Green Party Presidential Nominee Jill Stein’s recent requests for recounts in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin highlight how few states routinely verify the accuracy of their vote counts: Twenty-two states do not require a post-election audit, and 15 states do not require paper records that could be compared against electronic vote tallies in a recount. With roughly 22.5 percent of registered voters living in election districts with paperless ballots, the pressure to audit vote counts is mounting. Modern electronic machines are susceptible to tampering, casting doubt on the security of the machines and the certainty of their final vote counts. Following the 2000 presidential election and the resulting legal challenges in Florida over inaccurate counts of votes cast on paper ballots, Congress distributed more than $3 billion to replace manual voting equipment with modern electronic machines. At the time, “there was a feeling among some election officials and state legislatures that it’d be best to avoid paper going forward,” said Larry Norden, deputy director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. Instead, states opted for “computerized voting machines that just told you what the totals were and you wouldn’t have to deal with the messy process of trying to figure out voter intent.” But as it’s become clear that without a paper record there’s no way to verify vote tallies, computer scientists and election activists have begun pushing for states to not only keep a paper record but to also institute routine post-election audits. Since 2004, many states passed a law requiring audits.
National: Supreme Court appears in favor of ruling against racial gerrymandering in GOP-controlled states | Baltimore Sun
A Supreme Court majority on Monday appeared to lean in favor of Democrats in Virginia and North Carolina seeking to rein in what they call racial gerrymandering by Republican-controlled legislatures in those states. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who is likely to hold the deciding vote, said he was troubled that Republican leaders drew new election maps by moving more black voters into districts that already had a majority of African American residents and usually favored black candidates. Civil rights lawyers and Democrats have contended these “packed” districts have the effect of diluting or weakening the political power of black and Latino voters in other districts and statewide. “I have problems with that,” Kennedy said, suggesting he would question such districts if the “tipping point, the principal motivating factor was race.”
National: The Supreme Court Tackles The Political Riddle Of Race-Based Gerrymandering | FiveThirtyEight
Every 10 years, after the census is complete, legislators in statehouses across the country embark on a time-honored tradition: remapping the boundaries of their states’ voting districts, usually to the benefit of the people doing the remapping. Gerrymandering, the practice of painstakingly engineering districts to bestow an advantage on the politicians in control of the process, has been baked into the American political process since the 18th century — and legal challenges to the weird-looking maps that result have their own long history, too. But not all gerrymanders are created equal, at least from a legal perspective. On Monday, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in two gerrymandering cases, in which the plaintiffs claim that after the 2010 census, Republican legislators in North Carolina and both parties in Virginia deliberately packed black voters into a small number of congressional and state legislative districts. The plaintiffs in the two cases, McCrory v. Harris (North Carolina) and Bethune-Hill v. Virginia State Board of Elections (Virginia), claim that by concentrating black voters in a few districts in an effort to protect their majorities, legislators unfairly diluted black voters’ influence. The legislators, on the other hand, say they are merely complying with the Voting Rights Act, which requires states to create districts where minority voters can select their preferred candidate. The question at the heart of these cases is a political riddle: How much mandated racial gerrymandering is too much racial gerrymandering?
Election officials might not want to hear this, but the way we vote isn’t scientific. If they were conducted using the scientific method, recounts would be expected, maybe even mandatory. People would want to re-examine the raw data — as former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein has been pushing to do in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Why? There’s no reason to assume elections are any more immune to errors than scientific studies, where replication is often a requirement for acceptance. And that means not just rechecking final results but either running an experiment again or re-evaluating the raw data — akin to the hand recounts that Stein, as well as a number of computer scientists, have advocated for. Stein succeeded in Michigan, where a hand recount is expected to begin Friday, and lodged a partial victory in Wisconsin, where both hand and machine recounts started Thursday. This isn’t just an exercise in sore losing. Vote counts, after all, aren’t any more sacred than any other kind of measurement. It’s a key tenet of science that measurements, from weight to temperature to cholesterol counts, are imperfect reflections of reality. Scientists acknowledge this uncertainty with error bars — if the error bars overlap, they can’t definitively declare one value bigger than the other.
