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August 21, 2010

Australia: how are the votes cast and counted?

ABC of Australia is predicting a hung Parliament -- meaning no party has a majority. To get the official totals go to the Australian Electoral Commission's Virtual Tally Room.

What are the mechanics of voting? For the answer to that, go to the AEC's Voting page.


May 7, 2010

Britain: a "broken" election system

While everyone is talking about a "hung parliament" and the "squatter on Downing Street," take a look at this table of the election results I prepared. Among the three largest parties, Labour was most efficient, turning out one seat for each 33,350 voters. The Conservatives were close behind, with a votes/seat ratio of 34,989. But the Liberal Democrats had 119,788 for each seat they won.

You can see why the Lib Dems want a proportional system.

May 6, 2010

Britain: voting problems

The BBC is reporting:
# Hundreds of people have been turned away from polling stations and police have been called at some counts.
# The Electoral Commission says it will be undertaking a "thorough review" of what happened in constituencies where people were unable to vote. -- BBC News - Election 2010 - Live coverage - General Election 2010

Britain: will PR come in because of this election?

The Christian Science Monitor reports: British voters taking part in a photo-finish election went to the polls today in what could be the last-ever poll held under a centuries old system if the British election 2010 results are as close as current polls indicate.

With Britain's "first past the post" electoral system under close scrutiny, some here are worried that the ruling Labour party could win the most parliamentary seats even if it comes third in the national popular vote.

“It would be odd, but it can occur,” says Professor Cees van der Eijk of the University of Nottingham, who studies political behavior. “When it happened a number of times in a row New Zealand, it generated enough distress and disquiet that the system was changed.”

Britain, too, could be on the brink of change.

While most parliamentary systems select MPs based on proportional representation – with each party given a number of seats roughly equal to its proportion of the national vote – British electoral districts operate similarly to those in the United States, in which winners take all. Read the whole story --> If British election 2010 results trump popular vote, what next? - CSMonitor.com

Update: A video on The Big Money's Feeling Lucky blog explains how PR works.

October 2, 2009

Germany's election results give an unproportional Bundestag

Renard Sexton writes on Five Thirty Eight.com about the recent German election: In 2009, however, the clash between district-based seats and the overall popular vote (done by party list) resulted in a significant shift in the allocation of Bundestag seats -- almost enough to change the result. -- Read the whole story --> FiveThirtyEight: Politics Done Right: Proportional Voting? Well, Kinda

August 13, 2009

UK: will "American style" primaries catch on in Britain?

The Herald reports: The prospect of the next Labour or Conservative leader being chosen by ordinary voters across the entire UK has been raised by a former government minister.

Following the selection last week of the Tories' candidate for Totnes in Devon by a so-called US-style "open primary" process, Tom Harris, the Labour MP for Glasgow South, has suggested that the day when a party leader is chosen in this way might not be far off.

The former Transport Minister's point was made as Progress, the Labour pressure group, launched a campaign, calling on Labour's ruling national executive to introduce primaries to "help re-engage with the electorate".
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Yesterday, Mr Harris said he suspected the momentum behind primary selections was now "unstoppable - for good or ill". -- Read the whole story --> Labour MP Backs USstyle Vote To Select Party Leaders (from The Herald )

July 15, 2008

UK: government proposes to elect all members of House of Lords

The Scotsman reports: Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, yesterday outlined proposals to make the Lords fully or mainly elected, although he admitted this would not happen until after the next general election, due by June 2010.

He wants the number of peers reduced from more than 700 to no more than 450, and would abolish the hereditary peers – those sitting in the Lords by right of family ties. Their number has already been reduced to 92 by reforms introduced when Tony Blair was prime minister.

Peers would serve single terms of between 12 and 15 years, compared with MPs, who have to be re-elected every five years.

The Tories also back reform, meaning that changes are likely to be put before MPs which ever party forms the next government. But a number of members of the Lords, which voted by a huge majority last year to reject having the second chamber elected, said they would oppose the changes vigorously. Baroness D'Souza, who heads a group of 61 independent or cross-bench peers, said she was concerned that the primacy of the Commons could be undermined if both MPs and peers were elected. -- Peers vow to oppose planned reforms in Lords amid fears for parliament's integrity

Other stories on this are in the Herald and the Times.

June 12, 2008

Scotland: government wants to lower voting age to 16, but UK government blocks it

The Herald reports: The SNP government is determined to give 16-year-olds the vote and is demanding that Westminster hand over the power to allow this, it was claimed yesterday.

The minister for parliamentary business told an electoral reform conference yesterday that the government was determined to press ahead with a staged approach, first giving youngsters the right to vote in health board elections and then progressing that to council and Holyrood polls.

But this would require a change in the law at Westminster and there was no indication yesterday that the Ministry of Justice was minded to consider such a change.
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Bruce Crawford, Minister for Parliament, told the Electoral Reform Society that ministers had a plan to extend the franchise in order to re-engage young citizens, and avoid the current anomalies faced by young adults. -- SNP in move to lower voting age to 16

June 2, 2008

Switzerland: referendum rejects change in citizenship process

The New York Times reports: Swiss voters on Sunday defeated a measure that would have legitimized the practice of allowing secret votes by townspeople on granting citizenship to foreigners in their communities.

The vote was a blow to the powerful far-right Swiss People’s Party, known as SVP, which had initiated the measure. Over all, nearly 64 percent of voters cast “no” ballots, and the measure gained a majority in only one of the country’s 26 cantons.

The defeat shows that the Swiss people “fully back our constitutional state,” the Social-Democratic Party, known as SP, said in a statement. Legal scholars said the measure would have violated the country’s Constitution and the European Human Rights Convention because, among other things, it would have denied rejected applicants any appeals. Buoyed by the vote, the SP said it would soon introduce an initiative to automatically grant citizenship to third-generation foreigners.

The defeated measure would have overturned a Swiss Federal Court ruling in 2003 that found that secret citizenship votes by townspeople were unconstitutional. Despite that ruling, the practice has continued in some parts of the country. -- Swiss Voters Reject Secret Ballots on Citizenship - NYTimes.com

Note: a pre-election story with more background information is here.

May 26, 2008

UK: Electoral Commission member calls for election-law overhaul

The Herald reports: Electoral law needs a major overhaul, clearer accountability to voters, with more flexible investigation powers and penalties to take on illegal fundraising, according to Scotland s chief elections adviser.

John McCormick, the member of the Electoral Commission with a special remit for Scotland, has spoken out about the confusion over responsibility when elections go wrong and votes are not properly counted.

His comments come in advance of a major report by the UK-wide commission setting out which lessons have to be learned for the whole of Britain s electoral system from the ballot paper and counting fiasco at last year s Scottish elections. Having recently taken on the commissioner role, the former controller of BBC Scotland told The Herald that election law is currently too fragmented, with 19th- century legislation being used to meet 21st-century technology and voter expectations. -- Election Law Needs To Be Overhauled Says Adviser from The Herald

May 3, 2008

London: Boris Johnson wins mayoral race on "instant runoff"

BBC reports: Boris Johnson has won the race to become the next mayor of London - ending Ken Livingstone s eight-year reign at City Hall.

The Conservative candidate won with 1,168,738 first and second preference votes, compared with Mr Livingstone s 1,028,966 on a record turnout of 45%. ...

First preference votes:
Boris Johnson (Tory): 1,043,761
Ken Livingstone (Lab): 893,877
Brian Paddick (Lib Dem): 236,685
Sian Berry (Green): 77,374
Richard Barnbrook (BNP): 69,710
Alan Craig (Christian Choice): 39,249
Gerard Batten (UKIP): 22,422
Lindsey German (Left List): 16,796
Matt O'Connor (Eng Democrats): 10,695
Winston McKenzie (Ind): 5,389 -- BBC NEWS | UK | UK Politics | Johnson wins London mayoral race

Note: Since the bottom eight candidates together had fewer votes than Livingstone, all of their ballots were re-examined and the second preferences counted.

April 28, 2008

United Kingdom: report calls for photo I.D. and safeguards on postal voting

The Guardian reports: UK elections fall short of international standards and are vulnerable to fraud, a report published today claims.

Measures introduced to improve choice for voters, such as postal and electronic voting, increase the risk of fraud, according to the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust study.

The trust is calling for the use of photo ID at polling booths and a cap on campaign spending at constituency levels as way of keeping elections fair.

The report, entitled Purity of Elections in the UK: Causes for Concern, comes ahead of Thursday s local elections in England and Wales.

There have been at least 42 convictions for electoral fraud in the UK in the last seven years. -- Electoral system vulnerable to fraud, report finds | Politics | guardian.co.uk

March 3, 2008

Alberta, Canada: Liberal leader calls for voter I.D.

The Edmonton Journal reports: Alberta needs to overhaul its electoral system because votes conducted in the province almost have the feel of a banana republic, says Liberal Leader Kevin Taft.

Taft made the call as Albertans prepare to go to the polls Monday to elect a new government.

The leader of Alberta s official opposition cited a number of long-standing concerns his party has with the electoral process after visiting several temples and seniors residences for some last-minute campaigning in Edmonton on Sunday. ...

He suggested some of the problems being raised by his candidates Sunday, like concerns about controls to prevent people from voting both in the advance polls and on election day, could be addressed by requiring voters to produce photo identification.

Taft has complained about abuses of the electoral process in his book Democracy Derailed, which outlined a situation where special ballots were cast on behalf of people who weren't even in the country. -- Alberta s electoral system in need of major overhaul, Liberals Taft says

January 23, 2008

UK: Electoral Commission admits "weakness"

The Herald reports: The Electoral Commission has admitted fundamental weaknesses in its ability to probe allegations of illegal donations to political parties.

