Princeton computer scientist Andrew Appel details concluded his series of posts on New Jersey’s voting equipment with a discussion ballot programming errors and discrepancies between the printed ballot and the electronic ballot definition files in a primary election earlier this year. Pennsylvania Republicans proposed legislation that would change the way the state’s electoral votes are awarded. A shift to all vote-by-mail has created a controversy about whether ballots should be mailed to “inactive” voters. A Federal District Court upheld the Voting Rights Act in a case brought by Shelby County Alabama. An agreement allowed thousands of descendants of slaves once owned by the Cherokee Nation to vote in this week’s re-election for principal chief. A taxpayer-funded review by the Secretary of State found that none of students accused of voter fraud by Maine GOP chairman Charlie Webster had voted twice or broken any laws. In an election marred by violence, Zambia elected Michael Tata president and OSCE observers applauded the administration of Latvia’s election.
- New Jersey: What happens when the printed ballot face doesn’t match the electronic ballot definition? | Freedom to Tinker
- Pennsylvania: Winner Wouldn’t Take All as Pennsylvania Republicans Eye Electoral Votes | Bloomberg
- Colorado: In all-mail election, thousands of locals won’t get mail ballots | Aspen Daily News
- Editorials: Victory in Shelby County v. Holder: U.S. District Judge Issues Sweeping Ruling Upholding the Voting Rights Act | Text and History
- Oklahoma: Slave descendants get Cherokee voting rights, possible tribal inclusion: War ‘still not over’ | The Washington Post
- Maine: It’s Official: Students in Maine Weren’t Committing Voter Fraud, Despite GOP’s Allegations | Campus Progress
- Zambia: Violence mars voting in Zambia | The Associated Press
- Latvia: Parliamentary vote marked by pluralism and respect for fundamental freedoms, OSCE observers say | ODIHR
The Sequoia AVC Advantage is an old-technology direct-recording electronic voting machine. It doesn’t have a video display; the candidate names are printed on a large sheet of paper, and voters indicate their choices by pressing buttons that are underneath the paper. A “ballot definition” file in an electronic cartridge associates candidate names with the button positions.
Clearly, it had better be the case that the candidate names on the printed paper match the candidate names in the ballot-definition file in the cartridge! Otherwise, voters will press the button for (e.g.,) Cynthia Zirkle, but the computer will record a vote for Vivian Henry,as happened in a recent election in New Jersey.
How do we know that this is what happened? As I reported to the Court in Zirkle v. Henry, the AVC Advantage prints the names of candidates, and how many votes each received, on a Results Report printout on a roll of cash-register tape.
The printout reads, in this case,
I23 Cynthia Zirkle 10 I24 Ernest Zirkle 9 J23 Vivian Henry 34 J24 Mark A. Henry 33
In this election, four candidates are running for two positions in a vote-for-any-two election. Here, J23 indicates that the button at column J, row 23 on the face of the AVC advantage received 34 votes. The problem was that the poster-size printed paper covering the buttons had the name Cynthia Zirkle printed at position J23. Vivian Henry’s name was printed at position I23. That is, there was a mismatch between the printed paper and the electronic ballot-definition file. Similarly, the positions of Ernest Zirkle and Mark Henry were swapped.
Rebecca Mercuri told me that until the mid 1990s, the AVC Advantage firmware did not print the row/column numbers at all, so that mismatches like this were harder to detect.
One might think that all is well–there’s a fail-safe mechanism that can catch mistakes (or deliberate fraud) where the paper doesn’t match the electronic file. But in this election, the fail-safe mechanism did not work well at all.
- Fairfield election investigation continues; polls open next Tuesday | NJ.com…
- Did New Jersey election officials fail to respect court order to improve security of elections? | Freedom to Tinker
- New Jersey election cover-up | Andrew Appel/Freedom to Tinker
- Electronic voting case prompts new election, investigation in Fairfield New Jersey | NJ.com…
- County voting machines get chip upgrades | The Daily Journal
Pennsylvania Republicans are trying to eliminate the winner-take-all system for electoral votes, a move that might boost their presidential candidate’s chances in a state that picked the Democrat in the past five races.
With the backing of Republican Governor Tom Corbett, Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi has proposed a plan, similar to ones under consideration in four other states, that would apportion 18 of Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes according to victory in congressional districts.
This would assure the Republican of some votes because of boundaries drawn to preserve party dominance, said Chris Borick, a political-science professor and director of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion in Allentown. The move comes as Republicans across the country are fighting to tighten voting rules.
“They’re all motivated by the same agenda to increase Republican share and representation,” said Daniel P. Tokaji, a law professor at Ohio State University and associate director of its Election Law @ Moritz center.
U.S. states have Electoral College votes equal to the number of their members of the House of Representatives, plus two for their senators. Forty-eight states grant all electoral votes to the statewide victor of the presidential race, who must claim 270 to win office. The nation’s founders created the system as a compromise between having Congress elect the president and having citizens do it directly.
