Panelists at a conference in Washington DC expressed concerns about the security of internet voting. Colorlines considered the growing debate over the Voting Rights Act and the Brennan Center blogged about efforts to address the effects of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. Egypt is headed for a divisive run-off election between The Muslim Brotherhood candidate and a former member of Hosni Mubarak’s government. Election officials and voting rights groups criticized Governor Rick Scott’s efforts to purge Florida’s voter rolls ahead of the November election. The Fort Worth Star Telegram examined the issues surrounding Texas’ Voter ID law. The Anchorage Assembly certified the results of an election recount while denying an opportunity for public comment and Wisconsin’s Governor Walker suggested that voter fraud could account for “2 or 3 points” in the upcoming recall election.
- National: Internet voting still faces hurdles in US | The Economic Times
- Editorials: The Growing Debate Over the Voting Rights Act | Colorlines
- Blogs: Undoing the Damage of Citizens United | Brennan Center for Justice
- Egypt: Egypt appears set for deeply divisive run-off | CBS News
- Florida: Voting rights groups ask Scott to stop non-citizen voter purge | Palm Beach Post
- Editorials: Texas voter ID case is in no way simple or easy | Fort Worth Star Telegram
- Alaska: Anchorage Assembly Certifies Election Recount, Denies Public Testimony | alaskapublic.org
- Colorado: Wisconsin’s Walker echoes Colorado’s Gessler on voter fraud | The Colorado Independent
Shop online. Bank online. Why not vote online? Pressure is building to make Internet voting widely available in the United States and elsewhere, even though technical experts say casting ballots online is far from secure. In the 2012 US elections, more than two dozen states will accept some form of electronic or faxed ballots, mostly from military or overseas voters, according to the Verified Voting Foundation. But there is a growing expectation that online voting will expand further. ”The number one question I’m asked is when we will get to vote on the Internet,” Matt Masterson, Ohio’s deputy election administrator, told a Washington forum this month. ”When you are doing everything else on the Internet and your comfort level is high, people expect to do that… You can adopt a child online, you can buy a house online without ever seeing it.” But computer security specialists say any system can be hacked or manipulated, and that unlike shopping and banking, the problem cannot be fixed by giving the customer a refund. ”You have computer systems such as those of Google, the Pentagon and Facebook, which have all fallen victim to intrusion,” said J. Alex Halderman, a computer scientist at the University of Michigan. Halderman, who gained notoriety by hacking into a test of an online voting system in the US capital Washington in 2010 — forcing the system to be scrapped — said the technology is not yet secure enough. ”It’s going to be decades, if ever, before we are going to be able to vote online securely,” he told the forum at George Washington University’s Cyber Security Policy and Research Institute.
Some other countries are forging ahead on Internet voting. French citizens living abroad will for the first time this year be able to vote in a parliamentary election over the Internet, an experiment that could be extended to other elections if successful. In Estonia, an early adopter, a record 25 percent of voters cast Internet ballots in 2011. But Halderman, who has consulted with European governments and studied other attempts at online voting, said: “I don’t believe any of them are secure.”
… Masterson said election officials are grappling with how to make voting more accessible and looking at the costs of the technology. Internet voting from that perspective makes some sense, he said. Masterson said online voting can also help boost participation and address the issue of voters who cannot get to a polling station. ”It kills an election official to find out you can’t get a ballot back,” he said. “These people are being disenfranchised.” But Halderman counters that US elections provide a tempting target for hackers, nation-states and others who might want to destabilize or disrupt the US political system. ”If everyone voted online today, I think the probability of substantial fraud would be 100 percent,” he said.
… The National Institute of Standards and Technology, an arm of the Commerce Department, said this month its research had “concluded that Internet voting systems cannot currently be audited with a comparable level of confidence in the audit results as those for polling place systems.” Additionally, malware on voters’ personal computers “poses a serious threat that could compromise the secrecy or integrity of voters’ ballots,” NIST said.
