Questions remain about the use of computers to count votes in the United States even as Minnesota Secretary of State proposed a technological solution to concerns about voter fraud. The US Postal Service announced that it would suspend planned closure of facilities in response to concerns about the processing of absentee ballots. Techdirt provided details of the hack of DC’s proposed internet voting system. A judge in Wisconsin granted a temporary injunction of Wisconsin’s voter ID requirement. The Canadian election authority has widened its probe of deceptive robo-calls in the 2011 election. El Salvador goes to the polls in a test of the former guerrilla organization FMLN’s legislative program and allegations of election fraud abound in Russia following the election of Vladimir Putin.
- National: Questions linger in US on high-tech voting | physorg.com
- Minnesota: Dayton, Ritchie offer ‘poll book’ as voter-ID alternative | TwinCities.com
- National: Postal Service to suspend closures during election season | The Washington Post
- Blogs: The Details On How To Elect Futurama’s Bender To Whatever Election Is Using Online Voting | Techdirt
- Wisconsin: Judge bars Wisconsin voter ID law temporarily | Journal Sentinel
- Canada: Elections Canada expands probe into fraudulent messages in 2011 vote | thestar.com
- El Salvador: Local Elections in El Salvador May Test FMLN Legislative Plan | AS-COA
- Russia: Fraudulent Votes for Putin Abound in Chechnya – 107% turnout in one precinct | NYTimes.com
As many as 25 percent of Americans are expected to use paperless electronic voting machines in the upcoming November elections, according to the Verified Voting Foundation, but confidence has been eroded by incidents showing vulnerabilities. The foundation, which seeks more reliable election systems, contends that voting machines in 11 states are all-electronic, with no paper systems for recounts, and that many other jurisdictions have some of these systems in place. … Pamela Smith of the Verified Voting Foundation said these incidents highlight the fact “that you can have insider challenges as well as outsider hacks. It points out that you have to be able to check the system.” Election security and technology has been an issue in the United States since the 2000 president election marred by “hanging chads” in Florida that muddled the result.
US laws enacted since then encourage the use of new technology including touch-screen ballots. But some critics say these can be vulnerable to hackers and that some lack a “paper trail” which could allow a recount in case of machine failure. ”We still have a number of states which do not have what I call resilient recountable systems,” Smith said.
“If they do have problems they may not be able to recover from them. So we would like states to move to recoverable systems where they could do a recount if there were a problem.”
Full Article: Questions linger in US on high-tech voting.
- Ballot Secrecy Keeps Voting Technology at Bay | Scientific American
- E-voting machine freezes, misreads votes, U.S. agency says | Computerworld
- South Jersey voting-machine incident makes waves | Philadelphia Inquirer
- How Voting Equipment Varies in the U.S.
- Internet voting way too risky, say experts | Marketplace
As a bill asking Minnesotans to amend the state constitution so voters would be required to show a photo ID began its way through the House on Thursday, Gov. Mark Dayton and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie unveiled an alternative they say would be faster, cheaper and less likely to disenfranchise voters. With an electronic “poll book,” eligible voters who have lost an ID or no longer carry one could come to the polling place and have their electronic information pulled up from state records, Ritchie said. He said about 84,000 Minnesota voters don’t carry photo ID, but in many cases, they would have photos in the state drivers’ database. For those who don’t, another ID could be scanned in or a photo could be taken at the polling place. ”We would not be disenfranchising anybody and we would not be breaking the bank,” Ritchie said.
Ritchie and Dayton touted the bipartisan potential of their plan, but there were no GOP lawmakers at the pair’s news conference. Earlier, the House Government Operations and Elections Committee heard testimony on a bill from Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, that she’s sponsoring to put photo ID on the November ballot.
Kiffmeyer’s bill was passed by the committee and now heads to Ways and Means. A companion bill in the Senate has made it through three committees and sits in the Rules committee. The Senate may vote on the measure as early as next week. She said the poll book technology Ritchie is endorsing would be useful, but it would not replace the need for photo IDs. Kiffmeyer, a former secretary of state, said the amendment “will protect everybody’s access to getting a ballot,” ensure integrity in the process and maintain Election Day registration.
- State Prepares For Voter ID Battle | CBS
- Minnesota GOP wants voter ID on the ballot in November | StarTribune.com…
- Republicans look at putting Voter ID on Minnesota ballot | Hometown Source
- Judge grants temporary injunction barring enforcement of Wisconsin voter ID law in April election | Wisconsin State Journal
- Voter ID legislation in Minnesota seen widely elsewhere | BrainerdDispatch.com…
The U.S. Postal Service plans to suspend its planned closure of processing facilities and post offices during the November election season in response to concerns from state officials that the delivery of absentee or mail-in ballots might be lost or delayed in the shuffle. Postal officials announced plans last month to proceed with closing or consolidating at least 223 processing centers in the coming years in hopes of saving billions of dollars. USPS also plans to close thousands of post offices in the coming years in mostly rural communities. But state officials in Arizona, California, Ohio and Oregon, among others, complained that the changes could confuse voters accustomed to mailing ballots close to mail-in deadlines or Election Day.
