National: The Electoral College Meets Today. Here’s What to Expect. | The New York Times

On Monday, 538 people will meet to determine who will be the next president. These meetings of the Electoral College, convened in every state and the District of Columbia just shy of six weeks after Election Day, have long been little more than a formality. But the victory of President-elect Donald J. Trump, who lost the popular vote but is projected to win the most electoral votes, has thrust the Electoral College into the spotlight once more. The conclusion of American intelligence agencies that Russia tried to intervene in the election to harm Hillary Clinton’s campaign has only intensified the focus in recent days. President Obama on Friday described the Electoral College — originally a compromise between those who wanted Congress to choose the president and those who favored a popular vote — as a “ vestige.” As electors gather in state capitols across the country, here is a rundown of what comes next.

National: Electoral college rebels speak out on a last-ditch hope to stop Trump | The Guardian

On Monday, the 538 members of the electoral college will gather in state capitols across the country to cast their votes for the next president of the United States. With 306 electoral college votes under his belt to Hillary Clinton’s 232, that person will almost certainly be Donald Trump. The iota of doubt that remains comes from an unprecedented eruption of discontent from electors, the body of 538 people chosen by the two main political parties to cast the electoral college vote. Under the peculiarities of the American system, the president is not chosen directly by a “one person-one vote” policy: indeed, Clinton won the popular vote on 8 November by some 2.9m ballots. Instead, it is the indirect electoral college vote, parceled out by a complicated formula and awarded to the candidate who won each state, that is the final arbiter of who occupies the White House. This year, at least eight of the 538 have indicated that they intend to break ranks with modern tradition and vote against their party in a protest directed squarely against Trump. All but one of those rebels are Democratic, which is not coincidental. Many of these Democrats see the electoral college as the last-ditch hope of stopping Trump – the idea being that if their example can encourage their Republican fellow electors to follow suit and rally around a compromise alternative candidate, the Trump presidency can yet be abated.

National: Election officials focus on whether voter ID laws contributed to Hillary Clinton’s defeat | Los Anegeles Times

Starting with John F. Kennedy’s victory over Richard Nixon in 1960, Delia Anderson had voted in 14 straight presidential elections. She had cast her ballot at the same polling place for years, never with a glitch. This year, however, a volunteer driving her to the polls mentioned that she would be asked to show a state-approved photo ID. “Don’t these poll people already know who I am?” replied Anderson, who is 77, black and uses a wheelchair, as she frantically sifted through her purse for anything to prove her identity. It was a lost cause. She had planned to vote for Hillary Clinton. Instead, for the first time in 56 years, she did not cast a ballot. “Lord, have mercy,” she said. “What happened to voting?” Such stories abound in Milwaukee, a Democratic stronghold in a state where Donald Trump won by 22,748 votes, a key victory in his path to the presidency. Now, voting rights advocates, elections officials and political experts have zeroed in on the city as a case study of whether controversial new rules requiring ID for voting — the kind used in several states in November for the first time in a presidential election — blocked vast numbers of largely young and racial minority Democrats from casting ballots and contributed to Clinton’s defeat.

National: All This Talk of Voter Fraud? Across U.S., Officials Found Next to None | The New York Times

After all the allegations of rampant voter fraud and claims that millions had voted illegally, the people who supervised the general election last month in states around the nation have been adding up how many credible reports of fraud they actually received. The overwhelming consensus: next to none. In an election in which more than 137.7 million Americans cast ballots, election and law enforcement officials in 26 states and the District of Columbia — Democratic-leaning, Republican-leaning and in-between — said that so far they knew of no credible allegations of fraudulent voting. Officials in another eight states said they knew of only one allegation. A few states reported somewhat larger numbers of fraud claims that were under review. Tennessee counted 40 credible allegations out of some 4.3 million primary and general election votes. In Georgia, where more than 4.1 million ballots were cast, officials said they had opened 25 inquiries into “suspicious voting or election-related activity.” But inquiries to all 50 states (every one but Kansas responded) found no states that reported indications of widespread fraud. And while additional allegations could surface as states wind up postelection reviews, their conclusions are unlikely to change significantly.