- Internet Voting Is Years Away, And Maybe Always Will Be | TechPinions
- The Details On How To Elect Futurama’s Bender To Whatever Election Is Using Online Voting | Techdirt
- In Theory And Practice, Why Internet-Based Voting Is a Bad Idea | Slashdot
- Internet voting systems too insecure, researcher warns | Computerworld
- Americans Elect Ends Online Primary After No Candidates Qualify To Run | ABC News
Articles on the Voting Rights Act are increasingly being filed in the “obituary” section, even though it’s less than 50 years old. Last week, a U.S. Court of Appeals decisionruled against Shelby County, Ala., which challenged the constitutionality of VRA’s Section 5. A three-judge panel ruled 2-1 that it was still constitutional, but the dissenting judge, Senior Circuit Judge Stephen F. Williams, asked some tough questions that will need to be resolved before the Supreme Court inevitably looks at it again (In 2009, SCOTUS punted on this issue, but expressed serious skepticism about Section 5’s vitality.) Wrote Judge Williams in his dissent:
Why should voter ID laws from South Carolina and Texas be judged by different criteria … from those governing Indiana? A glimpse at the charts shows that Indiana ranks “worse” than South Carolina and Texas in registration and voting rates, as well as in black elected officials. This distinction in evaluating the different states’ policies is rational?
South Carolina and Texas are “covered jurisdictions” under Section 5, while Indiana, which has a worse voting record, is not. As Williams pointed out, none of those three states are among the top ten worst offenders on voting rights. So the coverage formula needs to be reconsidered, Williams concluded. The coverage formula of Section 5 is the ankle bracelet for Southern states and counties (and a few Northern counties) that have been placed on house arrest for repeated voting rights violations, mostly throughout America’s Jim Crow era. States like Alabama, Texas and South Carolina want courts to take that ankle bracelet off.
While those states claim they are no longer running errands for Jim Crow, Section 5 is set up to ensure that they never go back to doing it. How Section 5 works is that if a covered state or county wants to make election law changes, it needs pre-clearance from the Department of Justice or federal courts. To earn pre-clearance, the covered jurisdiction must prove that the law change won’t have “the purpose … nor the effect,” of racial discrimination. That’s important: It’s not enough to say you don’t intend to disenfranchise black or Latino voters; you must assure that racial disenfranchisement doesn’t become an unintended consequence.
In short, Section 5 is a precautionary principle agent. It forces certain jurisdictions to thoroughly think through voting legislation before implementation by proving first that it won’t harm, as opposed to allowing implementation first, and then dealing with any harm after it’s already been done. It prioritizes permission over forgiveness and recklessness, and yes, in some ways that limits some states’ and counties’ discretion, but our lesson learned from the 20th century was that left to their own discretion some states and counties will be reckless with voting rights and won’t even ask for forgiveness.
Full Article: The Growing Debate Over the Voting Rights Act – COLORLINES.
- Voting Rights Act survives court test, but how long will it last? | Facing South
- John Lewis objects, and Paul Broun backs away from attempt to gut Voting Rights Act | ajc.com…
- States Shouldn’t Tamper with Voting Rights Act | New America Media
- Appeals Court Examines Constitutionality Of Voting Rights Act Provision | The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times
- Voter ID cases could test Voting Rights Act | Facing South
Next month marks the 40th anniversary of the Watergate break-in. But the burglary was the tip of the iceberg: the bigger scandal involved President Nixon’s 1972 re-election campaign brazenly peddling government favors for millions of dollars of political donations. In Watergate’s aftermath and the decades since, Congress strengthened our campaign finance laws. But the Supreme Court has chipped away at those reforms, making it harder to fight the corruption that flows from money in politics. Supreme Court missteps, compounded by lower court decisions, have produced the current anything-goes campaign environment. The Court now has an opportunity to undo some of the damage. It is considering a request to take up a case out of Montana that could clarify how much leeway the government has to regulate corrupting political money. Understanding why the Court should do so requires looking at where we are — and how we got here.