Voting by mail is growing in popularity, with Oregon and Washington conducting virtually all elections through the mail. One in five voters cast ballots by mail in 2010, according to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, up from one in eight in 2004.
The first phase of closures and consolidations is scheduled to begin after May 15 and will end by Aug. 31, according to USPS. Postal officials said Wednesday that they plan to meet with election board officials in states holding primaries during the first wave of consolidations to address any concerns. Further consolidations would begin again in early 2013.
- Postal center closures threaten integrity of upcoming election | San Jose Mercury News
- Do Nothing ‘Til You Hear From Me: EAC Shutdown of HAVA Boards Provokes Resistance from State Election Officials | Doug Chapin/PEEA
- Cuyahoga County elections board leads pack in testing, auditing | cleveland.com…
- Agency finds defects in ballot scanners – ES&S DS200 | USAToday.com…
- Forgotten But Not Yet Gone: Is This the End of the EAC? | Doug Chapin/PEEA
Back in October of 2010, we wrote about how some “hackers” had broken into a test of the Washington DC e-voting system, and had managed to have the system play the University of Michigan “fight song” every time people voted — University of Michigan being where the researchers (led by e-voting security expert J. Alex Halderman) were from. A day later, we discussed some more details of the hack, noting how just a tiny vulnerability could take down the integrity of the entire system.
It’s been a bit of time since then, but Halderman has released the academic paper they wrote about the experience, which is now getting some new attention, including the fact that, beyond playing the UMich fight song, they also installed their own slate of “fictional” candidates, including Bender from Futurama, who is presumably running on a Kill All Humans platform.
The full paper has some other interesting tidbits, as well, including the fact that they didn’t just hack into the e-voting machines… but also accessed the security cameras watching the e-voting servers, which were left open to public access. I’m not kidding.
- In Theory And Practice, Why Internet-Based Voting Is a Bad Idea | Slashdot
- Hackers Elect Futurama’s Bender to the Washington DC School Board | PCWorld
- Internet voting way too risky, say experts | Marketplace
- Ottawa considering limited online voting in municipal elections | Ottawa Citizen
- Hacking the Polls: Vulnerability in Electronic Voting Systems | Independent Voter Network
A Dane County judge has granted a temporary injunction against Wisconsin’s new voter identification law, which he called “the single most restrictive voter eligibility law” in the country. Circuit Judge David Flanagan’s ruling Tuesday means the voter ID requirement would not apply for the April 3 presidential primary and local general election. A spokesman for Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said the state likely would appeal, and other state election officials pointed out that other aspects of the law will remain in effect, such as having to sign a poll list.
The NAACP’s Milwaukee branch and immigration and worker rights group Voces de la Frontera had sued over the law last year. A trial on whether to grant a permanent injunction is scheduled for April 16. In granting the injunction, Flanagan found that the plaintiffs likely would succeed at trial and would suffer irreparable harm without the court’s intervention.
“It’s a solid victory for voting rights and all voters in the state of Wisconsin,” said Richard Saks, attorney for the NAACP, at a news conference Tuesday at St. Mark’s AME Church, 1616 W. Atkinson Ave. ”It’s a win for the hundreds of thousands who have difficulty or find it impossible to get voter ID under Act. 23.”
Full Article: Judge bars voter ID law temporarily – JSOnline.
- Judge refuses to halt new voter ID law, but trial date to be set | Wisconsin State Journal
- Attorney General to speak on voting rights in South Carolina – chicagotribune.com…
- Keeping College Students From the Polls | NYTimes.com…
- Thousands Stage Manhattan Voting Rights Demonstration | The Afro-American
- GOP looks to salvage voter ID | The Charlotte Post
Elections Canada has extended its probe of phony election calls to include yet another Ontario riding as the watchdog agency launches an online complaint form to help field reports from concerned voters. Canadians who think “fraudulent calls interfered with their right to vote, or who have information about such calls” are being asked to pass along what they know to elections investigators, it says. Elections Canada has enlarged its “inquiry” centre to handle the high volume of phone calls and email traffic, agency spokesperson Diane Benson said. The agency has been flooded with reports from voters — 31,000 by last Friday — about harassing or misleading phone calls in the 2011 federal election.
The agency’s experience in quickly ramping up for a federal election is now being used to gear up for the growing investigation, Benson said Tuesday afternoon. “It’s that kind of experience we’re using now to respond.” She said Elections Canada and the Commissioner of Canada Elections “have the capacity to expand and contract according to needs: electoral needs or investigative demands.” The move comes as elections investigators are asking questions about telephone calls steering voters to a fake polling station in the riding of Kingston and the Islands.