The long-running Republican war against the right to vote has now gone national at the instigation of President-elect Donald Trump, who has promoted the lie that millions of illegal votes were cast in the presidential election. There is not a scintilla of evidence for this claim, and Mr. Trump’s own lawyers have admitted as much, stating in a court filing opposing a recount in Michigan that “all available evidence suggests that the 2016 general election was not tainted by fraud or mistake.” Yet one after the next, leading Republicans are spreading this slander of American democracy, smoothing the way to restrict voting rights across the country. On Sunday, Vice President-elect Mike Pence told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that it was Mr. Trump’s “right to express his opinion as president-elect.” When pushed to admit that the illegal-voting claim was not true, Mr. Pence shifted the burden of proof away from Mr. Trump, even though Mr. Trump has accused millions of Americans of committing a crime. “Look,” Mr. Pence said, “I don’t know that that’s a false statement, George, and neither do you.”
An error that forced the reprinting of 2,917,201 general election ballots will cost the state of Alabama $459,690.80, according to Secretary of State John Merrill. The ballot had to be reprinted to add the complete required language to the ballot in order to capture the entire statement that had been prepared in the original legislation. Once the error was discovered, Merrill immediately contacted the service provider and instructed them to stop printing the ballots. All required ballot styles had not yet been printed. Merrill then directed his staff to make the required, corrected changes and recertify the corrected ballot language to the vendor so printing could be completed.
It looked like democracy’s bingo hall. In the lobby of the Riverside County elections office Thursday, Dec. 1, workers sat at foldout tables with sheets of paper and ballots. Methodically and calmly, they verified votes cast electronically in last month’s general election. A sign taped to a wall asked for quiet amid the shuffling of papers and voices reciting names of candidates and ballot measures. It’s part of a state-mandated and manual labor-intensive process that starts after the polls close. More than 14 million Californians voted in the Nov. 8 election, and ballots were still being tallied last week, long after Election Day and with most races clearly decided.
Three central Florida voters are mounting an unlikely bid to overturn the presidential election result in the Sunshine State. In a lawsuit filed Monday in Leon Circuit Court, they assert that Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump, actually won Florida. The plaintiffs, who live in Osceola and Volusia counties, say the state’s official election results were off because of hacking, malfunctioning voting machines and other problems. They’re asking for a hand recount of every paper ballot in Florida, at the expense of defendants including Trump, Gov. Rick Scott and the 29 Republican presidential electors from Florida.
Palm Beach County state Senator Jeff Clemens filed legislation this week (SB 72) that would automatically register Floridians to vote when they apply for or renew their driver’s license. “The reason is pretty simple – nobody should have to jump through an extra hoop to exercise their constitutional rights,” says Clemens, who edged out Irv Slosberg in a fiercely combative primary in the Democratic-leaning Senate District 31 in August. Clemens says this is either the third or fourth time he’s proposed such a bill, and he says that his fellow Republicans should embrace it.
The central Kansas town of Frederick has dwindled over the decades to just 10 people, and its only real expense is a $55-a-month electric bill for a half-dozen or so street lights that illuminate the unpaved streets. For a community with nine registered voters, the tally at the ballot box last month was 13-7 in favor of keeping Frederick a third-class city. The three workers at the polling place 5 miles to the west handed out the wrong ballots to some voters living outside the city. Local and state officials, at a loss for what to do, are letting the results stand. Either way, it’s unclear whether anything will change for Frederick’s residents. Just off a state highway about 75 miles northwest of Wichita, this city-in-name-only has no approved budget and didn’t elect anyone to any office in its last municipal election in 2015.
Broken polling machines may have put vote counts in question in more than half of Detroit’s precincts and nearly one-third of surrounding Wayne County, possibly throwing the Michigan recount into chaos. If the discrepancies can’t be solved by recounting every paper ballot in question by hand, a recount in those precincts simply won’t happen. Donald Trump’s slim margin over Hillary Clinton means any chance that the state might flip on a recount likely hinges on Wayne County, where she won by a landslide. Clinton lost by 10,704 votes in Michigan; Wayne’s population of 1,759,335 makes it the likeliest candidate to contain errors bigger than that margin. Eighty-seven of Wayne County’s decade-old voting machines broke on election day, according to Detroit’s elections director, Daniel Baxter. He told the Detroit News, which first reported the story, that ballot scanners often jammed when polling place workers were trying to operate them. Every time a jammed ballot was removed and reinserted, he suspects the machine may have re-counted it.
