National: Battleground states still fighting over voting laws, potential Election Day confusion | The Washington Post

Two weeks from Election Day, a number of battleground states are still fighting over voting laws and whether voters have been adequately informed about an array of changing and sometimes complex rules. An unprecedented number of states have put stricter election laws in place since the last presidential race. And in several cases, those laws were overturned by the courts or are still caught up in litigation, creating the potential for widespread confusion. In some states, such as North Carolina, the rules in place during the primary races have changed for the general election. A federal court in Texas has ordered the state to reissue voter education materials that were misleading to residents. And in the Texas county that includes Fort Worth, voting rights advocates pointed to an email from Republican officials warning election workers in “Democrat-controlled” polling locations “to make sure OUR VOTER ID LAW IS FOLLOWED.” The note did not explain that polling places are supposed to allow people without the correct identification to cast a ballot if they show other documents, following a federal appeals court’s ruling that the Texas voter-ID law discriminates against minority voters.

National: Democratic Party Takes GOP to Court Over Voter Intimidation | Bloomberg

The Democratic National Committee asked a judge to block the Republican Party from supporting efforts to discourage minorities from voting based on Donald Trump’s claims that the presidential election is “rigged.” In a preemptive strike against what it called a coordinated effort to intimidate voters, the Democratic Party’s governing body alleged Wednesday that the Republican National Committee is violating a court order in a case that started 35 years ago. The RNC is supporting Trump’s recruitment of so-called watchers at polling places, which is in breach of consent decrees going back to 1982 that forbid the group from engaging in ballot-security measures, according to a filing in federal court in Newark, New Jersey. The DNC said the watchers are really intended to deter registered voters from casting ballots.

National: Fearing Election Day trouble, some US schools cancel classes | Associated Press

Rigged elections. Vigilante observers. Angry voters. The claims, threats and passions surrounding the presidential race have led communities around the U.S. to move polling places out of schools or cancel classes on Election Day. The fear is that the ugly rhetoric of the campaign could escalate into confrontations and even violence in school hallways, endangering students. “If anybody can sit there and say they don’t think this is a contentious election, then they aren’t paying much attention,” said Ed Tolan, police chief in this seaside community, which decided to call off classes on Election Day and put additional officers on duty Nov. 8. School officials already are on edge because of the shootings and threats that have become all too common. They point to the recent firebombing of a Republican Party office in one North Carolina county and the shooting-up of another with a BB gun as the type of trouble they fear on Election Day.

National: Here’s what we know so far about voter fraud and the 2016 elections | Los Angeles Times

With less than two weeks until the election, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has amped up charges that the election is “rigged” against him. His running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, has warned at rallies about voter fraud “around the country.” While voter fraud is rare — one study found just 31 credible claims of fraud amid more than a 1 billion ballots cast since 2000 — a few instances of voter fraud and voting irregularities have been found ahead of the election. At the same time, there have been accusations of voter suppression across the U.S., as civil rights groups have said Trump’s instructions to supporters to “go check out” polls in “certain areas” are a call to monitor minority votes. Here’s a recap of reports of possible election interference that have surfaced so far. The most prominent recent example of alleged voter fraud has been in Indiana, where the head of state police said last week that an ongoing investigation of a voter registration project turned up evidence of fraud. The group under investigation, the Indiana Voter Registration Project, submitted 45,000 voter registration applications this year from citizens who are racial minorities. Indiana State Police Supt. Douglas Carter said authorities had found examples of fraud. Carter did not share details of the nature of the alleged fraud nor how many instances of it had been found.

National: In ballot selfie battle, free speech beats fear of voter fraud | Reuters

Voting is democracy’s most fundamental right and responsibility and recent federal court rulings say you have a constitutional right to post photographs of yourself doing it. More than a dozen states have laws on the books that bar voters from photographing their ballots or even showing their ballot to another person. In the era of camera-equipped smartphones and social media, states have interpreted those laws to prohibit ballot selfies. Some states have gone a step farther and actually passed laws barring voters from posting photos of themselves at their polling stations. But in just the past four weeks, a federal appellate court in Boston and a federal trial judge in East Lansing have found laws prohibiting ballot selfies to violate the First Amendment’s protection of free speech.

