National: Hacking the election: questions and answers |

The US government’s accusation that Russian government-directed hacking aimed to disrupt the November election comes amid fears about the security of the voting process. The attacks have included breaches of emails of political organizations—blamed on Russia—as well as probes of state voter databases, for which US officials have said they cannot determine the source.
Here are some questions and answers: Can hackers affect the November election results? This is unlikely, voting experts say. There is no single, centralized hub to be hacked, and the system is comprised of over 100,000 precincts and polling places. “While no system is 100 percent hack-proof, elections in this country are secure, perhaps as secure as they’ve ever been,” David Becker of the Center for Election Innovation & Research told a recent congressional hearing. “There isn’t a single or concentrated point of entry for a hacker.” … Dan Wallach, a computer science professor at Rice University who studies voting systems, told lawmakers the biggest vulnerability is voter registration databases. Wallach testified at a House of Representatives hearing on election security that such an effort “can selectively disenfranchise voters by deleting them from the database or otherwise introducing errors.”

National: Russia Hack of U.S. Politics Bigger Than Disclosed, Includes GOP | NBC

The Russian government’s cyber-espionage campaign against the American political system began more than a year ago and has been far more extensive than publicly disclosed, targeting hundreds of key people — Republicans and Democrats alike — whose work is considered strategically important to the Putin regime, official sources told NBC News. The targets over the past two years have included a Who’s Who of Hillary Clinton associates from her State Department tenure, the Clinton Foundation and her presidential campaign, as well as top Republicans and staffers for Republican candidates for president. Starting in earnest in 2015, Russian hackers used sophisticated “spearphishing” techniques to steal emails and other data from Capitol Hill staffers, operatives of political campaigns and party organizations, and other people involved in the election and foreign policy. That’s according to NBC News interviews with more than two dozen current and former U.S. officials, private sector cybersecurity experts and others familiar with the FBI-led investigation into the hacks.

National: Trump suggests illegal immigrants will vote as parties clash over voter access | The Washington Post

Donald Trump suggested without evidence Friday that the Obama administration was letting illegal immigrants into the country to vote — part of a series of unsubstantiated complaints by the GOP nominee that the election is “rigged” against him and that his backers should monitor polling locations in “certain areas.” Trump’s allegations were a dramatic escalation of the usual partisan warfare over ballot access issues and came as Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) denied a request by Hillary Clinton’s campaign to extend voter registration because of Hurricane Matthew. The storm caused the extension of voter registration deadlines in South Carolina, while officials in Georgia have urged residents in storm-affected areas to register online instead of going to registration centers.

National: Multiple threats to voting systems could influence outcomes | The Philadelphia Tribune

With the most volatile election in nearly 50 years about to take place in now less than 30 days, federal officials, voting modernization experts and civil rights activist are expressing enormous worry about the integrity of election systems on Nov. 8. Threats to voting systems and processes are not a new occurrence. Just less than 20 years ago, the Supreme Court ended up selecting the first American president of the 21st century after a hanging chad mishap in battleground state Florida put the nation in electoral suspense for months after the election. But there is considerable conversation among government officials on all levels, as well as cybersecurity experts and voting rights advocates that voting systems are facing multiple tracks of threats that could possibly shape outcomes on Election Day. The extent of those threats could also negatively impact Black and Latino voters in a number of key battleground states, including places like Arizona, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. These are states where voters of color hold the key to determining who ends up in the White House. … U.S. voting infrastructure, according to the Brennan Center’s Christopher Famighetti, is woefully underfunded and dangerously outdated. “In November, 42 states will be using voting machines that are over 10 years old,” Famighetti warned in a conversation with the Tribune. “Thirteen states will be using machines 15 years or older. That’s close to the end of most voting systems life span. We wouldn’t expect our desktop or laptop to last for 10 years.”