National: McCain calls for committee to investigate Russia hacking: ‘There’s no doubt’ of interference | The Washington Post

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Sunday again decried Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential race and called for a select Senate committee to investigate the country’s cyber activities during the election. On CNN’s “State of the Union,” McCain told host Jake Tapper that there was “no doubt” Russia interfered with the election. “We need to get to the bottom of this,” he said. “There’s no doubt they were interfering. There’s no doubt. The question is now, how much and what damage? And what should the United States of America do?” Earlier this month, the CIA concluded in a secret assessment that Russia meddled in the election to help Donald Trump win the presidency. FBI Director James B. Comey and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. agreed with the CIA’s assessment. Tapper asked whether McCain was concerned that Trump has not denounced Russia’s alleged interference — while maintaining a “friendly posture” toward Russian President Vladimir Putin.

National: Senators Push to Broaden Inquiry on Election Hacking | The New York Times

Pressure mounted on Sunday for a broader congressional investigation of Russian cyberattacks aimed at influencing the American election, even as a top aide to President-elect Donald J. Trump said there was no conclusive evidence of foreign interference. The effort was being led by a bipartisan group of senators, including John McCain, Republican of Arizona, and Chuck Schumer of New York, the Senate Democratic leader, who called on Sunday for the creation of a Senate select committee on cyberactivity to take the investigative lead on Capitol Hill. “Recent reports of Russian interference in our election should alarm every American,” the senators wrote on Sunday in a letter to Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, who has said a select committee is not necessary. “Cybersecurity is the ultimate cross-jurisdictional challenge, and we must take a comprehensive approach to meet this challenge effectively.” The developments served to deepen the fissures between high-ranking lawmakers of both parties who see American intelligence reports implicating Russia as the basis for additional inquiries and Mr. Trump, who continues to reject the conclusions of those reports.

National: Why Trump’s assertion that hackers can’t be caught after an attack is wrong | Business Insider

Even though hackers responsible for the cyberattack on the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton’s campaign weren’t caught in the act, it doesn’t mean they can’t be identified as President-elect Donald Trump has asserted. Michael Borohovski, a cybersecurity expert with experience working with the intelligence community and Chief Technology Officer of Tinfoil Security, says investigators have methods of uncovering the identity of attackers long after they’re gone. “It’s actually significantly harder to catch somebody in the act than it is to catch somebody after the fact,” Borohovski told Business Insider. “Unfortunately it’s not like in the movies where as soon as someone is attacking, big red alarms go off.” In a Fox News interview last weekend, Trump cast doubt on the CIA’s recent findings that Russia was involved in cyberattacks against the Democratic Party to help him win the election, calling it “ridiculous” and an excuse for the opposing party’s loss.

National: How a Putin Fan Overseas Pushed Pro-Trump Propaganda to Americans | The New York Times

The Patriot News Agency website popped up in July, soon after it became clear that Donald J. Trump would win the Republican presidential nomination, bearing a logo of a red, white and blue eagle and the motto “Built by patriots, for patriots.” Tucked away on a corner of the site, next to links for Twitter and YouTube, is a link to another social media platform that most Americans have never heard of: VKontakte, the Russian equivalent of Facebook. It is a clue that Patriot News, like many sites that appeared out of nowhere and pumped out pro-Trump hoaxes tying his opponent Hillary Clinton to Satanism, pedophilia and other conspiracies, is actually run by foreigners based overseas. But while most of those others seem be the work of young, apolitical opportunists cashing in on a conservative appetite for viral nonsense, operators of Patriot News had an explicitly partisan motivation: getting Mr. Trump elected. Patriot News — whose postings were viewed and shared tens of thousands of times in the United States — is among a constellation of websites run out of the United Kingdom that are linked to James Dowson, a far-right political activist who advocated Britain’s exit from the European Union and is a fan of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. A vocal proponent of Christian nationalist, anti-immigrant movements in Europe, Mr. Dowson, 52, has spoken at a conference of far-right leaders in Russia and makes no secret of his hope that Mr. Trump will usher in an era of rapprochement with Mr. Putin.

