The Colorado Court of Appeals ruled today that electronic images of voted ballots should be open for public inspection, provided the voter’s identity cannot be discerned from the ballot. The ruling could have a major impact on Colorado election law, though today’s decision likely is not the end of the fight.
Earlier this month, Secretary of State Scott Gessler said he would use the court’s decision as guidance to begin the rulemaking process for how public reviews of voted ballots should be conducted. Gessler has said that public access to voted ballots will improve transparency, and therefore increase voter confidence in elections.
Colorado’s county clerks association has maintained that ballots should be secret, and not subject to the Colorado Open Records Act. They have said they will fight efforts by Gessler or the public to review voted ballots, either in court or the General Assembly. Today’s ruling stems from a case filed in Pitkin County by election activist Marilyn Marks. Read More
Two Pittsburgh College professors today began an examination of reported electronic voting machine problems in Venango County. And while the forensic audit takes place, voters will use paper ballots in the November general election.
After the May primary, the county received complaints from voters who said the touch screen machines did not register their votes correctly, basically flipping the votes to another candidate. Other problems included reports of missing write in votes. Read More
With tight contests brewing for president and control of Congress, there’s no shortage of competitive races over the next 14 months. But a number of offices further down the ballot are also up for grabs, such as the low-profile but increasingly contested position of secretary of state.
Currently, Republicans control 30 seats; Democrats control 20. Most of these positions are officially known as secretary of state, but a few states hand equivalent duties to their lieutenant governor instead. All told, 39 are popularly elected, eight are appointed by the governor and three are appointed by the legislature.
Many secretaries of state have portfolios that include fairly neutral duties, such as overseeing the registration of businesses and lobbyists. But the main reason why they have become coveted and competitive offices in recent years is the role they can play in shaping how elections are conducted. Part of this has to do with the perception that secretaries of state can aid their party in narrowly decided elections. Read More
While the national parties work to shore up their bases and GOP candidates jockey for position and those on the fringe just try to take it all in, local elections officials are busy preparing for the 2012 election season. Some of these officials have numerous concerns about when the primary will be held, how much it will cost and whether or not new laws will impact part of the preparation equation.
In 2008 states across the country jockeyed to be among the first to hold presidential primaries with some of the primaries being held before some people had even taken down their up-too-long Christmas decorations. Four years later, while the race to be first may not be as frenzied, the battle over when to hold primaries still has some local election officials in a holding pattern for preparations for 2012. Read More
Recall candidate Olivia Cortes took the stand Thursday to defend herself against allegations that she is a sham candidate running to draw votes away from candidate Jerry Lewis and help Senate President Russell Pearce retain his seat. “I wanted to offer my points of view as a naturalized citizen, a concerned citizen for the future of Arizona,” Cortes said. “I want to serve my community.” She said the accusations about her campaign make her feel “bad.”
“I feel they are taking away my constitutional right,” she said. “Anybody can run. I’m running to win. I want to win.”
During her testimony, Cortes said she is paying for her campaign but admitted she hasn’t yet spent any money. She said she does not know who paid professional circulators to collect the signatures to get her on the ballot. She said she also does not know who paid for the signs with her name on it that were put up around West Mesa. She doesn’t know who created her Web site. Cortes said she was not forced or paid to run. She said East Valley Tea Party leader Greg Western is the only one helping her with her campaign and as a political novice, she has left many decisions to him. Read More
The Colorado Court of Appeals ruled in favor of local resident Marilyn Marks today in her case against the city of Aspen, agreeing with her that digital copies of election ballots are open to inspection by the public, so long as the identity of the voter cannot be discerned.
Marks was seeking to review computer files containing photographic images of the ballots cast in the May 2009 municipal election, in which Marks was a losing mayoral candidate. It was the city’s first and only election using instant runoff voting, where voters rank candidates in order of preference, and the information is used to simulate later runoff contests. Aspen voters later repealed instant runoff voting in favor of going back to traditional runoffs to decide close races. Read More
Pueblo County Clerk Gilbert Ortiz is pained by the idea that his office would fail to send an election ballot to even one county soldier serving in the US Military overseas. He sent a letter Tuesday to Secretary of State Scott Gessler seeking an express prohibition “in writing ” on sending ballots to soldiers overseas who are legally registered but inactive voters.
“I want it on the record because this goes against everything I want to do as clerk,” he told the Colorado Independent. “When in doubt, you send a ballot. I think of those soldiers not being able to vote. They’re on the battlefield. This is not a comfortable place to be.” Read More
Deputy Secretary of the State James Spallone today joined Connecticut voting rights advocates from CT Voters Count and Common Cause for a public drawing to randomly select 12 precincts that will have election results audited following the September 13, 2011 municipal primaries that took place in 21 Connecticut communities. A complete list of the precincts selected is below. Precincts from Bridgeport, where municipal primaries were held on September 27th, will be drawn at random for a post election audit at a later date.
