The ink on his thumbnail was supposed to be a fraud-proof deterrent, a sign that he had already voted in Haiti’s critical presidential and legislative elections. But hours after the adviser to Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council cast his ballot in the now disputed Oct. 25 vote, the indelible ink stain was barely visible, more resembling a fading birthmark than an electoral safeguard. Nearly two months after the pivotal balloting and three weeks before the scheduled Dec. 27 presidential runoff, Haiti remains at an impasse. Allegations of ballot tampering, fraudulent tabulations and widespread procedural breakdowns — such as failing ink that led to multiple voting — have fanned a widening chorus of doubt about the credibility of the results.
Progressive and political money groups say they will intensify their lobbying in the coming days to prevent four campaign finance measures from hitching a ride on a year-end spending deal. With a deadline to reach agreement on government-wide funding less than two weeks away, the effort will be no easy pitch. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., authored one of the measures, which would relax limits on coordination between political parties and candidates. “They’re swimming upstream every step of the way,” said Costas Panagopoulos, a Fordham University professor who specializes in campaign and election issues. “Legislators are going to be hard-pressed to vote against an appropriation bill that’s otherwise appealing to them on the basis of some of these riders.”Full Article: Campaign Finance Riders Face Fight in Year-End Spending Bill : Roll Call News.
California: San Francisco sets sights on open source voting by November 2019 | The San Francisco Examiner
San Francisco could have an open-source voting system in place by the November 2019 election, under a plan approved earlier this month by the Elections Commission. The timeline could result in the emergence of San Francisco as the leader of the open-source voting movement in the United States. For supporters of open-source voting, the importance of that point can’t be underscored enough. “San Francisco could help write some U.S. democracy history with its leadership role,” said a Nov. 18 letter to the Elections Commission from Gregory Miller, co-founder of the Open Source Election Technology (OSET) Foundation, a collection of executives from top technology companies like Apple and Facebook. “And the total estimated cost to do so [$8 million] is a fraction of status-quo alternatives.” Open-source voting systems bring a greater level of transparency and accountability by allowing the public to have access to the source codes of the system, which is used to tabulate the votes. A system owned by The City could also save taxpayers money.Full Article: San Francisco sets sights on open source voting by November 2019 - The San Francisco Examiner : The San Francisco Examiner.
Montana is the latest state to overhaul its campaign-finance rules in an attempt to cast out dark money after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed corporations to spend unlimited amounts in elections. The architect of the changes in Montana said the new rules will create a high level of transparency in the state with a history of election corruption, and will be effective because of Montana’s relatively small population of 1 million people. “You can put a lightbulb in a big cave and not see very far,” Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl said. “In Montana, you’re going to see a lot of corners.”Full Article: Montana Is Latest State to Reform Campaign Finance Rules - ABC News.
Wisconsin: GOP lawmakers reverse course, balk at campaign donor reporting | Milwaukee Jounal-Sentinel
GOP state senators reversed course early Saturday and voted to let people make political donations without disclosing their employers as part of a broad overhaul of campaign finance laws. The bill passed just after midnight 17-15, with all Democrats and Sen. Rob Cowles (R-Allouez) opposing the measure and all other GOP senators supporting it. The measure now returns to the state Assembly, which will have to agree to the changes made by the Senate. GOP senators also approved a bill to eliminate the state Government Accountability Board, which runs elections and oversees ethics laws, and to give those duties to two new commissions. The proposal, which passed on a strictly party-line vote of 18-14, goes to the Assembly as well. Together the proposals would represent a significant shift in how elections are run and how money flows in the world of Wisconsin politics.Full Article: GOP lawmakers reverse course, balk at campaign donor reporting.
Wisconsin: Senate GOP tight-lipped as campaign finance, GAB bills near Friday extraordinary session | Wisconsin State Journal
Senate Republican leaders are keeping a tight wrap on forthcoming changes to bills splitting the state’s elections and ethics agency and rewriting campaign finance law — both of which appear headed for a Senate vote Friday in a so-called “extraordinary session.” The office of Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, signaled Tuesday that changes will be offered to the bills in extraordinary session, since Thursday marks the end of lawmakers’ scheduled period to convene. Proponents of the bills have said it’s important to pass them this fall, in advance of the 2016 election cycle. Fitzgerald said Wednesday the Senate has the votes to pass the ethics and elections bill.
Editorials: Wisconsin legislature should reject secrecy bill | Daniel I. Weiner and Brent Ferguson/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
Last week, the Wisconsin Assembly passed a bill that would dramatically reduce voters’ ability to know which corporations, unions and wealthy individuals are funding state campaigns. The Senate is expected to vote on a companion bill (SB 292) shortly. Supporters of the measure say these changes are required by recent court decisions. Don’t believe it. If passed, SB 292 would radically change the law, not comply with it. As we explained in a letter to legislators this week, the Senate should vote it down.Full Article: Wisconsin Legislature should reject secrecy bill.
