South Carolina: Planning to write-in a vote for president? Think again, South Carolina voters | The Herald

Maybe lawmakers generations ago saw the election of 2016 coming. Maybe they didn’t want to count cartoon characters or dead folks when sorting out candidates for the top job in the country. For whatever reason, they made sure South Carolina voters won’t be straying too far from the pack on election day. Title 7 – Elections, Chapter 13 in South Carolina reads like a phone book. About halfway down is one of the shorter voting rules, but one that could surprise a voter on Nov. 8. It states: “The ballots shall also contain a place for voters to write in the name of any other person for whom they wish to vote, except on ballots for the election of the president and vice President.” So all those next day reports of odd write-in votes nationwide won’t happen in South Carolina. “It varies by state law,” said Wanda Hemphill, registration and elections director for York County.

South Dakota: Krebs: Law prohibits write-in votes in election | Plainsman

Disillusioned voters who don’t like any of the presidential candidates in the Nov. 8 general election may be tempted to write in another name. Doing so is not allowed by state law, said Secretary of State Shantel Krebs. “What it doesn’t do is it does not throw the entire ballot out,” she said at a Beadle County Republican Party campaign luncheon in Huron on Monday. “That’s the misconception right now,” she said. “Your ballot is still marked race by race. Any race not marked is not counted.” The intense interest in the presidential race between frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is prompting the national media to regularly call secretaries of state across the country. Krebs said she also gets as many as 1,500 e-mail inquiries a day in her office.

Texas: Odd voting law on interpreters scuttled before November election | The Texas Tribune

Mallika Das, a U.S. citizen who was born in India, walked into a Williamson County polling place in 2014 eager to cast her ballot. Because she was not proficient in English and had found it difficult to vote in the past, Das brought her son, Saurabh, to help her. They both spoke Bengali, an Asian dialect. But when Saurabh told poll workers he was there to interpret the English ballot for his mother, the duo ran into an unexpected requirement. By law, a poll official determined, Saurabh could not serve as an interpreter for his mother because he was not registered to vote in the county. Saurabh was registered to vote in neighboring Travis County.

Texas: State Election Officials Say Voter ID Change Ads Should Be Airing ‘Any Day Now’ | KUT

Texans across the state will soon be inundated with TV and radio ads ahead of this year’s presidential election. However, the ads won’t be from candidates running for office, but from the state of Texas. The state-funded ads are intended to inform voters of the recent court-ordered changes to Texas’ voter ID law. When Texas lost a legal battle over its voter ID law earlier this year, they were given a couple of instructions. They had to change the law and make it easier for people to vote this November. They also had to let Texas voters know what changed, and they have to spend $2.5 million doing that. Alicia Pierce, a spokesperson with the Texas Secretary of State’s office, says TV and radio ads have just been shipped to markets for all 254 counties in the state – and they should be airing “any day now.” “It does take time from once it leaves the studio to actually get up on air, but they were approved and could be running as soon as today,” she says.

Wisconsin: Judge blasts state over voter ID | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Ripping the Division of Motor Vehicles for giving out inaccurate information, a federal judge said Wednesday he would order Gov. Scott Walker’s administration to make changes to how it treats people who seek voting credentials but was unlikely to suspend the voter ID law. “I think the training that was provided to the DMV counter service was manifestly inadequate,” U.S. District Judge James Peterson said during a daylong hearing. “The DMV has a lot of competencies, but one of them is not communicating to voters what they need to get an ID. “I don’t know why we’re here a month before the election.” Peterson was reacting, in part, to recently released audio recordings of DMV workers supplying people with inaccurate voter ID information.

Wisconsin: Judge rips Wisconsin officials over voter ID law confusion | Associated Press

A federal judge considering a challenge to Wisconsin’s voter ID law ripped state officials Wednesday over inadequate training for Division of Motor Vehicles workers after some employees recently gave prospective voters erroneous information about obtaining alternative credentials to cast a ballot. Liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Institute asked U.S. District Judge James Peterson to block the entire law, citing a flurry of reported problems at DMV field offices. Despite his criticisms of the credential program, Peterson said at the conclusion of a hearing that he was reluctant to block the mandate. A federal appellate court has already found the law constitutional, leaving him uncertain whether he even has authority over the law, the judge said. He added that he wants to respect legislators’ decision to adopt the requirement to protect election integrity.

