The Voting News for 20 August 2011
The Voting News for 20 August 2011
Let me say first that, on the one hand, it’s positive that an organization that is as culturally-conservative and traditional as Elections Canada is even pondering exploring alternate methods of service delivery. Some years back I interviewed their chief information officer a few weeks into the job. He’d come from the private sector and was amazed at the degree of institutional resistance to even minor technological advancement. They had their way of doing things. It was all laid out step-by-step in a big binder.
On the other hand, while voter registration seems like an obvious step, I’d have a very hard time trusting Elections Canada to devise a secure and reliable system for online voting when every time I try to use their online contributions database, I want to cry over how unnecessarily complicated and cumbersome even simplest tasks is.
But online voting is one of those things that sounds great in theory — vote easily and quickly wherever you are, you don’t need to travel or wait in line — but, upon further reflection, loses some of its lustre.
The loser in the Hinds County House District 73 Democratic primary is formally contesting the results. Terry resident Gay Polk said she hand-delivered a notice of contest Thursday afternoon to Hinds County Democratic Executive Committee chairman Claude McInnis. She lost by 90 votes to attorney Brad Oberhousen, also of Terry.
Polk, a registered nurse, wants a review and recount of all ballots - paper, electronic, affidavit, absentee and disqualified - plus poll books, sign-in registries and signature counts in the 13 precincts that are part of District 73.
While several other candidates have complained about election irregularities in the Democratic primary in Hinds County, none has taken the same step as Polk. Polk's notice puts into motion what could end up as a court challenge.
Hancock County Clerk Eleanor Straight called news that the county would soon be responsible for maintenance on its touch-screen voting machines "a surprise" with renewal of the five-year maintenance agreement due Sept. 1.
Straight told the Hancock County Commission on Thursday that all the county clerks in the state responsible for election operations just learned of the local responsibility.
In a letter to the commission, West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant said that the acceptance agreement approved five years ago states the county commission would take over ownership of the voting machines and be responsible for maintenance after the five-year maintenance agreement ended. At that point, she said, her office would be released of responsibility.
Once again, Mississippi voters, frustrated by not being able to cross party lines to cast ballots for their favorite candidates, are excited about installing an “open primary” election system that neighboring Louisiana has had since 1975.
Not that the Legislature hasn’t tried to scrap the state’s traditional closed primary system. In fact, four times since 1966, lawmakers have passed legislation to put candidates for all parties (and independents) on the same primary ballot without party designation and require a runoff between the two highest finishers.
For various reasons, none of the bills have become law. Mostly it’s been the Justice Department disapproved Mississippi’s proposed changes under Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Blacks objected it would block them running as independents in general elections after being historically shut out of the closed Democratic primaries.
Over the last several years, the debate about voter ID, especially requirements that voters show photo identification as a condition of casting a ballot, has become so predictable as to seem almost routine.
ID proponents - usually Republicans - argue that the spectre of voter fraud demands safeguards like ID to protect the sanctity of the ballot box, while opponents - usually Democrats - see ID requirements as barriers to the polls and thus vow to fight them in the name of combating disenfranchisement.
Indeed, in recent years the best predictor of whether voter ID would advance in a given state was whether or not Republicans held legislative majorities and the governorship. Recently, however, the headlines have brought new twists that suggest that the voter ID debate is no longer the predictable partisan storyline we have all come to know - if not love.
When special elections are needed, a new bill would require they be held without delay.
Current state law is silent on how much time can pass between a vacancy in the Wisconsin Legislature and when the governor can or should call an election to fill it. State Representative Mark Pocan and Senator-elect Jennifer Shilling think 60 days is enough.
Sid Johnson, a self-described junk man who ran a scrap business from his modest home, had enough of the back-room dealings in Waller County. So he worked under cover for the FBI to help convict five local politicians on corruption charges in recent years. He then decided to seek political office himself. Johnson, 47, had high hopes of becoming the first black councilman elected in his hometown of Waller, population of 2,200, nestled in the hilly prairie off U.S. 290.
However, when ballots were tallied May 14, Johnson lost by five votes. But his defeat has since sparked so many rumblings of voter fraud that he joined forces with the town's mayor, Danny Marburger, who is white, to take voter complaints of intimidation and being turned away from the polls to the FBI and U.S. Justice Department.
The FBI will not confirm whether an investigation is in progress. But Marburger said that during the last two months, FBI agents have circulated through the town 40 miles northwest of Houston taking statements from voters and city secretary Jo Ann London, who serves as election chief. Adding mystery to the controversy, Marburger discovered this week that London had cameras disguised as smoke detectors installed around City Hall.
Voters who've had difficulty in the past getting to polling stations or returning offices due to disability will have a new voting option in October. Elections Ontario will introduced home visits as a voting alternative for the Oct. 6 provincial election. By calling Elections Ontario or its local returning office, electors who qualify can have a special ballot officer come to their home so they can cast their vote.
"It one of a series of amendments to the Election Act that was aimed to make voting more accessible," said Barbara McEwan, director of electoral events for Elections Ontario. Providing a person is eligible to vote in the Oct. 6 election, one of two criteria must be met in order to qualify for the home visit, McEwan said.
The first is that it would be impossible or unreasonable for the elector to vote at the returning office, said McEwan, which is one of the options available for those who vote by special ballot. The second is that the elector would be in need of assistance to apply to vote by special ballot because of a disability or an inability to read or write, she said.
Egypt’s Supreme Electoral Commission (SEC), which will monitor the upcoming parliamentary elections, is slated to issue the regulations for the political rights laws in the upcoming days. The regulations will include 38 articles that will guide the electoral process and give the power to the SEC to manage every stage, from preparing the voters’ lists to the complaints related to the elections.
Regulations will also include forming a committee headed by a member of the SEC, Judge Samir Abdel Moaty, to prepare the first database for voters.
One of the articles will stipulate forming an electoral committee in every governorate to include members of the judiciary, authorizing them to supervise the presentations of the voters’ database as well as inspecting voting stations and reviewing candidates’ proxies inside the stations.
Kazakhstan's ruling Nur-Otan party has claimed all 16 seats available in today's election to the Senate, or upper house of parliament.
This was not a popular election, as the new deputies were chosen by regional and provincial officials as well as MPs from the Mazhilis, or lower house of parliament, rather than by the country's electorate. The lower house is comprised entirely of Nur-Otan members.