An official document seen by The Herald shows that detailed procedures and guidance on how investigations should be carried out remain "in development", despite the fact that high-profile probes into allegations against senior Labour figures, including Scottish leader Wendy Alexander, are currently under way.

The 12-page paper, entitled Handling Allegations, also reveals that the commission does not have "any prescribed method for making decisions" and that it is "unclear" when discussions with the UK Ministry of Justice on increasing the range of sanctions it can hand down will be concluded.

The commission also admits many cases will go unpunished even if they find the law has been broken. -- Watchdog Admits Probe Weakness (from The Herald )

December 14, 2007

Argentina: US charges $800K went from Venezuela to Argentine presidential campaign through US

NPR reports:
U.S. prosecutors say participants in Argentina's election broke American law. Prosecutors say the new president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, won with the help of $800,000 secretly sent from Venezuela. This comes under U.S. law because people on American soil allegedly took part in the transaction. Four people are accused. The president of the country that allegedly supplied the money, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, calls the case a "fabricated scandal." The president who allegedly received it is not so happy either. -- NPR : U.S. Criticizes Argentina's Presidential Election

November 6, 2007

Canada: group challenges voter I.D. law

The Globe and Mail reports: Changes to Canada s election laws over identification could shut out hundreds of thousands of voters says a coalition that has launched a constitutional challenge in B.C. Supreme Court.

The lawyer behind the legal petition is hoping for a quick decision. ...

The court petition states changes to the Canada Elections Act deprive otherwise-eligible citizens of their right to vote. It claims this year s amendments mean that even if people are on the voters list they still must have government-issued photo ID with a current address usually a driver s licence.

Mr. Quail, a lawyer with the B.C. Public Interest Advocacy Centre, said that cuts out students who don't have identification with their current address, seniors who don't drive or have picture identification, the homeless, disabled and aboriginals whose status cards don't show an address.

Before the changes, people on the voters list could arrive at the polling station with the voter card they received in the mail or apply to get one. -- globeandmail.com: Law may deny many right to vote: group

May 28, 2007

Ireland: election results are in

Politics.ie reports on the results of the Irish election (held on 25 May, results final about noon on 27 May):
All 166 seats in the 30th Dail have now been filled.

Fianna Fail 78
Fine Gael 51
Green Party 6
Labour Party 20
Sinn Fein 4
Progressive Democrats 2
Independents 5 -- Politics news, Irish politics, Ireland politics, Irish political news, party politics - politics.ie :: Politics.ie

Also, here is the link for the counts for each constituency>

May 15, 2007

Scotland: Ron Gould to lead review of election problems

The Scotsman reports: ONE of the world's leading election experts will head the review into the voting fiasco which marred the Scottish Parliament elections this month.

The Electoral Commission announced yesterday that Ron Gould, the former assistant chief electoral officer of Canada, would lead the investigation into the 140,000 invalid voting papers from the election on 3 May.

Mr Gould has monitored, organised and overseen elections all over the world, from the ground-breaking South African elections of 1994 to the critical Bosnian elections of 1995 and 1996.

From 1981 until his retirement in 2001, Mr Gould led and participated in more than 100 election observation missions in more than 70 countries, and advised the United Nations, the Commonwealth and governments around the world. -- Scotsman.com News - The Scottish Parliament - Election expert Gould to lead review of Holyrood poll scandal

Canada: Date of birth on voter rolls resisted by Senate

CanWest News Service reported last Friday: A bill proposing to put the birth dates of all federal electors on copies of the permanent voter registry given to political parties could cause an explosion of identity theft and invasion of privacy, Liberal and Conservative senators warned Thursday.

In a rare departure from the wrangling that has enveloped the Senate, members of the upper chamber from both sides questioned Government House leader Peter Van Loan over the proposal to release vital personal information so broadly.

"With the passage of this bill, everybody's date of birth is going to be known to everybody in Canada," said Liberal Senator George Baker, noting Elections Canada gives the political parties electronic copies of the permanent voters list three times a year as it is updated with new information on citizens.

Baker, who cited a series of court rulings saying compulsory release of birth information violates the Charter of Rights in certain circumstances, found support from Conservative Senator Pierre-Claude Nolin, who also raised concerns about violations of the charter. -- Birth dates on voter list could aid identity theft, senators fear

April 20, 2007

Ontario: Citizens' Assembly has chosen Mixed Member Proportional system

The Ontario Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform has announced: After months of learning, consulting and deliberating, the province’s first Citizens’ Assembly decided to recommend a new electoral system for Ontario: Mixed Member Proportional.

The Assembly worked to identify the principles we value most in an electoral system and weighed the options accordingly. This process gave citizens a direct voice in determining the options we have when we vote and how our votes are translated into seats for Members of Provincial Parliament (MPPs).

This recommendation carries real weight.

Referendum legislation was introduced to enable Ontarians to have their say. The government will hold a referendum in conjunction with the next provincial election in October 2007 so that all voters can decide whether to accept the Assembly’s recommendation for a Mixed Member Proportional voting system. ...

The Assembly’s work is nearly done. Our final report is due to the government on May 15, 2007. -- Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform

April 10, 2007

Canada: voter I.D. bill seen to affect Muslim women

24 Hours Vancouver reports: Veiled Muslim women might be forced to show their face at the voting booth if a government bill quietly making its way through the Senate becomes law, says new chief federal electoral officer Marc Mayrand.

Bill C-31 would require voters to show government-issued photo identification at the polling booth during federal elections. It has passed through the House of Commons and is currently being studied by a Senate committee. ...

The Muslim Canadian Congress sees no problem with the bill. -- 24 Hours Vancouver - News: Controversial voter ID bill likely to pass

March 12, 2007

Kenya: "Kenyans in Diaspora Want Right to Vote"

The Nation (Nairobi) reports: Kenyans living abroad want Parliament to enact a law to allow dual citizenship so they can register to vote.

Through a lobby group, the Kenya Movement for Democracy and Justice (KMDJ), they say they want the Government and the Opposition to pass such a law because it was among the non-contentious issues contained in the rejected draft constitution.

There was fear the matter might not be given its due recognition now that it has been politicised by leaders every time they met Kenyans outside, KMDJ United Kingdom chapter chairman Ng'ethe wa Mbiyu said

They want Parliament to take up the matter now that the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) had made it clear they had no powers to amend the law to allow dual citizenship as well as voting outside Kenya. -- allAfrica.com: Kenya: Kenyans in Diaspora Want Right to Vote (Page 1 of 1)

February 8, 2007

Canada: Parliament considers voter I.D. bill

CBC reports: Proposed changes to Canada's Elections Act that would require voters to present identification at the polling station are "wrong-headed," Western Arctic MP Dennis Bevington says.

Bevington says the new rules would be hard on northerners in remote communities and may, in fact, discourage voting.

"I just think this is wrong-headed," the NDP MP said Wednesday. "It's kind of Big Brother. I don't like it on that front as well." ...

Under Bill C-31, voters would be required to show one piece of government-issued photo ID or two pieces without a photo before being allowed to vote.

The bill, introduced by the Conservatives and under debate this week, is aimed at reducing election fraud and maintaining the integrity of the national voters list.

However, Nunavut's Liberal MP, Nancy Karetak-Lindell, is in favour of the new rules, saying it will help deal with election fraud. -- Proposed voter ID rules rankle Western Arctic MP

November 11, 2006

Britain: Labour Party recruits Howard Dean to help

The Guardian (UK) reports: Labour has enlisted one of the engineers of this week's Democratic victory in the US midterm elections in an attempt to boost its flagging fortunes before the local elections in May.

Howard Dean, the former presidential candidate and one of the men credited with masterminding the trouncing of the Republicans, will visit the UK next month to brief party officials about his pioneering campaigning techniques.

"The Welsh, Scottish and local elections next year are our midterms," said Hazel Blears, Labour's chair. "It has to be done differently for us to carry on being successful ... We're looking at how [the Democrats] have upped their game."

Labour is particularly interested in the Democrats' style of targeting grassroots voters through low-key meetings in homes. "We want to look at their experience in campaigning, getting out the vote, holding house meetings where people can come together ... You don't want to transplant American politics, but there's a lot we can share," said Ms Blears.

Many political observers will regard the drafting in of Mr Dean as bizarre, given that the Democratic victory was largely founded on voters' anger about the war in Iraq - the very subject which has alienated many Labour supporters and on which Mr Dean has been so outspoken. -- Labour drafts in US election architect for 'our midterms' | The Guardian | Guardian Unlimited

August 5, 2006

Mexico: Electoral Court orders limited recount of presidential election

Bloomberg reports: Mexico's Federal Electoral Court rejected presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's demand for a full recount of the July 2 vote, ordering instead a review of the tally at fewer than 10 percent of polling places.

The court's seven judges ruled unanimously that Lopez Orbador, who lost the race according to election authorities by 0.6 percentage point, had no claim to a full recount because he challenged results in only 174 of 300 electoral districts -- and some of his fraud claims didn't stand up. The court agreed to review ballots from 11,839 of more than 130,000 polling places.

The limited scope of the recount makes its unlikely Felipe Calderon's 243,934 margin of victory will be erased, said Todd Eisenstadt, a professor of government at American University in Washington and author of a book on Mexican election law. Mexican bonds and currency rallied on expectations Calderon, a former energy minister under President Vicente Fox, will maintain Fox's policies in favor of free trade, low inflation and spending restraints. -- Bloomberg.com: Worldwide

July 31, 2006

Mexico: election now before the Electoral Court

The McClatchy Newspapers report: The drab concrete building of fortresslike towers, surrounded by a high steel fence of spiked poles, hints little at the momentous history that's about to unfold inside. Only the colorful sidewalk camp of hunger strikers suggests its importance: They're vowing not to eat again until they see a recount.

