Does requiring a photo ID to vote return America to the days when poll taxes and literacy tests made it hard for minorities to cast ballots? Are state lawmakers trying to make it harder for people to vote? Two top House Judiciary Committee Democrats want to know, and on Monday they asked Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, to hold hearings on those laws, which have been adopted or are pending in 37 states. The chairman is reviewing the request, and he had no immediate comment.
“As voting rights experts have noted, the recent stream of laws passed at the state level are a reversal of policies, both federal and state, that were intended to combat voter disenfranchisement and boost voter participation,” said Reps. John Conyers, D-Mich., and Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y. Conyers is the committee’s top Democrat. Nadler is the top Democrat on its Constitution subcommittee. Read More
Microsoft Research has revealed a potential flaw in verifiable e-voting machines through which fraudsters could easily use discarded ballot receipts as a guide for altering votes. Fortunately, the researchers also offered a solution — linking new receipts to previous ones with cryptographic hashes — but that alone won’t make e-voting entirely secure, they cautioned.
Unlike the first generation of controversial e-voting machines, which lacked printing capabilities and suffered other back-endinsecurities, new models from such companies as Scantegrity, Prêt à Voter, VeriScan, Helios, and MarkPledge can print out receipts. Not only can voters check the printouts to confirm their votes were cast correctly, they can also later compare their receipts against published election data.
The problem with the new generation of verifiable voting machines, according to the report (PDF), is that most people are highly unlikely to retain their receipts for future vote verification. However, ill-intentioned individuals could get their hands on those receipts — by rummaging through garbage cans at voting centers, for example, or through social engineering techniques — then use insider connections to change votes to their preferred candidate.
Using the discarded receipts as a guide for changing votes would be ideal, as they would represent voters with no intention of verifying their votes later. “Suppose that it is known that 5 percent of voters are expected to verify their receipts in an election,” the report says. “With a standard design, an insider that randomly alters 10 ballots would escape detection about 60 percent of the time.” Read More
Microsoft Research has proposed a mitigation for a known potential attack against verifiable electronic voting machines that could help prevent insiders from being able to alter votes after the fact. The countermeasure to the “trash attack” involves adding a cryptographic hash to the receipts that voters receive.
Many verifiable voting systems already include hashes on the receipts, but that hash typically is of the ballot data for each specific voter. The idea proposed by Microsoft Research involves using a running hash that would add a hash of the previous voter’s receipt to each person’s receipt, ideally preventing a privileged insider from using discarded receipts to alter votes. The trash attack that the mitigation is designed to address involves election workers or others who might be motivated to change votes gathering discarded receipts and then altering those votes.
“The provision of receipts to voters who may not want them, however, suggests a very simple means by which election workers could find votes that are good candidates for alteration: poll workers could simply collect the contents of the nearest trash receptacles. Any receipts that have been discarded by voters would be strongly correlated with votes that could be altered without detection.3 Active collection of receipts may also be viable through social engineering,” Josh Benaloh of Microsoft Research and Eric Lazarus of DecisionSmith wrote in a research paper, “The Trash Attack”. Read More
In the 2008 election, Barack Obama benefited from extended voting hours and early voting days, as well as rules allowing citizens to register and vote on the same day. It’s pretty obvious why: students, the elderly, and hourly-wage workers who can’t queue for hours without making the boss angry, tend to favor Democrats. Florida – which became a byword for Banana Republicanism and electoral corruption 11 years ago – has been positively zealous in attempts to restrict voting rights on the grounds that easy voting leads to waste, fraud and abuse. One lawmaker pitched a hissy fit, claiming that dead actors (Paul Newman, for one) constantly turn up on voter rolls and that “Mickey Mouse” had registered to vote in Orlando. State senator Mike Bennett wants to make voting “harder”; after all, he said, “people in Africa literally walk 200 or 300 miles so they can have the opportunity to do what we do, and we want to make it more convenient? How much more convenient do you want to make it?”
Florida Republicans addressed the problem of “convenience” earlier this year by cutting early voting days from 14 to eight, cutting budgets for expanded polling places and eliminating Sunday voting: African American (and some Latino) churches had successfully run a post-sermon”Souls to the Polls” operation, getting out the vote in 2004, 2006 and 2008. Florida has also attacked civic-minded people trying to register new voters. Jill Ciccarelli, a teacher at New Smyrna Beach High School, wanted to foster a sense of citizenship amongst her pupils, so she helped the ones who were old enough register. She didn’t know she was breaking the law. Now, all individuals or groups must file a “third party registration organisation” form with the state, and instead of having ten days to deliver the paperwork,they must now do it in 48 hours. Failure to comply could draw felony charges and thousands of dollars in fines. Read More
The Liberal Party requested a recount in the Valle del Cauca governor election after their candidate lost by less than 1% of the votes, Colombian media reported. With 98.40% of the votes counted, Liberal Party candidate Jorge Homero Giraldo received 32.62% with 441,303 votes, while Hector Fabio Useche from the “Inclusion and Opportunities Movement” — or MIO Party — received 446,810 votes, which represents 33.02%.
