National Security Minister Peter Bunting is seeking to clarify his position on a proposal to use the voter identification database for crime fighting. Speaking at a function in Hanover last week, Bunting said Parliament should examine the law which prohibits the electoral database from being used to solve crime. He added that he hoped the opposition would support the move.
New Brunswick’s new voting machines may hinder a person’s right to secretly spoil their ballots in this year’s provincial election, according to a University of Moncton professor. Elections New Brunswick started using the electronic vote tabulation machines in 2008, but this is the first time the units have been used to count the ballots in a provincial election. The machines speed up the vote-counting process and are intended to be more accurate. However, Denis Duval, a University of Moncton professor, said he has a problem with the machines because they beep when a person selects more than one candidate or no candidates on their ballot. “It not only tells the person working the machine, but the beep also can be heard by people in line waiting to vote,” Duval said. He said it’s a fundamental right for people to cast their votes in secret, so Duval filed a complaint with Elections New Brunswick in 2012.
A federal judge in Baltimore ordered Maryland election officials to adopt an online absentee voting tool in time for this year’s general election, a move designed to make it easier for disabled voters to cast ballots. Opponents of the system — including computer security experts — have warned it could lead to voter fraud or privacy breaches. The tool, developed in house by the State Board of Elections, allows disabled people to receive their ballot over the internet and fill it out on a computer. The completed ballot must be printed and mailed to an elections board. Attorney Jessica Weber, who represents a group of voters as well as the National Federation of the Blind, said during the trial that her clients are currently “being denied meaningful access to voting.” In a 33-page ruling issued Thursday, Judge Richard D. Bennett agreed and ordered the state to adopt the system. “This Court finds that Plaintiffs have been denied meaningful access to the State’s absentee ballot voting program as mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act,” he wrote. The ruling applies only to this year’s election.
In the future, you may have the option to make certain your voter information is not accessible by the general public. Utah’s House of Representatives approved legislation on Tuesday, on a vote of 71-2, that will allow the public to request that their voter information be kept private. The bill, H.B. 302, also calls for birth dates to be unavailable when someone purchases Utah’s voter rolls, but the records would still list a voter’s age. “I believe strongly an individual should not have to trade their constitutional right to vote in order to ensure their privacy,” said Rep. Becky Edwards, R-North Salt Lake. Edwards explained that the legislation comes as a direct result to a website that surfaced earlier this year that contains the whole Utah voter roll on it.
State lawmakers are trying to figure out how to prevent Utah voters’ information from being used for personal gain after a New Hampshire man bought it from the state and posted it online. The Senate last week unanimously passed SB36 to limit access to the state’s voter registration rolls and prohibit putting it on the Internet. It includes exceptions for political, scholarly, journalistic and governmental purposes. But a House committee Monday expanded those exceptions to include banks, hospitals and insurance companies. It now goes the full House for consideration.
South Carolina: Survey notes accessibility problems for Richland Co. voters with disabilities | The State
When Richland County voter Dori Tempio went to cast her ballot in November’s library referendum, a poll worker held the voting machine on her lap. She asked for privacy. He turned his head. “The person could see what I was voting,” said Tempio, 43, who uses a wheelchair. “Other people walking by could see what I was voting. … That makes you somewhat uncomfortable.” Tempio said she considers voting to be a sacred right; she has voted in every election since she turned 18. But a survey of Richland County precincts by Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities, Inc., found many residents with disabilities faced barriers when trying to exercise their right to vote Nov. 5. The survey identified a lack of accessible ballots as the top issue, affecting 63 percent of Richland County precincts.
Some Australians are refusing to use the Australian Electoral Commission’s postal voting forms because they require personal details to be printed on the back of the returning envelope. Voters must provide their name, address and signature, together with the signature of a witness on the envelope which contains their completed ballot papers. If the person has changed their name or address since they last voted, those details must also be added to the form together with a phone number and the town or city in which they were born. One Sydney voter, who asked for his name to be withheld, told ninemsn he was shocked such details would be visible and feared the system made it too easy to facilitate identity theft. He believes the practice goes against the widely held belief that your personal details should be guarded closely to avoid them being used for other purposes.
Colorado: It’s no secret: Judge tosses ballot privacy lawsuit against Larimer County CO | The Coloradoan
A federal judge in Denver ruled Friday that the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee the right to a secret ballot. U.S. District Judge Christine Arguello dismissed a lawsuit brought by voting-rights activists with the Aspen-based Citizen Center that accused Colorado election officials including the Larimer County clerk’s office and Secretary of State Scott Gessler of managing voted ballots in a way that is traceable to individual voters. “Coloradans until today have believed they are entitled to a secret ballot,” said Citizen Center founder Marilyn Marks. “Now we’re being told we are mistaken.”
A new app released by President Obama’s campaign team has raised privacy fears. The free Obama for America app – which can be downloaded for the iPhone and Android – gives users the first name, last initial, gender and addresses of registered Democrats. “Sign up to canvass—then get started right away with a list of voters in your neighborhood. Access scripts and enter feedback and responses in real time as you go,” the campaign states on its website. The app has raised the ire of privacy advocates. “It doesn’t make it right just because it’s legal,” Shaun Dakin, CEO and founder of The National Political Do Not Contact Registry, told The Washington Post. “Anybody can get this. There’s no way to prevent anyone from downloading this.” Justin Brookman, a consumer privacy expert at the Center for Democracy and Technology, told Reuters that people with bad intentions can easily access the app. “The concern is making it available to people who may have bad intent and that fear could deter people from giving money,” Brookman explained to Reuters.
Canada: Elections Canada may roll out Internet voting in 2015 in spite of security concerns | CottageCountryNow
While Huntsville council tackles election topics such as ward boundaries, some residents believe the issue of electronic voting should be the primary concern. Grant Hallman, a retired resident who spent a career in software development, has said council’s decision to discuss in 2013 whether electronic voting or traditional paper ballots will be used in the 2014 municipal election will not give the municipality enough time for thorough debate. Hallman said it will likely not give the municipality enough time to switch back to paper ballots if council decides it does not want to use the telephone and Internet voting method used in the previous municipal election. There are several concerns Hallman and others have with the electronic voting method.
The Indianapolis Star recently ran an editorial calling on the Marion County Election Board to give access to five “unslated” (i.e., non party endorsed) candidates running in the Hoosier State’s May 8 primary.
Here’s the crux of the issue, from the editorial:
The unslated candidates point out that the database is a public record compiled at taxpayer expense. The state Public Access Counselor has informally sided with them, but has advised that the Marion County Election Board adopt a policy ordering the registration board to act.In a special meeting last week, County Clerk Beth White moved to do so. Neither of her fellow election board members offered a second. Patrick Dietrick and Mark Sullivan both are party appointees; but each said he needed to know more about the cost and complexity of releasing the data, as well as the privacy implications.