Media Release: To Enhance Election Security, Rhode Island Tests A New Way to Verify Election Results

Rhode Island is making good on its promise to road-test risk-limiting election audits, following 2017 passage of legislation by the Rhode Island General Assembly, requiring them. Beginning with the presidential primary in April 2020, Rhode Island will become the second state to require these audits to verify election results. A “risk limiting” audit checks if…

Kansas: Judge: Wichita State statistician can’t have tapes to audit voting machines | The Wichita Eagle

A Sedgwick County judge has ruled that a Wichita State University statistician won’t get access to paper tapes from voting machines to search for fraud or mistakes. Judge Tim Lahey denied a motion by Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman to dismiss the case brought by statistician Beth Clarkson. But that was a hollow victory for Clarkson. Her point in filing the lawsuit was to gain access to the tapes to check the accuracy of the voting machines, searching for an answer to statistical anomalies she has found in election results. The paper tapes at issue are printed by the voting machines as each voter casts a ballot. The voter can view the tape through a plastic window in the machine to verify their choices before hitting a button that records their votes. Clarkson sued last year seeking access to the tapes under the Kansas Open Records Act. Representing herself without a lawyer, she lost.

New Hampshire: Is an automated vote count good enough? State, parties to petition disagree | The Keene Sentinel

Not all debates have clearly drawn lines. In the matter of assuring an accurate vote count in citizen elections, the end goal is unequivocal. But the views of how this is achieved can — and in this region and in the state do — vary. Despite hopes to the contrary of 60 petitioners calling for mandatory but limited hand-count audits of votes in Keene immediately following elections, neither the city nor the Secretary of State’s Office can authorize such a thing, according to officials with the office. Only the state Legislature can, officials say — and it has failed to do so at least twice. The Keene City Council in September accepted a petition put forward by Gerhard F. Bedding, Cheshire County Commissioner Charles F. “Chuck” Weed, D-Keene, and others as informational, a move that requires no action.

Afghanistan: Rival Afghan Presidential Candidates Sign Deal to Share Power | VoA News

Afghan presidential rivals Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah on Sunday signed a power sharing deal to form a National Unity Government. The signing ceremony took place at the presidential palace in Kabul with outgoing President Hamid Karzai and Afghan elders as well as religious leaders present on the occasion. The two candidates shook hands and hugged each other after singing the long-awaited political deal. Karzai then briefly addressed the gathering and congratulated both Ghani and Abdullah on reaching the power sharing arrangement.

Afghanistan: Election commission completes audit that determines president | The Guardian

Afghanistan’s election commission announced on Sunday it has completed the audit that will determine the country’s next president. The contested presidential election has seen both presidential hopefuls, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, accusing each other of industrial-scale fraud, fomenting revolt, and endorsing violence. As of Monday, the ballots have been sent to the electoral complaints commission, who will grant Ghani and Abdullah 24 hours to log any complaints they may have. The complaints commission will then have 48 hours to address their complaints and submit the final result to the electoral commission for review. The electoral commission is expected to announce the final results by the end of the week. If similar announcements in the past are any guide, however, this will likely be delayed. The first round of votes on 5 April was noticeable for its relative absence of violence, and the country underwent a brief spell of optimism. The second round of election on 14 June was a departure from this original feeling of euphoria, and was marred by claims and counter claims of fraud between the two candidates.

Afghanistan: Abdullah Vows to Reject Disputed Vote | New York Times

The presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah once more brought Afghanistan’s troubled electoral process to the brink on Monday, insisting that he had won the disputed vote and vowing to reject any government formed on the basis of it. An audit of 100 percent of the ballots cast in the June runoff election is expected to conclude this week, and nearly all observers expect Mr. Abdullah’s opponent, Ashraf Ghani, to be declared the winner. Mr. Abdullah’s supporters have been suggesting that he form a parallel government, which Western diplomats have worried could lead to disorder or even civil war. But Mr. Abdullah made no mention of a parallel government in a speech to his top officials, running mates and supporters, or at a brief news conference afterward, and did not ask his supporters to take to the streets to protest the results.