The seven justices who will decide Mexico's bitterly disputed presidential election work here. ...

For the 10-year-old Electoral Court of the Federal Judiciary -- as well as for Mexico's nascent democracy -- this is uncharted territory: Left-leaning populist Andrés Manuel López Obrador refuses to concede defeat to conservative Felipe Calderón, claiming fraud in a July 2 election that left them separated by barely a half-percent of the 41 million votes.

Although there are faint echoes of the U.S. election crisis in 2000, Obrador vs. Calderón isn't Bush vs. Gore in Spanish.

For one, there's no U.S. equivalent to the tribunal. It was created in 1996 to handle election challenges in a nation with a history of stolen or fixed elections. Presiding over the tribunal is Leonel Castillo, a career jurist who started in 1981 as a district court judge. Those who know him say he's a by-the-book constitutionalist who's not likely to be swayed by the public demonstrations López Obrador has held. -- Metro/Regional News - Mexico judges to get the last word - sacbee.com

July 10, 2006

Mexico: Lopez Obrador files election contest

AP reports: Mexico's leading leftist presidential candidate asked the country's top electoral court late Sunday to order a ballot-by-ballot recount of last week's election, as his party turned over nine boxes of evidence of alleged fraud and dirty campaign practices.

The 900-page claim alleged that some polling places had more votes than registered voters, the ruling party funneled government money to conservative Felipe Calderon's campaign and exceeded spending limits, and a software program was used to skew initial vote-count reports. ...

Mexico's Federal Electoral Court will review the case, which includes videos, campaign propaganda and electoral documents. The court has until Sept. 6 to declare a winner.

The legal challenge came a day after Lopez Obrador, a former Mexico City mayor, held a mammoth rally in Mexico City's historic center and called on his followers to help overturn Calderon's narrow victory. Lopez Obrador isn't seeking to annul the election, but to force authorities to conduct a manual recount of all 41 million ballots. -- Mexico Candidate Claiming Election Fraud

July 5, 2006

Mexico: Lopez Obrador demands full recount

AP reports: The party of leftist presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador demanded a ballot-by-ballot recount Tuesday in Mexico's closest-ever presidential race, claiming vote counts were manipulated and renewing fears of violent protests if the fiery politician does not get his way.

Lopez Obrador's demand for a full recount of all 41 million votes cast in Sunday's vote set up a possible marathon showdown that could go to Mexico's electoral courts, stirring memories of the bitter Florida recount in the 2000 U.S. presidential race. ...

At the close of voting Sunday, volunteers at tens of thousands of polling places counted the ballots in each box and attached a report, sending it to district headquarters. A preliminary count of those tallies gave Calderon of the ruling National Action Party a 400,000-vote advantage over Lopez Obrador.

But electoral officials said Tuesday about 3 million ballots were not part of that count due to problems including ballots that were set aside for being incorrectly marked or appearing invalid. Lopez Obrador initially said such ballots were "missing," but electoral officials said the ballots were in their control and would be examined -- and counted if valid. -- Sioux City Journal: Leftist Mexican presidential candidate demands vote-by-vote recount

July 3, 2006

Mexico: presidential election is too close to call

If you listen to the news bulletins on NPR, you will only hear about the top two candidates. Reuters reports the latest figures about 7 a.m. CDT: Here are the partial official results with 92,1 percent of votes counted in Mexico's fiercely contested presidential election on Sunday.

Rival candidates Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the leftist former mayor of Mexico City, and Felipe Calderon of the conservative ruling party both claimed victory.

But the Federal Electoral Institute, or IFE, said the race was too close to call and a recount would be needed. Third-placed candidate Roberto Madrazo said the IFE should be left to declare the winner once the recount is finished.

CALDERON 36.63 pct

LOPEZ OBRADOR 35.53 pct

MADRAZO 21.12 pct
-- UPDATE 1-TABLE-Mexico presidential election returns | Reuters.com

April 8, 2006

Democracy at Large

Democracy at Large - Volume 2, No. 2 from IFES just arrived in my mailbox. For those to whom the word "mailbox" means the email system, let me remind you of the metal receptable with the red flag that sits beside the street. That's where my Democracy at Large arrived. (And only one story per issue is available on the website, but you can subscribe for only $15.00 per year.)

The main story in the latest issue is "Rules do Matter." The article deals with the rules of the Palestinian and Iraqi elections and how they affected the outcome.

If you have an interest in elections, subscribe to this publication.

April 6, 2006

Gibraltar: Spain vs. UK over Gibaltar voting law

Breaking News.ie reports: A senior legal adviser at the European Union’s court of justice in Luxembourg today sided with Spain in a legal case launched against Britain, agreeing that electoral laws in Gibraltar allowing non-EU citizens the right to vote in European elections violated EU treaty rules.

In his legal opinion to the EU court, Advocate General Antonio Tizzano said that, while Britain had an obligation to extend voting rights to British citizens in Gibraltar, a 2003 act to extend such rights to citizens of the British Commonwealth who are not British or citizens of any other EU country “infringes” EU law. -- BreakingNews.ie: Spain 'partly backed' over Gibraltar voting rights

February 20, 2006

Palestine: Hamas won because of "first past the post" election system

The New York Times reports: DEMOCRACY rests on the will of the majority. Or so the speeches say. But in reality, election systems are almost never designed to achieve majority rule alone. Like the famous checks and balances of the American system, they also try to give a wide range of groups a portion of power. But sometimes the framers of an election law can wildly miscalculate, allowing one faction to game the system and gain power far out of proportion to its share of the vote.

That's what seems to have happened in Hamas's victory in the Palestinian territories, according to a new analysis by an American who advised the Palestinian Authority on the elections. It represents a cautionary tale for other new democracies, like Iraq's, whose systems are being designed with the help of outside experts.

The reasons behind the overwhelming Hamas victory in the Palestinian elections go beyond a vote that was split among the numerous candidates backed by Fatah, the former ruling party, this new analysis shows. It strongly suggests that a quirk in the electoral law itself helped convert a slight margin in the popular vote into a landslide for the group.

The analysis was performed by Jarrett Blanc, the American elections expert, who also has worked on elections in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo and Nepal. The lesson is that the way a new election law turns votes into representatives — the fine print of election laws — can have as much of an impact on who will be running a country as an occupying army. -- A Lesson From Hamas: Read the Voting Law's Fine Print - New York Times

January 16, 2006

Canada: prisoners voting in national election

CBC News reports: Advance polls opened across the country Friday, including at the Stony Mountain Institution, north of Winnipeg, where inmates cast their ballots in the federal election.

Inmates were allowed a few at a time into an open area in the prison where a polling station was set up. Officials at the institution expect voter turnout to exceed 50 per cent.

Many inmates said they had a strong interest in the parties' crime and justice platforms.

Les Henry, who was convicted of manslaughter for killing his wife, would not say how he voted, but he said the mandatory minimum sentences proposed by all three major parties would not work. -- CBC Manitoba - Inmates interested in parties' law-and-order platforms

December 15, 2005

Canada: campaign finance changes mean candidates don't go to the Artic

The Canadian Press reports: Campaign finance laws intended to improve Canadian elections are having the opposite effect in the Arctic, making it too expensive for candidates to reach far-flung northern communities and cutting them off from the people whose votes they seek.

Changes passed in 2003 resulted in a $1,000 limit on the amount of money corporations can donate to any one candidate. That killed a practice by northern airlines of giving free or discounted plane tickets to candidates -- the only way for many of the 58 communities in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories ridings to get a look at the men and women asking for their vote.

"The new campaign laws mean that airlines can no longer donate tickets to candidates, even though they've done it for all candidates in the past," said Jack Hicks, an agent for Nunavut NDP candidate Amanda Ford-Rogers.

With no road links at all in Nunavut and sketchy highways and winter roads in the NWT, air travel is crucial in the North. It's also expensive. -- The Globe and Mail: For candidates, campaign finance laws put Arctic out of reach

October 19, 2005

Iraq: where were the international election monitors

The American Prospect reports: It's too early to know whether early reports of implausibly high numbers of "yes" voters in Saturday's referendum in Iraq will cast doubt on the legitimacy of the country's new constitution. While there's still hope for a clean victory, sufficient doubts have been cast on the results to open a door for those who would wish to cry foul. Whether whiffs of ballot-stuffing or fraud are validated, the absence of a large-scale international observer contingent on hand to monitor this high-stakes election was a glaring gap in the planning for this pivotal event.

The presence of international observers has become a mainstay of election planning in transitional societies, as their presence deters would-be spoilers from planning shenanigans. Observers can watch balloting, oversee the collection and storage of votes, and monitor counting. Tasks range from reporting on improper campaign activities at polling stations, to preventing people from voting more than once, to imposing fair and transparent methods for tallying votes. International monitors have played essential roles in recent elections in the Palestinian territories, Afghanistan, and Ukraine. -- Ballot Botch

October 17, 2005

Iraq: electoral commission will audit unusual results

AP reports: Iraq's electoral commission said Monday it intended to audit "unusually high" numbers in results coming from most provinces in the country's landmark referendum on the draft constitution. ...

The electoral commission's statement came as Sunni Arab lawmaker Meshaan al-Jubouri claimed fraud had occurred in Saturday's election -- including instances of voting in hotly contested regions by pro-constitution Shiites from other areas -- repeating earlier comments made by other Sunni officials over the weekend.

"Statements coming from most provinces indicating such high numbers ... require us to recheck, compare and audit them, as they are unusually high according to the international standards," the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq said in a statement.

The commission said it would take random samples from some ballot boxes to check the results.

