Friday, March 4, 2011

EAC Cuts Likely in Federal Budget, IN Gov. calls for indicted SoS to step down

CT: Election panel urges reforms after Bridgeport election woes - Connecticut Post

Former Mayor Nicholas Panuzio, first elected in 1971, said he's tried to keep up with technological advances and other changes as he's gotten older. All he wants is for the city registrars' office to do the same. "With all of the things, and even old people like myself try to keep up with all of you, there's no reason not to move forward in the registrars' office," said Panuzio, chairman of a five-person panel that Thursday called for a host of reforms to the city's election process. The panel was appointed by Mayor Bill Finch after the city ran out of ballots during the Nov. 2 congressional and gubernatorial election and had to get approval from a Superior Court judge to leave polls open until 10 p.m. at a dozen polling stations. Read More
Full Report

IN: Gov, Party Call For Indicted Secretary Of State To Step Down - WRTV Indianapolis

Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White was indicted Thursday on seven felony counts, including voter fraud and perjury, in an investigation that began last year, before he was elected.White was booked and released Thursday evening from the Hamilton County Jail on three counts related to vote fraud, one count of fraud on a financial institution, one count of theft and two counts of perjury, 6News' Joanna Massee reported.Gov. Mitch Daniels issued a statement Thursday saying White should step down from his duties during the proceedings. “It would be neither credible nor appropriate for the state’s top elections official to continue to perform his duties while contesting criminal charges, some of them under the very laws the secretary of state implements," Daniels said. "I have consulted with each of the other statewide elected officials and our judgment about this is unanimous.”But White made no mention of giving up his office in a statement released shortly after. Read More

MT: Senate panel tables voting bill - The Belgrade News

The Senate State Administration Committee voted on Wednesday, March 2, to table a bill that would require voter registration forms provide an option for voting by absentee ballot in subsequent elections. The 5-3 vote to table the bill came after an initial tie vote on the bill. A tie vote results in the defeat of a bill. Because of the tie, the committee then took action to table the bill in what was described as a strictly procedural move. Supporters said the law would make the process for receiving an absentee ballot more uniform and easier for voters. Opponents on the committee questioned the need for the law and asked whether it might open the process to voter fraud. Read More

NE: Voter Fraud Probe Findings Released - KETV Omaha

The Douglas County Sheriff's Office said there was no criminal intent to commit voter fraud after several voters cast more than one ballot in Omaha's mayoral recall election.After the Jan. 25 election, Election Commissioner Dave Phipps contacted authorities because he said five people had voted twice. In addition, one person voted in Douglas County as a Sarpy County resident.Officials said there was no indication the six people were acquainted with one another.Investigators said the six gave several reasons for voting erroneously. The voters said they either simply forgot that they had voted previously due to health problems, were confused about residency requirements or there was some doubt as to whether their early vote was valid.The average age of those questioned in the case is 65. Read More

NH: Unfair barriers to voting | Concord Monitor

The New Hampshire League of Women Voters opposes several bills pending in the New Hampshire House. If adopted, they will erect almost insurmountable barriers to the ability of thousands of citizens to vote. Most affected will be the elderly, disabled, poor, young and students. Besides impeding the right to vote, these bills will create new programs and require huge budget outlays when the state is already having trouble meeting basic obligations. House Bills 515 and 176 have been described as necessary to combat voter fraud, although there is no evidence to show that election fraud is a problem in New Hampshire. Read More

NM: UNM Professor Lonna Atkeson announces the release of the 2010 New Mexico Election Administration Report

Professor Atkeson states that this report provides a systematic examination of New Mexico’s November 2010 general election. Both qualitative and quantitative methods are combined to analyze the state’s election process. These include Election Day observations, a survey of poll workers and a statewide survey of voters. Similar reports were produced following the 2006 and 2008 general elections providing a systematic, over time examination of NM election and how changes in implementation influences the election landscape. Download the Report (pdf)

SC: Voting process must be simple and transparent - Columbia City Paper

For months South Carolina’s touch screen voting machines have been the subject of ugly rumor and speculation. But it was only that – rumor and speculation.
There were many anecdotal accounts of people pressing one name on the screen and another name lighting up. And, of course, there was the still unexplained business last June of Alvin Greene’s stunning victory in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary. Through it all, the State Election Commission has defended its machines, repeatedly claiming that not one vote was ever lost or miscounted. Until now there was no way to refute that claim. Now we have the smoking gun. A group of citizens, in association with the S.C. League of Women Voters, has conducted an audit of Richland County voting machine results from last November and the numbers don’t lie. According to the LWV, more than 1,000 votes from various precincts were missing from the
certified totals in November’s General Election. Elsewhere in the county, the detailed vote image file did not provide confirmation for 1,362 votes which were certified. The Richland County voting machine data were independently analyzed by Dr. Duncan Buell, a computer science professor from the University of South Carolina, and Chip Moore, a Massachusetts programmer and South Carolina native. “The failure to count votes from some voting machines and the failure to document votes from other voting machines is a human failure, but it’s a human failure that the software should have caught, so the root cause is a software system that isn’t doing what it’s supposed to do,” Moore said in a LWV statement. “What we have done is to run some self-checks that should always have been in the system.” Read More