The delay to count the votes in this photo-finish has the Liberal Party demanding answers. “We fear that Valle del Cauca was happening the same as in the last elections of Congress, when they reported surprising and inexplicable results, so we will ask they recount vote by vote,” said Rafael Pardo Rueda, the head of the Liberal Party. Read More
A group of Malaysians have taken election authorities to court demanding to extend voting rights to nearly 1 million overseas citizens. A group of Malaysians called “My Overseas Vote” said in a statement that six citizens working in the United Kingdom have asked the Kuala Lumpur High Court to force the Election Commission to register them as voters before the next general elections, widely expected by mid-2012.
”To say that only certain groups of citizens are allowed the postal ballot is nonsense that amounts to outright discrimination,” Teo Hoon Seong, one of the litigants, said in the statement. The court is scheduled to hear the first round of arguments on Nov. 14 on whether to allow a full hearing for the lawsuit. Read More
A group of Malaysians have sued election authorities in what they described as an attempt to extend voting rights to nearly one million citizens living abroad. Rights activists have long criticised restrictions that prevent most Malaysians abroad from casting ballots. Exceptions include government workers, military personnel and full-time students.
A group of Malaysians called “My Overseas Vote” said in a statement that six citizens working in the United Kingdom have asked the Kuala Lumpur High Court to force the Election Commission to register them as voters before the next general elections, widely expected next year. Read More
The Emir of Gulf Arab state Qatar said on Tuesday elections to an advisory council would be held in the second half of 2013, the state news agency reported. “From the podium of this council, I declare that we have decided that the Advisory Council elections would be held in the second half of 2013,” Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani said in a speech to the body.
“We know that all these steps are necessary to build the modern state of Qatar and the Qatari citizen who is capable of dealing with the challenges of the time and building the country. We are confident that you would be capable of shouldering the responsibility.” He did not say if the council, which currently has no legislative powers, would be given more weight. Read More
The Higher Elections Committee discussed on Sunday the candidacy process set to start on December 12, and the measures taken to guarantee honest, democratic elections according to the elections law issued by legislative decree No. 101 for 2011. The committee decided to direct the sub-committees in the Syrian provinces to fully supervise candidacy applications, stressing the implementation of article No. 20 of the elections law which grants the right to run for the People’s Assembly and the local councils according to the standards provided by the new elections law.
The committee requested that the sub-committees should cooperate and coordinate with demonstrative apparatuses according to law to offer all facilitations for supervision to guarantee democratic and honest elections. The Higher Committee also requested that authorities set up electronic screens in the squares of all provinces to display the counting of votes to preserve the transparency and honesty of elections. Read More
UK-based Nigerian groups yesterday said the suspension of the Bill on Diaspora voting by the National Assembly was a “collective disenfranchisement of innocent citizens”. The bill, which seeks to allow Nigerians in the Diaspora to vote in future elections, suffered a setback in the House of Representatives as it was suspended for further input.
Most of the lawmakers who spoke on the bill, sponsored by Rep. Abike Dabiri-Erewa (ACN Lagos), said the country could not afford the cost of conducting such an election. “Clearly, this is collective disenfranchisement of a group of innocent citizens by our government on the basis of their abode,” Ms Jenny Okafor, President of Nigerian Women in Diaspora Leadership Forum, said in an interview in London. Read More
The national media paid attention today to the alleged ballot tampering in Erie County, and Republican County Executive Chris Collins took advantage of it in a Fox News appearance to harshly criticize his Democratic opponent, Mark C. Poloncarz. Poloncarz, in turn, blasted Collins.
The alleged tampering centers around at least 10 ballots mailed to absentee voters in Lackawanna who complained the ballots were already marked for Collins on either the Republican or Independence lines.
The investigation is focused on a Democratic clerk at the Erie County Board of Elections, but county sheriff’s investigators have emphasized that they do not suspect the tampering was linked in any way to the campaigns of either Collins or Poloncarz. Read More
South Carolina’s Congressional redistricting map was precleared by the Department of Justice late Friday, solidifying new lines that shore up Palmetto State incumbents and also add a new seventh district, almost certain to be won by a Republican.
The DOJ’s decision means House Assistant Minority Leader James Clyburn will likely be the state’s one Democrat in the 113th Congress. Read More
A manual being using to train election judges for next week’s elections contains inaccurate information, reflecting a new voter identification law that has not yet taken effect, Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart said Monday. Stanart said his office caught the error after the first training class last Monday and since has provided correct information to election workers.
State Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, said two confused election judges contacted his office last week, concerned the manual was implementing Texas’ new voter identification law a year early.