Elections are expensive. And with money tight, election offices across the country are facing cutbacks. This means voters could be in for some surprises — such as longer lines and fewer voting options — when they turn out for next year’s primary and general elections.
A lot of decisions about the 2012 elections are being made today. How many voting machines are needed? Where should polling places be located? How many poll workers have to be hired?
Gail Pellerin, the county clerk in Santa Cruz, Calif., says she’s considering trimming the number of voting sites in her county by about 20 percent next year because her budget keeps shrinking. “Each year, they come back and say, ‘Do more with less, you know, we’re going to end up having to give you less again,'” she says, adding that her budget for extra workers at election time has also been reduced. Read More
During the last legislative session, a Senate judiciary subcommittee heard testimony from the State Election Commission and its critics about problems in the 2010 elections. The committee suggested that the two sides work together to recommend improvements to the process.
So far that hasn’t happened. Critics of the system, including the League of Women Voters, contend that the state’s electronic voting system is inherently flawed. The State Election Commission says the system is functional and that problems experienced in the last general election can be fixed.
Given the continuing disagreement over the electronic voting system, which is used throughout the state, an independent look at the situation is in order. The Legislative Audit Council ought to be given the task. A column on our Commentary page from former Clemson computer science professor Eleanor Hare cites problems with verifying data from the 2010 election. Read More
Last Wednesday, the district court of the District of Columbia threw out a challenge to Section Five of the Voting Rights Act. The plaintiffs, a coalition of conservative legal groups from Shelby County, Alabama, argued that Section Five, which requires a number of southern states to pre-clear changes to their electoral procedures with the Department of Justice, was illegal because it seeks to correct a problem—the mass disenfranchisement of minorities—that is supposedly nowhere near as pervasive as it was back in the glory days of Jim Crow.
In its opinion, the court convincingly argued that Section Five provides a still-necessary bulwark against discrimination. But that hasn’t stopped the Project on Fair Representation—a Washington-based group that helped fund the Shelby County suit and similar efforts around the country—from pushing back. Read More
Hosted by the Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project, a seminar entitled “Election Integrity: Past, Present, and Future” will commemorate the 25th anniversary of the First National Symposium on Security and Reliability of Computers in the Electoral Process, held in Boston in 1986.
The panelists will look back at the issues that first aroused concerns about the use of computers in public elections a quarter of a century ago, then assess the current… Read More
Justice Department officials are proposing to strengthen troops’ voting rights, re-employment rights, and housing and lending protections, under a package of legislative proposals sent to Congress Sept. 20.
Among other things, Justice officials are requesting a doubling of civil penalties for anyone violating troops’ rights under the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act. The government would be able to assess a penalty of up to $110,000 for a first violation, and up to $220,000 for any subsequent violation.
Also proposed is an SCRA change clarifying that for voting purposes, a family member does not have to accompany his or her service member who is out of state because of military requirements in order for the family member to retain legal residence or domicile in that state. Read More
There are new developments regarding the Russell Pearce recall election and candidate Olivia Cortes. Many say she is a sham designed to siphon votes from Pearce’s other challenger, Jerry Lewis.
After the secretary of state’s office said it will not investigate allegations of fraud, a Mesa woman filed a lawsuit.
Cortes is starting to look more like a legitimate candidate to challenge Senate President Russell Pearce. Her website went live Friday and she issued a press release that says, “I want to have an opportunity, to bring into this race my points of view and observations as a Permanent Alien and later Naturalized American Citizen for over forty years.”
