National: Hurricane victims face another challenge: exercising their right to vote | The Washington Post

In the wake of Hurricane Matthew, residents still struggling to return to their homes and assess the damage are facing another challenge: registering to vote before it’s too late. Nowhere is the issue more acute than in Florida, where a fight to extend that deadline has turned bitterly partisan and litigious. Some 1.5 million Floridians were placed under evacuation last week as the Category 4 hurricane bore down on the state’s coast, closing down county and state government services. After Gov. Rick Scott (R) refused to extend Tuesday’s deadline to register, a federal judge ruled against him, extending it at least until Wednesday and rebuking Scott’s decision as “irrational,” “nonsensical” and “poppycock.” “These voters have already had their lives (and, quite possibly, their homes) turned up-side down by Hurricane Matthew,” U.S. District Judge Mark E. Walker wrote. “They deserve a break, especially one that is mandated by the United States Constitution.”

National: 3 ways big storms like Hurricane Matthew can impact an election | The Washington Post

Hurricane Matthew is significantly earlier in the election than Sandy was — early October vs. late October — and we still don’t know precisely how much it will affect Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. So it’s very early to talk about political implications. But given Florida’s status as a hugely important swing state (and even Georgia’s status as a surprising battleground), there will be plenty of debate about the political impact the storm could have come Nov. 8. And the political fight over it has already begun, with Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) on Thursday declining the request of Democrats to extend voter registration in that state. Here are three ways in which storms like this can affect elections — along with whether there’s evidence they actually do.

National: Could the U.S. election be hacked? | USA Today

The impact of Russian hacking on the upcoming presidential election was a topic in Sunday night’s debate, raising the question: Is the U.S. election hackable? Experts say at the national level, no. But there could be individual incidents that undermine faith in the system. There’s almost no danger the U.S. presidential election could be affected by hackers. It’s simply too decentralized and for the most part too offline to be threatened, according to the head of the FBI and several security experts. “National elections are conducted at the local level by local officials on equipment that they obtained locally,” so there’s no single point of vulnerability to tampering here, said Pamela Smith, president of Verified Voting, a non-partisan, non-profit organization that advocates for elections accuracy. … The biggest question in the mind of voting security expert Joseph Kiniry is whether the 2016 election will be Y2K or Pearl Harbor.

National: Seven Reasons the New Russian Hack Announcement Is a Big Deal | Politico

It’s been buried under news of Donald Trump bragging about his ability to grab women by their genitals, but Friday afternoon’s news dump included a stunning declaration by the Department of Homeland Security: the first direct accusation from the Obama administration that Russia is trying to interfere with our elections. “The U.S. Intelligence Community is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations,” the statement said, concluding that “these thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process.” After the Democratic National Committee hack and the scattered hacks of voting machines, and months of talk in the press and on Capitol Hill, the Obama administration has openly called out the Kremlin for meddling in the election. This was immediately followed by a new dump of documents from WikiLeaks, this time of Clinton campaign chair John Podesta’s emails, and news that the Russian ambassador to the United Nations lodged a formal complaint with the organization when another official criticized Trump. And all of this comes against the backdrop of Trump’s constant and effusive praise for Vladimir Putin, as well as a steady stream of revelations about his campaign’s shady ties to Russia.

National: Is there any practical way for Republicans to replace Trump at this point? Not really | Los Angeles Times

Donald Trump’s lascivious boasts about groping women, a common refrain emerged Saturday: The GOP nominee should withdraw from the ticket. The pleas to step aside came from many corners of the GOP universe, including Hugh Hewitt, the conservative radio host, and South Dakota Sen. John Thune, a member of the Republican congressional leadership. Trump has so far defiantly rejected calls to withdraw. But even if Republicans managed to persuade him to bow out, their political headache would not suddenly vanish. An attempt to replace Trump on the ticket would pose staggering logistical hurdles. For one thing, Trump’s name will undoubtedly remain on the ballot. Across the country, election officials have already prepped and printed voting materials. Overseas and military voters must receive their ballots 45 days prior to the election, a deadline that passed last month.

Editorials: New state laws discourage registering immigrants. How will that affect the Latino vote? | Heath Brown/The Washington Post

On Oct. 3, Latino Decisions released results of a poll of Latino voters, with fairly predictable results. Most respondents – 67 percent – rate Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton favorably, while 77 percent hold a dim view of Republican nominee Donald Trump. But here’s a surprising statistic: Only 38 percent said that any organization has encouraged them to register or vote. That’s more than the 31 percent who said they were asked during the last presidential election, but below the typical rates for whites, which was 43 percent (based on post-2012 election survey data). Other minority and immigrant groups have similar experiences. This year, only 30 percent of Asian Americans said that any group or party had gotten in touch to urge them to register or vote. Why? Most of the nonprofit groups that work with recent immigrants offer such services as language classes, job training, housing placement and public health support. They stay away from anything election-related, even voter registration. In my new book “Immigrants and Electoral Politics,” I show that’s partly because they fear that doing anything political could jeopardize their nonprofit tax status. I took up this research in part because very little scholarship had investigated these groups’ political activities.

