The Voting News for 25 August 2011
The Voting News for 25 August 2011
The Maine Secretary of State’s Office said Wednesday it is investigating a potential security breach in the computer system that contains records on Maine’s registered voters. The state was notified Wednesday afternoon by the cybersecurity monitoring arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that Maine’s Central Voter Registration system had been compromised. The breach was detected as part of a regular security check.
Maine Secretary of State Charlie Summers said a computer in an undisclosed town office apparently had been infected by malicious software — commonly known as malware — that may have then infected the centralized data system.
“I am in the process of assessing what, if any, information has been compromised,” Summers said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon. “I have taken immediate action to shut this computer down and disable the username and password assigned to the town clerk.”
With Republicans taking control of most U.S. capitols this year and a presidential race looming, states have passed the most election-related laws since 2003 in a push to tighten voting rules. Forty-seven states have enacted 285 election-related laws this year, and 60 percent were in states with Republican governors, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Democrats are pushing back by vetoing photo- identification laws in five states and trying to repeal other voting laws in Maine and Ohio, where President Barack Obama’s campaign is promoting the effort.
It’s the “battle before the battle” as both parties fight for what they think are the most advantageous and fairest rules, said Doug Chapin, director of an elections-administration program at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
“We’re at a level of activity that I don’t think I’ve ever seen,” Chapin said in a telephone interview. “You’ve got the combination of a fiercely divided nation, uncertainty about what the rules are and a belief that every single vote counts.”
County election officials rocked and rolled with the punches, even as the Aug. 23 earthquake briefly threw a wrench into operations at precincts across Arlington. But the show went on: Polls closed on time at 7 p.m., and the first results were in four minutes later.
“Everybody handled it beautifully,” Registrar Linda Lindberg said of staff at the 51 precincts, who like the rest of the local area were jolted by the 5.8-magnitude quake just before 2 p.m. on the day of the commonwealth’s primary election.
The Fairfax County primary to pick a Democratic challenger for the Board of Supervisors’ seat in the Braddock District turned into a nail-biter on Tuesday. There was such a narrow margin of victory that election officials will recount the vote Wednesday morning before declaring a victory, according to candidates and election officials.
After polls closed Tuesday night, Janet S. Oleszek, a former school board member, held a 42-vote lead over first-time candidate Christopher J. Wade. Oleszek once lost a legislative battle to then-Sen. Ken Cuccinelli by a razor’s edge.
Yesterday's East Coast earthquake - centered near Mineral, VA but felt up and down the Atlantic seaboard and as far west as Chicago - was and will be a big story for several days (and a source of endless eye-rolling from the West Coast).
It's worth noticing, however, that the earthquake didn't appear to stop Virginia from conducting a primary election in communities across the Commonwealth. There were scattered reports of brief evacuations and voting in parking lots, but generally people soldiered on. [The Virginia State Board of Elections' Twitter feed has a nice chronology of events.]
In the aftermath, there will be lots of discussion about what lessons to draw from Tuesday's events. The U.S. Election Assistance Commission's blog came out quickly with a post detailing numerouscontingency planning resources that election offices should consult to be prepared for emergency situations that inevitably arise. Resources like these are crucial to the field and should be required reading for anyone responsible for the smooth operation of voting on Election Day.
The League of Women Voters in Wisconsin announced it will file a lawsuit in Dane County Circuit Court charging that the Badger State's newly-enacted polling place photo ID restriction law violates the state's Constitution. From a strictly legal perspective, the decision by the League's attorney Lester Pines to challenge the new photo ID law pursuant to the state's Constitution is significant.
Under Equal Protection analysis, any impartial jurist would readily understand that the statute does not meet the heightened scrutiny that accompanies the fact that, under the WI Constitution, voting is deemed a "fundamental right."
When freshman state Rep. Mike Dovilla (R., Berea) requested an absentee ballot in 2007 while deployed in Iraq with the U.S. Navy, his ballot never arrived. "Through no fault of my own and despite a proactive attempt to obtain a ballot, I was disenfranchised in that year's municipal elections," he said.
An initiative unveiled Tuesday by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted is designed to make that less likely to happen. In the future, a request for an absentee ballot by a member of the armed services will be tracked to ensure the ballot arrives, even if it means the ballot might be completed at the last minute and faxed back to Ohio for counting on Election Day.
Port Orchard’s City Council members faced a decision Tuesday that Councilman Jim Colebank equated with “blackmail” or “coercion.” They could reverse a decision they made for citizens that they believed to be right, or they could incur a cost of up to $30,000 to let the citizens vote on the decision themselves. They voted for the cheaper option, but they weren't happy about it.
