Zimbabwe: Opposition Parties Demand Internationally-run 2018 Elections | VoA News

Opposition parties in Zimbabwe say they have no confidence in the country’s electoral commission and are calling for an international body to run the 2018 elections. Opposition parties led by former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai held a rally of about 500 people Wednesday in Harare at which they said the next election is heading for a dispute unless the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, or ZEC, steps aside. The rally follows the electoral commission’s request to President Robert Mugabe’s government to buy biometric voter registration equipment in preparation for Zimbabwe’s 2018 elections. The opposition says the move is unconstitutional. Opposition supporters marched to the commission’s offices to present a petition, singing on their way.

Somalia: Somalia To Recruit National Independent Electoral Commission for the 2016 election | Somali Current

As required by the Provisional Federal Constitution of Somalia and in line with the recently passed laws on the National Independent Electoral Commission and the Boundaries and Federation Commission, Somalia is now urging qualified citizens to apply for the 18 vacant seats of the National Independent Election Commission (NIEC) and the Boundaries and Federal Commission (BFC); the deadline for applications to the two Commissions has now been extended to 30th March 2015. The Minister of State from Interior and Federalism, H.E. Abdirashid Hidig, said the Federal Government is committed to ensuring that the selection process is free, fair and transparent, with a strict process involving approvals by several committees, the Federal Parliament and finally the President of the Federal Republic of Somalia.

Sudan: Electoral body rejects complaints over NCP’s use of state resources for presidential campaign | Sudan Tribune

The National Election Commission (NEC) in Sudan has brushed aside complaints by independent presidential candidates on the use of aircraft and cars by senior officials from the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) in the electoral campaign of president Omer Hassan al-Bashir. The electoral body explained to representatives of those disgruntled candidates that these activities are in line with NCP resources at their disposal and vehemently denied being biased in favor of certain candidates.

Hawaii: Senate passes bill for chief elections officer evaluations | West Hawaii Today

The state’s chief elections officer would have to undergo a performance evaluation after each general election under a plan approved by the state Senate. The bill, SB 622, requires the Elections Commission to provide the written performance evaluation to the Legislature. It was introduced after problems during the 2014 elections that included 800 ballots that were missing in Maui and voters in storm-damaged parts of the Big Island who couldn’t get to the polls. The Senate approved the bill Thursday. It now goes to the House.

Illinois: Kane County to investigate disbanding Aurora Election Commission | Daily Herald

Just when it looked like officials would create the first written, mutual agreement spelling out the funding and operation of the Aurora Election Commission, Kane County Board members said Thursday they would rather work toward disbanding it. Kane County Chief Judge Judith Brawka began working with the commission and the city of Aurora in July 2013 to resolve conflicts about the commission’s funding. As it stands, Aurora and Kane County are required to fund the commission. Kane County kicks in about $400,000 a year, and Aurora’s commitment is more than $600,000. But neither taxing body has authority to set the commission’s budget, which has resulted in multiple late bill payments.

Mississippi: Hinds Election Snafu Could Bring Sanctions Against Commissioners | Jackson Free Press

The Hinds County supervisors are calling on the local district attorney and the state attorney general to sanction the county election commission for failure to order the number of ballots state law requires for the Nov. 4 general election. Despite only one-third of the county’s 156,000 registered voters going to the polls for the mid-term election, some precincts did have unexpectedly high turnout. Some of those polling places ran out of ballots late in the evening, which touched off a mad scramble to print more. Agitated by the long waits, some voters left without casting their ballots. Later, Connie Cochran—the chairwoman of the Hinds County Election Commission—admitted that the commission failed to follow a state law mandating that enough ballots be printed for 75 percent of registered voters. Cochran took responsibility for making the call to save the county money.

Illinois: City, county election consolidation wins on third try | Journal Star

The third time was a charm for the vote to consolidate city and county election commissions. Voters decided to create an Peoria County Election Commission out of the Peoria City Election Commission and the portion of the Peoria County Clerk’s Office that handles the county’s polling places. Voters approved the referendum with 25,589 votes in favor, or 53 percent, and 23,026 votes opposed, or 47 percent. “I’m pleased that it passed,” said Peoria County Board Member Allen Mayer, who represents District 6. “I look forward to working with everyone in the next couple of months to transition to a countywide election commission.” The vote totals reflected different desires in the county and the city.

Botswana: Election Commission Says Botswana to Administer Credible Vote | VoA News

The Executive Secretary of Botswana’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) says the electoral body is fully prepared to administer credible parliamentary and local government elections on Friday. “I can confirm that all the materials have reached 2,606 polling stations….Yesterday all the materials had left the constituency headquarters,” said electoral chief Gabriel Seeletso. Seeletso said the IEC has addressed concerns opposition party concerns over the recently compiled voters list that would be used for the elections.