Editorials: The Painfully Vulnerable Election System and Rampant Security Theater | James Scott/ICIT

The first step to correcting the plague of cyber-kinetic vulnerabilities riddling our election system is to admit these problems exist, then bring in qualified personnel to expediently patch vulnerabilities, upgrade technologies and erect cyber defenses around the perimeters of targeted technologies such as manufacturer updates, voting machines and scanners, state websites, state servers and local and state tabulators. This quick blog post is a last attempt by cybersecurity experts to influence local and state election officials to patch the listed vulnerabilities existing within their space that could hinder the natural outcome of the election process. Figure 3 in this post is a checklist for state officials to use when analyzing their networks for vulnerabilities pre-election. The results of the 2016 elections will decide: the next President of the United States, the majority control of the Senate, the potential to appoint up to four Supreme Court justices, and numerous state and local level positions. While political tensions and opinionated discourse run rampant in the days before the election, it is paramount to the continued solidarity of the United States of America, that the integrity of the election process remains demonstratively uncompromised. Election systems are vulnerable at the local, state, and manufacturer level. The decentralization of the U.S. election system offers no benefit to security. The fallacy of the decentralization argument is the conclusion that because systems are not networked at the state level, the result of the national election cannot be affected. This simply is not the case. All decentralization means is that while some states secure election systems to various degrees according to the modern threat landscape, other states barely secure systems at all. Security through obscurity is not a defense. As discussed the Hacking Elections is Easy! report series, an adversary who targets local machines in a pivotal county of a swing state or that targets a state tabulation system directly, can significantly impact the results of a national election through the results of the target state. Local and State level election systems are vulnerable to exploit due to black-box proprietary code, exploitable features and insecure design, vulnerable removable media, interconnectivity, and antiquated cybersecurity strategies. With mere days before Election Day, state and local election officials have limited options available to mitigate a tide of partisan backlash and allegations of fraudulent results.

Editorials: GOP electors should demand intel briefing on Russian hacking, too | Brent Budowsky/The Hill

The CIA, the FBI and the Director of National Intelligence now agree that Russia engaged in aggressive covert action to affect the presidential election and hoped to achieve the election of Donald Trump as president and commander in chief by doing so. Every Republican elector should join the large and growing number of electors who have called for a full intelligence briefing about the extent and purpose of Russian attacks on American democracy, Russia’s interference in the recently concluded presidential campaign and Russia’s desire to elect Trump on Election Day. A large and growing number of Electoral College electors have already called on Obama administration intelligence officials to provide them with an intelligence briefing about the Russian role in the election. However, it is inexcusable that most GOP electors have not joined them. GOP electors should be asked by the media and voters in their states: Do you care if the Russians engaged in espionage for the purpose of electing Trump?

Voting Blogs: Voting with Risk-Limiting Audits: Better, Faster, Cheaper | EFF

After extensive ups and downs, the election recount efforts in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania have concluded. The main lesson: ballot audits should be less exciting and less expensive. Specifically, we need to make audits an ordinary, non-partisan part of every election, done efficiently and quickly, so they are not subject to emergency fundraising and last-minute debates over their legitimacy. The way to do that is clear: make risk-limiting audits part of standard election procedure. After this year’s election, EFF joined many election security researchers in calling for a recount of votes in three key states. This was partly because of evidence that hackers affected other parts of the election (not directly related to voting machines). But more than that, it was based long-standing research showing that electronic voting machines and optical scanners are subject to errors and manipulation that could sway an election. In response to that call, Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s campaign raised more than $7 million to fund the recounts.

Colorado: Electors appeal to state Supreme Court to vote against Hillary Clinton | Denver Post

A group of Colorado Democratic electors seeking to vote against Hillary Clinton in defiance of the state’s popular vote are asking the Colorado Supreme Court to set aside a Denver judge’s ruling allowing the Secretary of State to replace them. The petition, filed with the state Supreme Court on Thursday, is the latest legal maneuver to arise from the group known as the “Hamilton Electors,” a movement aimed at blocking Republican businessman Donald Trump from the presidency by forcing an Electoral College deadlock. On Tuesday, the Denver District Court dealt a blow to the movement, ruling that state law requires electors to vote for the presidential and vice presidential candidates who received the most votes in the state. Denver District Judge Elizabeth Starrs also ruled that the Colorado Secretary of State can replace any elector that violates that law.

Maine: Recount bid ends, clearing way for legal marijuana in Maine | Bangor Daily News

The campaign that opposed a referendum seeking to legalize marijuana for recreational use in Maine abandoned its recount effort Saturday afternoon, clearing the way for Maine to become the latest state to allow use of the drug for nonmedical purposes. The citizen-initiated legalization effort appeared as Question 1 on the Nov. 8 ballot. Unofficial results showed the question winning by less than 1 percentage point, the closest contest on a ballot that included four other citizen-initiated referendums and a bond question.That narrow margin prompted opponents of legalization — organized as Mainers Protecting Our Youth and Communities — to ask the secretary of state to conduct a statewide recount. After a weekslong process that required ballots from all over the state to be collected and delivered to Augusta, the recount began earlier this month.

