Monday, November 16, 2009

Sarasota voting machine blues, Lackawanna GOP distrust machines, Virginia laws need overhaul

The Herald Tribune says Sarasota Florida new voting-machine problems must be remedied, and statistically significant audits should be implemented state wide...Did you think the ballot you cast in the 2008 election was secret? Think again if you live in Hawaii...Three Indiana county precinct election results flipped....
Northern Kentucky set to get new scanning machines, why isn't Tennessee?...In Michigan, Saginaw Chippewa Tribal members protest private election recount...Ohio lawmakers are considering electronic voter registration in addition to regular methods.... Lackawanna PA GoP party disappointed that recount of 51,000 Nov 3 will be done by ES&S machine, not hand...

Branchville South Carolina town council election results thrown out - election change wasn't pre-cleared with DOJ...Virginia’s election laws need to undergo a major overhaul says the ACLU of Virginia after operating an Election Day hotline... Washingtonians tire of watching elections drag on and show new interest in requiring ballots returned by Election Day...
...The Supreme Court might announce Citizens United this week...
...India's electronic voting machines impresses Clinton...Kosovo Votes in First Election

All of this and more in todays voting news below....

CA: CA to Provide Precinct-Level Data
elections, standards, open source, berkeley, friends, research, policy, usability Add comments Today, UC Berkeley Professors Philip Stark, Jasjeet Sekhon and Henry Brady, along with me, sent the California Secretary of State a brief comment about her effort to provide precinct-level elections data for all 58 California counties.

CA: Mail-Only Elections Are Likely Here to Stay in Santa Barbara
Decision not final but city officials tout turnout, price and trends as reasons to continue.
Some common issues with the ballots this year were people forgetting to sign their ballot envelopes or signatures that didn’t match voter registration papers. Up until Election Day, city staff mailed letters to or called local residents to try to fix the issues before it was too late.
or use this

CT: OUR VIEW: A tale of two elections
...this recount is a reminder of what a miracle our election process is — voters choosing freely, poll officials determining the results honestly, winners peacefully taking office, while defeated incumbents quietly step down.
or use this

CT: In Monroe, Southbury and Washington
Election Audit Plans Detailed
11/14/2009 HARTFORD - According to a Tuesday, November 10, press release from Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, 60 of 597 voting precincts will have ballots hand counted and matched against machine totals to ensure the integrity of voting.

As required by Public Act 07-194, An Act Concerning the Integrity and Security of the Voting Process, 10 percent of the polling precincts used in the election are subject to an audit.

CT: Morehead alleges voter fraud (absentee ballot)
Ward 22 alderman to accuse opponent of tampering with absentee ballots
November 10, 2009 Ward 22 Alderman-elect Greg Morehead is expected to file a complaint with the state government today accusing one of his opponents in last Tuesday’s election of voter fraud
Morehead said he has received statements from two New Haven senior citizens, both of whom he said approached him with concerns about their absentee votes. The residents claimed Hopkins told them all they had to do was sign their ballots before she would mail them, Morehead said. Hopkins then took the blank and unsealed ballots from them, Morehead added.

FL: New voting-machine blues
November 13, 2009 at 6:05 p.m.
Elections Systems & Software -- the company now responsible for Sarasota County's optical-scan voting machines -- has some explaining to do.

As reported in the Herald-Tribune, officials preparing for recent municipal elections in Venice found an intermittent glitch in one of the scanners: In tests, it failed to "read" a ballot that had been marked with blue ink.

That is not supposed to happen. Indeed, ballot instructions specify that voters should use "a blue or black pen." If the scanner can't always detect both colors, why are citizens being directed to use them?
Sarasota County voters approved a charter amendment with three key directives: Get rid of touch-screens; install a paper-based balloting system; and verify its accuracy with random, significant post-election audits.

Legislators should act

The first two directives were carried out. But the prescribed audit procedures have never been used, because appellate judges found that the charter amendment unconstitutionally conflicted with state law.

HI: Did you think the ballot you cast in the 2008 election was secret? Think again if you live in Hawaii

Bob Babson, lead plaintiff in the Babson v. Cronin lawsuit, has documented some of his concerns and suggestions in an email request for new legislation that I hope our lawmakers will take very seriously. As I read through his document, I was alarmed at some of the revelations. See what you think.

In response to Babson’s lawsuit, Judge Joseph E. Cardoza enjoined Hawaii’s Office of Elections from purchasing electronic voting equipment until administrative rules were in place. A central concern expressed in the lawsuit was the danger of so-called “man-in-the-middle” attacks that could change election results

IA: Iowa ranks #1 in soldier-friendly voting policies
Iowa is being recognized for easing the way for military voting overseas. A survey by the Overseas Vote Foundation gave Iowa the highest ranking of all states for policies that are easiest to navigate for military personnel serving abroad.

