The House voted to terminate the Election Assistance Commission though the legislation is unlikely to move in the Senate. The bi-partisan Board of Elections of Vanango County Pennsylvania were dismissed as their forensic audit of the county’s ES&S iVotronic voting machines neared completion. The debate over ballot transparency continued in Colorado. A trial into alleged election dirty tricks got under way in Maryland. The state Attorney General determined that attempts to require voter ID in some, but not al, counties was unconstitutional. Islamists appear to have won a majority in Egypt’s first post-revolution elections. The victory of anti-corruption crusader Alia Dzhioyeva was annulled by the separatist province’s government. The Vancouver Sun pointed out the inherent lack of transparency of internet voting and violence erupted heading into this weekend’s election in Congo.
- National: House votes to end election commission | The Hill
- Pennsylvania: Dismissed Venango County Election Board Files Appeal | VotePA
- Colorado: Ballot transparency a statewide debate | AspenTimes.com
- Maryland: Robocall Trial Gives Rare Glimpse Behind Slimy, Election-Day Tactic | NPR
- North Carolina: Attorney General: Local Voter ID laws unconstitutional | NC Policy Watch
- Egypt: A Surge For Islamists Leaves Many Wondering What Comes Next | huffingtonpost.com
- South Ossetia: Opposition leader rejects new vote | seattlepi.com
- Editorials: Online voting lacks crucial transparency | Vancouver Sun
- Congo: Pessimism grips Congo with elections in disarray | The Independent
The House on Thursday approved a bill ending the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) that was set up to ensure states meet certain standards at the voting booth, and ending the public financing of presidential campaigns. The bill passed in a mostly partisan 235–190 vote.
The vote followed a sometimes contentious debate in which some Democrats charged that the GOP effort to end the EAC is in line with other Republican attempts to suppress voter turnout in next year’s election. The EAC was established in 2002 after the very close and controversial presidential election of 2000 election, and was meant to ensure states meet certain voting standards. The EAC has disbursed more than $3 billion in “requirements” payments to states to update voting machines and enhance election administration.
“There is no doubt that a voter suppression effort is underway in this nation,” Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) charged on the House floor. “Abolishing the Election Assistance Commission, an agency charged with ensuring that the vote of each American counts, is just another step in the voter suppression effort and would completely remove oversight of the most important process in our democracy.”
Another Democrat, Rep. William Clay (D-Mo.), said the only reason to want to end the EAC is to “suppress votes,” and said votes that would be lost are minority votes, “the same groups who were targeted by Jim Crow laws.”
“I cannot put a price on our democracy, but it would be the height of recklessness to do away with that agency when election officials tell us they most need the assistance that only EAC has or can provide,” Rep. Charles Gonzalez (D-Texas) said.
- Republicans vote to end Election Assistance Commission, set up after Bush v. Gore – TheHill.com…
- Dismissed Venango County Election Board Files Appeal | VotePA
- The GOP’s War on Voting Comes to Washington | Mother Jones
- Microsoft Research Proposes E-Voting Attack Mitigation | threatpost
- Online Voting: Just A Dream Until Security Issues Can Be Fully Addressed, Experts Say | Courant.com…
Attorney Charles A. Pascal, Jr., has filed a Motion For Reconsideration on behalf of members of the specially appointed Venango County Election Board. The filing was made this afternoon in response to President Judge Oliver J. Lobaugh’s order dismissing the Board yesterday. Citing ongoing investigations into serious voting machine problems reported during the May 17 primary election, the specially appointed Election Board requested that they be allowed to continue their work until 11:59 PM on December 31, 2011.
“The members of the specially appointed Board of Elections believes that it is necessary to continue their work in order to assure the voters of the County of Venango of the integrity of the election process in the county,” the Motion states, “and to assure that any possible violations of policy, protocol, best practices, or the law, or any directive of the Pennsylvania Secretary of State, are not repeated in future elections.”
Appointed by Judge Lobaugh in early Spring to run elections during the year when County Commissioners were candidates for reelection, the Election Board heard sworn testimony from Venango County voters who observed votes flipping from one candidate to another on the touchscreen voting machines, and candidates missing from the ballot. Additionally, several races were subject to high rates of undervotes.
In response to the reported problems, the specially appointed Election Board ordered a forensic examination of Venango County’s ES&S iVotronic electronic voting system, the first of its kind ever conducted in any of the fifty Pennsylvania counties still using paperless, unverifiable Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines. The forensic audit was being done for free by two concerned Carnegie-Mellon Computer Science professors.
