Philadelphia’s three city commissioners, who run local elections, may announce the selection of a new voting system as soon as Wednesday, and it may leave some disappointed. “We’re worried the city commissioners are going to pick a voting system that is not only very expensive, but not a good system for security,” said Rich Garella of the group Citizens for Better Elections. “It has poor access for disabled people. It’s a bad choice.” The state is requiring all counties to get new voting machines this year that generate paper ballot backups. City commissioners are mum about what kind of voting system they might recommend at their Wednesday meeting, but Garella and State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said the city’s selection process seems tilted toward a particular system and a single vendor. … That vendor is Omaha-based Election Systems & Software, known as ES&S, the largest manufacturer of voting systems in the country. The ES&S Express Vote XL system is the only one sold in the U.S. that shows voters all candidates for all races on one electronic screen.
Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson leads the committee with broad oversight over the nation’s most important cybersecurity issues, including protecting consumers and U.S. elections from hackers. But he’s also a major reason little legislation on these topics ever passes, according to lobbyists, cybersecurity policy experts, lawmakers and congressional aides from both parties who spoke with POLITICO. Johnson or members of his staff have derailed many of the most significant cybersecurity-related bills in the past four years, including legislation to secure elections, study whether the growing use of encrypted apps hampers law enforcement, and hold companies accountable for the proliferation of insecure connected devices, people who track the legislation told POLITICO.
Moving with unusual speed, the Supreme Court on Monday set the stage for acting soon – probably on Friday – on the constitutional controversy over asking everyone living in America about their citizenship, as part of the 2020 census. At issue at this point is whether the Justices will take up directly, without waiting for further action in lower courts, the dispute over the contents of the questionnaire that will go to every household across the nation next year. The outcome of the controversy may have a major influence on dividing up seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, on drawing up new election district maps at all levels of government, and about the distribution of billions of dollars in federal money. Although there is a clear dispute among the two sides in the controversy about the legality of adding the citizenship question, everyone involved has now agreed that an answer needs to be forthcoming before the Supreme Court finishes its current term, probably in late June.
A state lawmaker from the Silicon Valley has reintroduced a constitutional amendment that would lower the California voting age to 17, betting that a larger Democratic majority in the Legislature this year will help his proposal reach the ballot. An amendment requires the approval of two-thirds of the state Assembly and Senate, and the approval of voters. Last year, a similar proposal from Democratic Assemblyman Evan Low of Campbell failed to reach the necessary margin of 46-24. This time around, there are more Democrats in the Assembly, Low spokeswoman Maya Polon said, adding that the legislation enjoys bipartisan support.
Georgia: New Analysis Suggests Link Between Race And Odd Vote Count In Georgia’s 2018 Midterms | WABE
A new data analysis suggests the sharp drop in votes in the lieutenant governor’s election last year may be connected to the race of voters. The finding raised more questions about the results of the down-ballot contest in which Republican Geoff Duncan handily defeated Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico. Compared to the governor’s race between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp, about 160,000 fewer votes were cast in the lieutenant governor’s contest, while just 82,000 fewer votes were cast in the attorney general’s contest.
Lawmakers say they are working on an agreement involving an impasse on legislation that could lead to changing the Idaho Constitution involving redistricting that Republicans want but Democrats oppose. Republican and Democratic leaders on Monday said they are talking, and that was enough for Democrats not to use procedural rules to slow down progress in the House by forcing the full reading of bills as they did on Friday.
The Johnson County Election Board and Commissioners are cutting ties with software vendor that caused system crashes which resulted in thousands of voters waiting in lines for hours during the November 6 election. The Johnson County Commissioners voted Monday to adopt Election Board recommendations that the county terminate its contract with Omaha-based Election Systems and Software. “We just want to ensure that we have a good election,” said Johnson County Clerk Trena McGlaughlin. “We don’t want to have any issues this year. And we want to make everyone happy.” An investigation by Ball State’s VSTOP team, for the Indiana Secretary of State, determined ES&S systems were not properly set up for the high voter turnout the county saw on election day. A system slow-down quickly brought voting to a standstill at multiple voting sites across the county. Thousands of voters were left waiting in line for several hours as election officials and technical advisors struggled to get e-poll books back up to speed.
Democratic leaders in Iowa on Monday proposed a major change in the state’s presidential caucuses by allowing a form of absentee voting next year that aims to expand participation in the first 2020 nominating contest. It would let Iowa Democrats take part via telephone or online in one of six “virtual caucuses” during the week before the traditional Iowa caucuses. That would allow people to get involved even if they can’t attend the traditional gatherings in person because of a disability, work, parenting or another reason. If adopted it “will be the most significant changes to the Iowa Democratic Party caucuses since their inception in 1972,” Troy Price, the state party’s chairman, told reporters on a conference call.
A series of Republican-sponsored bills seek to tighten rules on elected officials running for another office and for minor-party office seekers who switch parties to run. A third item would make the registrar of voters in the state’s two largest counties, Washoe and Clark, an elected rather than appointed post. All three measures were heard Monday by the Senate Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections, which did not vote on them. A “resign-to-run” measure would require elected officeholders to resign their current office if they announce candidacy for a different elected office more than a year before their current term ends. They would be resigned automatically if they don’t resign on their own. Resulting vacancies would be filled under current procedures for vacant seats.