Nearly a half-year ahead of the November election, so-called super PACs have already dumped more than $110 million into this election. Nonprofit groups that refuse to disclose their donors have spent millions more. Most disturbingly, million dollar donations from actorsinterested in specific government actions — gifts that would raise obvious corruption concerns if directly handed to candidates — are now routinely handed to super PACs whose exclusive purpose is to elect those candidates.
Functioning as shadow campaigns, these groups exist solely to elect a specific candidate. They are operated by the candidate’s close friends and most trusted political advisors. Candidates and their super PACs share vendors, consultants, messages, and advertising footage. They closely coordinate their efforts: during the Republican presidential primaries, when candidates’ own funds started to dry up, their super PACs repeatedly stepped up to air a barrage of attack ads. Most egregiously, candidates and their senior campaign staff appear at the super PACs’ fundraising events and solicit funds for them. As Mitt Romney candidly stated: “We raise money for super PACs. We encourage super PACs. Each candidate has done that.”
- Citizens Dis-United: Justices May Take Another Look at Campaign Finance Case | ABA Journal
- Presidential campaign donors moving to super PACs | Sunlight Foundation
- Five myths about super PACs | Trevor Potter/The Washington Post
- Federal judge rules Federal Election Commission overstepped authority in shielding ad donors | The Washington Post
- Peeling Back the Layers of Super PACs | Brennan Center for Justice
The Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate and a veteran of ousted leader Hosni Mubarak’s autocratic regime will face each other in a runoff election for Egypt’s president, according to first-round results Friday. The divisive showdown dismayed many Egyptians who fear either one means an end to any democratic gains produced by last year’s uprising. More than a year after protesters demanding democracy toppled Mubarak, the face-off between the Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi and former air force chief and prime minister Ahmed Shafiq looked like a throwback to the days of his regime — a rivalry between a military-rooted strongman promising a firm hand to ensure stability and Islamists vowing to implement religious law. ”The worst possible scenario,” said Ahmed Khairy, spokesman for the Free Egyptians Party, one of the secular, liberal parties that emerged last year. Speaking to the Al-Ahram daily, he described Morsi as an “Islamic fascist” and Shafiq as a “military fascist.”
He said he did know which candidate to endorse in the June 16-17. Many Egyptians face the same dilemma, with no figure representing a middle path of reforming a corrupt police state without lurching onto the divisive path of strict implementation of Islamic law. The head-to-head match between Morsi and Shafiq will likely be a heated one. Each has die-hard supporters but is also loathed by significant sectors of the population.
The first round race, held Wednesday and Thursday, turned out close. By Friday evening, counts from stations around the country reported by the state news agency gave Morsi 25.3 percent and Shafiq 24.9 percent with less than 100,000 votes difference. A large chunk of the vote — more than 40 percent — went to candidates who were seen as more in the spirit of the revolution that toppled Mubarak, that is neither from the Brotherhood nor from the so-called “feloul,” or “remnants” of the old autocratic regime. In particular, those votes went to leftist Hamdeen Sabahi, who narrowly came in third in a surprisingly strong showing of 21.5 percent, and a moderate Islamist who broke with the Brotherhood, Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh.
Full Article: Egypt appears set for deeply divisive run-off – CBS News.