Canada: British Columbia Election Act challenged in Supreme Court of Canada | CBC

A section of B.C.’s Election Act that restricts advertising is being challenged this morning in the Supreme Court of Canada. The B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association is challenging the law, arguing it restricts freedom of expression in this province, and that it should include an exception for third parties spending less than $500 on election advertising. Section 239 of B.C.’s Election Act says election advertising sponsors must register with the chief electoral officer. The B.C. Civil Liberties Association is an intervener in the case. Lawyer Laura Track said the association is concerned the law is too broad.

Ghana: Opposition Party to Challenge Disqualification of Presidential Candidate | VoA News

Attorneys for the Ghanaian opposition National Democratic Party (NDP) plan to file a petition in court Thursday seeking to challenge the electoral commission’s decision to disqualify former first lady Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, presidential candidate of the party, from the Dec. 7 general election. Mohammed Frimpong, general secretary for the NDP, says the disqualification appears politically motivated, to ensure the former first lady doesn’t pose any threat to incumbent President John Dramani Mahama of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC). “We have credible information around that the ruling government is very uncomfortable with our candidate,” Frimpong said. “And if she stood, it means that she was going to divide a lot of votes with the ruling government. … And for that they hatched several plots against her.” Frimpong contends the electoral commission failed to apply the law requiring that a party be notified of any problems in its nomination documents, and allowed time for issues to be amended.

Zimbabwe: Electoral Commission Compiles New Voters’ Roll | VoA News

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) says it is setting up a new biometrics voters’ roll, which is expected to be in place by May next year and ready for the crucial 2018 general elections in which 92-year old President Robert Mugabe is the sole candidate for the ruling Zanu PF party. According to ZEC mapping has already started for the new voters’ roll and all Zimbabweans are expected to register to vote in any national election starting next year.

National: Obama Considers ‘Proportional’ Response to Russian Hacking in U.S. Election | The New York Times

President Obama is weighing a “proportional” response to Russia’s efforts to interfere with this fall’s election campaign through hacking, the White House announced Tuesday. “The president has talked before about the significant capabilities that the U.S. government has to both defend our systems in the United States but also carry out offensive operations in other countries,” Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, told reporters traveling with Mr. Obama on Air Force One to Greensboro, where he was holding a town hall-style meeting with students and campaigning for Hillary Clinton. “There are a range of responses that are available to the president, and he will consider a response that is proportional,” Mr. Earnest said. Whatever the president opts to do would probably not be announced in advance and may never be acknowledged or disclosed if it is carried out, Mr. Earnest said. On Friday, the Obama administration publicly acknowledged for the first time that it believed that the Russian government was responsible for stealing and disclosing emails from the Democratic National Committee and a range of other institutions and prominent individuals, most recently Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John D. Podesta. The emails were posted on the well-known WikiLeaks site and two newer sites, and Guccifer 2.0.

National: Which Voter Registration Sites Can Sell Your Information? | Vocativ

Most of the internet’s most popular voter registration sites make no promise to not turn and sell your information to advertisers, a Vocativ analysis has found. The findings shouldn’t be reason for anyone to avoid registering to vote in the 2016 election, though it may steer you to register through the government’s own standard, unadorned portal: Of the nine major voter registration sites surveyed, only, maintained by the U.S. General Services Administration, explicitly promises to neither share hopeful voters’ raw personal information with third parties nor to use it for commercial purposes. Combined, the other sites, including Turbovote,, and, have reported that they’ve registered millions of voters in this and previous elections. Some work with other companies in order to increase exposure and increase registrations. Rock The Vote, an organization that has existed for 26 years, currently has 820 active partners, said Jen Tolentino, its Director of Civic Technology and Policy, and they include massively popular web services like Twitter and Tinder. None of this is to say that each of these sites actively mine their users’ information to sell to the highest bidder. Instead, it’s that they haven’t promised not to. “The thing about privacy policies is they’re written by lawyers to sound like they’re understandable to regular people, but intentionally so that they’re not,” Nate Cardozo, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told Vocativ. “I don’t know under what circumstances Rock The Vote will share my personal information.”