The death of North Carolina Rep. Walter B. Jones over the weekend opens up a safe Republican seat on the state’s east coast. The governor must call a special election for the 3rd District. But there is no statutory time frame, so the timing will be up to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. Further west, in the 9th District, voters are still waiting to hear whether there will be a special election for the vacant seat — the results of the 2018 election between Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready have not been certified. The North Carolina State Board of Elections is holding an evidentiary hearing on allegations of election fraud on Feb. 18.
The Republican-led Senate has killed a Democrat measure for an appointed non-partisan commission to draw a new map for North Dakota’s legislative districts. The Senate defeated the bill 36-10, along party lines on Monday. The measure was sponsored by Democratic legislative leaders. North Dakota now has 47 legislative districts, each of which is represented by a senator and two House members.
Editorials: As a Citizen Included on Texas’ Fake Voter Fraud List, I Call for the Resignation of Secretary of State David Whitley | Julieta Garibay/Texas Observer
I still remember the day of my citizenship exam. It was a cold Monday in November 2017, at the San Antonio office of U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS). I had relentlessly studied the 100 questions about the history and government of the United States that might be asked. I prayed I wouldn’t forget the answers. My heart was pounding and my stomach was in a complete knot. The USCIS agent asked: “Who is the governor of Texas?” “Abbott,” I responded. The officer sternly asked for the governor’s full name. My mind was running. A few months before, I had tweeted at Abbott when he signed SB 4 on Facebook and proudly boasted about criminalizing immigrants and making it easier for state and local police to work with the feds to detain and deport. But I could not remember his first name. I froze. The irony of my life: Would I fail my citizenship exam because I couldn’t remember the first name of the man who was hurting the immigrant community so much? The same man who is now calling into question my right to vote. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and tried to remember his Twitter handle. It came to me and I blurted, “Greg Abbott!” A few questions later, the USCIS officer said, “I am recommending you for the citizenship oath ceremony.”
Bulgaria must be ready for malicious cyber attacks, Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev said on February 11, warning that there was no election process exempt from attempts to “hit” it. Election processes are within Donchev’s portfolio as deputy head of government. Bulgaria is scheduled to go to the polls twice in 2019, in European Parliament elections in May and mayoral and municipal elections in the autumn. Donchev’s comment came a day after Tsvetan Tsvetanov, parliamentary leader of Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s centre-right GERB party, said that he was sure that Russia would try to interfere in Bulgaria’s elections this year.
Nigeria: Election Brings Dual Crises Back to the Polls: Corruption and Boko Haram | The New York Times
Muhammadu Buhari won the presidency in a historic election in Nigeria four years ago by promising to crush two scourges that had plagued the nation for years: endemic corruption and a war with Islamist extremists. Back then, Mr. Buhari, a former military general, rode a wave of voter desire to impose greater accountability on the government, end a brutal war with the extremist group Boko Haram and bring back the hundreds of female students taken as captives. Now, as Mr. Buhari is in the final throes of a bruising re-election campaign, he stands accused of falling short on all fronts. Critics say Mr. Buhari has used his antigraft mantra to crush adversaries. Boko Haram is gaining ground, launching sophisticated attacks on weary, underequipped soldiers. And many of the captive students are still missing.
Russian authorities and major internet providers are planning to disconnect the country from the internet as part of a planned experiment, Russian news agency RosBiznesKonsalting (RBK) reported last week. The reason for the experiment is to gather insight and provide feedback and modifications to a proposed law introduced in the Russian Parliament in December 2018. A first draft of the law mandated that Russian internet providers should ensure the independence of the Russian internet space (Runet) in the case of foreign aggression to disconnect the country from the rest of the internet.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s budget plans are threatening to unravel amid reports that he’s considering calling a snap election for April. After his conservative rivals staged a show of strength by bringing tens of thousands of demonstrators onto the streets of Madrid, Efe news agency reported that Sanchez is considering calling elections for April 14. A press officer for the premier said the government is focused on getting its budget passed this week. Protesters in the heart of the Spanish capital on Sunday were demanding an election and accused the prime minister of being soft in talks with Catalan separatists. They waved Spanish flags and shouted “Long Live the Constitution, Long Live Spain.”
Democracy bases its legitimacy on the promise to adequately and appropriately represent the population. However, a look at Switzerland’s system reveals some shortcomings: women, young people, foreigners and the low-qualified are often absent from political institutions. Democratic rights don’t fall from the sky. They are the achievement of brave people who demanded and fought for political rights for themselves and for their fellow citizens. Such efforts fighting for equality were also seen in Switzerland. Almost 100 years ago, the social and political situation in the country was explosive, and many were dissatisfied with living and working conditions; factory workers, in particular, felt politicians had abandoned them.
Ukraine looks to have faced down both the Kremlin and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe over the issue of Russian election observers at its presidential election in March. The OSCE was forced to change stance after Ukraine adamantly refused to accept Russian observers of the March 31 vote, and its parliament on Feb. 7 passed a law banning them from being accredited to the OSCE mission. The Russian Foreign Ministry announced a day later that Russia had decided not to send its observers to Ukraine. And the OSCE, while expressing regret over the Ukrainian authorities’ position, also backed down.