An official with knowledge of the election process said that in some areas the proportion of "yes" or "no" votes seemed unusual. The official cautioned that it was too early to say whether the unusual figures were actually incorrect or what caused the high or low numbers. -- Iraqi electoral commission to audit 'unusually high' numbers in referendum results - Boston.com

Thanks to TalkLeft for the link. MyDD has more details and analysis.

September 25, 2005

Hong Kong: elections to be held for leader -- maybe in 2012

The Telegraph (UK) reports: All Hong Kong's citizens might be able to choose their own leader by 2012, a Chinese official has said, in a possible sign of greater openness among Beijing's hardline political apparatus.

Yang Wenchang, China's commissioner or senior representative in Hong Kong, told reporters that the government was debating when to introduce a democratic vote for the post of its chief executive. "Some are talking about 2012, some are talking 2017 and even some people, you know they are more conservative, are claiming 2022," Mr Yang said. The election is every five years. -- Telegraph | News | Hong Kong 'reform bid'

July 26, 2005

Israel: PM's son charged with campaign finance violations

BBC reports: Charges have been brought against the son of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon over the funding of one of his father's election campaigns in 1999.

Accused of creating shell companies to conceal illegal donations, Omri Sharon has reportedly admitted overspending but questioned party funding limits.

The charges relate to Ariel Sharon's successful campaign to lead the Likud Party and to be its candidate for PM.

The authorities earlier decided not to indict the prime minister himself.

If found guilty, Omri Sharon faces up to five years in prison over charges of violating campaign finance laws, fraud, breach of trust and perjury. -- BBC NEWS | Middle East | Sharon's son charged over fraud

July 25, 2005

Impeachment charges against Pres. Arroyo

AP reports: Philippine opposition lawmakers filed an impeachment complaint today against President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, accusing her of vote-rigging and other wrongdoing.

The filing against Arroyo, a staunch U.S. ally, claims she "stole, cheated and lied" to obtain power and hold it. Her aides have moved to block the complaint on a legal technicality.

A summary of the complaint seen by the Associated Press accuses Arroyo of 10 major crimes including election fraud and corruption. It claims she can be impeached on at least four grounds.

Arroyo has denied manipulating the May 2004 ballot by discussing vote counting with an election official before she was declared the winner. She has said she is ready to face an impeachment trial to clear her name and has announced a "truth commission" also will probe the accusations. -- Philippines leader faces more charges

June 19, 2005

Hong Kong: no election for chief executive

The Christian Science Monitor reports: Donald Tsang campaigned for months for the No. 1 post in China's most sophisticated and wealthy city. He hired top-shelf media managers. He sported a jaunty bowtie as his emblem. Sir Donald asked not to be called "Sir," a legacy of his British knighthood. He chatted with fishermen and truckers.

He was always the front-runner to serve out the term of shipping tycoon Tung Chee-hwa, fired by Beijing, whose unpopularity brought millions to the streets, seeking the right to vote for their leader.

Yet in the curious twists and turns that Hong Kong is heir to since the British handover, Mr. Tsang is now the new chief executive without any election at all, pending a stamp of approval in Beijing that could come as early as this week.

No opposition candidates got approved. None got the requisite 100 nominations out of an elections panel of 800 pro-Beijing loyalists. -- No ballot for new Hong Kong chief | csmonitor.com

May 27, 2005

Kuwait: women given the right to vote -- if they abide by Islamic law

Reuters reports: Kuwaiti women hailed as historic a decision to allow them to vote and run for parliament -- a law passed despite fierce resistance by Islamist and conservative MPs. ...

The all-male parliament passed the law on Monday after a nine-hour session.

The pro-reform government tempted lawmakers by backing a popular bill to raise salaries for most public and private employees.

Islamist MPs added a clause stipulating women must abide by Islamic law when voting or running for office. This would imply separate polling stations for men and women. -- International News Article | Reuters.com

UK: demand for reform of military forces voting

The Herald reports: MILITARY campaigners are preparing a detailed submission for the Electoral Commission, the watchdog body that oversees voting in the UK, in an attempt to ensure that service personnel are not disenfranchised in future ballots.

Up to 200,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and their families were effectively denied the chance to take part in the general election three weeks ago because of delays in delivering postal votes to those serving abroad and the failure of the Ministry of Defence to provide registration advice in time.

With the promised backing of both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, a handful of serving and former officers are drawing up proposals aimed at streamlining the system for servicemen and women scattered in garrisons from Basra to Benbecula and on patrolling ships and submarines around the world.
One key proposal is that the MoD reverts to the system of allowing the armed forces to register once for the duration of their careers. ...

A second suggestion is that a system of electronic voting be introduced. -- Campaign demands voting rights for the forces - The Herald

Trivia: I have spent a weekend on the Royal Artillery base on Benbecula. Look it up in a good atlas and you'll know where I was.

November 25, 2004

Ukraine: Supreme court stops certification of vote

Bloomberg.com reports: Ukraine's supreme court said it will investigate Nov. 21 presidential election results handing victory to Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych as supporters of his rival, Viktor Yushchenko, staged a national strike.

More than 300,000 protesters, who say the ballot-counting was fraudulent, massed for a fourth day at Independence Square in the capital Kiev, one of dozens of demonstrations across the nation. The Central Electoral Committee said it will respect the court's decision and stopped the publication of the results in official journals tomorrow, a step needed for Yanukovych to take office. -- Bloomberg.com: Europe

Imagine that: a supreme court that stops a certification rather than interfering with a recount.

November 19, 2004

Ontario to appoint citizens assembly on election reform

FairVote Canada's website posts this notice: ONTARIO ANNOUNCES CITIZENS' ASSEMBLY ON ELECTORAL REFORM (November 18, 2004)

Premier Dalton McGuinty announced that Ontario will become the second province to have an independent citizens' assembly on electoral reform. The assembly will assess the current voting system and alternatives. If the assembly recommends a new voting system, that recommendation will be taken to voters in a referendum to be held before or in conjunction with the next provincial election.

Fair Vote Ontario campaign volunteers had lobbied cabinet ministers and MPPs over the past two months for such an assembly. While awaiting details on how the assembly will be structured, Fair Vote Ontario commended Premier McGuinty for "placing this process right where it belongs -- in the hands of citizens."

Fair Vote Ontario will now begin rallying citizens of all political stripes to learn how various proportional representation systems can be adopted to the Canadian and Ontario political environment, so the best approach can be identified and adopted. -- Fair Vote Canada - Home

Thanks to J. Paul Johnston for the link.

November 17, 2004

Canada -- Alberta tries for a Triple E Senate

The Airdrie Echo reports: Next Monday, Albertans will choose not only their MLAs, but their senators-in-waiting, as well.

Of Alberta's six seats in the 105-seat Canadian Senate, three are vacant and 10 Albertans -- some representing political parties and some not -- have put their names forward in hopes of being elected to fill one of those seats. The Nov. 22 ballot will ask voters to choose four senators-in-waiting -- one more than the number of vacant seats -- but the road doesn't end there. If elected, Alberta's senators-in-waiting will do just that unless appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Paul Martin.

"Appointing Alberta's elected Senate nominees to fill our province’s vacant Senate seats would be a meaningful first step the prime minister could take to address Albertans' concerns about their role in the federal decision-making process," said Halvar Johnson, minister of international and intergovernmental relations. "In our federal system, the Senate was designed to represent the interests of the provinces in Parliament. Because the current Senate lacks a democratic foundation, it is not performing this function. ...

According to a survey conducted this year by Canada West Foundation, 87 per cent of Albertans agree that the Canadian Senate should be equal, elected and effective. -- Airdrie Echo, Airdrie, AB

The CBC explains: Along with a ballot to elect an MLA, each voter will receive a second ballot with the names of Senate candidates. Voters can select up to four names.

The four candidates with the most votes will be the province's senators-in-waiting for a six-year term. However, appointments to the upper chamber are made by the prime minister, and Paul Martin doesn't have to choose any of those elected. -- Senate Election

July 11, 2004

Andrew Reynolds defends the UN plan for Iraqi elections

Andrew Reynolds writes in the Washington Post: In recent weeks conservatives have criticized the choice of a proportional representation system for Iraq's elections and have disparaged the U.N. electoral assistance department and its director, Carina Perelli. But the plan these critics propose for Iraq -- rejection of proportional voting in favor of an Anglo-American-style, winner-take-all system -- is not a recipe for stability.

According to critics of the United Nations, most notably Michael Rubin on this page [June 19] and Richard Perle in a speech to the American Enterprise Institute, the U.N. plan for Iraq's January elections ignores the desire of liberal Iraqis for constituency-based elections and is likely to bring disastrous consequences, along the lines of those produced by Lebanon's failed communal system. Others claim that the U.N. plan will harm the Shiite majority, breeding more instability. ...

Why is [the UN] correct in recommending proportional representation for the constituent assembly elections in Iraq? First and foremost, proportional representation will avoid the anomalies that are prevalent when single-member districts or some variant thereof are used in emerging democracies. In 1998 the Lesotho Congress for Democracy won all but one seat in parliament with 60 percent of the vote; rioting and state collapse ensued. In the 2000 Mongolian elections, the ruling party took 95 percent of the seats with 58 percent of the vote. In Iraq such a system would most likely give a significant "seat bonus" to Shiite parties, to the detriment of Sunni-based groups and embryonic multiethnic movements. -- The Right Plan for Iraqi Voters (washingtonpost.com)

July 8, 2004

The Mongolian Shuffle

The New York Times reports: Voters in this literate, sparsely populated country [Mongolia] between China and Russia have handed their governing party of former Communists an uncommon lesson that indicates that a young democracy may have come of age.

