National: Lone wolf claims responsibility for DNC hack, dumps purported Trump smear file | Ars Technica

In an intriguing follow-up to Tuesday’s report that Russian hackers gained access to Democratic National Committee servers, an anonymous blogger has claimed he alone was responsible for the breach and backed up the claim by publishing what purport to be authentic DNC documents taken during the online heist. In a blog post published Wednesday, someone with the handle Guccifer 2.0 published hundreds of pages of documents that the author claimed were taken during a lone-wolf hack of the DNC servers. One 231-page document purports to be opposition research into Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee. Other files purport to be spreadsheets that included the names and dollar amounts of large DNC donors. Yet another document purportedly came from the computer of presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state. “Worldwide known cyber security company CrowdStrike announced that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) servers had been hacked by ‘sophisticated hacker groups,” Wednesday’s blog post stated. “I’m very pleased the company appreciated my skills so highly))) But in fact, it was easy, very easy.”

National: House approves Koch-backed bill to shield donors’ names | USA Today

The House approved a bill Tuesday that would bar the IRS from collecting the names of donors to tax-exempt groups, prompting warnings from campaign-finance watchdogs that it could lead to foreign interests illegally infiltrating American elections. The measure, which has the support of House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., also pits the Obama administration against one of the most powerful figures in Republican politics, billionaire industrialist Charles Koch. Koch’s donor network channels hundreds of millions of dollars each year into groups that largely use anonymous donations to shape policies on everything from health care to tax subsidies. Its leaders have urged the Republican-controlled Congress to clamp down on the IRS, citing free-speech concerns.

National: Primary Voting Problems Have Advocates Concerned About November Elections | TIME

Problems with mail-in ballots in California. Overcrowded polling places in Arizona. Missing names on the voter rolls in New York. Those are just some of the problems that Democratic and Republican primary voters faced over the last few months, leaving voting rights advocates concerned about the November elections, where turnout will be dramatically higher. “We are at a crossroads in our democracy. This is a moment that really requires that states and elected officials to explore ways to make voting easier,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. There’s no single fix to the problems, since each state runs elections in its own way. But advocates have found issues with malfunctioning voting machines, too few polling places and election workers misunderstanding state laws.

National: Ballot design pro helps prevent election snafus | Washington Times

Campaigns routinely spend millions of dollars on get-out-the-vote drives, but it’s money down the drain if voters can’t figure out the ballot. That’s where Drew Davies comes in. The college art major has parlayed his knack for graphic design into a career as one of the nation’s premier ballot fix-it guys. His job description may come as a surprise to those who assume that the federal government has ironed out the kinks since the 2000 presidential election uproar in Florida. As Mr. Davies can attest, there are still causes for concern. He sees ballots jammed with races, impossibly tiny print and fill-in bubbles that don’t quite align with candidates’ names. “It’s not just about prettying things up,” said Mr. Davies, who founded Oxide Design in 2001 after earning a fine arts degree from Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “Design is affecting our democracy. It’s affecting your lives. Look at the election in 2000: Bad design affected your life.” His work with the nonprofit Center for Civic Design to create 10 pocket-sized field guides for state and local election officials has been honored by the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City, which will showcase the pamphlets as part of an exhibit starting Sept. 30.

National: Can redistricting reform close the minority gap in capitols? | Salon

They have nicknames like “the dead lizard,” ”the praying mantis” and “the upside-down elephant.” The odd-shaped legislative districts that dot many states are no coincidence. The jagged lines often have been carefully drawn by state lawmakers to benefit particular incumbents or political parties. The tactic, known as gerrymandering, is nearly as old as the country itself. It’s also a maneuver that can result in an underrepresentation of minorities in some legislatures. Across the U.S, minorities now comprise nearly two-fifths of the population, yet hold less than one-fifth of all legislative seats, according to an Associated Press analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Congress and the National Conference of State Legislatures. Federal guidelines require that legislative districts are similar in population and not drawn to deny minorities a chance to elect the candidate of their choice. But racial gerrymandering can occur in a couple of ways: when minority communities are divided among multiple districts, thus diluting their voting strength; or when minorities are heavily packed into a single district, thus diminishing their likelihood of winning multiple seats.

