Malawi’s electoral authorities said on Sunday that they will re-open ballot boxes after finding evidence of irregularities, as the country faced a constitutional crisis over the disputed poll. “In the course of vote tallying, there are cases being discovered where the total number of votes cast is more than the total registered voters for the centre,” said Malawi Electoral Commission chairman Maxon Mbendera. “It has been agreed with political parties that this can be resolved by opening the ballot boxes and doing a physical audit,” he said. The recount could start this week after an implementation plan was thrashed out with political parties on Sunday. On Saturday, Malawian President Joyce Banda declared the election “null and void”, claiming there were “serious irregularities” with the poll. She issued a decree that vote counting stop and called for fresh elections in 90 days.
An alliance headed by prime minister Nuri al-Maliki has been declared as having received the largest number of seats in Iraq’s elections last month, but many of his political opponents doubt the vote’s fairness and claim massive fraud. If proved, the allegations of irregularities and vote-rigging will cast shadows over the legitimacy of the new parliament elected on 30 April and may further worsen the decade-long political ructions and sectarian violence that have been largely blamed on the nation’s political class. Iraq’s Independent Higher Election Commission (IHEC) announced on Monday that al-Maliki’s State of Law Alliance had won 92 out of 328 parliamentary seats. His main rivals finished with between nine and 34 seats overall. Smaller blocs received between one and six seats. A potential new prime minister would need the support of a total of 165 members. Negotiations to build a coalition to form a new government will likely drag on for weeks, if not months, observers say.
The ruling VMRO DPMNE party won half of the seats in Macedonian elections. According to initial results, the ruling VMRO DPMNE party of Nikola Gruevski won 61 of the 123 seats in parliament, and the SDSM 34. The governing ethnic Albanian party, the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI, won 19 seats and the opposition ethnic Albanian Democratic Party of Albanians, DPA, seven. The newly-formed Citizen’s Option for Macedonia, GROM, and the National Democratic Rebirts, NDP, won one seat each. Opposition Social Democrats are to consider whether to refuse to take up their seats in parliament following their defeat in Sunday general and presidential elections, which the party blames on electoral fraud.
The future of a system that would let voters download absentee ballots before mailing them in was cast into doubt Thursday when the State Board of Elections refused to move forward with part of the plan amid fears it would open the door to widespread fraud. The five-member panel declined to certify a system for marking the ballots on a computer screen despite assurances from its staff that the system was secure and ready to be used in this year’s June primary and November general elections. No formal tally was taken, but it was clear the approval was two votes short of the four-vote supermajority required. Both Republican members opposed the certification, and they were joined by one of the three Democrats. Opponents of the system were jubilant over the outcome. “Sanity prevailed,” said Michael Greenberger, a University of Maryland law professor and founder of its Center for Health and Homeland Security. “If this system had been adopted, Maryland would have had a voting system that was the most subject to fraud in the country.”
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika looked set to win a fourth term with allies claiming victory in an election on Thursday, despite questions over his health and his rare appearances since suffering a stroke in 2013. Official results were due on Friday, but Bouteflika’s camp claimed the independence veteran backed by the dominant National Liberation Front (FLN) party had succeeded in securing five more years at the helm of the North African OPEC state. The 77-year-old Bouteflika, who has appeared in public only a few times since his stroke, earlier voted in Algiers while sitting in a wheelchair. He gave no statement and only briefly shook hands with supporters before leaving.
The main opposition candidate in Algeria’s presidential elections cried foul late Thursday night hours after voting ended, alleging massive fraud and vowing to reject any results announced. Ali Benflis told supporters at his headquarters that preliminary information indicated fraud on a grand scale with grave irregularities across the country. “Our history will remember this date as a great crime against the nation by stealing the voice of the citizens and blocking popular will,” he said, while fireworks from celebrating supporters of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, his opponent, could be heard in the background. The national commission charged with supervising the elections, however, insisted that aside from a few incidents, the election went smoothly with just 130 complaints. Turnout was 51.7 percent of the 23 million registered voters, according to the Interior Minister.