In a boisterous election 10 days ago that pitted guile against might, the country's 1.5 million voters cut the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party numbers in the 76-seat Parliament from 72 to 36. On Wednesday, the General Election Commission confirmed that the opposition, the Motherland Democratic Coalition, known as the Democrats, won 34 seats. The Democrats claim to have won two more seats, and have taken their argument to an administrative court. They are also wooing three independents in the hope of forming a government. ...

But a good dose of political ingenuity proved to be the tugriks' [the local currency] match. In the 2000 election, the vote difference nationwide was only a few percentage points. The opposition lost dozens of seats by tight margins. So this time around, the opposition carried out a homemade election-day redistricting program.

With voters scattered over an area twice the size of Texas, Mongolian law generously allows voting out of one's home district with minimum paperwork and advance notice. On election day, it quickly dawned on the governing party that the opposition was employing fleets of minibuses to shuttle voters from opposition strongholds to swing districts.

But even as the governing party scrambled to deploy its own fleets of minibuses, it watched in disbelief as safe seat after safe seat fell to bused-in voters. -- A Cunning Opposition Turns Tables in Mongolia (New York Times) *** (alternate link via the International Herald Tribune)

July 5, 2004

Marketplace report on campaign finance in Europe

Kerry and Bush's $400 million campaign finance totals are almost enough to fund all of the campaigns in Europe. Marketplace's Stephen Beard looks at campaign financing on a budget. Frugal Elections? Head to Europe (Marketplace, audio report)

June 30, 2004

Iraq will use PR elections

Not surprisingly, the January 2005 elections in Iraq will not be anything like the "winner-take-all" elections we have in the United States. Instead, Iraq will use a proportional representation system -- similar to what most democracies in the world use. They'll use a "party list" system that will allow for a diverse, representative legislature. And, incredibly,

"On any list, every third name must be a woman to ensure that at least 25 percent of seats in the assembly go to women, a stipulation made in Iraq's interim constitution, agreed earlier this year."

I think it's worth noting that we're spreading a more vibrant and inclusive version of representative democracy than we have here in the U.S. Not to mention that we're spending $260 million U.S. dollars to help put on this election -- at the same time that we're tying to pry election reform funds out of our own U.S. Congress to improve and secure voting right here at home. Arghh! -- Will Markson for President: Will's Campaign Journal

Will Markson is America's favorite fictional candidate.

June 19, 2004

Europe adopts new constitution, still to be ratified

EUROPE'S leaders clinched a tentative deal on the first EU constitution last night.

After a firey two-day summit, disputes about national sovereignty, new voting systems and power-sharing were put to bed. ...

Voting rights had also beena highly contentious issue.

Talks broke down in December over majority voting which, it was feared, could ignore interests of smaller nations.

Now, for a measure to be passed, it will have to be backed by a majority of countries plus one representing 65 per cent of the EU's population. -- BRUSSELS BROKERS THE DEAL (Scottish Daily Record)

Absentee ballot controversy in Britain

The right to vote by postal ballot may have to be restricted if the [British] Government cannot find ways of eliminating fraud, the leader of Birmingham City Council has warned.

Sir Albert Bore, in a letter to the Prime Minister, called for an overhaul of the system following numerous allegations of malpractice during the local authority elections.

West Midlands Police is investigating claims of mis-use of postal votes across Birmingham, particularly in marginal inner city wards.

The defeated Liberal Democrat candidate in Aston, Ayoub Khan, is expected to take an election petition to the High Court next week. He will claim that Labour's victory in the ward was the result of postal vote fraud. -- Blair told to change voting system (Birmingham Post)

June 17, 2004

Canada will end blackout of elections results

On June 10, 2004, the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada announced that the British Columbia Supreme Court decision (R. v. Bryan) to lift the blackout period on the premature transmission of election results would be applied nationwide at the June 28 general election.

For more details, please consult the press release posted on the Elections Canada Web site.

Thanks to J. Paul Johnston for the link.

June 14, 2004

"Not fit to walk the streets" = unfit to vote

CRIMINALS "not fit to walk the streets" were unfit to vote, [Australian] Special Minister of State Eric Abetz said yesterday.

The Federal Senate will this week consider changes to the Electoral Act to ban all full-time prisoners from voting and to close the roll on the day writs are issued.

Senator Abetz said a plan by Labor and the Australian Democrats to block the changes showed they were "soft on law and order."

At present any person sentenced to less than five years in prison is still eligible to vote.

"If you're not fit to walk the streets as deemed by the judicial system in this country, then chances are you're not a fit and proper person to cast a vote," Senator Abetz said. -- A hard cell on right to vote (The Daily Telegraph, Australia)

June 12, 2004

Canadian court allows early broadcast of election returns

J. Paul Johnston writes, "It seems the British Columbia Supreme Court has overturned the Elections Canada regulation that prevents he release/broadcast of results from voting from earlier time zones in Canada until the polls have closed in a given time zone. So, for example, late voters in the Prairies will already know [at least some of] the results in Maritimes and Central Canada when they head to the polls. Elections Canada intends to appeal the ruling, but "open" reporting will take place for the current election. I seem to recal that in the last election a person in BC was actually prosecuted because he picked up results from eastern Canada via the Internet and posted them on his website prior to the closing of the polls in British Columbia."

June 7, 2004

Voting on "Big Thursday" in London

WHEN Londoners go to the polls on Thursday next week, they will have a chance to vote in three different elections, for the Mayor of London, the London Assembly and the European Parliament.

June 10 has been dubbed Big Thursday, a reference to Big Tuesday in America when a large number of presidential primaries are run simultaneously. ...

There might be three elections, but we have five votes.

European Parliament: one vote This is the simplest election, but it is very different to how general or borough elections are run. We each have one vote, but we are not being asked to elect a local representative to the parliament in Brussels and Strasbourg: at least not directly, and not very local. ...

We could vote only for a party. The parties were then allocated seats based on a form of proportional representation and then decided privately who, from a list of "candidates", filled those seats. ...

Mayor of London: two votes The election of the Mayor will be by the "supplementary vote" system, under which we are asked to indicate our first and second choice of candidate, although you don't have to use your second vote.

If a candidate secures more than half of the first choice votes cast he or she is elected, and the process stops there.

But if, as is almost certain, no candidate passes this threshold, all the candidates, except those with the largest and second largest number of first choices votes is eliminated.

The second choice votes from all of the eliminated candidates are then added up and distributed and the candidate from the remaining two with the biggest combined total of first and second choice votes is elected. ...

London Assembly: two votes The London Assembly election combines the traditional English first-past-the-post system and a form of proportional representation.

The assembly has 25 members, but only 14 are elected to directly represent a constituency, such as Brent and Harrow. The other 11 are London-wide "top-up candidates" who provide the proportionality. -- Three Elections Five Votes On Big Thursday (from This Is Local London)

May 23, 2004

Australian government proposes restrictions on right to vote

AS MANY as 100,000 people will be locked out of polling stations at this year's [Australian] federal election, under proposed changes to laws.

And almost 300,000 more face election-day confusion because of Federal Government plans to close the electoral rolls on the day the election is called by Prime Minister John Howard.

The changes fly in the face of unanimous recommendations from a parliamentary committee, which said voters should be able to enrol up to one week after the election is announced. ...

The Government also plans to remove the right to vote of everyone serving a prison sentence on election day - around 18,000 nationwide.

Presently, only those serving sentences of five years or more lose their voting rights. -- Young voters facing lockout (The Courier Mail, Australia)

May 9, 2004

Britain considers voting for 16-year olds

Has life at 16 ever been sweet? Not really, and especially not now. Today's 16-year-olds are a generation in turmoil. In some ways, of course, it was ever thus: what is adolescence about if not working through a maelstrom of emotions? When has life at 16 not involved a muddle of contradictions and embryonic big ideas bound together in a big bravado shell?

Last week The Independent revealed, exclusively, that the Prime Minister intends to add to the modern teenage burden by giving 16-year-olds the right to vote. Labour will pledge to do so in its next election manifesto, against the advice of the Electoral Commission. But any politicians who eventually tout their wares to this generation will have to understand the ways in which it has been dealt a tough hand. -- Focus: Sweet 16 - Would you give the vote to them?
Tony Blair would. He wants to lower the voting age and allow 1.3 million teenagers their say. But are they ready - and will they bother - to vote? Joanna Moorhead knocks on the bedroom door of a generation to find out (The Independent, UK)

April 26, 2004

Whoops, my faith in India is shaken

Thousands of people who have been denied the right to exercise their franchise have no remedy against the injustice committed on them by the election officers.

Though the right to vote is a statutory right, the Supreme Court has held that its breach "should not come in the way of the process of fulfiling the high objective of bringing into existence a House or an institution contemplated by the Constitution for enabling democratic functioning of the country".

So who is a voter?

The first and foremost requirement for being a voter is that his or her name must figure in the electoral rolls.

If the name is missing, the right to vote by such a person ceases to exist, even if he or she is carrying the photo identity card issued by the Election Commission.

Though the apex court had, in several judgments, deprecated lapses in properly revising the electoral rolls, it has not bestowed the right on a victim voter to seek judicial remedy against such a grave offence. -- No remedy for missing names (The Times of India)

China to Hong Kong: no direct elections

China's parliament Monday dashed Hong Kong people's hopes of directly electing their leaders in polls in 2007 and 2008, reinforcing Beijing's full control over democratic progress in the territory.

The decision came after top members of the National People's Congress (NPC) had voted on political reforms for the former British colony, where calls have mounted for more voting rights out of growing frustration with the China-backed administration.

"There will be no universal suffrage for electing the third Chief Executive in 2007," Tsang Hin-chi, a Hong Kong member of the NPC's Standing Committee, told reporters in Beijing.