National: Nine states shorten deadline for voter registration | The Washington Post

Nine states have shortened the time still allowed for voters to register for the November election, in some cases designating as the last day to register the Columbus Day federal holiday when government offices are closed. Democratic Sens. Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) and Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.) said that the states — Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Hawaii, Mississippi, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah and Washington — could be in violation of the National Voter Registration Act, which requires states to accept registration forms if they were postmarked 30 days before Election Day, because their deadline is on a weekend day without postal service or on a holiday. In a Sept. 30 letter to the federal Election Assistance Commission, the senators urged the EAC to take action to ensure that the states change ­voter-registration deadlines that fall before Oct. 11 to comply with federal law. The EAC was established in 2002 to help states run elections and to disseminate the federal online voting form. “We know that every day of voter registration in the month before the election is an opportunity for hundreds of thousands of Americans across the country to get registered to vote or update their voter registration information,” the senators wrote.

Editorials: From Voting Rights to Voting Wrongs | Jacques Leslie/The New York Times

In August, when a divided Supreme Court let stand an appeals court decision striking down North Carolina’s photo ID requirement for voters, the matter might have seemed settled. The provision, which requires voters to present government-issued photo identification, strikes directly at people who don’t have driver’s licenses — the state’s poor and disabled, young adults and the elderly, and particularly minorities. The Fourth Circuit Court pointed out that the law deliberately targeted African-Americans “with almost surgical precision,” and deemed it unconstitutional. Yet more than a month after the appellate court ruling and days after the Supreme Court decision, election officials in North Carolina’s Alamance County sent packets to newly registered voters advising them on one page that photo ID was still required and on another page that it wasn’t.

Editorials: Who watches the poll watchers? | Baltimore Sun

The election is four weeks from Tuesday , and easily lost in the seasonal outpouring of candidate speeches and debates, polls and fact-checking is this sad reality: The U.S. has witnessed the greatest rollback in voting rights since the Jim Crow era in recent years, yet federal authorities will have fewer resources to deal with polling place disputes than at any time over the last half-century. To suggest that is a troubling circumstance is a serious understatement. For a half-decade or more, Republican-controlled states from Georgia to Alaska have been piling up rules that effectively make it more difficult for minorities and the poor to cast a ballot, chiefly through strict voter ID laws and registration requirements. This year, there are 14 states using more restrictive voting laws for the first time (and there would be more if federal courts hadn’t recently tossed out several of these discriminatory laws as unconstitutional).

Editorials: Trump and the Truth: The “Rigged” Election | Jonathan Blitzer/The New Yorker

“The election is going to be rigged—I’m going to be honest,” Donald Trump said to a rowdy crowd in August, at a rally in Columbus, Ohio. “People are going to walk in and they’re going to vote ten times, maybe,” Trump told an interviewer later. A few days afterward, in Pennsylvania, where Trump was then lagging by nine points in the polls, he warned supporters that “the only way we can lose . . . is if cheating goes on.” That week, a new page appeared on his campaign Web site, inviting concerned citizens to volunteer to be “Trump Election Observers” so that they could “help me stop Crooked Hillary from rigging this election!” At the first Presidential debate, Trump and Hillary Clinton were asked whether they would accept the ultimate outcome of the election. Trump evaded the question at first, before winkingly conceding that he would. But after the debate he went right back to his routine—more talk of rigging. Those polls that said Clinton had won the debate? They were skewed against him, he said, just like Google was, with its suspiciously pro-Clinton search results. At campaign stops this week, Trump reiterated his claims that Clinton was out to steal the vote. He even told the Times that he was reconsidering whether he’d accept a Clinton victory at all.

Voting Blogs: A Republican Electoral College Hail Mary, and the Current State of the Campaign | Election Law Blog

By all accounts, Donald Trump’s Republican presidential campaign is imploding, with the latest revelations from a leaked 2005 “Access Hollywood” taping revealing not only Trump’s disrespect for women but a bragging about what amounts to a sexual assault. (Why anyone should be surprisedby this given Trump’s previous statements and actions is something hard to fathom; take the latest expressions of shock with a huge grain of salt). Hillary Clinton, who was already leading in the polls and seemed likely to continue her lead despitenew leaked revelations that she supports free trade and is cozier with banks and big business than she’s admitted (again, no surprise there for anyone paying attention), seems now likely to prevail. Donald Trump has run the worst presidential campaign in modern history, judged only by the week after his poor debate performance featuring comments taking on a former beauty contestant as too fat, complaining about his microphone, supporting the convictions of the exonerated Central Park 5, and making new irresponsible claims about vote rigging and Mexicans coming across the border to vote). And all of that came before the “grab them by the pussy” comments came out. Now, as the many members of the Republican establishment issue condemnations of him but still say they will vote for him and support his choice for the Supreme Court, a few are starting to break ranks, calling on him to withdraw. 