It is not true to say that Afghanistan lacks good-news stories. It’s just that they are not the kind to generate headlines: 8m children at school, two-fifths of them girls, compared with 1m when the Taliban were in power; a tenfold increase in those Afghans with access to basic health care; some 20m who own mobile phones; and proliferating television channels, radio stations and newspapers. By contrast, the good-news story of the presidential election on April 5th was generating both headlines and surprise—and that is even before a result has been announced. The expectation was for another flawed election like the one in 2009. Jeremiahs predicted that a combination of fraud, intimidation and violence would produce only a tainted, illegitimate government. That would give weary donors of international aid all the excuse they needed to stop signing the cheques keeping the country afloat. The only real winners would be the Taliban. Yet in this election Afghans of all kinds rejected that account of their country. Despite the threat of Taliban reprisals (and rotten weather), over 7m Afghans, about 60% of those eligible, appear to have voted, half as many again as in 2009. Around 35% of those who cast a ballot were women. Burka-clad voters raising an ink-stained finger as they left the polling booths became a symbol of defiance.
The coverage on the impending Afghan presidential elections has been filled with death and chaos — the tragic shooting at the Serena hotel where an international election monitor was killed, the shocking attack on the Afghan Election Commission’s headquarters, the killing of a provincial council candidate and the news that several international monitoring groups are pulling out. These tragedies, however, shift the focus from the major news in Afghanistan this week: Election fever has gripped the nation. I hear from Afghans as well as many foreigners now working in Afghanistan that the excitement about the coming April 5 presidential election is palpable and encouraging. If this election goes relatively smoothly, it will mark the first democratic handover of power in Afghan history. Potential large-scale fraud and violence will be substantial obstacles to overcome, but there are also some positive signs. Voters, observers and security personnel are gearing up with a mixture of enthusiasm and trepidation. Why be optimistic?
State Sen. Leland Yee withdrew from the California secretary of state race Thursday, one day after his arrest on public corruption charges, his attorney said. “This was a very personal decision on the part of the senator,” said Paul DeMeester, his attorney, at a news conference outside the federal courthouse in San Francisco. “This is what he wanted to do.” Yee, a Democrat who represents half of San Francisco and most of San Mateo County, was one of 26 people ensnared in a five-year federal investigation that targeted Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, a notorious Chinatown gangster who had claimed to have gone straight, officials said. An outspoken advocate of gun control and open government, Yee is charged with conspiring to traffic in firearms as well as six counts of scheming to defraud citizens of honest services. He has not commented on the allegations. Investigators say Yee took bribes in exchange for political favors in order to pay off a $70,000 debt from an unsuccessful run for San Francisco mayor in 2011 and to fund his run for secretary of state. The bribes were paid by undercover agents, the FBI said.
At least 25,000 election monitors are planning to fan out across Istanbul, Turkey’s biggest city, to prevent fraud during local elections on March 30 as governing and opposition parties warn of ballot rigging. A civil movement called “Vote and Beyond” is mobilizing the volunteers to monitor and provide evidence to political parties if they fall victim to possible irregularities, said Sercan Celebi, a spokesman for the movement said by phone today. Other monitors plan to work in the second city, Ankara.
Political parties in the autonomous Kurdistan Region are concerned that new electronic cards that voters will use in Iraq’s parliamentary elections in April can encourage irregularities, because the system is not fully computerized. Kurdish officials worry that the new cards contain several flaws. They note that because polling stations are not connected by computer, any card holder can vote more than once at different election booths. Another concern has been that cards are issued on the basis of old voter lists, containing names of people who are long dead, or common names appearing more than once as different individuals. “The fear is what happens to the additional cards that are not received by people; how about the duplicate cards and the dead people?” wondered Aram Sheikh Muhammad, an elections official of the Change Movement (Gorran).
South Jersey Democratic organization has filed a federal complaint against a Republican campaign group working to reelect U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, saying it had co-opted his Democratic challenger’s name on a “deceptive” website to solicit donations. Republicans countered Monday by attacking the challenger, Democrat Bill Hughes Jr., for his association with retiring U.S. Rep. Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.). The website complaint, brought by Atlantic County Democratic Chairman Jim Schroeder, asks the Federal Election Commission to investigate “fraudulent” activity by the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC). It also names LoBiondo and his campaign as respondents.