Cortes was home Tuesday and didn’t answer when I dropped by. She didn’t respond Friday when 3TV’s Frank Camacho left her a note or when I called later. Read More
A century ago, on October 10, 1911, Californians adopted a legislative referendum that created the initiative (and referendum) in California. Critics today bemoan the fact that direct legislation in California is big business. Special interests have used the process to pass countless propositions. In recent years, Californians have approved statewide citizen-initiated ballot measures reducing property taxes, giving citizens the right to vote on local taxes, banning social services for illegal immigrants and gay marriage, ending affirmative action and bilingual education programs in the public schools, increasing the tobacco surtax for state and county childhood education and health programs, permitting gaming on Indian reservations, allowing the prescription of medical marijuana, bolstering the minimum wage, limiting the term limits of government officials, and restricting campaign contributions. Of the 24 states that permit the initiative, California had the second most initiatives on the ballot over the past hundred years, trailing only Oregon. Read More
Larimer County Clerk and Recorder Scott Doyle is the president of the Colorado County Clerks Association and says that making these ballots a matter of public record could allow people to find out how you voted in that last election and he’s just not prepared to do that.
Secretary of State Scott Gessler says making the ballots a matter of public record creates public confidence and transparency in the clerk’s offices. Scott Doyle says there is no more transparent office than the clerk’s office.
“It’s not that we have anything to hide or anything like that, we’re not afraid of that at all as a matter of fact, our elections are done with integrity in Colorado and we have good records,” Doyle said. But that making ballots a matter of public record is too risky. Read More
The chairwoman of the Indiana Senate Elections Committee believes the uproar over a new law allowing election officials to drop uncontested races from the ballot is a lot of fuss over nothing. State Sen. Sue Landske, R-Cedar Lake, co-sponsored House Enrolled Act 1242, which eliminates a requirement that even candidates without an opponent be listed on the ballot.
“It should reduce the size of the ballot,” Landske said, which she believes will save money. Though the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency projects any savings from shorter optical-scan ballots will be “minimal.”
Critics of the change say leaving candidates off the ballot is antidemocratic and likely to confuse voters who will wonder why they could only vote for certain offices. That has led election officials in Lake County, and in counties across Indiana, to announce they plan to ignore the law and list every candidate in every race, even unopposed candidates. Read More
Eliminating same-day voter registration in Maine may not sound like a big deal, but for people with disabilities it can be a real roadblock to participation in elections. Disability advocates say many have been negatively affected, including those with mobility issues.
In November, voters will face a ballot question that would repeal the law that requires new voters to register at least two business days prior to an election. David Farmer, organizer of the Protect Maine Votes Coalition, says for people with disabilities, the question is critical.
“This is particularly important for people in Maine who have limited access to transportation or limitations on their mobility.” Farmer says asking someone with mobility issues to make multiple trips to register is a barrier. Read More
Cherokee Nation voters who cast ballots Saturday may have done so with more confidence, as a delegation from The Carter Center was on hand to observe procedures. At the invitation of the Cherokee Nation Election Commission, The Carter Center deployed a small delegation for the special election for principal chief. Over the past week, delegates have interviewed election commissioners, political contestants and others to assess the electoral process. On Saturday, members of the delegation were present for in-person voting, and will also observe during the vote tallying process which will take place after Oct. 8.
“The June election for Cherokee Nation principal chief and its aftermath created uncertainty about the process,” said Avery Davis-Roberts, assistant director of the Carter Center’s Democracy Program. “The Carter Center hopes that our mission to observe the special election will reassure Cherokee voters, and will help strengthen the efforts of the election commission, Tribal Council, political contestants, and civil society to ensure the integrity of future elections.” Read More
Thousands of votes in the 2010 general election were counted incorrectly in South Carolina. Not only were these votes counted incorrectly, the State Election Commission (SEC) is ignoring state law that requires a recount and federal law that requires that the entirety of the data files from an election be retained for 22 months.
These reasonable obligations were not followed despite concerns raised by the League of Women Voters of South Carolina (LWVSC) about potential problems with our voting machines. The League has not detected any corrections that would have overturned election results, but the audit of the results is not complete.
Given the large number of votes incorrectly recorded and the pervasiveness of errors, it is entirely possible that some close elections have been decided incorrectly in the past. Read More
Leaders in the Wisconsin Technical College System are fighting a ruling that student IDs issued by the state’s 16 technical colleges cannot be used to vote. Technical college officials are formally requesting that the Government Accountability Board reconsider its interpretation of a new voter ID law at its next meeting on Nov. 9.
