Last week, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) conceded to Democratic challenger Roy Cooper, who had held a small but growing lead over McCrory since Election Day. That lead stands at less than half the number of votes that were tossed out because the voter was unregistered. It’s unlikely that these discarded votes would have changed the election’s outcome — they were disproportionately cast by African Americans and Democrats and would likely have furthered Cooper’s lead. But given the sheer volume of disenfranchised voters, it’s easy to imagine a scenario in which they could flip an election result. In North Carolina and the 37 other states that don’t allow voters to register on Election Day, hundreds of thousands of people saw their votes tossed out because of their registration status. (In 2012, there were a quarter of a million rejected ballots nationwide.)
South Florida has long been a laboratory for some of the nation’s roughest politics, with techniques like phantom candidates created by political rivals to siphon off votes from their opponents, or so-called boleteras hired to illegally fill out stacks of absentee ballots on behalf of elderly or disabled voters. But there was never anything quite like the 2016 election campaign, when a handful of Democratic House candidates became targets of a Russian influence operation that made thousands of pages of documents stolen by hackers from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in Washington available to Florida reporters and bloggers. “It was like I was standing out there naked,” said Annette Taddeo, a Democrat who lost her primary race after secret campaign documents were made public. “I just can’t describe it any other way. Our entire internal strategy plan was made public, and suddenly all this material was out there and could be used against me.” The impact of the information released by the hackers on candidates like Ms. Taddeo in Florida and others in nearly a dozen House races around the country was largely lost in the focus on the hacking attacks against the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. But this untold story underscores the effect the Russian operation had on the American electoral system.
With recount efforts wrapping up, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein ended her fundraising Tuesday to review ballot tallies in Wisconsin and two other states, saying she will donate any leftover cash to voting rights groups. In the end, Wisconsin’s recount turned up changes to the ballot count of the top four finishers of just six-hundredths of 1%. Meanwhile, Stein’s bid for statewide recounts has been blocked in Pennsylvania and Michigan. Stein’s campaign said it raised $7.3 million for its recount efforts and has up to $7.4 million in outstanding costs, but expects those estimated expenses to decrease as the actual costs are tallied. In raising the money, Stein also collected the names of more than 161,000 donors and 10,000 volunteers that she can tap in the future.
The Republican National Committee is overseeing an expansive whip operation designed to lock down Donald Trump’s Electoral College majority and ensure that the 306 Republican electors cast their votes for the president-elect. Two RNC sources familiar with the effort said the committee — with the assistance of state Republican parties and the Trump campaign — have been in touch with most of the GOP electors multiple times, and has concluded that only one is a risk to cast a vote against Trump on Dec. 19, when the Electoral College meets. The RNC’s elector head count, the sources emphasized, is standard practice in presidential election years. But this year it also serves as an early-warning system for potentially wayward GOP electors amid an intense push by Democratic electors to convince 37 of their Republican counterparts to jump ship. The Democrats are hoping that dozens of GOP electors — many of whom were picked at local conventions and party meetings dominated by Trump’s opponents — are already primed to resist Trump.
Work remains on pace to allow online voter registration in Florida by next October, state elections officials told lawmakers Tuesday. “We did have a little bit of a hiatus with our meetings. Obviously, we were trying to get through the election, but we have resumed and will continue full steam ahead,” Maria Matthews, director of the state Division of Elections, told members of the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee. Also Tuesday, Secretary of State Ken Detzner said the state’s election database and voting systems remained secured throughout 2016.
A long-gestating piece of DuPage County reform may finally see its day on the voting block in Springfield, as the County Board chairman, clerk and Election Commission have proposed the consolidation of the latter two offices. Chairman Dan Cronin formally introduced the idea during the Dec. 14 board meeting, saying the move could both realize savings for the county as well as keep and expand the appointed, bipartisan Board of Election Commissioners. “When it comes to elections, there’s something very sacred about it,” Cronin said. “We here in DuPage County want to make sure we have the faith and trust and confidence of the public.” The proposal, which will need to be approved by the state legislature, would expand the board from three to five members, including two representatives from each major political party, appointed by the County Board chairman, and the county clerk as chairman.
More than 80 voting machines in Detroit malfunctioned on Election Day, officials say, resulting in ballot discrepancies in 59% of precincts that raise questions about the reliability of future election results in a city dominated by Democratic and minority voters. “This is not the first time,” adds Daniel Baxter, elections director for the city. “We’ve had this problem in nearly every election that we administer in the city of Detroit.” Baxter says that the machines were tested for accuracy before election day in accordance with state and federal guidelines, but that sometimes the machines “hit up against each other and malfunction” as they’re being transported to the precincts. The machines were optical scanners, meaning they registered and counted the votes marked on paper ballots. Many of the machines jammed over the course of election day, perhaps because Michigan had a two-page ballot this year, which meant that paper ballots were collected but inconsistently recorded by the machines.
