Voting Online: Only in Exceptional Circumstances — like Hurricane Sandy

Displaced voters who vote by email or fax must follow up with a mailed-in ballot. (Ho John Lee: Flickr)

Displaced voters who vote by email or fax must follow up with a mailed-in ballot. (Ho John Lee: Flickr)

Because so many New Jersey voters are displaced by Hurricane Sandy, government officials are permitting online or fax voting — with a back up paper ballot. Computer technology and voter security experts say the rest of us shouldn’t get too excited that we’ll have this option any time soon. As the Washington Post reports, security concerns are too significant for online voting to be implemented more broadly:

Researchers said there is little to stop anyone from creating new e-mail accounts under the names of residents of disaster-hit areas such as Atlantic City and pretending to cast votes for them.

“How do you know that person is really who they claim to be? If a server receives e-mail, how do you verify the authenticity of that voter? It’s a big challenge, particularly in an ad hoc situation like this,” said Ron Rivest, a professor of computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Post further reports that displaced voters in New York will be permitted to cast a provisional ballot at any polling place, by order of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that in California, only overseas and military personnel can cast ballot by email: Continue reading

How to Follow the Election on Twitter

Scott Beale/Laughing Squid

Twitter can be a great resource if you’re looking for the latest updates and perspective on today’s election. It can also be an incredibly frustrating source for news.

Throughout the day reporters, news organizations, politicians, voters and others will be sharing concise, up-to-the-second information about who’s winning, who’s losing and what it might mean for the country. All that chatter can create a lot of noise. Consider that more than 105,000 Tweets were being sent every minute at one point during the Oct. 22 presidential debate.

To help separate the wheat from the chaff KQED News created several resources for Twitter users looking for updates on the election — lists and hashtags we’ll be following today as we Tweet from @KQEDnews.

TWITTER LISTS Continue reading

What’s Known About the Groups Behind the $11 Million ‘Money Laundering’

(401(K) 2012: Flickr)

(401(K) 2012: Flickr)

Here’s what we can glean about the groups that funneled $11 million into California to try to defeat Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax measure — Prop. 30 —  and to pass Prop. 32 — which would limit unions’ ability to raise political funds:

The state Fair Political Practices Commission announced earlier today that Americans for Responsible Leadership, the Arizona group that last month made the $11 million contribution to a California PAC, had identified the “true source” of the donation: a Virginia-based group called Americans for Job Security. That organization in turn funneled the money back to Americans for Responsible Leadership through yet another group, the Center to Protect Patient Rights. We cannot find a website for it. The Center’s address is listed as a P.O. box in Phoenix.

Completely lost? Let’s review the steps — steps which the FPPC characterizes as “campaign money laundering” under California law:

  1. Americans for Job Security (Virginia) sent money to the Center to Protect Patient Rights (P.O. box in Phoenix)
  2. The Center to Protect Patient Rights sent it to Americans for Responsible Leadership (Arizona)
  3. Americans for Responsible Leadership in turn sent $11 million to the Small Business Action Committee PAC, here in California. One might assume the PAC lost no time in dumping the money into TV ads to defeat Prop. 30 and to pass Prop. 32. The Sacramento Bee’s Capitol Alert lays out the money trail, complete with dates.
(T)he money trail in a case like this $11 million contribution to the California initiative campaigns leads not to individuals, but to a few organizations that are impervious to public scrutiny.

Now we have the names of the committees involved. How about the people or companies who were the source of the money in the first place? We’re in the dark about that, thanks to federal law and court rulings that allow a wide spectrum of political donors to keep their identities secret. Continue reading

Watchdog Agency Accuses Arizona Group of ‘Money Laundering’

(401(K) 2012: Flickr)

(401(K) 2012: Flickr)

The California Fair Political Practices Commission released a statement Monday morning saying the Arizona-based Americans for Responsible Leadership violated California law by engaging in “campaign money laundering.”

As the Los Angeles Times reports:

In a stunning reversal, an obscure Arizona nonprofit at the center of a legal battle over secret political contributions released on Monday morning the identity of its contributors, which it had been fighting tooth and nail to keep secret.

