The Voting News

New Zealand: Record numbers of advance voters ahead of 2017 general election | New Zealand Herald

A record 806,043 New Zealanders have already voted, two days ahead of Saturday’s election. The advance voting statistics from the Electoral Commission show that by this day three years ago, 717,579 people have been to the polls. And by this stage in the election run-up in 2011, a total of just 334,558 votes had been cast. The numbers do not include overseas votes. A staggering 133,781 people voted yesterday alone, in what has been one of the most hotly-contested general elections in years. The release last night of the latest 1 News Colmar Brunton poll, conducted from September 16-19, saw National arrest a slide in the polls to rise six points to 46 per cent. Labour was down seven points to 37 per cent. Read More

Spain: Police seize millions of Catalan referendum ballots | AFP

Spanish police on Wednesday seized millions of ballot papers in Catalonia due to be used for an independence referendum which has been banned by Madrid, a source close to the case said. The source, who requested anonymity, told AFP that officers were currently counting them again, but that the number of ballots confiscated in Bigues, about 45 kilometres (28 miles) north of Barcelona, could reach nine million. The seizure comes as thousands took to the streets in Barcelona on Wednesday over the detention of 13 Catalan government officials as the wealthy northeastern region presses ahead with preparations for the October 1 vote. Read More

Ohio: What Ohio can learn from Arizona to eliminate gerrymandering | Cleveland Plain Dealer

Thanks to Arizona, there is an alternative to allowing elected politicians – focused on their self-interests or those of their party – to draw the congressional district boundaries every 10 years. Arizona voters in 2000 approved a different way. They changed the state constitution to establish an independent commission to do the work. Challenged in the Supreme Court in 2015, the use of an independent commission is now established as a legal alternative. State legislatures do not have to be involved. Perhaps Ohio could learn something from Arizona – ideas that could help Ohio devise a system to draw maps by focusing on the interest of the citizens instead of politicians and their parties. Read More

Guam: Election Commission head: Streamline voter registration | The Guam Daily

Guam residents who register to vote through a volunteer registrar get into the Guam Election Commission’s database faster than applicants using the agency’s online registration service, according to GEC Executive Director Maria Pangelinan. Prospective voters are advised when they click on the online registration link on GEC’s website that the application process requires about 12 minutes, giving the “illusion that the process is entirely automated,” according to Pangelinan. The process, however, is anything but. After applicants fill out the form, which requires them to input either their driver’s license or Guam ID information, the data is then printed onto a paper spreadsheet and sent to the Department of Motor Vehicles for validation. Read More

National: Russia’s election ad campaign shows Facebook’s biggest problem is Facebook | The Guardian

Mark Zuckerberg marked his return from paternity leave Thursday with a concerted effort to put lipstick on the pig of Facebook’s role in swaying the 2016 presidential election. In a Facebook live address from an earth-toned, glass-walled office, the chief executive laid out a series of steps the company will take to “protect election integrity and make sure that Facebook is a force for good in democracy”. This proactive approach to a growing public relations problem is par for the course for Facebook. The company has a tendency to respond to negative press, and with US lawmakers making noise about the $100,000 in Facebook ads purchased by a Russian influence operation during the election, Zuckerberg may hope that he can pre-empt regulation. But the problem for Zuckerberg is not just that pigs don’t look good in lipstick. The problem is that more and more people are waking up to the fact that Facebook is less little piggy than it is out-of-control Tyrannosaurus Rex whose creator thought he was building a fun and profitable theme park until it was too late. Read More

Australia: Controversial gay marriage vote gets under way | The Economist

The question reads, “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?” Ballots asking it have been posted to Australia’s 16m registered voters. They have until early November to return them; the result will be announced on November 15th. Rallies for and against are being held around the country. Earlier this month 30,000 supporters of gay marriage gathered outside Sydney’s town hall, waving placards with slogans like, “It’s a love story baby, just say yes.” One of those saying yes is Malcolm Turnbull, the prime minister. But many Australians criticise him for calling the vote at all. Opinion polls consistently show that most Australians support gay marriage. Proponents say a simple vote in parliament, which also has a majority in favour, would have saved money and avoided a divisive campaign. Read More

Alaska: Glitch Leaves Alaskan Voters Out in the Cold, SEC Reveals Breach | The VAR Guy

Oops!… They did it again. For what seems like the billionth time, U.S. voter records have been exposed, this time targeting Alaska. A cache of voter records containing the personal information of nearly 600,000 voters in Alaska was inadvertently exposed online. The culprit? An unsecured CouchDB database. And just, you know, a giant oversight. The cause of the hack was discovered by researchers at the Kromtech Security Research Center, who determined that the database of about 593,000 voters (that’s every registered voter in the state of Alaska) was accidentally configured for public access. That means it was just out there, floating in the breeze without any sort of password protection or security wall, making it accessible to anyone who knew where to look. No logging in, no verification, nada. Read More

Idaho: Phil McGrane, Ada County Elections and Bender | Boise Weekly

Responding to a question about when there might be online voting in Idaho, Phil McGrane, chief deputy to the Ada County clerk, didn’t waste words: “Not in my lifetime.” In 2010, Washington, D.C., experimented with an electronic voting system, inviting hackers to interfere with a mock school board election. Within hours, a University of Michigan professor and two graduate students had broken into the system, elected Futurama character Bender to the D.C. school board, replaced the “Thank you for voting” message with “Owned,” and programmed it to play the University of Michigan fight song, “Hail to the Victors.” The changes went unnoticed for 48 hours. “Unless you want Bender as president—and some of you might want that right now—we won’t be voting online,” McGrane told a contingent from the League of Women Voters Sept. 13 at the Ada County Courthouse. Read More

Canada: Government ‘fell short’ in protecting privacy during electoral reform consultation, privacy commissioner finds | National Post

The government “fell short” and “should have been more prudent” in preventing users’ personal information from being shared with third parties as they interacted with a much-maligned online electoral reform survey, Canada’s privacy commissioner has found. MyDemocracy.ca employed third-party scripts that could disclose users’ personal information to Facebook without their consent as soon as they loaded the website, according to the commissioner’s investigation. The responsible Privy Council Office also never conducted a privacy impact assessment related to the initiative. About 360,000 people had participated in the survey in December and January. An investigation from the privacy commissioner’s office says information retrieved about individuals could lead to “a fairly accurate picture of one’s personal activities, views, opinions, and lifestyle” and “be quite revealing about an individual’s Internet-based activities.” Read More

National: Facebook to turn over thousands of Russian ads to Congress, reversing decision | The Washington Post

Facebook on Thursday announced it would turn over to Congress copies of more than 3,000 politically themed advertisements bought through Russian accounts during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, reversing a decision that had frustrated lawmakers. The company has been struggling for months to address the steadily mounting evidence that Russians manipulated the social media platform in their bid to tip the presidential election in favor of Republican Donald Trump. Democratic lawmakers in recent days had demanded that Facebook be more open about what it knows and to dig more deeply into its troves of data to analyze the propaganda effort, which the company has acknowledged involved at least 470 fake accounts and pages created by a shadowy Russian company that spent more than $100,000 targeting U.S. voters. Read More