National: Hackers Are Sharing Reams of US Voter Data on the Dark Web | Motherboard

Alleged voting records of millions of American citizens have been uploaded to the dark web on a site affiliated with a well-known cybercrime forum. Although the information is not particularly sensitive in its own right, its presence on the site shows that even easily obtainable personal data can be of interest to hackers. The datasets appear to include voters’ full names, dates of birth, the date they registered to vote, addresses, local school districts, and several other pieces of information. The dumps also include voting records from previous elections and political affiliations. The two largest files are 1.2 GB and 1 GB, respectively, and each contain at least a million entries. The folder containing the files is called “US_Voter_DB,” though Motherboard could not independently verify the contents’ legitimacy. It’s not entirely clear where the data was sourced from. On December 28 last year, news site CSO Online reported that a database configuration issue had left 191 million voter records exposed to the open internet. That data was discovered by security researcher Christopher Vickery, who found his own personal information within the dump.

National: It May Be Time to Resolve the Meaning of ‘Natural Born’ | The New York Times

After he left Wall Street to enter politics eight years ago, Representative Jim Himes, Democrat of Connecticut, began fielding the occasional question of when he intended to run for president. “It has come up in jest any number of times,” said Mr. Himes, who always has his answer ready. “There could be constitutional questions.” Mr. Himes, you see, was born in Peru in 1966 while his father worked for the Ford Foundation. That makes him one of at least 17 current members of Congress who, because of their birth outside the United States, could run afoul of the Constitution’s “natural born citizen” presidential requirement should they try to relocate down Pennsylvania Avenue.

National: Unlikely Advocates Push To Give 16-Year-Olds A Vote | NPR

Turning 16 is considered a milestone. In many states, it means being able to drive, pay taxes and work like an adult. In Washington, D.C., 16-year-olds could soon take on another responsibility: the right to vote in a presidential election. Michelle Blackwell is helping lead the effort to enfranchise teenagers in the nation’s capital. But she’s not your typical Washington politico. In D.C., the 44-year-old is better known as one of the top go-go singers around. “Go-go is one of the indigenous genres of music — born right in this city,” says Blackwell of the percussive brand of funk music that originated in Washington in the late 1960s. But off stage, she’s now helping lead the effort to make D.C. the first jurisdiction to let 16-year-olds vote in federal elections.

Idaho: New bill would move up Idaho’s party affiliation deadline | Associated Press

Idaho voters seeking to change their political party affiliation before this year’s presidential primary election would be up against a tight deadline under new legislation introduced Monday. The bill, approved by the Senate State Affairs Committee through a voice vote, would cut off party affiliation changes on the second Friday of February. That would be Feb. 12 this year. The current deadline is March 12. Chief Deputy Secretary of State Tim Hurst says current law allows people to register as Republican during Idaho’s new March 8 presidential primary election and then switch to another party to vote under different affiliation in the May 17 primary for state and local offices.

Indiana: No more straight party ticket voting? | 21Alive

A proposal has resurfaced in the statehouse that could change the way you vote. This is the second year for the measure that would eliminate straight ticket voting. Straight ticket voting happens when you go to cast your ballot and push one button that allows you to vote for all the Republican, Democrat or Libertarian candidates in that election. Indiana is one of nine states to still allow straight ticket voting. Several state legislatures have eliminated the practice over the past few years.

Iowa: Presidential election ad wars: candidates flood $6.5m into Iowa TV market | The Guardian

Presidential candidates have spent $6.5m flooding just one small television market alone with more than 10,000 political commercials in the weeks leading up to the Iowa caucuses, the first votes of the 2016 election, according to a Guardian study. The exclusive analysis of regulatory filings by the four main commercial TV stations in Des Moines, Iowa, also reveals a sharp increase in the influence of rich donors on the race, with spending by Super Pacs – organizations independent of the candidates’ campaigns which, unlike the campaigns, may raise unlimited amounts of money from individual donors – now outstripping candidate expenditure by at least a third.

