National: The recount war: why Stein, Trump supporters are fighting out it in court | CS Monitor

As President-elect Donald Trump and his allies attempt to block recounts in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, Jill Stein will bring the battle over the “Rust Belt” to federal court. The Green Party candidate and her lawyers said late Saturday night they will seek an emergency federal court order on Monday for a recount in Pennsylvania. The announcement came hours after Dr. Stein dropped a case in a Pennsylvania court because a state judge ordered the campaign post a $1 million bond for a statewide recount to proceed. Recounts are underway in some Pennsylvania counties and in Wisconsin. They could begin in Michigan next week, barring court action. It is highly unlikely the recounts will upend the results of the presidential election, as Hillary Clinton would need to win all three states to reverse Mr. Trump’s victory Nov. 8. But Stein’s efforts to audit the vote and the Trump side’s attempts to block it are shaping up to be a battle over the integrity of the election. Stein has said the recount is necessary to ensure “the integrity and accuracy of the vote,” suggesting voting machines were susceptible to hacking. Trump and his allies have called the recount effort a “scam,” saying it could undermine or call into the question the votes of millions.

National: Supreme Court hears cases about use of race in redistricting | Associated Press

The Supreme Court is returning to the familiar intersection of race and politics, in a pair of cases examining redistricting in North Carolina and Virginia. The eight-justice court is hearing arguments Monday in two cases that deal with the same basic issue of whether race played too large a role in the drawing of electoral districts, to the detriment of African-Americans. The claim made by black voters in both states is that Republicans packed districts with more reliably Democratic black voters than necessary to elect their preferred candidates, making neighboring districts whiter and more Republican. A lower court agreed with the challengers in North Carolina that two majority-black congressional districts were unconstitutional because their maps relied too heavily on race. The state appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing in part that it made districting decisions based on partisan politics, not race.

Editorials: Back to the future: Paper ballots still the best fraud prevention | Theresa Payton/The Hill

It’s hard to believe the moment we all learned the presidential election would be recounted in Wisconsin. Thank goodness Wisconsin has paper ballots that can be physically counted again. Did you know that many of the voting machines in New Jersey, Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana and South Carolina produce a report of how the voting machines recorded the votes but there is no paper trail to allow you to count the ballots again if needed. The same is true for key counties in Pennsylvania, a consistent battleground state that uses the same system in the majority of its counties, and that is true for other states as well. Today, there are entire countries totally relying on electronic voting: Brazil, since 2000, has employed electronic voting machines and, in 2010, had 135 million electronic voters. India had 380 million electronic voters, for its Parliament election in 2004.

Editorials: Did Russia meddle in our presidential election? | Los Angeles Times

Seven members of the Senate Intelligence Committee wrote to President Obama this week asking him to declassify and make public “additional information concerning the Russian government and the U.S. election” that committee members apparently have learned about in confidential briefings. The president should take their advice. Cynics might be tempted to view their letter — which was signed only by Democrats and an independent senator who caucuses with them — as a partisan ploy designed to buttress the argument that Donald Trump’s victory was rendered illegitimate by Russian meddling on his behalf. But seeking information about possible Russian meddling in the election shouldn’t be a partisan issue.

California: California just proved how cracking down on gerrymandering isn’t all it’s cracked up to be | The Washington Post

On Monday, California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa was declared the winner of a drawn-out reelection battle. And with his victory, California regained a distinction with which it is quite familiar. For the fourth time in 12 years, not a single one of the state’s 50-plus congressional districts switched parties. Just as in 2010, 2008 and 2004, every single seat returned to the party that previously controlled it. And if you exclude the post-redistricting election of 2012, only two California districts have flipped parties since 2004. That’s two out of 314 individual races — 0.6 percent. (And one of the two was a fluke in which the GOP briefly held a blue-leaning seat thanks to two Republicans advancing to the general election in 2012.) So why do we bring this up now? Well, partly because it wasn’t necessarily supposed to be this way again. Before the last round of redistricting, Californians voted for a redistricting commission to take the process out of lawmakers’ hands.