National: Appeals courts are dismantling stricter voter ID laws | ABA Journal

The rulings came quickly this past summer in a steady drumbeat that pleased progressives and disappointed conservatives. A strict voter identification law in Texas—blocked. A North Carolina law that required voter ID, which reduced early voting and changed registration procedures—struck down for not only having discriminatory effects but also for having been passed with a racially discriminatory motive. North Dakota’s voter ID law—blocked because of bias toward Native Americans. Under an election law in Wisconsin, one federal district judge ordered an affidavit procedure for those without ID; days later, another district judge struck down provisions that limit early voting and increase residency requirements. The string of recent rulings deals serious blows to measures advanced by many Republicans in the name of election integrity, while others view them as discriminatory. The rulings indicate that “there is a limit in how far states can go in rolling back voting rights before the courts are going to step in,” says Richard L. Hasen, a professor of law and political science at the University of California at Irvine School of Law and the founder of the authoritative Election Law Blog. “Still, this is an ongoing battle,” he says. “The one thing we know for certain is these battles won’t be over when the 2016 election is decided. They will go beyond that.”

Delaware: Officials balk at ‘rigged’ election claims | Delaware Online

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has repeatedly raised the specter of a “rigged election,” and it appears he is not alone. A recent poll by the University of Delaware found that residents are concerned about the integrity of the voting process: 66 percent of the 900 respondents said they were either somewhat or very concerned about voter fraud; 61 percent are worried about the election “being rigged,” and 75 percent are worried about hackers breaking into the computers of state election systems. “If Americans don’t trust our electoral process, where are we?” said State Elections Commissioner Elaine Manlove. “I don’t like to see people in positions of authority saying these things that undermine what we’re trying to do.” She and other state election officials maintain there are numerous safeguards are in place.

Indiana: Straight-ticket voting change could surprise voters | NUVO

For faithful Republicans, Democrats and Libertarians in Indiana, voting on Election Day is simple. Walk into the booth and check one box to select every candidate from their party. But beginning this election the straight-ticket option will not include all partisan races. In an effort to clear up confusion, the legislature passed a law earlier this year that requires voters to select each candidate they wish for at-large county council and town council seats. The law does not change how the straight-party ticket functions in any other ballot race. Previously, some voters did not follow ballot instructions when straight ticket voting. Some counties reported ballots where voters selected straight-ticket and then also marked additional at-large candidates. “Voter intent was very ambiguous,” said Secretary of State Connie Lawson, who is Indiana’s chief election official. Now, at-large races are treated similarly to the nonpartisan school board races, retention questions for judges and public questions, where voters have always had to individually fill in their ballot after straight-ticket voting.

Indiana: Voter Group Says Dead People Likely Registered | Associated Press

A data analysis firm hired by a voter registration group said on Tuesday that its analysis of Indiana’s voter database found thousands of people over the age of 110 who would likely be deceased and are still registered to vote. TargetSmart conducted a review of the state voter file maintained by Republican Secretary of State Connie Lawson’s office on behalf of Patriot Majority, a voter registration group with deep ties to the Democratic Party, which has been the focal point of a state police probe of possible voter fraud. But Patriot Majority said the data firm’s findings show that the statewide voter database is riddled with errors and this does not mean there was fraud. The review found 837,000 voters with out-of-date addresses when compared to the United States Postal Service address database, as well as 4,556 duplicate registrations, 3,000 records without dates of birth and 31 records of registered voters who are too young to cast a ballot. “There is clearly bad, missing and incomplete data,” said Tom Bonier, the CEO of TargetSmart, which is affiliated with the Democratic Party. “So if you’re seeing a lot of names changing or dates of birth changing, that’s likely because the information she had on the file is incorrect.”

