Secretary of State Scott Gessler wants to make it easier for counties to comply with rules for electronic voting machines, but watchdogs say the changes increase the risk of hackers stealing an election. Gessler will hold a meeting today to discuss the changes, but plaintiffs in a 2006 lawsuit that led to the decertification of several voting machines did not wait to let loose with criticism.
Jeff Sherman, an Iraq veteran who worked on democracy-building in that country, said he is dismayed U.S. elections are vulnerable to fraud through voting machines. “We have a system that is a light to the world. I think it does all of us a disservice when there are questions about elections,” Sherman said.
Colorado has not had any known instance of election-hacking, but Sherman’s lawyer, Paul Hultin, cited an exercise by Argonne National Laboratory in which scientists hacked into a voting machine from half a mile away using cheap, off-the-shelf equipment. Read More
There will be a recount in the Wallington Council election. Wallington council candidate Kevin O’Reilly petitioned the Superior Court of Bergen County for a recount after he ran for a seat on the council and lost by a margin of 21 votes to Councilman-Elect Roman Kruk. Kruk received 1,017 votes to O’Reilly’s 996.
O’Reilly petitioned the court on Nov. 28 for a recount due to a machine glitch that occurred in Wallington District Number Three. On the night of the election, one of the voting machines located at the Park Row Firehouse didn’t print out the voting results due to the machine breaking down. To make up for the broken machine, the votes were counted by hand and verbal consent. After hearing his case for the recount, the court ruled due to the mistake in the voting machine, a recount is in order that will take place on Dec. 8. Read More
The St. Louis Election Board, under fire for more than a decade and the subject of a federal lawsuit, fared only slightly better in the latest state audit — which questioned some of the agency’s practices when it comes to finances, following the state’s open-meetings laws, tracking voters and monitoring campaign finance reports.
The audit was, however, a dramatic improvement from the 2004 audit — which found costly missteps with cell phones, and far more problematic practices. Overall, this latest audit rated the board’s operations as “fair.”
The audit, released today by state Auditor Tom Schweich, faulted the board’s preference for closed meetings — which by law must be only for certain types of personnel or procurement actions. Read More
Comedian Stephen Colbert tried yet again to get his name on South Carolina’s presidential primary ballot — only this time he wanted to sponsor the Republican contest. GOP officials in the state said they met with Colbert several times this fall to discuss a potential sponsorship of the first-in-the-South Republican primary. Colbert offered more than $100,000 to name the contest the “The Colbert Nation Super PAC Presidential Primary.”
The Republican Party has been scrambling to raise nearly $800,000 needed for the primary, but they have said they will be able to do it. Also, several counties sued challenging the state’s right to hold the primary at all, but last month the state Supreme Court green-lighted the balloting. GOP officials said that decision ended discussions with Colbert.
“Stephen Colbert, the world’s most famous living South Carolinian, approached the party with a sponsorship opportunity,” executive director Matt Moore said. “The party respectfully declined. We wish Mr. Colbert nothing but the best.” Read More
“Am I registered to vote?” “Where is my polling place?” “What’s on my ballot?” These are common questions voters routinely ask before heading to the polls and casting their ballots. But easily finding answers to these questions depends, to a large extent, on whether their state election agencies are providing information and tools on their websites.
To determine how well states are helping voters prepare to vote, in 2010 the Pew Center on the States launched a nationwide assessment of the 50 states and the District of Columbia’s election websites. The assessment was conducted by the California Voter Foundation and the Center for Governmental Studies, two nonprofits with decades of online voter education experience, and the Nielsen Norman Group, evaluating more than 100 detailed criteria based on three categories: content, look-up tools, and usability.
The results are in Pew’s new report, “Being Online Is Still Not Enough.” The 2010 assessment built on and expanded an earlier, 2008 Pew analysis of state election website look-up tools and usability. Read More
Addressing what he called “the most important issue in America that nobody is talking about,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell warned Wednesday that the National Popular Vote movement is “getting dangerously close to achieving their goal of eliminating the Electoral College without actually amending the Constitution — without anybody even noticing, unfortunately, what they’re up to.”
The National Popular Vote is a compact among state legislatures under which they pledge that they’ll award their electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the most popular votes nationwide, even if that candidate was not the majority choice of their state’s voters.
So far, California, seven other states, and the District of Columbia (all of which have large Democratic majorities) have passed legislation taking the National Popular Vote pledge. Those states and D.C. account for 132 electoral votes. The compact says it is to take effect when states with a total of at least 270 electoral votes have agreed to it. Read More
An obscure but well-funded campaign to reinvent the Electoral College and elect the president via a national popular vote has alarmed GOP leaders, who have mounted a counterattack with the help of a newly revived nonprofit. The fight over the Electoral College is “the most important issue in America nobody’s talking about,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said at a Wednesday forum co-sponsored by the Heritage Foundation and the State Government Leadership Foundation, a GOP-friendly nonprofit that has recently unveiled a new website and ramped up its operations.