Maryland: Voting rights for felons spurs impassioned debate | Baltimore Sun

Robinette Barmer woke up in Baltimore last week with paralyzing arthritis, but she crawled out of bed anyway and kept moving until she was on the steps of the Maryland State House in Annapolis, shouting “Shame! Shame! Shame!” at Maryland’s governor. Barmer, 60, and the crowd around her hoped to persuade the legislature to override what’s become the most contentious veto issued by Gov. Larry Hogan, one that canceled a law granting voting rights to felons more quickly. Currently, they have to first finish their probation or parole. Of the six bills Hogan, a Republican, vetoed last year, none faces tougher odds for an override than two that would give 40,000 felons the right to vote before their sentences are complete.

New York: Concerns of ‘Voter Fatigue’ as New York Schedules Four 2016 Election Days | Gotham Gazette

As New Yorkers begin a year of many voting opportunities, there are important questions that elections will help answer – like who the next U.S. President will be and which party will control the state Senate – but also concern about voter fatigue and thus, turnout. There will be at least four chances for New Yorkers to cast votes in 2016, with three different primary election days leading up to November’s general election. There will be a presidential primary vote in April; congressional primaries in June; and state legislative primaries in September. There will also be special elections sprinkled in to fill empty seats in the state Assembly and Senate.

Afghanistan: Panel Sets Election Date, Drawing Government Criticism | The New York Times

The Afghan election commission said Monday that it had set an Oct. 15 date for long-delayed parliamentary and district council elections. But the announcement immediately raised fears of new political deadlock after the country’s power-sharing government denounced the plan as illegitimate. In announcing the date, Ahmad Yousuf Nuristani, the chief of Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission, evidently did not coordinate with the government. And a spokesman for Abdullah Abdullah, the government’s chief executive, criticized the scheduling because the electoral reform he had demanded had not gone through. “The current election commission has no legitimacy because it was their weak management of the previous election that brought us on the brink of chaos,” said Javid Faisal, a spokesman for Mr. Abdullah. “Reforming the election process is a precondition to any election, and a part of the larger reform is the changing of current commission officials.”

Haiti: Several election offices attacked in Haiti as runoff nears | Associated Press

Stone-throwing demonstrators on Monday smashed car windows and set at least two vehicles ablaze in Haiti’s capital, hours after several electoral offices were attacked in northern towns as the country prepares for a Jan. 24 presidential and legislative runoff. Roughly 2,000 protesters took to the streets in downtown Port-au-Prince calling for new elections and the immediate removal of outgoing President Michel Martelly, among other grievances. Roads were blocked with flaming tire barricades and more than a dozen motorists had their cars pelted with rocks. A truck and an SUV were torched by young men near a police station. Police dispersed opposition protesters and cleared most roadblocks by late afternoon. Officers scattered some demonstrators with tear gas in the downtown slum of Bel Air, one of many impoverished areas where young people who’ve never held any kind of steady job are easy pickings for political actors looking for protesters for hire.

Macedonia: Parliament moves for April election that opposition says will boycott | Reuters

Macedonia’s parliament voted on Monday to dissolve itself as of Feb. 24, clearing the way to an early parliamentary election two months later that the opposition says it will boycott. The ruling VMRO-DPMNE moved ahead with plans to hold the poll on April 24, in line with a deal brokered by the European Union mid-last year to end a bitter standoff over allegations against the conservative government of illegal phone-tapping and widespread abuse of office. But the Social Democrats, the biggest opposition party, said they would not take part, effectively prolonging a political crisis that erupted in January 2015 when party leader Zoran Zaev began releasing a slew of damaging wire-taps.

Vanuatu: Thousands of Vanuatu youth denied chance to vote | Radio New Zealand

The president of the organisation Vanuatu Youth Against Corruption, Priscilla Meto, says more than 70 percent of people who turned 18 after the last election in 2012 will be unable to vote on Friday. She says this is because the nature of the snap election means the Electoral Commission has been unable to issue new electoral cards to many of those people. Ms Meto says this is unfair as it means more than 3,000 young people will not be able to exercise their right to vote, and will have to wait until 2020 to be heard. “It will be very unfair because most of the youth will not be casting their vote to participate in this election to show what they want during this snap election.”