Throughout the campaign, Donald Trump has issued dire warnings of foul play on Election Day. “I’m afraid the election’s going to be rigged,” he told supporters in Ohio. “I’m telling you, November 8, we’d better be careful,” he cautioned Fox News. “I hope the Republicans are watching closely, or it’s going to be taken away from us.” Trump’s remarks might seem like a cynical ploy to mobilize his base, or to set the stage for an aggrieved backlash should he lose to Hillary Clinton. In fact, however, the U.S. election system really is vulnerable—though not in the way Trump claims. In July and August, Russian intelligence services hacked voter registration systems in Illinois and Arizona. But as menacing as foreign agents meddling with U.S. databases may seem, the biggest threat to the sanctity of the vote is the voting machines themselves. Like so much of America’s crumbling infrastructure, the systems we rely on to tabulate our votes fairly and accurately are in dire need of an overhaul. In thousands of precincts, the outcome of the election rides on equipment that’s outdated, prone to errors, and difficult or impossible to repair.
Republican candidate Donald Trump has made the insistent claim that the US presidential elections are being “rigged,” but experts say massive voter fraud is highly unlikely in a system as decentralized as the United States. “There are a lot of safeguards in place that would preclude that from happening, from federal laws to local and state laws as well,” said Jo-Renee Formicola, a political scientist at Seton Hall University. … Pamela Smith, president of Verified Voting, a civic group that advocates for clean elections, says safeguards against fraud are greater now than they were in 2012 and 2014. Still, electronic voting machines could be a weak link. “That’s perhaps one area where we might be concerned about leaving these questions to little towns and cities that may not have the technical sophistications of the federal government, but it would then require hacking multiple places if you are trying to build up,” said Clopton.
National: No, there is no evidence that thousands of noncitizens are illegally voting and swinging elections | Los Angeles Times
As Donald Trump maintains his incendiary attacks on the legitimacy of the election, one of his favorite themes has been the claim that the results will be tainted by the votes of millions of people in the U.S. illegally. “They are letting people pour into the country so they can go ahead and vote,” he said this month, in a meeting with the head of the union representing border patrol agents. “And believe me, there’s a lot going on,” Trump said at a rally. “People that have died 10 years ago are still voting. Illegal immigrants are voting.” Part of the Republican-led crackdown on supposed voter fraud, battles over measures to guard against noncitizen voters have percolated for years in election offices, state legislatures and federal courtrooms. Records in these fights show that small numbers of noncitizens do end up registered, and a few have cast votes. However, no one has uncovered evidence of thousands of noncitizen voters — and no evidence has emerged to support Trump’s theory of a coordinated effort to throw an election by stuffing the voting rolls with ineligible immigrants. “What we have seen are errors,” said Dale Ho, director of the voting rights project of the American Civil Liberties Union. “There’s not a horde of people trying to break into this country so they can vote.”
The prospect of election night drama seems to dwindle with each new round of polling. But Donald Trump, perhaps trying to author a campaign cliffhanger, is determined to provide Americans with at least a measure of “suspense” on November 8. Barring a remarkable turnaround — “Brexit times five” as Trump put it last week — Americans will begin their post-election Wednesday with a President-elect Clinton on the horizon. But whether her opponent sees fit to embrace defeat and publicly concede is mostly immaterial. “It doesn’t have any independent legal effect,” said Rick Hasen, a University of California-Irvine professor who runs the popular Election Law Blog. “If he concedes or he doesn’t concede, the votes totals will be what they will be.” Recounts are triggered automatically in 20 states and the District of Columbia when the margin of victory is sufficiently narrow, according to different laws in each of those states. The parameters vary — in Florida and Pennsylvania, it’s a margin of 0.5% or less of the total vote, while Michigan requires a deficit of 2,000 votes or less.
Republican and Democratic camps are gearing up for the possibility of heated legal battles on Election Day, preparations that have taken on additional urgency following GOP nominee Donald Trump’s charges that the election will be rigged against him. Mr. Trump’s campaign is leaning on the Republican National Committee and state parties for recruiting lawyers and other legal preparations. Democratic officials and Hillary Clinton’s campaign, meanwhile, are preparing to address any potential voter intimidation and to help people navigate tighter voting rules in several GOP-led states. Building an extensive legal network has become more of a priority for political campaigns since Bush v. Gore. Lawyers are needed to respond to unexpected complications as voters go to the polls and to stay on top of any potential recounts in the event of razor-thin victories. However, since the disputed 2000 presidential election, there have been few major issues with election administration, and there is no evidence that significant election fraud has taken place.