At first sight, the suggestion from the Electoral Commission that voters should be required to show photographic ID at polling stations appears sensible. On closer examination, it is not so straightforward. The rationale for the move is to reduce the incidence of electoral fraud. Yet the latter is, as Jenny Watson, chairman of the commission, pointed out, fairly unusual. So before the entire population is required to provide such ID, there should surely be a greater effort to clamp down on fraud where it is known to exist. The commission identifies 16 “suspect” areas and makes the point that some communities, “specifically those with roots in parts of Pakistan or Bangladesh”, are particularly vulnerable to the practice. Yet politicians are reluctant to say so, not least because when they do, the roof caves in – as Dominic Grieve, the Attorney General, found a few weeks ago when he raised the issue in an interview with this newspaper.
Michigan: Board dismisses dozens of Detroit mayoral primary ballot fraud complaints | The Detroit News
Detroit— The Wayne County Board of Canvassers on Monday shot down dozens of complaints by former Detroit mayor candidate Tom Barrow alleging ballots were fraudulently filled out at the August primary. Barrow questioned an estimated 40-50 ballots covering several districts. His accusations that the writing on many of the ballots matched prompted canvassers to hire a handwriting expert to compare 19 ballots. The results, which canvassers received Monday, showed it was “highly probable” different people filled out the ballots Barrow questioned. The findings prompted Melvin “Butch” Hollowell, the legal counsel for mayoral candidate and former Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan, to ask the canvassers to throw out all of the handwriting-related complaints from Barrow.
“We have a ruling by your expert,” Hollowell said to the board. “We should be allowed to rely on that expert.”
While the international community is distracted by the ongoing tragedy in Syria, apparent election fraud is threatening efforts to restore democracy in what was until recently considered a bright spot for nonviolent democratic change in the Islamic world. In the Maldives, popular former president Mohamed Nasheed – who was deposed in a coup last year -was expected to easily win a majority of the vote in the first round of Saturday’s election against three other candidates. However, the results show him getting less than 46% of the vote, forcing him into a runoff with Abdulla Yameen, half-brother of the former dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, whose allies seized power from the democratically-elected government in February 2012 and have ruled the small island nation ever since. There are a number of troubling indicators that major fraud may have occurred in the election held on September 7, which raises questions regarding the integrity of the September 28 runoff. The official turnout reported by the media at the close of the polls was 70%. However, based upon the announced results, the official turnout was raised to an improbable 88%. A number of voting districts in which Yameen was popular reported anywhere from 10% to 300% more votes cast than there were eligible voters.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent opponent, Alexei Navalny, said on Wednesday he would file hundreds of legal challenges to Moscow mayoral election results he says were rigged to give a Kremlin ally victory. Sergei Sobyanin, who was appointed mayor by the Kremlin in 2010 but called an early election to increase his legitimacy, won the vote on Sunday with 51.3 percent – enough to avoid a second-round run-off against Navalny, who had 27.3 percent. Navalny, an anti-corruption blogger who helped lead street protests against Putin in the past two years, has refused to accept the results and has cited election observers whose count put Sobyanin below the 50 percent threshold. “Everybody’s asking: Where are the lawsuits? If you’re unhappy with the results and believe there was fraud, why aren’t you complaining?” Navalny wrote on his blog. “I answer: We are preparing well-grounded legal complaints. It takes time.”
Zimbabwe’s opposition MDC withdrew a court challenge against President Robert Mugabe’s re-election through a vote the party had denounced as fraudulent, saying on Friday it would not get a fair hearing. Mugabe, 89, and his ZANU-PF party were declared winners of the July 31 election but the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by outgoing Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai had filed a motion for the constitutional court to overturn the result. A hearing on the MDC challenge, which had alleged widespread vote-rigging and intimidation by ZANU-PF, had been planned for Saturday. “I can confirm that we have withdrawn the presidential election petition. There are a number of reasons, including the failure by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to release critical evidence in this matter,” MDC spokesman Douglas Mwonzora said. The decision appeared to end any hope of further action by the MDC through the courts, which Tsangirai’s party have said are dominated by ZANU-PF along with other state institutions in the southern African nation, formerly known as Rhodesia.