Michigan: Judge orders immediate start of Michigan recount | Detroit Free Press

A federal judge early Monday morning ordered a recount of Michigan’s presidential ballots to begin at noon on Monday, and for the state to “assemble necessary staff to work sufficient hours” to complete the recount by a Dec. 13 federal deadline. Lawyers for Green Party candidate Jill Stein urged the action in an emergency request, and U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith held a rare Sunday hearing in federal court. It lasted three hours, and Goldsmith issued a written opinion just after midnight on Monday morning. Goldsmith said a state law requiring a two business day waiting period to start the recount likely violates voting rights. Stein has shown “a credible threat that the recount, if delayed, would not be completed” by Dec. 13 — the federal “safe harbor” deadline to guarantee Michigan’s electoral votes are counted when the electoral college meets on Dec. 19.

Michigan: Deadlock: Board vote means Michigan presidential recount may proceed | Detroit Free Press

Michigan’s Board of State Canvassers deadlocked 2-2 Friday, on President-elect Donald Trump’s objection to Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s request for a recount of all presidential ballots cast in Michigan, meaning a hand recount of Michigan’s presidential ballots could begin late Tuesday or likely early Wednesday. Still, a lawsuit filed Friday by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette places any recount in doubt. Schuette asked the Michigan Supreme Court, which has a 5-2 majority of Republican nominees, to block the recount as a costly and pointless exercise. Trump also filed a lawsuit late Friday against the Board of State Canvassers, asking the Michigan Court of Appeals for an injunction to block the recount. Despite what would be a delayed start, Elections Director Chris Thomas said he still hopes all 4.8 million ballots can be recounted. He said he doubts the Dec. 13 deadline that has been frequently cited is a “real deadline,” and said Michigan may have until Dec. 17 — two days before the electoral college is set to meet — to complete its recount, though he said he is still researching that legal question.

North Carolina: Durham County officials should meet Monday deadline for vote recount | News & Observer

The recount of about 94,000 ballots in Durham County should be finished well before the 7 p.m. Monday deadline, officials said Sunday as the tabulations were in full swing. The Durham County Board of Elections hired more than 50 locals and brought in extra vote-counting machines to help speed the recount, which began Saturday afternoon after emergency meetings held by both the county board and the state board of elections that tackled controversial election issues around the state. Workers were on pace to count more than two-thirds of the disputed ballots by the end of the day Sunday, officials said, leaving more than enough time Monday to finish the rest and let people know where the governor’s race stands. The recount worked like an assembly line. One worker handed ballots to another worker standing at one of 26 machines, feeding them in. Others watched to make sure everything was proper. Several hours into Sunday’s work, the recount was averaging approximately 5,000 ballots per hour.

North Carolina: Durham County begin recounts; Bladen County protest denied | Winston Salem Journal

Durham County began recounting ballots on Saturday afternoon, moving the date from today to comply with an order from state elections officials to complete the task by Monday night. The Durham County Board of Elections scheduled an emergency meeting for 11 a.m. Saturday and planned to begin the recount at 1 p.m. After the State Board of Elections set a 7 p.m. Monday deadline, Durham officials asked for an extension to complete the recount but the state board denied the request. The state board voted along party lines Wednesday to order a machine recount of votes cast during early voting and at several precincts in Durham County, backing a request from Republicans and Gov. Pat McCrory’s campaign.

North Carolina: The North Carolina GOP Has a New Suppression Tactic: Voter Defamation | New Republic

My neighbor Lucia Foster was surprised when I emailed her on November 18. “Are you aware,” I asked, “that your name is on one of the election protest petitions?” Foster was raised to take voting seriously. She grew up in both Bangkok, Thailand, where her parents worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development, and Washington, D.C.’s Capitol Hill. “I was aware, from a young age, of how government works,” she says. “And I saw the impact of elections on foreign aid overseas.” Now 41, Foster has voted her entire adult life—she’s a Democrat—and this year moved her registration to Durham, North Carolina. When she’s not working as a clinical-trials specialist, she teaches drama at a theater company with a social-justice bent.Now, to her befuddlement, Foster was seeing her name on a list of suspicious voters. Supporters of North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, a Republican seeking a second term, had launched an all-out campaign to question the legitimacy of a contest that he appeared to be losing to Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper. As of Thursday evening, Cooper’s lead was 10,267 votes out of 4.6 million cast, though no winner has been declared.

