Donald Trump on Sunday used the platform of the presidency to peddle a fringe conspiracy theory to justify his loss of the popular vote, claiming without evidence that millions of people voted illegally Nov. 8. Trump’s tweets marked an unprecedented rebuke of the U.S. electoral system by a president-elect and were met with immediate condemnation from voting experts and others. And they offered a troubling indication that Trump’s ascension to the highest political office in the United States may not alter his penchant for repeating unproven conspiracies perpetuated by the far-right. “In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally,” Trump wrote on Twitter. There is no evidence to support Trump’s claim and PolitiFact ruled it false. Several hours later, he added more specifics, but again without any evidence: “Serious voter fraud in Virginia, New Hampshire and California – so why isn’t the media reporting on this? Serious bias – big problem!” Election law experts quickly rejected Trump’s claims as farfetched. “There’s no reason to believe this is true,” said Rick Hasen, a professor specializing in election law at the University of California, Irvine. “The level of fraud in US elections is quite low.” Hasen added, “The problem of non-citizen voting is quite small — like we’re talking claims in the dozens, we’re not talking voting in the millions, or the thousands, or even the hundreds.”
Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign said on Saturday it would help with efforts to secure recounts in several states, even as the White House defended the declared results as “the will of the American people”. The campaign’s general counsel, Marc Elias, said in an online post that while it had found no evidence of sabotage, the campaign felt “an obligation to the more than 64 million Americans who cast ballots for Hillary Clinton”. “We certainly understand the heartbreak felt by so many who worked so hard to elect Hillary Clinton,” Elias wrote, “and it is a fundamental principle of our democracy to ensure that every vote is properly counted.” In response, President-elect Donald Trump said in a statement: “The people have spoken and the election is over, and as Hillary Clinton herself said on election night, in addition to her conceding by congratulating me, ‘We must accept this result and then look to the future.’”
The Obama administration said on Friday that despite Russian attempts to undermine the presidential election, it has concluded that the results “accurately reflect the will of the American people.” The statement came as liberal opponents of Donald J. Trump, some citing fears of vote hacking, are seeking recounts in three states — Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — where his margin of victory was extremely thin. A drive by Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, for recounts in those states had brought in more than $5 million by midday on Friday, her campaign said, and had increased its goal to $7 million. She filed for a recount in Wisconsin on Friday, about an hour before the deadline. In its statement, the administration said, “The Kremlin probably expected that publicity surrounding the disclosures that followed the Russian government-directed compromises of emails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations, would raise questions about the integrity of the election process that could have undermined the legitimacy of the president-elect.”
National: Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say | The Washington Post
The flood of “fake news” this election season got support from a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign that created and spread misleading articles online with the goal of punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy, say independent researchers who tracked the operation. Russia’s increasingly sophisticated propaganda machinery — including thousands of botnets, teams of paid human “trolls,” and networks of websites and social-media accounts — echoed and amplified right-wing sites across the Internet as they portrayed Clinton as a criminal hiding potentially fatal health problems and preparing to hand control of the nation to a shadowy cabal of global financiers. The effort also sought to heighten the appearance of international tensions and promote fear of looming hostilities with nuclear-armed Russia. Two teams of independent researchers found that the Russians exploited American-made technology platforms to attack U.S. democracy at a particularly vulnerable moment, as an insurgent candidate harnessed a wide range of grievances to claim the White House. The sophistication of the Russian tactics may complicate efforts by Facebook and Google to crack down on “fake news,” as they have vowed to do after widespread complaints about the problem.
Of all the promises made on the campaign trail, President-elect Donald Trump’s vow to pass a constitutional amendment to impose term limits on members of Congress might be the most daunting. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) dismissed the idea out of hand the day after Trump’s stunning victory. A few days later, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) gave the proposal a tepid endorsement as he indicated it would be up to a House committee to consider Trump’s proposal. The reticence of both Republican leaders on the issue is not surprising, given their long tenures in Congress.
California: Revamped primaries changed California politics, but not like everyone thought | Los Angeles Times
The plea made to California voters to dilute the power of political parties was so insistent that it was written completely in capital letters in the June 2010 statewide voter guide. “PARTISANSHIP IS RUNNING OUR STATE INTO THE GROUND,” screamed the ballot argument in favor of Proposition 14, a broad change voters ultimately approved in the rules governing candidate primary elections. Its premise was simple: Scrap party-based primaries in statewide, congressional and legislative elections. Put all candidates on a single ballot with the two top vote-getters moving to November. If they were from the same party, so be it. Proposition 14’s supporters believed the change would empower centrists, candidates and voters alike. The ballot guide promised these newly elected politicians would be “more practical individuals who can work together for the common good.” California has now conducted 469 regularly scheduled races under the top-two primary — elections for governor, Congress and every seat in the Legislature. The bottom line: changes, yes, but likely only on the margins.
Canyon County election officials say they have identified the culprit behind Election Day’s slow vote counting process: hundreds of ballots with tiny flaws. Canyon County was among the state’s slowest for counting ballots after polls closed on Nov. 8. In fact, the county finally posted unofficial results at 6:49 a.m. Nov. 9, beating out Bonner County, the last of Idaho’s 44 counties to finish counting, by about four hours. Initially, Canyon County officials believed the delays were caused by voters marking ballots illegibly, causing the machines to spit out ballots and election staff to review and tally each by hand. County spokesman Joe Decker also attributed the slow pace to troubleshooting and the time it took to call in a technician. … County officials then reached out to the printing company, Caxton Printing Ltd., and encouraged company officials to look at whether “timing tracks” — a sequence of squares and other shapes printed on the edges of both sides of the ballot — were properly aligned. Scott Gipson, president of Caxton Printing, reviewed some of the ballots and concluded that between 800 and 1,000 ballots printed for Canyon County had misaligned timing tracks.