Voting machines in more than one-third of all Detroit precincts registered more votes than they should have during last month’s presidential election, according to Wayne County records prepared at the request of The Detroit News. Detailed reports from the office of Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett show optical scanners at 248 of the city’s 662 precincts, or 37 percent, tabulated more ballots than the number of voters tallied by workers in the poll books. Voting irregularities in Detroit have spurred plans for an audit by Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s office, Elections Director Chris Thomas said Monday. The Detroit precincts are among those that couldn’t be counted during a statewide presidential recount that began last week and ended Friday following a decision by the Michigan Supreme Court. Democrat Hillary Clinton overwhelmingly prevailed in Detroit and Wayne County. But Republican President-elect Donald Trump won Michigan by 10,704 votes or 47.5 percent to 47.3 percent.
All sides agreed Tuesday that state and local election officials did a generally good job on a statewide presidential recount that was halted by the courts on Wednesday after two and a half days of counting. But testimony before the Board of State Canvassers differed on whether the partial recount requested by Green Party candidate Jill Stein served a useful purpose. Still, the board voted Tuesday 3-1 to formally reject Stein’s request for a recount. To Stein attorney Mark Brewer, who formally withdrew Stein’s recount request at Tuesday’s meeting of the state elections panel, the recount turned up significant problems with uncounted ballots, faulty machines, and large numbers of precincts that could not be recounted under state law.
The Michigan Senate plans to adjourn for the year Thursday without taking up a strict voter identification proposal, Republican Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof said Tuesday, prompting cheers from protesters outside the state Capitol. Telling reporters the so-called lame-duck session may go down as a “tame duck,” Meekhof added that the upper chamber is unlikely to take up House-approved legislation to boost fines for “mass picketing” or subject state legislators and the governor to public records request laws. The controversial voter ID proposal, approved last week by the Republican-led House, would have required voters to bring photo identification to their local clerk’s office within 10 days if they don’t have an ID on Election Day. Failure to do so would have voided their provisional ballot.
If U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke becomes Interior secretary under incoming President Donald Trump, a special election would be held in Montana to choose Zinke’s successor — but it’s not clear who, if anyone, would hold the post until the election occurs. State law says the governor “may” appoint someone to hold the seat until the election. But Montana Republican Party Chairman Jeff Essmann told MTN News that the U.S. Constitution may conflict with that law, because the Constitution essentially says U.S. House vacancies must be filled by election. Montana State University political scientist Dave Parker also said Tuesday that in other states, to his knowledge, when a House seat becomes vacant, it stays unfilled until a special election chooses the new member.
A state lawmaker has filed a bill that would eliminate straight party voting. Sen. J.J. Dossett, D-Owasso, is the author of Senate Bill 9. “I think it is unnecessary to have the straight-party option,” Dossett said Monday. “I think it is something that might have had value in the past when people couldn’t inform themselves on the candidate and vote.” Ten states including Oklahoma offer straight-party voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The number of states offering it has been declining in recent years, according to the NCSL. Dossett said it probably benefited Democrats when they were in power and now benefits Republicans. His filing of the measure is not related to the recent elections, Dossett said.
Pennsylvania: Green Party seeks to overhaul procedures for future elections | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pennsylvania certified its 2016 election results Monday, officially anointing Donald J. Trump as its choice for president. But the campaign of Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein isn’t giving up its bid to change the way the state counts, and recounts, the ballots. “In Pennsylvania, we are planning to proceed in federal court with an examination and a challenge to what we think is a byzantine and unworkable recount regime,” said campaign attorney Jonathan Abady in a phone call with reporters. Unlike a federal lawsuit filed last week, which was rejected Monday by U.S. District Judge Paul Diamond in Philadelphioa, future litigation won’t seek to contest the 2016 vote tallies. Instead, the Stein campaign said it will focus on future elections, by seeking to overhaul recount procedures and its use of paperless voting machines.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Tuesday formally asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the state’s controversial voter identification law, which was ruled unconstitutional this year by a federal appeals court on grounds that it harmed the voting rights of minorities. Paxton, a first-term Republican, had signaled earlier that he would ask the high court to overrule the decision by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and allow Texas to resume enforcing voter ID under the law as it was passed by the Legislature in 2013. “The success of American democracy hinges on whether or not voters trust the integrity of the election process,” Paxton said in a late-afternoon news release. “Voter ID laws both prevent fraud as well as ensure that election results accurately reflect the will of Texas voters. The Legislature enacted common sense reforms, which should be respected by this nation’s courts.”
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday turned back a challenge to Virginia’s voter photo ID law upheld by a federal judge in Richmond this year. Last year, the Democratic Party of Virginia and two voters filed a suit alleging that the Republican-controlled General Assembly enacted the law to curb the number of young and minority voters. In May, after a two-week trial in March, U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson upheld the photo ID requirement, and the plaintiffs appealed. On Tuesday, a three-judge panel of the Richmond-based appeals court upheld Hudson’s decision.
