In a remarkable statement that seemed to cast doubt on American democracy, Donald J. Trump said Wednesday that he might not accept the results of next month’s election if he felt it was rigged against him — a stand that Hillary Clinton blasted as “horrifying” at their final and caustic debate on Wednesday. Mr. Trump, under enormous pressure to halt Mrs. Clinton’s steady rise in opinion polls, came across as repeatedly frustrated as he tried to rally conservative voters with hard-line stands on illegal immigration and abortion rights. But he kept finding himself drawn onto perilous political territory by Mrs. Clinton and the debate’s moderator, Chris Wallace. … Mr. Trump insisted, without offering evidence, that the general election has been rigged against him, and he twice refused to say that he would accept its result. “I will look at it at the time,” Mr. Trump said. “I will keep you in suspense.”
National: Donald Trump declines to say he’d accept the results of the election, but voter fraud almost never happens | Los Angeles Times
Donald Trump doubled down on his allegations of a “rigged election” during Wednesday’s debate, declining in a major breach of democratic protocol to say he’d accept the results of the election. His reasoning included an implication of widespread voter fraud, asserting that there are “millions of people that are registered to vote that shouldn’t be registered to vote.” But Trump is vastly overstating how common voter fraud is, according to election experts. Voter fraud — in which a person casts a ballot despite knowingly being ineligible to vote — is “extraordinarily rare,” according to a report by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School. The 2007 study examined elections where wrongdoing was alleged and found the rate of substantiated instances of fraud ranged between 0.00004% and 0.0009%. Another study by a Loyola law professor found just 31 instances of in-person voter fraud (in which one person pretended to be someone else) out of more than 1 billion ballots cast between 2000 and 2014.
Donald Trump refused to say he’d accept the election’s results if he loses, an extraordinary statement on one of the underpinnings of U.S. democracy, as one of the most unconventional U.S. presidential campaigns entered its final stretch. Hillary Clinton called the Republican nominee’s remark “horrifying” in what was one of the most dramatic moments Wednesday night in Las Vegas during their final debate before the Nov. 8 election. “I will look at it, at the time,” Trump said, as he accused the media of dishonesty and being part of rigging the election against him. “They’ve poisoned the minds of the voters, but unfortunately for them I think the voters are seeing through it.” Always the showman, Trump said he’d let Americans know his decision about accepting the results after the election. “I will tell you at the time,” he said. “I’ll keep you in suspense.” Clinton expressed shock, echoing comments made earlier this week by President Barack Obama on the importance of a peaceful transfer of power in the U.S.
Online voting sounds like a dream: the 64 percent of citizens who own smartphones and the 84 percent of American adults with access to the internet would simply have to pull out their devices to cast a ballot. And Estonia—a northern European country bordering the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Finland—has been voting online since 2005. But ask cybersecurity experts and they’ll tell you it’s really a nightmare. We are nowhere close to having an online voting system that is as secure as it needs to be. Ron Rivest, a professor at MIT with a background in computer security and a board member of Verified Voting, said it is a “naive expectation” to even think online voting is on the horizon. One of the most compelling arguments made in favor for online voting is that it could potentially increase voter turnout. Which is a problem in the US: In 2012, 61.6 percent of those eligible to vote turned out to cast a ballot as opposed to the 58.2 percent that came out in 2008—a 3.4 percentage point decrease. According to the Pew Research Center, the American voter turnout in 2012 was low in comparison to elections in other nations, too. But Rivest said there’s no “hard evidence” to prove that making the process more accessible via the Internet will result in increased voter turnout. And even if one were to accept the unverified assumption that online voting would boost the number of people who vote, a larger dilemma still exists.
Less than three weeks before Election Day, new voter ID requirements, early voting schedules and voter registration rules in more than a dozen states are creating uncertainty that could dampen turnout. In some states, courts are still hashing out new rules. Fourteen states have election laws that are more restrictive than they were during the last presidential election in 2012. Most of them require voters to show a photo ID before casting their ballots. Some of those ID laws have been scaled back or overturned by judges citing racial discrimination, but legal battles have continued in several states because voting rights advocates say state officials haven’t fully complied with court orders. There is confusion stemming from other court cases as well. Kansas’ attempt to require proof of citizenship from voters is still tied up in court. In Ohio, the battle is over people the state purged from the voter rolls because they hadn’t voted in six years.
Some North Carolina voters who want to expand early in-person voting in the presidential battleground state lost their case before a federal appeals court Wednesday, and in Georgia a federal judge refused to extend the voter registration deadline again for counties stricken by Hurricane Matthew. But a voters’ group in Virginia still held out hope of extending that state’s registration deadlines. A three-judge panel on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the emergency motion focused on five North Carolina counties that include cities such as Charlotte, Greensboro, Winston-Salem and Wilmington. A trial court judge refused the same request last week. The voters’ lawyers argued the counties weren’t complying with the 4th Circuit’s ruling in July striking down portions of a 2013 law that reduced the early-voting period by seven days. The period now covers 17 days, beginning Thursday. The voters said election officials should have allowed additional early voting on Sunday, during the first seven days of the period, or on the Saturday afternoon before Election Day.