- Egypt’s third-place finisher calls for partial vote recount | USAToday.com…
- Macky Sall wins Senegal run-off election in landslide | Deseret News
- Rivals claim run-off places | BBC
- Internet voting still faces hurdles in US | The Economic Times
- The Growing Debate Over the Voting Rights Act | Colorlines
A coalition of voting rights groups is asking Gov. Rick Scott to stop a statewide effort to purge thousands of potential non-citzens from the voting rolls, and U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, also plans to ask the governor to stop the scrub. Lawyers for the groups said in a letter to Secretary of StateKen Detzner that the voting purge is in violation of the National Voting Rights Act which prohibits systematic purging of the voter rolls 90 days prior to a general election. The purge effort falls within that 90-day prohibition because of Florida’s Aug. 14 primary. Last month, Detzner sent a list of more than 2,600 potentially ineligible voters to the state’s 67 elections supervisors flagged as potentially ineligible by matching driver’s license and voting records. But the list was riddled with errors and included some voters who were born in the U.S. and others who had become citizens since getting their driver’s licenses or state-issued ID cards. Detzner’s office then went to work on scrubbing a list of up to 180,000 flagged voters whose citizenship is in question.
Last week, Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles officials said they would begin a more exhaustive vetting of the list by using a federal database with more up-to-date citizenship information. The list is exacerbating an already strained relationship between state and local elections officials as the November general election approaches. Project Vote, Fair Elections Legal Network, Advancement Project, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, LULAC Florida, and the Hillsborough Hispanic Coalition asked Detzner to abandon the non-citizen initiative, prompted by Gov. Rick Scott after he took office in 2010. Many of the voters on the list are Hispanics, which could also be a violation of the NVRA which requires state voter list maintenance programs to be uniform and non-discriminatory, lawyers for the groups said.
- Florida Supervisor of Elections: Gov. Scott’s Voter Purge Will Remove Eligible Voters From Rolls | Think Progress
- State Steps Up Effort Against Illegal Voters | NYTimes.com…
- The hunt for non-citizen Florida voters exposes partisan divide | MiamiHerald.com…
- National Voter Registration Act vs. Voter ID and Other Voter Access Challenges | Concurring Opinions
- State allows civil rights groups to intervene in federal voting lawsuit | Miami Herald
People who say there shouldn’t be such a fuss over the Texas voter ID law are so sweetly naive. It’s no big deal, they say. We get asked to show a driver’s license all the time, from when we write a check or pay for something with a credit or debit card to when we check in at the doctor’s office. We do it without a second thought to show we are who we say we are. We’ve always been far more willing to provide information about ourselves to the phone company or a 16-year-old grocery store clerk than we have been to give that same information to the government. And the helpful volunteer poll worker asking for an ID, nice lady that she is, symbolizes government just as the president and Congress do. But voting is so important. Shouldn’t we be willing to go the extra mile to protect the integrity of the ballot box from people, even though they may be few, who would misrepresent themselves and deliver a candidate some dishonest votes? Maybe. That’s what a panel of judges from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has been asked to decide. A trial date has been set for July 9.
There are reasons to worry that the issue won’t be ready for trial by that date. If not, the voter ID law probably won’t be in effect for the Nov. 6 general election, when the ballot will include races for president, U.S. Senate, 36 seats in the U.S. House, statewide races for judgeships and the Railroad Commission, 31 seats in the Texas Senate, 150 in the Texas House and countywide races across the state. It is a big deal, and the issues the judges will examine are weighty. At its heart is a worry, expressed mainly by Democrats, that the requirement to show a government-issued photo ID at the polling place could disenfranchise some voters, including the rural poor.
After the Legislature approved the voter ID law last year, the Justice Department declined to pre-clear it for future elections, a step required by Voting Rights Act. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott took the case to the D.C. District Court. There was a concern about whether the preclearance requirement in the Voting Rights Act is constitutional. Previously in the law’s almost 47-year history, that provision has been upheld by the courts and retained by Congress as a legitimate barrier against discrimination.