One-third of precincts in Wayne County could be disqualified from an unprecedented statewide recount of presidential election results because of problems with ballots. Michigan’s largest county voted overwhelmingly for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, but officials couldn’t reconcile vote totals for 610 of 1,680 precincts during a countywide canvass of vote results late last month. Most of those are in heavily Democratic Detroit, where the number of ballots in precinct poll books did not match those of voting machine printout reports in 59 percent of precincts, 392 of 662. According to state law, precincts whose poll books don’t match with ballots can’t be recounted. If that happens, original election results stand. “It’s not good,” conceded Daniel Baxter, elections director for the city of Detroit.
As the largest election recount in state history got under way across Michigan this afternoon, the state Republican Party sought to stop the counting by appealing a ruling issued earlier today by a Detroit federal judge. U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith got the recount started after a rare Sunday court hearing, granting Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s request for the hand recounting of about 4.8 million ballots starting today , instead of waiting until Wednesday as called for under Michigan law. The Michigan Republican Party, through its attorney Gary Gordon of Lansing, filed notice this afternoon it plans to file an appeal of Goldsmith’s ruling with the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. Despite the appeal notice, the recount continues unless Goldsmith’s order is stayed or overturned.
North Carolina: Gov. Pat McCrory concedes defeat to Roy Cooper as Durham County recount wraps up | News & Observer
Gov. Pat McCrory announced Monday that he’s conceded the election to Roy Cooper, assuring a new period of divided power in state government. Four years after becoming the first Republican to win the North Carolina governor’s office in more than two decades, McCrory made the concession in a video message posted around noon Monday as a recount he requested in Durham County entered its final hours. Durham officials finished the recount later Monday with virtually no change in the vote tally there. “I personally believe that the majority of our citizens have spoken, and we now should do everything we can to support the 75th governor of North Carolina, Roy Cooper,” McCrory said in the video. “The McCrory administration team will assist in every way to help the new administration make a smooth transition. “It’s time to celebrate our democratic process and respect what I see to be the ultimate outcome of the closest North Carolina governor’s race in modern history.”
North Carolina: Pat McCrory, North Carolina Governor, Concedes After Acrimonious Race | The New York Times
Ending an acrimonious stalemate that dragged on for nearly a month, Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, conceded in his bid for re-election here on Monday, clearing the way for the ascension of his challenger, the Democrat Roy Cooper, and giving the national Democratic Party a rare cause for celebration. Mr. Cooper, the state attorney general, declared victory on election night, but Mr. McCrory’s allies lodged election challenges in dozens of North Carolina counties, enraging Democrats who accused Republicans of being sore losers, or worse, in one of 2016’s closest statewide races. Most of the challenges proved to be of little consequence, however. And by Monday, as partial results of a recount of more than 90,000 votes that Republicans had demanded in Durham County showed no significant change in the results, Mr. McCrory — whose one term was buffeted by nationwide anger over a law he signed that curbed anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people — had little choice but to admit defeat.
Pennsylvania: Stein lawyers take Pennsylvania recount battle to federal court | Philadelphia Inquirer
Green Party-backed lawyers moved their fight for a recount of Pennsylvania’s Nov. 8 presidential election results to federal court Monday, hoping the new venue and a last-minute shift in strategy would favor their push for an audit of the state’s nearly 24,000 voting machines. Calling Pennsylvania’s election system a “national disgrace” reliant upon outdated technology, the lawyers urged a Philadelphia judge to order a statewide recount and a forensic examination of a sample set of the machines. Both steps, the lawyers said in their complaint, are necessary to determine if hackers manipulated the state’s election results. They offered no evidence to suggest any manipulation had occurred. “Voters are forced to use vulnerable, hackable, antiquated technology banned in other states, then rely on the kindness of machines. There is no paper trail,” lawyers Ilann M. Maazel and Gregory Harvey wrote in the filing. “A majority of machines voted for Donald Trump in Pennsylvania. But who did the people vote for?”
Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein filed a lawsuit in a Pennsylvania federal court Monday as part of her push for a statewide recount in the presidential race. Stein’s complaint alleges that Pennsylvania’s elections operation is “a national disgrace. Voters are forced to use vulnerable, hackable, antiquated technology banned in other states, then rely on the kindness of machines,” the complaint reads. “There is no paper trail. Voting machines are electoral black sites: no one permits voters or candidates to examine them.” Stein tweeted Sunday about her plans to file the recount lawsuit, writing that she planned to “escalate #Recount2016” because “people deserve answers.” Stein filed her lawsuit, first reported by BuzzFeed News, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The move comes after Stein’s lawyer on Saturday withdrew a state lawsuit seeking a recount in Pennsylvania, saying in a filing that the petitioners are “regular citizens of ordinary means” who “cannot afford to post the $1,000,000 bond required by the Court.”
With the outcome of at least one Vermont House race still unclear, and another recount having taken longer than expected, officials from both parties have questioned a 2014 law that requires machines to be used in the process. State officials say they’ll review details associated with the recounts, but that the basic concept of machine-tabulated recounts is still superior to counting votes by hand. “We do acknowledge … that better, clearer procedures need to be put in place to bring consistency and order to the process,” William Senning, director of elections for the Secretary of State’s Office, said on Wednesday. “We intend to adopt administrative rules before the next election cycle which will clarify the procedure.” … In order to prevail, both incumbents will need to argue that there were flaws in the recount process, which took place under a recently passed law requiring the use of vote tabulation machines.
On 24th November the opposition-controlled Argentine Senate blocked a vote on electoral reform that included the implementation of a new electronic voting system as proposed by President Mauricio Macri. The government-sponsored bill had already been approved by the lower house of Congress in October, but the delay in the Senate means it will not be sanctioned before the end of the legislative year, and therefore not applicable for the mid-term elections in October 2017. However, the government says it will continue to push for the reform, and the debate over the electronic voting system – known as the Single Electronic Ballot (BUE, in Spanish) – continues in Argentina, where it has already been deployed in the province of Salta and the city of Buenos Aires. Various forms of electronic voting are also currently present in countries such as Brazil, Canada, Estonia, India, the USA, and Switzerland, while other states such as Germany, Norway, and the Netherlands have abandoned it after a short period of use.
Ghana will tomorrow go to the polls to elect another President and 275 Parliamentarians to administer the affairs of the country for the next four years. About 15million voters, out of the 27million population are said to have registered for the election, which observers believe, is the most “tension-soaked” in the history of the 59 year-old West African country. Ghana runs a uni-cameral legislature. Since 1992 when Flt. Lt. Jerry Rawlings handed over power to Mr. John Agyekum Kuffour, there have been peaceful transitions of power between the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the largest opposition party, New Patriotic Party (NPP). Rawlings ruled for 11 years as Military Head of State after which he shed his military uniform, formed the NDC and contested as its flag bearer, won and ruled for eight years of two terms each before his party lost to Kuffour in 2000.
Ireland: Government will publish paper on the extension of voting rights to Irish abroad in January | Irish Post
An options paper on extending voting rights in presidential elections to Irish citizens living abroad is due in January, according to Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald. The issue of extending the electoral franchise to members of the Irish Diaspora around the world was raised by Sinn Féin deputy Mary Lou McDonald TD, speaking during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil. Ms McDonald accused the Government of a “con job” in their treatment of the prospect of the Irish abroad and those in Northern Ireland being handed the right to vote in presidential elections. But the Tánaiste rejected Sinn Féin’s accusation that the Government had been “stalling” on the issue, saying that “considerable practical implications” had been behind the motion’s apparent lack of speed.
Uzbekistan’s acting president has overwhelmingly won a tightly controlled presidential election, the Central Asian country’s first vote since the death of authoritarian leader Islam Karimov, election officials said Monday. Shavkat Mirziyoyev garnered 88.61 percent of the vote, Central Election Commission head Murza-Ulugbek Abdusalomov said during a briefing in Tashkent. Turnout was 87.83 percent, according to officials. None of the other three presidential contenders managed to get more than 4 percent of the ballots cast. While there were some minor improvements compared with previous elections, the vote was marred by a muzzled media, lack of independent candidates and widespread falsification, according to a report released by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. The election “underscored the need of comprehensive reform to address long-standing systemic shortcomings,” the OSCE said in its preliminary findings.