“On September 13th voters went to the polls across Connecticut to choose nominees to run in November’s general election to fill very important roles in local government,” said Deputy Secretary of the State James Spallone. “Our audit law exists to hold our election process accountable and reassure the public to have continued confidence that all votes were recorded accurately. We will repeat this process again in the near future for the city of Bridgeport, whose primary was held two weeks after other cities and towns.” Read More
Leaders representing about two dozen, faith, labor and civil rights groups from across Kansas met here today to organize efforts to battle early implementation of the state’s voter identification law. The organizations were reacting to efforts announced by Secretary of State Kris Kobach to begin enforcing a provision requiring proof of citizenship for voter registration next spring. The law, passed last March, currently doesn’t go into effect until January 2013. Election officials have also voiced opposition to moving up the date.
But groups meeting over the lunch hour at Inter-Faith Ministries said Kobach’s efforts to start the requirement in March could keep thousands of Kansas citizens from participating in the 2012 elections. People who don’t have driver’s licenses or changes in name or address may not have the documentation required by law to register to vote, they said.
“This is not a partisan issue,” Marie Johnson of the NAACP in Salina told the group. “It makes it more difficult for people to participate in our democracy.” Read More
Opponents of a new elections law scheduled to take effect Friday say they have collected enough signatures to challenge the law and hold it in abeyance until after the November 2012 election.
A Statehouse press conference is scheduled for Thursday by Fair Elections Ohio to announce that it has at least the 231,324 valid signatures of registered Ohio voters for a referendum on House Bill 194, signed into law on July 1 by Gov. John Kasich.
Brian Rothenberg, executive director of ProgressOhio and spokesman for Fair Elections Ohio, would not reveal the number of signatures gathered, but said, “We’re way ahead of projections and we expect to have a good day tomorrow.” Read More
Butler County’s lawsuit with Diebold Inc. and Premier Election Systems regarding faulty voting machines has been settled with the board of elections receiving equipment and services worth $1.5 million, which Director Tom Ellis said will be a “boost in the arm for the voting experience.” The suit was over a glitch in the system during the March 2008 primary election that early caused 200 votes to go uncounted.
Provided to the county at no cost as part of the suit are 400 electronic poll books, bar scanners, signature pads, and printers supported by seven years of software and hardware maintenance. The equipment and on-going maintenance support will be provided by Election Systems & Software, Inc.
“The Butler County Board of Elections is very satisfied with the terms of the settlement and enthusiastic about the new relationship with an industry leader such as ES&S and the use of the company’s well-regarded Express 5000, electronic poll book,” Ellis said. Read More
New numbers from the state Election Commission out late Tuesday show approximately 217,000 South Carolina voters don’t have a photo identification, which could be required if the U.S. Justice Department approves the state law.
That’s up from 178,000 voters without the ID in January 2010. The commission initially compared its voter lists with DMV records at legislators’ request. It re-compared the lists to comply with the law signed in May, which requires each of those voters to be notified. The update also answers a question from the U.S. Department of Justice, which is reviewing the law.
The Department of Motor Vehicles says nearly 700 people have called about getting a free ride to get a photo identification card to comply with South Carolina’s new voter ID law. According to the DMV, only 25 rides are scheduled for the one-day only free ride program, happening Wednesday, and most of the people who called the DMV were not interested in getting a ride. Read More
Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said he will refuse to sign a maintenance contract for the county’s electronic voting machines. Earlier this month, Carper and county commissioners Hoppy Shores and Dave Hardy reluctantly agreed to pay a contract to Election Systems & Software to provide maintenance for the county’s electronic voting machines. The maintenance contract would have cost the county $56,000 a year for four years.
In 2005, under former secretary of state Betty Ireland, state officials negotiated a sole-source contract with ES&S to provide touch-screen and optical-scan voting machines all over the state. State officials told county election officials earlier this year they would be passing on responsibility for maintaining the voting machines to county government.
The state contract gave ES&S a virtual monopoly on voting machines in West Virginia and a monopoly on fixing the machines if they break. In the past, Kanawha County officials have had trouble getting in touch with ES&S representatives and finding qualified technicians to work on the machines. Read More
More than 9,000 students at UW-Milwaukee could be ineligible to vote in future Wisconsin elections without substantive modifications to university ID cards. Based on previous studies, The UWM Post estimates that 9,179 students, approximately 30 percent of the campus, do not have valid, state-issued driver’s licenses, a prerequisite to voting in upcoming elections.
