News

THE NATION: Chilean Students Demand Education Reform

June 29, 2012
Brittany Peterson
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The first raindrops began to leak from the menacing gray sky over Plaza Italia, in the heart of Santiago, by 9:00 am. Aside from hurried professionals and a few special force police officers patrolling in pairs and politely conversing with small groups of students who should have been in classes, everything appeared calm.

Two hours later, the scene was unrecognizable as a massive crowd swelled. High school and college students had marked this national strike, Thursday, June 28, in their calendars weeks ago. The strike came in the heated aftermath of four consecutive marches last week, which included a march by high school students, private university students, opponents to lithium extraction, and supporters of sexual diversity.

MJS: Nickolaus changed software before April election breakdown

July 10, 2012
Larry Sandler

Sometime after final testing of Waukesha County's election software - but before the April election - County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus mysteriously changed something in her office's computer programming, according to a consulting firm's report released Tuesday.

Only Nickolaus knows what she did. The consultants can't figure it out, and she's not talking.

JANESVILLE GAZETTE: Citizens group auditing statewide recall election results—by hand

July 11, 2012
Neil Johnson
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JANESVILLE — The Rock County Clerk’s Office opened its doors to an unusual request Tuesday.

A group of six concerned citizens wanted to cross-check Rock County’s election results of last month’s gubernatorial recall election—by hand.

The group members, who said they were part of the action group Election Fairness, had filed an open records request July 2 with Rock County and Wisconsin’s 71 other counties.

Student Power Convergence Happening August 10-14!

July 30, 2012
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The Liberty Tree Foundation is very pleased to endorse and urge participation in a very important national student power convergence just two weeks from now in Ohio.
 
Please pass this information on to other students and to supportive faculty and staff who might consider attending.

'Yo Soy 132' Mexican student movement looks to the future

August 15, 2012
Ela Stapley
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Nacho Martínez shoots a cheeky grin as he tells of the day he decided to protest against Mexican presidential candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto. “We were so nervous,” he states. “We thought that we were really going to get into trouble.”

WSJ: New capitol police chief to clamp down on protests

August 28, 2012
Clay Barbour

Protesters soon will find the Capitol a less forgiving place for some civil disobedience, according to its new top cop.

Wisconsin Capitol Police Chief David Erwin said Monday he will soon begin clamping down on protesters, strictly enforcing the Capitol's rules in an effort to restore normalcy and safety to a building that has become home to regular demonstrations.

"I need to make this building safe," he said. "I need to make this building where it is something all the citizens can enjoy, not just a select few."

Chicago Teachers Strike for Better Schools

September 10, 2012
David Moberg

Early this morning, Chicago teachers organized picket lines at all entrances to William H. Ray Elementary School in Hyde Park on the city's South Side. They were joined by dozens of students, parents and local community residents. It was the first day in 25 years that the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU)--the first teachers union in the country--had gone out on strike, and picketers banged drums, gobbled doughnuts, waved at passing motorists (and the driver of a passing waste truck), and chanted with militant cheeriness: "Lies and tricks will not divide/parents and teachers side by side."

Democracy Now explores what's at stake locally and nationally in the Chicago teacher's strike

September 10, 2012

Democracy Now spends most of the broadcast exploring the regional and national implications of the Chicago teacher's strike (skip past headlines to view the interviews):

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Teachers are winning concessions at the bargaining table

September 13, 2012
Ellen Jean Hirst, Jennifer Delgado, Bridget Doyle, Hal Dardick and Kristen Mack

The two sides in the Chicago teachers strike remained optimistic about a deal as they resumed contract talks today, but it appeared the earliest classes could resume would be Monday.

CTU: Poll demonstrates strong public support for teacher's strike

September 13, 2012
CTU
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CHICAGO –As contract talks continue to two steps forward and one step backward, the city’s 29,000 public school educators enter their fourth day of a labor protest that has shut down schools across the city. An independent new poll indicates the majority of the public and parents support the teachers strike and blame Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his hand-picked school board for the District’s education woes.

