The NCSL Canvass surveyed the past, present and future of voting technology and Scientific American considered the challenges presented by internet voting. The Supreme Court is considering Arizona’s requirement that voter’s provide proof of citizenship. The issue of mailing absentee ballots to voters who failed to vote in recent elections is again an issue in Colorado. The control of the Wisconsin State Senate will be determined by a recount. “The Right to Vote” author Alexandar Kayssar posted an editorial on voter suppression in Harvard Magazine. Tension mounted in Egypt as the announcement of the results of last weekend’s election were delayed while challenges were reviewed and Libya will be the latest of the Arab Spring countries to hold elections.
- Blogs: Voting Technology: Current and Future Choices | The Canvass
- National: E- Voting: Trust but Verify | Scientific American
- Arizona: Citizenship mandate challenged | SCOTUSblog
- Colorado: Denver clerk Johnson, Secretary of State Gessler reignite ballot fight | The Denver Post
- Wisconsin: Recount under way in state Senate recall race | RealClearPolitics
- Editorials: Voter Suppression Returns: Voting rights and partisan practices | Alexandar Keyssar/Harvard Magazine
- Egypt: Election Results Delayed | WSJ.com
- Libya: Election Campaigning Starts | Tripoli Post
In the next several years, new voting equipment will need to be begged, borrowed or bought in most of the nation’s jurisdictions. This raises at least two questions: In an age of galloping technological advancement, what should we buy? And, who’s going to pay for it? … When levers and punch cards went out, what came in? Two systems, one based on electronics (often with a touch screen) and the other based on optical scanners that “score” hand-marked paper ballots in the same way that standardized tests are scored. The electronic machines (aka DREs, short for “direct recording electronic” voting machines) dominated the market in the early part of the 2000s; but by 2008, optical scanning equipment had become more common. (See the map provided by Verified Voting.org… for details.) A debate still rages between advocates of the two systems. Those who distrust electronic machines say they make votes hard to recount when an election is contested. Additionally, “there should be a way that a voter can check on a hard copy—independent from the software—that their vote was captured as they intended it to be,” says Pam Smith of Verified Voting.org…, an organization that advocates for a voter-verifiable paper trail for elections.
… Before 2002, local jurisdictions generally paid for voting equipment; then HAVA kicked in with its one-time pot of money. Looking ahead? There are no signs that federal money will become available, yet local jurisdictions are ill-equipped to go it alone. A single voting machine costs $3,000 to $6,000; that’s a lot of money in small towns with populations that can be measured in four figures. States will be asked to kick in; some will say “yes” and others may say “no.” Arkansas said “yes” this year, by appropriating funds for the Secretary of State’s office to make grants to counties for voting systems.
In the meantime, local jurisdictions are squeezing their pennies. “This is a big expense coming for local jurisdictions everywhere, and they’re trying to plan for it,” says Brian Newby, the election commissioner for Johnson County, Kan. In his jurisdiction, with 600,000 people, “if we had to buy new equipment, it would cost $10 million. If we spend $10 million on voting equipment, that’s $10 million we don’t have for firehouses and other local priorities,” he says. Newby recently bought 400 reconditioned DRE machines to get Johnson county through the next few years. After that, he’s looking at a “bring-your-own-voting-machine” concept: voters use their own tablet or smart phone to render the ballot. It’s then sent to a printer and scanned. You needn’t worry about security, he says, because “it’s your device; no one has monkeyed with it.” (Voters without gadgets will continue to use county-provided equipment.)
Full Article: The Canvass June 2012.
- Rush Holt’s Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2011 (HR 5816)
- Questions linger in US on high-tech voting | physorg.com…
- E-voting machine freezes, misreads votes, U.S. agency says | Computerworld
- South Jersey voting-machine incident makes waves | Philadelphia Inquirer
- What it takes to make every vote count | MIT News
With the Presidential elections looming up, some have been asking why the United States is not making more of electronic voting. It’s being adopted in many other countries around the world, with India, Brazil, Estonia, Norway and Switzerland as notable examples. However, the United States has several examples in recent years where it has backed out of electronic voting that it had already implemented. For example, in 2010, a trial system for remote voting over the Internet in Washington DC (known as the “Digital vote by mail”) was shown to be vulnerable, when it was penetrated by a research team from the University of Michigan, demonstrating how a real attack could render any results unsound, without detection. The attack was documented in a recent paper by researchers from the University of Michigan. So who is right?
