National: Some Republicans Acknowledge Leveraging Voter ID Laws for Political Gain | The New York Times

In April of this year, Representative Glenn Grothman, Republican of Wisconsin, predicted in a television interview that the state’s photo ID law would weaken the Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the state in November’s election. It was not the first time he cited voter ID requirements’ impact on Democrats; in 2012, speaking about the law’s effect on President Obama’s re-election race, Mr. Grothman said voter ID requirements hurt Democrats because Democratic voters cheat more often — a premise that remains unproven. One of the few verified instances of recent voter fraud at a Wisconsin polling place — the only kind of fraud that a photo ID might prevent — padded a Republican governor’s tally.

Also in Wisconsin, Todd Allbaugh, 46, a staff aide to a Republican state legislator, attributed his decision to quit his job in 2015 and leave the party to what he witnessed at a Republican caucus meeting. He wrote on Facebook:

I was in the closed Senate Republican Caucus when the final round of multiple Voter ID bills were being discussed. A handful of the GOP Senators were giddy about the ramifications and literally singled out the prospects of suppressing minority and college voters. Think about that for a minute. Elected officials planning and happy to help deny a fellow American’s constitutional right to vote in order to increase their own chances to hang onto power.

National: Putin wants revenge and respect, and hacking the U.S. is his way of getting it | The Washington Post

The recent spate of embarrassing emails and other records stolen by Russian hackers is President Vladimir Putin’s splashy response to years of what he sees as U.S. efforts to weaken and shame him on the world stage and with his own people, according to Russia experts here and in the U.S. intelligence world and academia. Putin is seeking revenge and respect, and trying to reassert Russia’s lost superpower status at a time of waning economic clout and an upcoming Russian election, according to interviews with specialists here and in Washington, with a senior U.S. intelligence official, recently retired CIA operations officers in charge of Russia, and the last three national intelligence officers for Russia and Eurasia analysis in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. “He’s saying, if you think you have the chops to do this — well, we do, too!” said Fiona Hill, a national intelligence officer for Russia during the George W. Bush and Obama administrations who is now at the Brookings Institution.

National: Could Russian hackers change the US election result? | Al Jazeera

With the US election less than two months away, recent attempts to hack election data systems have prompted some officials to say that Russia could be trying to manipulate the race. But is such a thing likely? Or are the claims just propaganda? The cyber attacks on voter registration systems in Arizona and Illinois late last month were blamed by some anonymous officials on Russia, and followed a high-profile hack of Democratic Party computers that resulted in a cache of emails being released by WikiLeaks. While the voter registration hack resulted in the theft of only a single username and password, the FBI is investigating.

Editorials: Russian hacking of the US election is the most extreme case of how the internet is changing our politics | John Naughton/The Guardian

Ever since the internet went mainstream in the 1990s people wondered about how it would affect democratic politics. In seeking an answer to the question, we made the mistake that people have traditionally made when thinking about new communications technology: we overestimated the short-term impacts while grievously underestimating the longer-term ones. The first-order effects appeared in 2004 when Howard Dean, then governor of Vermont, entered the Democratic primaries to seek the party’s nomination for president. What made his campaign distinctive was that he used the internet for fundraising. Instead of the traditional method of tapping wealthy donors, Dean and his online guru, Larry Biddle, turned to the internet and raised about $50m, mostly in the form of small individual donations from 350,000 supporters. By the standards of the time, it was an eye-opening achievement. In the event, Dean’s campaign imploded when he made an over-excited speech after coming third in the Iowa caucuses – the so-called “Dean scream” which, according to the conventional wisdom of the day, showed that he was too unstable a character to be commander-in-chief. Looked at in the light of the Trump campaign, this is truly weird, for compared with the current Republican candidate, Dean looks like a combination of Spinoza and St Francis of Assisi.

Florida: Amendment to restore voting rights to Florida felons clears key hurdle | Associated Press

Backers of a proposed constitutional amendment that could allow former criminals to vote have met a key hurdle in their quest to make the ballot. State election officials this week reported that amendment supporters have gathered nearly 71,000 signatures from registered voters. This means the initiative will be reviewed by Attorney General Pam Bondi and the Supreme Court of Florida. Florida’s constitution bars people convicted of felonies from being able to vote after they have left prison. Convicted felons must ask the governor and members of the Cabinet to have their voting rights restored.

