Editorials: Whose election is this, anyway? | Times Union

In our republic, there is little as fundamental — as sacrosanct, really — as the voting process. To retain the public’s faith, it must be transparent. So it’s troubling that the Rensselaer County Board of Elections has refused to let the public see the electronic ballot images from last November’s election. These are the digital images taken of the paper ballots that voters fed into machines. Since 2010, in compliance with the Help America Vote Act, three versions of each vote are kept — the paper ballot, which is preserved for two years and only opened if ordered by a judge, and two digital images, the “official” record and a “redundant backup.”

California: Humboldt County embraces new system for election transparency | California Forward

Want to see every ballot cast in the last election with your own two eyes? The Humboldt County Registrar makes that possible in her home near the Oregon border. Humboldt Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich responded to controversy and an outcry from residents by creating a system for anyone to request a scanned version of the vote through the Humboldt County Elections Transparency Project. In 2008, to the dismay of Humboldt County voters, 197 votes (or 0.3 percent of the total vote) disappeared due to a software malfunction. Apparently, it wasn’t the first time for this software to simply delete ballots and Crnich was rightly approached by constituents who had grave concerns regarding the voting system soon after the election results. The software is made by Diebold, a name which may conjure up memories of hanging chads in Florida in 2000 and other issues in 2004. Crnich and that same group of constituents did an audit after connecting the dots on Diebold’s spotty history and found the missing ballots. Locals thought the software was too closed off from the public and wanted a better auditing process. After pinpointing the problem, the Secretary of State’s office swiftly initiated an investigation and decertified the faulty software.

Florida: Does Your Vote Count? The Overvote Worries | CBS Miami

Imagine going to the polls November 6th and casting your vote for President Barack Obama or Governor Mitt Romney and somehow the machine thinks you voted for both candidates. That’s called an overvote, and your vote may be thrown out. Sound impossible? It isn’t. “You are  getting to the crux of the problem with this technology. We are supposed to trust what goes on back there blindly,” voting rights advocate and attorney Lida Rodriguez-Taseff told CBS4 Chief Investigator Michele Gillen. Rodriguez-Taseff  has spent a decade battling to pull back the curtain on election transparency. She helped get the touch screen machines tossed in Florida in favor of getting voters a paper ballot and paper trail – only to learn that the variety of optical scan machines now in use now across  America and  Florida may have flaws no one could have predicted. Or could they have?

Colorado: Scott Gessler targeted by activist over voting in Saguache county and beyond | Denver News

The woman behind Citizen Center, a nonprofit organization that focuses on elections issues and more, is pushing Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s office to hold a hearing prompted by her complaint about alleged voting irregularities in Saguache County. And today, she plans to announce a broader lawsuit focusing on Gessler and officials in several other counties.  Marks’s background? “I used to be the primary owner and CEO of a trailer manufacturing firm,” she says. “I retired to Aspen in 2002 and ran for mayor in 2009 — and that experience caused me to get completely passionate about Colorado’s elections, which are some of the least transparent, most troublesome elections in the country. In the past almost-three years, I have become a full-time election-quality advocate: I have seven active lawsuits going on across the state on election transparency and election quality. And now, I’ve established a nonprofit so that I can continue my work in a more organized way.”

Colorado: Voters’ secret ballots may not be so secret after ruling | GJSentinel.com

The state’s county clerks plan to ask the Colorado Legislature when it reconvenes in January to make ballots exempt from the Colorado Open Records Act. The clerks say a Colorado Court of Appeals ruling in August that ballots are public records has turned election law on its head and could allow someone to find out how people voted, no matter how careful clerks are in guarding voter secrecy. But fixing the problem could be more problematic than most people think, Mesa County Clerk Sheila Reiner said.

Reiner and Jefferson County Clerk Pam Anderson, who are facing identical lawsuits demanding to make their ballots public, say doing so would identify individual voters and how they voted. As a result, they think ballots should be made exempt from open-records laws. … Some people disagree, saying a balance can be struck that maintains election transparency without violating secrecy laws.