This year’s presidential election will be the first in a half-century without the significant presence of federal observers at polling places. That’s because in 2013 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, and when the court wiped out that section, the statute that provided for election observers went, too. The landmark decision in Shelby County v. Holder doesn’t mean civil rights officials are totally disarmed. The Justice Department will still send out “hundreds” of “monitors” to oversee Election Day compliance. But the number is smaller than it was before, and monitors can only enter the polling place if local officials agree. Observers, by contrast, had a statutory right to be inside polling places. They were trained specifically for the task. There also were many more of them, and they had far more authority than monitors.
Four years ago, David Becker and John Lindback helped lead a study about voter registration in the US. The results were alarming. More than 1.8 million dead people were still registered to vote. That’s because systems designed to remove them were flawed, according to their study, conducted by the Pew Center on the States. A total of 24 million voter records — one out of every eight — were “significantly inaccurate or no longer valid.” After the study, the Pew Charitable Trusts worked with several states to form the Electronic Registration Information Center, or ERIC, to clean up voter registration rolls, which get out of whack when we move, change names or die. Today, 21 states and the District of Columbia work with ERIC to compare and analyze data across each other’s voter and motor vehicle registrations, US Postal Service addresses and Social Security death records. States also apply sophisticated cybersecurity tools to fend off hackers. But the fixes take time.
Editorials: Trump thinks non-citizens are deciding elections. We debunked the research he’s citing. | Stephen Ansolabehere, Samantha Luks and Brian Schaffner/The Washington Post
Donald Trump has increasingly sought to cast doubt on the validity of the upcoming 2016 election outcome, claiming that the results will be “rigged.” He recently cited a study by political scientists Jesse Richman, Gulshan Chattha, and David Earnest that purports to use data from a large national survey — the Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES) — to show that some non-citizens have voted in previous elections. This study was summarized at The Monkey Cage and provoked three rebuttals (here, here, and here) as well as a response from the authors. After this exchange, we published a peer-reviewed piece arguing that this study is wrong and that there is absolutely no evidence from the data that non-citizens voted in recent presidential elections. We argue that the findings in the Richman et al. article can be entirely explained by measurement error. Specifically, survey respondents occasionally select the incorrect response to a question merely by accident.
Some Indiana voters have discovered their date of birth or first name is incorrect on their registration, leading the Indiana Secretary of State to believe it’s a case of voter fraud. Secretary of State Connie Lawson said thousands of first names and dates of birth have been changed on paper forms, at the BMV and online. In a release, Lawson said her office isn’t sure why the records were changed, but doesn’t believe the Statewide Voter Registration System was compromised.
The Michigan Republican Party is planning to dispatch more than 100 attorneys to polling locations across the state on Election Day to “catch and discourage instances of voter fraud” as GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump has warned the voting process is “rigged.” Michigan Republican Party Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel said in a recent fundraising letter that she has instructed party attorneys “to prepare a massive statewide anti-voter fraud effort to go along with our last-minute get-out-the-vote (GOTV) efforts. I won’t let Hillary Clinton steal this election from Donald Trump,” McDaniel wrote in the Oct. 10 fundraising plea. McDaniel said she was trying to raise $48,000 to pay for canvassing, phone calls to voters and “placing over 100 Michigan Republican Party attorneys in the field to catch and discourage instances of voter fraud.”
North Carolina: Federal courts reject challenge brought by Clinton campaign counsel to early voting plans in 5 North Carolina counties | The Charlotte Observer
A federal appeals court panel has rejected a request by a group of North Carolina voters for modifications to early-voting plans in Mecklenburg, Guilford, Forsyth, Nash and New Hanover counties. Early voting starts Thursday in North Carolina. Marc Elias — a Washington, D.C.-based attorney involved in several high-profile voting rights cases and counsel to Hillary Clinton’s campaign — represented a group of voters who filed their request in early October, less than three weeks before early voting was to start.
On the outskirts of Charlotte, it’s the last day of early voting for the congressional race in North Carolina’s 12th district at the Mountain Island library, and there are no lines for the polling stations. Instead, volunteers outnumbered the voters. It was early voting time, but not for a race nearly as high-profile as the presidential election. Only 266 people turned out in June to the polls to pick the district’s next member of Congress. After the election, once all the votes were tallied, only 7% of more than 500,000 registered voters cast ballots. “Turnout was very, very low,” said Carol Johnson, a poll worker and an employee for the city of Charlotte. “Maybe people didn’t know. Maybe they weren’t interested.” Or maybe people have grown disenfranchised after living in what has long been considered the most gerrymandered district in the United States. Twenty-five years ago, North Carolina lawmakers drew the 12th district, creating the second majority-minority district in a state with a dark history of denying black residents their voting rights. That line-drawing is what is known as gerrymandering, or manipulating the boundaries of electoral districts to favor a particular result.