Elections officials are preparing for a possible presidential election recount in Michigan that could begin as soon as next week, state Director of Elections Chris Thomas said Friday. Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein has indicated she plans to jumpstart a recount in the Great Lakes state over fears that Michigan’s election results could have been manipulated by hackers. Republican President-elect Donald won the state by 10,704 votes over Democrat Hillary Clinton, according to unofficial updated results posted Wednesday. By Friday afternoon, Stein had raised more than $5 million of her $7 million goal to cover the cost of a recount in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan “to ensure the integrity of our elections” because “there is a significant need to verify machine-counted vote totals,” according to her campaign website. Stein finished nearly 2.3 million votes behind Trump in Michigan and received 1.1 percent of the vote. Michigan’s deadline for initiating a recount is Wednesday. “We have not heard from anybody,” Thomas said about a Stein recount request. “We’re just trying to be proactive, make sure we have plans.”
North Carolina: Gov. Pat McCory will accept defeat if recount in Durham upholds previous results | News & Observer
Gov. Pat McCrory is ready to withdraw his request for a statewide recount if a new hand count of Durham County votes produces the same results as Election Day, his campaign announced Saturday evening. The governor is asking the N.C. State Board of Elections to hold an expedited hearing on an appeal of the Durham County election board’s denial of a request for a recount there. The state board on Saturday called for a Sunday afternoon meeting by phone to discuss this matter and a federal lawsuit challenging same-day registration ballots. “If a Durham recount provides the same results as earlier posted, the McCrory Committee will be prepared to withdraw its statewide recount request in the Governors race,” the campaign’s news release says.
Wisconsin will begin a historic presidential recount next week and the state could risk losing its ability to have its 10 electoral votes counted if it doesn’t meet key deadlines next month. Hitting a Dec. 13 deadline could be particularly tricky if Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein is able to force the recount to be conducted by hand, Wisconsin’s top election official said. Stein and independent presidential candidate Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente separately filed recount requests late Friday, the last day they were able to do so. Stein received about 31,000 votes and De La Fuente about 1,500 out of 3 million cast. One or both of them will have to pay for the recount because they lost by more than 0.25%. The cost could top $1 million.
Wisconsin will undertake a recount of its presidential election votes after two requests from third-party candidates. Green Party nominee Jill Stein filed her request just before the deadline Friday afternoon, the Wisconsin Elections Commission announced. Reform Party candidate Rocky De La Fuente also filed for a recount. “We are standing up for an election system that we can trust; for voting systems that respect and encourage our vote, and make it possible for all of us to exercise our constitutional right to vote,” Stein said in a statement. “We demand voting systems that are accurate, secure and accountable to the people. This is part of a larger commitment to election reform that our campaign and the Green Party has long stood for, which includes open debates, an end to voter ID laws and voter suppression, and ranked choice voting.” The Wisconsin Elections Commission said it is working under a Dec. 13 deadline to finish the recount.
Canada’s chief electoral officer warns that time is running out to organize a national referendum on electoral reform if the voting system is to be changed in time for the next federal election in October 2019, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised. And that’s if a straightforward referendum question is asked, requiring a simple Yes or No answer. Marc Mayrand doubts there’d be enough time to organize a more complicated referendum that gives Canadians multiple voting systems to choose from and asks them to rank their preferences — as was done in Prince Edward Island’s recent plebiscite on electoral reform. “Administratively, I must say it would be difficult. Let’s be very clear on that,” Mayrand said in an interview marking the imminent end of his 10-year tenure at the helm of Elections Canada.
The Electoral Commission of Ghana has begun approving local and international poll observer groups to monitor the December 7 presidential and legislative elections. The electoral commission, however, says groups affiliated with political parties would not be allowed to monitor the polls. The criteria that poll observer groups must meet before their applications are considered include the name of the poll monitoring group, the leadership and composition of the group and their experience in election observation together with their passport pictures as well as their contact information. “We have received a number of applications to observe the elections in the country,” said Eric Dzakpasu, spokesman for the electoral commission. The commission has also received a number of applications from local and international observers, as well as foreign missions and embassies, he added.
Political parties in Haiti were on Friday calling on the electoral officials to investigate allegations of voter fraud in last Sunday’s presidential elections before any official announcement is made of the winners. Jude Celestin, who is one of the presidential candidates, has written to the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) alleging that members of his LAPEH party at the Voting Tabulation Center (CTV) “saw and noted that many minutes transmitted to the CTV were accepted and validated, whereas the correlative listings of ‘émargement’ do not have signatures or fingerprints of the voters, only able to guarantee the authenticity of the vote with reference to article 158.1 of the electoral decree”. Celestin is warning that “if, in the next hours and before any proclamation of partial results, such a flagrant violation is not corrected, it risks to irreparably damage the integrity and reliability of the entire process”. He is also reminding of the problems that confronted the elections of 2010 and 2015, noting “elections must not be subjected to any manipulation or any gross form of violation of the law in general and the electoral decree in particular.
Opposition groups and individuals made an impressive showing in the National Assembly elections by winning almost half of the 50 seats, with Kuwaiti voters dealing a heavy blow to the previous Assembly that failed to stop the government from raising petrol prices. The Islamist, nationalist and liberal opposition, which returned to the polls after a four-year boycott, won at least 15 seats, with between seven and 10 seats won by its allies. This will enable the opposition to grill ministers and vote them out of office, which will considerably boost its power in the next Assembly. Islamists make the backbone of the opposition, with the Islamic Constitutional Movement (ICM), the local arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, bagging four seats and a few supporters.