National: After a Fraught Election, Questions Over the Impact of a Balky Voting Process | The New York Times

So few Americans cast ballots that a new president was elected by barely a quarter of Americans eligible to vote. Some of those who did vote waited in line for hours. Others were told they needed an ID to vote under a law the courts had nullified months ago — and sometimes, under laws that never existed to begin with. Amid the ruins of the ugliest presidential campaign in modern history, Democrats are bemoaning an election apparatus so balky and politically malleable that throngs of would-be voters either gave up trying to cast ballots or cast ones that were never counted. This was the first presidential election in a half century that was held without the full protection of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Voting rights advocates spent the year in court battling, with incomplete success, to roll back restrictions on the franchise enacted by Republican legislatures in state after state. Some scholars and election analysts questioned this week whether a better run and less politically influenced voting process might have changed the outcome in some close races and made the presidential contest even closer. The headline example is Wisconsin, where a Republican-backed law requiring voters to produce one of a limited number of acceptable photo IDs was in effect for the first time. Studies show — and some Republicans admit — that such laws disproportionately reduce Democratic turnout because many of the laws require IDs that low-income and immigrant voters, who are often Democrats, frequently lack. In Milwaukee, where turnout dropped 41,000 votes from the 2012 total, the chief elections official said on Friday that declines in voting were greatest in areas where lack of IDs was most common. Donald J. Trump won Wisconsin by about 27,000 votes.

National: About 100 million people couldn’t be bothered to vote this year | The Washington Post

Roughly 43 percent of eligible voters didn’t bother filling out a ballot this year, according to turnout estimates from the U.S. Elections Project. To look at it another way, the people who could have voted but chose not to vastly outnumbered those who cast a vote for Clinton, Trump or a third-party candidate. The U.S. Elections Project, run by a political scientist at the University of Florida, estimates that there are about 251 million voting-age people in the U.S. But not all of them are eligible to vote: some are non-citizens living in the U.S., while several million more can’t legally vote because they’re in prison, on parole, or have a past felony conviction in states where that’s a barrier to voting. Subtract all those people and you’ve got about 232 million people potentially eligible to cast a vote this fall. But only about 132 million of them did, give or take the one or two million votes that have yet to be officially certified. That means that 100 million people who have the legal right to vote simply decided it wasn’t worth the hassle this year.

National: Civil rights leaders say voter suppression laws influenced 2016 presidential election | McClatchy DC

Civil rights groups say a tangle of Republican-backed “voter suppression” laws enacted since 2010 probably helped tip the scale for Republican nominee Donald Trump in some closely contested states on election night. “When we look back, we will find that voter suppression figured prominently in the story surrounding the 2016 presidential election,” said Kristen Clarke, the president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Fourteen states had restrictive new voting laws on the books for the first time in a presidential election this year, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law: Alabama, Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin. The laws included a mix of photo ID requirements for voters, cuts to early voting opportunities and curbs on voter registration activity. The laws, which were presumably enacted as a safeguard against voter fraud, began to spread nationally after the 2010 midterm elections, when large numbers of Republicans were swept into state offices.

Illinois: Senate overrides governor’s automatic-voter veto | The Web Times

The Illinois Senate has rejected the governor’s veto of automatic voter registration legislation, however, Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, has proposed an alternative bill. The Senate’s 38-18 vote sends the initial measure to the House to consider when it returns Nov. 29 to Springfield. The bill is SB250. The Legislature adopted the plan in the spring with strong bipartisan support. It would allow visitors to a handful of state agencies to be automatically registered to vote unless they opt out. Rauner vetoed it in August, fearing fraud. He said the plan doesn’t meet federal requirements about a person’s participation in the registration process and puts too much of a burden on the State Board of Elections to verify eligibility. Democratic Sen. Any Manar of Bunker Hill says record-keeping and state automation are advanced enough to prevent mischief.

Maine: Recounts requested for legalized marijuana, school surcharge votes | The Portland Press Herald

Opponents of ballot initiatives to legalize recreational marijuana and tax the state’s highest earners to help fund public schools have submitted requests for recounts. Petitions seeking recounts were turned in Wednesday afternoon to the Secretary of State’s Office, hours before the 5 p.m. deadline. State officials must verify that at least 100 signatures on each petition came from registered voters who cast ballots in the Nov. 8 election before a recount is scheduled. Both Question 1, which would legalize marijuana, and Question 2, which would add a 3 percent tax surcharge on individual income over $200,000, were narrowly approved. The two statewide recounts combined will cost taxpayers more than $500,000, the Secretary of State’s Office said. The marijuana question passed by 4,073 votes, 381,692-377,619, less than 1 percent, according to unofficial results from the Secretary of State’s Office.