Wisconsin: Jill Stein Says She’s Not Satisfied With Wisconsin Presidential Recount | Wisconsin Public Radio
Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein said Tuesday she is dissatisfied with Wisconsin’s presidential recount. On a call with reporters, Stein decried the use of machines in Wisconsin’s recount, which ended Monday, as well as the cost of the re-tallying. Stein expressed concern that Milwaukee County, in particular, used machines in its recount. “This was essentially a recount that looked everywhere except in the areas of greatest risk,” Stein said. “I think there’s enormous evidence that when you’re looking for the bank robber, you’ve got to look around the bank and I think unfortunately that’s what was avoided in the Wisconsin recount.” Stein requested a hand recount in all of Wisconsin’s 72 counties, but was denied by the state Elections Commission and a subsequent court decision. State law empowers county elections officials to choose whether to use machines as they conduct their recount.
The world has never been more interconnected than it is today. Not only are goods traded across borders, but people go abroad to work as well. Expatriates (or more commonly known as expats) are those who have lived and worked in another country, usually for a large, multinational corporation However, they are the ones who choose to remain citizens of their home country instead of applying for citizenship in their country of employment. Since they have been residing in another country, their voting rights have come into question. Countries like the United States allow their citizens to vote by a blank absentee ballot sent to them. Canada has yet to restore their expats’ voting rights, and with the new Liberal government, the issue has come up in court.
The Indonesian Military (TNI) has once again expressed its hope to regain the right to vote in elections, saying that all regulations related to the military’s political rights should be evaluated by 2024. Speaking to members of the House of Representatives’ special committee on the election bill on Tuesday, TNI chief Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo said the military should get their voting rights after 2024 as the country would hold regional, legislative and presidential elections that year. “There will be three elections at the same time in 2024. It’s a crucial year. It will need more attention. So 2024 will be the right time to evaluate [the regulations on TNI’s voting rights],” Gatot said.
Macedonia’s opposition Social Democratic Union has challenged the results of the country’s weekend parliamentary elections, in a bid to overturn a narrow win by the conservative ruling party. The Social Democrats on December 13 filed complaints about voting irregularities that were echoed by a new ethnic Albanian party, the Besa, which reported alleged violations that could change the outcome of the vote. The state elections commission said the two opposition parties lodged complaints on the electoral process at 16 polling stations, demanding a repeat vote in those places.
Philippines: AES hacking issue raised anew and Smartmatic’s demand for P2B payment | The Manila Times
On December 9, 2016, a number of news websites carried the news that President Barack Obama had ordered a full review of possible Russian hacking of the recent United States election. Questioning whether an automated election system (AES) can be hacked or not raises concerns about the integrity of the AES and the credibility of election results that the system generates. The Philippine experience in automating the elections is no different. Concerns were raised on possible vulnerabilities of the AES used in the last three elections. Everything happens inside the machine and those internal mechanisms are shielded from public observation But can the voting machines really be hacked? Just as in the US, none of the vote counting machines (VCMs) used in the Philippine elections is connected to the Internet; they connect to the transmission network only when they are ready to transmit the election returns to the city or municipal canvassing and consolidation system (CCS) and other servers. Hackers would not be able to hack into the VCMs since the transmission network is configured as a virtual private network with the appropriate security measures in place, and the time period to perform hacking activities is very short. Potentially, however, the CCS and other servers are exposed to possible attacks since the CCS and other servers are open for much longer periods while they wait to receive transmissions from the VCMs and CCS.
Did Russia just put its man in the White House? Americans are furiously debating the question as intelligence reports leak, Donald Trump tweets his doubts and Congress vows to investigate. As analysts who have spent years studying Russia’s influence campaigns, we’re confident the spooks have it mostly right: The Kremlin ran a sophisticated, multilayered operation that aimed to sow chaos in the U.S. political system, if not to elect Trump outright. But you don’t need a security clearance or a background in spycraft to come to that conclusion. All you need to do is open your eyes. So how did Putin do it? It wasn’t by hacking election machines or manipulating the results, as some have suggested. That would be too crude. The Kremlin’s canny operatives didn’t change votes; they won them, influencing voters to choose Russia’s preferred outcome by pushing stolen information at just the right time—through slanted, or outright false stories on social media.
After a government report this summer recommended that British voters be required to provide identification, parliament will consider such a law early in the coming year. A Labour Party critic attributed the proposed legislation to the influence of Donald Trump and the Republican Party. Under a bill introduced by Chris Green, a Conservative MP from the northwestern city of Bolton, all British voters would have to show a photo ID document at polling stations. Green told the House of Commons in late November that as society changes, so traditional standards of trust have to be reassessed. He said the level of voter impersonation at polling stations is by its very nature difficult to gauge, but it appeared to be on the increase, particularly in areas with large, transient populations.