National: John Podesta Says Russian Spies Hacked His Emails to Sway Election | The New York Times

In his first remarks since WikiLeaks began releasing thousands of his hacked emails, John D. Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, said Tuesday that Russian intelligence officials intent on swaying the election to Donald J. Trump had been responsible for the illegal breach into his account. “I’ve been involved in politics for nearly five decades,” Mr. Podesta told reporters aboard the Clinton campaign plane. “This definitely is the first campaign that I’ve been involved with in which I’ve had to tangle with Russian intelligence agencies,” he added, “who seem to be doing everything that they can on behalf of our opponent.” Without verifying the authenticity of the emails, Mr. Podesta said that he had spoken with the F.B.I. “as a victim” of hacking. The Obama administration, like Mr. Podesta, believes the Russian government has been trying to help Mr. Trump with its hacking, including the theft of emails of the Democratic National Committee this year. Mr. Podesta said Mr. Trump had “essentially adopted lock, stock and barrel” a foreign policy that would favor the interests of President Vladimir V. Putin.

National: Department of Homeland Security helps 33 states with election cybersecurity | The Hill

Thirty-three states and 11 county and local election agencies have sought help from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to shore up their voting infrastructure against cyberattacks, according to the agency. The department urged other states to take advantage of its services — such as scanning internet-facing systems to identify vulnerabilities — noting that less than 30 days remain until Election Day. “Time is a factor,” the agency wrote in a notice sent late Monday. “It can take up to two weeks from the time we receive authorization to run the scans and identify vulnerabilities. It can then take at least an additional week for state and local election officials to mitigate any vulnerabilities on systems that we may find.” The alert comes amidst heightened fears that the Russian government is attempting to interfere in the U.S. election.

National: Why US fears Russia is hacking its presidential election | The Nation

Amidst all the heat of the presidential debate on Sunday night, hackers surfaced for a brief moment. The two candidates clashed over a claim that hackers tied to the Russian state were trying to influence the election. Two days earlier, on Friday, the US director of national intelligence had pointed the finger at the highest levels of the Russian state for intrusions.
Critics of Russia have argued that any role would be part of a growing trend of not just stealing information but also weaponising it. The story begins in May, when the Democratic National Committee (DNC) became concerned about suspicious behaviour on its computer network. It called in the security firm CrowdStrike to take a look. Two hacker groups were found on the system, one that had just entered and another that had been there for nearly a year.

National: Republicans tell Trump to quit claiming rigged election | Politico

It’s not just the Democrats who are frustrated by Donald Trump’s “rigged election” talk. Republicans have started warning their increasingly ostracized nominee to stop stoking his supporters with claims that the 2016 election will be stolen, daring him to show proof or put a lid on it. “Somebody claiming in the election, ‘I was defrauded,’ that isn’t going to cut it,” said former Sen. Kit Bond, a Missouri Republican who earlier in the campaign endorsed Jeb Bush and then Marco Rubio. “They’re going to have to say how, where, why, when. I don’t think leading candidates for the presidency should undercut the process unless you have a really good reason,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who gained little support for his own 2016 White House run, told POLITICO. Trump and his running mate, Mike Pence, have been flogging for months the notion that Hillary Clinton supporters could tamper with voting to the point that they win the White House. Their campaign website is recruiting poll watchers, and longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone has been raising unlimited funds from corporations and individuals in a bid to “fight a rigged system” that purportedly benefits the Democrats.

National: Election officials say they’re ready if disaster hits | USA Today

Election officials say they’re ready with backup plans in case a natural disaster — like the recent flooding in Louisiana or another storm like Hurricane Matthew — threatens to keep voters away from the polls on Election Day. “We all may have different kinds of disasters, but you still have to hold elections,’’ said Meg Casper, spokeswoman for the Louisiana secretary of state’s office. “What we have done and what we tell folks is, as long as you’ve got a power source, even if it’s a generator, and a tent, you can hold an election. All of these things are mostly lessons learned from (Hurricane) Katrina.’’ Federal and state election officials said Superstorm Sandy, which struck the Northeast in late October 2012, also schooled them in holding elections following torrential rain, flooding and power outages. One lesson: Have paper ballots ready just in case. “We all have contingency plans,’’ Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said. “We just hope the good Lord doesn’t make us use them.’’ Most election officials also have prepared for potential cyber attacks, said Thomas Hicks, chairman of the federal Election Assistance Commission, which held a public meeting last month on Election Day contingency plans.

