National: Homeland Security sending advice to election officials to protect voting machines from cyberattack | Los Angeles Times

The Department of Homeland Security is preparing advice for election officials to better protect electronic voting machines, online ballots and vote counts from hackers, following the high-profile breach of Democratic National Committee emails, the head of the department said Wednesday. “We are actively thinking about election cyber security right now,” Jeh Johnson said at a breakfast…

National: Election Law Ground Wars Underway in Federal Courts | Roll Call

With the conventions over and Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton locked in a close contest, a ground-level fight for an edge in the presidential race will unfold this summer in the nation’s courts. Legal challenges to state election laws are still working through federal courts and possibly on to the Supreme Court this fall. The outcome of those cases on issues such as photo identification, polling locations and registration could affect voter turnout in about a dozen swing states. The courts have been siding with challengers to election law changes, including rulings in July to soften voter ID laws in Texas and Wisconsin, block a voter ID law and other election changes in North Carolina, halt a voter ID requirement in North Dakota, and strike down a registration law in Kansas.

National: Tighter Restrictions Are Losing In The Battle Over Voter ID Laws | FiveThirtyEight

The struggle over who can vote on Election Day is becoming more heated in courtrooms, judges’ chambers and statehouses across the country, paralleling the intensity of the presidential race. And at the moment, the side that wants fewer voting restrictions seems to be winning. The battle began in earnest after 2010, when several Republican state legislatures began tightening identification requirements on voters. It has reached a new level in the 2016 election, when voters in 17 states faced new restrictions that ranged from photo ID requirements to cutbacks on early voting and same-day registration. Republicans said the laws were necessary to prevent fraud; Democrats and voting rights advocates said the restrictions were really designed to reduce participation by minority groups and young voters who traditionally support Democrats. “It’s the biggest rollback of voting since Jim Crow,” said Jonathan Brater, an attorney at NYU Law’s Brennan Center for Justice, which compiled the list of restrictions.

National: US Cyber Pros: Hackers Could Hit Electronic Voting Machines Next | VoA News

U.S. cyber security professionals say suspected foreign hackers who recently attacked computer systems of the Democratic Party could do something even more sinister in the future. The cyber pros, who appeared on this week’s Hashtag VOA program, said U.S. electronic voting systems are likely to be among the next targets. When the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks published leaked emails of the U.S. Democratic National Committee last month, it caused major embarrassment to the party, and forced U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to quit her position as the DNC chairperson. Cybersecurity analyst Richard Forno said that outcome shows foreign hackers can achieve political goals and incentivizes them to escalate their attacks.

Editorials: Election security as a national security issue | Dan Wallach/Freedom to Tinker

We recently learned that Russian state actors may have been responsible for the DNC emails recently leaked to Wikileaks. As we understand the facts, the Democratic National Committee’s email system was hacked. Earlier this spring, once they became aware of the hack, the DNC hired Crowdstrike, an incident response firm. The New York Times reports: Preliminary conclusions were discussed last week at a weekly cyberintelligence meeting for senior officials. The Crowdstrike report, supported by several other firms that have examined the same bits of code and telltale “metadata” left on documents that were released before WikiLeaks’ publication of the larger trove, concludes that the Federal Security Service, known as the F.S.B., entered the committee’s networks last summer. President Obama added that “on a regular basis, [the Russians] try to influence elections in Europe.” For the sake of this blog piece, and it’s not really a stretch, let’s take it as a given that foreign nation-state actors including Russia have a large interest in the outcome of U.S. elections and are willing to take all sorts of unseemly steps to influence what happens here. Let’s take it as a given that this is undesirable and talk about how we might stop it.

