National: Federal Election Commission employees: a bedraggled lot | Center for Public Integrity

Federal Election Commission employees — a generally unhappy lot for years — are even more unsatisfied with their jobs than before. That’s the bleak conclusion drawn from the 2015 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey’s satisfaction index, which places the election law enforcer and regulator near the bottom of 41 small agencies ranked. The FEC received an employee “global satisfaction” score of 43 out of 100, down a point from last year and 12 points from 2010, according to the annual survey released today by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Only the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (36) and African Development Foundation (18) received a lower score than the FEC among small agencies. The average score among small federal agencies is 62.

National: True the Vote seeks voter roll purge ahead of 2016 | MSNBC

A group with ties to the tea party and a Koch brothers-founded organization is helping election officials in North Carolina to remove thousands of duplicate registrations from the voter rolls ahead of next year’s elections. And it says it wants to do the same thing nationally. The effort, announced early Monday by Houston-based True the Vote, is aimed at removing duplicates—when a voter’s name mistakenly appears twice. True the Vote has been accused by critics in the past of using intimidating tactics and stoking unwarranted fear about voter fraud. True the Vote said it sent each of North Carolina’s 10 largest counties lists of potential duplicate registrations, based on similarities in the names, ages or addresses listed. It said five of the counties have told them they’re processing the data, and one, Guilford, has already removed 655 names from its rolls. True the Vote said it’s currently compiling similar data for the 10 largest counties in two other 2016 swing states, Ohio and Colorado.

Editorials: VW scandal and cheating software | Bruce Schneier/CNN

For the past six years, Volkswagen has been cheating on the emissions testing for its diesel cars. The cars’ computers were able to detect when they were being tested, and temporarily alter how their engines worked so they looked much cleaner than they actually were. When they weren’t being tested, they belched out 40 times the pollutants. Their CEO has resigned, and the company will face an expensive recall, enormous fines and worse. Cheating on regulatory testing has a long history in corporate America. It happens regularly in automobile emissions control and elsewhere. What’s important in the VW case is that the cheating was preprogrammed into the algorithm that controlled cars’ emissions. Computers allow people to cheat in ways that are new. Because the cheating is encapsulated in software, the malicious actions can happen at a far remove from the testing itself. Because the software is “smart” in ways that normal objects are not, the cheating can be subtler and harder to detect. We’ve already had examples of smartphone manufacturers cheating on processor benchmark testing: detecting when they’re being tested and artificially increasing their performance. We’re going to see this in other industries.

Editorials: Doubts about new redistricting case | Lyle Denniston/SCOTUSblog

The Supreme Court on Monday afternoon told lawyers involved in a new case on the constitutionality of a congressional election district in Virginia to file new briefs on whether the case can go forward in the Court. In a one-paragraph order issued along with two other procedural orders after the first Conference in advance of the new Term, the Court questioned whether current and former members of the House had a legal right to pursue their appeal. The Court has not yet agreed to hear the case, but it is in a form that would require the Court to act on it if it were properly filed. At the core of the case of Wittman v. Personhuballah is whether a sprawling District 3 was designed unconstitutionally because of the role that race played in drawing its boundaries. The only House district in Virginia with a majority of minority population, it starts north of Richmond and skips various cities on its way southward into the area around Norfolk and Newport News. It is now represented by a black Democrat, Rep. Bobby Scott. Its form has been described as resembling a “grasping claw.”

Editorials: All-In for the Primaries | Bobbie Brinegar/Huffington Post

Poll after poll shows Americans are dissatisfied with government. Last year, Congress’s job approval rating was at a near-record low of just 15 percent. In fact, dissatisfaction with government was named as the most important problem facing the country. And partisan gridlock was the number-one reason why. All this displeasure led to the lowest voter turnout in 72 years for the 2014 midterm election. It may also be why more and more Americans are calling themselves Independents.