Haiti: Long-delayed election likely postponed again | AFP

As Haiti prepared Tuesday to bury a former dictator who had little use for elections, it seemed all but certain that a long-delayed legislative vote due later this month will again be postponed. And, on the week that former strongman Jean-Claude Duvalier’s death revived memories of Haiti under dictatorship, observers warned this could leave the country’s current leader free to rule the impoverished Caribbean nation by decree. Four years after a sudden massive earthquake devastated the Haitian capital, the streets of Port-au-Prince are again bustling with working people struggling to get by, but there is no sign of any political campaign.

Russia: ‘Most Diverse’ Elections Offer No Real Choice | The Moscow Times

An all-time record 63 parties will compete in the upcoming regional elections next month, but pundits and opposition candidates say undesirables have been purged from the lists. “The intrigue is mostly about the turnout and runners-up in the gubernatorial polls,” regional analyst Alexei Titkov of the Higher School of Economics said Thursday. “If less than 30 percent of voters turn out, it may finally trigger the long-awaited public discussion about there being something not quite right about our elections,” Titkov said by telephone. On Wednesday, candidate registration closed for the more than 5,800 local elections that will take place across 84 of 85 Russian provinces on Sept. 14, according to the Central Election Commission. Thirty governor seats are up for grabs, from St. Petersburg to the far eastern Primorye region, and 14 regional legislatures will be re-elected, including in Moscow. But not a single incumbent, Kremlin-endorsed governor risks defeat, Titkov said — mostly because electoral authorities have banned all dangerous rivals from the race.

Illinois: Peoria County voters may decide election commission consolidations | Journal Star

Next to a host of constitutional amendments and advisory questions, Peoria County voters may face at least two more referendum questions in the Nov. 4 election. The County Board’s executive committee agreed Thursday to ask the full board to approve on Aug. 14 letting citizens decide whether to consolidate the City Election Commission and the county election operations now under the county clerk into a new countywide election commission. The full board also will weigh consolidating the offices of clerk and recorder of deeds. Bringing together the two election entities has long been a priority for the county, and board members have asked legislators for a measure making it easier to do — requiring just one referendum with easy wording rather than two votes with more complex ballot language — since at least 2009, board member Allen Mayer said. “We’ve voted on this again and again and again,” he said of the board’s repeated efforts to get lawmakers to advance a bill, something that was finally done in 2013.

Indonesia: Election dispute emerges as serious test for Indonesia | Financial Times

After 16 years of peaceful democracy, the dispute over who won Indonesia’s presidential election is turning into a serious test for both the country and outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, whose legacy will depend on how he handles the clash. Both Joko Widodo, the reformist Jakarta governor, and Prabowo Subianto, a self-styled military strongman, have claimed victory in the July 9 election, although most polling agencies and independent political analysts suggest Mr Widodo has won. The official vote count will not be completed until July 22, but both sides have already accused each other of trying to rig the process. If neither side accepts the outcome of the official count, it will be left to the national election commission (KPU), the Constitutional Court and President Yudhoyono to find a solution.

Egypt: Elections commission rejects Sabahi’s appeal | Ahram Online

Egypt’s  Presidential Election Commission (PEC) rejected an appeal by the presidential campaign of candidate Hamdeen Sabahi, who suffered a crushing loss in the poll according to preliminary results of the vote, against violations claimed by it during the poll. The PEC said, according to Al-Ahram’s Arabic news website, the complaints submitted on Friday were investigated and no evidence was found to support them. The complaints haven’t influenced the results of the poll, the commission added.

Thailand: Meeting to set Thailand election date delayed | Al Jazeera

A meeting between Thailand’s interim prime minister and the Election Commission to fix a date for polls has been postponed due to security concern over the venue for the discussions. “The government has asked to delay the meeting due to security concerns over the venue location,” Election Commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn told reporters on Wednesday. “We will meet with the government tomorrow at a different venue.” Somchai did not elaborate but the talks were planned at a government complex in north Bangkok near an anti-government protest site occupied by demonstrators. Government spokesmen were not available for comment. Fixing the date for the polls is the latest round in a six-month political crisis punctuated with sporadic violence in the streets of Bangkok, leaving 25 people dead and threatening to tip the economy into recession, even raising fears of civil war. While the government sees the polls as the best way out of the country’s protracted crisis, the option has been met with staunch rejection by opponents. Protesters, who have set up base inside a wing of the largely abandoned government headquarters, are holding a news conferences for the international media from there, in a sign of defiance to the wounded administration, the AFP news agency reported.