"There will be no universal suffrage for all legislators," he said, referring to elections due in 2008. His comments were carried live on Hong Kong's Cable Television. ...

Half of Hong Kong's Legislative Council is returned via direct election, while the other half is selected by largely pro-Beijing professional and business groups. -- China Rules Out Direct Elections in HK in 2007-08 (Reuters.com)

April 21, 2004

South African opposition parties contest election

The Inkatha Freedom Party and Freedom Front Plus (FF Plus) lodged founding papers with the Electoral Court on Wednesday contesting the declaration of last week's elections as free and fair.

A court official confirmed receipt of the documents.

"The papers will now be sent to the judges, who will decide on dates for the hearings, merit allowing."

The Independent Electoral Commission, named as the respondent in both matters, would be given an opportunity to respond before a date and venue was decided for each hearing. -- IFP, FF+ lodge papers in electoral court (iafrica.com )

April 19, 2004

Election supplies land in Afghanistan

Two planeloads filled with election material arrived in Afghanistan on Thursday ahead of a stepped-up drive to register people for a vote later this year seen as a key step toward democracy for the war-torn country, officials said.

Some 180 metric tons of booklets, laminating equipment, cameras and other items to be used in the September vote touched down at Kabul's international airport.

"This is a big step in our logistical preparations providing eligible Afghan men and women outside of the regional capitals with the opportunity to register to vote," Farooq Wardak, the head of the Afghan electoral body, said during a ceremony at the airport. -- Tons of election material arrives in Afghanistan (PakTribune.com)

Sinn Fein asks for changes in Norther Ireland's voter registration policy

Voter registration in Northern Ireland should take place every five years instead of every year, a House of Commons committee was told today.

In a six-point plan for getting voters back on the register, Sinn Fein also told the Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee that household registration should replace individual registration.

The party also said non-photographic forms of identification should be deemed acceptable at polling stations and voting applications should be received up to a week before elections are held.

Sinn Fein vice president Pat Doherty said the new measures were needed because 210,000 people had lost their votes under the current system which was introduced in 2002 to counteract voter fraud. -- Scotsman.com News - Latest News - Thousands Denied Right to Vote, MPs Told (Scotsman.com)

Inkatha Freedom Party to contest South African election

The Inkatha Freedom Party is set to contest the result of elections in the highly contested KwaZulu-Natal province [in South Africa] which according to results declared by the Independent Electoral Commission were free and fair.

In terms of those results, the IFP slipped to second biggest party behind the African National Congress by about 47% to 37%.

This translates to 38 and 30 seats in the 80 seat legislature respectively. -- IFP to contest election result (Sunday Times, South Africa)

The IFP has several press releases on its website complaining about various election irregularities.

Irish FOIA docs reveal e-voting problems

Recently released government documents, obtained under the [Irish] Freedom of Information Act, reveal shocking lapses in both security and accuracy in the pilot tests of Electronic Voting in the 2002 General Election, according to Green Party local election candidate Catherine Ansbro. Ms Ansbro, who is standing for election for both the Roscommon County Council and the Boyle Town Commission in the upcoming European elections, is calling for the immediate postponement of electronic voting.

Ms Ansbro said today that, "The problems included large differences between the number of votes cast, as recorded by the Presiding Officers in Dublin North and Dublin West, and the number of votes recorded electronically on the ballot modules. The size of the discrepancies is significant. They are many times larger than what could be easily explained away by spoiled votes or other reasons." -- Major flaws in electronic voting according to newly released Government document (Politics.ie)

The rush to adopt e-voting in Ireland

Several Sunday papers raise major issues with Ireland's full-forward electronic voting plans. Professor David Parnas, who is advising an independent commission on push-button voting has said that checking the reliability of the software could take up to 12 months. The commission has a deadline of May 1 to advise on whether it should be used in the June elections. -- Electronic voting issues (IrishEyes)

April 15, 2004

Irish Senate committee calls for public elections of Senate members

A committee on Seanad reform is set to tell the Government that the public should be given the right to vote in Seanad elections, The Irish Times has learned.

In a report calling for sweeping changes in the functions and com-position of the Seanad, the Government will be told that the number of senators elected by local councillors and TDs should be radically reduced.

In addition, the committee will call for the abolition of the Seanad vocational panels which nominate candidates for Seanad elections. It will also seek an extension of the university franchise. -- Public voting for seats urged in Seanad reforms (Irish Times)

April 14, 2004

South African election marked by huge turnout

Click on the picture accompanying this story. Reuters appararently felt it was necessary to identify Nelson Mandela as the man on the left, so we would not mix him up with the white woman on the right.

South Africa's ruling African National Congress looked headed for another landslide victory on Wednesday as polls closed on the country's third democratic elections since the end of apartheid.

Voting officially closed at 9 p.m. (1900 GMT), but the enthusiasm of South African voters seemed to have overwhelmed some polling stations and officials said hundreds of people still queuing would be allowed to vote. ...

Long queues snaked from many of the 17,000 polling stations through the day, a confirmation that the 20 million registered voters still cherish the right to vote 10 years after Nelson Mandela first swept the ANC to power in multiracial elections. ...

One Cape Town voting line meandered three km past city blocks on streets largely clear of traffic after authorities declared polling day a national holiday. -- ANC set for victory as South Africa polls close (Reuters)

If only Americans felt this much enthusiasm for voting.

April 13, 2004

Northern Ireland excluding those with Down syndrome from electoral roll

Mental health campaigners expressed dismay yesterday after it was claimed that people with Down syndrome are being refused the right to vote in Northern Ireland.

Patsy McGlone, an SDLP Assembly member, said a constituent with the condition had been refused a place on the electoral roll even though he had been on it as recently as the Assembly elections last November and had voted in the past.

"The Electoral Office is now saying that because he has Down syndrome, he is not entitled to vote. This fellow wants to go out and vote with everyone else and I know fine well that he knows who he wants to vote for," said Mr McGlone.

The Mid-Ulster MLA claimed that his constituent was not alone and that he knew - through fellow Assembly members - of hundreds of people across the province who were suddenly in the same position. Mr McGlone has been in contact with the Equality Commission, seeking to challenge the issue under disability legislation. He said it could also be a matter for the Human Rights Commission. -- People with Down syndrome 'refused right to vote' (independent.co.uk)

South Africa has a holiday for voting

South African Minister of Labour Membathisi Mdladlana on Wednesday warned that any attempt on the part of employers to prevent workers from voting would be a contravention of the workers' constitutional rights.

"Employers should be aware that April 14 has been declared a public holiday in accordance with Section 2A of the Public Holiday Act (Act No 36 of 1994).

"This holiday was declared specifically to allow South Africans to exercise their right to vote, which is a right entrenched in the Constitution of South Africa. I therefore call on employers to respect the constitutional rights of workers and allow them to vote. On previous occasions some employers even provided transport for workers to get to the polling stations to vote," Mdladlana said in a statement. -- Bosses urged to let staff vote (News24.com, South Africa)

April 4, 2004

Scotland tests e-voting

Technology expected to contribute to the abolition of traditional polling stations was pioneered in Aberdeen [Scotland] last night.

City council election chiefs tried out an electronic voting system as they counted votes cast in the Queen's Cross by-election.

Although votes were officially counted by hand, they were also fed through an electronic scanner.

The machine was set too slow for the full results to be matched against the official result, but election officers said the early indications were that the equipment had proved successful - albeit with some "teething problems". -- ELECTRONIC VOTING PASSES ABERDEEN ELECTION TEST (The Press and Journal)

April 2, 2004

India's e-voting will solve all problems

Electronic voting machines [in India] will greatly reduce, if not eliminate, electoral malpractices, claimed officials, because the machines can be used only once in 12 seconds and need to be re-set before the next vote is cast.

The machine will automatically switch off after every vote is cast. In other words, even when workers of a political party "capture" a booth, they will find it impossible to cast more than five votes in a single minute. That too is possible only with the connivance of polling personnel.

At the end of polling, the personnel will also be able to report any misadventure or abuse of the machines, which would lead to cancellation of polling at that booth, they explained. Since polling personnel will be drawn from different districts and at every booth 50 per cent of the poll personnel will be from other districts, it will be difficult for political parties to influence all of them. -- Rest easy, your vote is safe (The Telegraph - Calcutta)

Irish public opposes e-voting

The independent watchdog set up to assess the secrecy and accuracy of electronic voting [in Ireland] has received a decisive thumbs down on the system from its consultation with the general public.

The overwhelming majority of the submissions to the Commission on Electronic Voting express criticisms and concerns about the e-voting system's introduction but the number of actual observations is extremely low.

Recurring themes are the need for a back-up, voter-verifiable paper record, the undermining of democracy, the damage to voter confidence, worries over the lack of secrecy, the reliability of computers and allowing spoiled votes.

Objections were also expressed from people with disabilities to the change in the voting system. -- Public blackballs e-voting in consultation (Irish Examiner)

April 1, 2004

Proposal to change Welsh assembly

Welsh Secretary Peter Hain today vowed to block moves to introduce a different proportional representation voting system for the Welsh Assembly.

A report into the workings of the devolved body has suggested increasing the number of members from 60 to 80 and electing them using the single transferable vote (STV).

It was one of the recommendations of a team led by former Lords leader Lord Richard into the future powers and structure of the Cardiff-based institution.

Mr Hain said the present voting system was "deeply flawed" but told MPs he was strongly opposed to the idea of switching to STV. -- Hain Vows to Block Wales Vote Switch Proposal (Scotsman.com )

Canadian Law Commission recommends adding proportionality to election system

Because elections play a central role in modern democracy, the particular formula employed to translate votes into seats in the legislature assumes special importance. Recently, some countries have questioned their electoral systems and the democratic values that they reflect, and have instituted reforms. Canada, for the most part, has been hesitant to experiment with its electoral system. However, a growing number of Canadians are interested in critically examining the existing electoral system, and many deem that it is time to change the way we cast our votes. ...

