Thursday, May 5, 2011

Omaha World-Herald Sells interest in ES&S, Tennessee needs a paper trail for every vote

CA: Yee's Online Voter Registration Bill Moves Forward - South San Francisco, CA Patch

Sen. Leland Yee’s bill to fast track online voter registration took an initial step forward yesterday. On a party line, 3-2 vote, the Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee approved Senate Bill 397, which would allow voters to register to vote by submitting an electronic affidavit via their county’s election office website. “Not only do we think it will result in more individuals being registered because it is easier to register online,” said Adam Keigwin, chief of staff for Yee, D-San Francisco, “it will save significant costs to taxpayers and election offices.” Opponents, however, say it’s already easy enough to register to vote on paper and the online system could create more opportunities for voter fraud. Read More

FL: Florida Senate passes controversial elections bill – Orlando Sentinel

The Florida Senate passed a massive overhaul of state election law by a 25-13 vote Thursday that would make changes to early voting, limit a voter’s ability to change his or her address or name at the polls and set up a presidential primary committee. Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, the sponsor of the bill, said it’s “about making every vote count” and rooting out fraud. “The fact is there’s a lot of bad actors out there and there’s an opportunity currently to game the system,” he said. The bill would cut the time for early voting from 14 days to eight. Local supervisors of elections could keep their early voting sites open anywhere from six hours to 12 hours per day. That would allow a maximum of 96 hours of early voting — the same number allowed today, but over fewer days. Read More

IN: Decision on Secretary of State White's eligibility to be made by June 30 | The Indianapolis Star

The Indiana Recount Commission will reach a decision on Secretary of State Charlie White's eligibility to hold office by June 30. The commission met Wednesday to set a schedule for resolving a challenge to White's candidacy by Democrats, who contend that White wasn't eligible to run because he was registered to vote at the wrong address when he declared his intention to run. The commission dismissed the complaint in December, but Marion Circuit Judge Louis Rosenberg ruled April 7 that the complaint is valid. In an order issued Monday, he told the commission to resolve the complaint by July 6. A hearing on the case has been scheduled for June 21, and the commission will issue its findings by June 30. The commission on Wednesday also told White's office to give the attorney general's office a report that former Secretary of State Todd Rokita compiled about White's voter registration. Democrats have wanted to see the report for months and could get their hands on it after the commission reviews it and determines whether it's relevant to their complaint. Read More

IN: Error fixed, 61 votes separate Westfield GOP mayor candidates | The Indianapolis Star

A couple of possible irregularities before and during Tuesday's primary election has one candidate for Westfield mayor weighing his options. About 131 votes in the Westfield's Southwest Precinct weren't properly tabulated Tuesday night, election administrator Kathy Richardson confirmed this morning. Richardson said an error regarding council districts was caught early Tuesday and corrected, but the voting electronics wouldn't accept the amended information. Workers manually tabulated results using the voting tape this morning, and no races seem adversely affected by the mishap. Challenger Russell Cameron lost the primary election to incumbent Andy Cook by 72 votes in the unofficial tally released Tuesday night, but that difference with today's update dropped to 61 votes. Cameron may ask for a recount, particularly after complaints surfaced that Cook was helping to set up voting machines in his Bridgewater district Monday night. Cook said as the precinct committeeman, it's his responsibility to help set up tables and chairs in advance of the election. He denied setting up or even touching the voting machines. Read More

MO: Bill requiring photo ID from voters returns to Missouri Senate - Columbia Missourian

In a 99-52 vote, Missouri's controversial voter ID bill was passed with amendments by the Missouri House of Representatives on Wednesday. The bill will make it a requirement for voters to present a nonexpired, government-issued photo ID upon entrance to their polling place. Rep. John Diehl, R-St. Louis County, is handling the bill in the House. He said the bill will cut down on voter fraud. "It's to make it easier to vote and harder to cheat," Diehl said. "It makes sure the person who presents themselves at the polling place is the person that they say that they are." Opponents to the bill argue that the requirement of a photo ID targets constituents without means or ability to obtain an ID, such as immigrants and elderly persons. Read More

OH: Butler County looks at new voting machines |

Butler County election officials are shopping around to replace their problematic six-year-old touch screen voting machine system. But where the money will come from is a multi-million dollar question. Elections Director Tippi Slaughter said one thing is for sure: The $3.4 million touch-screen machines that are favored by voters are out. "There's been enough of a question," Slaughter said about dumping the user-friendly touch screens for an optical scanning system. "We want the best voting system for the voters." Not only has the county seen its share of glitches and dropped votes with touch screens, the machines also have become an added expense, she said. They have to be tested and calibrated frequently. A band of 50 troubleshooters are on patrol each election day in case any foul-ups occur. "We have to be very vigilant," Slaughter said. Problems with dropped votes in Butler County during the 2008 March primary sparked a state investigation and a lawsuit from the Ohio Secretary of State's office. About half of Ohio's 88 counties use the touch screen system and installed them around the same time as Butler County in 2005. The state settled with Premier Election Solutions last year, but Butler County officials refused to accept that settlement. They are currently in mediation with Premier hoping to secure a better agreement. Read More

TN: Guest Column: Tennessee needs paper trail for every vote - The Commercial Appeal

