National: Intelligence community investigating covert Russian influence operations in the United States | The Washington Post

U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies are probing what they see as a broad covert Russian operation in the United States to sow public distrust in the upcoming presidential election and in U.S. political institutions, intelligence and congressional officials said. The aim is to understand the scope and intent of the Russian campaign, which incorporates cyber-tools to hack systems used in the political process, enhancing Russia’s ability to spread disinformation. The effort to better understand Russia’s covert influence operations is being spearheaded by James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence. “This is something of concern for the DNI,” said Charles Allen, a former longtime CIA officer who has been briefed on some of these issues. “It is being addressed.”

National: Trump’s ‘rigged election’ rhetoric could inspire voter intimidation, say experts | The Guardian

Donald Trump’s claims that if he loses in November it will be due to a “rigged” election have sparked strong bipartisan criticism from election lawyers, donors and a former member of Congress who warn that the Republican candidate’s words are dangerous, fueling doubts about the election’s legitimacy and potentially leading to voter intimidation. As his poll numbers have weakened and his high-decibel spats with critics escalated, Trump has raised the specter of rigged elections and suggested that if he loses it might well be because of voter fraud. “The only way we can lose, in my opinion, I really mean this, Pennsylvania, is if cheating goes on,” Trump told a largely white rally last month in Altoona, Pennsylvania. “Go down to certain areas and watch and study [to] make sure other people don’t come in and vote five times. “We’re going to have unbelievable turnout, but we don’t want to see people voting five times,” Trump added, saying that he had “heard some stories about certain parts of the state and we have to be very careful”.

National: Without conservative Supreme Court majority, voter-law challengers make gains | The Washington Post

A coalition of civil rights groups, Democratic lawyers and the Obama administration has scored significant victories in overturning strict voting laws, highlighting how the death of Justice Antonin Scalia has removed the Supreme Court as a crucial conservative backstop for such measures. With the presidential election approaching, the challengers have rung up wins against their two top targets. Texas and North Carolina are now under judicial order to shelve comprehensive voting laws, passed by Republican legislators, that appeals courts said discriminated against African Americans and Hispanics. In Wisconsin, federal courts restored some early-voting opportunities — seen as beneficial to African American voters, who overwhelmingly vote Democratic — that had been scotched by the state legislature. And a federal judge has been tasked with overseeing the state’s efforts to make it easier for those without the documentation required by the state to cast ballots.

Editorials: Tighten ballot security | USA Today

Fears that the Russians could hack the voting system on Nov. 8 and wreak havoc in the presidential election are running high amid suspicions that Russians hacked into computers at the Democratic National Committee and after foreign intruders managed to get into voter registration databases in Arizona and Illinois. While computer scientists and election experts will never say never, hacking the actual voting systems is highly implausible. But if the worst happened — hackers seeking to manipulate the outcome — you’d want a foolproof backup system. Yet voting systems in nearly a third of the states lack a key safeguard: a paper record of individual votes. Five states — Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, New Jersey and South Carolina — use paperless electronic voting machines as their primary equipment statewide. Nine others, including swing states Pennsylvania and Virginia, use them in some counties, according to a report by the Brennan Center for Justice.

Arizona: Judge To Decide Whether Ballots Cast At Wrong Polling Place Should Count | KJZZ

A federal judge in Phoenix is deciding whether in the upcoming election the state must count provisional ballots differently than in the past. Under the federal Help America Vote Act, if a voter shows up at a polling place to vote, but their name is not on the list, poll workers must offer that voter a provisional ballot. In Arizona, during elections that require voters to vote in an assigned precinct, a state law prevents ballots cast in the wrong precinct from being counted. Even if a voter goes to a polling sites a few blocks away from their assigned one, the ballot will be disqualified. In the 2012 presidential election, almost 11,000 provisional ballots in Arizona were tossed because the voter cast the ballot at the wrong precinct.

Delaware: Elections tab totals $3 million | Delaware Online

Whether large or small, contentious or quiet, Delaware taxpayers are on the hook for millions each time votes need to be cast across the state. Among other points on the balance sheet, election employees have to be paid, machines need to be shipped and polling stations booked, all at a cost that falls around the $3 million mark for statewide elections. Election officials say running the whole show from the state level helps streamline the process, but it’s never easy or cheap. This year had a presidential primary in April, a statewide primary on Sept. 13 and the general election in November, plus other local contests.

Florida: E-pollbook Vendor takes responsibility for delaying St. Lucie County election results | TC Palm

A server malfunction — in equipment operated by a private company — resulted in the delay posting primary-election results Tuesday night, the company’s CEO said Thursday. Totals for early and absentee voting didn’t appear on the supervisor of elections website until nearly an hour after the polls closed at 7 p.m. St. Lucie’s problem was part of a domino effect, according to Mindy Perkins, CEO of VR Systems, an online election system-reporting company used by the St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections Office and about 50 other Florida counties. A VR Systems technician used an incorrect link to allow Broward County Supervisor of Elections to preview results, according to affidavit from Perkins.