First, it’s important to differentiate between the types of e-voting. To some it means using controlled kiosks in polling stations which collect the votes locally. For others it means those kiosks sending the votes to some central collection system. To others, e-voting is about being able to vote remotely, typically over the Internet. In all cases, the key element of e-voting is that the vote is captured and processed electronically. This has several perceived benefits:
- More people will be minded to vote. This has obvious advantages as the turnout in developed democracies around the world is often very disappointing, except in countries where it is a legal requirement to vote, such as Austrlia.
- Accessibility: technology can assist blind and partially sighted voters, and those with mobility impairments, to cast their vote. It can also offer instructions in a range of languages without the cost of printing large numbers of ballot forms in each language.
- Handling votes at long distances can be done much more quickly and reliably. Voters can vote from anywhere in the world without the need to post ballots or ship ballot boxes.
Given that we already do online banking and shopping, and even remotely vote for popular TV shows, what’s so different about electing our politicians through electronic voting? It comes down to two principles which are peculiar to these types of elections.
- Nova Scotia town approves online voting bylaw | The Vanguard
- French E-voting portal requires insecure Java plugin | ZDNet
- Flame: Massive, advanced cyber threat uncovered | GovInfo Security
- NIST: Internet voting not yet feasible | FierceGovernmentIT
- Why Online Voting Isn’t So Safe – FBI investigating student who hacked college election | Mobiledia
Challengers to Arizona’s eight-year-old mandate that voters must prove that they are U.S. citizens before they may register to go to the polls argued Monday that the state has not offered any evidence that the requirement is necessary to prevent fraud in elections. Urging the Supreme Court to leave undisturbed a Ninth Circuit Court decision striking down the citizenship rule, the opponents of Arizona’s “Proposition 200″ contended that a delay of that ruling will interfere with voting in this year’s elections and drive potential voters away from the polls. Two responses to Arizona’s plea for postponement can be read here and here. The state’s voters approved the citizenship mandate in 2004, and its enactment has led to a continuing courthouse battle that has been to the Supreme Court once before, and even led to an earlier Ninth Circuit ruling against the requirement by retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, sitting temporarily as a federal appeals court judge. Indeed, her name was invoked by the challengers as they sought to head off Arizona’s stay application (11A1189).
The state’s plea was filed with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who handles emergency filings from the Ninth Circuit’s region. He has the option of deciding it himself, or sharing it with the other Justices. Kennedy — or the Court — is expected to act later this week, after getting a reply brief from Arizona officials. That brief is due at noon Wednesday.
At issue in both the stay application, and in the coming Supreme Court appeal that Arizona plans to file, is whether the citizenship requirement conflicts with the National Voter Regisration Act, passed by Congress in 1993 to try to streamline the voter registration process across the country. Under that Act, states are generally required to allow voters to use a federal form to ease registration. The form does have a place where a would-be voter must indicate whether they are a U.S. citizen, but Arizona’s requirement goes beyond that and requires documentary proof of citizenship.
Full Article: Citizenship mandate challenged : SCOTUSblog.
- Delay in Arizona election case | SCOTUSblog
- Election chiefs skeptical of voter purge | Palm Beach Post
- National Voter Registration Act vs. Voter ID and Other Voter Access Challenges | Concurring Opinions
- Ruling on voter requirement mixed – will be appealed to Supreme Court | azcentral.com…
- Texas voter ID law unnecessary but state AG must defend it nonetheless | Fort Worth Star Telegram
Denver officials and Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler are positioning for another fight over when the clerk’s office may mail ballots to inactive voters — a battle that could have ramifications for the November presidential election. Late last week, Gessler’s office proposed a new rule it says clarifies that clerks may not mail ballots to inactive voters in a “coordinated” election, or an election held simultaneously with another political entity. The issue took on new significance this week, when Denver Public Schools announced it could ask voters in November for a $500 million property tax increase. That would make Nov. 6 a coordinated election in Denver, reopening the debate over whether Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson may mail ballots to inactive voters — who are overwhelmingly Democrats and unaffiliated.
Denver elections officials say they are waiting to learn for certain what will be on the ballot — a decision that won’t come until later this summer — before deciding how they will handle mail ballots. But in a statement today, Johnson, a Democrat, accused Gessler of attempting to create new law through rulemaking. She also ripped the Republican secretary of state for “trying for an end-run around the court” because a lawsuit Gessler filed against Johnson over the issue last year is still pending. ”This rule, if enacted, oversteps the Secretary’s authority to interpret existing laws and may create new barriers for voters instead of eliminating them,” Johnson said. “It’s voter suppression, plain and simple.”
