This year, as Americans select the next president, the entire U.S. House of Representatives and a third of the Senate, as well as an array of state and local officials, many voters will cast ballots on a generation of electronic voting machines that is nearing extinction. Most of the machines, adopted by local governments after “hanging chads” left the 2000 presidential election in the balance for weeks, are at least a decade old. And they create a perilous situation: an equipment breakdown on Election Day could mean long lines, potentially leaving some people unable to vote. But replacing the old machines with newer models is costly. The latest computerized machines typically cost between $2,500 and $3,000 each, and election boards should budget for one machine per 250 to 300 registered voters, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). That high cost is just one reason the computerized machines, which record ballots via a touch-screen, push-button or dial mechanism, have been falling out of favor with cash-strapped local governments. Some elections officials and lawmakers also worry the machines could be hacked and lead to voter fraud.
National: Election officials brace for fallout from Trump’s claims of a ‘rigged’ vote | The Washington Post
Donald Trump’s escalating effort to undermine the presidential election as “rigged” has alarmed government officials administering the vote as well as Democratic and Republican leaders, who are anxiously preparing for the possibility of unrest or even violence on Election Day and for an extended battle over the integrity of the outcome. Hillary Clinton’s advisers are privately worried that Trump’s calls for his supporters to stand watch at polling places in cities such as Philadelphia for any hint of fraud will result in intimidation tactics that might threaten her supporters and suppress the votes of African Americans and other minorities. The Democratic nominee’s campaign is recruiting and training hundreds of lawyers to fan out across the country, protecting people’s right to vote and documenting any signs of foul play, according to several people with knowledge of the plans. “I’m very concerned about this rhetoric,” said former Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter (D), a Clinton supporter. “All Donald Trump is doing with these outrageous, false scare tactics is to try to diminish voter interest and suppress voter turnout.”
As Donald Trump’s campaign falters, his warnings that the presidential contest will be rigged have become a focus of his pitch to voters. Historians say Trump’s sustained effort to call the process into question has no close parallel in past elections. And some are increasingly worried that his claims — for which he’s offered no real evidence — could leave many of his supporters unwilling to accept the election results, potentially triggering violence and dangerously undermining faith in American democracy. Day after day — at rallies, in interviews and on Twitter — Trump and several top backers have hammered the message that a victory for Hillary Clinton would be illegitimate. Trump has frequently suggested that widespread voter fraud will swing the election, and he has urged his supporters to closely monitor the voting process. In a tweet Monday, he declared that there’s “large-scale voter fraud happening on and before election day.” In fact, numerous studies have shown that in-person voter fraud is vanishingly rare.
National: Donald Trump is warning of election fraud, but GOP officials oversee process in most battleground states | Los Angeles Times
Donald Trump on Monday continued a potentially dangerous drumbeat — questioning the integrity of the American election system. These warnings are not new and not supported by evidence; they defy numerous studies that have found that voter fraud is minimal. They also invite a question: If the election is rigged, who is doing the rigging? Presidential elections are conducted on a state-by-state basis, not nationally. And in most of the states seen as presidential battlegrounds, the chief elections officers are Republicans — most directly accountable to their state’s voters.
As Democrats aim to capitalize on this year’s Republican turmoil and start building back their own decimated bench, former Attorney General Eric Holder will chair a new umbrella group focused on redistricting reform — with the aim of taking on the gerrymandering that’s left the party behind in statehouses and made winning a House majority far more difficult. The new group, called the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, was developed in close consultation with the White House. President Barack Obama himself has now identified the group — which will coordinate campaign strategy, direct fundraising, organize ballot initiatives and put together legal challenges to state redistricting maps — as the main focus of his political activity once he leaves office. Though initial plans to be active in this year’s elections fell short, the group has been incorporated as a 527, with Democratic Governors Association executive director Elisabeth Pearson as its president and House Majority PAC executive director Ali Lapp as its vice president. They’ve been pitching donors and aiming to put together its first phase action plan for December, moving first in the Virginia and New Jersey state elections next year and with an eye toward coordination across gubernatorial, state legislative and House races going into the 2018 midterms.
