Wednesday, March 30, 2011

EAC Certifies New ES&S Election Management System, WV negotiating new contract with ES&S, Voter ID Gambit?

CA: San Diego Election Official Calls for Shrinking Ballot -

Every primary election, local voters get to peruse long lists of obscure candidates and ponder which ones should serve in offices that aren't actually part of the government. As many as three out of four voters simply don't bother to decide who will serve on the county central committees of political parties. Now, the county's top election official wants to save money by saving everyone the trouble: She wants to purge these races from the ballot. "The main issue is that these are not public offices, and they're being subsidized at taxpayer expense. It's an unwarranted taxpayer subsidy when so many things are being cut," said Deborah Seiler, the registrar of voters, who's working with election officials statewide to push for new legislation to dump the central committee races from the ballot. She put it more bluntly in an interview with The Sacramento Bee: "It's as if we were running the Kiwanis Club election." Each of the political parties has a county central committee, which does things like endorse local candidates and approves budgets. But only the Democrats and Republicans typically need to hold elections to fill the seats because there are more hopefuls than openings, Seiler said. Each party elects six people to represent each of the eight Assembly districts in the county for a total of 48; the parties may add more people to their central committees, like current elected officials. In the June 2010 primary election, candidates for central committees made up 160, or two-thirds, of all the 240 candidates on the entire ballot. The numbers were similar in 2008. Register employees must verify the signatures gathered by the candidates, Seiler said, making the workload a "huge proposition." Read More

ID: New closed primary and voter registration plan introduced -

A new plan for to close Idaho’s primary elections and require voters to register by parties could still allow independents to cast a vote in primaries, though party leaders would have the final say on such participation. The chairmen of both the state Republican and Democratic parties say they’d welcome independent voters in their primaries. The legislation for closed primaries follows a successful lawsuit by the Idaho Republican Party, which convinced a federal judge that Idaho’s open primaries, which let voters pick any party’s ballot, violated its constitutional right to assemble. On Monday, budget writers also agreed to repay some of the GOP’s attorney fees. The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee (JFAC) agreed to pay the Idaho Republican Party $100,000 to cover lawyers’ fees for the lawsuit striking down open primaries. The state owed the GOP those costs as a result of the GOP’s victory. State GOP Executive Director Jonathan Parker said the actual attorney costs were closer to $143,000, but the party and the state government agreed to the smaller payment. The money for the GOP comes from the state general fund. The closed primary “will also allow independent voters to join the Republican Party at anytime, providing a great opportunity for us to continue to attract and recruit like-minded folks to the cause,” party chairman Norm Semanko said on the party’s website. He said he supports implementing the legislation before next year’s primary. Read More

IA: Photo ID to vote? Unnecessary, says auditor -

Jasper County Auditor Dennis Parrott is standing united with all other county auditors in Iowa to oppose a law championed by Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz that would require a photo identification to vote in Iowa. Although the law appears to be dead for this legislative session, Schultz is indicating that he doesn’t plan to let the issue die a permanent death. House File 95 would require a person to produce a photo ID when voting at the polls. No county auditor in the state of Iowa, which includes 60 Republicans, 38 Democrats and one independent, was in favor of the bill. Although the purpose of the bill is to prevent voter fraud, Parrott said voter fraud is not a problem in Iowa, and besides, the bill is seriously flawed and totally unnecessary. Parrott says HF95 does not meet the requirements of federal election laws, specifically the Help America Vote Act, which passed in 2002. In addition, the bill fails to address absentee voting. If there is any potential for fraud in Jasper County, Parrott said, the potential would be in absentee voting. Currently, Iowa law allows a person to register to vote by mail, as well as vote absentee by mail, without ever having to produce any form of ID. This creates a double standard, Parrott says, and a requirement of a photo ID to vote in person will encourage more and more voters to go the absentee route when voting. Parrott said he takes pride in serving as an election administrator in a state with good laws and a strong history of fair and impartial elections. Read More

KS: Kansas voter ID bill pushed by Kobach goes to governor -

Starting next year, Kansas voters would have to present a photo ID when they cast a ballot under a bill headed to the governor to sign. The bill, which passed the House 111-11 on Tuesday, would make Kansas the 10th state to require a photo ID at the polls. “Securing our elections is not a Republican issue. It’s not a Democrat issue. It’s an American issue,” said Secretary of State Kris Kobach, one of the proponents of the measure. “This bill ensures that in Kansas it’s easy to vote, but hard to cheat.” Critics, however, have questioned whether voter fraud is rampant in Kansas. Others said the law would create a maze of obstacles for legitimate voters. Read More

