divided Peru is about the legacy of Ms Fujimori’s father, Alberto, who ruled it as an autocrat from 1990 to 2000; he is serving long prison terms for corruption and complicity in human-rights abuses. With such a narrow mandate, Mr Kuczynski’s first task when he takes office on July 28th will be to show that he can govern a country facing an economic slowdown and characterised by frequent social conflicts. It helps that he has few real policy differences with Ms Fujimori.
Spain is heading for its second election in six months on June 26 after party leaders failed to piece together a governing majority from the deadlocked parliament. While polls suggest that the result will be broadly similar to December’s ballot, small variations in the voting could lead to significant changes in the outcome. Here are some of the issues that could trigger such a shift. The anti-establishment party signed an alliance with the former communists of the United Left last month. By pooling their votes, the two groups minimize the number of ballots wasted in an electoral system which is skewed against smaller parties.
In the zero-sum game of parliamentary math, the result is a double whammy: Podemos gets more seats for its vote, while also pushing up the threshold its rivals will have to cross to elect each lawmaker. Podemos could add as many as 21 lawmakers to its 71-strong delegation in parliament while boosting its vote by just 1.3 percentage points, the state pollster CIS said Thursday. Spain’s political system allocates state funding to parties based on their representation in parliament — a rule that tilts the playing field in favor of established parties.
United Kingdom: Brexit Vote: U.K. Extends Voter Registration Deadline for EU Referendum | Wall Street Journal
U.K. lawmakers approved emergency legislation allowing more people to register to vote in the referendum on Britain’s continued membership of the European Union, prompting anger among some “leave” campaigners who said it would favor those lobbying to remain. A last-minute rush by those wishing to register to vote ahead of the initial deadline of midnight Tuesday caused the government’s website to crash, leaving some unable to access the system. Prime Minister David Cameron, who is leading the push to persuade voters to stay in the EU, said he wanted those people to have the opportunity to take part in the June 23 plebiscite. The government subsequently introduced legislation to extend the deadline to midnight on Thursday, which was passed by lawmakers in parliament earlier in the day.