Friday, April 15, 2011

Flawed Wisconsin Race Proves Need for Transparency, Accountability in Election Procedures

When Wisconsin voters flocked to the polls on April 5, one of the factors driving the high turnout was the State Supreme Court contest between incumbent Justice David Prosser and challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg.

Prosser, whose term ends July 31, often casts the deciding vote on the seven-member court. He is a conservative Republican former Speaker of the Assembly seen as closely allied to Wisconsin's controversial Gov. Scott Walker. Kloppenburg, a virtual unknown who was given little chance of success when she entered the race several months ago, was buoyed by the high passions stirred by Walker's actions to strip government employees of their collective bargaining rights. Though the race is officially nonpartisan, it was seen as both a referendum on Walker and a chance to affect the Supreme Court's ruling on Walker's actions, which are likely to be reviewed by the Court in its next term.

Election night results were considered too close to call, but the next day when seemingly all the votes had been tallied, Kloppenburg claimed victory with a margin of 204 votes of the more than 1.4 million total votes cast. A recount seemed inevitable.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Protecting Elections from
21st Century Threats

Would Futurama’s wise-cracking robot Bender be a better DC mayor than Vincent Gray? That might well have been the outcome if the District had gone forward with its internet voting pilot last fall. When the election board invited hackers to test the system, computer scientists from the University of Michigan were easily able to change the votes to elect evil science fiction robots. Election reform advocates from across the U.S. gathered last month in Chicago to discuss this and other high-tech threats to elections at the annual conference of the Election Verification Network (EVN).

Keynote speaker Rev. Jesse Jackson said the civil rights struggle that brought about the Voting Rights Act of 1965 continues today, with those hard-won rights now imperiled by new threats including the voter ID laws currently sweeping state legislatures. He pointed out that the right to vote does not necessarily include the right to have your vote counted fairly and accurately.