But the disclosure did little to shed light on who was behind the $11-million donation to a California campaign fund. The Arizona group, Americans for Responsible Leadership, identified its contributors only as other nonprofits. Continue reading

Map: Money Flowing to California Propositions by State

In a post-Citizens United world, keeping track of money in politics is more critical than ever. Now the great people at Peninsula Press have crunched data from the California Secretary of State — donations to any campaign for-or-against any of the 11 propositions on the November ballot.

Peninsula Press then joined that money data with U.S. zip codes so anyone can look, interactively, at how much money is flowing to proposition campaigns, from California and from across the country. Pick your prop and take a look. How much is the rest of the country donating heavily to props here at home?

Works best on the Chrome browser…

Final Presidential Debate 6 p.m.: Webcasts, Fact-Check, Live Blogs

We’re in the final sprint now. Election Day is just 15 days away, and tonight is the third and final presidential debate live from Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida. Bob Schieffer of CBS News and host of Face the Nation will moderate.

His format sounds suspiciously like that of the first presidential debate. Schieffer has picked six topics — although not necessarily to be discussed in this order:

  • America’s role in the world
  • Our longest war – Afghanistan and Pakistan
  • Red Lines – Israel and Iran
  • The Changing Middle East and the New Face of Terrorism – I
  • The Changing Middle East and the New Face of Terrorism – II
  • The Rise of China and Tomorrow’s World

Schieffer will open each segment with a question, and the candidates will have two minutes to respond. Then it’s Schieffer’s job to “facilitate a discussion” for a total of 15 minutes on each topic.

The debate starts at 6 p.m. PT.

Here’s the NewsHour Live Stream:

Continue reading

Archive: KQED Public Radio’s ‘Forum’ Examines 10 State Propositions

Michael Krasny in studio

Through the studio glass: Michael Krasny hosts KQED's daily call-in show "Forum."

Here at KQED, we take elections pretty seriously. It’s a time when our mission of educating the public comes to a head — the messages coming from the campaigns are unrelenting and taken as a whole can present a confusing picture. So helping you cast an informed vote is our aim.

That was the philosophy behind our state proposition guide. Some people, however, prefer listening to reading. For those folks we present a complete archive of Forum’s 2012 state proposition shows. Some are an hour long, some are half an hour, but all present views from both sides and include community input we received via calls, emails, Facebook and Twitter. So sit back, turn up your speakers, and take a listen…


Prop. 30: Gov. Brown’s Tax Increase for Education, Public Safety

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Obama and Romney and Posey and Cain: How to Watch the Giants AND the Debate

Want to watch the debate and the Giants game at the same time? You may want to take note of how Nick Juliano watches college football. Photo courtesy Nick Juliano.

At 5 p.m. the San Francisco Giants will take the field for what could be the last time this season. (Hey, we’re not hoping, we’re just saying, you know, it’s a possiblity.) An hour later, the presidential candidates will take the stage for what will be the final debate before the election. (And this one we’re pretty sure about).

Two decades ago, in that pre-DVR wilderness, that might’ve created a dilemma for Bay Area residents. Do you turn your television to the Giants game and root the team on to the World Series? Or do you watch the debate and learn more about the candidates vying to lead the free world? Or do you go to a loud, crowded bar and hope to do both at the same time?

Fortunately, those days are behind us. Chances are you have at least two televisions and at least one mobile device that will allow you to watch the game while following the debate, or vice versa, in the peace and quiet of your own home. Here’s where you can find the events on air, online and on mobile: Continue reading

Analysis: Propositions 32 and 37 Campaign Ads

California is not a battleground state for the presidential election, so that leaves plenty of room on the airwaves for other statewide commercials. Friday on The California Report Magazine, host Scott Shafer does some fact-checking with KXTV political reporter John Myers. They started off with commercials for and against Proposition 37, the measure to require labels on genetically modified foods in California.

Here’s an ad in favor of Prop. 37:

And here’s a commercial from the “No on 37” campaign: Continue reading