Editorials: Donald Trump’s strategy for minority Americans? Don’t let them vote. | The Washington Post

With Donald Trump’s polling numbers in a tailspin, he has doubled down in calling on Republican vigilantes to take matters into their own hands to thwart what many of them are primed to regard, without proof, as a rigged election. The Republican nominee’s rhetoric, inciting white rural and suburban voters who fear the voting clout of black urban Democrats, is a recipe for voter intimidation and even violence on Election Day. It also lays the groundwork for his followers to believe, if he loses,that his defeat was a historic swindle. Starting in August, and accelerating this month, Mr. Trump has stood before rallies attended overwhelmingly by his white backers and urged them to go to “certain areas” on Election Day. “Go and vote and then go check out areas because a lot of bad things happen,” he said in Pennsylvania, where lax state laws allow poll watchers to challenge voters as they arrive at precincts. “You know what I’m talking about,” he added. On Monday, he told his followers that they must watch “other communities.” “I hear these horror shows, and we have to make sure that this election is not stolen from us and is not taken away from us,” he said. “And everybody knows what I’m talking about.”

Florida: It’s Federal Disaster Relief, Stupid: Could Matthew Affect the Vote in Florida? | Bloomberg

Hillary Clinton is in Miami today to visit a state swept by Hurricane Matthew that is already feeling climate change on a regular basis. Her trip is part of a years-long trend of political leaders devoting more and more attention to weather disasters. “It’s the economy, stupid”—probably the most often-cited political saw of the Clinton administration. Rightly or wrongly, leaders are routinely credited with or punished for economic trends they have little or no control over. Mostly punished. The idea is that voters’ sense of financial security and general well-being drives their decisions at the ballot box. And then there’s the weather. Everybody complains about it, an even older saw goes, but nobody ever does anything about it. In their 2016 book, Democracy for Realists, two political scientists ask why people vote the way they do, and they conclude that the conventional political wisdom doesn’t add up. Their profession, they argue, has focused too much on voters’ issues and positions, overlooking the importance of social and group identity in voting.

Georgia: Concern in Georgia over fewer polling locations | Atlanta Journal Constitution

Memorial Gym in Macon was under renovation in February when local election officials suggested a new temporary polling place for voters in the majority-black neighborhood: the Sheriff’s Office. Local officials said it was a sincere effort to find a safe location to host voters. Residents, who have seen several polling sites close and have raised concerns about racial profiling by police, decided they’d had enough. “When voter suppression still exists and when we have to stand up for what we believe in and what is right, we will do it,” said Gwen Westbrooks, who helped organize a response that stopped the move. Dozens of polling places have closed, consolidated or moved across Georgia since the last presidential election, worrying some voter advocates over how that might affect turnout heading into this year’s contest. Local officials say the closures are money-savers and more efficient, especially at a time when there is increased access to early voting. Some voter activists, however, fear it is a tactic to limit voting access, especially for the state’s minorities.

Kansas: Court enters default judgment in Kansas voting rights case | Associated Press

A federal court clerk entered a default judgment Tuesday against Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach for failing to file a timely response to a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a state law requiring prospective voters to prove they are U.S. citizens. It remains unclear whether U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson will give Kobach more time to respond. If the judgment stands it would apply to all voters in all federal, state and local elections — effectively ending the state’s proof-of-citizenship requirement. Kobach did not immediately return a cellphone message, but spokeswoman Desiree Taliaferro said he would comment.