Editorials: Analysis: Trump Not the First to Claim Voter Fraud Will Rig Elections | Zachary Roth/NBC News

Donald Trump, slipping in the polls, has taken to warning that the election is being “rigged.” In an interview with The Washington Post published Tuesday, Trump suggested that recent court rulings against strict voting laws in North Carolina, Wisconsin, Texas and elsewhere could let people vote over and over. “There’s a lot of dirty pool played at the election, meaning the election is rigged,” Trump said. “I would not be surprised. The voter ID, they’re fighting as hard as you can fight so that that they don’t have to show voter ID. So, what’s the purpose of that? How many times is a person going to vote during the day?” Asked whether he thinks people can vote multiple times, Trump continued: “Multiple times. How about like 10 times. Why not? If you don’t have voter ID, you can just keep voting and voting and voting.” Trump made the same case on Fox News Tuesday, warning: “People are going to walk in and vote 10 times maybe. Who knows? They are going to vote 10 times.” Let’s first quickly dispense with the substance of Trump’s claim. For one thing, the statistically tiny amount of double voting that has been detected in elections is almost always the result of people being registered in more than one state. That’s something a voter ID requirement would do nothing to prevent.

Alabama: Voter ID rulings could impact Alabama | Montgomery Advertiser

A lawsuit challenging Alabama’s voter ID law is set for trial next year, but a wave of court decisions is giving hope to voting rights activists who say the Alabama law should be tossed because it makes it harder for people, especially minorities, to cast ballots. Federal judges in North Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin have ruled that certain state election laws – intended to guard against voter fraud – have gone too far and are unfairly denying people their rightful chance to vote. None of those court decisions are binding on Alabama. But a lawyer for Alabama residents who were unable to vote in the March presidential primary because they couldn’t get the proper identification say they intend to use the rulings in arguments to the Alabama judge.

Arizona: Democrats ask federal judge to block ballot collection law | Albuquerque Journal

Lawyers representing state and national Democratic groups opposed to a new Arizona law outlawing collection of early ballots by get-out-the-vote groups urged a federal judge Wednesday to block it from going into effect. U.S. District Court Judge Douglas L. Rayes heard nearly two hours of arguments Wednesday for and against the Democrats’ request for an injunction blocking the law from taking effect. He said he’ll rule later on the request. The law makes it a felony to return someone else’s ballot to election officials in most cases. Republicans pushed House Bill 2023 through the Legislature earlier this year, arguing that so-called “ballot harvesting” can lead to election fraud. Gov. Doug Ducey signed it into law in early March, saying it will ensure a chain of custody between the voter and the ballot box. “We join 18 other states in this common sense approach to maintaining the integrity of our elections,” Ducey said in a statement.

Georgia: Augusta getting 100 used voting machines from Colorado county | The Augusta Chronicle

Colorado’s switch to voting by mail is Augusta’s gain as Adams County, Colo., donates 100 surplus Diebold TSX voting machines to Richmond County Board of Elections. Elections Executive Director Lynn Bailey said a former Columbus, Ga., elections staffer who transferred to Colorado discovered 700 unwanted units there, available to anyone willing to pay shipping and license transfer fees. The machines “were the exact same system we used in Georgia,” Bailey said. “The only change we’ll have to make is we’ll have to update them to Georgia’s software.”

Indiana: State OK’s Monroe County’s voting equipment for fall election use | Herald Times

Monroe County officials can use Hart InterCivic voting equipment for the upcoming general election despite the Indiana Election Commission’s having censured the vendor for failure to comply with state voting laws. County Elections Supervisor Laura Dahncke said the Indiana Election Commission approved a resolution allowing Hart InterCivic, the county’s voting machines vendor, and two others, Dominion and Election Systems and Software, to use current machines in the general election. At a June Indiana Election Commission meeting, clerks learned that equipment could possibly be decertified. William Ellis, the Republican member on the Monroe County Election Board, said he believes the Indiana Election Commission made the right choice in allowing use of current voting equipment this year. He noted that it also gives vendors and legislators more time to address possible certification issues based on a change in interpretation of the law. “The history behind this has to do with a very poorly written statute,” said county Clerk Nicole Browne. “The wording of the statute, if applied literally, compromised voter intent.”

