Election ballots in the Democratic Republic of the Congo can look more like the weekend edition of a newspaper than the single folded sheet of paper common the United States. Congolese electoral laws allow a nearly unlimited number of candidates to run for parliament. In the coming election, now pushed to 2019, there may be as many as 28,000 candidates, each one with their name and photo printed in a ballot. The expense and logistical difficulties of printing and distributing 45 million of these massive ballots are nearly insurmountable. After they’re printed, ballots must be trucked or flown to 126,000 polling stations around the country. The electoral commission has yet to acquire the necessary funds, and the voter registry isn’t complete. Or at least, these are some of the official reasons given for why Congo will not be holding elections for another year and a half, according to a source familiar with the election process who requested not to be named.
Australia’s auditor general has warned the Australian Electoral Commission it failed to take “meaningful action” and follow a series of recommendations to more securely count votes in the lead-up to the 2013 election. On Wednesday the Australian National Audit Office released its third follow-up audit of the AEC after the 2013 federal election, in which 1,370 Western Australian Senate ballot papers were lost. The Senate election was required to be held again after a high court challenge and the AEC faced heavy criticism at the time. The latest audit found two years on the AEC has still not established procedures to fix a series of failings. The audit disclosed there are now 1.2 million Australians who are eligible to vote but have not been enrolled, and raised concerns over the AEC’s response to the electoral gaps. The report said “some useful work had been undertaken” to manage the electoral role, but there were “significant gaps in implementation action”.
Major election complications cropped up on the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar on Wednesday, and the main opposition party on the mainland called for a recount as Tanzania’s election limbo stretched into its third day. Observers had predicted that Sunday’s elections would be the closest and possibly most troubled in Tanzania’s history. Tanzania is considered one of the most peaceful nations in Africa, led by essentially the same political party since independence more than 50 years ago. But many Tanzanians are growing tired of that party, and already there have been worrisome signs. Ballot papers were burned by a mob in western Tanzania on Sunday. On Monday, opposition officials said scores of their volunteers were arrested.
Bulgaria’s Central Electoral Commission (CEC) faced more public backlash on October 26 after slow processing of ballots required intervention by emergency services. A total of 25 people required first aid, while 10 people, including two pregnant women, had to be taken to hospital. An earlier report that claimed one person died was later denied. Under Bulgarian law, election officials from polling stations are held responsible for all ballot papers until officially signing them into the custody of the municipal electoral committee. In Sofia, the process was so slow that some people spent, reportedly, more than 20 hours waiting for their turn at the Arena Armeec sports hall, which caused several people to faint.
Andy Burnham’s campaign has criticised Labour’s “unbelievable” decision to close its telephone helpline for people yet to receive ballot papers on the final day of its leadership contest. With less than 24 hours to go before the voting deadline, dozens of Labour members and supporters have publicly complained that they have still not received emails or papers allowing them to take part. Some of the leadership campaigns believe hundreds if not thousands of members and supporters could be disenfranchised. After receiving many complaints over the last week, Labour reissued thousands of ballots by email on Tuesday to people who had not yet voted. It is understood that Iain McNicol, the party’s general secretary, then emailed all the leadership campaigns on Tuesday, saying the reminder email would “hopefully pick up any outstanding issues your teams have been contacted about non-receipt of ballot papers”.
Labour members and supporters have begun protesting to the party about their lack of ballot papers with less than a week to go before the leadership election closes. The party initially promised that 99.9% of its electorate would have received ballot papers by 28 August, but it is now refusing to disclose how many of the 554,000 have been sent out. A initial batch of 340,000 was dispatched on 14 August, and a second batch of 170,000 voters should have received their ballots between 21-26 August. That would have left a final batch to receive their voting instructions by email by Friday 28 August. However, with just four and a half working days until the ballot closes at midday next Thursday, many have taken to social media to complain to the party about worries that they could be disenfranchised in the contest.
United Kingdom: Labour leadership election chaos as 120k ballot papers were sent out only last week | Daily Mail
The first voting papers went out in mid-August, but party sources revealed yesterday that ‘well over’ 120,000 were sent out on Friday. With that amounting to more than one in five of all of those eligible to vote, a source in one contender’s camp said there was still ‘all to play for’. Another said the race was still ‘up for grabs’. The surge in new members and supporters has caused a huge headache for Labour HQ as officials attempt to weed out infiltrators. Members of other political parties have been barred from voting as part of a huge ‘purge’ of unwanted applicants. At the beginning of last week Labour insisted all ballots would be verified in time, and said checks on voters would be ‘finished in the next few days’.