Black students ages 18 to 24 will be impacted most by the Voter ID Bill, on average being 27.5 percent less likely than white students to have a Wisconsin driver license, according to a 2005 study conducted by UWM’s Employment and Training Institute.
Hispanic students ages 18 to 24 will also be impacted considerably, with Hispanic women being 28 percent less likely than white women to have a driver license, and Hispanic men being 17 percent less likely than white men. Junior Julio Guerrero, chairman of the Latino Caucus of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, said the bill will have a negative impact for students and Latinos alike. Read More
Bermuda must have electoral reform to rid the Island of racial polarisation, according to UBP MP Kim Swan. Mr Swan was reacting to a poll on Monday, for The Royal Gazette, which showed 38 percent of people said they would vote OBA in a general election, with 32 percent opting for the PLP. The Mindmaps poll was carried out shortly after the fledgling party’s debut conference.
But the survey found that the OBA is attracting much of its support from whites and the older generation. The survey found that the OBA had 72 percent of the white vote and 16 percent of the black vote, but the PLP took five percent of the white vote and 49 percent of the black vote.
In a statement yesterday Mr Swan said: “The Royal Gazette poll released on Monday, September 26, highlights that the repeated trends of racial polarisation, prevalent for the past four decades, continue in Bermuda in 2011. Read More
Chief Election Commissioner of India, Dr. S. Y. Quraishi visited Bhutan from 16th – 18th September 2011 at the invitation of his counterpart Dasho Kunzang Wangdi for strengthening bilateral cooperation between the two Election Commissions. He was accompanied by Akshay Rout, Director General.
The two Chief Election Commissioners signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a period of five years to facilitate exchange of knowledge and experience, information, material, expertise and technical knowhow, training of personnel and development of human resources in electoral matters and also for taking up joint initiatives and providing assistance to others. Read More
On a visit to Brussels, Rossen Plevneliev, the candidate for president of the EPP-affiliated GERB ruling party, condemned recent events in the town Katunitsa as “purely criminal actions.” He said the occurrences should not be politicised to avoid the risk of a ‘blame game’. Rather, he insisted, one should hold a real debate about policies.
Violence erupted in Katunitsa last week (23 September) when 19-year old ethnic Bulgaria was reportedly killed by a man employed by Roma mafia boss Kiril Rashkov, known locally as ‘Tsar Kiro’, sparking an unprecedented outburst of anger among the local population and the arson of the crime leader’s property. Read More
B.C. municipal leaders have endorsed the idea of online voting for the 2014 municipal elections — but debate on the issue has revealed deep divisions within the Union of B.C. Municipalities at its convention in Vancouver. A majority voted Wednesday to ask the province to do the work required to have online voting ready for the elections in three years.
Online voting is fraught with danger, said Coun. Donna Shugar, of the Sunshine Coast Regional District. “Particularly because you don’t know who is in the room with the voter, coercing or persuading,” Shugar said.
Many at the convention agreed with Shugar, and also expressed concern that online voting could fall prey to hackers. Read More
If Calgary’s returning officer gets her way, the next election night will still be all about the hands — the poll staff manually counting ballots, and the candidates chewing their nails as they await the slow trickle of results. Barb Clifford will recommend Monday that council avoid joining other large Canadian cities that electronically count votes, because she worries it’s a prohibitive expense.
“It’s pretty hard to justify $3.4 million for something that will be used one night every three or maybe four years,” she said Wednesday, after a report on vote-counting machines was released. Read More
The German government on Monday called on Russia to see that next year’s presidential election observed “democratic principles,” and added that it would welcome a plan to send in independent election observers. Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said, “From a German point of view, it would be very helpful if a sufficient number of election observers were allowed into the country.”
But he also made it clear that the “strategic partnership” between Russia and Germany was of primary importance, and would be used as the basis for a continued close cooperation with any successor to President Dmitry Medvedev. Read More
Harriet Harman wrapped up today’s Labour conference with a speech attacking the coalition’s planned voter registration changes. What she didn’t mention is that the independent Electoral Commission is broadly in favour of the idea.
I’ve been going through its submission to the Commons’ political and constitutional reform committee, in which it states, in no uncertain terms:
“The Electoral Commission is clear that introducing IER is the right thing to do, because of the need:
• to improve the security of the system, making it less vulnerable to fraud
• to recognise people’s personal responsibility for this important stake in our democracy
• for a system that people recognise as up-to-date, not rooted in Victorian ideas about households and ‘heads of household’ Read More