WA: Military, overseas voting bill clears state Senate - Auburn Reporter

Legislation that would help ensure that the state's military and overseas voters can vote in elections has cleared a key hurdle. The Senate voted 47-1 Friday morning to pass an important elections bill requested by Secretary Sam Reed. Senate Bill 5171 would move Washington's primary election two weeks earlier, to early August, to ensure that Washington complies with a new federal law requiring military ballots to be mailed 45 days before election day. ESSB 5171 also would count military and overseas ballots that are returned by fax or e-mail, as long as the signed declaration accompanies the ballot and the signature is verified. Read More

WV: Harrison County Considers Changing Voting Machines - WBOY.com

Harrison County has been using two methods of voting since it got electronic voting machines in 2006, but the County Clerk says the public isn't really warming up to the thought of abandoning paper ballots altogether. So, the County Commission is looking at its options. Susan Thomas says the Ivotronic electronic voting machines were first used in her first year as County Clerk. Each precinct has a machine that doesn't use a physical ballot at all. But Thomas said no more people are choosing the machines over the paper ballots than in 2006. “At one point in time, I had wanted to go electronic, but it just doesn't seem to be increasing, the use of them,” she said at the County Commission meeting Thursday. “A lot of people prefer the paper ballot. People have looked at me and said if I have to vote on those machines, I won't vote.” Now they're considering the AutoMark machine, which marks a paper ballot for you. Read More

National

NCSL interviews EAC Commissioners - The Canvass

In February, NCSL talked with U.S. Election Assistance Commission Chair Donetta Davidson and with former Commissioner Gracia Hillman about their perspectives on voting administration and state law. Excerpts from these two conversations

EAC likely to see cuts in federal budget debate - Electionline Weekly

The budget debate is in full swing in Washington, DC and around the country as the White House and a divided Congress spar over priorities for federal spending both right now and for the next fiscal year (which begins October 1, 2011). Anyone following the debate is likely well-aware of the professed commitment to fiscal discipline at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue and both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill. To date, this commitment to discipline has translated into a focus on identifying budget cuts wherever they might be found in the federal budget. As a result, policymakers and stakeholders across the nation are learning that the concept of ―shared sacrifice‖ – at the least the version that involves reduced or eliminated funding – is less rhetoric than reality. The election community is no exception. Less than ten years after the federal government made its firstever investment in state and local administration via the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002, election officials are seeing the federal government take steps to reduce the flow of federal money for voting improvements across America. One immediate casualty is the election reform grants established to help states meet the various mandates enacted as part of HAVA. The President’s fiscal year 2012 (FY12) budget formally zeroes out these funds, which have not been replenished for several budget cycles (beginning during President G.W. Bush’s second term) after about $3 billion went to states in the fiscal years following HAVA. These funds have been identified as consensus cuts and were included in both versions of the FY11 continuing budget resolution (―CR‖) originating in the House of Representatives. The latest CR (H.J.Res.44) passed the House 335-91 Read More (PDF)

International

Philippines: The insidious Smartmatic lobby - BusinessWorld Online Edition

Lobbying for the continued use of the Smartmatic automated election system in this country has been ratcheted up a few notches. As if in sync, several columnists with little knowledge of computer technology are now contradicting computer science professors and information technology experts who have issued detailed reports and public statements criticizing the Smartmatic system as flawed, faulty, and insecure. This media blitzkrieg is the latest salvo in the battle for control of Philippine elections. The drumbeaters for the Smartmatic system include the commissioners of the Commission on Elections -- though they are not the only ones -- who insist that we should buy Smartmatic’s voting machines and use its system again for the ARMM elections in August because "there is no more time to go through the regular bidding process." The question I’d like to ask these fellows is, whoever said that automated voting machines -- whether Smartmatic’s or not -- are necessary for the conduct of the ARMM elections? As local IT guru Manuel Alcuaz Jr. has pointed out, "Why do we need automation for the ARMM elections? Only three positions per ballot. Probably six to ten candidates total. Manual reading and tallying should take less than one hour." He stresses, "We should not preempt the choice of a better system for 2013." Well, Mr. Alcuaz hits the nail on its head. That’s precisely what the promoters of the Smartmatic system are trying to do. Read More

Turkey: Reactions against Supreme Election Board grow for ruling against expat voting - todaysZaman.com

The YSK announced on Sunday that Turkish expatriates can only vote in the upcoming general elections at customs gates, upsetting Turks in many countries. Various circles, including the opposition party and Turkish expats living abroad, have continued to criticize the Supreme Election Board (YSK) for its ruling preventing Turkish citizens residing abroad from voting at embassies or consulates in their countries of residence. The YSK announced on Sunday that Turkish expatriates can only vote in the upcoming general elections, scheduled for June 12, at customs gates, upsetting Turks in many countries. Turkey has about 2.5 million eligible voters residing abroad. However, only about 10 percent make the effort to go to the border to cast their vote. The YSK says it cannot allow electronic voting at Turkish missions abroad yet because the infrastructure for it is not in place. Apart from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), whose leader, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan, strongly reacted to the ruling on Monday and said the decision violates the right of Turkish expatriates, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Turkish expats and civil society groups also voiced strong criticism against the ruling. Read More

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