Most people who vote in tomorrow’s general election will vote in person, in one of around 40,000 polling stations that will be open from 7am to 10pm. All voters should have received a poll card no less than a week before election day. You should present this at the polling station when you vote. Each voter is then given a ballot paper on which to mark their vote. The paper bears an alphabetical list of all the candidates standing in that constituency. In addition to your elector number, your ballot paper will carry an “official mark” which should be visible from both sides of the paper. This will usually be stamped with a special instrument immediately before it is given to you; but some papers may have a pre-printed mark or barcode instead.
Australia: New South Wales poll result could be challenged after parties are left off electronic ballot paper | The Guardian
The result of the upper house election in New South Wales could be contested after 19,000 early voters cast their votes on electronic ballot papers that left off the names of two of the parties above the line. The Animal Justice party and Outdoor Recreation party were left out on the electronic voting site iVote. About 19,000 people cast their vote before the error was noticed, but the NSW Electoral Commission has declared their votes will still be valid. Online voting was suspended for about five hours on Tuesday when the error was discovered.
A senior official of the Electoral Commission of Zambia says the organization is ready to supervise a credible presidential by-election on Tuesday. Official campaigning ends on Monday ahead of the poll. The commission’s director of elections, Priscilla Isaac, says both sensitive and non-sensitive materials have been dispatched to ensure all polling centers across the country can open on time for the vote. “We have really tried to be on top of things and we will be ready to open polling station on time on the 20th,” says Isaac. “We dispatched the last set of ballot papers to the districts – that was Thursday. So all the ballot papers are all in the districts and now just waiting for the deployment to the respective polling stations with the polling staff … We know that everybody will be in place by the 19th at all their respective polling stations, in readiness for the polls on Tuesday.”
A series of mishaps at various polling stations around the country during the advance voting process over the weekend have raised doubts about the readiness of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to host the 2014 general elections. Uproar broke out on Monday after reports emerged that the weekend poll marred with controversy as some public servants were denied a chance to vote. Reports from various constituencies in the country indicate that voters were made to wait for long hours while in some instances voting was postponed because ballot papers were either defective or in short supply. In some instances, voters waited until midnight to cast their vote as the IEC was forced to extend voting hours to allow for new ballot papers to arrive. In an interview with The Botswana Gazette, Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) parliamentary hopeful in Molepolole North, Mohammed Khan expressed disappointment at the way the IEC handled the advanced voting process and cast aspersions of the Commission’s preparedness to coordinate the October 24 general election.
Yestrerday, the Fijian Elections Office officially printed the 700,000th ballot paper – the final paper for Fiji’s big day – the September 17 national election. The papers have been bound into 14,000 books and have been transported in a total of 467 boxes, the Supervisor of Elections, Mohammed Saneem, confirmed yesterday morning at a press conference at Star Printery in Suva. “The Fijian Elections Office wishes to advise that as of now, we have finished the printing and compilation of the ballot papers. The last batch was just dispatched to a secure facility,” Mr Saneem said. “We have printed 700,000 ballot papers and they are bound into 14,000 books and we have transported them across in 467 boxes. We used a total of 8770kg of paper for printing the ballot papers.”
There are elections in Sweden every four years. There are 349 seats up for grabs in the national parliament (Riksdag) and registered voters will also choose the next politicians to make up 21 county councils and 290 municipal assemblies. You have to be a Swedish citizen aged 18 or over to vote in national elections. But if you’re from the EU, Iceland or Norway and you’re registered as living in Sweden, then you can have a say in municipal and county council elections. People from outside Europe who have been in Sweden for more than three years may also be allowed to vote locally. In total around seven million people are eligible to go to the polls.
Turkey’s main opposition candidate in the upcoming presidential election questioned on Tuesday why electoral authorities are printing millions of extra ballots. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said international observers had noted that about 18 million additional ballot papers were being printed for the vote, the first round of which is on Aug. 10. If no candidate wins an absolute majority, a runoff will be held on Aug. 24. “Of course some of the ballot papers may come to harm. They could be destroyed by rain, floods and mud,” Ihsanoglu said. “But what does it mean to print 18 million extra? Who will use these ballots? How will they not go into the wrong hands? This is what we are asking. Who is responsible?”
he Australian Electoral Commission failed to adequately respond to warnings about the transport and storage of ballot papers made years before the West Australian Senate debacle. An Australian National Audit Office report into the security of ballots during last year’s federal election is scathing of the AEC, saying it failed to react to recommendations made in 2010. The AEC has been under fire over its botched handling of the poll; the loss of 1370 ballot papers forced a fresh WA Senate vote in April. The 2010 audit by the audit office found the AEC needed to improve the security of ballot papers during transport and storage.