Ron Hartling, head of the Liberal riding association there, said voters got “aggressive, loud” calls from people claiming to be from the Liberal campaign in the weeks leading up to the vote. Then, in the days just before the vote, local voters got calls directing them to fake voting sites, Hartling said.
- Storm brews in Canada over election ‘robocalls’ | AFP
- Elections Canada probing spending records of Conservative campaign in robocall scandal | canada.com…
- Government shifts blame in robo-call scandal | AFP
- Paul Schurick’s sentence in Ehrlich robocall case meant to send message, judge says | The Washington Post
- Schurick Sentenced in Robocalling; Maryland Vote Suppression History Reviewed | Yahoo! News
On March 11, El Salvador will hold elections for the country’s legislature and mayors in a test for the former guerrilla-group-turned-governing-party, the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN). In 2009, the FMLN won the presidency with the victory of President Mauricio Funes, as well as 35 of 84 congressional seats. This ended the two-decade-long rule of the conservative Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) following the civil war from 1980 to 1992. In the last election, the FMLN also won 96 out of 262 municipalities, but lost the vital mayoralty of San Salvador, which ARENA hopes to keep this year. In this election, the FMLN hopes to win at least 43 seats in order to have a congressional supermajority, but faces fractures within the party, as well as discontent among its base. The country’s legislative agenda could be at stake as the FMLN tries to push through reforms—and ARENA hopes to stop them.
A February poll by the Central American University found a near tie between the two parties. The FMLN has 27.8 percent of vote intention for legislative seats while ARENA has 26.4 percent. Similarly, the FMLN holds a narrow poll lead in municipal votes, with 28.6 percent compared to ARENA’s 28.2 percent. With additional seats in Congress, ARENA could potentially block much of Funes’ legislative agenda. But rifts within the FMLN could also be an issue. FMLN hard-liners view Funes as too centrist and want more dramatic reforms. But dissatisfied voters may be wary of a more radical approach from the FMLN, especially in its attempts to reform the constitution.
One of the FMLN’s most controversial proposals involves allowing for referendums, plebiscites, and other similar mechanisms, which the party says would help expand participative democracy. These referenda would allow voters to decide on a wide variety of issues, from evaluating the performance of elected officials to agreeing on privatizing airports. Given its desire to change the function of democratic participation, the party also expressed interest in altering Article 248 of the Artículos Pétreos, which determines that no one can change the “form and system of government.” The proposal faces opposition from 58 percent of Salvadorans, who fear changing this element of the Constitution could open the door to undemocratic reforms. In January, the party also proposed the creation of a constitutional court, which would be the highest court in the country—above the current Supreme Court—and would be used to guarantee citizens’ “constitutional rights.”
- Parties Prepare Campaign Closing | Prensa Latina
- El Salvador’s Upcoming Vote | Huffington Post
- Questions linger in US on high-tech voting | physorg.com…
- Dayton, Ritchie offer ‘poll book’ as voter-ID alternative | TwinCities.com…
- Postal Service to suspend closures during election season | The Washington Post
While there were charges of fraud in Russia’s presidential election Sunday, officials throughout most of the country appeared to be on notice to avoid the appearance of cheating in obvious ways like ballot stuffing. But some here seem not to have gotten the memo. Deyeshi Dautmerzayeva has lived with her son’s family since he disappeared in 2003, presumably at the hands of the Russians. Mrs. Daudmerzayeva said she voted for Vladimir V. Putin because she believes he knows what happened to her relatives. At Precinct 451, members of the local electoral commission set about counting a pile of glistening white ballots. “Putin, Putin, Putin,” they muttered. “Good, more Putin.” Vladimir V. Putin did well in Chechnya, a place that he virtually declared war on after becoming president in 1999, and whose people have suffered grievous human rights abuses at the hands of Russian security forces. The final tally: Putin, 1,482 votes; Gennady A. Zyuganov, the Communist Party leader, one vote.
This result was in itself statistically improbable. But even more difficult for the teachers who had been drafted onto the electoral commission to explain was the turnout: there were only 1,389 people registered in the precinct, meaning that the turnout was 107 percent. “Look, something is not adding up here,” said Milana Atlanova, the head of the commission, growing increasingly confused.
Analysts of Russian elections say the North Caucasus region is a place where violations of election law are uniquely brazen, from a combination of top-down pressure, cultural factors and, in Chechnya, a fearful milieu of police intimidation.
Full Article: Fraudulent Votes for Putin Abound in Chechnya – NYTimes.com….
- How a mysterious change to voting tallies boosted Putin at St Petersburg polling station: a citizen observer reports | Telegraph
- Putin may win the election but for Russia political stability is over | guardian.co.uk
- Ballot stuffing suspected in Russian election | tvnz.co.nz
- Thousands protest over alleged Russian election fraud | heyoya.com…
- Russian election insider outlines fraud | The New York Times