Eleven years after the disputed 2000 presidential election thrust the subject of electoral integrity into the spotlight, many of the challenges that jeopardized that election remain unresolved, voting experts said at an MIT-hosted conference held Saturday.
The conference, “Election Integrity: Past, Present, and Future,” convened by the Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project (VTP), brought together election administrators, academics and technology professionals from around the country, and commemorated the 25th anniversary of the First National Symposium on Security and Reliability of Computers in the Electoral Process, held in Boston in 1986. A central theme of Saturday’s conference was election integrity: assuring that votes are both recorded and counted as they were cast.
… Of particular concern, said Pamela Smith, president of VerifiedVoting.org, is the use of Internet voting systems that cannot be audited. Another issue, which she illustrated with a map identifying the current equipment used by each state, is the inability of DREs to recount ballots in a close election. And many key swing states, she said, continue to use unreliable DREs. 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. Read More
A healthy civic society requires protecting citizens’ fundamental right to vote while ensuring the integrity of our electoral system. Sadly, this goal is being jeopardized by a coordinated, nationwide effort to enact voter ID laws that will not solve the challenges facing our electoral systems and will instead disenfranchise voters and infringe upon the fundamental American right to free and fair elections.
Proponents of voter ID laws claim that they will reduce fraud. We agree that preventing voter fraud is extremely important. That is why dozens of states and the federal government have created safeguards to ensure voter integrity and passed laws imposing stiff penalties on individuals who commit voter fraud. We should vigorously enforce those laws.
However, it is a grave mistake and a waste of precious resources to enact voter ID laws that target only one extremely rare type of voter fraud — Election Day polling place impersonations — and leave in their wake millions of disenfranchised voters. Read More
Even as Americans use their free-speech rights through the Occupy Wall Street movement to express frustration with the less affluent’s having to bear the brunt of a poor economy, their ability to generate change through their votes is being shamefully attacked.
In 14 states controlled by Republican legislators, voters face new restrictions that “could make it significantly harder for more than 5 million eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012,” says a new study from the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice.
The restrictions will harm specific groups: students and the elderly, the poor and disabled, urbanites, and minorities. They are the folks less likely to have drivers’ licenses or other forms of state-issued identification, the most popular restriction in the laws. The absurdity of photo-ID rules is clearest in Texas, where a handgun license is an acceptable form of identification, but a student ID card is not. Read More
Californians will be able to register to vote online for the 2012 elections.
Gov. Jerry Brown announced Friday that he signed legislation that supporters say will modernize California’s election system.
The bill, SB 397, allows the state to begin registering voters online ahead of a new statewide voter database. It directs state election officials and the Department of Motor Vehicles to match registration information submitted online with DMV records containing an electronic copy of a voter’s signature. Read More
Thousands of inactive voters in two Democratic strongholds will be mailed ballots for the Nov. 1 election following a judge’s ruling Friday. Denver District Judge Brian Whitney denied a motion for a preliminary injunction filed by Secretary of State Scott Gessler, who argued that state law prevents Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson from mailing ballots to inactive voters.
Following the decision, Johnson and Pueblo County Clerk and Recorder Gilbert Ortiz said they will proceed with plans to mail ballots to those voters — about 54,000 in Denver and 17,000 in Pueblo. Read More
The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan group with a distinguished history. It was founded in 1920, just months before the U.S. Constitution was amended giving women the right to vote. The Florida chapter of the League was founded two decades later and since the beginning, has worked to educate and register new voters.
But now, the group says, a new law makes it impossible for it to carry out one of its core missions: Registering new voters. The law passed by Florida’s legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Scott over the objections of the League and other groups, tightens voting regulations in several areas. Among the changes: it reduces the time period groups have to turn in new voter registrations from 10 days to just two. For forms turned in late, there are steep fines and other possible civil penalties. Read More
A Marion County judge will hear arguments next month on Democrats’ challenge to Charlie White’s ability to remain Indiana’s secretary of state.
The Democrats are contesting the Indiana Recount Commission’s June ruling that White can stay in office despite allegations that he was illegally registered to vote at his ex-wife’s address when he declared his candidacy. Read More
A Marion County judge will hear arguments next month on Democrats’ challenge to Charlie White’s ability to remain Indiana’s secretary of state. The Democrats are contesting the Indiana Recount Commission’s June ruling that White can stay in office, despite allegations that he was illegally registered to vote at his ex-wife’s address when he declared his candidacy.
Marion Circuit Judge Louis Rosenberg will hold oral arguments on the Democrats’ petition for judicial review Nov. 23. Read More
Local elections officials don’t plan to challenge a new law that leaves names of unopposed municipal candidates off ballots — but the statute may be destined to change anyway. On Wednesday, a Tippecanoe Circuit Court judge granted a preliminary injunction overriding the statute in that county.