Editorials: Troubling claims of ‘rigged’ election | The Japan Times

Of the many troubling things that Republican candidate Donald Trump has said during this U.S. presidential election campaign, the most worrisome may be his claim that the November vote will be “rigged” and that he might not accept the results when polls close. At the first presidential debate last month, the moderator had to twice ask Trump before he said that he would accept the outcome if defeated by Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton. Four days after the debate, he reversed himself, saying instead, “We’re going to have to see what happens.” It is hard to imagine a statement more corrosive for U.S. democracy. The authority of the president ultimately rests on his (or her) legitimacy as the winner accepted by all electors, even those that did not vote for him (or her). A loser, and especially one who has decried a political system that systematically disenfranchises significant parts of the public, who refuses to accept that verdict undermines the very foundation of the American political system and the individuals who exercise power through it. This disrespect for the democratic process is the most dangerous element of the Trump candidacy.

Voting Blogs: 2016: The Belt and Suspenders Election | Election Academy

It’s Columbus Day – and a holiday for many election offices – so this will be a short post before we dive back in tomorrow to the last four weeks of the 2016 election. I wanted to write today about something I’ve noticed so far about this election year. While I don’t do politics here, it’s fair to say that this year’s presidential campaign has been extremely unusual, and has generated very strong emotions in voters in just about every region of the country and around the world. Some of the reactions we’re seeing as a result are typical for a presidential year; heightened focus on election procedures (with “hacking” and “rigging” as this year’s theme) plus the regular rush on litigation as campaigns seek to clarify election rules – ideally to their own benefit – before Election Day. But this year I’ve also noticed something new; many voters are casting ballots and engaging with the election process earlier and in greater numbers than I can remember. Moreover, there seems to be an intensity and urgency that is unusual in my experience. In just the last few weeks, I’ve seen colleagues in the field report overseas voters returning Federal Write-in Ballots (FWABs) as soon as voting opened rather than wait for regular ballots to reach them and multiple registration forms and/or online registration transactions from the same voters – sometimes AFTER they had been sent a vote-by-mail ballot.

Florida: Federal judge extends voter registration deadline, rebukes state for ‘irrational’ decision | Miami Herald

A judge on Monday extended Florida’s voter registration deadline by one more day, through Wednesday, because of Hurricane Matthew, calling it “irrational” for the state to reject the idea. U.S. District Judge Mark Walker granted the Florida Democratic Party’s request for a temporary restraining order, which included a rebuke of the state for refusing to extend the deadline past its scheduled time of 5 p.m. Tuesday. “Quite simply, it is wholly irrational in this instance for Florida to refuse to extend the voter registration deadline when the state already allows the governor to suspend or move the election date due to an unforeseen emergency,” Walker wrote in a 16-page order. “If aspiring eligible Florida voters are barred from registering to vote, then those voters are stripped of one of our most precious freedoms.”

Indiana: An experiment in voter fraud | Dave Bangert/Indianapolis Star

The text came late one night last week, just about the time Indiana State Police expanded an investigation into potential voter registration fraud from nine to 56 of the state’s 92 counties. The question, boiled down, was haunting: Want to see how easy it would be to get into someone’s voter registration and make changes to it? The offer from Steve Klink – a Lafayette-based public consultant who works mainly with Indiana public school districts – was to use my voter registration record as a case study. Only with my permission, of course. “I will not require any information from you,” he texted. “Which is the problem.” Turns out he didn’t need anything from me. He sent screenshots of every step along the way, as he navigated from the “Update My Voter Registration” tab at the Indiana Statewide Voter Registration System maintained since 2010 at to the blank screen that cleared the way for changes to my name, address, age and more. The only magic involved was my driver’s license number, one of two log-in options to make changes online. And that was contained in a copy of every county’s voter database, a public record already in the hands of political parties, campaigns, media and, according to Indiana open access laws, just about anyone who wants the beefy spreadsheet. As promised, Klink made no changes, but he made his point. Let’s just say it was unsettling at best.

Mississippi: Legislature less inclined to restore felons’ voting rights | Daily Journal

Mississippi has an estimated 182,814 convicted felons ineligible to vote, according to a 2012 study by the Sentencing Project, a national nonprofit organization that works on criminal justice issues. Only Florida with 1.54 million felons or 10.42 percent of its voter-age population ineligible to vote had a higher percentage than Mississippi where 8.27 percent of the adult population was ineligible to vote, according to the study. While the Sentencing Project study might be a bit dated, more than likely the statistics have not changed much in Mississippi. Since 2012, which encompasses the time the current leadership has controlled the House and Senate, eight felons have had their voting rights restored by the Mississippi Legislature.