North Carolina: Counting is far from over for North Carolina governor’s race | Associated Press

All the counting was supposed to be all but over by Friday, but North Carolina’s too-close-to-call governor’s race remains nowhere near done, the State Board of Elections said Thursday. Election officials say delays in receiving information from the Department of Motor Vehicles are causing many of the problems. A federal judge ordered that votes of people who signed up at DMV offices must be counted unless the agency proves they refused to register. Lots of formal local challenges also are postponing final totals as state board figures late Thursday showed Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper leading McCrory by about 4,600 of the nearly 4.7 million votes already tallied. By Friday, all 100 counties were supposed to finish deciding whether to count or set aside more than 60,000 mailed-in absentee and provisional ballots statewide, unseal the voters’ choices and send updated vote totals for dozens of races to the State Board of Elections.

Texas: Both in court and under Trump, Texas Voter ID law faces uncertain future | The Texas Tribune

Five years ago, Texas passed one of the strictest Voter ID laws in the country. The legal fight began immediately and has continued through this day, with critics of the law getting some assistance from the Obama administration’s Justice Department. Now, with Republican Donald Trump set to ascend to the Oval Office, the law’s future is more uncertain than ever. Among the questions up in the air: Whom will Trump nominate to the U.S. Supreme Court seat left vacant by Antonin Scalia’s death, and how will a Trump-led Justice Department operate compared to the current administration? “We’re not going to stand idle when a law is discriminatory,” said Leah Aden, senior counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. “The strategy may be different depending on who is in office, but we’ll fight it regardless of who’s in power.”

China: Voting in an election ‘with Chinese characteristics’ | AFP

When Chinese voters go to the polls, it is only to pick local representatives to advise on mundane issues like rubbish collection and parking. But when Ye Jinghuan sought election in Beijing, she was treated like an enemy of the state. Plainclothes officers tailed the 64-year old retiree as she left her home on polling day Tuesday, and she faced constant harassment from police and government officials after announcing her run, she said. The nationwide contest for spots in local legislatures, held every five years, is the only direct election in the People’s Republic of China. Authorities were eager to show off what they describe as democracy “with Chinese characteristics”, with officials ushering dozens of reporters into a polling station in Xingfu, in central Beijing. Voters filled out their pink ballot papers in front of officials, ignoring a screened-off area labelled “Secret Balloting Place”.

Haiti: Still reeling from hurricane, Haiti holds long-awaited election | Reuters

Haitians began voting in a long-delayed presidential election on Sunday, hoping a new government will lift the economy after a devastating hurricane and more than a year of political instability. First held in October 2015, the election was annulled over allegations of fraud, and a rescheduled vote was postponed last month when Hurricane Matthew struck, killing up to 1,000 people and leaving 1.4 million in need of humanitarian assistance. Homes, schools and farms across southwestern Haiti all bear the scars of Matthew, which piled fresh misery onto the nation of more than 10 million on the western half of the island of Hispaniola still recovering from a major earthquake in 2010. “We are in a political crisis. We need an elected government to get out of this situation,” said 19-year-old Launes Delmazin as he voted for the first time in a school in Les Cayes, a southwestern port ravaged by Matthew last month.

National: Audit the Vote Petition: Did Russia Hack Presidential Election? | Heavy

Thousands of people have signed a petition on demanding an audit of the 2016 presidential election to rule out any possibility that Russian hackers helped give Donald Trump his Electoral College victory. There’s no evidence of this, although some cyber security and intelligence experts have blamed Russia for hacks of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta. Those acts benefited Trump, who has said he has never even met Vladimir Putin. The hashtag #AudittheVote was also trending on Twitter on November 17 as Clinton supporters passed around supposed election anomalies. Driving some of the suspicion: The fact that so many polls (pre-election polling but also exit polls) had the election completely wrong.

National: The electoral college badly distorts the vote. And it’s going to get worse. | The Washington Post

Donald Trump won the United States presidency with 290 votes in the electoral college. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote with 62,568,373 votes, as of Nov. 16, to President-elect Trump’s 61,336,159. The electoral college has overruled the popular vote for the second time in the last five presidential elections. If all votes were weighed evenly, Clinton would have received 259 votes in the electoral college. Trump would have 256. Candidates from other parties would also have received electoral college votes. The United States has faced this conflict between the electoral college and the popular vote only four times in the nation’s history (five, if you include John Quincy Adams’s election). But it’s happening more and more often. The electoral college is designed to favor sparsely populated areas. It was created to strengthen the agrarian elite, offer more federal power to slaveholding states, and counterbalance factionalism and polarization. But it’s not doing any of this today. Rather, the electoral college values some votes above others, while entirely disenfranchising the 4 million Americans who live in overseas territories.