Michigan: Detroit’s election woes: 782 more votes than voters | Detroit Free Press

Whether the result of machine malfunction, human error or even fraud, the unexplained voting discrepancies in Detroit last month were not sizable enough to affect the outcome in Michigan of the presidential election, according to a new Free Press analysis of voting precinct records. In 248 precincts, there were a total of 782 more votes tabulated by voting machines than the number of voters listed as picking up ballots in the precincts’ poll books. That makes up just three-tenths of 1% of the total 248,211 votes that were logged in Detroit for the presidential election. That number was far too small to swing the statewide election results, even in this year’s especially tight race that saw a Republican win Michigan for the first time since George Bush in 1988. Donald Trump carried Michigan by 10,704 votes, or 47.5% to 47.3%, according to the final results submitted to the Michigan Secretary of State. But in Detroit, Democrat Hillary Clinton trounced Trump, winning 95% of the vote to his 3%.

Minnesota: State Switches from Caucus to Primary Election System | Alpha News

Starting with the 2020 presidential race, Minnesota will replace its caucus system with a primary election. The change will allow Minnesotans to vote all day instead of having to show up at a specific time on a precinct caucus night. March 3, 2020 is the date set for the first presidential primary, unless an agreement is reached by state leaders to change the date. The state’s political parties may still choose to hold caucuses, and the primary election for other federal, state and local office will continue to be held in August. Over the past few presidential election years, Minnesota’s caucus system has been criticized by some as a means for the parties to prevent some people from engaging in voting for lesser-known candidates or those not supported by party leadership. The caucus format also was viewed as less-accessible for some voters: instead of having a full day to vote, people were required to show up to their precinct caucus during a specific window of time if they wanted their vote counted. Long lines and limited space in many of the caucus locations frustrated many voters and were viewed as a way for party elites to “skew” election turnout.

New Hampshire: Abandoning same-day voter registration could be expensive | New Hampshire Union Leader

When it comes to achieving one of Governor-elect Chris Sununu’s top priorities – reforming New Hampshire’s election laws – the Newfields Republican is presented with a troublesome bargain. It’s possible that he could convince the Republican-led Legislature to get rid of the state’s same day voter registration law which he says is too “loose” and makes us more vulnerable to fraud. But in so doing, he’ll likely have to accept even more expansive and expensive access for the public to register to vote, a trade off which many of his fellow conservatives will not like. “This presents a whole host of not only expensive, several million dollars to pay for it, but a lot of undesirable things as well,” said State Rep. David Bates, R-Windham, who has authored more than a dozen other bills to overhaul election laws in 2017. “I don’t think it would resolve the concerns but it would introduce other problems.”

North Carolina: Governor Signs Law Limiting Successor’s Power | The New York Times

Amid a tense and dramatic backdrop of outrage and frustration, North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature on Friday approved a sweeping package of restrictions on the power of the governor’s office in advance of the swearing in of the Democratic governor-elect, Roy Cooper. Protesters spent a second day chanting and disrupting debate, as some were arrested and led away from the state legislative building in plastic wrist restraints. Democratic lawmakers repeatedly referred to the move as a “power grab” carried out by a Republican Party upset that their candidate, Gov. Pat McCrory, had lost the governor’s race. Republicans countered by emphasizing that they had suffered similar indignities for many decades when Democrats controlled the legislature here. State Senator Chad Barefoot, a Republican, said that the changes return “power that was grabbed during Democratic administrations in the 1990s, and some in the ’70s.” But some here said that Republicans’ effort to hobble the incoming governor had few parallels in recent North Carolina history.

Ohio: Stark County residents sue to keep state Rep. Christina Hagan out of Electoral College | Cleveland Plain Dealer

Two Stark County residents have filed a complaint against Republican state Rep. Christina Hagan, looking to keep her from voting for president as a member of the Electoral College. The complaint, filed in Stark County Court of Common Pleas by Andrew Diliddo Jr. and Hagan’s former Democratic opponent, Deborah Cain, says if Hagan were to participate as a presidential elector she would violate the Ohio Constitution. The state constitution prohibits a General Assembly member from serving as a federal or other state official unless that person resigns from their assembly seat, the complaint says. Hagan has not resigned, the complaint says. Cain ran against Hagan, who represents Ohio’s 50th statehouse district, in the 2014 election.