The council wanted to give city government the authority to operate in a less restricted manner, by changing the city’s operating status from “second class” to “code,” and voted to do so in late May after several sparsely attended public hearings on the issue.
But Gil and Kathy Michael, who run the Cedar Cove Inn on Seattle Avenue overlooking the waterfront, collected about 550 signatures to put the issue before citizens in the next election.
The legal battle surrounding California’s controversial Top Two Primary has reached an influential federal appeals court.
This afternoon, a federal trial court refused to put California’s controversial new election regime on hold. In response, Plaintiffs Michael Chamness, Daniel Frederick, and Rich Wilson immediately asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse the lower court’s decision.
Earlier, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals made a key ruling: it allowed in critical evidence that directly challenges the legality of the Top Two Primary.
A man accused of stealing ballots from a San Francisco polling station last November will be set free Wednesday after staying in jail for 50 days longer than necessary because of his conduct during a series of bizarre court appearances.
Karl Bradfield Nicholas, 51, was accused of taking about 75 ballots, a voter roster, a cellphone, and a memory box and access key to a voting machine on Knott Court in the city's Crocker Amazon neighborhood where he was working as a voting station inspector on Nov. 2, 2010. Nicholas was arrested the next day, and the ballots were later found in the lagoon at the Palace of Fine Arts. He has been in custody ever since. The memory box, access key and cellphone have yet to be found.
Nicholas was set to be freed last month after pleading guilty in December to a felony count of tampering with voting machines and ballots in exchange for a year in county jail and other penalties, although he later tried to withdraw the plea.
Recall petitions for state Rep. Nancy Jenkins, R-Clayton, have become a mystery. The leader of a local recall group said he would file them on the Aug. 5 deadline to get on the Nov. 8 ballot. He did not. They were not filed the following week for a February election date. And group leader Daniel Long is offering no explanation.
“I’d like to know what’s going on. Is she going to be on the February ballot or not?” said Arnold Harper, Lenawee County Democratic Party chairman.
Long’s group, Lenawee County Says Recall Rick Snyder, is still using the county Democrats’ offices in Adrian to run a continuing signature campaign for the recall of Gov. Snyder, Harper said. But he has not had contact with Long or answers to questions about the Jenkins petitions.
The National Transitional Council promised to hold elections next April to choose a permanent government for the nation ruled by Muammar Gaddafi for 42 years.
Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the TNC chairman made the promise as world leaders prepared to meet to discuss Libya’s future after Gaddafi. “In eight months we will hold legislative and presidential elections,” Mr Jalil said.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Sunday that he expected to have parliamentary elections conducted in February of 2012 in an interview broadcast by state TV. The solution to the five-month-old crisis in the country is " political," al-Assad said, adding that the security situation is better now.
Syria is passing through a transitional stage and there will be a revision of the constitution, he said. He pledged that whoever has committed any crime against any Syrian citizen, whether he was civilian or military, would be held accountable when he is proven to be guilty.
Fatah Central Committee Member Mahmoud Al-Aloul Tuesday justified the Palestinian Authority’s decision to postpone local elections saying it came at the request of Hamas in order to hold elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip at the same time.
President Mahmoud Abbas issued a ruling on Monday postponing the elections “until appropriate circumstances allowing holding it nationwide exist.”
Aloul said that Hamas asked for the postponement until reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas is reached and the West Bank and Gaza Strip are reunited under one authority so that elections can be held in both regions at the same time.
The Election Commission will be fully prepared to use Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) in the next general elections slated for late 2013. "Let's see how much we can do," chief election commissioner (CEC) A T M Shamsul Huda said on Wednesday. The current panel of commissioners runs its term on Feb 2012. The information minister on Tuesday informed parliament about the EC decision too.
Political parties in the recent dialogues with the EC suggested the EVM be introduced in phases. Opposition BNP, who did not join the formal talks, has been protesting the move fearing rigged elections.
The Director of the Cali Registry Office has been removed from his position in response to a corruption scandal that has engulfed the Cali mayoral election. Hollman Ibañez was removed after he was accused of corruption by Rodrigo Guerrero, the mayoral candidate who had been taken off the ballot for allegedly collecting fraudulent signatures.
According to Caracol Radio, unofficial sources have also suggested Ibañez influenced the decision not to endorse the petitions of Guerrero and fellow candidate Susana Correa. However, Ibañez will now take on a new role as Director of the National Civil Registrar. He will be replaced in Cali by Dr. Jose Ignacio Cordoba Delgado.