National: Russian hacking of election infrastructure ‘curtailed’ after US statement | The Hill

Russian scanning of state election infrastructure was “curtailed” after the U.S. publicly blamed Moscow for hacking several U.S. political organizations, the nation’s top intelligence official says. “The issuance of the statement and communication between our government and the Russian government seemed to have curtailed the cyber activity the Russians were previously engaged in,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said during a House Intelligence Committee hearing Thursday. “I was referring to cyber reconnaissance many states had observed prior to the statement,” Clapper clarified. Russia is believed to have been behind pre-election attempts to penetrate voter information databases in Arizona and Illinois. Clapper, together with the Department of Homeland Security, in October publicly blamed Russia for the hack of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and other political organizations this year, calling the thefts an intentional effort to interfere with the U.S. election process. But intelligence leaders at the time said they were not ready to confirm that the probing of state election systems was the work on Russian hackers.

Editorials: Now is the time to fix our old voting machines. | Lawrence Norden and Christopher Famighetti/Slate

Athough more than half the country may be unhappy with the results, America dodged a bullet on Election Day. That is, our voting machines generally held up. The tabulations they produced were not so close as to throw the election results in doubt, and there’s no legitimate indication that any were hacked. In the next presidential election, we may not be so lucky. With antiquated voting devices at the end of their projected lifespans still in widespread use across the country, the U.S. is facing an impending crisis in which our most basic election infrastructure is unacceptably vulnerable to breakdown, malfunction, and hacking. It’s not just an inconvenience. If the machinery of democracy is called into question, so are its foundations. Those of us who can recall the presidential election of 2000 know exactly what can happen when faulty technology meets a razor-close election. The Bush-Gore contest came down to just a few hundred votes in Florida, and butterfly ballots and faulty punch card machines left us arguing about hanging, dimpled, and pregnant chads. It left wounds that still afflict the country. In today’s hyperpartisan environment, such a scenario—or even unfounded accusations of a “rigged” election that gained postelection traction—would be far more contentious. Just imagine what it might be like in 2020.

Editorials: A new era: our elections now will be decided by hackers and leaked data | Steven Hill/The Guardian

A new and disturbing factor emerged during this presidential election, and one that may change elections forever: democracies are now at the mercy of hacking and surveillance technology – and those who control it. WikiLeaks and a network of anonymous hackers have become a major influence, turning the rituals of democracy into sleaze-fests for the tabloids and the sensationalist press. And foreign governments have a hand, too – allegedly Russia, in the case of the US election. Technology has advanced rapidly from election to election, becoming more powerful and ubiquitous. Skilled hackers have the ability to access and release private conversations, communications and information, whether from two hours ago or 20 years ago. And now in the US, that technology has played the role of kingmaker: WikiLeaks’ firepower was directed only at one of the presidential candidates, and the topic of missing emails was controversially revived by the FBI nine days before the election. Hillary Clinton blamed that intervention as one reason she lost the election. Both set a troubling precedent, but this emerging “leakocracy” is not just a threat to the US.

California: Southern California Election Officials Respond To Issa’s Allegation Of Vote Count Interference | KPBS

Registrars of voters in Southern California are defending the vote count in a tight congressional race after incumbent Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, questioned its validity. Issa is ahead of challenger Doug Applegate by two percentage points with about 20,000 more provisional ballots to be counted. In a fundraising email, Issa claimed liberals are trying to steal the election and that if his lead shrinks, they could “force the Registrars to allow thousands of illegal, unregistered voters to influence the election,” according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. In a post on Twitter, the Republican congressman asked followers, “Can you help me make sure this election isn’t stolen?” It included a link to a letter on his campaign website, but the tweet and letter have since been deleted.

Editorials: Pueblo County Election problems | The Pueblo Chieftain

Last week, we were highly critical of Pueblo County Clerk and Recorder Gilbert “Bo” Ortiz and his elections staff, blaming the significant delays in vote counting on poor preparation, specifically a poor decision to purchase software inadequate to the task of counting Pueblo’s numerous ballot styles. It appears we were a bit premature. As it turns out, there were all sorts of factors leading up to the election vote count problems. As reported in Wednesday’s Chieftain, state election officials essentially said Ortiz and his team had no way of knowing that the computer system would bog down on the morning of Election Day. They said they had approved the number of ballots, the way issues were presented on them, and the purchase of the Dominion Express System by the county. Significant tests — more than actually required — were conducted prior to the election, and there were no indications that a disaster lie ahead.

