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Election News Roundup: 5/27/09 - 6/3/09

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Election reform is one of the most important issues facing our country and our world right now, even if it doesn't get the coverage of torture or abortion.  The way that we run our elections and initiative processes determines who makes policy, the type of policy made, and the tone of our political discourse.  If we ignore it or take advantage of the electoral system, we our doing ourselves and our country a disservice.

Good news sources:
Ballot Access News
The Brad Blog
Election Law Blog
Voters Unite's Daily Voting News

Terry McAuliffe a fraud?  No... (by me) - This is a diary I wrote about Terry McAuliffe's proven undemocratic acts of keeping Ralph Nader off the ballot in swing states in 2004 and how the story has recently been in the news because of McAuliffe's claims of wanting a more open democracy in his race for Virginia governor.  One of the more shocking aspects of this story is that 12 legislative aides in Pennsylvania were convicted in court because of the work they did to dishonestly keep Nader off of the ballot and the way in which they were paid for that work.  Read more here (in the diary there are links to news articles about it, too).

Internet voting in Hawaii looks like it might be faulty and dangerous - Recently, Honolulu conducted the first election in the nation that was entirely held over the internet.  It was hailed as progress (including in a press release printed as an opinion article on Huffington Post), but it could be just the opposite.
It turns out that the Chief Operating Officer of the company that set up the system for the election was the disastrous US Election Assistance Commission chair from 2003 to 2007.  According to Barbara Simmons and Justin Moore on Huffington Post and Brad Friedman on The Brad Blog, internet voting is not secure or reliable, and is nothing but another phony solution put together by some of the very corporate neocons who stole the presidential elections for Bush.
Ellen Theisen of Daily Voting News sums up the problems with internet voting:

   * In 2004, a panel of experts commissioned by the U.S. Department of Defense concluded that it was not possible to ensure the privacy, security, or accuracy of votes cast over the Internet with its current architecture. They said the attempt to provide secure, all-electronic Internet voting was "an essentially impossible task."
   * In 2007, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that email and Internet voting is "more vulnerable to privacy and security compromises than the conventional methods now in use" and that "available safeguards may not adequately reduce the risks of compromise."
   * In 2008, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) wrote, "Technology that is widely deployed today is not able to mitigate many of the threats to casting ballots via the web."
   * In 2008, thirty leading computer science experts and professors at major universities signed a statement asserting that until "serious, potentially insurmountable, technical challenges" are overcome, permitting the Internet to be used for public elections "is an extraordinary and unnecessary risk to democracy."

The Brad Blog has a very extensive, well-researched, and good article about this situation here.  Barbara Simmons and Justin Moore have a shorter, but just as to-the-point, opinion piece on Huffington Post about it.  Via Daily Voting News.

Illinois Legislature Passes Bill Making it More Difficult for Qualified Parties to Nominate - The Illinois legislature has passed a bill restricting the rights of ballot-qualified parties, by making it hard for them to nominate someone if they didn't have a primary.  This disproportionately hurts the Green Party, which is the only ballot-qualified minor party in Illinois, because it has less primaries than the Democratic or Republican Parties.  Hopefully the governor won't sign this into law.  Ballot Access News.
This update from Ballot Access News:

On May 29, the Illinois Green Party issued a press release, asking Governor Pat Quinn to veto HB 723, which makes it more difficult for ballot-qualified parties to nominate candidates. Specifically, if ballot-qualified parties wish to nominate someone after the February primary is over with, by committee meeting, they can no longer do that unless they submit a petition for each nominee.

The press release points out that, already, one-candidate general elections for the state legislature are very common. In November 2008, 59 of 118 State House races had only one nominee on the ballot, and 20 of 40 State Senate races had only one person on the ballot. The press release also points out that during the years 2002 through 2008, 42 Republicans, 29 Democrats, and 15 Greens were nominated after the primary. If the post-primary method were severely restricted, the number of one-candidate races would be even higher.

On June 1, Free & Equal faxed a letter to Governor Quinn, asking for a veto and reminding him that he has always championed himself as a reformer.

Ironically, even though Pat Quinn is definitely a "reformer," that reform has not always been in a positive direction.  In 1980 he was part of the effort to get rid of multi-member districts for the Illinois state legislature, a successful effort that got rid of perhaps the most representative and progressively structured legislature in the nation.  Hopefully Pat Quinn will side with the better reformer on this issue and veto the bill.

California ponders instant runoff voting - Ballot Access News has this story about how San Jose (the 10th largest city in the country) is considering using instant runoff voting for municipal elections and this article about how the California General Assembly passed a bill allowing 10 cities to adopt local instant runoff voting.

The Brad Blog (via Daily Voting News) offers a critical look at instant runoff voting, saying that money shouldn't be a huge factor in elections, IRV voting machines are unreliable, and it makes elections a lot less transparent.  In the comments, Brad suggests that approval voting (where you vote for as many candidates as you want and the candidate with the most votes wins) might be the best solution for fairness and transparency.

Connecticut House Passes Election-Day Registration Bill - From Ballot Access News:

On May 26, the Connecticut House passed HB 6435, to let people register to vote at the polls on election day. Such voters would need to show a drivers license or a utility bill, confirming their address. Now the bill goes to the Senate.

Oklahoma Governor Signs One Bill Easing Ballot Access for Initiatives - From Ballot Access News:

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Ross Levin a young activist who also writes for,, He first became active in politics in the 2008 presidential campaign through Mike Gravel's quixotic run for the Democratic (more...)
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