Foundation director Claire Smith says the military in particular benefits from Iowa’s law allowing overseas balloting by e-mail or fax. Smith says you can return your registration by either e-mail or fax and you can get your ballot by e-mail or fax.

IN: Three county precincts reported flipped results in RTD referendum *
The Voters Registration Office reported this week that three voting precincts, including one in Westchester and one in Pine township, turned in flipped results in last week’s countywide referendum.

All three precincts originally reported voting in favor of creating the Northern Indiana Regional Transportation District, but precinct workers later told election officials the votes were the opposite of what originally had been reported.
or use this url

IN: County looks to add voter precincts
November 16, 2009 Tippecanoe County election officials are looking to add nine new precincts before next year's election.
"No one's ballot will change," said Debbie Ingersoll, Republican co-chair of the election board.

And because Tippecanoe County uses vote centers, centralized polling places that voters from any precinct can go to, the place where they cast a ballot next year probably won't change either.

KY: Northern Ky. to get new voting machines
COVINGTON, Ky. -- Election officials in northern Kentucky say new voting machines purchased with federal funding will make voting easier and faster than ever before.

Boone, Campbell and Kenton are among dozens of Kentucky counties to obtain federal funding to buy the "e-Scan" electronic voting machines.

Secretary of State Trey Grayson says the systems are user-friendly and reduce wait times at the polls.

MI: RUMBLINGS: Barrow says voting rigged to repeat '89
In a Nov. 9 letter to Dorothy Burrell, chairwoman of the Detroit Board of Canvassers, Barrow requested a recount of the results
Barrow alleges some city voting equipment was defective and programmed to give results identical to the 1989 mayoral contest in which Barrow lost to then-incumbent Coleman Young.

“In all of the precincts where such equipment had been used, the percentages calculated and results determined … are in amounts and percentages precisely identical to that conducted and certified to by this body 20 years previously … such amounts being 56.20 percent and 44.80 percent,” Barrow wrote.

MI: Group protests recount* (election recount not public)
November 14, 2009 About a dozen Saginaw Chippewa Tribal members held signs in protest Friday after news that a recount request was granted for the District 1 ballots from the Nov. 3 general election.

... “It’s unfair to the Tribal membership whenever an election does not turn out for certain candidates – they get their way,” said Patricia Peters, Tribal member.

The recount is not open to the community, but will take place in a “closed session with only the candidates,” the Caucus Committee, and Tribal clerk personnel, according to Peters.

“That’s not democratic,” Peters said. “When they do things behind closed doors, it’s like they’re hiding something.

or use this

Absentee ballots simplified in wake of Senate race
Secretary of State Mark Ritchie says the new ballots are easy to understand, user-friendly.
November 13, 2009 ...Secretary of State Mark Ritchie announced Friday that he is changing the administrative rules that govern absentee ballots. And, he said, the new ballots are "more user-friendly and easy to understand."

MN: Poll: 56% of voters prefer instant runoff voting
Minnesota Public Radio November 16, 2009.
St. Paul, Minn. — A new Minnesota Public Radio News/University of Minnesota poll shows Minneapolis residents are divided over the city's new instant runoff voting system.

Those who turned out to vote in this year's election tend to prefer the new system, but many of those who stayed home wish the city would go back to the old way of voting.
Minneapolis elections director Pat O'Connor reviewed the poll results at the Minneapolis elections warehouse, where he's been supervising the counting of all 46,000 ballots cast in the election. The counting has to be done by hand because there are no machines certified under state law that can handle instant runoff ballots.

During the counting, O'Connor has noticed many voters did not exercise the option to rank multiple candidates. They just voted for one candidate, and left the second- and third-choice columns blank.

MN: Samuels is first to win via ranked-choice system
November 13, 2009 Samuels is first candidate to win office through counting of second choices in Minneapolis' new voting system.

MN: Minneapolis declares 3 more unofficial winners in election
November 16, 2009 ...The winners will be official when all of the ballots are counted and the election is certified on Dec. 21

MS: Mississippi doesn't need voter ID law
November 15, 2009
...other states inexpensively utilize a copying machine to place actual voter registration card signatures right next to their names on the voting roll listing.

When the voter comes up to the table, he or she takes a card and prints their name and signs it.

The voting officer lines it up to the name on their roll and compares it. If it is not horribly different, the voter gets a pass and votes; if the signature doesn't seem to quite match up, then the voter has to show ID, or absent ID their ballot gets placed in a review stack. Not complicated.

NC: Hendersonville. No friend to voters
LTE Published: Sunday, November 15, 2009
To The Editor: "All men are created equal but some men are more equal
than others." (George Orwell, "Animal Farm," 1945).