CPS alum release song in support of striking teachers

September 13, 2012
Rebel Diaz

WSJ: Many states still do not require a paper trail for touch screen machines

September 14, 2012
Joel Schectman
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A decade after Dana Debeauvoir helped change Travis County, Texas to an all-electronic voting system she still expects to be falsely accused of fixing the coming election, just as she had in the last two presidential races. The clerk, who has administered voting for 25 years in the county that includes Austin, says the public has remained mistrustful of the ballot system, where voters pick candidates directly from a computer screen, without marking a piece of paper. “There have been so many hard feelings,” says Debeauvoir. “You get people saying ‘I know you have been flipping votes.’”

ALTERNET: Quebec students vow to keep fighting after historic victory

September 18, 2012
Zachary A. Bell
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On September 4, Quebec’s student movement, admired for its 300,000-person protests, provided a less sensational model for youth worldwide — of a movement struggling with the contradictory effects of a hotly contested election.

POLITICO: Voter ID laws may prevent millions from voting

September 23, 2012
Associated Press
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The combined effects of voter roll purges, demands for proof of citizenship and photo identification requirements in several states may hinder at least 10 million Hispanic citizens who seek to vote this fall, civil rights advocates warn in a new report.

Hispanic voters are considered pivotal to the presidential election this November, and are being heavily courted by both Democratic incumbent Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney. If they turn out in large numbers, Hispanics could sway the outcome in several swing states.

WSJ: Virginia votes will be tallied on wireless voting machines

September 26, 2012
Joel Schectman
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In this November’s presidential election, Virginia voters will cast ballots on machines that use wireless technology state lawmakers barred five years ago to protect voting machines from hackers. Continued reliability and security concerns over electronic voting are not unique to Virginia, or to machines that use wireless technology, but the case illustrates the credibility issues that have plagued electronic voting machines in use across the country in the aftermath of the messy 2000 presidential election, when the federal government mandated changes to election systems and processes.

LA TIMES: Judges temporarily block state voter ID laws for 2012 elections

October 8, 2012
David G. Savage
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WASHINGTON — Earlier this year, voting rights advocates foresaw a cloud over this year's election because new voting laws in Republican-led states tightened the rules for casting ballots and reduced the time for early voting.

But with the election less than a month away, it's now clear those laws will have little impact. A series of rulings has blocked or weakened the laws as judges — both Republicans and Democrats — stopped measures that threatened to bar legally registered voters from polling places in the November election.

"Courts see their role as the protectors of the core right to vote," said Ned Foley, an election law expert at Ohio State University.

NATION: Ohio's Secretary of State Subverts Voting Rights

October 9, 2012
Ari Berman
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Once again, political experts are predicting that the 2012 presidential election could be decided in the battleground state of Ohio, like it was in 2004.

COLORLINES: Nevada Disenfranchises Its Poor Citizens

October 9, 2012
Aura Bogado
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As we noted on Thursday, the issue of poverty was conspicuously missing from the first presidential candidates’ debate. While the term “middle class” was traded more than thirty times between Obama and Romney, neither candidate made any substantive claims about poverty. In a debate dominated by the topic of the economy, Obama couldn’t bring himself to say the words “poor” or “poverty” one time. Middle class, meanwhile, remains the term that is supposed to blanket everyone living in the US—despite their income or wealth.

PROPUBLICA: State voting restriction could make voting more difficult for many citizens

October 9, 2012
Suevon Lee
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Voter ID laws have received plenty of attention recently, but they're not the only controversial changes to election rules this year. Some states have made changes that critics say could impact individuals' ability to vote. Here are four.

Ohio won't count provisional ballots mistakenly cast in the wrong precinct.

PIONEER PRESS: County Board in Minnesota votes to oppose voter ID constitutional amendment

October 9, 2012
Frederick Melo
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Fearing that Minnesota's same-day voter-registration system could be replaced by provisional balloting, the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners voted to oppose a proposed state constitutional amendment that would require voters to show state-issued IDs at the polls.

County officials said they could not afford more unfunded state regulations, and they said the state has already forced counties to absorb the full cost of human service programs such as Meals on Wheels and intervention programs for teen run-aways.

AMERICAN PROSPECT: True the Vote trains poll watchers to intimidate voters

October 10, 2012
Abby Rapoport
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Two years ago, the week before Election Day, I drove to Harris County, Texas. More specifically, I drove to the Acres Homes Multi-Service Center, a polling location for early voting in one of Houston’s poor, predominantly black neighborhoods. After alleging that Harris County had a widespread problem with voter fraud, a Tea Party group called the King Street Patriots had launched a project called True the Vote, which had trained hundreds of volunteer poll watchers. As the early-voting period began, reports had begun to trickle out about white poll watchers arriving at minority precincts and intimidating voters. In Texas, poll watchers, appointed by a political party to watch the proceedings, aren’t allowed to do much; they’re barred from communicating with voters.