Thailand: Election Commission says no new vote for months | Bangkok Post

EC member Somchai Srisuttiyakorn said there are two possible options for staging a new general election and the commission will debate them after studying the court ruling. Constitutional Court Secretary-General Pimol Thampitakpong: “The election was not held on the same day nationwide, which goes against the constitution.” “The first option is that the EC and the government work together and set a new election date within 60 days,” he said. “The other is that the EC and all political parties work out the election date, which doesn’t have to be within a 60-day time frame.” Mr Somchai said the two possible scenarios are based on the charter court’s 2006 ruling which nullified that year’s general election and asked the EC and political parties to work out a new poll date. He said even though the 2006 ruling stated that a fresh election should be organised within 60 days, a meeting of political party leaders agreed to delay the poll.

Editorials: Let South Carolina Election Commission oversee county offices to safeguard everyone’s vote | The State

The main reason the Legislature has spent more than a year not fixing the election system that brought us Lillian McBride and Howard Jackson and now Sam Selph — and eight-hour waits to vote and uncounted ballots — is that legislators in the rest of the state don’t understand that Richland County is the canary in the coal mine. They insist that those endless lines and ballots that turn up a year after the fact, uncounted, are unique to Richland County. They’re not, but let’s pretend for argument’s sake that the problem is unique to Richland County. It still isn’t a Richland County problem.

Bulgaria: State election commission announces preliminary results | B92

According to preliminary results of the Election Commission (RIK) only four coalitions and lists of ethnic minorities will have seats in the new parliament. These preliminary results were announced during a news conference held at midnight in Belgrade. RIK President Dejan Đurđević told reporters that the results, based on ballots from 65.37 percent of the polling stations (50.51 percent of the electorate), showed the SNS-led coalition had won 48.44 percent (156 mandates), followed by the coalition gathered around the Socialists (SPS), with 14.05 percent (45 mandates). Boris Tadić’s New Democratic Party (NDS) and its coalition received 5.86 percent (18 mandates), while the one led by the Democratic Party (DS) had 5.46 percent (17 mandates).

Thailand: Election Commission approves poll re-runs in 11 provinces | Bangkok Post

The Election Commission (EC) has approved a proposal involving poll re-runs in 11 provinces where balloting for Jan 26 advance voting and the Feb 2 election was disrupted by protest blockades, its secretary-general Puchong Nutrawong says. Mr Puchong said the poll re-runs are scheduled for April 5 in Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat, Prachuap Khiri Khan and Bangkok and on April 27 for Chumphon, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Krabi, Phuket, Satun and Phangnga. He said the proposal is the result of last Friday’s meeting between the EC and parties concerned in Songkhla’s Hat Yai district. The EC has resolved that it will wait for a Constitution Court ruling before making any decision concerning 28 constituencies where there were no candidates to contest the Feb 2 election, he said.

Maldives: Entire Maldives election commission sentenced | BBC

The Maldives Supreme Court has given all four election commissioners six-month jail sentences, suspended for three years, for “disobeying orders”. The head of the commission and his deputy have also been sacked. The BBC’s Charles Haviland in Colombo says the ruling comes at an awkward time as the commission is supposed to be preparing for parliamentary elections in less than two weeks. Former President Mohamed Nasheed has called for protests against the ruling. The four election commission members were brought to trial under new rules that allow the Supreme Court to initiate proceedings, prosecute and pass judgement. The judges said they had disrespected the court by not following election guidelines.

India: India says elections to begin April 7, with voting held in stages | Associated Press

India said Wednesday it will begin national elections on April 7, kicking off a month-long contest in the largest democracy in the world. The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, led by Narendra Modi, has the momentum heading into the polls. A recent poll by the Pew Research Center said 63 percent of Indians prefer the Hindu nationalist BJP over the incumbent Congress party, which has dominated Indian politics for most of the country’s history since independence in 1947. The election is held over several weeks for reasons of logistics and safety in a country of 1.2 billion. More than 810 million people are eligible to vote this year — an increase of 100 million from five years ago, according to the Election Commission. Vote counting will be held May 16 and most results are expected the same day, Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath said.

Libya: Head of election commission resigns | GulfNews.com

The head of Libya’s election commission and two of its members resigned on Sunday, state media reported, a day after it released initial results of a vote for the country’s constitutional panel amid violence and boycotts. Nuri Al Abari, the head of the commission, did not say why he resigned, although it appeared to be out of concern over Libya’s volatile political situation and tension over the election. Later in the day, armed protesters stormed the parliament building while lawmakers were in session, trashing furniture, burning the speaker’s chair and beating at least three lawmakers, deputy speaker Hussain Al Ansari said. The February vote for the 60-member constitutional panel was marred by violence, with several voting stations coming under attack and security forces failing to secure others.

