American intelligence agencies have told the White House they now have “high confidence” that the Russian government was behind the theft of emails and documents from the Democratic National Committee, according to federal officials who have been briefed on the evidence. But intelligence officials have cautioned that they are uncertain whether the electronic break-in at the committee’s computer systems was intended as fairly routine cyberespionage — of the kind the United States also conducts around the world — or as part of an effort to manipulate the 2016 presidential election. The emails were released by WikiLeaks, whose founder, Julian Assange, has made it clear that he hoped to harm Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the presidency. It is unclear how the documents made their way to the group. But a large sampling was published before the WikiLeaks release by several news organizations and someone who called himself “Guccifer 2.0,” who investigators now believe was an agent of the G.R.U., Russia’s military intelligence service.
National: The Ghosts of Shelby County: Despite some recent wins, voting rights are still under siege | Slate
During his “I’m With Her (More or Less)” speech at the Democratic National Convention on Monday, Sen. Bernie Sanders made a vitally important argument about the 2016 campaign: That it’s about more than who the president for the next four years will be; it’s about who will be on the Supreme Court for years to come. “This election is about overturning Citizens United, one of the worst Supreme Court decisions in the history of our country,” he said. He added that Hillary Clinton’s future justices “will also defend a woman’s right to choose, workers’ rights, the rights of the LGBT community, the needs of minorities and immigrants, and the government’s ability to protect the environment.” Every last one of those promises is very serious business. But Sanders neglected to mention one of the other worst Supreme Court decisions in the history of the country—one with tangible implications for the November elections and one that has gotten far less attention than his much-loathed Citizens United. It has had as much to do with disenfranchising America’s have-nots as the campaign finance case. It’s the case that made voting an uphill battle again.
Claims that Democratic Party leaders conspired to squash the presidential primary campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders have not only led to a party shake-up but have sparked class-action litigation. A trove of hacked party emails posted by WikiLeaks show that Democratic National Committee officials had worked to undermine the underdog campaign of Mr. Sanders. Weeks before the firestorm erupted, culminating in the resignation of party chief Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a group of plaintiffs brought a lawsuit in federal court alleging that DNC “actively concealed its bias” from its donors and Democrats backing Mr. Sanders. The plaintiffs, about 150 of whom are identified in the lawsuit, are mostly Sanders supporters and include a number of DNC donors.
An error sent out to county clerks across Arkansas could keep some who are eligible to vote from casting a ballot this November because they’re believed to be felons. The Secretary of State’s office got a list of felons from the Arkansas Crime Information Center. In the past, the office has received that information from the Department of Corrections, but according to law, the SOS must go through ACIC. That’s what happened this year, but on this first go-around, there’s a major issue. Larry Crane, the Pulaski County Clerk, says with months to go before the general election it’s busy. “My office and all of the clerks are going to work our way through this the best we can,” said Crane.
Ever since the Kansas Secure and Fair Elections Act went into effect in 2013, there has been a seemingly endless string of legal battles over its legitimacy. The controversial law requires people to provide proof of citizenship when registering to vote. It was authored by Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who believes the law protects Kansas from fraudulent voting. Here, a look into the wonderful world of state and federal lawsuits to find out how the SAFE Act may affect upcoming elections in Kansas. Back in 2014, Kris Kobach stood on the steps of the federal courthouse in downtown Wichita after a long day of court proceedings. “This case is about Kansas’ right as a sovereign state to enforce our voter qualifications—specifically that voters must be U.S. citizens,” he said.
As North Dakota’s Republican-controlled government has in effect admitted, North Dakota Democrats were right about the need for a special session. The governor rejected the Democrats’ call earlier this year, but the state’s deteriorating finances prompted him to change his mind. The special session begins next week. But North Dakota Democrats now have been proven right on a second key issue: the claim that North Dakota’s new Voter ID law is too restrictive. The verdict on that question is in, having been rendered by federal courts in both Texas and Wisconsin and forcing both states to put new procedures in place before November. News flash: North Dakota’s Voter ID law is more restrictive and allows for fewer options than either the Texas or Wisconsin laws. That means it almost certainly violates federal law, and will unconstitutionally block voting among key groups of North Dakotans in November—unless it is changed.
Last week, a federal appeals court ruled Texas’ voter ID law makes it harder for minorities to vote. The state was told it could no longer enforce the law as is. Early voting in the first election since that ruling is now underway, so that special election in Bexar County is following a new set of rules. Voters started heading to the polls yesterday in a special election for House District 120, the race to replace state Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon, who retired this year, and the timing of the voter ID ruling had lawyers scrambling. “We were informed of the election I think on Friday morning. And we finished our negotiations at two o’clock in the morning Saturday morning,” said Ezra Rosenberg with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and a member of the legal team that represented a group of Texas voters fighting the state’s law.