Missouri: Voter ID Laws Expected To be Challenged in Missouri | Ozarks First

We’re exactly two weeks away from Election Day and one issue on the ballot is the voter ID law which is expected to pass, and also to be challenged. Tuesday, the League of Women Voters of Southwest Missouri held a forum about the issue, which according to them, is a bad idea. Several states have challenged the voter ID law, and it’s expected to be no different here in Missouri. “We are going in and changing the Missouri Constitution,” said Dr. Elizabeth Paddock, a professor of political science at Drury University. Missouri has tried to implement voter ID laws for years and the state’s Supreme Court has deemed it unconstitutional before. “That’s why this time around the legislature passed the law, but they said the voter had to confirm it,” said Dr. Paddock.

South Carolina: Lawmakers to Introduce Early Voting Bill Next Year | WLTX

While voters in North Carolina and Georgia have already started early voting, those in South Carolina can vote now only if they meet one of 15 reasons to vote absentee. But South Carolina lawmakers say they’ll file bills next year to allow early voting in the state. 35 states and the District of Columbia allow no-excuse early voting. Three more states–Colorado, Oregon, and Washington–do all their voting by mail, which eliminates the need for early voting. South Carolina is one of six states with in-person absentee voting, but voters have to meet one of the requirements to vote absentee, like being 65 or older, physically disabled, or unable to vote on Election Day because of work obligations. Mary Mosley voted in-person absentee Tuesday in Columbia because she’s over 65. She hopes lawmakers will pass early voting. “I believe you could get more people to vote if they could come in just any time and vote, instead of having to stand in line for a long time,” she says.

Texas: Officials deny complaints of election machine malfunctions in Texas | UPI

Early voters in several Texas counties have taken to social media to complain touch screen voting machines switched their straight party Republican votes to ballots for Hillary Clinton, though election monitors said no instances of faulty machines have been verified. The problem, officials said, was probably user error by voters who are unfamiliar with touch screen technology. The Dallas Morning News reports voters from at least four counties complained on social media the electronic machine that produces their ballot switched their vote from a straight line Republican ticket to a vote for Hillary Clinton. Other down-ballot races were not affected, voters said. Elections officials in all but one of the affected counties said no voters had registered official complaints. In a handful of instances, voters took the ballot to poll workers, saying their ballot reflected something other than what they had intended. In those instances, officials said the poll workers voided the ballot and moved the voter to a different machine where they were able to correct the problem.

Wisconsin: Democrats Request DOJ Poll Monitors After Voter ID Chaos, ‘Rigged Election’ Talk | TPM

Democratic U.S. lawmakers from Wisconsin sent a letter to the Department of Justice Wednesday requesting that it deploy federal poll monitors to the state after reports that local officials were providing potential voters with inaccurate information about the state’s voter ID law. The letter also raised concerns about “potential voter intimidation at polling places, particularly in light of recent, high-profile rhetoric that alleges ‘election rigging.’National figures have suggested that there is widespread voter fraud in our country and have encouraged private citizens to monitor voting behaviors of certain communities for potential misconduct,” said the Democrats’ letter, which was signed by Sen. Tammy Baldwin, and Reps. Gwen Moore, Ron Kind, and Mark Pocan. The letter cited reports that voters who do not have the IDs required by the state’s voter ID law were having trouble obtaining the free IDs the state was supposed to provide for them to vote. It specifically cited the misinformation being given to them by local officials that was at odds with a court ruling over the summer.

Canada: Meet ‘the tabulator’: Able to count 300 paper ballots a minute | CBC

When the official vote count begins for the P.E.I. plebiscite, it will be a computer that tallies up the votes and declares the winner. This is P.E.I.’s first foray into electronic voting and the first time those votes will be counted and processed by a computer, instead of by people. “If we had to count all those ballots manually I think we’d be there for months,” said Harry Neufeld, who’s co-ordinating the audit team for the plebiscite. He’s the former chief electoral officer of British Columbia and has been involved in several electoral reviews in other provinces. When voting ends on Saturday, Nov. 5 at 8 pm, the ballot boxes will be collected from across the Island and taken to Elections P.E.I. office where they’ll be secured overnight.