NY: Nassau count starts with lots of lawyers and ballots
Lawyers settled down with Nassau County clerical workers Monday morning for what promised to be a long week — or more — together counting the ballots for disputed elections in the county.
Two attorneys — one for Democrats, one for Republicans — sat across from two Board of Elections workers at each of five gray, rectangular tables at the board offices in Mineola

NY: Voting by Numbers By Martin McGloin - Recanvassing Update (and cartoon)
Yonkers, NY -- The UNOFFICAL vote count tallied so far is courtesy of acid-tongued bloggers in the know. Yesterday, night's (November 13, 2009) count ended with incumbent Yonkers City Council President Chuck Lesnick holding a 99 votes lead.

NY: Broome election totals tweaked slightly; no outcome affected
The hand-count of votes in Johnson City's elections ended Friday with slight changes in the numbers but no changes in the outcomes.
The margin narrowed by two votes because one ballot favoring dissolution was determined to have been scanned into a voting machine but not recorded because it got stuck. An anti-dissolution ballot was scanned twice because a poll worker believed the ballot did not register the first time, said Broome County Elections Commissioner John Perticone.
or use this

OH: A better way
Electronic voter registration could reduce fraud and boost accuracy, confidence

Sunday, November 15, 2009
Ohio's county boards of elections spend more time and money shuffling paper around in an outmoded voter-registration system than on anything else. That's why a priority for legislators considering election reform should be to modernize and simplify the way voter registrations are created and updated.

Of the many worthy suggestions to emerge from the past year's worth of discussions on how to change Ohio's elections, two would markedly improve voter registration: Allow voters to register online and update voter-registration rolls by electronically transferring reliable data to elections officials from other state-government databases. Both ideas are included in Substitute House Bill 260, expected to pass the Ohio House soon
Nine allow voters to register online and at least five -- Delaware, Kansas, Washington, Michigan and Arizona -- electronically transfer voters' information from their motor-vehicle bureaus to their elections officials.
or use

PA: Republicans charged in $10 million scandal*(public money spent on election campaign) November 13, 2009 13--HARRISBURG -- Former House Speaker John Perzel, one of the most powerful members of the General Assembly since 1994, was charged Thursday with 82 felonies for allegedly masterminding a "sophisticated criminal strategy" to spend more than $10 million of taxpayers' money on political campaigns, Attorney General Tom Corbett said.

PA: Election board orders recounts across Lackawanna County
November 13, 2009 ...Vowing to ensure confidence in future county elections, the Lackawanna County Board of Elections on Thursday ordered a machine recount of all 51,000 ballots cast in the Nov. 3 general election, and more limited manual recounts in 10 races.

The board also ordered a manual recount of 2 percent of all ballots cast.
Leaders of the county Republican Party, who wanted a hand recount of all 51,000 ballots, left somewhat disappointed.

Party secretary Lance Stange said he is skeptical about the new, high-speed machine recount because Election Systems & Software is providing the machine.

"It's from the same company that made the earlier error," he said.

PA: Perzel accused of 'dirty tricks' on GOP, too* (using state funds for political activity)

HARRISBURG - State Rep. Curt Schroder of Chester County wasn't worried about the Republican primary in spring 2006. He was running unopposed. All he needed to do was get enough voters to sign his nominating petitions.
But in February - around the time his petitions were due - Schroder's constituents began receiving peculiar telephone calls.

The calls were automated. A voice told voters not to sign the petitions because Schroder "opposed property-tax reform," the legislator said Friday.

Schroder had an idea of who was behind the mystery calls. But he wasn't sure until last week, when a grand jury concluded that John M. Perzel, then the House speaker, had ordered the calls to punish Schroder for not siding with Perzel on the property-tax issue
The 188-page presentment announced Thursday by Attorney General Tom Corbett described widespread use of computer technology for Republican campaigns, and accused Perzel and others of using more than $10 million in state funding to pay for it.

Perzel, who was arraigned Friday with nine other defendants and freed after posting $100,000 bail, faces 82 counts of theft, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice.
or use this

SC: Branchville town council election results thrown out
Nov 14, 2009 (AP) — The results of a town council election in South Carolina have been thrown out.
The local election commission voted unanimously Friday to invalidate Branchville's Nov. 3 election and order a new one for all six town council members.

The commission found the town did not get pre-clearance from the U.S. Justice Department to change council members' terms from two years to four.
The decision came after an unsuccessful candidate challenged the results.

TN: Election Commission Strives For Better Voting Sites (same old misinfo that there are no voting machines that meet TVCA standards)
Putnam County.

TX: McCarthy’s Military Voting Protection Act provisions become law
Nov 12th, 2009 The act would help ensure overseas military absentee ballots are delivered to the appropriate state election officials by the statutory deadline, reduce delays in the absentee voting system currently in place for overseas troops and provide for the express shipping of completed absentee ballots with in-transit tracking, according to McCarthy\'s office.