The conclusion of this survey is that adding an element of proportionality to Canada's electoral system, as inspired by the system currently used in Scotland, would be the most appropriate model for adoption. Its potential benefits include:

• reducing the discrepancy between a party's share of the seats in the House of Commons and its share of the votes;

• including in the House of Commons new and previously under-represented voices, such as smaller political parties;

• electing a greater number of minority group and women candidates;

• encouraging inter-party cooperation through coalition governments;

• reducing the huge disparities in the value of votes that currently exist, in which a vote for the winning party is often three to four times more “valuable” than a vote for any of the other parties;

• reducing the number of disregarded votes, thus increasing the number of “sincere,” as opposed to strategic, votes; and

• producing more regionally balanced party caucuses.

The Commission, therefore, recommends adding an element of proportionality to Canada's electoral system, and that Canada adopt a mixed member proportional electoral system. --
Voting Counts: Electoral Reform for Canada - Executive Summary

The Law Commission of Canada is an independent federal law reform agency that advises Parliament on how to improve and modernize Canada’s laws.

March 29, 2004

Immigrants vote for Rome city council

Immigrants living in Rome voted Sunday to elect city and district representatives from their own ranks in the first such election here. The vote was designed to give non-Italians a greater say in Italian affairs.

Fifty-one candidates from across the globe vied for four nonvoting seats on Rome's city council -- one each to represent Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. Another 172 others were bidding for 19 nonvoting district council seats, representing each of Rome's 19 municipal neighborhoods. -- Immigrants vote for representatives to Rome city council, municipal districts (AP via Contra Costa Times)

March 20, 2004

Protest of Taiwan's presidential election

The presidential candidate of the opposition Nationalist Party [of Taiwan] refused on Saturday night to accept results showing that he narrowly lost an election to President Chen Shui-bian, and demanded that ballot boxes from all 13,000 polling places nationwide be impounded and recounted.

"This is an unfair election with a lot of question marks," Lien Chan, the Nationalist Party candidate, told a huge crowd of supporters, while appealing for calm. ...

The Central Election Commission declared that President Chen had 29,518 more votes than Mr. Lien out of 13.25 million ballots cast. But Mr. Lien called for the election's annulment an hour before the commission finished its count, and the commission did not actually declare a winner.

The commission declared 337,297 ballots to be invalid more than 11 times President Chen's apparent margin of victory. In a development echoing the controversy four years ago over the vote count in Florida, there was uncertainty tonight over whether polling places had followed consistent standards in declaring votes to be invalid.

A coalition of non-profit groups had called on voters to file invalid ballots, contending that the main political parties were too interested in relations with China and the concerns of the affluent, and had not paid enough attention to the plight of the poor and the disabled.

Voters in Taiwan are given a paper ballot, a stamp and an ink pad, and asked to mark the candidate they prefer. The ballots are counted by hand. -- Taiwan's President Appears to Win Election (nytimes.com)

March 14, 2004

Socialist Party wins in Spain

Voters ousted Spain's ruling party in elections Sunday, with many saying they were shaken by bombings in Madrid and furious with the government for backing the Iraq war and making their country a target for al-Qaida.

The Socialist Party declared victory with 79 percent of the votes counted, as results showed it winning 164 seats in the 350-member parliament and the ruling Popular Party taking 147. The latter had 183 seats in the outgoing legislature. ...

Turnout was high at 76 percent. Many voters said Thursday's bombings, which killed 200 people and wounded 1,500, was a decisive factor, along with the government's much-criticized handling of the initial investigation. ...

Until the bombing, the conservative Popular Party was projected by most polls to beat the Socialists, although perhaps without retaining their majority in the 350-seat Congress of Deputies.

But the disaster, which the government initially blamed on the Basque separatist group ETA, threw the election wide open. The attack was followed by emotional rallies across the country.

Critics accused the government, which had trumpeted its crackdown on ETA, of manipulating the investigation for political gain. That struck a chord with voters. -- Spain's Socialists Claim Victory (AP)

Spain's lower house is elected by proportional representation using a closed list. Elections are held in each of the 50 provinces which have a population-based share of the 350 deputies. See Election Resources on the Internet.

Socialist Party wins in Spain

Voters ousted Spain's ruling party in elections Sunday, with many saying they were shaken by bombings in Madrid and furious with the government for backing the Iraq war and making their country a target for al-Qaida.

The Socialist Party declared victory with 79 percent of the votes counted, as results showed it winning 164 seats in the 350-member parliament and the ruling Popular Party taking 147. The latter had 183 seats in the outgoing legislature. ...

Turnout was high at 76 percent. Many voters said Thursday's bombings, which killed 200 people and wounded 1,500, was a decisive factor, along with the government's much-criticized handling of the initial investigation. ...

Until the bombing, the conservative Popular Party was projected by most polls to beat the Socialists, although perhaps without retaining their majority in the 350-seat Congress of Deputies.

But the disaster, which the government initially blamed on the Basque separatist group ETA, threw the election wide open. The attack was followed by emotional rallies across the country.

Critics accused the government, which had trumpeted its crackdown on ETA, of manipulating the investigation for political gain. That struck a chord with voters. -- Spain's Socialists Claim Victory (AP)

Spain's lower house is elected by proportional representation using a closed list. Elections are held in each of the 50 provinces which have a population-based share of the 350 deputies. See Election Resources on the Internet.

March 3, 2004

More controversy in Ireland over e-voting

In response to feedback from society members and the general public on the ICS's [Irish Computer Society] statement of 20 February regarding electronic voting, the ICS Council has appointed a panel of serving and former Council members to consider the points raised and review its position. -- Irish Computer Society calls for audit trail in e-voting system (Politics.ie)


The Fine Gael Leader, Enda Kenny T.D., today challenged the Taoiseach on the exclusion of the Ombudsman from the Commission announced to examine and report on the accuracy and secrecy of the proposed new Electronic Voting system. The Taoiseach refused to give the reasons behind the omission of the Ombudsman, despite the inclusion of other members of the Standards in Public Office Commission on the new body.

"The exclusion of the Ombudsman from this new Commission is the latest in a line of decisions by this Government that undermines rather than reinforces confidence in the new Electronic Voting system for June. At every stage of the rushed process to introduce a new voting system this Government have acted in a way that raises questions about their handling of the matter." -- E-Voting : Kenny Challenges Taoiseach on Exclusion of Ombudsman from New Voting Commission (Politics.ie)

A little translation is in order. The Taoiseach is the Prime Minister. T.D.'s are members of the lower house of parliament.

British campaign for prisoners' voting rights

A campaign has been lauched to try to overturn a 134-year-old law which deprives prisoners of the vote.

Mark Oaten is backing the campaign
Politicians from the three major parties were joined by church leaders and prison reform groups in the call to reverse the ban.

Mark Oaten, Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said: "If we want people to return to their communities as law-abiding citizens, we must encourage them to play a positive part in shaping their futures by their own efforts and commitment."

He was joined in calls to restore the vote by Peter Bottomley, a former Conservative minister, and senior Labour MP David Winnick. Ex-offenders' charity Unlock and the Prison Reform Trust are also backing the campaign. -- Prisoners 'should be allowed to vote' (Telegraph)

Thanks to Marc Mauer of the Sentencing Project for the link.

February 29, 2004

India will use electronic voting machines exclusively

Hoping ‘‘India shines in conducting its elections,’’ Chief Election Commissioner T S Krishnamurthy today set the largest democratic exercise rolling by announcing the dates for General Elections to the 14th Lok Sabha [House of the People in the Indian Parliament]. Simultaneous Assembly elections will be held in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Sikkim.

Votes will be cast in four phases, spread over 20 days: on April 20 and 26, May 5 and May 10. For the first time, only electronic voting machines will be used across the country. -- Election countdown begins, 50 days to go (Express News Service, India)

February 28, 2004

Can you vote on a lottery ticket?

A proven national system for printing ballots already exists and we use it every day, said Dan Sullivan, Fine Gael candidate for Artane today (Friday).

"The government is telling us that adding a printout system to ensure that the votes cast by the electorate is not possible due to reliability issues with printers. Yet each week the National Lottery handles 4 million individual transactions through its national network of machines located with 3,500 agents. ...

“I am not suggesting that Lotto machines be used to count or print out votes. These machines simply prove the point that there are existing machines that can regularly and reliably printout more than is required for a Voter Verification Audit Trail to be viable. The truth is that the government negotiated a bad deal and can’t fix it without costing the electorate even more money.” -- National Lottery system proves electronic voting with paper trail is possible (Politics.ie - The Irish Politics Website)

February 17, 2004

Irish government gives a litte on electronic voting

The [Irish] Government has been forced to make significant concessions to its plans to introduce electronic voting throughout the State in June, following Opposition objections. However, Fine Gael, the Labour Party and the Greens last night jointly insisted that a paper record of each vote would have to be kept for their concerns to be met, writes Mark Hennessy, Political Correspondent

Under the changes proposed last night, an independent statutory panel will be set up to verify the security of the system in advance of the elections. In addition, it will monitor the operation of the 6,500 NEDAP/Powervote voting machines and the counting of the votes cast in all elections to come.

Despite repeated declarations that it was not necessary, new legislation will be rushed through the Oireachtas to ensure that electronic voting results cannot be challenged. -- Opposition forces changes to electronic voting plan (The Irish Times)

February 13, 2004

Electronic voting coming to Ireland, but opposition parties object

The Fine Gael, Labour and Green parties have agreed the text of a motion opposing the Government's plans for the extension of electronic voting. The motion will be debated during Fine Gael's Private Members' time on Tuesday and Wednesday next week.