Afghanistan: Election front-runner rejects equal share of power with rival | Reuters

“The best solution for the current situation is the announcement of final results. The international community has shown readiness to support the results,” Ghani said. Ghani was declared the winner in preliminary results from the June 14 run-off ballot with 56 percent of the vote, giving him a lead of some 1.2 million votes. But his rival, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, charged that massive fraud of more than two million votes had denied him victory, and on Monday he said he would reject the outcome if the audit did not throw out enough ballots to make him president. The United States brokered a deal between the feuding parties to form a unity government that would include the new position of chief executive, who would enjoy significant powers despite losing the election. The aim of the deal was to prevent the dispute from descending into street demonstrations and possible ethnic conflict.

Editorials: In Afghanistan, Time for Compromise | New York Times

Having spent several weeks auditing ballots in Afghanistan’s fraud-plagued presidential vote, election officials there are expected to declare a winner within days. If the two candidates vying for the post fail to reach a power-sharing deal beforehand, the announcement could easily kick off a wave of unrest that would all but guarantee a catastrophic wind-down to America’s longest war. The window of opportunity to strike a compromise is narrowing dangerously. Without a new government in place, the Obama administration may well pull back on plans to keep a military contingent in Afghanistan beyond 2014, and without that force, the international community will cease bankrolling the impoverished nation. Abdullah Abdullah, the former foreign minister, not without reason, is fighting the outcome of an election in which his rival, former finance minister Ashraf Ghani, is widely expected to be declared the winner. Western officials say that the audit of millions of ballots cast on June 14 has made clear that the scope and sophistication of fraud was staggering even for Afghan standards.

Afghanistan: Abdullah threatens to back out of Afghanistan election | Los Angeles Times

The campaign team of Abdullah Abdullah, the former foreign minister running against Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai for the presidency of Afghanistan, has issued a 24-hour notice to the United Nations and international observers that if changes are not made to processes in the ongoing audit of all 8 million votes cast in the second round of the election, they will back out of the election process entirely. “We will give one day to the international community to review and assure that the vote auditing and the political negotiations are moving forward properly. … If our demands are not met and the auditing not conducted legitimately and the political talks without honesty, then we will withdraw from both processes,” said Abdullah spokesman Syed Fazel Sancharaki. nThe Monday afternoon warning came a week after the team of Reform and Partnership, as Abdullah’s campaign refers to itself, backed out of the audit claiming their concerns about widespread fraud in the June 14 runoff were ignored by the United Nations.

Afghanistan: Elections Dilemma: Finish before it finishes you | Khaama Press

Afghan elections, as once considered a landmark in the history of Afghanistan, turns into elections impasse. U.S.A had meticulously predicted today’s scenario – elections goes to second round, which will be marred by claims of fraud and the final announcement might take six months- when she was pushing president Hamid Karzai to sign bilateral security agreement. We are more than half done and desperately moving to bleak and gloomy future in the rest of two months, if the dilemma is going to be finished or it finishes us in exactly six months. During the election impasse, we witnessed many breakings news saying: counting/auditing process stops and resumes. People weary of such narrative. We have been hearing many coded words and expressions from both runners, which are interpreted in different ways. It is hard for those who are part of neither side to understand where the Pandora box is. And both parties are not totally honest vis-à-vis Afghans, for whom the Two were begging to vote in each one’s favor. A very superficial understanding is they have yet to reach power-sharing deal, and issues like fraud and complaints are nothing but sheer pretexts.