- Fairness questioned as 9 mostly Democratic Colorado counties to mail inactive voters ballots | The Denver Post
- More counties sending ballots to inactive voters | The Pueblo Chieftain
- Judge’s ruling allows Nov. 1 election ballots to be sent to inactive voters | The Denver Post
- Judge: Denver may send ballots to inactive voters | The Denver Post
- Crowd gathering for court battle over inactive voters | The Pueblo Chieftain
A painstaking recount began Wednesday in the recall election for a GOP state senator from Racine County, where witnesses and campaign officials watched as tabulators sifted through stacks of ballots and pored over poll records. State Sen. Van Wanggaard requested the recount earlier this month after an official canvass showed him trailing Democratic challenger John Lehman by 834 votes, or 1.2 percent of the nearly 72,000 ballots cast in the June 5 election. The state Senate currently has 16 Democrats and 16 Republicans, so the winner of the 21st District recall race will give his party majority control. However, the power balance could shift anew before the Legislature reconvenes in January, depending on the results of the November election. On Monday, state election officials ordered the Racine County Board of Canvass to begin the recount. By state law, the board has 13 calendar days from when the order was issued to complete the task. In this case, because that date falls on a Sunday, the board will have until the following day: July 2. Meeting that deadline could be a challenge. Two months ago the same board conducted a recount in a judges’ race that involved fewer than half the number of ballots. That effort stretched into the eighth day. County Clerk Wendy Christensen said she expected the current recount to be time-consuming but was confident the county would meet its deadline. She said the tabulators would work Saturday and take Sunday off, but that they may end up working the following weekend.
Daily updates from the recount effort will be forwarded to the state Government Accountability Board. Christensen said the GAB plans to post the numbers around noon the following day. Fourteen tabulators, several dozen other observers and a swarm of reporters squeezed into a stuffy room at the county courthouse Wednesday. Christensen had the tabulators sworn in and gave them several instructions: to look for ballots with stray marks or that weren’t properly initialed by poll workers; to count ballots and arrange them in stacks of 50; and to separate absentee ballots into their own stack.
The tabulators paired up at tables around the room, where adding machines, pads and red pens were set up. Some workers reviewed poll books to compare voter registrations to the number of ballots received. Others began counting the actual ballots. Nonpartisan witnesses stood behind them and watched in silence. Members of the Wanggaard and Lehman campaigns also circulated, holding clipboards and looking over the tabulators’ shoulders.
- State senate recount order expected Monday | WTAQ
- Recount in Wanggaard-Lehman Senate race under way | madison.com…
- Elections board orders recount in Senate race | TwinCities.com…
- Canvass affirms Lehman recall victory for Wisconsin Senate; Wanggaard yet to concede | JSOnline
- Democrats gain control of Senate in Wisconsin recall election | latimes.com…
The 2012 election campaign—for Congress as well as the presidency—promises to be bitterly fought, even nasty. Leaders of both major parties, and their core constituents, believe that the stakes are exceptionally high; neither party has much trust in the goodwill or good intentions of the other; and, thanks in part to the Supreme Court, money will be flowing in torrents, some of it from undisclosed sources and much of it available for negative campaigning. This also promises to be a close election—which is why a great deal of attention is being paid to an array of recently passed, and pending, state laws that could prevent hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of eligible voters from casting ballots. Several states, including Florida (once again, a battleground), have effectively closed down registration drives by organizations like the League of Women Voters, which have traditionally helped to register new voters; some states are shortening early-voting periods or prohibiting voting on the Sunday before election day; several are insisting that registrants provide documentary proof of their citizenship. Most importantly—and most visibly—roughly two dozen states have significantly tightened their identification rules for voting since 2003, and the pace of change has accelerated rapidly in the last two years. Ten states have now passed laws demanding that voters possess a current government-issued photo ID, and several others have enacted measures slightly less strict. A few more may take similar steps before November—although legal challenges could keep some of the laws from taking effect.
The new ID laws have almost invariably been sponsored—and promoted—by Republicans, who claim that they are needed to prevent fraud. (In five states, Democratic governors vetoed ID laws passed by Republican legislatures.) Often working from a template provided by the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Republican state legislators have insisted that the threat of election fraud is compelling and widespread; in December 2011, the Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA) buttressed that claim by publishing a list of reported election crimes during the last 12 years. Republicans have also maintained that a photo ID requirement is not particularly burdensome in an era when such documents are routinely needed to board an airplane or enter an office building. Public opinion polls indicate that these arguments sound reasonable to the American people, a majority of whom support the concept of photo ID requirements. The Supreme Court has taken a similar view, although it left open the possibility of reconsidering that verdict if new evidence were to emerge.