Florida: Democrats sue Gov. Scott over voter registration deadline | Miami Herald

Florida Democrats filed a lawsuit Sunday against Gov. Rick Scott asking that the voter registration deadline be extended by a week because of disruptions caused by Hurricane Matthew. Democrats went to U.S. District Court in Tallahassee and cited Scott’s demand on Thursday that coastal residents flee the approaching storm and his refusal that day to extend the registration deadline beyond Tuesday. The suit seeks a new deadline of Oct. 18. “Defendant Scott refused to extend the voter registration deadline for the very citizens heeding his orders to evacuate — forcing voters to choose between their safety and the safety of their families, on one hand, and their fundamental right to vote, on the other hand,” the lawsuit states. “Many Floridians who would have registered to vote prior to the Oct. 11 registration deadline have been displaced or otherwise prevented from registering.” Scott’s office said it was reviewing the lawsuit. On Thursday, Scott flatly rejected calls by Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager to extend the voter registration deadline.

Illinois: Automatic voter registration veto could be overturned | Gazette Chicago

Overturning Governor Bruce Rauner’s August veto of an automatic voter registration (AVR) bill passed by both houses of the Illinois General Assembly is not a sure outcome, despite bipartisan support of the bill (SB250) by both Republican and Democratic legislators. “Governor Rauner makes it clear he will attack those not in agreement; some Republicans will ‘peel off’ over a veto” and not vote to override it, said Cook County Clerk David Orr, an AVR bill proponent. “This is good legislation,” Orr noted. “It cleans the rolls and protects people. But it’s tough to fight a veto.” Senate Bill 250, sponsored in the state Senate by Sen. Andy Manar (D-Decatur) and in the House by State Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston), passed the legislature in May with broad bipartisan support: 86-30 in the House, 50-7 in the Senate. Rauner vetoed the bill Aug. 12. Legislators are scheduled to reconvene and consider an override in mid-November.

Minnesota: Secretary of State wants Minnsota to reclaim top spot in voter turnout | Minneapolis Star Tribune

Secretary of State Steve Simon wants to make Minnesota No. 1 again — in voter turnout, that is. Simon, the state’s top elections official, has been barnstorming the state in recent months, promoting his voting effort so that Minnesota can reclaim its top spot nationally for civic engagement. For nearly 10 elections in a row, Minnesota had bragging rights, ranking first among all states for its voter turnout rate. That was until 2014. About half of eligible voters cast ballots that year, making Minnesota No. 6, falling behind states like Wisconsin, Maine and Oregon. In 2012 — during President Obama’s re-election — more than 75 percent of eligible voters cast ballots.

Nevada: US judge sides with Nevada tribes in voting rights case | Associated Press

Two Native American tribes in Nevada have won an emergency court order in a federal lawsuit accusing the Republican secretary of state and two counties of discriminating against them under the Voting Rights Act. U.S. District Judge Miranda Du issued a temporary injunction in Reno late Friday requiring the establishment of satellite polling places on two northern Nevada reservations ahead of next month’s election in the Western battleground state. The Pyramid Lake and Walker River Paiute (PY’-ewt) tribes say their members are being denied equal access to the polls as a result of the long distances some must travel to vote early or cast ballots on Election Day.

Texas: Election security: Officials say Texas voter databases haven’t been hacked | The Star-Telegram

Texas election systems are safe from hackers — so far. As more than 20 other states grapple with hackers targeting their voter registration systems, Texas election officials say this state’s electoral system has not been breached. “We haven’t found anything,” Texas Secretary of State Carlos Cascos told the Star-Telegram. “We don’t have any information … that we have been threatened or that there has been an attempted threat to hack into our systems. “We’ve got protocols in place, safety valves in place, to alert us to something like that.” Federal officials are offering few details or specifics about why voting systems across the country are being hacked. They do, however, say that the target has been voter databases, not actual voting systems. FBI Director James Comey said, “There’s no doubt that some bad actors have been poking around.” And he stressed that the FBI is trying to determine “what mischief is Russia up to in connection with our election.”