Wisconsin: Lots of Attention for Waukesha County Clerk After Report Confirms Election Violations | Waukesha, WI Patch

Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus won’t face any criminal charges for the Supreme Court election results mess caused when she failed to tell anyone about Brookfield’s votes. This week, her actions are getting plenty of attention.

An independent probe into the situation foundNickolaus likely violated state elections laws inher bungled release of state Supreme Court election results in April, but her conduct was not willful or criminal. Read the report.

On Monday, the Appleton Post Crescent wrote in an editorial that Nickolaus should be punished.The paper said it believes her mistake was “an honest mistake,” but that sometimes even those need to be punished.

Colorado: Aspen to appeal ruling over ballot images | AspenTimes.com

In a somewhat expected move, the city of Aspen has decided to appeal last week’s state appellate court judgment that said local political activist Marilyn Marks has a right to inspect ballot images from the 2009 mayoral election. “The Aspen City Council has directed staff to appeal the Marks v. Koch case to the Colorado Supreme Court,” says a statement released Tuesday from the City Attorney’s Office. “At issue in the lawsuit, which was originally filed in 2009, is the right of citizens to expect that their cast ballots will remain secret.”

The city maintains that it is residents’ constitutional right to vote their consciences knowing that their ballots will remain “forever secret,” the prepared statement says. The lawsuit against City Clerk Kathryn Koch, who declined Marks’ request to view ballot images from the spring election that Marks lost, states that the Colorado Open Records Act and other state laws allow public ballot inspection as long as it is not possible to discern a voter’s identity. “This case is not about election transparency,” the city’s statement reads. “The 2009 municipal election was one of the most transparent elections in city and state history. This case involves the sanctity of the secret ballot.”

Wisconsin: Nickolaus says she does not plan to show all election-breakdown results | JSOnline

When Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus said in May that she intended to start providing unofficial election night results broken down by municipality – something that might have flagged the kind of snafu that earned her notoriety after the Supreme Court election this spring – she did not mean all municipal results.

Nickolaus told the County Board’s Executive Committee on Monday that she’ll change her reporting practices based on advice from the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board.

When pressed in committee by Supervisor David Swan as to whether she’d return to past practice of showing results for municipalities, even if the state elections officials don’t suggest it, she said, “Not at this point.”

Wisconsin: City of Brookfield Ballot Bags Found “Wide Open” in Waukesha County, Wisconsin | Truthout

Five out of six bags of bal­lots from first batch to be co­un­ted out of the City of Brook­field in Waukes­ha Co­un­ty, Wis­consin today were dis­covered “al­most wide open” dur­ing Day 9 of the statewide Sup­reme Court elec­tion “re­count.” The bags were open and un­sealed, ac­cord­ing to both photog­raphic evi­d­ence and an eye-witnesses ac­count from…

Pennsylvania: Lancaster County Pennsylvania Board of Elections Moves to Bar Media from Vote Count | Lancaster Online

Last Wednesday, the Lancaster County Board of Elections approved a policy designed to remove media members from the county’s election center on election night and move them to an adjacent building. The policy is intended to provide more space for voting materials in the warehouse at Burle Industries business park that serves as the county’s…

Colorado: Colorado: It’s not about ballots — it’s about public records | Colorado Springs Conservative

Beginning in 2006, when Valley Courier reporter Ruth Heide was denied copies of the minutes from Center Town Board meetings, Saguache County and municipal officials operating within the county have consistently balked at producing documents deemed public under the Colorado Open Records Act. Records either have been denied or their delivery has been delayed past…

Colorado: Colorado Secretary of State Gessler to weigh in on Seguache County Election Problems | Center Post Dispatch

During the legislative luncheon at the Colorado Press Association convention Friday, Secretary of State Scott Gessler told the Center Post-Dispatch that he will be weighing in soon on the problems with the Nov. 2 Saguache election. The SOS oversight of the election began under previous Secretary of State Bernie Buescher, now counsel for the State…