The experts’ examination and board’s investigations were nearing completion when Judge Lobaugh issued an order of court yesterday, dismissing the specially appointed Election Board.
The documents, which are public filings, are available below.
Full Article: Dismissed Vernango County Election Board Files Appeal.
- Counting the Vote – Some Say South Carolina’s Outdated Machines Cause for Concern | Free Times
- Audit of 2010 South Carolina Elections Shows Widespread Problems | Free Times
- Vote count glitch probed in Sussex County – ES&S iVotronic | New Jersey Herald
- ES&S Attempts to Block Pennsylvania County’s Independent Audit of Failed Touch-Screens | BradBlog
- U.S. Supreme Court Rules Dallas County’s Appeal in Fight Over Voting Machines is “Moot” | Dallas News
A candidate’s request to inspect ballots cast in Aspen’s 2009 municipal election has set in motion similar efforts around Colorado. The end result might be new rules that govern the review of ballots or that withhold them from public inspection altogether.
Meanwhile, Aspen resident and 2009 mayoral candidate Marilyn Marks is expected to review on Tuesday 100 ballots cast in Pitkin County’s Nov. 1 election. Rather than simply eye the ballots, though, Marks has suggested that county Clerk and Recorder Janice Vos Caudill and a group of election officials look over 100 to 200 ballots with Marks and discuss whether any of them are “identifiable.”
The potential to link a voter to a particular ballot via various election information that is available to the public through the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) has emerged as a concern among county clerks across the state as they respond to ballot requests from Marks and others.
Vos Caudill, however, indicated last week that she would select unidentifiable ballots for Marks’ inspection and leave it at that. Copies of 25 of the ballots, of Marks’ choosing, will be provided to her in digital form on a disc, Vos Caudill said.
Vos Caudill, along with other county clerks around the state, fear that in some instances, a voter could be linked to a particular ballot if ballots are made public along with other information. Already available through a CORA request, she noted, are the names of individuals who voted in a particular election, the date they voted, the method by which they cast the ballot (mail-in, early voting or at the polls) and the style of ballot they cast. Ballot style refers to the questions on a particular ballot; an Aspen voter likely would see different questions on a countywide ballot than a Basalt voter would, for example, while other measures could appear on both ballots.
Marks initially asked to see 605 ballots from the Nov. 1 Pitkin County election — the ballots that were tallied on one day, on one particular machine — which were randomly chosen for a post-election, state-mandated audit. Instead, she will see 100 of the audited ballots.
The county conducted a mail-only election this fall, though some people dropped off their mail-in ballots in person. The group of 605 ballots includes some from all 10 county precincts, according to Vos Caudill. The group of audited ballots happened to include 49 from Precinct 10 — the Redstone area. Four different styles were among the 49, she said. Two of the styles were each cast by five voters. If all five ballots of one style reflected the same vote on any issue, it would be possible to identify how five people actually voted on a particular measure, Vos Caudill explained.
Marks doesn’t disagree, though she believes that the vast majority of ballots probably aren’t identifiable in that way. “I think there might be a tiny, tiny handful,” she said.
Full Article: Ballot transparency a statewide debate | AspenTimes.com….
- Election Commission punts request to view ballots | AspenTimes.com…
- Colorado county clerks crying wolf | Vincent Carroll/The Denver Post
- Pitkin County to release a handful of ballots | Aspen Daily News
- Marks seeks the release of Pitkin County ballots | Aspen Daily News
- Court of Appeals rules voted ballots should be public records | The Denver Post
An interesting political trial got under way Tuesday in Baltimore. It involves robocalls made during the 2010 rematch between former Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich, a Republican, and the Democratic incumbent Gov. Martin O’Malley.
The calls were made Election Day afternoon by consultants working for the Ehrlich campaign and went to about 110,000 Democratic voters. The voters were told to “relax,” that “O’Malley and President Obama have been successful. Our goals have been met. The polls were correct, and we took it back.” The caller, never identified, went on to say that “the only thing left is to watch it on TV tonight.”
Ehrlich’s campaign manager Paul Schurick faces two counts of conspiracy for violating state election law, which prohibits trying to influence a voter’s decision to go to the polls through the use of fraud.
Prosecutors say the robocalls were a clear attempt to suppress the African American vote, which the Ehrlich campaign knew would back O’Malley. But Schurick’s attorneys say it was just the opposite, that the calls were an effort to use reverse psychology and spur potential Ehrlich supporters to go to the polls to avoid defeat.
