Allowing citizens to cast ballots online would increase participation in elections and make democracy more accessible. But don’t expect to vote on your iPhone in Connecticut anytime soon; the technology just isn’t there to ensure secure elections, said several experts who participated in a panel discussion at Central Connecticut State University Thursday night hosted by Secretary of the State Denise Merrill. “The biggest concern I have about Internet voting is that we don’t know how to do it securely,” said Ron Rivest, an expert in cryptology and a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “It sounds wonderful but it’s an oxymoron. … We don’t have Internet experts who know how to secure big pieces of the Internet from attack. Rivest called online voting a fantasy and said it’s at least two decades from replacing the methods currently in use.
Alex Halderman, a computer science professor at the University of Michigan, is another skeptic. He led a team of students from the university who successfully penetrated a test-run of Internet voting in Washington, D.C., in 2010. “We began … role playing — how would a hacker, a real malicious attacker, attempt to break in and compromise the vote and, within 48 hours of the start of the test, we had gained virtually complete control of the voting server and changed all of the votes,” he said. Read More
The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) recently released its 2010 Post Election Report, which included a wealth of information on the participation of military voters and their spouses. This release follows the recent publication of data and a report on military and overseas voting by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.
While the report includes numerous details focusing on the specifics of members of this community, the general trend is clear: members of the military and their spouses are highly engaged in the elections process and continue to register and vote at higher rates than the general electorate.
Unlike the EAC, which simply reports data provided by states as part of the Election Administration and Voting Survey, the FVAP adjusted military participation data to account for the age and gender of the generally younger and male population of uniformed voters. FVAP also surveyed a number of populations to ascertain their level of participation in 2010. Read More
A total of 1,813 Pitkin County voters have cast ballots in this fall’s all mail-in election and turnout is on track to exceed prior off-year elections. The county issued a total of 10,720 ballots for this year’s election. That included a late addition of about 2,500 “inactive” voters, earlier this month, who were to be excluded, said elections manager Dwight Shellman.
The clerk’s office began receiving high volumes of ballots in the mail on Oct. 17. Wednesday was the most ballots the county had received yet in a single day so far, with 296, Shellman reported. Turnout is typically low in odd-numbered election years, like 2011, in which there are no state or national candidates on the ballot. Over the last decade, those contests have averaged about 3,200 ballots. Before ballots began coming in this year, Shellman said he was expecting between 3,500 and 4,500. “We would be over the moon if we hit the high end of that,” he said. Read More
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s campaign was fined $5,000 Wednesday for mistakes made in filing expense and contribution reports for the 2010 election. The Governmental Ethics Commission voted 7-2 to impose the maximum fine after questioning Kobach’s campaign treasurer, state Rep. Tom Arpke of Salina. At issue was nearly $80,000 that was omitted from the reports.
Commission Chairwoman Sabrina Standifer said the maximum fine was imposed, in part, because the campaign maintained that it reported the omissions to ethics officials. “The commission does not condone lack of candor before the commission,” Standifer said. “This is in no way, shape or form self-reporting.” Read More
For nearly 40 years, Maine residents have been allowed to walk into a town office on Election Day, fill out a form and register to vote. But that all came to an end back in June, when the Republican-controlled Legislature changed the rules: Now you have to register at least two business days before Election Day. So why did that happen, and why did it so upset Democrats that they launched a campaign to restore the law, gathering tens of thousands of signatures to get the issue onto the Nov. 8 ballot?
We return to the floor of the Maine House in early June of this year, as Republicans make their case to do away with same-day voter registration. Argument number one: Municipal clerks around Maine are overburdened by the extra work of processing last-minute registrations. Read More
During the upcoming session of the New Hampshire Legislature, State Senate and House members will debate two bills proposed by State Rep. David Bates, R-Rockingham, which would require those wanting to vote in New Hampshire to claim residency in the state, according to Bates. This change would particularly impact college students from out of state by prohibiting them from participating in New Hampshire politics, according to State Rep. David Pierce, D-Grafton.
These recent legislative attempts follow a failed effort in March to pass legislation that sought to redefine residency for voting eligibility, preventing out-of-state students from voting in state or local elections. Although those bills did pass through the House due to issues of unconstitutionality, the new bills are consistent with the 14th Amendment and could legally be enacted, Bates said. Read More
When the returns came in for the Cumberland County Democratic Committee last summer, Cynthia Zirkle couldn’t believe what she was seeing. Only 86 votes were cast in the race to represent her district in Fairfield Township, and despite assurances from dozens of friends, Zirkle and her husband, Ernest, had managed to win just 19 votes between them. “I can’t believe that’s correct,” Zirkle told her husband, a retired veterinarian and the town’s deputy mayor.