Togo’s ruling party has taken the lead in the country’s parliamentary elections, partial results showed Friday, while an opposition coalition was ahead in the capital Lome. Thursday’s long-delayed polls came after months of protests in the West African nation, with the opposition seeking to weaken the ruling family’s decades-long grip on power. President Faure Gnassingbe’s UNIR party was ahead in provisional results from the electoral commission seen by AFP, while the Let’s Save Togo coalition was the strongest opposition contender. Gnassingbe’s party was dominating the north of the country, its traditional stronghold, while Let’s Save Togo did particularly well in the capital.
The small West African nation of Togo is holding legislative elections on Thursday amid signs voters are increasingly fed up with the ruling party. Analysts say in order to win, though, the opposition will have to overcome its own divisions, as well as an electoral system vulnerable to fraud. Negotiations over how the election would be run continued until just a few weeks ago, and major opposition parties refused to confirm until recently that they would participate. On Tuesday, the final day of campaigning, however, all the major parties staged rallies in Togo’s capital, Lome, expressing confidence about their chances.
About 20,000 Malaysian opposition supporters gathered in the capital on Saturday demanding the resignation of the country’s Election Commission in the wake of contentious polls. The opposition claims bias by the commission cost them a historic win against Malaysia’s 56-year-old ruling coalition and has filed petitions challenging results in some areas, claiming fraud. The rally in central Kuala Lumpur was the 15th since the May 5 elections, in which the Barisan Nasional (National Front) clung to power despite losing the popular vote in its worst showing ever. “We have won the elections,” opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim told the crowd. “So we will continue our protests in parliament and outside.”
About 20,000 Malaysian opposition supporters gathered in the capital Saturday demanding the resignation of the country’s Election Commission in the wake of contentious polls. The opposition claims bias by the commission cost them a historic win against Malaysia’s 56-year-old ruling coalition and has filed petitions challenging results in some areas, claiming fraud. The rally in central Kuala Lumpur was the 15th since the May 5 elections, in which the Barisan Nasional (National Front) clung to power despite losing the popular vote in its worst showing ever. “We have won the elections,” opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim told the crowd. “So we will continue our protests in parliament and outside.”
The election scandal dogging Congressman Joe Garcia’s campaign and two state House races makes it clear: Computer techies are supplementing old-school, block-walking ballot-brokers known as boleteras. Over just a few days last July, at least two groups of schemers used computers traced to Miami, India and the United Kingdom to fraudulently request the ballots of 2,046 Miami-Dade voters. Garcia said he knew nothing of the plot that recently implicated three former campaign workers, two employed in his congressional office. Investigators, meanwhile, have hit a dead end with a larger fraud involving two state House races. A third incident cropped up Thursday in Miami’s mayoral race, but the case appears unrelated to last year’s fraud when two groups appeared to act separately from each other. They employed different tactics to target different types of voters, a University of Florida/Miami Herald analysis of election data indicates. The ultimate goal was the same: get mail-in ballots into the hands of voters, a job that many boleteras once handled on the streets of Miami-Dade. Now, it’s electronic.
Florida: Police raid Miami Commissioner Francis Suarez’s mayoral campaign in absentee ballot fraud investigation | Miami Herald
Detectives raided a political worker’s home Thursday after he submitted other voters’ absentee-ballot request forms to help Miami Commissioner Francis Suarez’s mayoral campaign, which spun into damage-control mode and said no one intentionally broke the law. The Miami-Dade state attorney’s office targeted Juan Pablo Baggini after county elections workers flagged a series of 20 absentee-ballot requests made on May 29 that were linked to Baggini’s computer. “I can’t say anything, it’s an ongoing investigation,” Baggini, 37, said at his Coconut Grove office. He is listed as the “operations director’’ for Suarez’s campaign. The raid at Baggini’s Continental Park home was the second performed by police and prosecutors since May 31, when investigators searched three locations in a separate absentee-ballot fraud case involving the 2012 campaign of U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia.
Albania’s general election on June 23 will be heavily scrutinised to determine if it’s free and fair. So far, the signs aren’t good. The latest hint that the EU is becoming increasingly worried came from the European watchdog charged with monitoring the election, no less. Ahead of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation (OSCE) setting up its mission in Albania on May 15, its chief Lamberto Zannier said his team were watching with concern the harsh rhetoric of the political debate. “We are expecting a very competitive electoral process in a challenging climate,” Zannier told reporters on May 2. Zannier cited in particular the growing spectre of extreme nationalism, the rise of which could have repercussions for the stability of the entire region. “We hope that there will not be excessive nationalism that could create elements of instability in the region,” he said. “The OSCE has invested so much in Albania”. Albanian nationalism is a new wildcard to the country’s elections, which previously were marred by the more typical unsavoury aspects such as intimidation, violence, vote-rigging and electoral fraud.