Editorials: Afghanistan’s disputed election: It takes two | The Economist

It seems everyone wants the Afghan presidential election to be over and done with. Except, maybe, for the two contenders. In the latest attempt to derail an audit of the votes, which was set in motion six weeks ago, Abdullah Abdullah (pictured above) declared on August 27th that he was leaving the process—less than a week before the next president is supposed to be inaugurated. Mr Abdullah, who claims his opponent, Ashraf Ghani, rigged more than 1m votes, has accused auditors of keeping fraudulent ballots in the tally. Faulting the United Nations for not taking his concerns seriously, he said the criteria for invalidating votes are not thorough enough to weed out all the fraud. Wednesday morning, August 27th, no observers from his team were to be found at the headquarters of the Independent Election Commission when the day’s audit began. Consequently, Mr Ghani also withdrew his observers.

Afghanistan: Election audit will go on without candidates’ observers | Los Angeles Times

The full audit of the about 8 million votes cast in the second round of Afghanistan’s presidential election will continue “without the direct physical engagement” of the two candidates’ observers, the United Nations said Wednesday. The announcement came hours after Abdullah Abdullah, a former foreign minister who led April’s first-round vote but reportedly was losing in the initial count from the second round, ordered his team to stay away from the audit. Abdullah’s camp charged in a statement that the review was “built in a one-sided manner” favoring his rival, Ashraf Ghani. Muslim Saadat, a spokesman for the Abdullah team, said there remained “a few points to find solutions to” in the audit process, but that talks between the Abdullah and Ghani camps were ongoing. Nicholas Haysom, deputy special representative of the U.N. secretary-general for Afghanistan, announced that the audit would go on without observers from both camps. Haysom said one of the concerns raised by the Abdullah team would be given “serious consideration.” Neither he nor Saadat would elaborate on the unresolved issues. So far, ballots in 72 boxes have invalidated and another 697 boxes have been sent for recount.

Afghanistan: Presidential candidates pull out of audit | Associated Press

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election was rocked by more turmoil on Wednesday as both candidates vying to succeed Hamed Karzai pulled their observers out of a ballot audit meant to determine the winner of a June runoff. First, Abdullah Abdullah, a former foreign minister, pulled his monitors from the audit to protest the process that his team claims is fraught with fraud. Then, the United Nations, which is helping supervise the U.S.-brokered audit, asked the other candidate, former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, to also pull out his observers in the interest of fairness. The U.N. team said the audit then proceeded without both candidates’ teams. It was not immediately clear if the pullout meant the two candidates would reject the audit results — and thereby also the final result of the election. That could have dangerous repercussions in a country still struggling to overcome ethnic and religious divides and battling a resurgent Taliban insurgency.

Afghanistan: Afghan Candidate Threatens to Quit the Presidential Race | New York Times

Threatening to derail a tenuous Afghan political deal again, a top aide to the presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah said Tuesday that the campaign would pull out of an internationally monitored vote audit unless changes to the process were made by Wednesday. The United Nations and the Afghan election commission said the audit, which was initiated under a deal brokered by Secretary of State John Kerry and salvaged this month only after another personal intervention by him, would continue with or without Mr. Abdullah’s observers. But after a month and a half of frenetic activity by the international community to conduct what the United Nations has described as the most exhaustive election review in its history, some 6,000 out of 23,000 ballot boxes still need to be audited, according to Afghan and international officials. The stalled audit and new brinkmanship by Mr. Abdullah cast grave doubt on plans to hold a presidential inauguration by Sept. 2. And the crisis now seems likely to bog down the NATO summit meeting set for Sept. 4 that was scheduled to discuss Afghanistan’s future.

Afghanistan: U.S.-brokered accord to salvage Afghan presidential election faces new problems | The Washington Post

Afghanistan’s election crisis continued to deepen Tuesday as the campaign of second-place candidate Abdullah Abdullah warned that it will abandon a U.S.-brokered deal to end a political stalemate unless major changes are made in how millions of votes are being reexamined. Abdullah adviser Fazal Ahmad Manawi said the candidate has serious concerns that an ongoing audit of more than 8 million votes cast in a June runoff is not stringent enough to catch fraudulent ballots. He called the audit a “joke” and said new procedures must be implemented by Wednesday or Abdullah could walk away from the recount. “If by tomorrow morning our demands . . . are not accepted, our patience has ultimately run out,” said Manawi, who has been who was tasked by Abdullah with monitoring the recount. “We will consider this process a finished one, will not continue in it and not accept it, and the results will have no value to us.”