- House GOP fret over new electoral plan | Politico.com…
- How states are rigging the 2012 election | The Washington Post
More than 40 percent of registered Pitkin County voters are not yet eligible to receive a mail ballot in this fall’s all mail-in election. The county clerk can legally only send ballots to registered voters who cast ballots in last year’s mid-term election, and are therefore considered “active” voters.
Nearly 6,000 locals are currently registered but not “active.” Hundreds more are active but have registered undeliverable mailing addresses.The clerk’s office sent post cards to inactive voters asking if they wanted to become active and receive ballots this fall.
Out of the 13,935 registered voters in the county, 8,052 of them are currently considered active. The other 5,883 will not receive ballots unless they update their registration. Voters can do so online or by calling the county clerk and recorder.
Election Day is Nov. 1. Voter registration is open until Oct. 3 and mail-in ballots will be sent by Oct. 14.
- Vote-by-mail service under threat in California budget cuts | San Jose Mercury News
- Budget cuts may end mail-in ballots, registration | San Francisco Chronicle
This morning, Judge John D. Bates of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a welcome and thoroughgoing rebuke of a challenge to the Voting Rights Act brought by Shelby County, Alabama. Judge Bates’ comprehensive 151-page opinion rejected Shelby County’s challenge to Congress’ 2006 near-unanimous renewal of the Act’s preclearance requirement, and is the first decision to consider the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2009 opinion in NAMUDNO v. Holder, which left that question open.
Today, Judge Bates echoed arguments made by Constitutional Accountability Center in its “friend of the court” brief, recognizing “the preeminent constitutional role of Congress under the Fifteenth Amendment to determine the legislation needed to enforce it.” (For more on Congress’ power to enforce the Civil War Amendments, see CAC’s Text and History Narrative, The Shield of National Protection). Judge Bates respectfully considered the arguments for striking down the Act’s requirements raised in NAMUDNO, but concluded that they were inconsistent with the deference due to Congress’s express constitutional powers to prohibit racial discrimination in voting.
Analyzing both the law and the facts, Judge Bates demolished suggestions that the Voting Rights Act – one of our nation’s most iconic pieces of civil rights legislation – is an unjustified affront to state sovereignty, imposed on states and local governments without any basis in current evidence. Judge Bates started with the text of the Constitution, which specifically empowers Congress to protect the right to vote free from racial discrimination. He then reviewed Supreme Court decisions from 1966, 1973, 1980, and 1999 upholding the Voting Rights Act, as well as more recent Supreme Court decisions that have imposed limits on Congress’ power to enforce constitutional guarantees. Both lines of cases, Judge Bates concluded, uniformly recognize that Congress has broad authority to prevent and deter racial discrimination in voting, a right at the core of the Constitution’s text and history.
As Judge Bates explained, “Congress acts at the pinnacle of its enforcement authority when it legislates to protect a fundamental right, or when it legislates to prohibit discrimination against a suspect class. [Here,] Congress did both.” Indeed, as Judge Bates noted, even the recent Supreme Court cases that have imposed strict limits on the power of Congress have affirmed the Voting Rights Act as the quintessential example of appropriate enforcement legislation.
- Federal District Court Upholds Constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act | Election Law Blog
- State’s Case Against the Voting Rights Act | The Atlantic
- Department of Justice seeks info on voter ID law | The Post and Courier
- State sues over Voting Rights Act | Arizona Republic
- Department of Justice says South Carolina Voter ID law can’t be enforced this year | Examiner.com…
A last-minute agreement allowing nearly 3,000 descendants of slaves once owned by members of the Cherokee Nation to vote for the tribe’s principal chief was being hailed Wednesday by supporters who called it a major victory in the group’s decades-long fight to become fully recognized tribal members while cautioning that “the war is still not over.”
At least two tribal attorneys hailed the compromise hatched a day earlier outside a Washington D.C. federal courtroom as a milestone for the descendants, known as freedmen, because it was the first time the Cherokee Nation admitted in a federal courtroom that the freedmen had tribal rights.
The compromise calls for extending balloting for this Saturday’s special election until Oct. 8 so that those qualified to vote can be notified and participate. Previously, hundreds of freedmen descendants were only told they could cast provisional ballots Saturday, but they would only be counted in the event of a court order.
“This is why it’s such a huge day for the freedmen,” said tribal attorney Jon Velie, who represents some of the freedmen in court. “I hope this is in indicator the healing process may now begin between the Cherokee administration and the Cherokee people, and hopefully leads to the inclusion of the Cherokee freedmen in the tribe as a whole.”
Attorney Ralph Keen Jr., who also represents freedmen clients in tribal court, applauded the compromise — finally inked between the Cherokee Nation and attorneys for the freedmen Wednesday morning — but referred to the ongoing federal case that will ultimately determine who is a citizen of the nation.
“I would say the freedmen won this battle, but the war is still not over,” Keen said. “The federal court still needs to determine the matter, which is a good thing.”
