Voting Blogs: Election Administration Woes and Not Just “Hoping for the Best” | More Soft Money Hard Law

For all the talk about weaknesses in the electoral systems–about voter fraud or hacking or machine failure, or all of the above–experience with these types of claims or concerns suggests that, as matters of general public debate, they will soon fade. The rhetoric may linger, but little of use, such as practical reforms, is likely to follow. This does not have to be the way the story ends. Six years ago, the Presidential Commission on Election Administration suggested at least two potentially helpful measures, one very concrete and urgent, and the other pressing but more politically complicated and so harder to execute. These reforms won’t satisfy everyone: they offer only so much to those with the darkest suspicions. But they would make a major difference in preventing a calamitous breakdown in the voting process and an even greater collapse of public confidence.

Alaska: Census Bureau adds areas, languages served by translations for elections | KTOO

More people who speak Alaska Native languages but who have limited English proficiency will receive translated sample ballots and other election material. That’s due to changes the U.S. Census Bureau announced on Monday.
The Census Bureau expanded the number of areas and languages eligible for election material translation.
Indra Arriaga, who manages language assistance compliance for the state Division of Elections, said it’s important to ensure that people receive translated sample ballots and election outreach public service announcements in minority languages.

Michigan: Judge’s order suspends Michigan’s recount | The Detroit News

A federal judge Wednesday suspended a recount of the Nov. 8 presidential election that started three days ago and has yet to reveal fraud or significantly alter the results. The manual statewide recount cost as much as $3 million but stopped after U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith lifted a temporary restraining order preventing state officials from stopping a recount prompted by Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein. A state election board could end the recount at a scheduled Thursday meeting. Stein failed to show she was an aggrieved candidate as defined by state law and entitled to a recount, the judge said. He concluded Stein’s request to test the election system’s vulnerability to fraud lacked evidence. “But invoking a court’s aid to remedy that problem in the manner plaintiffs have chosen — seeking a recount as an audit of the election to test whether the vulnerability led to actual compromise of the voting system — has never been endorsed by any court, and would require, at a minimum, evidence of significant fraud or mistake — and not speculative fear of them. Such evidence has not been presented here.”

Michigan: GOP senators seek probe of Wayne County election issues | The Detroit News

Twenty-three Republican state senators are calling on Attorney General Bill Schuette to investigate voting irregularities in Detroit and Wayne County discovered through the presidential election recount. At Wayne County’s recount Tuesday, election workers opened a Detroit precinct’s ballot box that was suppose to contain 306 ballots but only had 50 ballots, according to an election observer for President-elect Donald Trump. The missing ballots caused State Elections Director Chris Thomas to investigate the matter Wednesday while he was at Cobo Center for Wayne County’s recount. Thomas said Detroit Elections Director Daniel Baxter told him the ballots were left in a container that sits below the voting machine in Detroit’s precinct 152. “At the end of the night, they take those ballots out, put them in these metal ballot boxes and bring them to the city elections office,” Thomas said Wednesday. “For whatever reason, they got left in the tub below the tabulators and it wasn’t discovered until they brought them back in. At that point, they hadn’t been sealed, so they can’t be counted.”

Michigan: Stricter voter identification law passes House | Detroit Free Press

Stricter voter identification laws were described Wednesday night as both a way to ensure the integrity of elections is upheld and a means to erect barriers for vulnerable and minority voters. But in the end, Republicans who sponsored and supported the bills making voter identification laws more stringent, won the day, approving the main bill in the package on mostly party line votes of 57-50. Five Republicans joined all the Democrats in opposing the bill. “This protects the integrity of every legal citizens’ right to vote and to make sure the fraudulent votes aren’t cast,” said state Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Midland. “It seems to be a common sense requirement.”

New Hampshire: Gardner to Serve 21st Term as S.O.S; Hints at Taking Closer Look at N.H.’s Voting Laws | New Hampshire Public Radio

Bill Gardner, best known as the guardian of New Hampshire’s First in the Nation Presidential Primary, was elected to his 21st consecutive term as Secretary of State Wednesday. Gardner was chosen by both legislative chambers with no serious opposition. Having held the position since 1976, Gardner is the longest serving Secretary of State in the country. But during his victory speech, Gardner, whose office oversees state elections, told the packed House Chamber that taking a closer look at the New Hampshire’s voting laws…wouldn’t be a bad idea.