Nevada: U.S. Justice Department backs Nevada tribes on voting test | Deseret News

The Justice Department sided with two Nevada tribes’ interpretation of a key part of the U.S. Voting Rights Act and a judge said she will issue a ruling Friday in the native Paitues’ legal battle with state and county officials over minority access to the polls. U.S. District Judge Miranda Du listened to arguments during a daylong hearing Tuesday in Reno on whether to grant the tribes’ request for an emergency order establishing satellite voting sites on their Pyramid Lake and Walker River reservations in northern Nevada’s high desert. The tribes accuse Nevada’s Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, Washoe and Mineral counties of illegally denying tribe members voting access afforded to people in wealthier, mostly white neighborhoods. Members of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe living in Washoe County say they must travel 96 miles roundtrip to register to vote or to cast ballots in person in Sparks. Members of the Walker River Paiute Tribe in rural Mineral County say they have to go 70 miles roundtrip to Hawthorne. The lawsuit says that’s nearly twice as far as voters on Lake Tahoe’s affluent north shore would have to travel to vote if the county had not set up a satellite poll in upscale Incline Village.

Editorials: The Problem with Voting Rights in New York | Jeffrey Toobin/The New Yorker

It’s a truism of modern politics that Republicans have placed voting rights under assault in the states they control. Ever since the G.O.P. landslides in the midterm elections of 2010, Republicans have worked to restrict the right to vote in a variety of ways—by cutting back on opportunities for early voting, making absentee voting more difficult, and imposing photo-I.D. requirements at the polls, to name only the best known methods. In 2013, in Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court, with a majority of 5–4, gave Republicans the green light to continue their efforts by gutting the Voting Rights Act. The Shelby decision effectively ended the federal government’s supervision of voting rights in states, mostly in the South, that had histories of discriminating against minority voters.

Wisconsin: New lawyers sought in voter ID fight | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

As state attorneys try to persuade a judge to keep the voter ID law intact, Democrats on the Elections Commission are looking for new lawyers. U.S. District Judge James Peterson in July struck down limits on early voting and ordered the state to reform its system for making sure people have voting credentials under the voter ID law. In recent weeks, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and others have reported on Division of Motor Vehicles workers giving people inaccurate and incomplete information about their ability to get voting credentials. That prompted those suing the state to make a renewed push to overturn the voter ID law. Peterson has ordered a hearing for 9 a.m. Wednesday. Now, two of the Democratic members of the Elections Commission are seeking a new lawyer to represent them because they say GOP Attorney General Brad Schimel’s office would not file a report with the court on their behalf.

Wisconsin: Milwaukee Plans to Appeal for Leniency in New Absentee Ballot Law | WUWM

Milwaukee might be just one of the Wisconsin communities that has to throw out bunches of absentee ballots done by mail. A new state law requires the witnesses to include their full address, but some have not. Several parties will ask the state election commission later this week to relax the rule. Governor Walker signed the bill into law this past spring. It requires the person who witnesses someone voting absentee, to provide their address, along with their signature. Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Mike Haas says the agency must enforce the law. “Under the previous statute, individuals who cast an absentee ballot by mail were required to have a witness sign the envelope and list their address as well but, there was never a consequence if the witnesses address was not included on the envelope. Municipal clerks were always instructed to still have those ballots counted, even if the witness address was missing or was not complete,” he says. But now, Haas says, elections officials are supposed to toss ballots that don’t contain the witness’s full address.

Canada: Why Can’t Canadian Expats Vote Forever (Like Americans)? | Robert Waite /Huffington Post Canada

I have lived in Canada for 30 years and have never missed a U.S. election. Indeed, I have already voted this year, casting my ballot electronically in the town of Ipswich, Massachusetts, from my home computer keyboard in Ottawa, Ontario. Until recently the process was much more cumbersome — your local town clerk received a letter from you expressing your desire to vote absentee; she sent you the ballot by mail with instructions; you filled it out, had it notarized, and mailed it back. Indeed, the one time my vote failed to register, in 1976, I was a news correspondent in Warsaw, Poland. My ballot arrived in the mail eight days after the election. No one seems to know how many Americans live in Canada. Estimates vary from 900,000 to 2 million full- and part-time residents: The 2011 census says that 372,575 people claim American “ancestry”.

United Kingdom: Plans to extend electronic registration to Northern Ireland | BBC

Plans have been announced to allow voters in Northern Ireland to register electronically for elections. Under the proposals, online registration would be rolled out by the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland by 2019. The plans are contained in a joint consultation by the Northern Ireland Office and the Electoral Office. Legislation to introduce electronic registration will be presented to parliament next month.

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.