Arizona: Attorney General rejects ‘election bible’ complaint against Secretary of State | The Arizona Republic

Arizona’s fall elections can proceed without an update manual to guide poll workers, the attorney general decides in response to a complaint against Secretary of State Michele Reagan. Arizona law says the secretary of state must issue a procedures manual for “each election,” but that is a matter of interpretation, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich decided in rejecting a complaint against Secretary Michele Reagan. Reagan made a “plausible” interpretation of the law when she decided earlier this year that a new manual doesn’t have to be produced to guide election workers. She argued there wasn’t time to compile one, and said the 2014 guidance is sufficient for the upcoming primary and general elections.

Colorado: Election study group hears mostly “no” on presidential primary | The Colorado Independent

If the first in a series of forums on Colorado’s caucus and primary system is any indication, voters love caucuses, despite the headaches, and strongly oppose moving back to a presidential primary system. Still in question is whether such forums – organized without legislative authorization by Senate Republicans – can be trusted to reflect the views of the general public. On Saturday, a group of mostly Republican state senators listened as voters, voter groups, and Libertarian and Republican party officials gave their assessment of the primary-overhaul proposals that died in the 2016 legislative session and shared their thoughts on what to do in future election years. The forum was noteworthy for the absence of Democrats. A spokesman for Colorado’s Democratic Party said Chairman Rick Palacio wasn’t invited to the forum until the last minute and declined to participate in what on Twitter he called a “work of fiction.”

Kansas: The problem with fixing something that isn’t broken | The Kansas City Star

This is the consequence of passing bad law. Kansas is set to become the national example for how poorly thought out legislation can undercut the right to vote. Changes the Legislature approved in 2012 are being compared to the days of poll taxes. It’s not a stretch. This go-round, thousands of would-be voters were excluded, not by race. It was over their ready access to documents, birth certificates and passports that they needed to produce to prove their citizenship. By court order, on Tuesday, the state had to begin adding at least 18,000 people to voter rolls — potential voters who’d been kept off by the new law when they tried to register at motor vehicle offices. Problem is, rectifying the people’s voting status can’t be accomplished by the flip of a switch. Secretary of State Kris Kobach argued it. He told a federal appeals court that the confusion his policies have created will be an administrative nightmare for the 105 counties in the state to fix. He submitted that many checks of records will need to be done manually, that not everything is automated. And that it will be costly to counties.

Editorials: Kris Kobach knuckles under to court in major victory for thousands of Kansas voters | Yael T. Abouhalkah/The Kansas City Star

In a great victory for up to 50,000 Kansans, Kris Kobach capitulated late Tuesday after suffering his latest stinging legal defeat on voter ID issues. The Republican secretary of state finally provided instructions to election officials across the state on their duty to register at least 18,000 Kansans whose eligibility for federal elections had been suspended. Most of them are under 30, likely to skew Democratic in the ballot booth. Many more could be registered before the November elections, up to 50,000 total people according to state officials. Kobach had pushed through a law that required people registering at motor vehicle offices to provide citizenship documentation before they could be considered fully eligible to vote. However, a federal judge had ruled this violated federal laws. And the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals last week denied Kobach’s plea that it override the judge’s order that registration of voters needed to start by June 15.

Maine: Virtual tie leaves fate of Maine GOP congressional primary in limbo | Bangor Daily News

The Republican primary election for Maine’s 1st Congressional District is far from over. More than 20 hours after polls closed, neither candidate had claimed victory, and naming a winner — even unofficially — hasn’t happened. The contest between Mark Holbrook and Ande Smith — each of whom is eager to try to unseat fourth-term Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree in November — is certain to head to a recount. With all precincts but Isle au Haut having submitted vote tallies, unofficial results tallied by the Bangor Daily News have Holbrook in the lead, 10,319-10,267. Unofficial results collected by the Portland Press Herald, also with only Isle au Haut missing, have Holbrook in the lead, 10,345-10,287. With a recount certain, the question is who will call for it?

