Thursday, April 21, 2011

Florida House passes election code overhaul, No tweeting election results in Canada?

CO: ES&S voting system report raises red flags - Center Post Dispatch

When Secretary of State Scott Gessler held his town hall in Saguache March 15, he told county residents that he had requested the distributor of the M650 voting machine to provide him with a report of Saguache election records. On March 28, Elections Systems and Software (ES&S) sent Gessler a copy of the M650’s Unity software system log and a report on the election tabulation issues for his office to examine. The system log reported the activity on the election reporting software resident on the laptop used by County election staff. The Unity System software logs were preserved on the hard drive of the laptop accompanying the Unity software County Clerk Melinda Myers’ office borrowed to operate then accumulate report results from the M650 voting machine. The laptop was used to transfer data from the M650 machine via zip disks, which were then transferred to the laptop to be printed out and saved. The data was then compiled into reports to be printed on paper and was saved to electronic files. Before Myers sent the laptop back to ES&S Dec. 3, she wiped out the tabulation data on the computer’s hard drive. The software system logs, however, were preserved. The 22-page ES&S report released by the Secretary of State’s Office (SOS) earlier this month has been studied by election and voting system experts across the country. While most are not willing to go on record yet with their findings until further study is completed, they warn that there are alarming indicators within the system logs that show either serious software malfunctions, significant errors by machine operators, improper activities or a combination of all these. Read More

FL: Florida House passes elections law overhaul - St. Petersburg Times

The Florida House passed a sweeping overhaul of election laws Thursday that Republicans say will streamline voting machinery and Democrats say will make it harder for people to vote in the nation's biggest battleground state in 2012. Passage on a 79-37 party-line vote followed two days of intensely partisan debate — a harbinger of next year's presidential election when Florida's newly increased 29 electoral votes and all 160 legislative seats will be at stake in a pivotal reapportionment year. But the closest that any Republican lawmaker came to stating the obvious — invoking President Barack Obama's name — was a passing reference to preventing "the Chicago method" of voting more than once. In another sign of the muscle-flexing power of Republican supermajorities in both houses, the GOP is making changes to voting laws for the next election, and the vastly outnumbered Democrats are powerless to stop it. "This is a great country. Our vote is precious, and we're going to protect it," said Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, sponsor of the bill, HB 1355. Neither Florida's election supervisors nor the secretary of state requested the most controversial changes, which are among the most hotly debated since the aftermath of the 2000 presidential recount. Read More

HI: Honolulu City Council: No Instant Runoff Voting - Honolulu Civil Beat

Un-American, ill-advised and expensive. The Honolulu City Council has a long list of reasons as to why state lawmakers ought to kill a move meant to improve its current voting system. Council members on Wednesday passed a resolution urging state lawmakers not to pass House Bill 638, which would bring instant runoff voting to Honolulu and other counties. The measure is two steps away from passing with state representatives set to discuss it in a conference committee Thursday morning. Instant runoff voting allows voters to rank their candidates by preference instead of choosing a single candidate. Advocates for the system say it enables the candidate with the most general support to win. If no one wins the majority, the candidate with the fewest number of votes is removed from the race, and the eliminated candidate's votes are transferred to the voters' second-choice candidate. This process continues until a winner emerges. The council's opposition is ironic given that instant runoff voting has garnered public interest in large part because of a December council race. In that race, Tom Berg was one of 14 candidates in a special election to represent District 1 and won with just 2,326 votes — or 4.3 percent of registered voters. Read More

NJ: Advocacy groups, students argue New Jersey should allow voter registration on Election Day -

The times have changed, but a key part of the state’s election law is still stuck in the past, according to a coalition of students and advocacy groups that filed a challenge to New Jersey’s voter-registration law today. Instead of requiring 21 days to process a voter registration, the state should get with the times and allow people to sign up on Election Day, the plaintiffs argued. Thousands of residents are locked out of the voting booth every year because they don’t file their paperwork on time, they said, and the law is especially cumbersome for highly mobile people like college students. "People who are moving have a lot of other things on their mind," said Frank Askin, director of the Rutgers Law School Constitutional Litigation Clinic, who is lead counsel for the plaintiffs. "There are nine states that have Election Day registration. Those states have the highest voter turnout in the country." Read More

ND: Jury still out in voting centers issue - Bismark Tribune

"It was a valuable experiment. We learned what worked well and what things didn't," said Burleigh County Auditor Kevin Glatt about using voting centers for this week's special election on Bismarck's smoking ban. One center was placed at the Bismarck Civic Center and one at the VFW Sports Arena. There are now 35 voting precincts and sites throughout the county; of those, 24 are in Bismarck's borders. Glatt downsized voting sites for the special election as a test run for using vote centers in the future. Voter reaction was mixed. Waiting times ranged from a few minutes to more than an hour. Some frustrated voters turned around late Tuesday afternoon at the Bismarck Civic Center when faced with the long lines. Glatt said it's too early to say if a vote center system could be used regularly in the future. His aim has been efficiency and cost savings. "We've been throwing around ideas. We received lots of positive comments. We received some criticism and we will use that constructively," he said. Read More