- Vote suppression alleged in Maryland election fraud | UPI.com…
- Prosecutors: GOP ‘robocall’ plan to suppress black votes hatched on hectic Election Day | baltimoresun.com…
- To Be Young, Mobile and Unable to Vote | The Demos Blog
- Controversy over voting rules and security | CNN
- Debate heats up over voter ID laws | usatoday.com…
Attempts by the state legislature to pass local bills requiring voters in some, but not all, counties to produce photo identification at the polls would fail to meet the constitutional guarantee of equal protection, according to a recent analysis by the N.C. Attorney General’s Office.
The state Department of Justice, in a Nov. 23 advisory letter sent to Gov. Bev Perdue’s office, indicated that a strategy by GOP leaders to circumvent Perdue’s June veto of a voter ID bill would run into constitutional issues. Having individual counties ask for more stringent identification rules would create an unconstitutional scenario where voters in some counties face more hurdles to vote than in other areas.
“It is therefore our views that significant equal protection concerns would arise if voter identification requirements were established for some voters and not others based merely on their county of residence,” wrote Grayson Kelley, the chief deputy Attorney General, in the letter. He later added, “The enactment of local acts applying photo voter identification requirements in only certain counties would raise serious equal protection issues under both the United States Constitution and North Carolina Constitution.”
Click here to read Kelley’s seven-page advisory letter to Mark Davis, Perdue’s general counsel, obtained by N.C. Policy Watch through a public records request.
In recent weeks, a handful of conservative county commissions (in Craven, Davidson, Gaston, Lincoln and Rowan counties) have passed resolutions requesting that the legislature allow the counties to require photo identification to vote. The legislature would then, during a special session, have to pass what’s called a “local bill” in order to grant those powers to those counties. Local bills are generally exempt from governor vetoes, and usually deal with issues specific to counties.
But Kelley, in his letter, said that the courts would likely find that lawmakers don’t have the ability to push through piecemeal changes to voter identification requirements, and that state law calls for changes of that magnitude be made through an all-encompassing general bill, like the one that was vetoed by Perdue.
Kelley also says in the letter that Perdue would necessarily be stripped of her ability to veto those local bills, because the larger voter registration issue had already been taken up by state lawmakers.
- Counties try to go it alone to require photo ID | electionlineWeekly
- Disenfranchise No More | NYTimes.com…
- Texas Voter ID law approval hits new snag | Postcards
- Maine Republicans Want to Get There (Vote Suppression) From Here (Vote Turnout) | NYTimes.com…
- Dems challenge Texas GOP lawmaker to back up Voter ID claim | Chron.com…
A massive election turnout in this largely conservative Muslim coastal city has contributed to what many are estimating to be a sweeping victory by Egypt’s Islamist parties in the country’s first democratic elections this week. The voting, which began Monday in the country’s largest metropolitan areas and continues into January, will decide the makeup of the country’s first elected parliament since the ouster of strongman Hosni Mubarak. The newly-elected body will be empowered to craft a new constitution.
But as preliminary results and rough polling data emerged Wednesday, it became increasingly clear that the country’s conservative Islamist parties are likely to fare even better than anticipated — and may even garner an outright majority of the seats, rather than just a large plurality.
Reuters reported midday Wednesday that the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom & Justice Party, the largest single movement in the country, was expected to pull about 40 percent of the vote. Together with a bloc of more extreme Salafists, the total proportion of the vote that goes to Islamists in this round — thought to be the most liberal of the three voting regions — is likely to top 50 percent.
- Partial Results Show Muslim Brotherhood In The Lead | huffingtonpost.com…
- House votes to end election commission | The Hill
- Dismissed Venango County Election Board Files Appeal | VotePA
- Election turnout 62 percent, protesters honour dead | Reuters
- Elections: few incidents, many women at polling stations | Asia News
South Ossetia does not need a new presidential election, the candidate whose apparent victory over a Kremlin-backed rival was annulled in the breakaway Georgian province said Thursday. As anti-corruption crusader Alla Dzhioyeva spoke, armed troops surrounded the government building in the separatist capital of Tskhinvali, gearing up for a rally of her supporters.
Dzhioyeva declared herself president after she led with about 57 percent of Sunday’s runoff vote with ballots from 74 of the 85 precincts counted, while rival Anatoly Bibilov trailed with 40 percent. But the separatist government annulled the vote due to alleged violations and barred Dzhioyeva from participating in the new vote.