The National Popular Vote campaign would replace the Electoral College system, which assigns electors to states based on the size of their Congressional delegations and requires a candidate to win at least 270 of 538 electoral votes to become president. Eight states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws that would instead deliver their Electoral College slates to the candidate who won the most popular votes nationwide. The laws will go into effect when enough states pass similar legislation to break the 270-vote threshold. Read More
The judiciary, henceforth, will not accept any election-related dispute that crops up during the election period, except complaints pertaining to error of electronic voting machine. The election laws, according to a recent election related guideline issued to all courts in Bhutan by the Supreme Court (SC), were enacted barring the jurisdiction of the courts in all election matters during the election period. “Therefore, any problems or complaints related to the election period must be decided by the election dispute settlement bodies at the district, national and the election commission, with the opportunity to appeal to the court only as a last resort,” stated the guideline signed by chief justice Sonam Tobgye.
The election dispute settlement rules and regulations, 2009 defines Election Period as the period beginning on the day of issue of notification, and ending with the declaration of results. It also states that “A court of law shall, in order to provide an uninterrupted election process in the kingdom, not have jurisdiction to question the legality of any action taken or of any decision given by the commission or its officers or by any other person under this rules and regulations, during the election period.”
“Since the provisions of the Election Act, 2008 and the election settlement rules and regulations ousted the jurisdiction of the court, it is the responsibility of the election dispute settlement bodies to accept and decide any problems or complaints related to the election period,” a SC justice said. Read More
Election officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo have again delayed the results of presidential and legislative elections. Opposition supporters are rejecting partial returns that show President Joseph Kabila heading for reelection.
Electoral Commission head Daniel Ngoy-Mulunda says results will be postponed for a third day because officials have not completed comparing vote totals sent electronically with those recorded on tally sheets at each polling station. He said it is a huge job that must be done right to assure the credibility of the totals announced. Results from last month’s presidential and legislative elections were to be announced on Tuesday. That was postponed until Thursday and has now been pushed back to Friday. Read More
President Joseph Kabila on Thursday was poised to claim victory in an election marred by delays, fraud allegations and violence. With 90% of ballots counted, Mr. Kabila had 48% of the vote, while his closest challenger, opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, had 34%, Congo’s independent election commission said, with full results expected on Friday.
Mr. Tshisekedi, a former prime minister, has rejected partial tallies released this week showing him trailing Mr. Kabila. His defiance has sparked street protests by his supporters in Congo and even European capitals. On Thursday, sporadic clashes between protesters and police broke out in the capital, Kinshasa. Supporters of Mr. Tshisekedi accused police of opening fire in front of the candidate’s home, wounding several people. Attempts to reach Mr. Kabila and the police were unsuccessful.
Despite poor management and fraud allegations by the opposition, the international community has been restrained in its criticism of the vote amid concerns that wider unrest could erupt in the war-ravaged country. Read More
General elections in St Lucia and Guyana on November 28 have raised serious questions about the financing of campaigns and the unfair use of state resources by governing political parties to gain an advantage over their opponents.
In St Lucia, it is alleged that a significant portion of the United Workers Party (UWP) campaign funds came from Taiwan. The UWP was the ruling party at the time of the elections and the then leader of the Opposition and leader of the St Lucia Labour Party (SLP), Kenny Anthony, had engaged in a public row with the Taiwanese Ambassador over his blatant interference in the electoral politics of the island. In Guyana, it is claimed that the ruling Peoples Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) outspent its three rivals by a sizeable margin in the elections campaign. Read More
Russia’s Central Election Commission (CEC) will carry out a probe into why over 500,000 people who had received absentee ballots never took part in the December 4 parliamentary elections, the Izvestiya daily reported on Friday citing CEC member Sergei Danilenko.
Earlier, Danilenko told RIA Novosti that over 1,700,000 absentee ballots had been handed to voters, but only 1,260,000 people used them. “We are now analyzing the situation in each constituent member [of the Russian Federation],” Danilenko said.
“We will look into the reasons why people who probably wanted to vote did not do so,” he said. The official did not rule out that some CEC members will go to Russian regions to investigate the matter on the site. Read More
Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin accused Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday of inciting unrest in Russia, as he grappled with the prospect of large-scale political protest for the first time in his more than decade-long rule. In a rare personal accusation, Mr. Putin said Ms. Clinton had sent “a signal” to “some actors in our country” after Sunday’s parliamentary elections, which have been condemned as fraudulent by both international and Russian observers. Anger over the elections prompted a demonstration in which thousands chanted “Putin is a thief” and “Russia without Putin,” a development which has deeply unnerved the Kremlin.
Speaking to political allies as he announced the formation of his presidential campaign, Mr. Putin said hundreds of millions in “foreign money” was being used to influence Russian politics, and that Ms. Clinton herself had spurred protesters to action. The comments seemed to mark an end to the Obama administration’s sputtering effort to “reset” the relationship between the U.S. and Russia.
“I looked at the first reaction of our U.S. partners,” Mr. Putin said. “The first thing that the secretary of state did was say that they were not honest and not fair, but she had not even yet received the material from the observers.She set the tone for some actors in our country and gave them a signal,” Mr. Putin continued. “They heard the signal, and with the support of the U.S. State Department, began active work.” Read More