- How Voter ID Laws Are Being Used to Disenfranchise Minorities and the Poor | Andrew Cohen/The Atlantic
- Abbott drops opposition to depositions in voter ID case | Austin Statesman
- Still No Answers in Voter ID Case | Texas Weekly
- Federal court slaps AG Abbott for delaying Texas Voter ID challenge | dallasnews.com…
- Federal judges want quick decision on legality of Texas voter ID law | Chron.com…
The Anchorage Assembly certified the recount of the April 3rd Municipal Election Tuesday evening. Several Assembly members pushed for public comment on the certification, but the chair denied it. KSKA’s Daysha Eaton was there and filed this report. The Chair of the Election Recount Board, Denise Stephens presented a report of their work to the Assembly. She explained that 13 of the 15 precincts the Board reviewed closely matched with a few of the precincts off by 1 or 2. At Precinct 840, Service High School, the Board could not find 8 ballots for voters that had signed the register. One possible explanation is that these 8 voters left the precinct without voting after having signed the precinct register. Precinct 660 had a similar result with 6 signatures more than corresponding ballots. The recount resulted in no change in the outcome of the election. Stephens noted that the Election Board did investigate the voting machines.The April 3rd Municipal Election was fraught with problems. An Election Commission report blamed the Clerk’s Office for not distributing enough ballots. More than half of the precincts ran out of ballots. Assembly members Harriet Drummond requested public comment on the certification.
I think we’re being extremely unfair to the public to not allow them a specific opportunity to testify on this election as opposed to making them wait until the end of the meeting when the media has gone home, when most people have turned it off. I think this is wrong. (Hall:) Ms. Drummond that will be duly noted.] Assembly members Paul Honeman and Elvi Gray-Jackson also spoke in support of public testimony being included. But Chair Ernie Hall denied that request and was supported by Municipal Attorney Dennis Wheeler, citing an attorney hired by the municipality to provide an opinion on the issue. I’ve reviewed the opinion provided by Mr. Petumenos and I recall his comments here at the assembly meeting and I agree with those comments. I trust his analysis of the issue and agree with him that this is a quasi-judicial matter, it’s not a public hearing item.
- Anchorage Election Recount Results Show Confusion at Polls | alaskapublic.org…
- Despite state oversight, vote-counting errors abound in Florida | Palm Beach Post
- Anchorage Assembly certifies election, subject to recount in 15 precincts | adn.com…
- Supreme Court Voids Special State House Election | Election Academy
- Unscanned ballots tallied as problems investigated in Anchorage | Anchorage Daily News
In the last two years, Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler has made voter fraud prevention a top priority. His efforts have included working to stop county clerks from sending absentee ballots to inactive voters, lobbying for a controversial voter ID law and leading an unprecedented effort to determine whether non-citizens are voting in the state. Critics have questioned Gessler’s priorities, given that the number of documented incidents of voter fraud in Colorado is tiny. Yet Gessler argued his case at committee hearings in Washington and Denver by citing statistics. There were hundreds and maybethousands of non-citizens registered to vote in Colorado who may or may not be casting ballots, he said, as an example. Wisconsin governor Scott Walker has also sounded alarms on voter fraud. Taking a page from Gessler, he recently cited numbers to back up his claims.
In an interview with the Weekly Standard, Walker said he thought fraud typically accounted for 2 percent of the vote in the state and likely swayed elections.
“I’ve always thought in this state, close elections, presidential elections, it means you probably have to win with at least 53 percent of the vote to account for fraud. One or two points, potentially.” That’s enough to change the outcome of the election. “Absolutely. I mean there’s no question why they went to court and fought [to undo] voter ID.” Indeed, ever since judges there enjoined Wisconsin’s new controversial voter ID law in March, Walker supporters have been warning that voter fraud will make it more difficult for the governor to survive the coming June 5 recall election.
- Scott Walker: Voter Fraud is Worth “One or Two Points” in Wisconsin | Slate
- Report: Voter fraud concerns unfounded as recall election day approaches | WTAQ
- Texas voter ID law may be headed to the Supreme Court | Rick Hasen/Star Telegram
- Judge rules voter ID law unconstitutional | JSOnline
- Democrats ask all 50 states to oppose new voter identification laws | The Washington Post