VA: Election Day demonstrates the need for reform of Virginia’s election laws
November 12, 2009. We at the ACLU of Virginia have just completed our tenth year of operating an Election Day hotline for voters, and I have two observations. First, Virginia needs to do a better job of training poll workers. Second, Virginia’s election laws need to undergo a major overhaul. Both are easy to fix.
We know from our hotline that many voters in Virginia who showed up without an ID last Tuesday were told by poll workers they could not vote or that they must cast a provisional ballot. That was wrong. In Virginia, voters who do not have IDs merely need to sign an Affirmation of Identity Form, and they may then cast a regular ballot.

We know that some voters were told they could not vote because they were wearing political apparel.  Wrong. Until this year, the right to wear such expression varied depending on how the local registrar interpreted the somewhat murky rules on the subject. Under a 2009 law, however, voters may wear buttons, pins, hats, T-shirts or whatever they want showing support for the candidate of their choice.

We know of voters who were told they could not cast a ballot because they were not on the voter rolls.  Wrong. Voters have a right to cast a provisional ballot even when their names are not in the registration book. The provisional ballot may or may not be counted, depending on who is at fault, but it is a far better option than not casting a ballot at all.

WA: Remember when elections were settled in November?
...It was nearly a week after the polls closed before cell phone executive Joe Mallahan conceded victory to Mike McGinn.

The delay in learning who'll lead the state's largest city has Gov. Chris Gregoire calling for election reforms to speed future counts
But unlike most states that vote by mail, Washington's ballots aren't due on election day. Votes postmarked by 8 p.m. election day are valid, even as they trickle in for days and weeks...

WA: Don’t mess with success of state’s vote by mail
The Spokesman-Review Print
It seems that a year can’t go by in Washington without a change in the state’s election laws.

For example, voting by mail has become the rule rather than the exception. The September primary election has been moved up to August. General election nominations now go to the top two primary finishers, regardless of party. What next?
Voting by mail has been a success. But the trade-off that was understood and accepted from the beginning was that mailed ballots take a little longer to arrive.

As the secretary of state’s office observed, a substantial number of voters want to take full advantage of the campaign time to weigh their decisions. That kind of civic engagement should be celebrated, not punished.

WV: Massey wins favorable ruling from W. Virginia court
Thu Nov 12, 2009. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court said a West Virginia judge should have disqualified himself from hearing an appeal of a $50 million jury verdict against Massey because the company's CEO had been a major campaign donor to the judge's election campaign


WASHINGTON – Steve G├índola, president and chief executive officer of the Sacramento Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, wants to count all Latinos in the 2010 census, including millions of noncitizens.
And the Rev. Miguel Rivera, who heads the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders, wants illegal Latino immigrants to boycott the U.S. census as a way to show their displeasure with Congress’ refusal to overhaul national immigration laws. His motto: “No legalization, no enumeration.”
The Golden State would lose five of its 53 House seats if noncitizens were not counted, according to a study by Andrew Beveridge, a professor of sociology at Queens College in New York.

Creatively Securing IT: Melissa Hathaway, White House Cybersecurity Policy Review Leader
November 12, 2009
The critical posture of cybersecurity in the United States. "The threat is outpacing our defenses at a volume and velocity never imagined."


Citizens United watch
The Supreme Court might announce Citizens United this week


Your Rights Online: Hackers Fail To Crack Brazilian Voting Machines on Sunday November 15 ...All attempts (aside from a minor one which would not compromise the overall results) failed, and observations from the participants and neutral observers will be taken into account to improve the process even further
Interesting post in comment section:
Cracking contests are warning sign number 9 on
Bruce Schneier's list of security snake oil warnings

India's electronic voting machines impresses Clinton
The opposition parties might be raising questions over electronic voting machines of India, but the EVMs and credible electoral system have impressed the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.'s+electronic+voting+machines+impresses+Clinton.html

Ireland. By-election fraud allegations lead to calls for voting system change
15 Nov 2009 After reports that police are investigating alleged voting fraud in the Glasgow North East by-election, a leading democracy group has called for reform of the system.
Oliver continued: "Our elections are currently run on faith, yet impersonation has been the largest type of electoral fraud in the last two sets of local elections. The Government has already solved this problem in Northern Ireland where voters are asked to prove their identity in the polling station before receiving their ballot"

Kosovo Votes in First Election
PRISTINA — The people of Kosovo are voting Sunday, November 15, in the first-ever elections since the Albanian-majority region won independence from Serbia last year
Kosovars are electing mayors and local council members in 36 municipalities, including the capital Pristina.

Some 74 political parties, coalitions and independent candidates are standing in the election.

Voting News by Joyce McCloy.
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