Articles about voting issues in Europe.

Ireland: Tactile ballot templates to facilitate visually impaired in voting | The Irish Times

People who are blind or visually impaired will be able to vote in the upcoming referendum on the Eighth Amendment without assistance for the first time. The use of new tactile ballot templates at polling stations means thousands of people with limited or no sight will be able to cast their votes in secret in the May referendum. The introduction of these new ballot papers follows the High Court case of Robbie Sinnott who initiated proceedings in 2016 against the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government and the State. Read More

Russia: Presidential Vote in Russia Sure to Give Putin 6 More Years | The New York Times

Russians went to the polls on Sunday to vote in what was more a referendum on giving President Vladimir V. Putin another six years in office than an actual competitive race. With cold winter temperatures covering the vast, continental country, more than 110 million people were eligible to vote from the distant Kamchatka peninsula in the Far East to the European enclave of Kaliningrad, where the last polls were due to close at 8 p.m. on Sunday. Gone were the Soviet days when there was just one name on the ballot and the winner habitually harvested 99 percent of the vote. The spirit was similar, however, with pictures of Mr. Putin and his campaign slogan, “Strong president, strong Russia,” blanketing the country. Read More

Russia: Why Vladimir Putin is sure to win the Russian election | The Economist

In recent months, billboards around Russia have been advertising the coming presidential elections with the colours of the Russian flag and the message “Our country, our president, our choice”. Millions will vote on March 18th, but they will not have much choice at all. Vladimir Putin, who has already ruled for longer than any Russian leader since Stalin, has managed to get rid of any credible competition and there is no doubt he will emerge victorious and embark on another six-year term. The fall of communism more than a quarter-century ago was supposed to usher in a new democratic Russia. So how is it that Mr Putin can triumph every time?  Read More

Netherlands: Concerns raised over election software safety | NL Times

The software that will be used to count votes in the upcoming municipal elections is still not safe. Hackers can use the vulnerable software to influence the election results, experts that examined the software told RTL Nieuws. Ethical hacker Sijmen Ruwhof discovered more than 50 vulnerabilities in the software. He calls ten of them ‘high risk’. Last year Ruwhof also concluded that the software – called OSV – is vulnerable to attacks. “The average iPad is more secure than the Dutch voting system”, Ruwhof said at the time.This prompted former Home Affairs Minister Ronald Plasterk to order the votes in the parliamentary election counted by hand.  Read More

Russia: Kremlin paradox: Putin win certain, yet vote push unprecedented | Reuters

Vote in Russia’s presidential election this Sunday or get hyper-inflation and Africans in the army.  That is the surreal message in a viral video meant to encourage people to vote in an election which polls show Vladimir Putin is on track to comfortably win. While Putin has dominated the country’s political landscape for the last 18 years, the Kremlin and its allies are still pulling out all the stops to ensure high voter turnout. The clip, which has drawn accusations of racism and homophobia in some quarters, has been publicized by state TV and watched six million times online. Alexander Kazakov, a pro-Putin political consultant who circulated the clip, said he wanted to ensure Putin’s win was utterly convincing. “Only then will Putin be able to conduct the best domestic and foreign policy,” he said. Read More

Albania: Prime Minister calls for investigation into alleged Russian election meddling | bne

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said on March 9 that the leader of the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) Lulzim Basha must face prosecutors after a scandal erupted over alleged Russian lobbying for Albania’s Democrats in the US. Rama’s comment came after US publication Mother Jones reported on March 6 that Albania’s Democratic Party indirectly received secret funds from Russian sources in the US during last year’s parliamentary election. It also said that Russian-related companies were secretly active in the US to meddle in the election.  “The truth about this issue will be definitely unveiled,” Rama said in a Facebook post on March 9. Read More

Russia: The Banality of Putin’s Potemkin Elections | Foreign Policy

“The average length of a good tyranny is a decade and a half, two decades at most. When it’s more than that, it invariably slips into a monstrosity.” So wrote Russian-American émigré, essayist, and poet (and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature) Joseph Brodsky in 1980. With the elections this Sunday in Russia, President Vladimir Putin will extend his 18-year rule by another six — squarely in monstrosity territory. Of course, much of what Brodsky predicted for such monstrous regimes — “the kind of grandeur that manifests itself in waging wars or internal terror, or both” — has already come to pass in Putin’s Russia. Putin’s authoritarianism has been ahead of schedule. Indeed, Putin cemented his rise to power on a mixture of war (in Chechnya) and terror (a series of apartment bombings, possibly orchestrated by Putin himself and his FSB colleagues). His rule has been perpetuated by persistent violence — foreign and domestic — deployed as a political tool. We have witnessed in it the killing of journalists, democrats, and those who have sought to hold the state accountable (Politkovskaya, Estemirova, Klebnikov, Magnitsky, Nemtsov, and many others); we have seen the invasion and occupation of neighboring states and the violent backing of fellow strongmen (in Moldova, Georgia, Ukraine, and Syria). Read More

Russia: Russia tries to entice voters to polls to prop up Putin’s legitimacy | The Guardian

In the Siberian region of Krasnoyarsk, political activists are raffling a car, while in the southern Russian city of Krasnodar, the prize is an iPhone X. In Berdsk, the best selfie will be plastered across a billboard. The catch? To qualify for a chance to win, Russians must turn out to vote. There is little doubt that Vladimir Putin will win a fourth term as president in the election next Sunday, making him the first Kremlin leader since Stalin to serve two decades in power. But in an uncontested political field, the Kremlin is worried about turnout. And with concerns that Putin’s appeal alone may not be enough to get out the vote, officials across the country are experimenting with raffles, competitions and the occasional referendum – like one in Volgograd that asks voters whether they want to change time zones – all in an effort to ensure Putin wins with greater support than in 2012. Read More

Ireland: Government approves abortion referendum bill | The Guardian

The Irish government has agreed the wording of a national referendum on abortion to be held by the end of May which could radically transform the lives of thousands of women and signal a further loosening of the grip of the Catholic church. The cabinet, meeting on International Women’s Day, approved a bill on Thursday allowing the long-anticipated referendum to go ahead. Voters will be asked if they want to repeal article 40.3.3 – known as the eighth amendment – which since 1983 has given unborn foetuses and pregnant women an equal right to life, effectively enshrining a ban on abortion in the country’s constitution. If Ireland votes in favour of repeal, the government has said it will introduce legislation permitting unrestricted abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Read More

Italy: Putin is the real winner of the Italian elections | The Hill

Within Italy, the big winners in the March 4 elections were the two populist parties, who between them pulled in roughly 50 percent of the vote. The 5 Star Movement, which emphasizes the “drain the swamp” part of the populist message, was the leading party, with 32 percent of the vote for both chambers of the Italian parliament. The League, more akin to the anti-immigrant policies Marine Le Pen’s National Front in France, pulled about 17 percent, easily topping the center-right Let’s Go Italy (Forza Italia) of Silvio Berlusconi, disappointed in his hopes of returning to the forefront of Italian politics. Outside Italy, though, the undisputed winner was Vladimir Putin. Steve Bannon, who was in Italy for the election, may spin Italian events, not without reason, as confirmation of a populist wave that hit the U.S. as well in 2016. But the strong and public Russian connections of Italy’s populist parties could have very concrete impacts on Italian policy going forward. Read More