NY: Manlius village trustee who lost race by one vote takes election to court |

Marc R. Baum, a Manlius village trustee who lost his seat in an election where the absentee ballot of a deceased voter was counted, has asked for a court review of the election results in state Supreme Court. Baum’s request is preliminarily scheduled to be heard April 7 by state Supreme Court Judge John Cherundolo. Baum was ahead by two votes after the March 15 election. The next morning, he found out he’d lost by one vote following a recount. One of the eight absentee ballots was sent by a man who had died prior to the election. It was mistakenly counted because the Onondaga County Board of Elections didn’t know he had died. Read More

TX: New law requiring voter photo identification is being criticized -The Laredo Sun

The impending law requiring voter photo identification was considered by Democrats as a political move so that fewer Hispanics go to vote when elections are held. "It's just that, a political move aimed at creating difficulties for members of minorities to vote. This is something that Republicans have long sought to remove power for the Latino vote," said Sergio Mora, president of the Democratic Party in Webb. He said Governor Rick Perry declared this bill as an emergency in Texas Congress, knowing that there are really serious and severe problems in the state as the budget deficit and cuts to education. "Now more than ever is when we must all work together to overcome the deficit of more than 32 billion dollars we have, instead, Governor Perry is concerned with partisan issues, "he complained. In the House of Representatives, where there are 101 Republicans and only 49 Democrats, the proposal to request a photo ID when voting was approved. The bill would prevent people to vote only with their voting card and will require a photo ID as a valid driver's license, a document that not everyone has. Read More

WV: West Virginia negotiating maintenance contract for voting machines - The Charleston Gazette

West Virginia election officials are negotiating a maintenance contract for the state's electronic voting machines. In 2005, under the direction of Secretary of State Betty Ireland, election officials entered a single-source contract with Omaha, Neb.-based Election Systems & Software to provide touch-screen and optical-scan voting machines. The deal gave ES&S a virtual monopoly on voting systems in West Virginia. The deal also gave ES&S exclusive maintenance contracts to take care of the voting machines. Jake Glance, spokesman for Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, said those maintenance contracts are set to expire in September. Glance said election officials are negotiating with ES&S to renew the maintenance contracts. Kanawha County Clerk Vera McCormick said she expects the maintenance contract to cost Kanawha County taxpayers between $66,000 and $76,000 a year. "It's preposterous," said Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper, who has been critical of giving ES&S exclusive rights to West Virginia's election machines since the company first won the contract. Carper said the company's monopoly on voting machines allows ES&S to charge whatever they want to service their machines. "I've jumped up and down and sideways about this all along," Carper said. "What if the company goes out of business? What will [the state] do then?" Read More

VA: Montgomery Co. electoral officials meet with Attorney General's office -

The entire electoral leadership of Montgomery County met Tuesday with state investigators to discuss voting irregularities that took place nearly five months ago. State officials are trying to determine whether any laws were broken when normal voting procedures broke down in the Nov. 2 election. As expected, investigators interviewed election officials Tuesday at the County Government Center. The meeting was closed to the public and press. It is not known when a decision will be announced. The State Board of Elections asked for an investigation after poll workers in several precincts — hampered by laptops that would not boot up with electronic poll books — let some 700 Montgomery County residents vote before it could be determined they were registered and in the correct precinct. When a would-be voter cannot be authenticated in advance, the person is supposed to vote by paper form, according to a regulation that has since been turned into a law. Paper ballots can be set aside if the person turns out not to be registered. Votes cast electronically, as these were, cannot be recalled. However, all who cast ballots during the computer outage turned out to be registered voters, though several voted in the wrong precinct. No votes need to be set aside or recalled. The irregularities did not affect the outcome of the vote. Read More

WV: Voting machine contract frustrates commissioner - Charleston Daily Mail

A Kanawha County commissioner is upset with the prospect of the state awarding a no-bid contract for maintenance of electronic voting machines. But the Kanawha County clerk believes the maintenance contract, if approved by Secretary of State Natalie Tennant's office, would be a good deal for taxpayers. Commission President Kent Carper believes the state giving Electronic Systems & Software a no-bid contract to perform maintenance on the 374 electronic voting machines and two tabulators is just another unfunded mandate placed on the county. The county would have to pay the company $66,000 to $76,000 a year for maintaining the machines, Carper said. Read More


DOJ probe says Panthers case handled appropriately - The Associated Press

In a case that has drawn strong criticism from Republican conservatives, the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility has found no evidence that politics played a role when department attorneys dismissed three defendants from a voting rights lawsuit against the New Black Panther Party. OPR, which investigates allegations of attorney misconduct, concluded that the government lawyers' work on the lawsuit in 2009 was based on a good-faith assessment of the law and the facts and had a reasonable basis. "We found no evidence of improper political interference or influence from within or outside the department" and the government attorneys acted appropriately in the exercise of their supervisory duties, OPR said in a letter Tuesday to the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas. "We found no evidence to support allegations — which were raised during the course of our investigation — that the decision-makers, either in bringing or dismissing the claims, were influenced by the race of the defendants," OPR's letter added. Read More