North Carolina: Conservative group’s lawsuit sets off eleventh-hour scramble in governor’s race | Facing South

It’s been three weeks since Election Day and North Carolinians still don’t know officially who their next governor will be. In that time, Democratic challenger Roy Cooper’s lead has doubled and numerous county-level voter challenges filed by the campaign of incumbent Gov. Pat McCrory and other Republicans have been rebuffed by the state’s GOP-controlled county elections boards. In some cases, the McCrory campaign falsely accused voters of being felons, incorrectly claimed voters cast ballots in multiple states, and lodged erroneous fraud claims against voters who died after casting early ballots. This week the N.C. State Board of Elections instructed counties to dismiss McCrory’s protests, though it did grant his request for a countywide recount of early votes as well as a recount of Election Day votes in one Durham County precinct. The recount is required to be completed on Dec. 5. Cooper currently has a lead of 10,263 votes, just over the 10,000-vote cutoff for a statewide recount, which McCrory requested before many counties had certified their results.

Ohio: Secretary of State to appeal voter purging case to U.S. Supreme Court | Cleveland Plain Dealer

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted will appeal a ruling that the state was improperly purging voters from its rolls, arguing that the process is important for election integrity. “The current status of this case leaves one of our most important election safeguards in limbo,” Husted said in a statement. “I will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse this unnecessary intrusion into our state’s elections process.” A. Philip Randolph Institute, the American Civil Liberties Union Ohio and the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless sued Ohio, arguing that the state’s system for culling voter registration lists violated federal elections laws because it punished voters for inactivity. Elections boards weed out ineligible voters — those who have died or been found incompetent or convicted of felonies or who have moved from the voting jurisdiction. But Ohio’s process for years has also been triggered by lack of voting.

Pennsylvania: Green Party switches strategy in Pennsylvania recount bid, seeks federal court help | Chicago Tribune

A Green Party-backed campaign changed its strategy to force a statewide recount of Pennsylvania’s Nov. 8 presidential election, won by Republican Donald Trump, and said late Saturday night that it will seek help in the federal courts, rather than the state courts. The announcement that it would seek an emergency federal court order on Monday for a recount came hours after it dropped a case in the state courts. Make no mistake — the Stein campaign will continue to fight for a statewide recount in Pennsylvania,” recount campaign lawyer Jonathan Abady said in a statement issued around 11:30 p.m. “We are committed to this fight to protect the civil and voting rights of all Americans.” In the statement, Abady said barriers to a recount in Pennsylvania are pervasive and the state court system is ill-equipped to address the problem.

Pennsylvania: Stein switches tactics in Pennsylvania recount drive | AFP

Former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein switched tactics in her campaign to force a recount in Pennsylvania, one of three battleground states won by Donald Trump where she has challenged the results. The party dropped a bid to pursue the recount in a state court, citing difficulties raising a million dollar bond demanded by the tribunal. It said it would instead press on in federal court and file suit Monday. That was also Stein’s deadline for raising the bond money. “Make no mistake -— the Stein campaign will continue to fight for a statewide recount in Pennsylvania,” attorney Jonathan Abady said in a statement. “Over the past several days, it has become clear that the barriers to verifying the vote in Pennsylvania are so pervasive and that the state court system is so ill-equipped to address this problem that we must seek federal court intervention,” Abady said.

Austria: Voters reject far-right candidate Norbert Hofer in presidential election | The Guardian

Austria has decisively rejected the possibility of the EU getting its first far-right head of state, instead electing a former leader of the Green party who said he would be an “open-minded, liberal-minded and above all a pro-European president”. Alexander Van der Bellen, who ran as an independent, increased his lead over the far-right Freedom party candidate, Norbert Hofer, by a considerable margin from the original vote in May, which was annulled by the constitutional court due to voting irregularities. Hofer conceded his defeat within less than half an hour of the first exit polls on Sunday, writing on Facebook: “I congratulate Alexander Van der Bellen for his success and ask all Austrians to pull together and work together.” The 45-year-old, who said he was “endlessly sad” and “would have liked to look after Austria”, confirmed that he would like to run again for the presidency in six years’ time. The Freedom party secretary, Herbert Kickl, who has acted as Hofer’s campaign manager, said: “The bottom line is it didn’t quite work out. In this case the establishment – which pitched in once again to block, to stonewall and to prevent renewal – has won.”