SC: Voting Machine Critics Get Their Day in the Senate - Columbia Free Times

After a Senate panel heard testimony on April 14 from a handful of election watchdogs critical of the state’s system of electronic voting machines, a rather testy exchange took place in the hallway. “You guys have a tough job,” said USC computer scientist Duncan Buell to Chris Whitmire, the spokesman for the South Carolina State Election Commission. “You have a really tough job, but you’re in deep denial about reality.” Buell has blasted the state agency in charge of South Carolina’s voting machines for some time. In February, after an independent audit he conducted with another computer expert, the two compiled a report that illustrated how the agency failed to count more than 1,000 votes in the November elections in Richland County alone. Whitmire admits that the Election Commission did certify inaccurate results, but says the disparity wouldn’t have been enough to change the outcome of any election. Buell and others want post-election audits to ensure no votes end up in a black hole in the future. They are continuing an independent audit of their own to find out how widespread the problem of missing votes in the state is. During the hearing, Election Commission director Marci Andino testified that the agency has already begun doing some post-election audits. For future statewide elections, the commission plans to have counties conduct their own audits of their results prior to county certification and then have the agency audit a 10 percent random sample to look for discrepancies. The system of electronic iVotronic machines the state purchased in 2004 is about halfway through its life cycle, Andino said, and added that the agency has had its budget cut by 56 percent in recent years. The League of Women Voters of South Carolina has taken the position that there should be a voter-verified paper trail for all votes. The group’s advocacy director Carole Cato, who also testified, says a true recount is impossible with the machines the state currently uses. Read More

WI: Wisconsin Supreme Court Election Foes Reach Recount Accord - Bloomberg

WisconsinSupreme Court Justice David T. Prosser Jr. and challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg agreed to the recounting of some ballots by hand and others electronically to resolve who won the April 5 election. Lawyers for Prosser and Kloppenburg reached the accord in court today, representatives for both sides said, after the state agency responsible for counting votes sued for permission to do so by mining, and potentially erasing, electronic ballot data. Kloppenburg yesterday asked the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, for a statewide recount after a review of the election results showed the incumbent Prosser had won by 7,316 votes out of almost 1.5 million ballots cast. “The quicker we get started, the sooner we will have the election results reaffirmed,” Brian Nemoir, a spokesman for Prosser, said in a telephone interview. Read More

WI: Wisconsin Agency Sues Over Supreme Court Election Recount - Businessweek

The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board asked a judge to allow the use of electronic voting memory cartridges to speed the recount in a contested Supreme Court election, even if that use might erase the voting data. The nonpartisan agency filed the lawsuit today in state court in Madison, naming as defendants incumbent Supreme Court Justice David T. Prosser Jr. and his challenger, JoAnne Kloppenburg. Kloppenburg yesterday asked election officials for a statewide recount after a review of the April 5 election results showed Prosser had won by 7,316 votes out of almost 1.5 million ballots cast. Read More

WI: State Supreme Court election recount could be costly - Leader-Telegram

It's going to cost Wisconsin's taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars to more than $1 million to find out who will be the next state Supreme Court justice. Assistant attorney general JoAnne Kloppenburg on Wednesday said she will seek a full, statewide recount of the April 5 election in which she is challenging Justice David Prosser for a 10-year term on the bench. "There are two reasons for this recount," she said. "One is to verify the outcome. The other is to restore the public trust in the electoral process." Based on the canvassed vote totals from all 72 Wisconsin counties, Prosser is winning by 7,316 votes, from about 1.5 million cast. The difference in totals is within the 0.5 percent margin that triggers an automatic recount with the taxpayers paying the tab, according to state law. With margins above 0.5 percent, the candidate pays for the recount. Prosser's margin of victory is 0.48 percent. The Pew Center for the States reported in November that statewide recount efforts in Minnesota and Washington state cost an average of 15 cents to 30 cents per ballot. Based on that formula, a full statewide recount effort in this race would cost between $225,000 and $450,000. Read More


Canada: Canadians can't Tweet election results -

Canadians who post local results from the May 2 national election online before polling stations close in all six time zones face fines, election law states. The upcoming election is the first one in which huge numbers of people are using such Internet social sites as Facebook and Twitter, but the 1938 Canada Elections Act forbids anyone from revealing election results before all polls in the country have closed to avoid creating a bias in western regions. The law provides for a fine of as much as $25,000 for premature disclosure of vote tabulations, the Calgary Herald reported. Elections Canada spokesman James Hale told the newspaper regardless of its age, the law would be enforced. "As long as the law is on the books, like any other law, it has to be obeyed," he said. Read More

Ghana: No e-voting in 2012, declares Electoral Commission -

Ghana will not be using the e-voting technology for the 2012 polls, the Electoral Commission (EC) has declared. The declaration is in response to a campaign for the country to adopt electronic voting for future polls. The system allows eligible voters to select their preferred candidate by pressing a button on a computer. Campaigners say the system ensures greater transparency. But after meeting the various political parties Tuesday, the EC said it would rather implement the biometric registration. Deputy Chairman in charge of Finance at the Commission David Kanga told Joy News:“In principle the commission is not against e-voting…but we know as professionals that there is something that you always miss in e-voting and that thing is transparency because it is not very easy for the voter to see, especially during counting, how somebody arrived at a certain number of votes.” Read More

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