Alaska: Campaigns wants to use PFD to register voters | Juneau Empire

According to the state of Alaska, there are 547,212 Alaskans 18 and older. Only 501,515 are registered to vote. A new campaign hopes to use the Permanent Fund Dividend as a tool to go after the other 45,697. Kimberly Reitmeier is chairwoman of PFD Voter Registration, a group gathering signatures to put a initiative on the 2016 primary election ballot. If organizers get the names and numbers they need, Alaskans will be asked to vote on a proposal that would make registering to vote as easy as registering for the PFD. “Increasing voter registration is our focus,” Reitmeier said. “We want to encourage that civic responsibility of voting.”

California: Sacramento County seeks review of elections office | The Sacramento Bee

Sacramento County plans to hire a consultant to review its elections office following complaints from city clerks about the handling of last year’s elections. As reported by The Sacramento Bee last month, current and former clerks in Sacramento, Galt and Rancho Cordova said the elections office had become less reliable in the past 18 months. The office published inaccurate information about contests in Sacramento and Rancho Cordova in sample ballot guides and provided Galt’s clerk with wrong information about the ballot order of council races, among other things.

Florida: 2016 election will again test Florida | Herald-Tribune

As the nation’s largest swing state heading into the 2016 presidential election, Florida’s election system will be tested again in a national spotlight. Florida’s electoral system drew unprecedented scrutiny and legal challenges with its decisive 537-vote edge for President George W. Bush in the 2000 election. In 2012, Florida became a national laughingstock when it was the last state to officially count its votes in the less contested re-election of President Barack Obama. Since then, Florida has made some changes to its voting system, but falls short in several key areas. And that’s a pattern common to many states, according to a report from the National Commission on Voting Rights. The report is the second from the NCVR, which conducted 25 state and regional hearings in 2013 and 2014, collecting testimony from voters, academics and activists, including a hearing in Miami.

Florida: Fight over congressional map fueled by Senate power struggle | Miami Herald

Sen. Tom Lee, one of the Senate’s most powerful Republicans, took the stand Friday in the ongoing trial over how to configure Florida’s 27 congressional districts and said that he did not draw a district to benefit himself and he had no intention of running for Congress. It was a rare, personal moment in the unprecedented process that has reshaped how redistricting works in Florida. But, while the testimony was designed by the Senate to undercut attacks by the Republican-led House that the Senate map was drawn to benefit incumbent Republicans, it also exposed how the congressional trial is really just a practice run. Leaders in the House and Senate have concluded that the outcome of the trial will have a direct impact on the drawing of something more personal than congressional districts — the Senate map — because how the case is resolved could decide how much input legislators will have in shaping that plan.

Indiana: Battle lines: Redistricting changes under consideration | Herald Bulletin

n 2001, three Indiana senators represented portions of Madison County. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, had a majority of the county; Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, had the western portion; and Doug Eckerty, R-Yorktown, had just one township, Van Buren in the northeastern corner of the county. In 2011, after districts were redrawn using the 2010 census, the state senate districts changed dramatically. Lanane’s 25th district, which had been exclusively in Madison County, is now mostly a Delaware County district. Kenley’s district has retreated back across the Hamilton County line, and Eckerty now represents all of Madison County except Anderson. “When they brought me in to show me my district, I almost didn’t recognize it,” Lanane said. “It basically got turned on its side.”

Kansas: Young voters, Wichitans top Kansas’ suspended voter list | The Wichita Eagle

A statewide list of 36,674 suspended voters – those who tried to register to vote but did not meet all the requirements – will start to disappear this week. A new rule proposed by Secretary of State Kris Kobach will remove people who have been on the list for more than 90 days if they haven’t shown proof of citizenship. Before, they would have stayed on the list until they resolved their registration problem. The majority of those people? Young, unaffiliated voters. An Eagle analysis shows that more than 40 percent of people on the state’s suspended voter list are under 30. More than half are unaffiliated with a party, while 18 percent are listed as Democrats and 22 percent are listed as Republicans. Since a proof of citizenship law championed by Kobach went into effect in 2013, more than 16 percent of people who have tried to register to vote have been placed on the suspended voter list. The list had grown to 36,674 people by this month – up from 27,131 in October last year.