Editorials: It would be literally insane to try to steal an election in the way Donald Trump is alleging. | Richard Hasen/Slate
In recent days, Donald Trump has been aggressively pushing the idea that the election is about to be stolen from him through voter fraud and dirty tricks. The Republican candidate, though, has not been a paragon of clarity when it comes to how the election is being rigged against him—Monday morning he tweeted that Hillary Clinton allegedly being fed questions before a Democratic primary debate was a kind of “voter fraud!” Here’s what we know, though, about what he’s said and why his claims that the election is being stolen have no basis whatsoever in reality. When he’s been most specific, Trump has said that voters in “certain areas”—which his surrogate Rudy Giuliani confirmed to CNN’s Jake Tapper means inner cities where there are large numbers of people of color—would be voting five, 10, or even 15 times in states such as Pennsylvania. Trump has urged his almost entirely white supporters not only to watch their own polling stations, but to go to other polling stations looking for fraud in these areas made up mostly of black and Hispanic voters.
Arizona Democrats will ask a federal appeals court on Monday to put on hold a state law that criminalizes the practice of ballot collection, arguing that the law could disenfranchise thousands of voters — particularly in minority communities — that rely upon neighbors and activists to collect and hand deliver early ballots. Last month a federal judge declined to enjoin the law for now ruling that the challengers had not shown that it would “disparately impact” minority voters. “Deference to the judgments made by Arizona’s elected representatives in exercising their constitutionally prescribed authority to regulate elections is, therefore, required,” Judge Douglas L. Rayes of the the US District Court for the District of Arizona said. But in an unusual order, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday agreed to hear an expedited appeal with briefs due from both sides by close of business Monday. The court has scheduled oral arguments for October 19. “This litigation is a good example of the clash between Republican elective operatives who say they are trying to root out voter fraud and Democratic leaning activists who are trying to open access to the ballot as much as possible,” said election law expert Joshua A. Douglas at the University of Kentucky College of Law.
Colorado: How the first mail-ballot presidential election changes the political math in Colorado | The Denver Post
This week, the 2016 election gets real. Colorado election officials will begin mailing ballots Monday to more than 3,125,300 active voters, and the initial wave of votes is expected by the end of the week. The first mail-ballot presidential election marks a fundamental shift in how elections are managed in Colorado and introduces significant variables to the political calculus that will determine the winners. “Election Day is really a misnomer,” said Eric Sondermann, a Colorado political analyst. “All Election Day is now is the day the ballots are counted. It’s no longer the day ballots are cast.”
A series of new radio and print advertisements denouncing Mike Pence are set to go public in Indiana, where an advocacy group has accused the Republican vice presidential nominee of allowing voter suppression. Patriot Majority USA, a group affiliated with the Senate Majority PAC, a super PAC that supports Democratic candidates, is launching an advertising campaign following an Indiana state police raid of the offices of a voter registration program. The advertisements claim that as many as 45,000 people, most of them African Americans, might not be able to vote in the presidential election if investigators put a hold on applications collected by the group. The raid and subsequent accusations of voter suppression come in the final weeks of an election season that has raised widespread concern over voter fraud, due in large part to warnings from Republican nominee Donald Trump of a rigged election and his calls for GOP supporters to monitor the polls on election day. A recent Washington Post-ABC poll found that 46 percent of registered voters – and more than two-thirds of Trump supporters – believe that voter fraud, defined as multiple votes being cast by a single person or an ineligible person casting a ballot, occurs very or somewhat often. But the growing concern over voter fraud has led to arguments from the other side that efforts to prevent fraud, such as poll monitoring, could result in voter intimidation and threaten the democratic election process.
Iowa’s election commissioner Monday emphatically refuted any contentions by political candidates that this year’s Nov. 8 general election is rigged in any way. “This state has a pretty darn good track record and I really resent anybody trying to blemish it,” said Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, who plays a dual role as the state’s election commissioner. He said anyone who has evidence or concern about the integrity and fairness of Iowa’s voting process should contact is office so he can investigate any allegations; otherwise he hoped politicians would “knock it off” and focus on the issues important to Iowans. “Iowa has got one of the cleanest, best election systems in the country and I guarantee every eligible Iowa voter will be able to cast their ballot for the Nov. 8 election,” added Pate, who said he wanted to clear away any “smoke” over rigged elections by noting the many checks and balances Iowa has to maintain integrity and ferret out fraud.
When Brian Newby took the helm of a federal election agency, he left behind an unfolding scandal in Kansas in which he was having an affair with a woman he promoted in his previous job and used her to skirt oversight of their expenses, prompting a local prosecutor to investigate, according to e-mails obtained by the Associated Press. The affair and resulting fallout were revealed in hundreds of e-mails ordered released after the AP sued Johnson County, where Newby was the top election official before leaving to become executive director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. The e-mails – coupled with hundreds more obtained from the Kansas secretary of state’s office through a separate open records request – portray an election official who berated employees and deliberately bypassed supervision. They also document a toxic workplace created by his affair with then-Assistant Election Commissioner Jessica White, an apparent violation of county policy on intimate relationships with subordinates. In a June 2015 exchange from his work e-mail to her personal address, the then-married Newby told White: “You, my little lover, are so wonderful.” Newby and White did not respond to numerous phone and e-mail messages seeking comment.
