Monday, September 7, 2009

IEEE on Diebold sale -"Good riddance", former NM SOS waives arraignment, $10M for Biometric voter ID, not bread?

Why should you care about "Citizens United vs FEC"? The case "if decided wrongly, could surrender control of our democracy to corporate interests." - EJ Dionne of WaPo. The Supreme Court case is set for argument on Wednesday, Sept. 9.
The IEEE (electrical engineering standards group) has something to say about the Diebold sale: "Good riddance."
A Maryland political blogger posts a 3 part series about MD's top election officials, "Linda Lamone, Administrator for Life". Attorney for New Mexico's former SOS Vigil-Giron asks judge to dismiss charges until impartial prosecutor can be found. Vigil-Giron faces charges of fraud, tax fraud and money laundering related to misuse of HAVA funds. Threat of flooding may force King Co WA election office to move to a temporary location, the move would cost $1 million.

Afghan Results Raise Suspicions. Northern Ireland implements Individual Voter Registration, moving away from "household" registration. Why was $10 million spent on a biometric voter id system for Somaliland, a country with GDP per head of $226 and 72% of country doesn't even have fresh water? *Many jurisdictions in the US are holding elections right now - have you voted or are you going to?

September 6, 2009 It should be a neutral process. In five states, it is. Independent redistricting commissions draw up boundaries based on population and geography. In a few states, commissions and state legislatures collaborate. In most states, Florida
among them, the process is mostly political.

MD. Political blog series on Linda Lamone, Maryland's top election official.
A local political blogger in MD did a 3 part series on Linda Lamone.

Maryland’s Administrator for Life, Part One
Suppose a local bill (a bill affecting only one county) gets the unanimous support of its local government, the unanimous support of its county delegation in Annapolis and is passed by the House of Delegates by 135-0. You would think it would be headed for the Governor’s desk, right?

Maryland’s Administrator for Life, Part Two
Perhaps the one thing for which Maryland State Board of Elections (SBE) Administrator Linda Lamone will always be remembered is her stauch support of Diebold voting machines, which the state began using in 2001.

Maryland’s Administrator for Life, Part Three
State Board of Elections (SBE) Administrator Linda Lamone has earned a legion of enemies in her 12-year tenure at the agency...

MN. Grants available to improve polling access
September 3, 2009 Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie is seeking grant proposals from Minnesota cities, townships and counties for federal money to improve disability access to polling locations.

NC. Craven elections board, judges gather as voting time nears (getting ready for city elections)
Under state law, when the North Carolina State Board of Elections began conducting elections for cities in the 1960s, four ways were provided, depending on the individual municipal charter...Cities have the option of using one elections method, including a nonpartisan election with a runoff, a partisan election, a partisan primary with an election, or simple plurality. The specific dates of those elections and runoffs hinge on the type selected. The simple plurality election provides for no runoff. In the event of a tie, the winner is picked by lot, or out of a hat.

NM. Vigil-Giron waives arraignment in voter fraud case
(AP misnames article this is about fraud related to HAVA funding expenditures)
September 4, 2009 ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Former Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron and three co-defendants waived arraignment Friday on state charges of fraud, tax fraud and money laundering. Vigil-Giron, a Democrat, didn't appear in court.

NM. Vigil-Giron’s atty asks judge to dismiss charges until impartial prosecutor can be found. Attorney Robert Gorence says he will call Attorney General Gary King if case goes to trial 9/4/09 Former New Mexico Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron’s attorney asked a judge Friday to dismiss charges against his client, saying the state Attorney General’s Office isn’t an impartial prosecutor. He added that he would call AG Gary King as a witness if the case went to trial...According to a Federal Election Assisstance Commision report issued in May of last year Gutierrez was unable to account for more than $2 million of the nearly $6.3 million in federal funds he had been paid by Vigil-Giron’s office.

TX. Irving City Council approves settlement in elections lawsuit
September 3, 2009 The Irving City Council on Thursday approved a lawsuit settlement that could bring a mixed election system of single-member and at-large council seats to the city after decades of ongoing controversy surrounding the issue.
The council approved the settlement in a 6-3 vote that drew both applause and heckling.