Afghanistan: Decision making on election audit result begins | Khaama Press

The Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan (IEC) said Monday that the election commissioners are set to meet today to commence decision‐making on the audit of all ballots cast in the Presidential run‐off election of 14 June. “Occurring daily at the National Tally Center, from 25 August until all audit findings have been reviewed, today’s inaugural session is scheduled to begin at 2pm. Candidate agents, national and international observers, United Nations advisors, and media will be present,” IEC said following a statement. The statement furhter added that the commissioners will make their decisions after having reviewed audit findings, as recorded on checklist forms.

Afghanistan: Nervous Afghans near political deadline | The Washington Post

With a crucial deadline soon approaching to inaugurate a new president and an election ballot recount in a critical stage, fears are growing that Afghanistan’s fragile transition process could collapse into violence. The quickening pace of a protracted election audit and a flurry of meetings between aides to the two rival candidates this week have raised faint hopes that the country may have a new leader in office within the next two weeks, just in time to attend a NATO summit crucial to future foreign aid for Afghanistan. But Afghan and international observers here warn that the process could easily fall apart, with disputes persisting over the fairness of the ballot recount and the two candidates unable to agree on a division of power after a winner is declared. Under U.S. pressure, they agreed to form a national unity government with a president as well as a chief executive, but they differ strongly on the details.

Afghanistan: Stab in the Back for Painful Afghanistan Election Process? | Inter Press Service

A knife fight late Tuesday among several auditors at the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) still inspecting the results of the presidential elections held in mid-June could be the stab in the back for what has been a painful election process. The vote audit process was resumed following a three-hour delay on Wednesday, a commission official said. Two months after Afghans voted in a second runoff for election of the country’s president, ballots are being recounted amid growing questions on who is really arbitrating the process. The four corrugated iron barracks east of Kabul that constitute the centre of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) of Afghanistan in which the 22,828 ballot boxes are piled up, have become the Afghan insurgency´s main target. In the June 14 runoff, presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai won 56.44 percent of the votes, while his opponent, Abdullah Abdullah, received 43.56 percent, despite having been the most voted candidate in the first runoff on April 5.

Afghanistan: Election Rivals Hit New Snags | Wall Street Journal

New strains have emerged in Afghanistan’s delicate political transition, just a week after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Kabul for the second time in a month to defuse a political crisis concerning who will take over from President Hamid Karzai. As the vote audit for a disputed election remains painfully slow and a crucial deadline looms, fresh suggestions of political fraud have emerged along with provocative comments from a key player. Former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah and former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani are vying to succeed Mr. Karzai, who must step down after more than a decade in power. But the failure of a June 14 runoff to produce a clear winner led to a political standoff that brought the country close to civil war.

Afghanistan: Marathon presidential election brings country to standstill | The Guardian

Eleven months into Afghanistan’s marathon presidential vote, strains are being felt across government institutions. The two candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, made progress by publicly agreeing to respect the results of the audit, but it will take some time still for observers to go through all 8.1 million votes. Meanwhile, the rest of the country has ground to a halt, and stasis is most keenly felt in government bureaucracies, where senior officials have expressed concern over the potentially damaging effects of a prolonged stalemate. Hakim Mujahed, the deputy chairman of the high peace council, a government body responsible for negotiations with the Taliban, said all meaningful work had stopped in early spring, during the first round of the elections. Now he whiles away his hours crossing off the administrative chores from his to-do list.