It seemed a clear victory for voting rights advocates in July when a federal court invalidated much of Wisconsin’s restrictive elections law, concluding that it discriminated against minorities by requiring voters to produce photo identification cards that blacks and Latinos too often lack. The remedy was straightforward: Henceforth, the state was to “promptly issue a credential valid as a voting ID to any person” who applied for one. But this month when Treasure Collins visited one of the Wisconsin motor vehicle offices that issue IDs, she found something entirely different. “I brought everything my mom told me I would need: my school ID, a copy of my birth certificate, my Social Security number,” said Ms. Collins, 18. “But they told me I needed an original copy of my birth certificate. An original copy, all the way from Illinois.” While Donald J. Trump repeatedly claims that the election is “rigged” against him, voting rights groups are increasingly battling something more concrete in this year’s ferocious wars over access to the ballot box: Despite a string of court victories against restrictive voting laws passed by Republican legislatures, even when voting rights groups win in court, they are at risk of losing on the ground. In an election year when turnout could be crucial, a host of factors — foot-dragging by states, confusion among voters, the inability of judges to completely roll back bias — are blunting the effect of court rulings against the laws.
As the country gears up for Election Day, concerns over Donald Trump’s “rigged election” rhetoric have created concerns about polling locations across the United States on November 8, with Mr. Trump encouraging his supporters to “watch the polls” to prevent voter fraud. Critics claim that voter fraud is not a statistically significant problem and that Trump’s “poll watchers” could be a potentially hazardous intimidation tactic. To combat the possibility of voter intimidation, especially during the first presidential election following the 2013 Supreme Court curtailment of the Voting Rights Act, many voting rights groups are stepping up to make sure the election goes smoothly and fairly. Most recently, advocates in California announced that they will monitor more polling places than usual in that state, joining a nationwide movement to combat potential voter suppression.
For weeks, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has been telling supporters that voter fraud could undermine the November 8 election and cause him to lose to Democrat Hillary Clinton. “They even want to try to rig the election at polling booths where so many cities are corrupt and voter fraud is all too common,” Trump has said. His campaign cites a 2012 study by the Pew Charitable Trusts that looked at national voter rolls. The study found that nearly 2 million deceased people were still registered. Pew blamed outdated voter rolls, however, and the report found that no ballots had been cast illegally. There are more than 8,000 voting precincts spread across the United States, and each one has local elected officials who are required to regularly update their communities’ rolls. Trump recently told supporters in Green Bay, Wisconsin, that “people who have died 10 years ago are still voting.” Researchers say voter fraud involving ballots cast on behalf of deceased voters is rare, according to FactCheck.org. “This issue of dead people voting is just not substantiated,” Lorraine Minnite, a professor at Rutgers University and author of The Myth of Voter Fraud, said in the FactCheck report.
Voters with disabilities will no longer, in the words of Secretary of State Denise Merrill, be forced to use “the clunky old system” when voting on Nov. 8. On Monday, Merrill and advocates for the disabled showed off the state’s new $1.5 million, state-of-the-art computerized system that will allow Connecticut’s disabled voters to first vote, and then print their ballots. “I am very excited about this,’’ Merrill said. “It is a real improvement over our old system. The beauty of it is people with disabilities will be able to vote just like everyone else.’’ The new stand-alone, tablet-based system requires no telephone or internet service and is intended to be adaptable to a variety of assistive technologies. The tablet system is a ballot-marking device that replaces the previous phone-fax technology. The previous system required poll workers to use a designated telephone with a secure, pre-registered number. Voters were then given a telephone handset after the calls were answered by a computer system that provided an audio ballot. Once the call ended, the ballot was faxed to the polling place.
Leonard “Roscoe” Newton has been in and out of Florida’s prisons since before he could vote, starting with a youthful conviction for burglary. He’s been a free man for six years now with an important exception: he still can’t vote. Newton, who is African American, is among nearly 1.5 million former felons who have been stripped of their right to vote in a state with a history of deciding U.S. presidential elections, sometimes by razor-thin margins of just a few hundred votes. Felons have been disenfranchised in Florida since 1868, although they can seek clemency to restore their voting rights. Since 2011, however, when Republican state leaders toughened the restrictions on felon voting rights, just 2,339 ex-felons have had that right restored, the lowest annual numbers in nearly two decades, according to state data reviewed by Reuters. That compares with more than 155,000 in the prior four years under reforms introduced by Governor Rick Scott’s predecessor, moderate Republican governor Charlie Crist, the data shows. Crist, who was governor from 2007 to 2011, made it much easier to restore ex-felons’ voting rights.
Civil liberties advocates and a host of faith groups announced a new coalition Tuesday that will fight to ensure Iowans convicted of nonviolent felonies are not stripped of their right to vote. The coalition of 17 organizations will advocate for legislation and an eventual amendment to the Iowa Constitution to end a voting rights “crisis” in the state, said Rita Bettis, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, at a press conference. Iowa’s system of disenfranchising felons even after they complete their sentences is among the harshest in the nation, she said. Disenfranchisement hits African-American communities particularly hard, fueled by disparities in the arrests of black Iowans compared with white residents, Bettis said. She cited an ACLU/Human Rights Watch report released earlier in October that found black Iowans are seven times more likely to be arrested for drug possession than white Iowans — the second worst rate of disparity in the U.S. “This system is unjust,” Bettis said. “It leads to the systemic, disproportionate disenfranchisement of black Iowans, leaving them without a voice in our political process.”