France: Candidates Warned on Cyber Risk After U.S. Election Hacks | Bloomberg

France’s cyber-security watchdog is briefing the country’s presidential candidates on hacking threats, drawing lessons from attacks that have disrupted the U.S. election campaign. As France prepares for elections less than six months after the U.S. chooses its own head of state, the National Defense and Security Secretariat will host some 30 campaign representatives Wednesday from parties including the anti-immigration National Front, the center-right Republicans and the governing Socialists. With hacking emerging as an issue in the U.S. presidential race, French security chiefs want their own politicians to know they’re also potential targets of electronic warfare. “We’ll give them technical pointers to identify attacks like those that took place in the U.S., as well as an overview of threats and how to fend them off,” Guillaume Poupard, who heads the national security agency’s cyber-defense unit, said in an interview Tuesday in Paris. He’ll host the campaign teams at the unit’s headquarters in a military compound just behind Napoleon’s tomb.

Moldova: Presidential candidate withdraws to boost pro-EU camp | Reuters

The government-backed candidate in Moldova’s presidential race withdrew on Wednesday, saying it was a tactical move to ensure the presidency remained in pro-European hands. The frontrunner ahead of Sunday’s election is pro-Russian candidate Igor Dodon, who wants to hold a referendum on the ex-Soviet nation’s Association Agreement with the EU. On Wednesday government choice Marian Lupu said he would step aside to boost the chances of fellow pro-Western candidate Maia Sandu. Sandu last week told Reuters that a split among pro-European politicians could harm Moldova. “This is a tactical decision. Moldova needs a pro-European president. Polls show she (Sandu) is more favored,” Lupu told journalists.

Philippines: Comelec returns 1,000 vote-counting machines to Smartmatic | The Inquirer

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday began returning more than 1,000 vote-counting machines (VCM) to its supplier despite opposition from former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. whose poll protest was based partly on allegations that the election results had been manipulated with the use of VCMs. In an urgent manifestation and motion on Oct. 21, Marcos asked the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) to “prohibit the poll body from releasing the subject VCMs” after the Comelec informed Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno it plans to return the machines to Smartmatic-TIM. The Marcos camp also asked the PET to determine whether these VCMs were used in the vice presidential race, which the former senator lost by about 260,000 votes to Leni Robredo, the Liberal Party candidate. On June 29, Marcos filed his electoral protest and asked the PET to stop Robredo’s inauguration. He said votes that were counted for Robredo were fraudulent, contesting the results in 39,221 clustered precincts in 25 provinces and five cities.

Russia: Why Russia wants the U.S. to believe the election is being hacked | PBS

Another day, another hacking. At least, that’s what it seemed at first. In August, two election databases in Arizona and Illinois were hacked. Arizona responded by shutting down voter registration for nearly a week, and in Illinois, the breach resulted in the compromise of more than 200,000 voter records. Hackers breaching databases has become so commonplace that the loss of personal information barely raises an eyebrow for most Americans. This hack, like so many others, received little attention at first. … To understand Russia’s recent attacks on American democracy, one simply needs to look back to the country’s Cold War tactics. Outpaced by American military spending and military innovation—and challenged by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)—the Soviet Union sought an alternative approach to counter the U.S. Rather than match America on the battlefield, the U.S.S.R. sought to erode the U.S. from the inside out—using the “force of politics” rather than the “politics of force” to break democracy, fracturing the unity of the American populace and degrading trust in U.S. institutions. In a program known as “Active Measures,” the Soviet Union would deploy agents and provocateurs to spread propaganda amongst American dissident groups and communist causes throughout the Western world.