Wisconsin: Troopers perform voter ID checks | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

In response to reports of the Division of Motor Vehicles giving wrong voter ID information, the state retrained its workers and overhauled how it handles cases when people don’t have birth certificates, state lawyers told a judge Friday. The attorneys acknowledged workers sometimes gave inaccurate information but downplayed the significance of those incidents. They wrote that undercover…

Czech Republic: Ruling coalition wins big in regional ballot | Associated Press

The three parties in the Czech Republic’s ruling center-left coalition dominated the election for the country’s regions and are ahead in the first round of voting for Parliament’s upper house, according to results released Saturday by the Czech Statistics Office. With votes from almost 100 percent of ballot stations counted, the ANO (YES) movement led by Finance Minister Andrej Babis was a clear winner, claiming nine of the 13 regions contested in the two-day vote Friday and Saturday. Of the other two members of the ruling coalition, the leftist Social Democrats of Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, who used to dominate the regions, won only two, while the Christian Democrats took one. The final region saw a victory by a group of local mayors.

Georgia (Sakartvelo): Ruling party in Georgia decisively wins parliament vote | Reuters

The ruling party in Georgia decisively won parliamentary elections, firming its grip on power in the former Soviet nation, near-complete results showed on Sunday. With 99.41 percent of the votes in, data from the Central Election Commission gave the ruling Georgian Dream party 48.61 percent of the vote and the opposition United National Movement (UNM) 27.04 percent. A U.S. ally traditionally buffeted between Russia and the West, Georgia hopes to join the European Union and NATO one day even though that is something that Russia, its former colonial master, strongly opposes. With political stability still fragile — the first peaceful transfer of power since the 1991 Soviet collapse only took place four years ago – the authorities were keen the election be widely seen as free and fair to avoid a return to the days when politicians tried to seize power by force.

Lithuania: Agrarian party wins 1st round of Lithuania election | Associated Press

An agrarian party won the first round of Lithuania’s parliamentary election Sunday, setting the stage for a possible change of government in the Baltic country. The Peasants and Green Party won 20 of the 70 seats up for grabs in a party-list vote, according to preliminary results after most ballots were counted. The conservative Homeland Union-Christian Democrats had 15 seats, followed by the governing Social Democrats with 13 seats. However, the final outcome was unclear as the other 71 seats are decided in single-seat constituencies, most of which will require a runoff vote on Oct. 23.

Morocco: Moderate Islamists win election, coalition talks seen tough | Reuters

Morocco’s moderate Islamists have won parliamentary elections, beating a rival party critics say is too close to the royal palace in a tight race that will complicate negotiations to form a coalition government. The government has only limited powers, but Friday’s ballot for the House of Representatives was a test for the constitutional monarchy five years after Mohammed VI devolved some authority to ease protests for democratic change. After five years in government, the Justice and Development Party (PJD) won 125 seats while the Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM) party took 102, according to final results announced by the interior minister on Saturday. The conservative Istiqlal party took 46 seats.

Voting Blogs: Narcissism vs. Charisma: Somaliland’s Presidential Election | Democracy Chronicles

In interview an HCTV, the question was, “Did you bombard Ethiopia during ’77 war?” The answer: “Yes, I brutally bombed Ethiopia”. This statement seems uttered by three old child, but it’s not. The ruling Kulmiye Party candidate Mr. Muse Bihi Abdi of Somaliland uttered this without exercising the minimum diplomatic code of ethics when he asked his greatest achievement in a life. New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman recently said in regard to Donald Trump, that his “intellectual laziness and towering policy ignorance are in a league of its own”. Likewise, Somaliland intellectuals, if there are any, should make sure Muse Bihi, far more mediocre than anyone can imagine, fails to win. The damage to the country in the case of his election will make Somaliland look like “tribes with flags”. Tired of recycled mottos of improving their lives, voters want real change and have begun to increasingly look to the Wadani Party leadership.