Thousands of Ohioans got their voting rights restored for the 2016 election Wednesday night through a federal judge’s ruling. But Judge George C. Smith of U.S. District Court in Columbus acknowledged that his attempt to remedy what he said was Secretary of State Jon Husted’s illegal purging of many Ohioans from the state’s roll of eligible voters still will leave some eligible voters on the sidelines. “There is no dispute that the remedy ordered by this court will not involve the reinstatement of all voters who have been removed from the voter registration rolls,” Smith wrote in a 22-page decision on a lawsuit brought by the A. Phillip Randolph Institute, ACLU and Ohio Democratic Party against Husted. The two sides differed on how many Ohioans would be impacted by the ruling. A spokeswoman for the Democratic Party said potentially tens of thousands could be affected. A Husted spokesman said he doubted it would be that high.
The state’s governor and top election official both took to morning TV today to sharply dispute GOP nominee Donald Trump’s claim that the 2016 presidential election is “rigged,” with both saying that the system of collecting and counting ballots is better than it’s ever been. “To say that the elections are rigged and all these votes are stolen — that’s like saying we never landed on the moon,” Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, said on CBS “This Morning.” He added that such accusations are “silly,” and “I don’t think it’s good for our democracy.” Speaking on “Morning Joe” on MSNBC, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, also a Republican, said the system in America and in Ohio “is more secure than it’s ever been.” He said he was worried that people will lose faith in democracy because of these accusations.
Pennsylvania: Murrysville councilman claims online voting post was joke; officials not laughing | WPXI
A Republican councilman said he deleted an online posting about casting presidential votes via Facebook and Twitter because people didn’t realize he intended it as a joke, but state officials are taking the matter seriously. No state allows voters to cast ballots via social media, and Pennsylvania’s election oversight agency warned voters not to be misled by posts claiming otherwise. The governor’s office also issued a statement that said efforts to disrupt the election would be prosecuted. Joshua Lorenz, a Pittsburgh attorney and councilman in Murrysville, told The Associated Press the meme — which said, “Vote Hillary November 8th” and “You can vote at home comfortably online” — was meant as a joke for his friends. He said he took down the post within a couple hours Saturday because “the person who had questioned it, who I thought was a friend, had apparently misconstrued it.” In sharing the image, Lorenz wrote that it was “more proof that the election process is rigged.” GOP nominee Donald Trump has made similar claims.
It’s finally come to this: Ballots for the general election are in the mail, and within days, Washington state voters can register their choice for president. But how do you know the vote won’t be rigged, or ruined by Russian hackers? It’s prudent to be concerned, but the state official in charge of the election process says it’s “irresponsible” to make baseless accusations about the integrity of the voting process. “I have full and complete confidence in our system,” Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman, a Republican who’s up for re-election this year, said in a blog posting this week. “Every eligible ballot will be handled securely and will be tabulated carefully and accurately.”
A coalition of four Srebrenica victims’ associations, including the Mothers of Srebrenica, has filed a criminal complaint against all seven members of Bosnia’s Central Election Commission, alleging violations of electoral law during the recent municipal polls. They accuse the commission of failing to tackle what they claim was hate speech by the Serb candidate for mayor of Srebrenica, of breaking rules on updating voter lists, and of violating election law by excluding 2,000 absentee ballots from election results. They filed the complaint after Serb candidate Mladen Grujicic was officially named victor on Monday, making him Srebrenica’s first Serb mayor since the 1995 massacres of more than 7,000 Bosniak men and boys by Bosnian Serb forces. Grujicic received 4,678 votes, while Bosniak mayoral candidate Camil Durakovic got 3,910. The victims’ associations – the Mothers of Srebrenica, Women of Srebrenica, Women of Podrinje, and the Mothers of Srebrenica and Zepa – believe that the alleged violations could have affected the result in the Serb candidate’s favour.
The restriction for the opening of up to 35 electoral sections will be abolished for EU member-states but it will remain valid for the rest of the world, decided deputies in the legal commission who discussed at first reading the 12 draft bills for amendments to the Electoral Code. 17 days remain until the presidential elections. GERB’s proposal for the Central Election Commission (CEC) to allow, when necessary, voting, including on election day itself, in electoral sections abroad with more than one ballot box was also adopted.
Czech Republic: Russian Hacker, Wanted by F.B.I., Is Arrested in Prague, Czechs Say | The New York Times
A man identified as a Russian hacker suspected of pursuing targets in the United States has been arrested in the Czech Republic, the police announced Tuesday evening. The suspect was captured in a raid at a hotel in central Prague on Oct. 5, about 12 hours after the authorities heard that he was in the country,…
One of the leading pro-Western candidates in this month’s presidential election in Moldova has warned of “risks of massive fraud” in the vote, which has further divided the tiny post-Soviet state’s already fractious political scene. Speaking to RFE/RL on October 19 during a visit to Brussels for meetings with officials from the European Union, Action and Solidarity candidate and former Education Minister Maia Sandu said she was “here to warn the international partners of Moldova about the risks of massive fraud of the election and to ask them to help.” The presidential vote is Moldova’s first by direct election since 1996, a change whose legitimacy is being challenged by the Communist Party and other opposition elements.