Kansas: With proof of citizenship voting law under siege, Kobach battles on multiple fronts | Topeka Capital-Journal

Kris Kobach made his way around the room without breaking a sweat. Having just finished debating a KU adjunct professor for an hour over his signature voting laws at the Dole Institute of Politics on the university’s campus Tuesday night, the Kansas secretary of state didn’t drop his smile. He fielded questions during a question-and-answer session, including a query that implied Hillary Clinton’s campaign had rigged electronic voting machines during her race against Bernie Sanders. He listened as a woman spoke with him about immigration and an out-of-town camera crew followed his moves. The frenzied pace of Kobach’s evening mirrors his public life at the moment. Kansas’ proof of citizenship voting law, championed by Kobach, is being challenged in multiple courts, and he’s flown across the country to defend it before judges. Those efforts have so far been largely unsuccessful. The state’s law that requires individuals to produce documents such as a birth certificate to register to vote has suffered multiple blows in court. The latest ruling averse to Kobach came just a week ago.

North Carolina: State Supreme Court political and ideological balance could tilt in 2016 election | News & Observer

As key pieces of the legislative agenda get scrutiny in the courts, partisan organizations and politicians are focusing on the race for the one seat up for grabs on the North Carolina Supreme Court. The state’s highest court has a one-vote conservative majority, and that has been reflected in decisions to uphold redistricting maps found unconstitutional in the federal courts and to allow state funds to be used for private school vouchers. Justice Bob Edmunds, who has been on the state’s highest court for 16 years, is a Republican from Greensboro facing a challenge from Wake County Superior Court Judge Mike Morgan, a Democrat from Raleigh. Early voting begins in North Carolina on Oct. 20 and ends Nov. 5. Election day is Nov. 8. The candidates have been going from the coast to the mountains, speaking to individuals and groups. It was not until May that it became clear Edmunds would face any challengers in his campaign to keep his seat.

North Carolina: Why early voting matters | Facing South

An “overall victory” is what voting rights advocates are calling North Carolina counties’ new early voting plans. They were finalized last week following the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal’s July ruling, which a divided U.S. Supreme Court let stand, striking down the battleground state’s so-called “monster” election law that among other things slashed a week from the 17-day early voting period. In a 12-hour meeting on Sept. 8, the N.C. State Board of Elections resolved contested early voting plans from 33 of the state’s 100 county election boards, all of which are controlled by Republicans. (Under North Carolina law, the governor’s party holds two of every county election boards’ three seats.) Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the state Republican Party, had urged county board members to limit early voting and keep polling sites closed on Sundays — what he called “party line changes.”

Editorials: North Carolina’s Fragile Voting Rights Victory | Scott Lemieux/The American Prospect

Of all the states that rushed to restrict voting after the Supreme Court’s disastrous 2013 ruling to strike down key Voting Rights Act protections, North Carolina moved the most aggressively. It enacted multiple voter-suppression measures, including voter-ID requirements, restrictions on early voting, and an end to same-day registration, Sunday voting, and pre-registration for teenagers. The day the law was signed, the ACLU and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice filed suit on the grounds that the statute discriminated against minority voters in violation of the 14th and 15th Amendments. After a bumpy ride through the lower courts, the law landed in August before the Supreme Court, which upheld a three-judge federal appeals court panel’s finding that its voter ID-provisions were unconstitutional. As Judge Diana Motz wrote in the three-judge panel’s unanimous decision, the requirements “target African Americans with almost surgical precision.”

Texas: Meet the man at the center of the battle over the Texas voter ID law | Austin American Statesman

Texas Secretary of State Carlos Cascos entered the Karnes County Courthouse one morning last week with the usual spring in his step to tell an attentive audience of about 30 local officials and interested parties about the state’s voter ID law, struck down by a federal judge as unduly restrictive and discriminatory. Any of seven photo IDs will work, he begins, reiterating the parameters of the original law, by way of introducing court-ordered changes. “Where the change is now is that if someone is unable to obtain one of those seven IDs, that’s OK — they can come in and they need to file a declaration saying that they’ve been impeded or there’s a reasonable impediment as to why they’ve been unable to obtain one of the seven approved IDs,” he says. Only then should poll workers accept other forms of identification to vote, such as a birth certificate, voter registration card, pay check, utility bill, bank statement or government document, he explains. “It’s really not that complex,” Cascos says, in a presentation he gives several times a week.