The law, which took effect July 1, means that Evansville City Council members Dan McGinn, R-1st Ward, and Connie Robinson, D-4th Ward, will not appear on the Nov. 8 municipal election ballot. The statute affects only municipal elections. Read More
One of the ongoing arguments between supporters and detractors of Election Day registration is whether the practice has led to Maine’s high voter turnout. Lance Dutson, chief executive officer of the Maine Heritage Policy Center, which is campaigning against the fall referendum, provided a chart showing Maine’s turnout has been consistent both before and after the 1973 law originally passed. “There was no perceptible change in voter turnout after the law was passed,” he said.
The chart shows Maine voter turnout hovering around 60 percent over the last 50 years. But David Farmer, spokesman for the Yes on 1/Protect Maine Votes campaign, said the chart is misleading and that Maine’s turnout has increased because of Election Day registration.
“The states that perform best all have same-day registration,” he said. “The reason (Maine’s rate) has stayed consistent is because you had the 26th Amendment, which added millions of new voters nationally to the rolls when they expanded the franchise to 18-year-olds.” Read More
Nebraska lawmakers might spar again over Voter ID bills during this coming legislative session, say some political players and experts.
“It’s never a good thing. The more roadblocks you put up to voting the less participation you have,” said UNO Political Science Professor Paul Landow.
Fourteen states passed voter ID laws this year, some of them go into effect in 2012. Nebraska and Iowa shot down bills requiring photo IDs at… Read More
After the first day of counting in the Cherokee Nation special election for principal chief, Tribal Council member Bill John Baker unofficially leads former chief Chad Smith by almost 2,200 votes.
At 2 p.m. Sunday, the Cherokee Nation Election Commission released unofficial, machine-counted vote totals by precinct for the tribe’s 38 polling places and walk-in voting, with Baker ahead 6,223 votes to 4,046. That gives Baker an initial lead of 60.6 percent to 39.4 percent.
About 8,700 people voted at their precincts on Sept. 24 and an additional 1,647 voted at the election commission during walk-in days, including 510 during the five additional walk-in days ordered by a federal district court judge. The election commission has not started counting absentee ballots, and the number that were returned has not been disclosed. About 12,000 absentee ballots were requested for the special election, an increase of 3,800 from the general election. Read More
The leader of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) poll observer team says Liberia’s electoral body seems to have adequately prepared for today’s (Tuesday’s) vote. Attahiru Jega, who is also chairman of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), says the regional bloc has deployed about 150 observers to monitor Liberia’s presidential and legislative elections.
“Our mandate is to witness the elections and to be able to report on the extent of it being free, fair and credible,” said Jega. “We have a range of experienced personalities from all over the West African sub-region as observers in this team…It’s a very well composed team of experts, of people who have been concerned with issues of democratization and elections.” He adds that his team will also ensure that the polls will be well organized “in accordance with established international standards.” Read More
Africa’s first democratically elected female president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf – who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last week – faces a strong challenge in Tuesday’s election from her long-standing rival Winston Tubman who has teamed up with ex-football star George Weah in a bid to oust her.
As Mrs Sirleaf made a final push for votes, she dedicated the prize to the Liberian people and urged them to vote for her so that peace prevails following the end of a brutal 14-year civil war in 2003.
Mr Tubman – a Harvard graduate, like Mrs Sirleaf – has been dismissive of the Nobel Committee’s decision, arguing that the prize will not influence voters. Mr Tubman, 70, believes Mrs Sirleaf, 72, might have support in the West, but Liberia’s 1.8m voters – many of whom are still mired in poverty – will remove her from office. Read More
The first phase of elections to Oman’s Majlis Shura began on Saturday with encouraging response from citizens living in GCC countries, especially at the embassy in Abu Dhabi where a large number of citizens queued up since early morning to exercise their franchise. Oman’s ambassador to the UAE, Shaikh Mohammad Bin Abdullah Al Qatabi, along with the staff at the mission, also cast their votes.
Shaikh Mohammad told official Oman News Agency that the overwhelming response reflected the awareness among Omani citizens about the importance of the role assigned to the Shura in the Sultanate. In Dubai, a large number of Omani students, most studying in the northern emirates, turned up at the Consulate to cast their votes.
In Doha, Mohammad Bin Nasser Al Wahaibi, ambassador to Qatar, said that 1,000 citizens had already voted and more were likely to cast theirs vote by evening 6pm. Read More
Voters in Paraguay have backed a proposal to allow citizens living abroad to vote in general elections. Electoral officials said the measure was approved by 80% of voters, but turnout was put at just 12.5%.
President Fernando Lugo had urged people to approve the constitutional amendment, saying it would strengthen Paraguay’s democracy. More than half a million Paraguayans live abroad out of a population of about six million. Most of them are in Argentina, followed by Spain and the US. Read More