NATION: Voting Rights Act protects South Carolina and Mississippi citizens that voter ID laws would disenfranchise

October 10, 2012
Brentin Mock
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Today, a federal court blocked South Carolina’s voter ID law for the 2012 elections, though it will be allowed to commence in 2013. According to the judges’ ruling, it is too close to the November election for effective implementation of South Carolina’s Act R54, which required voters to show a driver’s license, state-issued photo ID, passport, federal military photo ID or a photo voter registration card to vote. Before this law was passed, voters could show their voter registration card without a photo. The ruling states:

AMERICAN PROSPECT: Third party presidential candidates locked out of debates

October 11, 2012
Cole Stangler
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The 2012 election is the fifth straight presidential election to feature no third-party candidates in the debates—and as a result, there's also a lack of engagement with issues that the two major-party candidates don’t want to discuss. 

The debates are organized by the Commission on Presidential Debates, a 501(c)(3) organization created by the Democratic and Republican national committees and funded by corporate sponsors. This year, as usual, the commission extended invitations to only the Democratic and Republican candidates—much to the chagrin of third-party candidates and the handful of nonprofit organizations committed to including more voices in the debates.

ROLL CALL: Ohio votes must be counted if poll workers put provisional ballots in wrong precinct

October 11, 2012
Amanda Becker
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A federal appeals court in Cincinnati today decided two cases related to Ohio’s provisional voting procedures, ruling that it is unconstitutional to toss out ballots that are cast in the incorrect voting precinct due to poll-worker error.

Ohio law “effectively requires voters to have a greater knowledge of their precinct, precinct ballot, and polling place than poll workers,” the three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit said.

THE REVIEW: 15 states back Ohio in early voting case

October 13, 2012
Associated Press
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Fifteen states and several military organizations announced their support for Ohio's elections chief on Friday in a dispute over early voting in the presidential battleground, which is being appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has appealed a lower court ruling that reinstates early voting on the three days before Election Day and returns discretion to local boards of elections. The Republican also has asked the Supreme Court to delay the lower court's decision while it decides whether to take the case.

COMMON DREAMS: Bain Capital owns electronic voting machines that will count many of Ohio's ballots

October 14, 2012
Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman
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Electronic voting machines owned by Mitt Romney's business buddies and set to count the votes in Cincinnati could decide the 2012 election.

The narrative is already being hyped by the corporate media. As Kelly O'Donnell reported for NBC's Today Show on Monday, October 8, Ohio's Hamilton County is "ground zero" for deciding who holds the White House come January, 2013.

O'Donnell pointed out that no candidate has won the White House without carrying Ohio since John Kennedy did it in 1960. No Republican has ever won the White House without Ohio's electoral votes.

NYT: An in-depth look at our touch screen voting machines

October 15, 2012
Clive Thompson
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Originally published on January 6, 2008

Jane Platten gestured, bleary-eyed, into the secure room filled with voting machines. It was 3 a.m. on Nov. 7, and she had been working for 22 hours straight. “I guess we’ve seen how technology can affect an election,” she said. The electronic voting machines in Cleveland were causing trouble again.

SALON: Diebold voting machines can be hacked by remote control

October 15, 2012
Brad Friedman

Originally published on September 27, 2011

 

 

It could be one of the most disturbing e-voting machine hacks to date.

BRAD BLOG: Germany's highest court rules electronic voting unconstitutional

October 15, 2012
Brad Friedman
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Originally published on March 4, 2009

A finding by the "highest court" in Germany has found electronic voting to be unconstitutional...

Germany's highest court has ruled that the use of electronic voting in the last general election was unconstitutional.
..
September's upcoming elections looks set to see a return to the more traditional pencil and paper countrywide.

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN: Voting technologies require many changes before they can be reliable for voters

October 15, 2012
Ted Selker
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Originally published in October 2004

The attached PDF is an article about the complexities of voting and the potential for electronic fraud in voting technologies.