New York: Schneiderman calls for voting overhaul | The Hill

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) will introduce a sweeping package of reforms to the Empire State’s voter registration and election laws when the legislature reconvenes next year. In a report issued Tuesday, Schneiderman said he will push legislators to adopt an opt-out voter registration system, in which any eligible citizen is registered to vote during interactions with state agencies unless they proactively decline. Similar systems have registered millions of new voters in Oregon and California. Schneiderman also said he wants to allow New York voters to obtain an absentee ballot without having to offer an excuse and to allow voters to cast ballots in person for two weeks ahead of Election Day. While early and absentee voting is a critical element of each party’s strategy for winning swing states such as Florida, North Carolina and Nevada, Northeastern states have resisted pushes to ease voting ahead of Election Day. Like New York, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware and Pennsylvania all require voters to offer an excuse before obtaining an absentee ballot, and none offer in-person early voting. “The right to vote is the right that protects all other rights. New York must become a national leader by protecting and expanding voting rights throughout the state,” Schneiderman said.

Pennsylvania: Green Party in court again with demand to examine county voting machines | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

With just days before Allegheny County must certify the results of the 2016 presidential election, Green Party candidate Jill Stein again is demanding to examine the electronic voting machines used here. Candidates have a right to examine voting machines, the campaign argued in a filing Wednesday in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court, and “the Board of Elections improperly denied Dr. Stein the ability to exercise that right by refusing her request to have experts … determine whether they were working properly and had not been tampered with.” It was not clear Wednesday when a hearing might be held on the matter, but time is short. Allegheny County is set to certify its results on Dec. 12. Pennsylvania must certify statewide returns the following day. Meanwhile, Michigan’s presidential recount was halted Wednesday after three days, assuring Republican Donald Trump’s victory in the state, when a federal judge said he’ll abide by a court ruling that found Dr. Stein couldn’t seek another look at the vote.

Pennsylvania: Judge denies Jill Stein request for audit of Philadelphia voting machines | Philadelphia Inquirer

A Philadelphia judge has denied Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein’s request for a forensic audit of voting machines used in the city. Common Pleas Court Judge Abbe Fletman, in a written opinion issued Wednesday, said Stein “is mistaken” in her claim that the state Election Code gives her a right to the audit she requested. Stein had appealed a vote by the Philadelphia city commissioners last Thursday, denying her request for an audit. The commissioners did allow a recount requested in 75 of the city’s 1,686 voting divisions, which found no discrepancies in the voting machine results. Ilann Maazel, an attorney for Stein’s campaign, repeated in a hearing Tuesday claims already made in other Pennsylvania counties and in a federal filing, that voting machines used here are “extremely vulnerable” to computer hacking.

Wisconsin: Trump’s lead in Wisconsin barely changes as Wisconsin’s recount continues | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Wisconsin’s presidential recount is 70% done but the effort has resulted in almost no change to President-elect Donald Trump’s winning margin in the state, election officials said. The Wisconsin Elections Commission said Democrat Hillary Clinton has gained 82 votes so far on Trump, a Republican who won the Nov. 8 election in the state by more than 22,000 votes. The recount is on schedule to finish by the Monday deadline for local officials and the Tuesday deadline for the state, with 34 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties and the city of Milwaukee already finished, according to the state commission and Milwaukee Election Commission executive director Neil Albrecht. Some of the state’s biggest counties, including Dane and Brown, are still counting by hand or machine, however. Clinton has picked up 492 votes so far in the recount, but has gained almost no ground since Trump himself gained 410 votes in this new tally and led by 22,177 votes going into the recount.