Afghanistan: Despite agreement, Afghan vote review still slow as deadline looms | Stars and Stripes

It starts by cutting the bright green seal on the lid of the ballot box, but the tedious task of auditing just one box among five hangars’ worth in Afghanistan’s contested presidential election often ends only hours later. The pace of counting continues to lag amid challenges by both campaigns two days after rival candidates Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah stood with Secretary of State John Kerry and pledged to accept the results of an election audit they vowed would end before NATO leaders meet next month to discuss their future commitments in Afghanistan. Once the seals are cut, the box is opened and some quick math done to match the number of ballots with a tally sheet inside. Things slow from there. While an auditor form the Afghan Independent Election Commission flips through several bundles of ballots, observers from the rival campaigns lean in, peering at check marks and scribbles to pull aside the ballots they consider suspicious.

Afghanistan: Kerry Visits Afghanistan to Urge Deal on the Election | New York Times

Secretary of State John Kerry made an unannounced visit here on Thursday to press Afghanistan’s rival presidential candidates to form a government of national unity and rescue the political agreement he negotiated almost four weeks ago. The Obama administration is urging Afghan politicians to accept the result of an internationally monitored audit so a new president can be inaugurated before NATO nations hold a summit meeting in Wales in early September. “We would like to see the president inaugurated and arriving at NATO as part of a government of national unity,” said a senior State Department official who is traveling with Mr. Kerry.

Afghanistan: Snags pile up at Afghan poll audit | The Peninsula

Afghanistan’s election audit needs to be fast and decisive to avert the threat of spiralling instability as US troops pull out, but attempts to speed up the process are bogged down in squabbles and confusion. Election officials are sorting through more than eight million votes in front of domestic observers, international monitors and representatives from the two presidential candidates. Every individual vote is physically examined and, if either campaign team complains, it is put to one side for further assessment. In a sweltering warehouse in Kabul on Monday, a UN official peered at a row of disputed ballot papers from the eastern province of Paktika — a hotbed of alleged fraud on polling day more than seven weeks ago. Both campaign teams had alleged that some papers showed suspiciously similar tick marks for their opponent, leading to a noisy four-hour dispute over one single ballot box. “We have a pattern here,” the adjudicating UN official said, pointing at some ticks. “But it is only three in a row, so it is ok. Now let’s look at the other side’s complaints.”

Afghanistan: Audit process resumes | BBC

A massive operation to check eight million votes in Afghanistan’s disputed elections has resumed in Kabul. Vote-checking restarted on Sunday after a holiday break without the involvement of one of the candidates, but Abdullah Abdullah later rejoined the process. Mr Abdullah had claimed that “widespread fraud” denied him victory over his rival Ashraf Ghani. The vote will see power transferred from Hamid Karzai, the only president since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. Around 23,000 ballot boxes from 34 provinces will be brought to the Independent Election Commission (IEC) headquarters in Kabul. …  The boxes have been stored in provincial capitals around Afghanistan since a second round of polling on 14 June.

Afghanistan: Election crisis deepens with new fraud allegations | Reuters

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election plunged deeper into crisis on Sunday when one of the main contenders accused a deputy of President Hamid Karzai of orchestrating fraud in favour of his rival. Supporters of Abdullah Abdullah, a former foreign minister, released an audio recording they said was Vice President Mohammad Karim Khalili encouraging vote-rigging in favour of Ashraf Ghani, the other contender in the race. Khalili’s and Ghani’s staff dismissed the recording as a fake. Allegations of mass fraud have overshadowed the outcome of the vote, which was meant to be the first democratic transition of power in Afghanistan’s history and came before the withdrawal of international combat troops at the end of this year. The eight million votes cast in the second round of the election, held in June, are currently being audited under U.N. supervision, according to a deal brokered by the United States.

Afghanistan: Troubled Afghan election audit gets green light, but disputes remain | Reuters

The mammoth task of auditing eight million votes cast in the second round of Afghanistan’s presidential election will restart on Saturday, the electoral commission said today, but disputes still hang over the process. Allegations of mass fraud have cast doubt over the outcome of the vote that aims to transfer power democratically for the first time in Afghan history before most foreign troops pull out at the end of the year. A US-brokered agreement to audit all ballots defused a crisis this month, but the process has stalled three times since and the candidates have yet to agree on how to disqualify votes.