Saturday’s special election for the leader of Oklahoma’s largest American Indian tribe was ordered by the tribe’s Supreme Court after recounts from a flawed election in June were reversed several times, with the longtime chief and his challenger each being declared the winner twice. Tribal experts believe the freedmen could swing the vote to new leadership of one of the country’s largest tribes.
- Election Commission sets additional voting dates | Cherokee Phoenix
- Cherokee Nation, Federal Government Fight Over Rights Of Freed Slave Descendants | Huffington Post
- Parliamentary vote marked by pluralism and respect for fundamental freedoms, OSCE observers say | ODIHR
- Cherokee Election Commission says Freedmen can vote | Native American Times
- Cherokee Commission: Principal Chief Election Will Go On Despite Litigation | NewsOn6.com…
Remember when the chair of the Maine Republican Party waved a list of 206 college students’ names in the air, claiming each of them had committed voter fraud despite having no hard evidence? Well, it turns out the hoopla was just that—inaccurate rhetoric intended to suppress young people’s desire for civic engagement.
Maine Secretary of State Charlie Summers spent two months investigating the students and found that none had committed voter fraud, according to the Bangor Daily News. Of the 206 students on Webster’s list, 77 had registered in their home state and then again in Maine, but none cast more than one ballot in a single election.
Webster seemed to be a wild goose chase for potentially evil, malicious student voters, as more than a third of the 206 students he claimed were registered in two states simply weren’t.
By law, voters are not required to unregister in one state when registering in another. In fact, being registered in more than one place is common for many Americans, not just students.
As we have pointed out, Webster’s arguments are flawed to begin with. He argues that to vote, citizens should be required to “establish residency” and “register my car and pay taxes in that community.” He added: “You can’t just become a student and vote wherever you want.”
In Maine, students are legally entitled to register where they attend school, so long as they establish citizenship, age, and residency—the latter of which can be with something as simple as a piece of mail or even a verbal oath.
- People’s veto of same-day voter registration ban will be Question 1 in November | Bangor Daily News
- Same day voting question approved for November ballot | The Kennebec Journal
- Voter registration system breached | Bangor Daily News
- LePage signs bill banning same-day voter registration, but critics vow to fight | Bangor Daily News
- Wait — Did Mitt Romney Commit Voter Fraud? | Boston Magazine
Police say angry crowds threw stones and burned vehicles in violence that marred voting in Zambia. Police spokeswoman Ndandula Siamana said that in one Lusaka neighborhood Tuesday, voters claimed they saw a man with pre-marked ballot papers. Siamana said a crowd burned the papers, as well as a truck and a small bar. A spokesman for the Electoral Commission of Zambia said the report of pre-marked ballot papers was not confirmed.
In a second incident in Lusaka, Siamana said voters angered because a polling station opened late threw rocks and set fire to five vehicles, among them a police car. No injuries or arrests were reported in either incident.
Zambians are choosing a president, 150 lawmakers and more than 1,000 municipal councilors. Zambia’s incumbent president is in a close race with a populist rival in elections Tuesday in this copper-rich southern African country.
Rupiah Banda is running for a new term of office after completing the term of his predecessor Levy Mwanawasa. Some analysts said Banda, who had been Mwanawasa’s vice president, benefited from voter sympathy when he won by just 35,000 votes following Mwanawasa’s sudden death.
Full Article: The Associated Press: Violence mars voting in Zambia.
- Sata Holds Lead in Presidential Poll | VoA News
- Electoral Violence Escalates in Guatemala | InSight
- Malaysian authorities crack down on protesters demanding free and fair elections | CNN.com…
- Tensions Rise Ahead of Bahrain Elections | VoA News
- What happens when the printed ballot face doesn’t match the electronic ballot definition? | Freedom to Tinker
Yesterday’s early parliamentary elections in Latvia took place in a democratic and pluralistic environment and were marked by the rule of law, respect of fundamental freedoms, and functioning democratic institutions, observers from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) concluded in a statement issued today.
“This election has been run professionally and voters were provided a genuine choice between parties offering different platforms,” said Konrad Olszewski, the head of the ODIHR limited election observation mission.
The observers noted that some political parties made efforts to reach out to both main linguistic communities, although parties are still broadly perceived as representing either Latvian speakers or the considerable Russian-speaking minority, many of whom are non-citizens.
While it is admissible to restrict voting rights to citizens, it remains a challenge that non-citizens, constituting some 16 per cent of Latvia’s adult population, do not participate in the electoral process and are left without representation.
- OSCE/ODIHR opens limited observation mission for early parliamentary elections | ODIHR
- Election expert team to follow internet voting in Norway | Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights
- Slave descendants get Cherokee voting rights, possible tribal inclusion: War ‘still not over’ | The Washington Post
- Russia at Odds With West Over Parliamentary Election Monitors | NYTimes.com…
- GOP chair: College students sully elections – UM student appearing on list of 206: ‘I’m not welcome here’ | The Maine Campus