She said political parties should be forced to sign up to a new code of conduct, including a ban on activists handling postal ballot papers. ‘We are talking about the behaviour of unscrupulous campaigners who act in an improper way to put pressure on people,’ she said. ‘It is that behaviour that needs to be tackled. ‘You can’t punish voters for the behaviour of unscrupulous campaigners, and that’s what abolishing postal voting on demand would do.’ But others warned that further action may be needed to eradicate ballot-rigging. Returning officer Ray Morgan, chief executive of Woking Borough Council, said: ‘I don’t think any election that I’ve presided over since 2006 has been totally fair and honest.’
The commonwealth auditor-general says the Australian Electoral Commission was warned at least four years ago about problems with its vote counting system. A Senate committee is sitting in Canberra on Thursday to take evidence in relation to the AEC’s botched running of the West Australian Senate election in 2013. The commission is seeking a court-ordered fresh election after the mysterious loss of 1370 ballot papers, for which it has apologised.
Thailand Post Co has decided to stop distributing ballot papers following threats by anti-government protesters, the Election Commission (EC) says. EC secretary-general Puchong Nutrawong said Thailand Post president Anusara Chittmittrapap submitted a letter to the EC on Tuesday to announce the decision. According to the letter, People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) protesters on Tuesday blocked the entrances to Thailand Post Co on Chaeng Watthana Road and several post offices after demonstrators learned the state enterprise was handling the delivery of the ballot papers. Protesters had threatened to disrupt water and water supplies to Thailand Post Co as well as its delivery operations if the firm continued to deliver the ballot papers, the letter said. Thailand Post Co had decided it could no longer support the EC’s work in the election, the letter said.
India: Election Commission plans introducing downloadable ballot papers for forces | Business Standard
For the first time, lakhs of paramilitary soldiers may be able to download the ballot paper from the Internet, cast their vote and send it by post to the returning officer in the next Lok Sabha elections. At the initiative of the paramilitary forces like BSF and CRPF, the Election Commission is working on such a plan, which would make postal voting much easier for these force personnel who would be deployed in remote parts of the country. “This (downloadable ballot papers) is actually a suggestion, which we are right now looking at seriously for the defence personnel,” Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath said, adding that such a move would reduce the one way travel time of postal ballots during the elections.
An inquiry into Western Australia’s missing Senate votes has found significant failures in the handling, movement and storage of ballot papers. The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) asked the former commissioner of the Australian Federal Police, Mick Keelty, to conduct the inquiry after more than 1,300 ballot papers disappeared. The bungle has left the Senate result up the air, with the AEC asking the High Court to order a fresh election in the New Year.
A lost box of ballot papers worth just $30 will likely condemn taxpayers to a $13 million election, according to a scathing review of the WA Senate recount. Former Federal police commissioner Mick Keelty accused the WA office of the Australian Electoral Commission of having a culture of complacency that is likely to result in 1.3 million people going back to the polls next year. Mr Keelty was given the task of determining how the commission lost 1370 votes after it was asked to conduct a recount. The probe came after a very close Senate count in WA which, depending on the lost votes, could have two different candidates elected to the Upper House for the next six years. There has been an appeal in the High Court against the result, with a directions hearing to be held next week. Mr Keelty found he could not “conclusively” rule out foul play in the recount, though he suggested the votes could have been placed in wrong boxes, lost in transit or accidentally destroyed. He found the electoral commission was under more pressure, with a bigger workload, demographic changes and increased expectations for results on election night. This had led to mistakes that cumulatively could cost taxpayers millions of dollars.
Australia: Negligent AEC practices means mystery of lost votes will remain unsolved: Mick Keelty | Brisbane Times
Former federal police commissioner Mick Keelty has criticised “lax” and “complacent” practices with the Australian Electoral Commission in concluding the fate of 1370 missing Western Australian Senate votes may never be known. The Australian Electoral Commission asked Mr Keelty to investigate what happened to the ballot papers after the loss of the votes was discovered in October during a recount. In a report released on Friday, Mr Keelty said while his investigation had not excluded the possibility of criminality, he had not discovered any evidence to suggest it was more likely than that the ballot papers had simply been misplaced. “It is tempting to say that the ballots are most likely to have been mistakenly destroyed with recycling material but the system put in place by the WA AEC office was so parlous that such a conclusion would be difficult to prove,” Mr Keelty wrote.