The new law will take effect next year and requires residents to show a photo ID to vote. The board, which oversees elections in Wisconsin, clarified at a meeting earlier this month that University of Wisconsin System IDs could be used for voting – if they include all the required information – but technical college IDs could not.
In an email last week, Paul Gabriel, executive director of the Wisconsin Technical College System District Boards Association, put out a call to college leaders, staff, students and stakeholders to advocate for acceptance of technical college IDs. Read More
Election officials predict it could take six years before Kenya adopts an electronic voting system critical in forestalling a recurrence of the chaotic 2007 elections. This emerged as the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) started the process of identifying the appropriate technology for its use through a two-day exhibition that ended last Friday.
Mr James Oswago, the IIEC chief executive officer, said the country would not yet implement electronic voting but would instead procure a platform for electronic voter registration for next year’s elections in which voters will cast ballots for at least six candidates in various levels of government.
“We are not yet ready for electronic voting in 2012 mainly because there is a lot of civic education to be done to the public and politicians,” said Mr Oswago. “Any application of technology must increase administrative efficiency, reduce long-term costs and enhance political transparency. In the end, elections are about choices expressed in terms of results and those results acquire legitimacy only through unanimous or widespread acceptance”. Read More
Kyrgyzstan will choose its next president from a list of 20 candidates in an election next month that could expose divisions between the north and south of the volatile Central Asian state. Official campaigning began on Monday after the Central Election Commission named its final list of candidates for president of the strategic country of 5.5 million people, which hosts both U.S. and Russian military air bases.
The October 30 vote, which some analysts say will need a second round, will pit current Prime Minister Almazbek Atambayev against heavyweight rivals from the south of the country, where central government’s grip on power is tenuous.
The election is the culmination of constitutional reforms introduced after the overthrow of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev in April 2010. Current President Roza Otunbayeva, who led the interim government that took power, will step down on December 31. Read More
The case for voting rights to Sehajdhari Sikhs got a new twist on Monday with a Amritsar resident filing a new petition in Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking stay over the constitution of new managing committee of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC). Satnam Singh also demanded quashing of a notification dated October 8, 2003 issued by the Central government barring Sehajdhari Sikhs from casting votes in SGPC elections.
No directions were issued on the petition as the Full Bench, presiding over the petition challenging the ban on voting rights to Sehajdhari Sikhs, tagged the fresh petition with the pending petitions. The petitioner said that he does not sport turban or beard and was thus not allowed to vote in the SGPC elections despite the fact that he has faith he goes to the Gurdwara and has faith in Guru Granth Sahib. Read More
Vladimir Churov, the head of the Central Electoral Commission, has told the press that the question of Vladimir Putin’s presidency will be finally decided only after the 2012 elections.
Churov was holding a press conference dedicated to future parliamentary and presidential elections in Moscow on Monday. When a reporter asked him if Dmitry Medvedev’s suggestion to the United Russia party to support Vladimir Putin as a candidate at the presidential elections meant the outcome of the elections was already pre-determined, Churov said that it was not so.
“This was not a question, rather a statement and it was a categorical one. I must say at once that I don’t agree with it,” Churov said. The Russian elections chief said that for him the election result will be known only by 9am on the next day after Election Day, when the Electoral Commission receives preliminary reports from over 99 per cent of ballot stations. Read More
Twenty are happy, 430 less so. They are the candidates in Saturday’s FNC elections who failed to win the voters’ favour during two and a half weeks of hard campaigning. Seven of them, all of whom stood as candidates in Ras Al Khaimah, are asking for a manual recount.
“We are going to contest this,” said Yousif Al Ghalili, a member of the Shehhi family – one of RAK’s biggest mountain tribes. His 414 votes were fewer than he expected.
“I am quite popular among my community, and just alone through family and friends that number should be at least double,” he said. He met the RAK election committee yesterday to see what could be done. Now he and six others plan to head there again today with a petition outlining their grievances. Read More