“I won my election, 17,000 out of 30,000 (voters) cast their ballots for me,” the 62-year-old former school principal told journalists. “This is our victory, and they want to steal it.” She said thousands of supporters would rally later in the day in front of the government building as South Ossetia’s Supreme Court deliberates her appeal on the annulment and whether she is allowed to run in the March re-vote.
Dzhioyeva also demanded the court reach its decision by Thursday evening, saying otherwise outgoing President Eduard Kokoity’s government “will be responsible for further developments.” Fearing a large protest, trucks and armored military vehicles cordoned off the government building in the capital of Tskhinvali, and dozens of armed military officers, some of them masked, surrounded the area.
Addressing Dzhioyeva’s supporters, who gathered at a nearby square, former defense minister Anatoly Barankevich urged them to refrain from violence. “They are just waiting for an excuse to declare an emergency situations,” the widely respected veteran said.
South Ossetia broke away from Georgia in a war in the early 1990s after Georgia abolished the province’s Soviet-era administrative and linguistic autonomy. Spiraling tensions between pro-Russian separatists and the Western-learning Georgian government triggered a brief war between Russia and Georgia in 2008.
- The Elections In South Ossetia Are Completely Terrifying | Business Insider
- Alla Dzhioyeva declares herself president | seattlepi.com…
- Court requests poll result delay | AlertNet
- Kremlin candidate losing in South Ossetia election | SFGate
- U.S. says presidential elections in South Ossetia illegitimate | RIA Novosti
Elections BC is seeking permission to run pilot projects on online voting and other new technologies. It is generally known that voters are becoming increasingly alienated from politics. It is nevertheless ludicrous for Elections BC to attribute some of this apathy to outdated technology at the polling stations, or to imply that measures like online voting would somehow revive democracy.
A greater source of voter dissatisfaction is a creeping loss of faith in the system. An effective step in restoring that faith would be the evidence that the process is valued, cherished and, most importantly, safeguarded from ways in which it can be subverted.
We must regard with suspicion any attempt to introduce an opaque element into the electoral process, under any guise and for any reason. If the element consists of computerized hardware and software, particularly of a “proprietary” nature, then it is no longer a matter of simple suspicion. That proposal is to be rejected out of hand, as it introduces the possibility of elections being stolen at the stroke of a key, either by a hacker or, more ominously, by someone within the very organization that provides the digital facilities.
These objections are not based on aversion to technology. I use computer technology regularly, and I find it useful and convenient in many aspects of everyday life. But elections are not everyday life. Because of what they represent in human affairs, we, the electors, must retain control of the process at all phases. Please write to your MLA demanding that all electronic aids be kept out of the polling booth.
- B.C. province backs online voting trials | Vancouver Sun
- Why don’t Americans vote online? | CNN.com…
- David Jefferson: If I can shop and bank online, why can’t I vote online?
- Election Assistance Commission Releases Survey of Internet Voting | EAC
- Nanaimo Council pushes for online voting in British Columbia | canada.com…
Campaigning in the Democratic Republic of Congo lurches to a riotous and uncertain finish this weekend, with authorities warning that rain could still delay a historic vote in sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest country. Should it go ahead, Monday’s vote will pit the young incumbent Joseph Kabila – whose father toppled dictator Mobutu Sese Seko – against elder statesman Etienne Tshisekedi, hailed as the “father of Congolese democracy” and standing for president for the first time.
The prize is control of a war-ravaged swathe of central Africa, home to $24 trillion (£16 trillion) of mineral reserves and a population that lives mostly in abject poverty. Preparations for the $700m election are, by common consent, in disarray with ballots still undelivered to many of the 60,000 polling stations. In what was seen as a prelude to a possible voting delay, the electoral commission cancelled a press conference yesterday blaming the weather.
Some international observers have still not deployed to the interior, with many believing a last-gasp delay will be announced which will be blamed on heavy rains. The international community has spent billions of pounds trying to stabilise the country – providing half the national budget – and the opposition has demanded that elections be held on time. The frenetic contest has seen candidates spend so freely that the Congolese franc has devalued by 10 per cent against the dollar in the past week, while accusations of hate-speech and vote rigging have been rife.
- Opposition rejects early presidential vote results | Reuters
- Voters in Kyrgyzstan cast presidential ballots | seattlepi.com…
- Opposition denounces poll as ‘fraudulent’ | BBC News
- Clashes in DR Congo over ‘voter fraud’ | Al Jazeera
- U.N. pushes risky plan to resolve Afghan election impasse | MiamiHerald.com…