 

LA TIMES: Arizona's voter ID law will go to the Supreme Court

October 15, 2012
David G. Savage
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WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court will weigh in on the controversy over voter fraud and decide early next year whether Arizona can require residents to show proof of their citizenship before they register to vote.

The justices agreed to hear Arizona's appeal of an anti-fraud provision that was adopted as a ballot initiative in 2004, but was struck down by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

NYT: Voting machine industry plays large role in the Election Assistance Commission

October 16, 2012
Adam Cohen
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The much-delayed work of setting federal standards for electronic voting machines is speeding up, and there is reason for concern. Voting machine companies and their supporters have been given a large say in the process, while advocates for voters, including those who insist on the use of voter-verified paper receipts, have been pushed to the margins. Election officials and machine makers may be betting that after the presidential election, ordinary Americans have lost interest in the mechanics of the ballot. But Americans do care, and it is unlikely that they will be satisfied by a process in which special interests dominate, or by a result that does not ensure vote totals that can be trusted.

PACIFIC COAST BUSINESS TIMES: Computer science professors and students hack California's voting machines

October 16, 2012
Stephen Nellis
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Originally published August 20, 2007

When news broke that California's electronic voting machines were vulnerable to cyber-attack, it was a team of computer scientists from the University of California, Santa Barbara, who hacked one of the systems, eventually leading California Secretary of State Debra Bowen to bar use of the machine in state elections.

"We tried to violate their security any way we could," Giovanni Vigna said of the machines, manufactured by Sequoia and until recently in use in Ventura County. "We successfully compromised the system."

GUARDIAN: Corporate-sponsored Commission on Presidential Debates places undemocratic restrictions on debates

October 16, 2012
Glenn Greenwald
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The way the two major parties control the presidential debates is a perfect microcosm of how political debates are restricted in general. Though typically shrouded in secrecy, several facts about this process have recently come to light and they are quite instructive.

Democracy Now discusses how the Obama and Romney campaigns control debate questions and exclude third party candidates; Chilean student movement receives award

October 16, 2012

Democracy Now interviews author George Farah and Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald about how the Commission on Presidential Debates restricts the ability of the presidential debates to be fair and open. The broadcast ends with an interview with two of the leaders in the Chilean student movement, which recieved an award for organizing Chile's largest protests for free higher education. (skip past headlines to get to interviews):

 

Women's International League for Peace and Freedom suggest democratic changes that require the abolishment of corporate personhood

October 17, 2012
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom
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Originally published on April 10, 2011

If We the People are sovereign, we must control the government. Corporations are created and chartered by the government which, acting on behalf of We the People, gives corporations privileges, not rights. Neither the government, without the consent of the governed, nor corporations have the right to rule over the people. Since corporations have gained the legal status of persons, corporations have accumulated rights and become rulers — in other words, they can tell the government what to do.

PROPUBLICA: How super PACS came to have so much influence in our elections

October 17, 2012
Justin Elliott
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In a forthcoming law review article, Richard Briffault of Columbia Law School argues that the rise of super PACs and unfettered contributions and spending this election cycle are “effectively ending the post-Watergate era of campaign finance laws.”

To help understand what is shaping up as a watershed election cycle, I asked Briffault to explain the path that took the country from stringent post-Watergate contribution limits through Citizens United to today’s multi-billion-dollar free-for-all.

NATION: Election Protection coalition helps voters navigate voter suppression laws

October 17, 2012
Ari Berman
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On Wednesday, October 10, eight lawyers from five different law firms in northern Virginia assembled in a DLA Piper conference room here for voter protection training from the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. It was the first of fifteen training sessions before election day in this crucial battleground state.

The Election Protection coalition plans to recruit 10,000 volunteers to assist at the polls during early voting and on election day in twenty states, particularly in high-turnout minority voting areas and historically disenfranchised communities. It will staff thirty-two call centers in English and Spanish through its 866-Our-Vote hotline. This conference room will be one of them.

THINK PROGRESS: Ohio Secretary of State determined to limit early voting despite federal court order

October 18, 2012
Ian Millhiser
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Two federal courts said that the Ohio Republican Party’s effort to reduce opportunities to vote early must not go into effect. And the Supreme Court rejected an attempt by Ohio Republican officials to reinstate a GOP-backed law taking away three days of early voting just this week.