Editorials: Election fraud: Voter ID can’t fix the real problem with Texas elections – gerrymandering | Houston Chronicle
The Texas state motto is friendship, and even across the political divide in our state Legislature, Texans should hope that everyone is acting in that sense of good faith. It’s hard to maintain that political optimism after reading last week’s opinion by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit explaining how Texas’ voter ID law violates the Voting Rights Act. The Legislature passed SB 14, the law in question, in 2011 allegedly with the intent of combatting in-person voter fraud by creating strict limits on the types of identification that can be accepted at voting locations. Before this law, Texans had to present their voter registration card or sign an affidavit while showing one of multiple forms of identification, such as a driver’s license or bank statement. Was there rampant fraud under this system? No, and Texas legislators knew it. “Ballot integrity is undoubtedly a worthy goal,” Justice Catharina Haynes wrote for the court. “But the evidence before the Legislature was that in-person voting, the only concern addressed by SB 14, yielded only two convictions for in-person voter impersonation fraud out of 20 million votes cast in the decade leading up to SB 14’s passage.”
Virginia: McAuliffe Vows To Restore Voting Rights Of Some 200,000 Virginia Felons One At A Time | AlexandriaNews
Just after a divided Virginia Supreme Court declared Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s executive order restoring the rights of more than 200,000 Virginia felons unconstitutional, McAuliffe vowed to restore those voting rights one individual at a time. Chief Justice Donald Lemons wrote the majority opinion for the Court. Relying on his clemency power under Article V, Section 12 of the Constitution of Virginia, Governor McAuliffe’s Executive Order sought “to restore the political rights of any persons disqualified by Article II, Section 1.” J.A. at 1. The voter-disqualification provision in Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution of Virginia provides: “No person who has been convicted of a felony shall be qualified to vote unless his civil rights have been restored by the Governor or other appropriate authority.” Felons may request that their civil rights be restored, and Article II, Section 1 grants the Governor the power to consider and act on those requests.
The Virginia Supreme Court ruling that Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) overstepped his powers in restoring voting rights to 206,000 felons who have completed their sentences is a model of pretzel-twisted reasoning that glosses over the plain language of the state’s constitution and elides recent state history to arrive at a conclusion whose effects are as heedless of national trends as they are racially retrograde. Writing for the majority in a 4-to-3 decision, Chief Justice Donald W. Lemons upended the governor’s executive order — challenged by political rivals whose legal standing to sue is shaky at best — mainly on the basis of history and tradition. Yet in doing so, he failed to cite any constitutional language that would contravene Mr. McAuliffe’s power to issue his directive. And while acknowledging that its analysis was rooted more in history than the constitution, which explicitly empowers Virginia governors to restore voting rights, the court seemed oblivious that the state’s history — tainted as it is by profound racial injustice — has evolved radically.
Fearful of Russian cyber attack or invasion, the Baltic state of Estonia is planning to make a virtual copy of itself — in Britain.
Negotiations are under way between Tallinn and London for Estonia to back up terabytes of data — everything from birth records and the electoral roll to property deeds, banking credentials and the entire government bureaucracy — to deposit in a secure location in the UK, according to Estonian officials. Estonia already uses its embassies abroad to house servers to safeguard copies of government files. But amid an escalation of tensions with Moscow and growing concerns about cyber attacks from its eastern neighbour, Tallinn is now planning a far more ambitious set of contingency measures. It is a project that speaks to anxieties in the region, as well as the nature of statehood itself — and war — in an increasingly digitised world. “We have a very aggressive neighbour and we need to be sure that whatever happens to our territory in the future, Estonia can survive,” said Taavi Kotka, the government’s cyber chief. “In Estonia we already vote over the internet, we pay taxes over the internet — there’s almost nothing now we don’t do digitally.”
Of the questions raised by charges that Russia was involved in the release of hacked Democratic National Committee emails, at least one — why would Russia do such a thing? — can be answered with a little-noticed but influential 2013 Russian military journal article. “The very rules of war have changed,” Gen. Valery V. Gerasimov, the chief of the general staff, wrote in the Military-Industrial Courier. The Arab Spring, according to General Gerasimov, had shown that “nonmilitary means” had overtaken the “force of weapons in their effectiveness.” Deception and disinformation, not tanks and planes, were the new tools of power. And they would be used not in formally declared conflicts but within a vast gray between peace and war. Those ideas would appear, the next year, in Russia’s formal military doctrine. It was the culmination of a yearslong strategic reorientation that has remade Russian power, in response to threats both real and imagined, into the sort of enterprise that could be plausibly accused of using cyberattacks to meddle in an American presidential election. Like so many military rethinks, what became known as the Gerasimov Doctrine began as an effort to solve a seemingly urgent problem.
The small African state of Sao Tome and Principe remains in political limbo after a refusal by the head of state Manuel Pinto da Costa to run in a second presidential election run-off round. The president qualified for the final round between the top two candidates, winning 24.83 percent of votes in the first mid-July round. The other finalist is Evaristo Carvalho, an ally of Prime Minister Patrice Trovoada, who won 49.8 percent, according to definitive results published late Monday by the Constitutional Tribunal. But Pinto da Costa and the candidate in third place, Maria das Neves, have jointly alleged fraud in the July 17 vote in the twin Atlantic archipelagos off equatorial Africa’s coast.