In recent months, the three main opposition parties have expressed concern at the failure of the Government to consult with, or seek the agreement of, the other parties in Dáil Eireann for the fundamental change in our electoral system.

The motion calls on the Government to immediately defer plans for the use of electronic voting in the European and local elections and to suspend any further related expenditure until an Independent Electoral Commission has been established and has addressed the legitimate concerns of political parties and the public on this issue. ...

The three party leaders said that they were taking this joint initiative to highlight the failure of the Government to ensure public and political confidence in the extension of electronic voting.
-- Politics.ie - The Irish Politics Website

But the Government appears to be going full steam ahead.

WATERFORD’s voters will have their chance to get up to speed on using the new electronic voting system from the beginning of next month, when 200 ballot machines will be distributed around the constituency.

Niall Rooney, Returning Officer for the Waterford Constituency, told the Waterford News & Star that he expected to receive the 200 electronic voting machines in the first week of March. ...

Environment Minister Martin Cullen, whose department is responsible for introducing the electronic voting system, said the campaign aimed to show people how voting with the new system is as easy as switching on a light or a kettle.

He said the experience of using electronic voting in a number of pilot constituencies in the last general election had shown that the system was easier, more efficient and gave improved electoral accuracy and administration. -- Waterford News & Star

January 24, 2004

Will female voting be squelched in Afghanistan?

Inter Press Service News Agency reports:

The United Nations, which has strong reservations about the feasibility of upcoming elections in politically unstable Afghanistan, is now expressing fears that women might be marginalized in the national polling.

''The registration process and the holding of free and fair elections in mid-2004 will be a major test for Afghanistan,'' U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a 19-page report released Friday.

''Some disturbing signs have appeared in the early days of the registration process, where some women have been barred from registering,'' he added.

Titled 'The Situation of Women and Girls in Afghanistan', the report says that women should be encouraged to stand for political office -- in addition to having the right to vote.

They also need to be strongly supported by local and international actors, it adds.

''The capacity of potential women candidates needs to be strengthened and intensive voter education and awareness programmes implemented to dispel negative stereotypes of women as leaders,'' said Annan.

Earlier this month, a traditional assembly of Afghan leaders approved a new constitution for the country, which guarantees equal rights for men and women.

Here is the report.

January 9, 2004

French investigating Cheney

Center for American Progress's Progress Report reports today:

Though neglected by major media in the United States, international news sources report that French law enforcement authorities have made Vice President Dick Cheney the target of a criminal investigation for his role in a massive bribery scandal during his time as CEO of Halliburton. Le Figaro, one of France's biggest (and most conservative) newspapers, reports "an investigative judge is looking into allegations of corruption during construction of a natural gas complex in Nigeria by Halliburton" and a French oil company. The international AP newswire reported on 10/11/03 that the judge is "looking into who may have benefited from nearly $200 million in potentially illegal commissions allegedly handed out from 1990 to 2002." In May, Halliburton admitted that, under Cheney's stewardship, it paid "$2.4 million in bribes to Nigerian officials to get favorable tax treatment." Halliburton now says it is cooperating with a simultaneous review by the Security and Exchange Commission.

THE POTENTIAL CHARGES: The London Financial Times reports the investigation specifically focuses on the criminal charges of "misuse of corporate funds" and "corruption of foreign public agents." The Sydney Australia Morning Herald reports the investigative judge is specifically targeting Cheney for his "alleged complicity in the abuse of corporate assets."

THE POTENTIAL CONSEQUENCES: Though the investigation is being spearheaded by French law enforcement, the UK Guardian notes, it would be prosecuted under international laws agreed to by the United States in a 35-nation treaty signed in 1997, meaning the consequences could be very real. The treaty, "under the auspices of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, aims to fight corporate attempts to buy the favors of public authorities abroad." Not coincidentally, the London Financial Times points out that the Bush Administration is using similar agreements to aggressively "seek the extradition and pressing claims against senior French finance industry executives connected with the Credit Lyonnais purchase of Executive Life, the failed Californian insurer."

The story has links to the overseas newspapers.

January 6, 2004

Scottish MP voting to be challenged

The Glasgow Evening Times reports:

Premier Tony Blair is likely to need Scottish support to force through increases in tuition fees in English universities, so Conservative James Gray is seeking to stop their voting rights.

Mr Gray, who was educated at Glasgow High School and Glasgow University, is MP for North Wiltshire. He believes Scots votes at Westminster are "completely unsustainable".

Mr Blair wants to force through higher tuition fees for England - against fierce opposition from many of his own MPs.

More than 150 have said they will rebel - and Mr Blair has made it clear he could be forced to quit if he loses such a vital vote.

Mr Gray believes Speaker Michael Martin should rule that Scots MPs must refrain from voting when a Bill affects only England and Wales.
He also wants to stop Scottish MPs becoming ministers in departments with England-only responsibilities.

July 14, 2003

Will women get the right to vote in Kuwait?

The New York Post has a column by Amir Taheri on the possibility that the recent election in Kuwait may lead to the enfranchisement of women.

June 9, 2003

Canada nears passage of campaign finance bill

The Toronto Star reports the predicted passage of a campaign fianance bill by the end of the week. The bill will limit individual, corporate, and union contributions to parties and candidates, while providing parties and candidates with subsidies.

June 4, 2003

Canadian website on Charter

The "Bill of Rights" for Canada is called the Charter. The website
Mapleleafweb.com has a summary of many decisions of the Canadian Supreme Court under the Charter (I am not sure how close to complete it is). The website has a search feature, so you can search for particular keywords or provisions. (Thanks to J. Paul Johnston for the link.)

February 13, 2003

Canada Elections Act and the Income Tax Act (Political Financing)

Thanks to Trevor Potter for pointing out the Address by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien on the occasion of the second reading of Bill C-24, an Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Income Tax Act (Political Financing). Chretien proposes to limit contributions by businesses and labor unions to candidates and riding associations (local party groups) to $1,000 (CDN) per year. His proposal will also increase public funding of national parties and candidates.

Here is the AP story on the speech.

January 27, 2003

Canadian campaign finance bill nears introduction

Canada.com reports

Liberal ministers will get a chance at a cabinet meeting Tuesday to discuss a controversial bill about political donations before it's tabled the next day in the House of Commons, party sources say.
The bill is expected to cap corporate and union donations to political parties at $1,000, a source in Prime Minister Jean Chretien's office said Monday. Response to the proposed legislation at last week's cabinet retreat was "pretty positive," a government source said. But there was debate among ministers over some key points, not least the proposed cap, the source said.

January 20, 2003

Canadian prime minister to push big campaign finance reform

Canada.com reports

Prime Minister Jean Chrétien is determined to radically reduce the influence of money on the political system and will force recalcitrant Liberal backbenchers to fall in line by declaring imminent reforms to political financing laws a matter of confidence in his government.
***
In his first, detailed explanation of why he thinks such legislation is necessary, Mr. Chrétien said he does not believe the current system of unlimited donations by individuals, unions and corporations has corrupted the political system.
***
Still, the prime minister said there is a "perception" big donors get preferential treatment from the government. That perception is heightened by the tendency of opposition parties to trumpet news of donations given to the ruling party by companies that win government contracts or receive money from government programs.

December 29, 2002

'Vote bribers' caught in Kenya

News24.com from South Arfica reports that 2 people have been arrested in Mombasa, Kenya, passing out 100 shillings (US$1.25) to pay for votes for Kanu, the ruling party of Kenya.

The official site of NARC does not have the list of bribery allegations mentioned in the News24 story, but the site is worth looking at because it allows supporters to make contributions, download posters and stickers, and read up to date news stories.

December 28, 2002

Kenyan election

It appears that Mwai Kibaki of the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) Party has won the presidency over Pres. Daniel arap Moi's handpicked candidate, Uhuru Kenyatta (the KANU candidate). The latest results I have seen show Kibaki with 64% of the vote. Nairobi's Sunday Nation has a roundup of the British press stories alleging fraud in the election (usually by the KANU) or saying that it was the cleanest election in the "multi-party era." The Kenya African National Union has ruled Kenya for the 39 years since its independence from Britain.

AllAfrica.com has an interview with Pres. Moi. A short sample:

Q: The results have not been officially announced yet, but it looks as if the opposition may win...

That’s the way democracy goes.


Amen.

December 9, 2002

Serbia

The Serbs have a provision in their election law that requires a majority of the registered voters to vote for the election to be valid. For the second time in this year's effort to elect a president, less than 50% of the Serbs have shown up to vote. Or at least, that's what the electoral commission says. The candidate who got the most votes, Vojislav Kostunica says he will go to court to demonstrate that the electoral lists were faulty and that the won. Dead people are often accused of voting in the US. Kostunica says the dead are on the rolls in Serbia, and they did not vote.

Just when election lawyers in the U.S. thought there was nothing to do but wait for the McConnell v FEC decision, there's work! See CNN.com - Court move after Serb poll failure - Dec. 9, 2002.

December 2, 2002

Canada: campaign finance

In Canada, companies and unions can and do contribute to political parties. The Prime Minister is considering an amendment to the law to prohibit such contributions. The proposal would also include tax credits for individual contributions and public funding of parties. See the story in The Globe and Mail.

Australia: truth in campaign promises

Now this is an interesting idea. In Australia, the two major parties have hired outside auditors to evaluate their proposals and assess whether there will be enough money to pay for their campaign promises. The result is reported in this Australian Broadcasting Corp. story, Labor and Libs can meet campaign promises: assessors.