Ohio: Jon Husted says voting is safe in Ohio despite talk of rigged election | The Columbus Dispatch
Even as Republican Donald Trump warns of “large-scale voter fraud,” analysts say it would be nearly impossible in Ohio for one political party to steal the outcome election from another. The elections and the vote counting in Ohio are conducted by bipartisan boards of elections in the state’s 88 counties, meaning only an improbable alliance and virtually impossible to keep secret between Democrats and Republicans in all 88 counties could change the election. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, said the system of elections in place is “ actually more secure than it’s ever been in our nation’s history.” He said Ohio’s system is transparent, includes extensive checks and balances and has a verified voter paper trail for every vote. At the same time, the election rolls are “cleaner and more up to date than they’ve ever been.”
The special committee on electoral reform has spent the last several months gathering expert testimony and hearing opinions from voters across the country, but all that will come to an end this Monday. A dozen members of Parliament are set to attend the meeting in Iqaluit, Nunavut, where voter turnout in the last Federal election spiked sharply but still fell far short of the national average. “We’re very interested in how to ensure a higher voter turnout rate,” said Liberal MP Francis Scarpaleggia, who chairs the committee. In particular, Scarpaleggia says he wants to hear what voters in Nunavut would think of a proportional representation system, where every vote would “count.”
Congo’s constitutional court on Monday approved a controversial request by the electoral commission to postpone November elections so voter registration lists can be updated. Constitutional Court President Benoit Lwamba Bindu said the court recognized there are technical problems and authorized a “reasonable delay.” It said the commission must publish a new electoral calendar for the presidential elections originally scheduled for Nov. 27. Congo’s electoral commission filed a delay petition to the court in September. It has since said elections likely cannot be organized until the end of 2018, raising concerns that tensions and violence will rise.
Ghanaian police officials plan to meet with leaders of the Muslim community this week as part of an effort to ensure peaceful presidential, legislative and local elections scheduled for Dec. 7, according to Cephas Arthur, spokesman for the police. Arthur also said police representatives would meet with other stakeholders before the upcoming polls. Arthur said the police have also launched a nationwide education campaign using mass and social media platforms to engage the public regarding the need to ensure a peaceful general election. “We see all these groupings are veritable stakeholders to these elections and that if we are able to bring all of them on board to jaw-jaw to find amicable solutions to all concerns that we have as far as this election is concerned,” Arthur said, “then we are sure that we will be watching the election through the same spectacle. And that we shall surely succeed in having a peaceful election come December 7, [and] that is why we are taking all these steps.’
Montenegrin officials blocked popular messaging services WhatsApp and Viber during the country’s parliamentary election, a ban that drew allegations of interference from opposition politicians and concern from European election watchers Monday. “Blocking such apps is unthinkable in any normal country,” said opposition party leader Ranko Krivokapic, who previously monitored voting for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. “I have never heard of that happening anywhere ever in an election.” Authorities said they blocked Viber and WhatsApp for several hours during Sunday’s inconclusive election because “unlawful marketing” was being spread through the networks. Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic’s long-ruling party won the most votes in the contest, but without enough support to govern alone. Both the opposition and the Democratic Party of Socialists will now have to try form a governing coalition with several small groups represented in the 81-seat parliament.
Local body election time is over for another three years, and even before polls closed, there were laments over low turnout. A low turnout undermines the legitimacy of the winners and can point to wider problems: disillusionment with democratic processes, institutions and actors. It is also problematic because some groups are less likely to vote than others, and so candidates appeal to the interests of those who vote over those who don’t. Older people and home owners are more likely to vote in local body elections, which may explain the prevalence of ‘controlling rates’ as a campaign slogan. In the lead up to the 2016 local body elections, a trial of electronic voting was proposed and was some way towards implementation before being abandoned, because of security concerns. A number of commentators have argued the online voting will help turn around declining local body election turnouts, but I want to argue this is not necessarily the solution to the problem. I ask two simple questions: will the proposed solution solve the problem, and what new problems will it create? Not only should the solution work, but, when balancing all effects, it should be worthwhile.