Tuesday is Election Day in the United States, and although the mostly state and local races won’t stir the same passions as next year’s presidential contest, millions of people will cast ballots. They’ll do it in much the same way that Americans have for centuries: by showing up at a polling place and ticking off boxes for their candidates of choice.
All of which raises the question: In an era when virtually every daily task can be done on the Internet, why can’t we vote online, too? The answer depends on whom you ask. Advocates say the time is right to seriously consider letting voters cast a ballot from the comfort of their homes or even on the screens of their mobile phones.… But critics, many of them in the cybersecurity world, argue that letting people cast votes from their home computers is a recipe for chaos. Read More
The rise in popularity of vote-by-mail ballots means the winners of Tuesday’s elections likely will be determined before the polls even open. In recent years, as many as 70 percent of voters opted to pay for a stamp rather than find time to use a voting booth. Such early voting has been on the rise for several years, made even easier when California eliminated the fiction of the absentee ballot, which required voters to sign an affidavit saying they wouldn’t be present on election day.
The shift to the early voting has transformed the election calendar and prompted savvy campaigns to reconsider the timing of political hit pieces and voter outreach efforts. But despite the convenience, the rise of vote-by-mail doesn’t necessarily improve participation. Read More
Republican-dominated state legislatures, in the name of preventing electoral fraud, are cutting back on provisions that make it easier for voters to exercise the franchise. Florida, for example, reduced early voting from two weeks to one week (because Republicans claim it is more susceptible to fraud and errors) and eliminated voting on the Sunday before election day. Ohio, pending a referendum, reduced its early voting by more than half, eliminated early voting on weekends and stopped allowing voters to register on election day. Georgia reduced its early voting period from 45 days to 21 days. Seven states have imposed a requirement that voters show photo identification.
But the Republican war on fraud is a bit of a sham, and cynical to boot. The Brennan Center for Justice, a liberal think tank at New York University, predicts that as a result of these restrictions, 5 million eligible voters will face obstacles to casting ballots. Even if that estimate is too high, the center makes a persuasive case that the new provisions will discourage large numbers of voters, especially minorities (who, not coincidentally, tend to favor Democratic candidates), from turning out. Twenty-five percent of African American voters, the center estimates, do not possess a valid government-issued photo ID, compared with 11% of voters of other races. Voting on Sundays is said to be particularly attractive to African Americans, and its elimination in several states has been seen by some as explicitly targeting black voters. Read More
Earlier today I dared the Internet to send me examples of voter fraud — particularly of a scale that would justify erecting barriers against whole groups of voters through photo ID requirements and other such pernicious nonsense.
The Internet obliged, weakly.
A few readers reminded me that the conservative columnist Ann Coulter wasaccused of voter fraud in 2009, for voting by absentee ballot in Connecticut in 2002 and 2004 despite the fact that she was living in New York. The Connecticut Election Commission investigated, but decided to take no further action since Ms. Coulter was a registered voter in the state and did not vote elsewhere. I never imagined defending Ms. Coulter, but this does not seem like a threat to our democratic way of life. Read More
As campaigns gear up, citizens are starting to pay attention to the upcoming election, wondering which Republican will be the nominee or figuring out where candidates stand on the issues important to them. Yet the most important thing that American voters should do is figure out the new restrictions on their eligibility to vote in the next election. Throughout the country, Republicans have passed harsh and unjust voter restrictions that will make it more difficult for millions of people to vote, and indeed, might have already decided the election a year before it takes place.
A recent New York Times report catalogues the new voting restrictions that have been passed throughout the country this year. Wisconsin, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas have passed laws requiring voters to bring a government-issued photo ID to the polling booth. The Brennan Center for Justice has estimated that these measures will impact 3.2 million voters, and it is likely that the voters without identification will be poor and minority voters. Read More
Lawmakers came close to requiring that state election officials implement online voting this year, with an eye toward allowing military personnel overseas easier access to the ballot box. A Watertown lawmaker plans to make a fresh attempt in the next regular session.
Computer scientists who took part in an Oct. 27 panel discussion organized by Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said, unanimously, such a system cannot possibly be secured. “Secure Internet voting is a bit like the phrase ‘safe cigarettes,'” said Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Ron Rivest. “It’s just an oxymoron. It’s just not possible to do this securely.” Read More
Election officials in southern Indiana are looking for hundreds of absentee ballots they say ‘just disappeared.’ Clark County Party leaders say they’ve gotten dozens of calls from voters about missing ballots. They’re worried their vote won’t be counted in Tuesday’s election. If the number of signs in Jeffersonville are any indication, there’s plenty of interest in Tuesday’s races.
“I think we’ve got several of our municipal elections in Jeff and Clarksville that could come down to just a few votes,” said Clark County Republican Party Chair Jamey Noel. Noel says the two hundred missing ballots are particularly frustrating. While that may not seem like a significant number, he says the margin of victory could be razor-thin in some races. “This is really not just a Democrat or Republican problem,” he said. “It’s a problem in general that everyone deserves the right to vote and their vote should count.” The ballots apparently went missing at some point between the time they left the Clark County Government Building, and when they were supposed to be delivered to the Post Office. Read More
Maine’s Election Day voter registration law was born quietly with bipartisan support nearly four decades ago, with little debate and overshadowed by much bigger issues of the Watergate era. That’s in contrast to that law’s demise in June, which was marked by shrill partisan debate that set the stage for next Tuesday’s referendum to restore what’s become known as “same-day” registration.