Editorials: Pennsylvania’s voting system is one of the worst | Candice Hoke/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

In May 2006, Cleveland and Cuyahoga County, Ohio, launched an e-voting system, producing a nationally notorious election disaster in which every technical and management system failed. One of the largest election jurisdictions in the nation, the county used DRE touchscreens similar to Allegheny County’s. When the election tabulation database grew beyond what it was designed to handle — a flaw concealed by the manufacturer — it silently began dropping votes and other data, without notifying officials. An accurate recount was possible, however, because Ohio had required paper printouts of voters’ e-ballots. Recounts showed that some previously announced winners actually had lost. The hidden software problem did not extinguish anyone’s voting rights only because there was a paper trail. Experts in election technology have pointed out that most Pennsylvania counties — including Allegheny — use e-voting systems that have been outlawed by most states. The chief reason? The omission of voter-approved paper printouts that can be recounted and that allow for audits to check on the accuracy of the electronic machines. Even when voting systems are aged and vulnerable to hacking or tampering, durable paper ballots combined with quality-assurance audits can ensure trustworthy results. Cuyahoga County election officials, like many around the nation, have learned that, even though their voting machines are certified and function perfectly one day, on another day they may fail to count accurately. Software bugs — especially from updates, malware and errors in programming — can lead to unpredictable inaccuracies. Cuyahoga County now conducts an audit after every election, using paper ballots, which most Pennsylvania counties are unable to do.

The Gambia: West African leaders aim to enforce Gambian election upset | Associated Press

West African leaders promised Saturday to enforce the results of a Gambian election that was won by a little-known businessman backed by an opposition coalition but rejected by the country’s longtime coup leader. A summit of the Economic Community of West African States ended with all leaders stating they will attend the Jan. 19 inauguration of Gambia’s new president, Adama Barrow. They also pledged to “guarantee the safety and protection of the president-elect,” who has said he fears for his life. Gambian President Yahya Jammeh surprised his fellow citizens by conceding defeat the day after the Dec. 1 vote, and then changed his mind and called for a new election. The United Nations, the United States and the African Union have all condemned the move.

Germany: Russian influence looms over Germany’s election |

Long before the CIA and FBI came to the public conclusion last week that the Kremlin had interfered in the U.S. presidential election with the aim of helping Donald Trump, a senior German intelligence official told colleagues that Russia was interfering in German politics. The federal security agency had observed “active measures” from Russia to influence public opinion, Thomas Haldenwang, the deputy president of the domestic security agency BfV, warned senior German security officials at a conference in Berlin in June. The aim, Haldenwang said, was “to influence public perception and opinion in our country, to the detriment of the German government.” With elections due for next year, government officials now fear that Russian President Vladimir Putin has trained his sights on Chancellor Angela Merkel, one of the most visible critics of Russia’s involvement in Syria and Ukraine, as the next target for a Kremlin misinformation campaign. During a press conference earlier this month, Merkel, who will run for office again next year, said that cyberattacks and a misinformation campaign during the election were “possible.” Konstantin von Notz, the Green party’s spokesperson on internet policy in the German parliament, was blunter. “There’s a real danger that the bitter experience of the U.S. election could be repeated here,” he said.

Ivory Coast: Opposition seeks return to political mainstream in polls | Reuters

Voters in Ivory Coast cast their ballots in parliamentary polls on Sunday as the main opposition party sought to break President Alassane Ouattara’s near monopoly of the legislature in the West African nation. The Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), the largest opposition party, has largely boycotted politics since a 2011 war which saw then President Laurent Gbagbo, its founder, ousted and many of its leaders jailed. “We are confident that after this legislative vote, the FPI will make a remarkable and important return with a parliamentary majority,” FPI President Pascal Affi N’Guessan told Reuters. The FPI is fielding 186 candidates for the 255 parliament seats and is expected to make a strong showing. Ouattara’s supporters hold about 85 percent of seats in the outgoing National Assembly. Outtara said he expected Ivory Coast to have a “diversified parliament” after the polls and called for candidates to remain calm and respect results, due by Monday.