The Gambia: President Jammeh Quits After Suffering Election Loss | Bloomberg

Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh said he’ll step down after losing this week’s presidential election in a remarkable about-face that prompted thousands of Gambians to celebrate the departure from office of a leader who had vowed to rule for a billion years. “Gambians have decided that I should take the backseat,” Jammeh said Friday on state television, hours after the election commission declared that opposition leader Adama Barrow, a virtual unknown six months ago, emerged as winner of the Dec. 1 poll. “You have voted for someone to lead our country. This is our country, and I wish you all the best.” Barrow obtained 263,515 votes, while Jammeh got 212,099, according to the election commission.

Editorials: Has Ghana’s Electoral Commission Undermined Its Own Elections? | Foreign Policy

Next week, Ghana, a relatively stable West African democracy, heads once again to the polls to elect a president. How have things been going in the lead up to the election? Not well. This week, Nana Akufo-Addo, leader of the New Patriotic Party and President John Mahama’s main opposition, skipped the only presidential debate (aides apparently said that this was because he decided to keep campaign commitments; he was not, apparently, committed to the debate.) On Thursday, early voting took place, and some names seemed to be missing from the voter register. On Friday, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace flaggedjust what to watch for in elections in Ghana. High on the list: Ghana’s Electoral Commission, which was criticized in 2012 for failing to protect the elections from irregularities such as “over voting,” is still a politicized entity, and has been unable to quell concern over the clearly problematic voter register. The New Patriotic Party wants the register overhauled entirely.

Italy: Prime Minister Matteo Renzi resigns after referendum defeat | The Guardian

Matteo Renzi was roundly defeated in a referendum to change Italy’s constitution, marking a major victory for anti-establishment and rightwing parties and plunging the eurozone’s third largest economy into political chaos. The prime minister conceded defeat in an emotional speech at his residence, Palazzo Chigi, and said he would submit his resignation to Italy’s president, Sergio Mattarella, on Monday afternoon. “My experience in government ends here … I did all I could to bring this to victory,” Renzi said. “If you fight for an idea, you cannot lose.” It was a not an unexpected defeat but it was nevertheless a humiliating one, with 59.1% of Italians voting against the proposed reforms, which would have made sweeping changes to Italy’s constitution and parliamentary system. Pointing to the high voter turnout – 65% of eligible voters cast ballots in the referendum – Renzi said the vote represented a “feast of democracy”.

Switzerland: Journalist appeals e-voting fraud conviction | SWI

A Swiss television journalist is to appeal a conviction for electoral fraud after demonstrating for a news report that it was possible to vote twice electronically on a single issue. He was able to do this in March 2015 having been mistakenly sent two sets of voting forms following a change of address. He alerted the authorities to the issue, but three weeks later was indicted by Geneva prosecutors. In early November, he was sentenced by a Bern court to a two-day suspended prison sentence and a fine of CHF400 after exposing the e-voting system’s shortcomings. His journalistic research was found by the court to be no defence against the crime.

Uzbekistan: First election since Soviet-era ruler’s death in Uzbekistan | Associated Press

Voters in Uzbekistan are casting ballots Sunday in the tightly controlled, ex-Soviet nation’s first presidential election since the death of Islam Karimov, the authoritarian leader who ruled for 27 years. Acting President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, who spent 13 years as Karimov’s prime minister, is expected to easily win a five-year term in the Central Asia country. Karimov led Uzbekistan since before the Soviet collapse, first as its communist boss and then as president. During his long tenure, he ruthlessly crushed all opposition, silenced the media and was repeatedly denounced by international human rights groups for abuses that included killings and torture. Karimov also never cultivated a successor. His September death raised concerns that the predominantly Sunni Muslim nation of 32 million might see fierce infighting over its leadership that could allow radical Islamists to rise to power or exploit the situation. But the 59-year old Mirziyoyev shifted into the acting president’s job quickly and without any visible tensions, highlighting apparent consensus between regional clans.