On May 25, 2014, Russian state broadcaster Channel One reported the winner of the day’s presidential election in Ukraine: with a surprising 37 percent plurality, Dmytro Yarosh, leader of the extreme-right paramilitary group Right Sector, would be the new Ukrainian president. According to Channel One, previous favorite Petro Poroshenko received only 29 percent of the vote. These numbers were particularly unexpected because only 0.7 percent of voters had voted for Yarosh, versus the 54.7 percent who had voted for Poroshenko — numbers that news outlets in Ukraine and elsewhere were accurately reporting. Barely a half-hour prior to the announcement of the election results, a cybersecurity team at Ukraine’s Central Election Commission (CEC) removed a virus that had been deployed in its computers. That virus was designed to total 37 percent of votes for Yarosh, and 29 percent for Poroshenko.
Imagine you are a Republican. Would you agree to let the rules of political campaigns be written by a partisan committee selected by Barack Obama? Or if you’re a Democrat, do you think Donald Trump should be able to appoint a partisan majority to determine the rules? Of course not. That’s why for more than 40 years, Republicans and Democrats have agreed that campaign regulations should be enforced by an independent, bipartisan agency. The Watergate scandal that forced Richard Nixon to resign the presidency showed the dangers of allowing one party to use the power of government against the other. In the aftermath, the Federal Election Commission was created to make sure future administrations could not abuse campaign regulations to bludgeon their opponents.
Six months after the election, there’s still discussion about the extent to which voter fraud exists and whether the White House will follow through with an investigation. In the meantime, election officials across the country have been quietly doing their jobs and are wrapping up investigations from the last election while preparing for the next. The reviews to date confirm what most election officials have been publicly stating for some time – that while the amount of actual voter fraud is not zero, it’s very close, with only an infinitesimal number of cases of potential voter fraud nationwide. Several states have released the results of their inquiries. One of the most comprehensive analyses was conducted by Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) in Ohio. After comparing voter data to files from the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Secretary Husted’s office found that 385 non-citizens were registered to vote, and identified 82 of these non-citizens as possibly having voted, referring those cases for further investigation to confirm whether they voted and if fraud occurred.
Colorado: Critics blast plan to track unaffiliated voters casting ballots in Colorado’s party primaries | The Denver Post
A proposal backed by the Colorado secretary of state to track which primaries independents vote in is drawing fire from critics who say it could undermine the intent of two initiatives that opened party primary elections to unaffiliated voters. If approved, it would allow Colorado’s political parties to obtain voter-specific data on who’s voting in each primary, much as they do with voters who register as Republicans or Democrats. Supporters of such a move, including Republican Secretary of State Wayne Williams and both political parties, say it’s needed to ensure the integrity of the state’s elections. But elections officials in Denver and Arapahoe counties dispute that line of reasoning, saying they don’t need to know that information to properly administer and audit an election.
Elections offices across Georgia have seen a dramatic increase in the number of voter registration applications in recent months. A change with the state’s Department of Driver Services has spurred about 464,000 more applications this year compared to the most recent nonpresidential election year. And that means elections employees are spending more time sorting through them, including weeding out duplicates of people who are already registered. Statewide, there have been 559,179 voter registration applications through the Department of Driver Services since Jan. 1. During the same period in 2015, there were 95,102 voter registration applications from the Department of Driver Services, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.
A slew of so-called good government bills cleared a critical legislative hurdle this week and are poised for final approval next week. But the measure that arguably would have had the most significant impact on Hawaii’s democracy did not make it across Friday’s deadline for bills to advance. House Bill 1401 would have enacted voting by mail uniformly across all counties for all elections in 2020. Rep. Scott Nishimoto, the lead House conferee on the bill as well as its author, told his counterpart, Sen. Gil Keith-Agaran, shortly after 5 p.m. that both lawmakers agreed on many aspects of the bill. But Nishimoto did not get clearance from House leadership, and so HB 1401 will have to wait until next year.
A legislative audit reveals the Maryland State Board of Elections did not establish certain controls to maintain the integrity of voter registration records and protect voter data. The audit, which took place from 2012 to 2015, also found that elections officials did not ensure that personally identifiable information from the database was either properly safeguarded when transmitted to a third party contractor or removed from its own records.
A year after establishing new anti-discrimination and access rights for transgender individuals, Massachusetts lawmakers are pushing to close the door on any initiative petitions that would restrict people’s “freedom and equality” rights. An amendment to restrict voter-led petitions was quietly endorsed by the Legislature’s Joint Judiciary Committee last Wednesday and could in the next few days be placed on the Constitutional Convention calendar for this two-year session. The constitution already bars initiative petitions that are “inconsistent” with individuals’ rights set forth in the Declaration of Rights, which is similar to the Bill of Rights included in the U.S. Constitution, and disallows citizen-led ballot measures that appropriate money.
May’s two elections are causing some confusion among voters. Due to previously established laws and regulations, the two elections could not be on the same ballot. The school board vote always takes place on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in May, which is next week. Voting in this election is exclusively by mail-in ballot. Voters that have not yet mailed in their ballots should drop them off at the Gallatin County Courthouse to ensure they will be received in time.