Australia: New Senate election looms after AEC seeks an order that poll be declared void | The Australian
Electoral officials have applied to the High Court for a re-run of the West Australian Senate election, following the loss of 1370 ballot papers. Electoral Commissioner Ed Killesteyn today lodged a petition with the High Court, sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns, to declare all six Senate places void following the loss of the ballot papers during a controversial recount. The petition comes before the conclusion of the investigation into the missing ballot papers by former Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty. “Given the closeness of the margins that favoured the final two declared candidates, the petition is based on the premise that the inability to include 1370 missing ballot papers in the recount of the WA Senate election means that the election was likely to be affected for the purposes of s 362(3) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918,” the Australian Electoral Commission said in a statement.
Former police commissioner Mick Keelty says the whereabouts of the missing 1,375 votes from the disputed West Australian Senate election may remain a mystery. Keelty, who has been called in by the Australian Electoral Commission to investigate the loss of ballot papers in the 2013 Western Australia Senate election, told reporters in Perth on Monday: “We may never get to the bottom of this. Nearly six weeks down the track and there is no indication of where these ballots are.” The contested senate election result in Western Australia is now bound for the high court, and the AEC has left open the prospect of petitioning the court itself in a gesture to restore faith in the electoral process. The court has several options, including ordering a fresh election.
The Australian Electoral Commission is trying to determine how many Queensland voters were accidentally given ballot papers for the NSW Senate contest. A voter in the far north Queensland tourist town of Port Douglas says he and other voters were given the wrong ballot papers at a pre-polling booth. The man says he realised the mistake about an hour after he voted, and returned to the booth to alert officials. The AEC says it’s unsure how many Queensland voters were given the wrong ballot papers. An investigation into the incident, which happened in the electorate of Leichhardt, is under way.
Election officials overseeing Zimbabwe’s July 31 ballot insist the country is ready to hold general elections in less than a week. However, fears of vote rigging and a lack of funding are worrying Zimbabweans. “Elections will be credible, free and fair. We are ready for the elections,” Zimbabwe’s Electoral Commission [ZEC] deputy chairperson, Joyce Kazeme, told international election observers stationed in the country on Tuesday (24.07.2013). Some 600 foreign observers have been endorsed to scrutinize the country’s July 31 election as well as pre-poll voting for security officials assigned to work on election day. Close to 6,000 Zimbabwean observers will also monitor voting. International observers include representatives of the African Union, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Voters are warned not to take photos of their ballot papers and share it through the Internet as it is a serious offence. “Voting is confidential. They are not supposed to take photograph and post it online – on Facebook, Twitter or anywhere else,” said State Elections Commission director Datu Takun Sunggah when met by The Borneo Post recently. “They should not do that. Don’t expose anything which should be confidential.” He added that this applied to all voters regardless if they were voting at the polling station or voting through post.
What happens if a ballot box in an Election Commission boat gets swept away by strong currents in crocodile-infested waters? Will campaigning in a constituency continue if one of the candidates dies before polling day? And who wins if two candidates contesting a seat receive the same number of votes? These are just some of the out-of-the-ordinary hypothetical scenarios that the EC has prepared for as part of its overall effort to ensure a smooth 13th general election. EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof said ballot boxes transported by river in the interior of Sabah and Sarawak will be fitted with floats to prevent them from getting lost en route to the counting centre. “This precaution was taken in the Tenang by-election as well as the Sarawak state polls in 2011. “We have tested the float-fitted ballot boxes by throwing them into swimming pools to ascertain that they do not sink,” he added in an interview.
Reprinting 575,000 ballot papers began yesterday after the original batch was scrapped as they depicted the alleged unauthorised use of the Guinness World Records logo by one of the candidates. The reprint will cost the state roughly €40,000, and the electoral services are looking into the issue of legal culpability on the part of presidential candidate Andreas Efstratiou.
Efstratiou used the Guinness World Records logo on four previous election ballot papers, and claims that as a world record holder, he has express permission to use it wherever he pleases. But Chief Returning Officer, Andreas Ashiotis, rejected the claims yesterday after an email he received from Guinness World Records Ltd on Tuesday informed him that Efstratiou had been contacted in 2011 and told he was not permitted to use the logo on any more electoral ballots.
Over half a million ballot papers for next month’s presidential elections will have to be reprinted after the existing ones were ruled invalid as they feature the unauthorised logo of Guinness World Records. Some 575,000 ballots will now have to be binned, with the cost of a printing new ones estimated at €40,000. According to sources at the ministry, an anonymous call was made asking whether candidate Andreas Efstratiou’s use of the Guinness logo on the presidential election ballot papers was legal. The ministry emailed the company early yesterday morning to ask for clearance to use the logo on ballot papers but was informed that Efstratiou had been told in 2011 not to use the logo again after using it in the 2008 presidential elections. As a Guinness World Record holder, Efstratiou can use the logo in certain circumstances but not on ballot papers, according to the company. However Efstratiou has refuted this.