The 1973 session, which turned out to be one of the longest at that time, featured high-profile issues such as the Equal Rights Amendment, property tax relief, abortion rights, reporters’ right to protect sources and even health insurance reform. Same-day registration surfaced silently in the background as part of a routine revamping of the state’s election laws. Debate on the House floor was dry and tame with no hint of partisan differences in the Republican-controlled Legislature, the legislative record shows. The focus was on arcane technicalities rather than the merits of the policy. Read More
The House of Representatives on Monday gave preliminary approval to a pair of bills that will change how and when Mainers vote. The House voted 74-70 along party lines to approve LD 1376, a bill backed by Republican leadership and Secretary of State Charlie Summers that eliminates Maine’s 38-year-old, same-day voting registration and bans absentee voting two business days before Election Day. The House also voted 75-69 to give preliminary approval to LD 199, a bill requiring voters to present photo identification at the polls.
Proponents of LD 1376 say the legislation is designed to ease the workload of town clerks overwhelmed by an increasing number of voters who cast absentee ballots and who wait until the election to register. But critics counter that the absentee voting issue should be handled separately and without eliminating same-day registration, which they say will affect students, the elderly and the disabled. Read More
On the eve of the 2011 election, one Hamilton County race from the 2010 election – held 364 days ago – remains unresolved. At the heart of a federal court suit on that race – over a juvenile judge race – are provisional ballots, which are cast when people who say they are registered don’t appear on voting rolls. County election officials are working hard to cut down on the number of provisional ballots cast on Tuesday.
Yet the issue of provisional ballots seems likely to be front and center again in 2012, when the bigger turnout from a presidential race will stress voting systems. The fact is, Democrats generally like having provisional ballots as an option, because the numbers show that they come in greater numbers from inner city areas that tend to vote Democratic. Read More
Shelia Stewart thought the buses parked outside the Lucas County Board of Elections Early Vote Center meant there was a crowd ahead of her in line to vote. The buses, however, had brought protesters who were there to register opposition to a newly passed state law that shut down the early voting office at 13th and Washington Streets as of 6 p.m. Friday.
“I’m surprised,” said Ms. Stewart, 55, of Toledo’s Old West End after she tugged on the locked door. “My husband said I would not be able to vote, but I did not believe him.” The confusion over the canceled voting exemplified the complaints of the group of black clergy and union leaders about the shutdown of early voting. Several said early voting would have peaked this weekend as voters, having absorbed just about all the information there was to get about the many candidates and issues in the election, were ready to cast their ballots. Read More
South Carolina’s new voter ID law could affect an unlikely group: older white voters who have higher incomes, are reliably Republican and live in retirement homes and gated golf communities along the state’s southern coast, according to an analysis by The Associated Press. There are roughly 217,000 active voters in the state who do not have a driver’s license or state ID card, election officials said. Of those, almost a third are 65 or older, and nearly 1,600 of them live in precincts in Beaufort County’s Sun City retirement community or affluent neighborhoods nearby, according to AP’s analysis.
The law has drawn criticism from Democrats and others who say it will hit the state’s black, poor, elderly and disabled voters the hardest because they don’t have a photo ID and face many challenges to get one. Read More
At least one person has died after shots were reportedly fired during an opposition protest in Monrovia ahead of Liberia’s presidential run-off. A BBC reporter saw the body of a young man who had been shot in the head.
Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) candidate Winston Tubman has pulled out of Tuesday’s vote, alleging fraud. Nobel Peace laureate Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Africa’s first elected female head of state, is running for another term. She was first elected after Liberia’s first post-war election in 2005. Read More
Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is poised to win reelection in a run-off on Tuesday, though her rival has vowed to reject the results after pulling out of the race over allegations of fraud. The vote was meant to gauge the West African state’s progress since a devastating civil war ended in 2003 and pave the way for new investment, but fears are rising it could instead open the door to open-ended political turmoil.
“I will go pray tonight that there will be peace for Liberia,” said Akisame Johnson, a 50-year-old resident of the crumbling seaside capital Monrovia. “Ma Ellen’s people come up and down here to say of course election will take place Tuesday, but Tubman’s people come and say no. The children confused. We don’t know what will happen,” he said in the local pidgin dialect. Read More
President and one-time Sandinista revolutionary Daniel Ortega appeared to have won easy re-election in Nicaragua, according to results released Monday, overcoming a constitutional limit on re-election and reports of voting problems. Ortega had a roughly 2-1 lead over his nearest challenger, Fabio Gadea, while former President Arnoldo Aleman was a distant third with 6 per cent with about 44 per cent of the votes counted by midday.
Electoral council President Roberto Rivas said shortly after Sunday’s vote that a representative quick count of the results gave Ortega a large advantage as well, but he did not describe how that survey was conducted. Read More
The opposition candidate in Sunday’s presidential poll in Nicaragua has rejected the victory of the incumbent President, Daniel Ortega. Fabio Gadea said he could not accept the results presented by the electoral council because “they did not reflect the people’s wishes”.
With 85.8% of the ballots counted, the electoral authorities announced that Daniel Ortega had won with 62.65% of the votes. They said Mr Gadea got 31% of the vote. After announcing the latest figures, president of the Electoral Council Roberto Rivas congratulated Daniel Ortega, because “the trends shown by the results could not be reversed”. Read More