Michigan: Cindy Gamrat, Todd Courser inspire re-election prevention bill | MLive

Former state Reps. Cindy Gamrat and Todd Courser, who decided to run for re-election just days after their expulsion and resignation, have highlighted a “hole” in Michigan election law that should be filled, according to one high-ranking legislator. Welcome to Michigan Political Points, my weekly roundup of news, views and YouTubes from the state Capitol and beyond. Rep. Lisa Lyons, chairwoman of the House Elections Committee, is drafting a bill to preclude a would-be candidate from running in a special election immediately after they were expelled or resigned from the same position.

Minnesota: Voter registration ordinance passes | The Minnesota Daily

When Andrew Degerstrom was a University of Minnesota student in 2009, he didn’t vote in that year’s elections because he didn’t know they were taking place. He said he probably would have voted if he had been given voter registration information when he moved to Minneapolis. Landlords will soon be required to provide their tenants with voter registration information when they move in under a new ordinance the Minneapolis City Council passed last week. “If this ordinance had been in effect at that time, I would’ve received information on registering to vote when I moved in, and I most likely would have [voted],” said Degerstrom, who is the president of the East Isles Residents Association. Degerstrom testified in support of the ordinance at a council committee meeting earlier this month.

New Mexico: Lawmakers meet on secretary of state case | KOB News

The House Special Investigatory Committee met Monday for the first time to investigate fraud, embezzlement and money laundering charges against New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna Duran and gave its chair members the authority to hire a lawyer. The mood was somber and serious as the panel of five Republicans and five Democrats discussed whether the accusations and possible violations of elections laws should lead to her impeachment. “We have a bipartisan committee who’s going to look at all the facts and look at if not only is there criminal violations – but are there ethical violations that have compromised her ability to perform her duties,” said Rep. Bill Rehm, R-Albuqerque, a member of the committee.

North Carolina: Trouble Seems to be Brewing in North Carolina | Frontloading HQ

North Carolina may or may not be a microcosm of the national Republican Party, but one thing is for sure, the disagreements between the two chambers in the North Carolina General Assembly are not confined to just the legislature. Now, Governor Pat McCrory and the Republican Party in the Tar Heel state are involved, and the presidential primary is at the heart of at least one of the feuds (for lack of a better term).The controversial presidential primary legislation that narrowly passed the House after a less contentious trip through the Senate last week has drawn the ire of both the governor and the North Carolina Republican Party. Neither is seemingly pleased with the rider added to HB 373 during conference committee stage that has opened the door to legislative caucuses creating campaign committees to raise money (thus circumventing the state parties). That raises the potential for a veto though Governor McCrory can allow the bill to become law without his signature as well. A veto would mean that North Carolina would not shift into a March 15 primary date and would end up non-compliant with Republican National Committee delegate selection rules (tethered to the South Carolina Republican primary).

Pennsylvania: Wolf finds fault with third parties court ruling | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

It’s not that Gov. Tom Wolf opposes a federal judge’s order to make life easier for third-party political candidates. In fact, a spokesman said, Mr. Wolf supports legislation to do just that. But the Wolf administration says it isn’t sure how to respond to the ruling itself, which is why it’s appealing to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. “The governor certainly supports access for minor and aspiring parties,” Wolf spokesman Jeffrey Sheridan said. Still, a July opinion by U.S. District Judge Lawrence F. Stengel “left open questions that require resolution.” Pennsylvania law requires minor-party candidates seeking statewide office to obtain tens of thousands of signatures to appear on the November ballot. Democrats and Republicans need no more than 2,000 signatures to compete in the primary, where success guarantees a ballot spot in November.

Voting Blogs: Muddying the Waters: Publishing Virginia’s Proposed Redistricting Remedies | State of Elections

The most recent action in Virginia’s ongoing redistricting saga involves a motion to make the proposed remedial plans available on a publicly accessible website. Perhaps ironically, it is the Defendants (Alcorn) suggesting that the proposals be posted online, while the Plaintiffs (Personhuballah) argues that general public input is not necessary or appropriate. Almost one year ago (October 7, 2014), a U.S. District Court (the Court) ordered that Virginia adopt a new redistricting plan before the next election of U.S. Representatives. It ordered the State’s General Assembly to remedy the constitutional violations found by the court. After the United States Supreme Court vacated that judgment and remanded the case in March of this year, the Court again ordered the General Assembly to draw and adopt new districts by September 1, 2015.

