Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Report shows that 1 and 6 recounts changed election results in the past decade

AZ: New concerns raised over Tucson all mail election | fox11az.com Tucson

When voting this year, residents won't be heading to the polls. Weeks ago, Tucson's city council voted to make the switch to an all vote by mail election. It was a decision that stirred up controversy. But news of missing mail ballots in Sahuarita is causing concern. On April 5 the council weighed whether or not Tucson can handle an all mail election. And after hearing from the public, council members decided the answer was yes, an all vote by mail election was the best way to go. "It's just a way of ensuring people cast their votes, regardless of how they cast their votes," said Tucson council member Karin Uhlich. But that day, questions were raised about how safe an all vote by mail election would be. "While those ballots are probably very secure while in the postal office's care, they are not secure while in a mailbox," said an attendee of the early April forum on the all mail election. Those concerns are growing after the U.S. Postal Service misplaced 85 ballots in Sahuarita's election. Read More

CA: Editorial: Online voter registration system is long overdue - Sacramento Bee

Think about 6.4 million people. That's more people than live in 34 of the 50 states. It's also the number of Californians who are eligible to vote but are not registered. Individuals are most directly responsible for shirking their most basic civic duty. But California's top election official, Secretary of State Debra Bowen, has a role. Bowen, a Democrat, won a second four-year term in November. Now, she is running in a special election for a congressional seat in Los Angeles County left vacant when Jane Harman stepped down. While she has her eye on Washington, Bowen has some unfinished business here in Sacramento, most notably bringing California's voter registration system into the computer age. Bowen, a cautious person, last year canceled a contract with a software company that had agreed to create a voter database that would allow Californians to register to vote online. But six months after winning re-election, the secretary of state and the Department of General Services have failed to put a new contract out for bid. The delay is unacceptable. Read More

FL: Nelson blasts Florida Legislature's 2012 election-law fixes - Legislature - MiamiHerald.com

Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson blasted state Republican lawmakers Monday for an election law overhaul that he says will block college students and military personnel from having their votes counted next year when he and President Barack Obama both seek re-election. Then Nelson waded into a controversy of his own when he suggested the U.S. special forces that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden could be blocked from voting if the Legislature passes the bill. “Should we deny those very military that carried out this very successful decapitating of the al-Qaida snake?” Nelson asked at a Capitol news conference. “Should we deny them because they have signed their voter registration card in a different way than they signed their absentee ballot overseas?” Read More

Guam: Early in-office voting, machines debated | Pacific Daily News

Lawmakers yesterday debated two bills that could affect future island elections -- ending the recently approved process for early in-office voting and paving the way for the return of controversial electronic voting machines. The Legislature passed a law in October 2007, giving Guam voters the right to cast their ballots early, but the Legislature could repeal that law because of concern the Guam Election Commission failed to properly administer the early voting process. Guam law for decades has allowed absentee voting by those who can't go to the polls on Election Day because of their job, illness or travel. Those voters have to fill out an affidavit stating the reason they are casting an absentee ballot. But the 2007 early voting law, written by Sen. Adolpho Palacios, extended it to all voters, allowing them to vote at the Election Commission's Hagåtña office beginning 30 days before the election, without having to state a reason. Sen. Rory Respicio, who sponsored the bill to repeal the early voting law, yesterday said there were many problems with early voting during last year's General Election, including improperly secured early ballots and improper recording of the voter registration logs. Read More

WI: Local vote totals change in Supreme recount -- GazetteXtra

Justice David Prosser gained 10 votes in the recount of Rock County ballots for the state Supreme Court race. Challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg, meanwhile, gained 47 votes. Rock County Clerk Lori Stottler said those are the preliminary results of the local recount of the April 2 vote. The recount was completed Monday. Most precincts where errors were found had only one or two changes, Stottler said. Orfordville had the most with seven. Stottler said the problem in Orfordville might have been that the voting machine was not properly calibrated, so it was not reading votes correctly. The Orfordville village clerk has already called the manufacturer to check the machine before it is used again, Stottler said. Stottler estimated the local recount will cost no more than $2,000. She attributed the low cost to volunteers who donated many hours to the effort. Fifteen of the volunteers gave up six straight days, “and to me that’s just simply amazing,” Stottler said. Government Accountability Board spokesman Reid Magney said the town of Larrabee in Waupaca County discovered 68 votes for Kloppenburg and one vote for Prosser. County Clerk Mary Robbins said town officials simply didn’t record the votes. Read More


Report: Recounts rarely impact state elections | California Watch

Between 2000 and 2009, recounts in state elections were extremely uncommon and rarely resulted in reversals when they did happen, according to a new study [PDF] by the Center for Voting and Democracy. Out of 2,884 statewide general elections there were 18 recounts, only three of which resulted in a change in decision. “There are people who have been pretty critical of the way that we do a lot of voting, thinking it could be done better. But at the same time the basic function of tallying ballots once the voter gets them to their poll worker or the machine, it seems to actually be doing well,” said Robert Richie, co-author of the study. ... Having an automatic recount procedure for a race won by 0.5 percent, that’s way too high, absent some reason to think that there’s something that was systematically done in error or fraud.”