Editorials: Dismantling the Government Accountability Board weakens government | Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
It appears the state Assembly will take up this week the bill aimed at wreaking Republican revenge on the Government Accountability Board, replacing it with a system that doesn’t work particularly well on the federal level and hasn’t worked well in Wisconsin in the past. This attack on the nonpartisan watchdog agency that supervises state elections and conducts investigations into ethics violations reeks of payback partisanship. Under it, and other measures, legislators would like to set themselves up as the sole arbiters of transparency and accountability. That’s not how our system of government is supposed to work. It is similar to the underhanded attempt to gut the state’s open records law on the Fourth of July weekend by this same crew of legislators led by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald. And it deserves the same kind of fate: an overwhelming demand from angry citizens to kill the bill.Full Article: Editorial | GAB - Dismantling GAB weakens government.
More than 9,000 people are pledging to vote in the federal election with their faces covered in order to make a point. Launched on Facebook by a Quebec woman, the movement suggests people have the right to vote while wearing anything at all, whether it’s a potato sack, a Darth Vader mask or a black veil. The page’s creator, Catherine LeClerc said she started the page on her own in her living room after growing frustrated with the government’s inability to ban religious garb, such as the niqab, while taking oaths of citizenship or while voting. But she denied it being against Muslims and said it’s more about transparency. “It’s not against a religious group,” said Leclerc, adding that the movement she started is merely pushing for secularism in democratic processes. The page links to an Elections Canada webpage that indicates people can refuse to take their masks off and still vote.Full Article: Thousands vowing to vote with their faces covered | Election 2015 | Ottawa & Reg.
While in the northern province of Tucumán, election results remains in the news due to a contentious vote for governor, currently led by the Victory Front’s Juan Manzur in the final recount, opposition politicians are scheduled to meet in the afternoon with Court authorities. … “Proposals for Electoral Transparency 2015” was presented in document form last week during a press conference in the Argentine Congress, according to a statement released by UCR caucus chief Negri.Full Article: Argentine opposition lawmakers to demand 'transparency' from the Electoral Court — MercoPress.
Editorials: John Doe Decision – After Doe investigations, a chance for sensible reform | Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
A 4-2 state Supreme Court decision last month ended a controversial investigation into coordination between Gov. Scott Walker’s recall election campaign and conservative groups and left a broad swath of Wisconsin’s long-standing campaign finance law unconstitutional. The court’s decision halted the second of two criminal investigations into Walker led by Milwaukee County prosecutors using the state’s powerful “John Doe” statutes. The first led to the convictions of six Walker aides, associates or appointees but the second was stalled by litigation for more than a year amid bitter complaints from conservatives about prosecutors’ tactics and theory of law. Even if the final chapter of these investigations is now at hand, many questions remain. Among the most important: Should two of the justices whose campaigns received heavy support from the groups under investigation and involved as litigants before the court have heard the cases?Full Article: Editorial | John Doe Decision - After Doe investigations, a chance for sensible reform.
The Alabama Legislature has again tried to tighten up the state’s campaign finance law, following up on earlier efforts that haven’t worked as planned. The Fair Campaign Practices Act, on the books since 1988, has been criticized for lacking teeth and a designated authority for enforcement. With a bill that passed during the regular session, lawmakers gave the state Ethics Commission authority to investigate violations of the act, among other changes. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, said the bill, based mostly on recommendations from a study committee, “will bring a lot more transparency and accountability to our electoral system.”Full Article: Alabama lawmakers again try to tighten campaign finance law | AL.com.
A push to allow Internet voting in elections is growing stronger along with advances in the underlying technology, but systems are not yet secure enough to use with relative certainty that the vote counts will be accurate, according to a new report. Still, while “no existing system guarantees voter privacy or the correct election outcomes,” election officials could take several steps to significantly improve the security and transparency of Internet voting systems, said the report, commissioned by the U.S. Vote Foundation, an organization that helps U.S. residents vote. Election officials considering Internet voting must embrace an end-to-end verifiable Internet voting system, or E2E-VIV, said the report, released Friday. An E2E-VIV would be difficult to build, but it would allow voters to check that the system recorded their votes correctly, to check that it included their votes in the final tally and to double-check the announced outcome of the election, the report said. An Internet voting system must be transparent, useable and secure, said the report, echoing some recommendations security groups have made about other electronic voting systems. “An Internet voting system must guarantee the integrity of election data and keep voters’ personal information safe,” the report said. “The system must resist large-scale coordinated attacks, both on its own infrastructure and on individual voters’ computers. It must also guarantee vote privacy and allow only eligible voters to vote.”Full Article: Internet voting isn't ready yet, but it can be made more secure | Computerworld.