In 2008 the Tennessee legislature voted almost unanimously to make elections more secure, dependable and trustworthy by requiring a verifiable paper trail for each vote. The step was long overdue -- more than 30 states already have such security measures. But three years later, secure elections in Tennessee remain at risk and voters may never know if their votes are counted. If legislative Republicans' march toward passing a bill that would effectively repeal the Voter Confidence Act succeeds, it would be a devastating blow to democracy in Tennessee. The electronic voting machines used in 93 of our 95 counties are so vulnerable to fraud and thievery that they can steal your vote even before you cast your ballot. The machines can be hacked at the factory, during transport or the night before an election. They can be manipulated during and after an election with simple tools like paper clips and telephone cords. A New York University task force found that "paperless touch-screen voting machines" like "those presently used in parts of Tennessee, are the least secure voting system" in the entire country. Read More

WI: Kloppenburg campaign raises ballot bag security concern in Waukesha County recount - JSOnline

An observer for Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg objected Thursday to the security of bags holding Supreme Court ballots from the City of Brookfield because of a gap opening on the ballot bags. They've raised similar objections four or five times in Waukesha County since the start of the recount, said retired Circuit Court Judge Robert Mawdsley, who's overseeing the county recount. In an interview, he agreed with objector Bill Hotz's observation that the bag opening from Brookfield was the largest seen so far. Hotz said poorly sealed bags or torn bags appear to be a common problem, but they were evident on five of six Brookfield bags that were counted first thing Thursday. He objected to the counting of those ballots where bags appeared to be open. Brandon O'Bryon, representing Justice David Prosser, objected to the objection, saying Brookfield voters would be disenfranchised if their votes weren't counted. As has been the practice from the start, Mawdsley makes a record of the concerns and each objection should a challenge end up in court. "There are several bags that appear to be improperly sealed," Mawdsley said for the record. Kloppenburg's campaign representatives took pictures of the bags in question. The Board of Canvassers agreed to count the votes, which can be identified separately if necessary. Brookfield City Clerk Kristine Schmidt said that bags filled with too many ballots tend to tear when they're picked up. She also said that on bags that she personally seals, she threads the seal through additional holes she makes in the bags so they can be pulled tightly shut and stay that way. Not every poll worker does that, and when the bags are lifted, a gap can open up. She also testified, "I guarantee you these ballots were put in (a vault in her office) and not tampered with until they left city hall." She said a highway worker took the ballots to the courthouse the day after the election. Read More

WI: Government Accountability Board To Ask For More Time in Supreme Court Recount | Newsradio 620

The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board will be asking for an extension in the deadline to complete the recount in the state Supreme Court race. Board director Kevin Kennedy said Thursday that Dane County has requested a one-day extension to Monday's deadline. He says Waukesha County has also asked for a deadline and the board is seeking more details about how long it will need. Workers in Waukesha were set Thursday morning to begin counting the ballots in Brookfield which originally had not been recorded. Less than 20% of the votes have been recounted in the county so far. By comparison, Milwaukee County is at least 80% finished. Read More


Facing South - The new war on voting rights

Last November, the big themes of the 2010 elections were jobs and the economy. But in states across the South and country, many of the most pitched legislative battles have focused on another issue entirely: voting rights. With Republicans taking power or strengthening their hand in many state legislatures -- and the 2012 elections looming on the horizon -- GOP leaders are seizing the opportunity to push a raft of measures they claim will restore integrity to the voting process. But the new voting bills share some important features: They all work to restrict the franchise and shrink the electorate -- in most cases, in ways that would decrease Democratic votes. And many of the most restrictive measures are being pursued in key battleground states, where shaving just a few percentage points off the black, Latino or youth vote could mean the difference between a state going red or blue. "It's shocking that the media is reporting on these bills as if they are merely innocent attempts at election reform," said a local North Carolina election official. "Why are they being pushed so hard now? Why in battleground states? Who stands to benefit? The most relevant questions just aren't being asked." Read More

Omaha World-Herald sells interest in Election Systems and Software (ES&S) -

The Omaha World-Herald Co. has sold its minority interest in Election Systems & Software Inc., an Omaha company that is the world’s largest election technology company, to McCarthy Group of Omaha and the election company’s management. Terms of the private sale were not disclosed. McCarthy Capital, a private equity investment company, already was a minority stockholder of Election Systems’ stock and is now the majority stockholder, said Michael McCarthy, chairman of McCarthy Group. Election Systems’ management and another independent investor are minority stockholders. World-Herald President and CEO Terry Kroeger said The World-Herald, an investor in Election Systems for nearly 25 years, is proud of what Election Systems accomplished for its shareholders and of its “contributions to our country’s ability to conduct free and fair elections.” Kroeger said the sale strengthens The World-Herald’s balance sheet, providing greater liquidity to the company and its shareholders. Read More


UK: Counting under way in elections across UK - BBC News

The result of a UK-wide referendum on whether to end the first-past-the-post system for Westminster elections and replace it with the alternative vote (AV) system will not be known until Friday evening - with counting set to begin at 1600 BST. Polls suggested AV - under which voters rank candidates in order of preference - will be rejected by a sizeable margin, but turnout levels at polling stations are predicted to have been fairly low, making the result more unpredictable. The Conservatives oppose changing the electoral system, while the Lib Dems are in favour of AV. This has led to some bitter rows between senior coalition colleagues over the past few weeks. Former Lib Dem leader Lord Ashdown has accused Prime Minister David Cameron of a "breach of faith" for not disassociating himself from what he said were "vicious" attacks by the No to AV campaign on Deputy PM Nick Clegg. He told the Guardian that Mr Cameron had "panicked" in the face of pressure from the right of his party and "backtracked" on promises about how the campaign would be conducted. The BBC's political editor Nick Robinson said anger over the issue was rife among the Lib Dems. Although the party was committed to the coalition, he added that if the polls went badly, they would face demands to assert themselves more on key policies. Read More

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