WA. Flood fears may force King Co. Elections dept. move
King Co. Airport may be temporary home
As a precaution in anticipation of flooding that could inundate the Green River Valley, King County is considering moving its elections operations from its Renton headquarters to a temporary facility at Boeing Field.
...Executive Kurt Triplett may decide to move elections to an operations center at King County International Airport. The cost estimate for the move, which would need to be completed by Oct. 6, is just over $1 million, Brown said.

US News.

US. Webcast of EAC public meeting is available
Watch the streaming video of EAC's September 2 public meeting.

US. NIST holding an "End-to-End Voting Systems Workshop"
October 13-14, 2009
The goal of this workshop is to understand the security and usability properties of end-to-end voting systems, one type of next-generation system of interest. The last few years have witnessed the emergence of end-to-end voting systems, which enable voter-verification of election outcome...
*Confirmed speakers and panelists include: Josh Benaloh, David Chaum, Doug =
Jones and Ron Rivest.

Articles about ES&S purchase of Diebold/Premier Election Solutions:

Diebold, Inc.'s SEC filing re the purchase agreement with ES&S to acquire
Premier can be found here:

IEE's blog on Diebold sale.
*The IEEE (electrical engineering standards group) cmtes are the ones
who set standards for voting systems. They work closely with NIST, voting vendors, and the EAC.

Diebold Dumps Most of Its E-Voting Business
As one financial analyst that covers Diebold said in response to the sale announcement:
"Good riddance."
Diebold's foray into the electronic voting business has to join eBay's purchase (and subsequent sale) of Skype as one of the worst non-synergistic acquisitions of the past decade.

Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission

A Test Case for Roberts
By E.J. Dionne Jr.

September 7, 2009 President Obama's health-care speech on Wednesday will be only the second most consequential political moment of the week.
Judged by the standard of an event's potential long-term impact on our public life, the most important will be the argument before the Supreme Court (on the same day, as it happens) about a case that, if decided wrongly, could surrender control of our democracy to corporate interests.

Hillary: The Law Changer
Unusual pre-term rehearing may reshape campaign finance laws

September 2009 Issue
Kagan said in a brief that the court should rule modestly and narrowly on Hillary: The Movie and avoid the broader issue of whether profit-making corporations can broadcast election ads. “Overruling Austin and McConnell would fundamentally alter the legal rules governing corporations” dating back to at least 1947, she warned, “and would make vast sums of corporate money available for overt electioneering.”

September 7, 2009
“Independent business owners often face a decidedly uneven playing field when competing against major corporations due, in part, to tax loopholes, subsidies, federal handouts and preferential treatment bestowed by politicians” said Milchen. “Opening electoral contests to direct corporate campaign spending would further undermine fair market competition and recklessly endanger democracy.”

Hillary movie puts campaign finance limits at risk
Associated Press. WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court appears poised to wipe away limits on campaign spending by corporations and labor unions in time for next year's congressional elections in a case that began as a dispute over a movie about Hillary Rodham Clinton.

International News

Afghan Results Raise Suspicions
Numbers from several polling places raises suspicions, with all votes going to one candidate, lots of round numbers of votes, and more votes than voters.

Ireland. Northern Ireland implements Individual Voter Registration
7th September 2009 Parliamentary Business Minister Bruce Crawford and Scotland Office minister Ann McKechin are in Belfast today to see how Northern Ireland has moved away from the system of household registration to individual voter registration...Research carried out by the Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) in 2008 found that nearly two thirds (63 per cent) of respondents thought that the individual registration system used in Northern Ireland was preferable to the current household registration used in Great Britain.

Somaliland. Innovation in Software
Somaliland – When Software Projects Destroy Countries
...Who then thought that an advanced biometric system was what this country needed? ...This is a country with a GDP per head of $226 – the vast majority of the population are living on less than $1 per day. $10 million could have helped address woeful statistics such as only 25% of Somaliland adults are literate, and just 17% of children go to school. The funding could have even helped the 72% of the population without access to clean water get some new wells...To cap it all off, the people who went about delivering the system didn’t just do a bad job at implementation, but a thoroughly awful one.

Voting News by Joyce McCloy.
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