Every Election Day, Chrissy Simonds makes the rounds to homeless shelters and transitional housing in Manchester urging people to vote. Simonds, who was once homeless, often faces skepticism from people who tell her their vote doesn’t matter. Still, she presses on. In November, she convinced seven people to vote — a record, if small. But Simonds and other advocates fear a bill in the New Hampshire legislature will create further barriers to voting for a population that already feels marginalized. The Republican-authored bill adds new requirements for anyone who registers within 30 days of an election to provide documentation, such as a lease or a driver’s license, to show where they live and that they plan to stay there. For people without a fixed address, such documents may not exist or be difficult to access.
New Hampshire: What Would Changing Registration Rules in New Hampshire Mean For Student Voters? | NHPR
Last fall, University of New Hampshire student Rachel Berg was one of the more than 3,000 people in Durham who registered to vote on Election Day. And she came prepared. “I had to bring a few forms of ID, I don’t remember exactly what,” Berg recalled while sitting in a corner of the UNH student center last week. “License, I think. School ID. And maybe my passport, just to be safe.” Berg, who’s from Grantham originally, also needed to be able to prove she lived in Durham. In her case, that meant bringing along a package her parents used to mail an orthopedic ankle brace to her on-campus apartment.
North Carolina: Governor and GOP legislators back in court over elections board, ethics commission merger | News & Observer
Three judges who already have ruled against one legislative attempt to take away control of elections oversight from the governor’s political party issued an order late Friday that temporarily blocks the latest law with that aim. Gov. Roy Cooper sued Phil Berger, leader of the state Senate, Tim Moore, speaker of the state House, and the state on Wednesday over a law that again calls for the merging of the state elections board and ethics commission and changes the makeup, staffing and function of the two groups. Legislators enacted the bill this week, overriding the governor’s veto of a law that would create an eight-member board to oversee the state’s elections that would be evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats. For the first two years, the board would keep the elections director selected during the Pat McCrory administration.
Rhode Island’s General Assembly is currently considering legislation that would mandate post-election audits. The evaluations are conducted in order to ensure that equipment and procedures used to count votes during an election worked properly and also to ensure public confidence in the results. According to the Secretary of State’s office, 29 states and the District of Columbia require a post-election audit; typically the process is done by hand counting the results, usually by a random sampling of precincts.
A federal court panel in San Antonio has scheduled a trial in July on the state’s current congressional and statehouse maps, signaling the beginning of a wind-down to the state’s six-years-long battle over redistricting. The order, issued late Monday by a three-judge panel, ordered the parties in the case to prepare for a weeklong trial starting July 10. It is a favorable ruling to the plaintiffs, who had petitioned the court for a speedy way to remedy what they considered discriminatory issues with the state’s current electoral maps in time for the 2018 elections. The order is another in a string of damaging court losses for the state, which had asked for a later trial. In March, the same panel invalidated three congressional districts after finding that the congressional maps drawn by state lawmakers in 2011 were done so with intent to discriminate against minorities. A month later, the panel found that the statehouse maps drawn that same year were drawn with the intent of diluting minority voting strength.
When voters head to the polls here Saturday, their city council and mayoral picks could have repercussions well beyond this working-class Houston suburb. It will be the first election since a federal judge struck down the city’s 2013 redistricting plan as discriminatory, paving the way for a new balance of power at City Hall. It comes as Texas Democrats redouble their efforts on the local level after a 2016 election that gave them ample reason to be optimistic about their future, especially in Harris County. And it could offer a gauge of just how far down the ballot President Donald Trump, unpopular in even a deep-red state like Texas, is energizing Democrats.
There may be some question whether Russia was behind the hacking attacks on one candidate’s computers or is covertly meddling in some other way in France’s politics. But Senator Richard Burr, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was most likely on target when he said that the Russians are “actively involved in the French elections.” Whether Russia’s efforts are effective is another question; yet another is how to counter them. Moscow’s interest in the election is not hard to understand. France has been a pillar of the European Union, an important member of NATO and pivotal on maintaining sanctions on Russia.
The Election Commission has cancelled the bye-election to Anantnag Lok Sabha seat, scheduled to take place on May 25, news agency PTI has reported. The decision comes amid the on-going violence in Jammu and Kashmir, making the situation unfeasible to hold elections. The byelection to the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat was necessitated following the resignation of Lok Sabha MP Mehbooba Mufti last year to take over as chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir. In this election, her brother Mufti Tassaduq Hussain will be looking to retain the seat. Earlier this month, the Election Commission had written to the Ministry of Home Affairs asking that 75,000 personnel be deployed to ensure the safety of those who step out to vote as well as to ensure there’s no violence at polling booths in the constituency.
A record number of overseas South Koreans have cast ballots in early overseas voting for the country’s upcoming presidential election, the election watchdog said Monday. A total of 221,981 overseas voters cast ballots over a six-day voting period that ended Sunday, according to the National Election Commission. There are about 1.97 million South Korean nationals who are staying overseas and are eligible to take part in the presidential election slated to be held next Tuesday.
Cornelia Parker, who once said of her art, “I resurrect things that have been killed off,” has been named the official artist for the 2017 general election, and is the first woman to take on the role. Politicians who study the CV of the Turner prize-nominated Royal Academy member, whose work is in many national and international collections, may be alarmed to note that it has often involved spectacular acts of destruction of her subjects. She called in the army to help her blow up a shed, later exhibited as suspended fragments as if in mid-explosion, and used part of the mechanism of Tower Bridge to flatten 54 brass band instruments in Breathless, a commission for the V&A. Last year she dismantled an old American barn and reconstructed it as the sinister Bates mansion from the film Psycho, as an installation on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.