Maryland: Is it rigged? Local officials assure Maryland’s voting system is secure | Frederick News Post
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has called the election process “rigged,” but Frederick County and Maryland officials assure voters the state’s new balloting system is secure. “Simply put, Maryland’s election systems are secure, have built-in redundancies, and have been subject to security testing,” the state board posted in the “Rumor Control” portion of its website. Across Maryland, voters who choose to vote on Election Day will mark their paper ballots by hand. Those paper ballots are fed into an optical scan machine that counts the votes and collects the paper ballots. A switch to paper ballots in Maryland has been underway since 2007, when legislation was passed requiring a verifiable paper record for every voter. The new ballots were unveiled this year after the state was able to fully fund the transition from touch screens of the past. Pamela Smith, president of the non-partisan, nonprofit organization Verified Voting, said Maryland’s decision to switch to paper ballots was a beneficial one.
Joan Cunningham grew up in Canada and remembers watching people vote the old fashioned way: Fill out a paper ballot, drop it in a box. She understands electronic voting machines can be more efficient. “But my professional life was spent as an epidemiologist. I used, and still do, computers a lot for everything I do. And I have some practical insights into the things that can go wrong, data that can get corrupted or changed or lost,” Cunningham says. She wonders how vote recording errors and even fraud, can be prevented when such machines generate no paper records for backup. Pamela Smith says Cunningham’s concerns are legitimate. Smith is president of Verified Voting, a nonprofit, non-partisan group that examines the role of technology in elections. “People sometimes think software is infallible,” Smith says, “but in fact it’s programmed by humans, and humans are not infallible. So you can have errors in programming. There have been actual errors in programming in past elections that have been uncovered by doing audits and recounts.”
A federal judge in Huntington on Tuesday sided with lawyers from West Virginia’s chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and ordered the Cabell County clerk to permit online voter registration within the county. Chief U.S. District Judge Robert Chambers found that by not honoring the state’s electronic voter registration system, Cabell Clerk Karen Cole is violating the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. Residents in every other West Virginia county but Cabell have been able to successfully use the electronic system, ACLU lawyers wrote in the lawsuit they filed last week. Following the ruling, Cole said she would immediately begin registering voters who used the online system. Cole will mail those people voter registration cards and letters stating they don’t have to take any additional steps to be able to vote Nov. 8.
Wisconsin: A City Clerk Opposed an Early-Voting Site at UW–Green Bay Because ‘Students Lean More Toward the Democrats’ | The Nation
Carly Stumpner, a junior biology major at the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay, had an hour between classes to vote during Wisconsin’s April 5 presidential primary. But when she arrived at her polling place on campus, the line stretched for two hours across the student union. She returned to the polls a second time after her classes, but the line had only grown, and Stumpner had to get to a meeting for work. She wasn’t able to vote because of the long wait times, a frustrating experience for her and many students at UWGB that day. When polls closed at 8 pm, there were still 150 students waiting to vote. “Some people described it as chaos,” reported Ellery McCardle of the local ABC affiliate. “People were standing shoulder to shoulder, there was absolutely no room to move around in here.” After the primary, leaders of eight different student groups—including the Republican, Democratic, and Libertarian parties and the Black Student Union—asked the city to put an early-voting location on campus to alleviate long lines. But city officials ignored the request and opened only one early-voting site on September 26 for the entire city—the third-largest in Wisconsin—at the clerk’s office, a 15-minute drive from campus, which is open only during business hours. City Clerk Kris Teske, an appointee of Republican Mayor Jim Schmitt, a close ally of Governor Scott Walker, said the city didn’t have the money, time, or security to open an early-voting location on campus or anywhere else.
Upcoming assembly elections might see armed forces service voters receiving their ballots through the internet from the Election Commission (EC). A notification announcing the amendment to the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961 enabling service voters, including armed forces personnel, to cast their vote in elections through e-postal ballot was issued on Friday.
Montenegro’s long-serving prime minister is to step down, the governing Democratic Socialist party has said, and will be replaced by his deputy, Duško Marković. Tuesday’s announcement came hours after Milo Đukanović, who has governed as Montenegro’s prime minister or president for a total of 21 years since 1991, announced his government was investigating a possible Russian role in an alleged 16 October coup plot aimed at derailing the country’s elections. It is unclear whether there is any connection between Đukanović’s claims of a coup and his abrupt departure. Party officials were quoted as saying that he would be replaced by Marković as its candidate for prime minister if it was able to secure a majority coalition in post-election negotiations. Đukanović, whose time in office has been dogged by allegations of authoritarianism and corruption, has retired from leadership on two previous occasions, in 2006 and 2010, before returning to the helm.
Seven out of 10 Members of Parliament are opposed to the lifting of the Presidential age limit from the Constitution, according to a new study. This is entailed in a new survey released by the Citizen’s Coalition for Electoral Democracy on Uganda (CCEDU) on Parliamentary Attitudes to lifting Presidential age limit conducted between September 16 and October 7, where 185 were interviewed. The MPs in the report also supported the restructuring of the Independent Electoral Commission (EC), arguing that this will guarantee the public free and fair elections in future.