New York: Why Voter Rolls Can Be A Mess | WPPB

Part of running a fair election is knowing who the voters are. That means keeping an accurate list of who is eligible to vote. That has proved to be a difficult task in many states – including New York, where a spectacular meltdown angered thousands of voters and inflamed partisan passions during the state’s April presidential primary. The problems in New York City are part of a much larger issue. A 2012 study by the Pew Center on the States found that 24 million voter registrations were wrong or invalid. That’s one in every eight voters across the country, which translates to a lot of voting roll problems. In the run up to the election, the New York City Board of Elections mistakenly purged more than 120,000 voters from its rolls in Brooklyn, ten percent of the active registered voters.

Ohio: Husted’s office to reach out to eligible voters who aren’t registered | The Columbus Dispatch

Between 1.5 million and 2.3 million Ohioans are eligible to vote but can’t because they are not registered. Secretary of State Jon Husted is going after every one of them, hoping to sign them up in this presidential election year. An estimated 80,000 already on Ohio’s voter registration rolls are also registered in other states, while 360,000 need to update their registration because they’ve moved within Ohio. Husted is going after every one of them, too. Unless they fix their registration they will either be forced to cast a provisional ballot or be purged from the list. Fueled by a $400,000 grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts, Ohio is joining the Electronic Registration Information Center, a nonprofit group that includes 20 states. So in the end, will the effort generate more or fewer registered voters in Ohio? “That’s the $64,000 question,” said David Becker, Pew’s director of election initiatives, who attended a Statehouse news conference Tuesday with Husted. Becker said that when other states signed up with ERIC, the twin efforts to register new voters and purge those ineligible essentially wound up canceling each other out.

Canada: Young voter turnout jumped sharply in 2015 contest, Elections Canada reports | The Canadian Press

Elections Canada says the turnout of young voters in last October’s election was up sharply from 2011. The agency says voter participation among those aged 18 to 24 rose by 18.3 percentage points to 57.1 per cent, up from 38.8 per cent in 2011. That’s the biggest jump for that age group since the agency began tracking demographic data in 2004. Among those eligible to vote for the first time, the percentage was 58.3 per cent. The official turnout rate overall was 68.3 per cent, with voters age 65 to 74 recording a 78.8 per cent participation rate. Voter participation on aboriginal reserves was also up, with 61.5 per cent of registered voters casting ballots, up 14 points from 2011, the agency says.

Haiti: Interim president’s mandate expires in drifting Haiti | Associated Press

Haiti entered into another leaderless drift Wednesday as the provisional president’s 120-day mandate came to a close amid backroom negotiations, posturing and delays by the deeply polarized country’s political class. Lawmakers were expected to decide whether to extend caretaker President Jocelerme Privert’s term until new elections can be held or pave the way for new interim leader. But a National Assembly session failed to take place Tuesday, when Privert’s tenure expired under the deadline of a February accord that helped put him in power. Cholzer Chancy, the acting leader of the National Assembly, on Wednesday demanded that senators and deputies return to Parliament to vote. But a session failed to materialize for a second straight day. “We are 92 deputies and 22 senators. Why can’t we come in and decide how we will continue to govern the country?” Chancy told a local radio station.

Russia: Russia denies DNC hack and says maybe someone ‘forgot the password’ | The Washington Post

When Russia faces uncomfortable accusations from abroad, the Kremlin normally lashes back with official declarations and scornful comments on state television. But when the Democratic National Committee and cybersecurity experts told The Washington Post that Russian government hackers had stolen an entire database of opposition research on presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, officials here met the accusations with little more than a simple denial and a shrug. “Usually these kinds of leaks take place not because hackers broke in, but, as any professional will tell you, because someone simply forgot the password or set the simple password 123456,” German Klimenko, Putin’s top Internet adviser, said in remarks carried by the RIA Novosti state news agency. “Well, it’s always simpler to explain this away as the intrigues of enemies, rather than one’s own incompetence.”