But Pamela Smith, president of Verified Voting, said the systems used in many states can't be recounted because of their design. And even where recountable systems are used, fraud and error can easily go undetected if a race is not close enough to merit a recount. “You’ve got 18 recounts out of close to 3,000 contests, three of which resulted in decisions being reversed," she said. "Well, three isn’t a large percentage out of 3,000, but it’s a sixth of 18. If those are the only cases that you’re doing a recount in, I think you have to look at that." Californians have been nothing if not skeptical when it comes to using electronic machines and adopting methods like ranked-choice voting. But Smith said California is ahead of the curve when it comes to many of these issues. The state has been conducting a baseline manual tally of 1 percent of precincts in every county for decades. And in 2007, California Secretary of State Debra Bowen commissioned a "top-to-bottom review" of voting systems and created a Post Election Audit Standards Working Group [PDF]. California also recently passed legislation launching a "risk-limiting audit" program to increase the scrutiny of electronic voting machines, which is something that Richie calls for in the study. "Recount laws should go hand in hand with rigorous post-election audit procedures designed to identify outcomes that may be questionable due to fraud or error no matter what the initial margin." Read More

ES&S and Scytl Announce Strategic Alliance to Provide BALLOTsafe - a Military and Overseas Electronic Voting Solution (ES&S Press Release) | MarketWatch

Elec­tion Sys­tems & Soft­ware, Inc. (ES&S) and Scytl today announced a strate­gic alliance that will pro­vide for BAL­LOT­safe, a fully inte­grated online bal­lot deliv­ery and mark­ing sys­tem that will afford mil­i­tary, over­seas, absen­tee and dis­abled vot­ers the oppor­tu­nity to cast bal­lots in a timely, secure and reli­able man­ner. By com­bin­ing the mar­ket proven elec­tion lead­er­ship of ES&S with the secure cryp­to­graphic online plat­form pio­neered by Scytl, this alliance allows states and local juris­dic­tions the abil­ity to seam­lessly and effort­lessly inte­grate the bal­lot cre­ation process with the bal­lot deliv­ery process mak­ing BAL­LOT­safe the leader in vot­ing tech­nol­ogy for mil­i­tary, over­seas, absen­tee and dis­abled voters.

Scytl is delighted with this alliance with ES&S which will allow both com­pa­nies to bet­ter serve together US mil­i­tary, over­seas, absen­tee and dis­abled vot­ers through the use of inno­v­a­tive tech­nolo­gies,” com­mented Pere Valles, CEO of Scytl. BAL­LOT­safe pro­vides for Intel­li­gent Bal­lot Deliv­ery with easy to use onscreen mark­ing capa­bil­ity. Bal­lots can be securely returned and tracked through­out the process, increas­ing oper­a­tional effi­cien­cies. BAL­LOT­safe not only improves over­seas par­tic­i­pa­tion but also helps reduce pro­cess­ing errors and saves time and money. Read More


Canada: Q and A-How will Canada election work? What are the rules? | Reuters

Canada is hold­ing a fed­eral elec­tion on Mon­day. Here are the main points of how the country’s elec­toral sys­tem works: What exactly will hap­pen on Monday? Canada has two houses of Par­lia­ment — the elected House of Com­mons and the unelected upper cham­ber, the Sen­ate, where mem­bers are appointed by the gov­ern­ment. Monday’s elec­tion is for seats in the much more pow­er­ful House of Commons. Canada is divided up into 308 elec­toral dis­tricts known as rid­ings, each of which elects a mem­ber of the House.

How are the leg­is­la­tors elected? Canada has a first-past-the-post sys­tem, which means that the can­di­date with the most votes in a par­tic­u­lar rid­ing is elected the mem­ber of Par­lia­ment. This sys­tem ben­e­fits par­ties whose strength is con­cen­trated and hand­i­caps those whose sup­port is wide­spread but shal­low in indi­vid­ual ridings. For exam­ple, in the 2008 elec­tion, the Green Party received 6.8 per­cent of the vote but did not win a sin­gle rid­ing. In 1993, the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­v­a­tive Party won 16 per­cent of the vote yet cap­tured just two seats. In 1997, the Lib­er­als won a nar­row major­ity in the House with just 38.5 per­cent of the vote. Read More

India: The Concept of Negative Voting | The Sentinel

The real­ity of today’s elec­toral democ­racy is that in many con­stituen­cies the vot­ers are dis­con­tented with the can­di­dates in the elec­toral fray. Hence the demand for neg­a­tive vot­ing. In India, the largest democ­racy in the world, it is not only expected of the vot­ers to exer­cise their con­sti­tu­tional right to vote, but it is also their ardent duty. And even though vot­ing is not yet manda­tory, the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion of India on its part pro-actively informs all the vot­ers to cast their vote by giv­ing wide pub­lic­ity towards this end. After all, every vote counts. But if the vot­ers decide that none of the can­di­dates is worth their vote, what is the way out? In the case where Elec­tronic Vot­ing Machines (EVMs) are in use, The Con­duct of Elec­tions Rule, 1961, does pro­vide a voter the option to refuse to vote after he has been iden­ti­fied and nec­es­sary entries made in the reg­is­ter of elec­tors and in the marked copy of the elec­toral roll. But this process brings up the issue of com­pro­mis­ing with the secrecy of the voter as the polling offi­cials and the polling agents have the knowl­edge of the choice of the voter, which goes against the con­cept of secret bal­lot in a demo­c­ra­tic poll. The Elec­tion Com­mis­sion of India has tried to address this issue, and in its elec­toral reforms, has rec­om­mended that the law should be amended to pro­vide for ‘neg­a­tive vot­ing’. Some NGOs have also been demand­ing the option of neg­a­tive voting. What is neg­a­tive vot­ing? Neg­a­tive vot­ing pro­vides the option of exer­cis­ing one’s vote to none of the can­di­dates, by pro­vid­ing an extra but­ton in the Elec­tronic Vot­ing Machines that says “none of the above”. This exer­cis­ing of neg­a­tive vot­ing, can be inter­preted as an expres­sion of dis­con­tent by the candidates. Read More

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