Did Michelle Obama violate Illinois state election law? After Michelle Obama turned in her early voting ballot yesterday, she stopped outside the voting booth to take pictures with people in the area, including an electrician, Dennis Campbell. According to Campbell and a reporter who was nearby, Michelle stated that it was very important that he vote “to help keep her husband’s agenda going.” Illinois state law (Sec. 17-29 (a)) states that “No judge of election, pollwatcher, or other person shall, at any primary or election, do any electioneering or soliciting of votes or engage in any political discussion within any polling place, within 100 feet of any polling place.” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs responded to the accusation by stating that “I don’t think it would be much to imagine, the First Lady might support her husband’s agenda.”
Charges were filed against a Maryland man, Jerry Mathis, for distributing an official-looking sample ballot that turned out to be fake. The false ballots alarmed several candidates when they saw that the wrong matchups were checked. Under Maryland law, Mr. Mathis could be facing a maximum of one year in jail and a $25,000 fine.
Some Illinois electronic voter machines contain a typo that can’t be fixed before the Nov. 2 elections. In 23 wards–half of which are in predominately African-American areas–gubernatorial candidate Richard Whitney’s name is misspelled as “Rich Whitey”. The error, which only appears when confirming the ballot and not on the actual voting screen, should not have too great of an effect, however, as Chicago Board of Elections spokesperson Jim Allen expected 90 percent of votes on election day will be cast on paper ballots. Whitney, the Green Party candidate, is considering legal action, however, because he doesn’t “want to be identified as ‘Whitey,’” particularly in largely African-American areas.
A test of an online D.C. voting system fell victim to a team of hackers from Ann Arbor, Michigan, raising concerns about the security of the site, which was intended to help overseas and military voters to cast their ballots with less hassle. The hackers were responding to an invitation from the D.C. Board of Elections to help them with their tests and the hackers were able to find several problems with the voting system, such as the fact that no one had changed the password to the site from the default, which was published in the user manual. Hackers had access to the IDs and passwords of all the voters registered on the system, were able to change votes already cast, and caused the Michigan fight song to play every time a vote was successfully cast. The minor pranks they played on the site were not discovered until 2 days later. The Board of Elections has stated that this incident has shown them where they need to improve, but that they haven’t given up the idea of having online voting available.
UPDATE: On October 13, The U.S. Supreme Court denied an emergency request to block the application of Maine’s Clean Elections system to this year’s elections. On October 6, the First Circuit denied an emergency injunction but did not decide on the merits of the system itself. The “emergency”, according to the three-judge panel, was one of the challenger’s own making, as they waited until August to bring it.