Afghanistan: Presidential vote audit to resume on Saturday | Khaama Press

The Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan (IEC) said Wednesday that the vote audit for the presidential election will resume on Saturday. A statement released by IEC said the audit will be resumed following a break for the Eid al-Fitr national holiday. The statement further added that the Independent Election Commission (IEC) has formally adopted criteria for the recount and invalidation of ballots, as part of its 100% audit of the run-off round of voting for the Presidential election. “The adoption of the criteria is consistent with the laws of Afghanistan and the mandate of the IEC. The criteria are based on a proposal of the United Nations, finalized after extensive consultations with the campaign teams of both presidential candidates, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai,” the statement said.

Afghanistan: Power-sharing in Afghanistan: The election that never ended | The Economist

Three airless aluminium warehouses, shaped like giant armadillos, sit hunched on the outskirts of Kabul. Inside hundreds of volunteers and international election observers have been bustling around in stifling heat, arguing over the shape of tick-marks on individual ballots. During Ramadan the lack of food and drink made the stale atmosphere inside the godowns all the more draining. The Ramadan fast has since broken, but the counting goes on. Until it has finished, the presidential election that was supposed to replace Hamid Karzai hangs in suspension. After a surprising reversal of fortunes suddenly favoured Ashraf Ghani in the second round of the presidential elections, his opponent, Abdullah Abdullah, cried foul. Alleging fraud, several of his powerful supporters threatened to establish a breakaway government. It took an emergency agreement brokered by John Kerry, America’s secretary of state, to keep the process alive, but the deal is starting to show some of its inherent flaws. Mr Kerry has moved on and the two presidential hopefuls are now left to wrestle over its shortcomings.

Afghanistan: Election Result Hinges on a Squabble-Prone Audit | New York Times

Seemingly endless squabbles are interrupted by full-scale shouting matches. Campaign aides mutter suspiciously about what foreign visitors might be up to. And ballot boxes are piling up, waiting to be cracked open and examined for signs of fraud. In two spartan, stifling warehouses on the edge of Kabul, hundreds of Afghans, Americans and Europeans are engaged in a last-ditch attempt to salvage an acceptably democratic result from an election dispute that has been tumbling toward a street fight, or worse. They are auditing all of the roughly eight million ballots cast in last month’s presidential runoff, trying to separate fraud from fact. But a week into the process, the audit has engendered little confidence, and is already desperately behind schedule.Only 4.5 percent of the roughly 22,000 ballot boxes had been examined by Wednesday. Each day has seemed to yield some new dispute or confusion that has put on the brakes. Does writing “insh’allah” — God willing — next to the name of a candidate on a ballot constitute a legitimate vote? Is it proper for campaign representatives to move between tables, urging colleagues to argue harder? And who was that tall, bearded foreigner with no badge?

Afghanistan: EU: ‘A slight delay is better than an electoral crisis’ | Deutsche Welle

Afghanistan’s audit of millions of ballots from the presidential runoff vote is being slowed down by disputes. But Thijs Berman, the EU’s chief election observer, tells DW what matters is that the audit is done properly. It’s only been a few days since Afghanistan began an audit of more than eight million votes cast in the June 14 runoff presidential election but the process has already been marred by walkouts by both sides. Although the country’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) said that the process would take around three weeks, with teams working in two shifts to audit around 1,000 ballot boxes a day, the exercise may take longer than expected as the two sides still appear at odds over the ground rules for the audit. The audit had been agreed upon by rival presidential candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani following Abdullah’s claims of massive fraud, which had threatened to plunge the conflict-ridden country into a political crisis. The agreement, brokered by US Secretary of State John Kerry, comes at a crucial time as the United States, Afghanistan’s biggest foreign donor, prepares to withdraw most of its combat troops by the end of this year. Thijs Berman, the chief election observer of the EU Election Assessment Team (EAT) in Afghanistan, says in a DW interview, that it is not uncommon for audits to lead to discussions, especially over ‘suspect votes’, and adds that the important thing is that the audit is conducted properly.