Illinois: Same-Day Voter Registration at Issue in Lawsuit | Associated Press

A federal lawsuit has raised questions about whether Illinois’ new Election Day voter registration rules are constitutional, a situation that could complicate how polling sites are run this November. Illinois tested same-day registration in the 2014 governor’s race, with all election authorities required to offer it in at least one location. It was popular, with long lines on Election Night, particularly in Chicago. When lawmakers made same-day registration permanent the next year, they expanded it, ordering highly populated areas to make it available at all polls. That change is at the heart of a federal lawsuit brought by Republicans, who argue it’s an unfair and unequal system because voters in less populated and GOP-leaning areas don’t have equal access. They’re asking a judge to end all precinct-level Election Day registration, which would impact voters in 21 of 102 counties and five cities: Chicago, Aurora, Rockford, Bloomington and East St. Louis.

Voting Blogs: On the Vetoed New Jersey Automatic Voter Registration Bill | Democracy Chronicles

As the United States moves toward the conclusion of the 2016 Presidential election cycle with only two months remaining, it seems that every issue that would be considered a non-partisan one has become exactly that, including the issue of automatic voter registration. The latest issue, which has become a hot button topic dividing the two political parties and ideological sides, is the issue of implementing automatic voter registration. The issue has come up in the national spotlight over recent weeks as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a key figure in the Donald Trump campaign, recently vetoed legislation that would allow people getting drivers licenses, drivers permits or state IDs to be automatically enrolled in the voting process. “I continue to fully support efforts to increase voter registration” Gov. Christie said in a written statement following his vetoing of the bill on Thursday, August 18th.

North Carolina: Voting rights and wrongs: Supreme Court blocks a last-ditch attempt to suppress votes in November | The Economist

A basic principle of electoral democracy is that the people pick their leaders. But by tweaking the rules—such as those which govern which forms of identification voters need; when the polls are open; how the ballot is composed—incumbents can tip the balance in favour of one party. Republicans have been particularly active in this endeavour in recent years, crafting rules that make it more difficult for blacks, Hispanics and the poor—core Democratic constituencies—to exercise their right to vote. Most courts to consider challenges to these laws in recent months have rejected them as violations of the Voting Rights Act or the 14th Amendment, or both. Now some of the losers in those cases are trying their hand at one last appeal—to the United States Supreme Court. They are bound to be disappointed.

Editorials: Virginia Republicans’ essentially racist project | The Washington Post

In about 40 states, people convicted of serious crimes regain their voting rights upon discharge from prison or completion of parole. In a handful of others, convicts either are never disenfranchised or automatically regain their rights after a waiting period. These rules amount to an American consensus on what constitutes a reasonable and humane approach to redemption in a modern democracy. In just four states are felons permanently barred from voting absent action by the governor. And in one of them, Virginia, lawmakers are considering an even more restrictive regime that would forever foreclose the possibility of redemption for tens of thousands of citizens. For this essentially racist project, Virginians can credit the ethically challenged majority leader of Virginia’s state Senate, Thomas K. Norment Jr. (R-James City). He filed legislation last week that would bar people convicted of violent felonies, in Virginia disproportionately African Americans, from ever having their voting rights restored.

China: Peaceful Hong Kong localists triumph over militants in Legislative Council elections | South China Morning Post

They may all be identified as localists advocating self-determination for Hong Kong, but those advocating peaceful means have performed better in the Legislative Council elections than those taking a “militant” approach. Of the two dozen localist candidates, those who call for “democratic self-determination” have emerged as the big winners. They include “king of votes” Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, Occupy Central student leader Nathan Law Kwun-chung and university lecturer Lau Siu-lai. The three, running in different constituencies, bagged a total of 173,122 votes. New Legco likely to mean more fractures – and an even less friendly approach to Hong Kong and mainland governments

Croatia: Parties Use Apps to Lure Youth Vote | Balkan Insight

Parties competing in in Croatia’s parliamentary election campaign are making good use of Smartphone apps and social networks advertising to get the votes out. With elections set for Sunday, some parties, like the leading centre-right Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ, have made a point of motivating voters, especially younger ones, through apps. HDZ’s app “Credible” – also their keyword for the whole campaign – enables users to watch a short video with the new party president Andrej Plenkovic.The phone’s camera back has only to be pointed towards billboards, photos, newspapers or screens showing Plenkovic’s official campaign posters. “Dear young people, we often encounter each other all over Croatia and communicate through social networks,” he says in the video.

Gabon: Justice Minister Resigns Over Disputed Election | VoA News

Gabon’s Justice Minister Seraphin Moundounga has resigned over the disputed re-election of President Ali Bongo, becoming the first high-level government official to step down since the vote. Gabon’s election commission announced last week that Bongo won the election over opposition leader Jean Ping by about 5,000 votes, leading to protests and street violence that has left at least six people dead. Moundounga told Radio France International on Monday that the government is not responding to concerns about the need for peace, which lead to his decision to step down.

Russia: Levada pollster named as ‘foreign agent’: justice ministry | Reuters

Russia’s only major independent pollster, the Levada Centre, has been designated as a “foreign agent”, the Russian Justice Ministry said on Monday, two weeks ahead of nationwide parliamentary elections. “The recognition of the organization as a non-commercial body performing the functions of a foreign agent was established in an unscheduled document check,” the Justice Ministry said in a statement. It did not give a reason for its decision. Levada was not immediately available for comment. Russia’s main pro-Kremlin United Russia party is expected to comfortably win the elections on Sept. 18, which are seen as a dry run for Vladimir Putin’s presidential re-election campaign in 2018.