Mississippi: Small number have voting rights restored in Mississippi | Jackson Clarion-Ledger

In Mississippi, a person convicted of selling 1,000 kilos of cocaine keeps the right to vote while a person convicted of grand larceny loses the right to vote for life. Mississippi lists 21 felony crimes that disqualify a person from voting for life: arson; armed robbery; bigamy; bribery; embezzlement; extortion; felony bad check; felony shoplifting; forgery; larceny; murder; obtaining money or goods under false pretense; perjury; rape; receiving stolen property; robbery; theft; timber larceny; unlawful taking of motor vehicle; statutory rape; carjacking; and larceny under lease or rental agreement. In Mississippi, the only way to restore the right to vote after a felony conviction is by the Legislature passing a suffrage bill. However, very few people have their right to vote restored through the legislative process. “It’s not an effective, workable system,” said longtime state Rep. Tommy Reynolds, D-Charleston. “It’s basically a 19th century system for the 21st century.”

North Carolina: Voter ID ruling means another election disruption | Associated Press

Television spots aimed at educating voters about North Carolina’s voter ID law are being canceled. One million informational posters and push cards are outdated and most likely headed for the trash. Binders carefully created as election bibles for each of the state’s 2,700 precincts need a heavy edit, with no time to waste. Election officials are scrambling to comply with last week’s federal appeals court ruling striking down North Carolina’s voter photo identification mandate and other restrictions Republicans approved three years ago. Photo identification was required for the first time in this year’s primaries, but barring another court decision, it is no longer mandated. The appellate ruling also extends early voting to 17 days, up from 10; and adds seven days of same-day voter registration. … The ruling effectively returns North Carolina to the rules it had before August 2013. But navigating the state’s election rules was already made more difficult by other federal court rulings against North Carolina this year, and some voters told The Associated Press that this latest ruling could add to the confusion.

Ohio: Lawsuit: Ballots tossed for minor errors | Cincinnati Enquirer

Have you ever mistakenly printed the wrong date on a check? Make a similar error on a ballot, and your vote might not count in Ohio. Voting rights advocates say that’s not fair. They challenged two laws passed by Ohio’s GOP-controlled state legislature in federal court and won. But Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted appealed the decision, saying courts were upending democratically-passed laws. “(T)he only thing that has been achieved is chaos and voter confusion,” Husted, a Republican, said in a statement. Lawyers will argue whether these laws are constitutional Thursday. Here’s what they do: Ballots can be tossed if voters don’t fill out five fields of basic information like date of birth or current address on absentee or provisional ballots. These mistakes are relatively rare: about 2,800 ballots were invalidated from the November 2014 election out of more than 900,000 provisional and absentee ballots. Still, voting rights advocates argue these mistakes hurt real voters and disproportionately affect urban counties with higher numbers of African-American voters – a key voting bloc for Democrats. “Ohio Secretary of State and general assembly have been trying to skew the voting process in favor of voters they believe are friendly for them, and that’s mostly white voters,” said Subodh Chandra, an attorney representing Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless in the case.

Texas: Voters Take Hit While Judges Ponder Election Laws | The Texas Tribune

The evidence is piling up: If the law allows Texas and other states to discriminate, they will discriminate. Photo voter ID laws, which require voters to offer photographic proof that they are who they say they are, have been flopping in federal courts across the country. The Texas law took a blow from the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and was sent back to the trial court to put something better in place in time for the November elections. The court said the Texas law had a racially discriminatory effect. Importantly, it asked the trial court to decide whether that had been the state’s intent. Parts of Wisconsin’s voter ID law were knocked down by a federal judge who said the state was disenfranchising voters because of its “preoccupation with mostly phantom election fraud.” The state is appealing that decision.

West Virginia: Officials believe lenient voter ID law safe | Charleston Gazette-Mail

While federal courts have recently overturned voter ID laws in five states on the grounds they discriminate against minorities and the poor, the lead sponsor and primary author of West Virginia’s voter ID legislation said he believes that law would stand up in court. “We took, I think, great care in drafting the language within the perimeters laid out in the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in the last 10 to 12 years,” said Delegate Patrick Lane, R-Kanawha. As a practical matter, Lane believes the West Virginia law — which takes effect for the 2018 elections — so broadly defines acceptable types of identification, opponents would be hard-pressed to find someone disenfranchised by it. “I would be surprised if there was a challenge in West Virginia,” he said. “It would be hard for someone not to be able to meet those requirements.”