Editorials: The right to vote belongs to every Canadian — everywhere | Jamie Liew and Donald Galloway/iPolitics

Who has the right to vote? Section 6 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms appears to give a clear enough answer by stating that “every citizen has the right to vote.” The Canada Elections Act, however, currently provides that citizens who have lived abroad for more than five years are not permitted to vote. This limit was defended by the previous government as demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society, therefore constitutional. The tension between the legislation and the Charter has led to litigation by non-resident citizens going before the Supreme Court of Canada. The Liberal government has pre-empted the need for a judicial decision by tabling legislation that will ensure that the Charter right is not infringed. The proposed legislation will allow any Canadian citizen who is resident outside Canada to vote, no matter how long they have been outside the country. This is a welcome legislative intervention. It reveals a sound appreciation of the depth of the bond between the citizen and the state and augurs well for those concerned about the health of our democracy.

China: Democracy Activist Held Under House Arrest to Prevent Election Bid | RFA

Authorities in the eastern Chinese province of Shandong are holding a veteran democracy activist under unofficial house arrest to prevent him from standing as independent candidate in forthcoming local elections to his district People’s Congress. Retired university lecturer Sun Wenguang, 82, has been unable to leave his home in Shandong’s provincial capital Jinan since last Friday. Video seen by RFA from last week showed him canvassing potential voters and handing out leaflets on the campus of Shandong University, surrounding by unidentified men that Sun refers to as “state security police.” In a later video, Sun is shown arguing with a man in a leather jacket who prevents him from getting into the lift outside his apartment, and asks him where he is going. “It’s none of your business where I’m going,” retorts Sun. “This is a violation of my personal rights; you are not even in police uniform. What department are you from?”

Ghana: Queues before dawn as Ghanaians vote in presidential election | The Guardian

Ghanaians began lining up at polling stations before dawn on Wednesday to elect their next president as the west African nation hopes to reaffirm its reputation as a model of democracy on the continent. Despite concerns about the credibility of the elections, voter enthusiasm has been high. The race is expected to be tight between the incumbent president, John Dramani Mahama, and the opposition leader, Nana Akufo-Addo. “We need change in Ghana because things are very difficult,” said Stephen Antwi Boasiako, a taxi driver in the capital, Accra, who said he could barely afford the taxes and insurance for his vehicle. “This country has a lot of resources that can provide good jobs, but they are not used. I blame the Mahama government 100%.”

Ghana: Election commission website hacked | BBC

Hackers have targeted the website of Ghana’s electoral commission as votes are counted after tightly contested elections.
The commission says the website is up again, but it it is currently blank. The commission has tweeted, urging people to ignore “fake results” circulating on social media. President John Mahama is facing a strong challenge from main opposition leader Nana Akufo-Addo in a campaign dominated by Ghana’s faltering economy. Wednesday’s election passed off peacefully, but voting was postponed to Thursday in one constituency after voting material failed to arrive on time.

Italy: A post-Renzi election complicated by a new Italian election law | Financial Times

After prime minister Matteo Renzi’s crushing defeat in last weekend’s constitutional referendum, Italy has been thrown into political crisis. President Sergio Mattarella may appoint a caretaker government in the next few days. But a general election seems inevitable, as the only way to resolve the impasse in the longer term. The populist, anti-euro Five Star Movement led by the comedian Beppe Grillo is running neck and neck in the opinion polls with Mr Renzi’s Democratic party. Under an electoral law known as Italicum that came into force in July and under which the next general election is set to be held, Five Star could form a majority single-party government if it wins a certain share of votes. That prospect frightens Italy’s political establishment. Five Star aims to bring Italy out of the euro. Whatever one’s views on the single currency, such a development would be destabilising for Italy and the eurozone. Italy has chronically weak banks and an underperforming economy and a period of upheaval as it changed currency would make matters worse.

Switzerland: Journalist who proved electoral flaws convicted of fraud | The Local

Reporters without Borders has condemned a Swiss court’s decision to convict a journalist of electoral fraud after he voted twice in order to prove failures in the system. Joël Boissard, who works for Swiss broadcaster RTS, was fined, ordered to pay court costs and given a further suspended fine after being found guilty in early November, according to news agencies. The incident occurred last year when Boissard, who had recently moved house, received two sets of voting documents for federal and cantonal elections on March 8th 2015. Assuming the online system would prevent him from voting twice, he tried to do so – and succeeded. Boissard immediately contacted the electoral authorities to report what he had done and ask them to explain the anomaly, he told news agencies.