Florida: State Supreme Court to review Felon Voting Restoration Amendment | Florida Record

A proposed amendment to restore the voting rights of Florida felons after completion of their sentences received just enough signatures to trigger a review by the Florida Supreme Court and a potential place on the November 2018 ballot. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi passed the initiative onto the high court to review the language within the Voting Restoration Amendment. The court will review to see if the language is clear and not misleading, and ensure the initiative has only one purpose. A hearing is expected by the end of the year. If approved and if the group supporting the initiative, Floridians for a Fair Democracy, can get enough signatures, it can go on the November 2018 ballot. “The felon voting right initiative is pushed by the recognition that people do make mistakes but deserve a second chance,” American Civil Liberties Union of Florida Director Howard Simon told the Florida Record.

New Hampshire: Recounts unlikely to change results, but get lots of attention | Union Leader

Democratic state Rep. Deborah Wheeler is no stranger to post-election recounts. She’s helped conduct many in her three terms as a representative for Northfield and parts of Franklin. But on Tuesday, she wasn’t helping to count. The 72-year-old retired tax auditor was there to watch the process in the hope that it would erase a 25-vote deficit that separated her from the winning Republican, Ryan Smith. But like most recounts, this one failed to change the result, although it did narrow Smith’s margin of victory from 25 votes to 13 (1,505-to-1,480) Smith, a 20-year-old criminal justice student at St. Anselm College, decided to run when he learned that incumbent Republican Gregory Hill was the only Republican on the ballot in a district that elects two representatives. “No one was going to fill that seat on the ticket, and I have things to say so I thought, I’ll throw my hat in the ring and see what happens,” he said as he took a step away from monitoring the counting on Wednesday at the Legislative Office Building.

Texas: Pasadena voting rights case opens in federal court | Houston Chronicle

On the north side of Pasadena, mostly Latino residents live amid broken sidewalks, faulty drainage and pockmarked streets. On the south side of Spencer Highway, where most residents are white, municipal parks are manicured and the streets and sidewalks are better maintained. The disparity in infrastructure is at the heart of a voting rights case that opened in federal court Thursday in which a group of Latino residents is challenging the city’s newly revised system of government, saying it discriminates against minority voters and intentionally dilutes their power. By creating two at-large council seats and eliminating two of the eight district seats, the suit says, the city violated the federal Voting Rights Act, making it harder for Latino-backed candidates to get elected and leading to unfair allocation of resources.

Germany: Intelligence services ′alarmed′ about potential Russian interference in elections | Deutsche Welle

German intelligence agency chief Hans-Georg Maassen said in an interview with Reuters on Wednesday that he was worried about the potential extent of Russia’s influence on German voters. “Last year we saw that public opinion in Germany was influenced by the Russians,” Maassen said, who is the head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Germany’s domestic intelligence agency. Asked if he saw this danger also for the pending federal election campaign, he replied: “This could also take place next year, and we’re alarmed.” During the interview, Maassen referred specifically to the case of the alleged abduction of Lisa, a Russian-born girl from Berlin. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov publicly exhorted the German judiciary.

Ghana: Presidential Ballot Paper Printing Begins | Sahara Reporters

The Electoral Commission of Ghana, after a week of successfully completing balloting for the seven qualified presidential candidates in the upcoming elections, have invited their representatives to witness the commencement of printing ballots and testament of polls forms. The printing was delayed because of lawsuits against the Electoral Commission and its Chairperson. Confirming details to Citi FM in Accra, acting General Secretary of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr. John Boadu, mentioned he would be present for the printing exercise so as to ensure transparency. “Over the years we have never witnessed the printing of pink sheets or blue sheets or statements of polls, both parliamentary and presidential. We all know the kind of difficulty we had in court where the Electoral Commission was finding it difficult to know the number of statement of polls that they printed,” he said.

India: Don’t Use Indelible Ink in Banks: Election Commission To Finance Ministry | NDTV

The government has been asked by the Election Commission to stop using indelible ink to check multiple exchanges by people at different branches after the notes ban. The election body has told the Finance Ministry in a letter that several states will hold elections and there will be confusion as indelible ink also marks citizens who have already voted. Five states will hold by-polls on Saturday, the Election Commission has said, and the government should ensure that the use of indelible ink on people exchanging banned Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 notes does not cause a problem when they vote.