Pakistan: ECP backtracking from Electronic Voting Machines, voting rights for overseas Pakistanis | The Express Tribune
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) seems to be backtracking on its plans to introduce Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), at least for the next general elections scheduled in 2018. Having proposed the adoption of electronic voting machines in its second-five year reforms program for transparency in voting, officials of the poll body on Wednesday told a parliamentary committee that there were various “technical issues” that would bar the electoral body from introducing EVMs in next general elections. Many countries, including neighbouring India have been successfully using EVMs for decades. Earlier the officials of the ECP had blamed lack of legislation as impediment in implementing the proposal as it would require the law to be amended to make the voting process constitutional. The ECP had announced that it would go for voting through electronic machines in next general elections due in 2018. However, at a time when the proposal was about to be realised, it was the ECP who backed out.Full Article: ECP backtracking from EVMs, voting rights for overseas Pakistanis - The Express Tribune.
After special interest groups spent $18 million in the 2014 governor’s race, campaign finance reformers are waiting with bated breath to see if a bill that curbs outside money in statewide elections is passed by the General Assembly. Crafted by the state Elections Enforcement Commission, the legislation is part of a logjam of bills on the calendar of the Democratically controlled state Senate, which has been noncommittal on its prospects. The initiative to bring greater transparency to expenditures by political action committees and nonprofit advocacy groups has state Democrats and Republicans accusing each other of undermining Connecticut’s clean-elections program.Full Article: Campaign finance reform bill languishes - Connecticut Post.
The whole process of the by-elections, from voters entering polling stations to ballot-counting, was broadcast live online Wednesday. To improve transparency of the four by-elections in Seoul, Incheon, Seongnam and Gwangju, the National Election Commission (NEC) aired special programs live on its website, YouTube, Naver and Daum. The NEC said this was to earn people’s trust over the nation’s election system.Full Article: Voting counting broadcast live online.
It might seem strange that the state commission monitoring money in politics wants to let contractors give more money to candidates. But this is the era of the Super Political Action Committee. And the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission can’t track Super PAC cash. Super PACs, which can receive unlimited amounts of money without disclosing their contributors, were called “active players” in New Jersey campaigns in ELEC’s 2014 annual report. The report included 12 legislative recommendations to increase oversight and transparency of campaigns. At the top of that list were recommendations dealing with Super PACs.Full Article: N.J. election commission wants Super PACs to disclose more - pressofAtlanticCity.com: News.
Do you like tracking packages when you buy things online? Try it with a ballot for May’s special election. Multnomah County will offer a service that tracks ballots and notifies voters whether they were accepted or rejected. Voters can visit a county website to receive text, email and phone messages. The pilot program will be offered by i3ballot at no cost to voters or the county. Participants will be surveyed after the election, said Tim Scott, Multnomah County’s director of elections. The pilot will track delivery from the county to the participant and the ballot’s return trip through the Postal Service. People who take ballots to drop boxes or specified locations, such as a library, will be notified after processing, Scott said.Full Article: Multnomah County voters can track ballot delivery in May | OregonLive.com.
The money hunt for the 2016 election cycle is in full swing, and there is no surer sign of it than the first complaints recently filed by reform organizations. While, as in the past, there is intense interest in the likelihood of record-breaking sums and innovative spending strategies, this year, perhaps more than in the past, attention has turned to transparency. “Dark money” is dominating the campaign finance lexicon. Current conversations on this topic have a Groundhog Day quality, and it seems that they are stuck between the dreary and the dreadful. Part of the problem is that nearly 40 years ago, the Supreme Court limited the objective of campaign finance regulation to the prevention of corruption or its appearance, and decades of debate ensued about what is and what is not corruption. And all this in the service of identifying when candidates and political parties come under the “undue influence” of money.Full Article: Keep Shining the Light on ‘Dark Money’ - Robert F. Bauer and Samuel Issacharoff - POLITICO Magazine.
Presidential fund-raising, never known for its transparency, may have just become even more secretive. In announcing his candidacy for president this week, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky waded into new waters when he said he would accept campaign contributions in Bitcoins, a largely untraceable virtual currency, in amounts up to $100. Interested donors at randpaul.com were given three options for making a contribution: a credit card, PayPal or Bitcoins. While some state and federal candidates in California, Colorado, New Hampshire and elsewhere have started accepting Bitcoins, Mr. Paul, a Republican, is the first presidential candidate to do so.Full Article: In Accepting Bitcoin, Rand Paul Raises Money and Questions - NYTimes.com.