Thailand: Election Commission asks court who has poll authority | Bangkok Post

The Election Commission (EC) is poised to petition the Constitution Court to rule whether the EC or the government can authorise the announcement of polls in 28 constituencies in the South. Anti-government protests barred candidates from registering to contest the Feb 2 election in 28 constituencies in the southern provinces and an election rerun has to be called in these areas to complete the contest. The EC wants the government to issue a new royal decree for the election rerun to go ahead but the government argues such a step would violate the constitution. EC member Somchai Srisuttiyakorn said yesterday the agency will ask the charter court to rule on who would be able to authorise the rerun as the government has made it clear that it would not re-issue a royal decree for the purpose. He said the petition can be lodged without a formal reply from the government.

Tunisia: Election commission members sworn in | World Bulletin

The elected members of Tunisia’s High Election Commission were sworn in on Wednesday at the presidential Palace in Carthage. The ceremony was attended by President Moncef Marzouki, caretaker Prime Minister Ali Larayedh and new premier Mehdi Jomaa. “Several things must be present so that the commission can do its work properly, including a free media that can convince citizens to go to polling stations during elections,” said Marzouki. The Tunisian leader called for holding parliamentary and presidential elections as early as possible to bring about a much-needed security to his country. “I hope we can hold the elections before the summer,” he said. Meanwhile, election commission chief Shafiq Sersar said he and his colleagues would work hard to hold successful, transparent and democratic elections. Sersar was elected head of the commission last Thursday.

Thailand: Prime Minister calls meeting on whether to postpone the election | Bangkok Post

Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has called an urgent meeting to discuss the Election Commission’s proposal that government postpone the election from Feb 2, PM’s secretary-general Suranand Vejjajiva said on Monday. The premier has instructed Deputy Prime Minister Pongthep Thepkanchana to coordinate the meeting to take place this Wednesday, Jan 15. Mr Suranand said Ms Yingluck will preside over the meeting herself if all relevant parties agree to discuss the proposal to postpone the polls. He said the government is calling the meeting because it sincerely wants all concerned with the issue to come together for talks.

India: Electoral commission dumps Google over spying fears | iTnews

The Indian Election Commission dropped plans on Thursday to partner Google on a project to ease voter access to information, after a backlash against the move from campaigners who fear Google and the US government could use it for spying. India, the world’s largest democracy, will go to the polls in a general election due by May. Google, the world’s No.1 search engine, had pitched a project to the Election Commission to create a simpler and faster search tool for voters to check whether they were registered correctly or not. But the plan was opposed by the Indian Infosec Consortium, a government and private sector-backed alliance of cyber security experts, who feared Google would collaborate with “American agencies” for espionage purposes.

India: Election Commission drops tie-up plan with Google | Business Line

The Election Commission has decided not to pursue its proposed tie-up with internet giant Google after concerns over national security were raised from several quarters, including major parties. US-based Google had earlier this week made a formal presentation to the Election Commission proposing a tie-up with it for voter facilitation services ahead of Lok Sabha elections. The Commission, at its meeting here today which was attended by Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath and Election Commissioners H.S. Brahma and S.N.A. Zaidi, deliberated on the issue and decided not to go ahead. “After due consideration, the Commission has decided not to pursue it any further,” said an EC official.

Tunisia: Islamists set to resign after deal on election commission | Reuters

Tunisia’s ruling Islamists are preparing to resign in the next few days to make way for a caretaker cabinet once government and opposition parties agree on the makeup of an electoral commission, mediators said on Tuesday. Three years after its uprising ousted veteran autocratic president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia is in the final stages of its transition to full democracy after months of deadlock between Islamist and secular parties. Late last year, after a political crisis erupted, the ruling Islamist party Ennahda agreed to hand over power to a caretaker government once a new constitution was complete, an election committee named and a date for elections set. Tunisia’s national assembly last week began voting on the final parts of the new constitution, and parties on Tuesday were working out disagreements over composition of the election commission to oversee a vote later this year.

India: Google-Election Commission tie-up talks alarm cyber group | Business Standard

Cyber security professionals have raised an alarm about the potential danger to national security, even before the Election Commission (EC) formally announces a tie-up with US technology giant Google. The poll panel has been in talks with the internet firm’s India office to allow voters to easily search for their details on electoral lists. The company had also proposed to build an application for voters to get road directions to polling stations through Google Maps. It was also reported last week that Google would help EC manage online voter registrations before the Lok Sabha elections this year. “This will lead to a goldmine of intelligence,” said Jiten Jain, a member of the Indian Infosec Consortium (IIC), an association of professionals working in the field of cyber security and are critics of the proposed relationship between EC and Google. He added that citizens will have to provide their email addresses and mobile numbers for new voter registrations. That, combined with Google’s other technology offerings like email, search, maps, etc could aid in building profiles of voters which could invade their privacy.