The couple sued the Cumberland County Board of Elections and discovered that due to a programming error, their results had been switched with those of their opponents. In a rare turn of events, a new election was ordered, which the Zirkles handily won.
The case caught the eye of a Rutgers law professor who has spent years arguing that the touch-screen voting machines in use across New Jersey are prone to malfunction and hacking and need a paper backup that would allow for manual recounts. Provided with that real-life example of the machines’ fallibility, Penny Venetis, codirector of the constitutional litigation clinic at Rutgers-Newark Law School, is fighting to get the state Appellate Court to reopen her 2004 lawsuit and rewrite the rules on how elections are conducted in New Jersey. “The issues involved extend way beyond Cumberland County,” Venetis said. “It’s only because it was such a small election we know about this. If it was Newark, forget it. But that’s our point, stuff like this happens. Computers can be told to do whatever you want. They can play Jeopardy!; they can cheat in elections.” Read More
A hotly debated bill that would require voters to show a government-issued photo ID before they could cast a ballot will undergo changes to lengthen the list of acceptable IDs, a key Pennsylvania state senator said Friday. That list in an amendment being written could include work IDs, college student IDs and, for elderly voters, expired driver’s licenses, said Senate State Government Committee Chairman Charles McIlhinney, R-Bucks.
The bill that passed the Republican-controlled House in June over the loud objections of Democrats was too stringent, Mr. McIlhinney said. Still, a requirement that some form of photo identification be required is still appropriate to guard against voter fraud, he said. “We’re looking to ensure that there is a voter ID requirement, that people need to produce some type of identification to ensure the one person, one vote rule is not violated,” he said. Read More
Katy Independent School District board of trustee elections will proceed as scheduled, but at additional cost due to changes in electoral regulations. Katy ISD will attempt to rent voting equipment from Election Systems & Software (ESS) for next year’s elections at a cost of $51,463.
“When I look at the options (not including changing election schedules) … (leasing from ESS) makes the most sense,” trustee Neal Howard said. “We get a… Read More
Canada is pressing Egypt’s interim rulers to overturn a ban on international monitors as the North African country prepares for parliamentary elections next month that will set the tone for democracy there and in the region. Egyptians will begin going to the polls on Nov. 28 to elect their first Parliament since a wave of protests ousted former president Hosni Mubarak in February.
The elections will be held in three stages lasting until March, with the winners coming together to draft the country’s first post-Mubarak constitution. A presidential election is expected in late 2012 or early 2013. A senior Foreign Affairs official told Parliament’s Foreign Affairs committee on Tuesday the three-month parliamentary elections represent a critical period in Egypt’s transition to democracy and, “like the rest of the world, Canada is watching closely. Read More
His Majesty King Abdullah II said in an interview published today that there is no back-pedaling on reforms, unveiling that preparations are underway to hold municipal and parliamentary elections soon. In an interview with the Kuwaiti Al Rai newspaper’s Khairallah Khairallah during the just-concluded World Economic Forum on Dead Sea shores, the King said “the next phase in Jordan’s march is one of issuing legislation and laws to go ahead with the process of political and socio-economic reforms.” The Kingdom, he said, had taken major milestones along the path of reform, mainly completion of constitutional amendments that required a drastic review and passage of legislation with a vision of comprehensive reform.
He said the new government’s priority is pursuit of the reform and modernization drive and “fulfillment of the requirements of this stage,” adding that the choice of Awn Khasawneh to form the government was due to his credentials as a reputable international jurist and for his acceptance at the domestic scene. He said the new administration will seek to put in place new legislation governing political life, first and foremost of which are the electoral and political parties laws, which should be ratified through consensus, in addition to an independent commission overseeing elections and the constitutional court. Read More
The Islamist Ennahda party has been officially declared the winner of Tunisia’s election, setting it up to form the first Islamist-led government in the wake of the “Arab Spring” uprisings. But the election, which has so far confounded predictions it would tip the North African country into crisis, turned violent last night when protesters angry their fourth-placed party was eliminated from the poll set fire to the mayor’s office in a provincial town.
Ennahda has tried to reassure secularists nervous about the prospect of Islamist rule in one of the Arab world’s most liberal countries by saying it will respect women’s rights and not try to impose a Muslim moral code on society.
The Islamists won power 10 months after Mohamed Bouazizi, a Tunisian vegetable seller in the town of Sidi Bouzid, set fire to himself in an act of protest that led to the fall of Tunisia’s autocratic leader and inspired uprisings in Egypt and Libya. Read More