Critics of these laws (myself included) have doubted both their necessity and their ability to keep elections honest. The only type of fraud that a strict photo ID rule would actually prevent is voter impersonation fraud (I go to the polls pretending to be you), and, in fact, voter impersonation fraud is exceedingly rare. In Indiana, where the Republican-dominated legislature passed one of the first new ID laws in 2005 (on a straight party-line vote), there had been no known instances of voter impersonation in the state’s history. In Texas, a strict ID law was enacted last year, although the 2008 and 2010 elections gave rise to only five formal complaints about voter impersonation (out of 13 million votes cast). “There are more UFO and Bigfoot sightings than documented cases of voter impersonation,” quipped one Texas Democrat. Close inspection of the RNLA’s inventory of election fraud, moreover, has found it to be flawed and misleading; most election experts believe that the greatest threat to election integrity comes from absentee ballots—a threat that would not be addressed by the current laws.
- State Deals With Voting Rights Confusion as Primary Approaches | America Votes
- Wisconsin Supreme Court Declines to Hear Appeals of Both Injunctions on GOP Polling Place Photo ID Law | BradBlog
- Voting in America: When is Democracy not a Democracy? | Al Jazeera
- Voter ID Law Ruled Unconstitutional | Huffington Post
- Multiple States Considering Legislation To Increase Voting Rights | ThinkProgress
Jun 19, 2012
Egypt: Election Results Delayed | WSJ.com
Egypt’s Presidential Election Commission said it would delay the announcement of a winner in the weekend contest as it pressed forward with an investigation into fraud claims. The commission’s decision, reported by the state news agency, didn’t say when it would announce results, which had been expected to come on Thursday. The delay and the unusually vigorous investigation deepened suspense in a country on edge as it waited to learn who will be its first freely elected president. Conflicting reports about the deteriorating health of ousted President Hosni Mubarak, who was briefly pronounced “clinically dead” by state media late on Tuesday before authorities called that an exaggeration, have heightened tensions. ”The most dangerous 48 hours in the history of Egypt,” the state-run Al Ahram Newspaper blasted across its front page on Wednesday. Some 3,000 additional soldiers were deployed to protect government buildings across the country as the military braced for unrest following the announcement of results, the newspaper reported on its website.
The Election Commission, state media and a civilian board advising the military all appeared to be pushing back against victory claims made earlier in the week by the Muslim Brotherhood. The group based its claims on aggregations of vote totals collected by their monitors at polling centers across the country. Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi’s campaign said its vote totals show Mr. Morsi won 52% of the vote in the weekend contest, with 900,000 more votes than his rival, ex-Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq. To back up its claim, the Brotherhood released on the Internet 426 pages of what appear to be photocopied certified elections results from each of Egypt’s more than 13,000 polling centers.
An association of independent judges who monitored the weekend vote also endorsed the Brotherhood’s totals on Wednesday. “Our numbers were very close to the Brotherhood’s campaign numbers because we all get them from the same source, the polling stations,” the head of the group, Judge Zakaria Abdel Aziz, said. “There won’t be major discrepancies unless the commission cancels votes.”
Full Article: Egypt Delays Election Result – WSJ.com….
- Tension soars as Egypt awaits vote results | Boston.com…
- As election results delayed until Sunday, Egypt on edge | KansasCity.com…
- Islamist Declares Presidential Win, Rival Disputes | VoA News
- High court nullifies parliamentary elections; calls for dissolution of parliament, raising new transition fears | The Washington Post
- Egypt election may hinge on court decision | The Eagle
Jun 19, 2012
Libya: Election Campaigning Starts | Tripoli Post
Campaigning for the country’s first national election in more than four decades set for on July 7, started Monday as the eligible candidates, 2,501 independents, and 1,206 political association candidates eligible and the 1,206 associated to the 142 parties, Eill be vying for a place on the national assembly that will be entrusted with drafting a constitution. During his 42-year rule, Gaddafi banned direct elections, saying they were bourgeois and anti-democratic. The new assembly will re-draw the autocratic system of rule put in place by the former Libyan dictatorial leader Muammar Gaddafi. The electoral commission said in a statement during a press conference at the weekend, that candidates will have 18 days to campaign, until July 5, that is, two days before the election.
The polls are being held 18 days later than originally planned because of the logistical challenges in a country that is still recovering from last year’s revolution. Eighty of the assembly’s 200 seats will go to political parties with the rest to independent candidates. The assembly’s will be tasked with overseeing the government, draft a new constitution and schedule a new round of elections in two years’ time. About 80% of eligible voters in Libya, that is, around 2.7 million people, registered by the time stipulated for registration in in May.
Full Article: Libya Election Campaigning Starts.