The GOP’s Voter ID gambit - The Fix - The Washington Post

As Republican governors and legislators across the country push forward with ambitious and sometimes controversial budget-cutting agendas, the GOP in many states is also quietly encouraging another controversial measure: Voter ID. The Associated Press reported this weekend that Republicans are moving forward with such measures – which can require people to show identification or swear an oath of their identity when they vote – in about half of the 50 states. And in many of them, the bills have a better chance of becoming law than in a long time. While the big new Republican majorities and GOP governors give Voter ID advocates new hope to pass these bills, the efforts do carry some political risk. Voter ID bills, often compared by opponents to modern-day poll taxes, are characterized by critics as thinly veiled efforts to disenfranchise poor and minority populations who tend to vote Democratic. And for Republicans already dealing with some dicey budget debates, the Voter ID battles are causing a stir. Read More

EAC Certifies ES&S Unity Voting System - U.S. Election Assistance Commission

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) has certified the Unity voting system by Election Systems and Software (ES&S) to the 2002 Voting System Standards. It is the fifth voting system to achieve federal certification under EAC’s Voting System Testing and Certification Program. The Unity comprises two precinct-based optical scanners—the M100 and the DS200—and one central-count scanner, the M650. The accessible voting device for this system is the AutoMark. EAC issued federal certification for the Unity system after ES&S demonstrated compliance with the following final certification requirements, which complete EAC’s comprehensive testing process:

Rebuild the voting system in a trusted environment, known as a “trusted build” (an act performed by an EAC-accredited test lab)
Provide software identification tools to EAC so that whomever purchases the system can verify its authenticity
Provide voting system software for the EAC repository
Agree in writing to comply with all EAC certification conditions and program requirements.

Launched in 2007, EAC’s certification program marks the first time the federal government has certified voting systems. The program is authorized by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), and is entirely voluntary—states are not required to use EAC-certified voting systems, or to test their systems against federal standards. At least 13 states require the use of federally-certified voting machines. Read More


Australia: Electronic voting a threat to democracy - Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Online voting for last weekend’s NSW election was far more popular than expected. But embracing the convenient joys of this new technology introduces new risks to this core process of democracy. As iTnews reported, the NSW Electoral Commission expected around 10,000 people to use their new iVote system. The actual number was more than 47,000, with more than 90 per cent of them being voters who were outside the state. Now without a doubt online voting makes it easier for travellers to vote. It improves the lot of the disabled too, who can vote for themselves rather than rely on the assistance of others. And it’s a boon for the lazy who selfishly imagine that having to queue at a polling place once every three or four years is more of a burden than an undemocratic government. But the success of an election shouldn’t been measured by its convenience, but by its ability to solve a conundrum: how to combine the complete transparency of process needed to eliminate fraud with the secrecy of individuals’ votes.The secret ballot was an Australian invention, even called “the Australian vote” for a time. Today it’s so common even in contexts outside national and state elections, and it so obviously removes the risk of voter intimidation, that we take it as a given. We’d be fools to give that away. Read More

Bangladesh - Tk 1,200cr needed for e-voting - Teh Daily Star

The Election Commission Secretariat estimates that Tk 1,200 crore will be required to hold the next parliamentary elections under electronic voting system. EC Secretary Muhammad Sadiq yesterday said this at a meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec). Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina presiding over the meeting said the government will introduce the system in the next parliamentary elections. She directed the EC to take whatever measures necessary to this end. She also said when the system is in place, results will be quicker and there will be no scope for vote rigging. A planning ministry official said the EC Secretary Muhammad Sadiq disclosed the information while discussing a revised project of the EC. The EC secretary said as per their estimate, Tk 30,000 to 40,000 may be required at each voting centre to introduce the electronic voting system. Read More

Canada - Potential pitfalls of e-voting are significant -

Re: Online poll 'If electronic voting was available, would you use it?' (Daily News, March 26) This question should read: "If the option was available to vote online in an election, would you trust it? People seem to believe that because we routinely do our banking and buying online that this same mechanism would be secure for voting. And it would, as long as you are willing to forego the secret ballot. Banking and buying can be secure because there is an indelible link between patron and business, between me and my bank or me and the store from which I make a purchase: the transaction can be traced in detail and if this were not so there would be no online commerce. Read More

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