Iran has witnessed a rare show of political dissent in the run-up to next week’s presidential election after mourners chanted anti-regime slogans at the mass funeral of a dissident cleric, according to amateur video footage. Chants of “death to the dictator” and “dictator, dictator, may your sleep be disturbed” were heard on videos of the funeral procession in Isfahan, Iran’s second city, following the death of Ayatollah Jalaluddin Taheri, who died on Sunday, aged 87. The footage – whose authenticity cannot be verified – also contained chants in support of Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, presidential candidates in the country’s fraud-tainted 2009 election, who have been under house arrest for more than two years. Marchers were heard on one video chanting: “Mousavi and Karroubi must be released.”
A recent electronic election in France has proved electronic some voting systems still cannot be trusted not to include fraudulent votes. The town hall primary election which ended on Monday saw four candidates of the Union Pour un Mouvement Populaire (UMP) vie for the honor to be the party’s candidate in the Paris mayoral elections scheduled for next spring. But, the entire affair has been tainted by claims of Metronews journalists that it’s extremely easy to cast a ballot in other voters’ name. The UMP had outsourced the organization of the election to Docapost, a subsidiary of the French postal service, which has apparently organized several successful union and political elections in the past. The company assured that every measure had been taken to prevent fraud, and the UMP had even hired a security expert to control the voting process and results.
Florida: Congressman Joe Garcia: ‘Flawed’ absentee-voting system, ‘reckless abandon’ in politics contributed to ballot scandal | Miami Herald
Congressman Joe Garcia on Saturday attempted to control the damage inflicted on his office a day earlier, when he dismissed his chief of staff for apparently orchestrating a scheme to submit hundreds of fraudulent absentee-ballot requests. Meanwhile, Republicans nationwide and closer to home pummeled Garcia, questioning whether the first-term congressman was coming clean on his campaign’s involvement in the ballot scandal. In a news conference held at his West Miami-Dade office Saturday morning, Garcia, a Democrat, maintained that he had no knowledge of the failed plot during last year’s primary election. He said he learned about his campaign’s involvement only the previous afternoon from chief of staff Jeffrey Garcia, who is unrelated to the congressman and has long served as his top political strategist. “I cannot stress how angry I am at these events,” Joe Garcia said Saturday.
Prime Minister Andrus Ansip has drawn a connection in the e-voting fraud scandal with MEP Kristiina Ojuland.
Ansip told Postimees after a party meeting that Ojuland has made payments from her personal bank account to compensate the party membership dues of 39 people whose identities are suspected to have been stolen. Võru County has emerged as the second voting district to be wrapped up in the Reform Party’s leadership election scandal, in which an insider is suspected of secretly casting e-votes on behalf of elderly party members who claim not to have voted. Only a few cases of identity theft are suspected in Võru County, as opposed to dozens in Lääne-Viru County, ERR radio reported.
Equatorial Guinea voted on Sunday in local and legislative elections denounced as a sham by the opposition, with the party of Africa’s longest serving leader expected to clinch an overwhelming victory. The small West African nation, the continent’s third-largest oil producer, has been under the iron-fisted rule of Teodoro Obiang Nguema for 34 years and successive elections have been widely seen as flawed. “These are sham elections, just like the other elections organised by the Obiang dictatorship,” said Placido Mico, the lone opposition lawmaker in a parliament where Obiang’s PDGE holds 99 of the 100 seats.
The head of the Republican Party of Miami Dade County said on Monday that all local candidates under his wing will be given strict guidelines to avoid using ballot brokers in their campaigns. “The party will not employ people to collect absentee ballots,” said chairman Nelson Díaz. “We can’t allow people to take advantage of voters and fill out their absentee ballots.” Diaz’s announcement came as a response to stories published by El Nuevo Herald over the weekend about the contents of three notebooks that were apparently kept by Deisy Pentón de Cabrera, who was charged last summer with ballot fraud in Hialeah.