Botswana: BCP proposes halting electronic voting | Mmegi Online

The resolution was taken at the party’s annual conference in Shakawe over the weekend. Yesterday, party spokesperson Dithapelo Keorapetse confirmed that the conference has mandated the central committee to engage government and delay the amendment of the electoral law pending full consultations with political parties as the key stakeholders. “The central committee of the party will advise itself on how to deal with the issue. Parliamentary and extra-parliamentary strategies such as peaceful protests and litigation will be explored,” said Keorapetse.

Greece: Government backs lower voting age but doesn’t offer expats vote | EurActiv

The Greek parliament last month (21 July) approved by a simple majority government’s proposed changes to the electoral system, with 179 votes in favor, 86 against, and 16 lawmakers abstaining. Among other provisions, Greek lawmakers decided to lower the voting age, allowing 17-year-olds to vote in the next general elections. According to the new electoral law, about 130,000 17-year-olds are expected to participate in the next national election. For the Syriza-led government, this move will enforce youth participation. But the opposition parties do not share such a view and believe that Greek premier Alexis Tsipras is trying to “cheat” young people. But the coalition government rejected the opposition’s proposal to grant voting rights for Greeks living abroad.

Sao Tome and Principe: President bows out of runoff vote | AFP

The president of the west African state of Sao Tome and Principe, attacking the country’s elections for head of state as fraudulent, says he will not take part in next Saturday’s runoff vote. In a letter published Tuesday by the Constitutional Tribunal, the country’s top court, 78-year-old president Manuel Pinto da Costa said he refused to participate in the second round of voting. “To continue to take part in a process of this kind would be tantamount to approving it. I will not do so as a candidate, and even less so as president of the republic,” Pinto da Costa said in the letter, dated August 1. “No one can be a candidate in the presidential election against his will.”

South Africa: ANC takes early lead but may lose grip on cities | The Guardian

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress party has taken an early lead as vote counting continued in local government elections where it faces the risk of losing control of key cities for the first time since coming to power. The party, which toppled white apartheid rule after the country’s first democratic elections in 1994, is up against its stiffest electoral challenge to date amid a backdrop of high unemployment, a stagnant economy and controversies surrounding the president, Jacob Zuma. With a quarter of the votes counted by 3am BST on Thursday, the ANC had 50%, against 34% for the Democratic Alliance (DA) and 6% for the Economic Freedom Fighters, which was participating in only its second election. Opinion polls see a close race in the nation’s capital, Pretoria, and South Africa’s economic hub, Johannesburg. In the early hours of Thursday, the ANC and DA were neck-and-neck at 43% each in Tshwane municipality, which contains Pretoria, although only 15% of the votes had been counted.

United Kingdom: Labour leadership: quarter of new supporters could be barred from voting | The Guardian

The battle for the Labour leadership was becoming increasingly fraught yesterday as allies of Jeremy Corbyn expressed concerns that more than a quarter of new supporters who signed up to the party could be prevented from voting. Backers of the Labour leader, who faces a challenge from Owen Smith, say 40,000 of the 183,000 people who joined as registered supporters in recent weeks, paying £25 for the chance to vote, have been disqualified by Labour, with another 10,000 referred to a scrutiny committee. Party officials insist it is too early to tally any numbers and say that if people are denied a vote it is generally for administrative reasons, for example, their application does not tally with the electoral register, or they can already vote by another means such as trade union affiliation. However, potential electors can also be disqualified if it is found they actively support another party. Those close to Corbyn say they fear many of those denied a vote are being weeded out for political reasons. “It’s definitely a worry,” one ally said.

Zambia: President Issues Warning on Election-linked Violence | VoA News

Zambian President Edgar Lungu says he is ready to use draconian means to ensure the country remains peaceful after next week’s presidential, parliamentary, local and referendum elections. Lungu from the ruling Patriotic Party says he has intelligence that members of the main opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) plan to cause havoc if the party is unable to win the polls. But in an interview with VOA, Canisius Banda, deputy leader of the UPND, says Lungu’s statement is unfortunate and regrettable. He says the president has the backing of the constitution to ensure the unity of Zambia. Banda, however, says the president would rather plunge the country into tension, violence and chaos if he uses draconian means to enforce peace.