North Carolina: Governor and legislators argue against allegations early voting plans in 5 counties violate court order | News & Observer

Attorneys for Gov. Pat McCrory and N.C. legislators contended in a document filed in federal court on Friday that early voting plans in five counties do not run afoul of a federal appeals court ruling. The response came six days after a group of voters represented by Hillary Clinton’s campaign counsel sought emergency intervention. The voters are represented by Marc Elias, a Washington-based attorney who, in addition to working on Clinton’s campaign, has been involved with a number of high-profile cases challenging voting rights restrictions in recent years. They asked a judge to require the state Board of Elections to modify early voting plans in Mecklenburg, Guilford, Forsyth, Nash and New Hanover counties. But attorneys for the state argued that the counties – four of which leaned Democratic in the 2012 elections – were within the bounds of a ruling this summer by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that invalidated much of a 2013 elections law overhaul.

Pennsylvania: No sign yet of Trump’s Pennsylvania ‘poll watchers,’ and why it’s unlikely anyway | BillyPenn

Donald Trump wants legions of his supporters to leave their hometowns on Election Day and set up shop in Pennsylvania’s cities. He wants to them to watch the polls closely and challenge voter registration. The unspoken directive is to wreak havoc. Make sure Democrats aren’t stacking the voting machines in favor of Hillary Clinton or allowing liberal voters to cast their ballots twice. “I hope you people can… not just vote on the 8th, [but] go around and look and watch other polling places and make sure that it’s 100-percent fine,” Trump said at an August rally in Altoona. “We’re going to watch Pennsylvania — go down to certain areas and watch… The only way we can lose, in my opinion — and I really mean this, Pennsylvania — is if cheating goes on.” When Trump talks about poll watching in “certain areas,” his supporters know where he’s referring to. He’s talking about Philadelphia and, to some degree, Pittsburgh — the state’s Democratic strongholds, and places where conservative media (“Call Sean Hannity!” etc.) say voter fraud has happened.

Wisconsin: Legislative attempts to make it easier for felons to vote almost always fail | News21

Republican and Democratic politicians across the country are deeply divided over restoring the right to vote to felons, a political fracture that affects millions of convicted criminals. In Iowa and Kentucky, Democratic governors issued executive orders to restore voting rights to many felons — only to have them rescinded by Republican governors who succeeded them. Democratic legislators in 29 states proposed more than 270 bills over the past six years that would have made it easier for some felons to vote but very few passed, especially in legislatures controlled by Republicans, News21 found in an analysis of state legislative measures nationwide. Debate and decisions about restoring voting rights to felons often follow partisan lines because felons, particularly African-Americans, are viewed as more likely to vote Democratic than Republican, voting rights experts told News21. Nationwide, 1 in 13 black voters is disenfranchised because of a felony conviction as opposed to 1 in 56 non-black voters, according to The Sentencing Project, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. that works on criminal justice sentencing policies and racial disparities.

Lithuania: Premier’s Party Set to Lose Power After Election | Bloomberg

Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius’s Social Democrats were pushed into third place in parliamentary elections as voters voiced disquiet over pay and opportunities in the tiny Baltic nation that seven years ago became a trailblazer for European Union austerity. Sunday’s national vote left the Peasants & Green Union and the Homeland Union-Christian Democrats neck and neck on 21.6 percent with almost all ballots counted. The Social Democrats had 14.4 percent, with support for the ruling coalition they lead sinking on persistent emigration, sluggish salary growth and a procurement scandal that worsened already frosty ties with President Dalia Grybauskaite. “The dominant scenario is that the Peasants and Homeland will form the basis of a new center-right coalition,” Ramunas Vilpisauskas, director of the Institute for International Relations and Political Science at Vilnius University, said Monday by e-mail. With a second round of voting in single-mandate constituencies to come on Oct. 23, the “big intrigue” is which party will have a better bargaining position to nominate the next premier, he said.

Montenegro: NATO membership at stake as Montenegro heads to the polls | New Europe

Montenegro is entering the final week of its most significant electoral encounter for over a decade. The result could affect the process of NATO and EU enlargement in the Balkans. On Sunday October 16 Montenegro goes to the polls for the fourth time since it declared its independence in 2006. 18 electoral lists will compete for 81-seats in the parliament. The election campaign is deeply divided among those who favor and those who oppose European and Euro-Atlantic integration.

Morocco: Observers: Moroccan election overall fair, but turnout low | Associated Press

Voting in Morocco last week was largely free and fair, the country’s election observer body said Sunday, but it is investigating some cases of vote-buying and expressed concern about low turnout. The moderate Islamist Party of Justice and Development won Friday’s legislative election, beating out a party with close ties to the royal palace after an unusually hostile campaign. The PJD, which has led a coalition government since it first won elections in 2011 on a wave of Arab Spring protests, is now working on building a new coalition with rival parties. The Interior Ministry said the PJD won 125 of the 395 seats in the Chamber of Representatives, while the Party of Authenticity and Modernity, founded by an adviser to the king, came second with 102 seats.