Burkina Faso: Gearing Up for Election, Burkina Faso Moves On From Failed Coup | VoA News

In the aftermath of the failed coup in Burkina Faso, questions are being raised on how to get the electoral process on track again and whether members of the former ruling party will take part. But the streets of Burkina Faso’s capital city, Ouagadougou, are busy again as people try to move on from the events of September 16, which paralyzed all economic activity for a week. Saidou Zangre reopened his clothes shop Saturday. “The recovery can’t be automatic,” he said. “It is also our role to come back into the city center and show people that it’s OK, that there is no problem anymore.”

Canada: Expat running in Harper’s riding even though he can’t vote | The Globe and Mail

A Canadian citizen has become a protest candidate in the riding held by Conservative Leader Stephen Harper even though he is barred from voting because he has lived outside Canada for too long. Nicolas Duchastel de Montrouge is now one of seven people taking on Harper in Calgary Heritage after spending more than a week collecting the requisite 100 signatures from riding residents. “It was hard but we made it happen,” Duchastel de Montrouge said Monday from suburban Seattle where he lives. “I am the only candidate I think that resides outside Canada.” Duchastel de Montrouge’s registration as an Independent comes as two other long-term expats prepared to ask the Supreme Court of Canada to restore their right to vote from abroad.

Myanmar: EU to deploy Myanmar election observers | Bangkok Post

The EU said Tuesday it will for the first time deploy observers in Myanmar’s upcoming elections when the opposition led by Aung San Suu Kyi is expected to make significant gains against the military-dominated government. National League for Democracy chairwoman Aung San Suu Kyi delivers a speech during a voter education campaign in Shan State on Sept 5, 2015. “The mission confirms the European Union’s continued commitment to the democratic transition of Myanmar,” EU foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini said in a statement. “Elections held in a peaceful and inclusive environment will help to consolidate irreversible reforms in the country,” Mogherini said.

Spain: Catalonia election: what does victory for pro-independence parties mean? | The Guardian

With all of the 4.1m votes counted, the two pro-secessionist parties, Junts pel Sí (Together for Yes) and Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP), have won 72 of Catalonia’s 135 seats, giving them a majority. On paper at least, the two secessionist parties have the numbers they need to advance their pledge to declare independence within the next 18 months. But although the vote was billed as a plebiscite on independence, it was a regional parliamentary election. In such systems the legitimacy and mandate of any government comes from having a majority in parliament. For example, the People’s party (PP) of the prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, has a majority in the national parliament, having won 44.6% of the vote in 2011. In Britain, the Conservatives command a majority in the House of Commons with 37% of the popular vote. However, the slim margin of victory on Sunday means the two pro-independence parties, which have little in common apart from the desire to break away from Spain, will struggle to put together a stable government – and any administration they form is unlikely to last a full legislature.

Voting Blogs: Catalonia: no fast track to independence | openDemocracy

One year ago, failing to win the independence referendum, Scottish PM Alex Salmond swiftly resigned. This has not been the case of President Artur Mas. At the end of the day, Spain, as the local cliché goes, is different, and Catalonia remains part of Spain. Following a very emotional and tense campaign, the pro-independence parties have won an absolute majority of seats in the Catalan regional parliamentary elections of September 27. Yet, they have lost the plebiscite they had claimed this election would be. They wanted a clear and overwhelming mandate, and a clear and overwhelming mandate there is not. They now backtrack by saying there are many “yes” votes hidden in not pro-independence parties’ vote. But if they count this election to be a plebiscite, as they said they will, then one counts the explicit “yes” on the “yes” camp and all the others on the “no” camp, even if you think you could find many implicit “yeses” here and there. The truth is that they have got 47.78 percent of the votes. The rest is hot air.