Editorials: A backward march on voting rights | Judith Browne Dianis/The Washington Post

Denying voting rights to people who have served their prison sentences was an outdated, discriminatory vestige of our nation’s Jim Crow past. Yet a measure recently introduced in Virginia’s legislature would make it harder for this group to vote. A constitutional amendment proposed by Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr. (R-James City) would perpetuate our racist past into the commonwealth’s future. Norment’s amendment would make Virginia’s archaic voting ban more restrictive than the Jim Crow constitution Virginia adopted in 1902. While the amendment appears to call for the restoration of rights of certain people, it would create significant hurdles for some and institute an irreversible lifetime ban for others. The measure also could open the door to punishing even low-level offenses by imposing a lifetime status as a second-class citizen for thousands of Virginians. The result would be that people with past felony convictions would have no say in elections for decades after they’ve paid their debt to society.

Congo: Elections commission petitions high court for poll delay | Reuters

Democratic Republic of Congo’s elections commission on Saturday petitioned the Constitutional Court for a postponement of presidential elections, formally confirming a poll delay that has created a dangerous political impasse. President Joseph Kabila’s term in office in Africa’s top copper producer expires in December and he is barred by constitutional term limits for running again. However, the elections commission has said the overhaul of voter rolls will last until at least next July. The opposition has accused Kabila, who came to power in 2001 following the assassination of his father, of manipulating a packed calendar of presidential, legislative and local elections to extend his rule. His allies say, however, that he will respect the constitution. The election period was meant to open on Sept. 20, with the presidential vote scheduled for Nov. 27.

Germany: Angela Merkel’s party suffers slump in Berlin election | The Guardian

Berlin is likely to get the first leftwing triple-coalition government in its history, after Angela Merkel’s CDU party and the ruling Social Democrats both plummeted to their lowest result in the Germany capital. Centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) came out top with 21.6% of the vote, ahead of the centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) on 17.5%. Leftwing Die Linke came third on 15.7%, ahead of the Greens on 15.1%. Anti-immigration populists Alternative für Deutschland are set to enter the German capital’s state parliament for the first time, with 14.1%. Days before the election, mayor Michael Müller had warned that a double-digit score for the AfD “would be seen around the world as a sign of the return of the rightwing and the Nazis in Germany”.

Morocco: Elections pose test for law on vote observers | Associated Press

Morocco’s elections next month will draw attention from around the region and beyond — but not all eyes will be welcome. Election authorities approved 4,000 national and international observers for the Oct. 7 legislative elections, rejecting requests for about 1,000 others, as new regulations on vote monitors are being put to the test. Among those rejected were observers from the U.S.-based Carter Center. More than 30 political parties are running in the elections, which will determine the makeup of the government and political direction of the kingdom, a U.S. ally and important regional economy. It’s only the second time Moroccans are voting for parliament since thousands took to the streets in 2011 demanding reform through the February 20th Movement. Since then, a coalition of several parties led by the Islamist Party of Justice and Development (PJD) has governed, coming to power alongside a new constitution and new laws intended to meet the demands for reform.

Russia: Irregularities reported at Russia’s ballot boxes as voting begins | Financial Times

Russian election monitors reported a series of irregularities as voting began in the country’s parliamentary elections on Sunday. Those complaints will test the government’s pledge to block the kind of electoral fraud that triggered street protests five years ago against president Vladimir Putin. Non-governmental election monitoring movement Golos said it had received 164 reports by phone and 335 reports via an online platform of rule violations or suspicious incidents. The largest number of complaints came from Moscow, followed by the Stavropol region in southern Russia and Altai region in southern Siberia. In Barnaul, capital of the Altai region, civil rights and opposition activists observed people being instructed to vote using ballots of pensioners who were not going to turn up — an alleged example of so-called cruisers or carousel voting. “They have little stickers on their passports,” said Alexander Lebedev, a municipal deputy of the A Just Russia party who posted videos of what he said were the preparations for illegal voting on Twitter.

Russia: Putin-backed party sweeps to victory amid allegations of election fraud | The Independent

The ruling United Russia party, which is backed by Vladimir Putin, is on track to win 343 of 450 seats in Russia’s lower house of parliament. With 90 per cent of the vote counted, the pro-Kremlin party had 54% of the vote for the 225 seats chosen nationwide by party list, the Central Elections Commission said. The three parties who were the next most popular – the Communist Party, The Liberal Democrats and the Just Russia Party – all support Mr Putin. However, there have been multiple reports of voting fraud and videos have surfaced of apparent ballot stuffing. One video shows an official appearing to take a pile of ballots and shoving them into the voting box while another person seems to stand guard.