The Gambia: Electoral Commission Headquarters Still Under Siege | allAfrica

The headquarters of the Independent Electoral Commission is still occupied by personnel of the Police Intervention Unit. No one has been seen entering or leaving the premises. The reason why the IEC headquarters is being close is still not known to both the staff and the public as a whole but the fact remains that the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) is still on the same storyline as the previous days, that is it is under tight security and the watchful eyes of the PIU personnel. When this Foroyaa reporter got there on Tuesday 27th December, she observed that the premises was as quiet as a grave yard, with no one seen in the premises except some PIU personnel who seized the entire place, allowing no one to enter.

National: Obama administration is close to announcing measures to punish Russia for election interference | The Washington Post

The Obama administration is close to announcing a series of measures to punish Russia for its interference in the 2016 presidential election, including economic sanctions and diplomatic censure, according to U.S. officials. The administration is finalizing the details, which also are expected to include covert action that will probably involve cyber-operations, the officials said. An announcement on the public elements of the response could come as early as this week. The sanctions portion of the package culminates weeks of debate in the White House on how to revise a 2015 executive order that was meant to give the president authority to respond to cyberattacks from overseas but that did not cover efforts to influence the electoral system.

National: Intelligence agencies sued for records on Russian election interference | The Hill

A lawsuit has been filed against the CIA, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence seeking records pertaining to Russia’s interference in the presidential election. Journalist Jason Leopold and Ryan Shapiro, a Ph.D. candidate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Monday asserting that the agencies have failed to comply with their request for documents under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Editorials: When ‘fraud’ is just another word for disenfranchisement | Kevin J. Hamilton and Jonathan S. Berkon/The Washington Post

For years, “voter fraud” has been a conservative rallying cry, used to justify ever more demanding voter identification and registration requirements. During the post-election face-off between Republican incumbent Gov. Pat McCrory and Roy Cooper, the Democratic governor-elect, Republican claims of voter fraud were put to the test. With few exceptions, they rather dramatically failed. On election night, Cooper led by more than 4,900 votes out of more than 4.5 million cast. Thousands of absentee and provisional ballots remained to be counted. Yet rather than let the counting process naturally play out, McCrory launched a series of baseless fraud allegations against voters. The North Carolina Republican Party churned out daily warnings of “dead voters,” “double voting,” “absentee ballot mills” and “absentee ballot harvesting.” Sounded awful. The only problem: For the most part, it wasn’t true. Let’s start with “dead voters.” Sounds bad and conjures images of ballots fraudulently cast in the name of the deceased. Except that’s not what this was about. This allegation was actually about voters who were alive at the time they voted but had died before Nov. 8. But because they were not alive on Election Day, these votes could be challenged and disallowed. We can debate that approach, but it hardly constitutes fraud.

Colorado: After Bernie Sanders Delegate Issue, State Creates Open Primaries For Independent Voters | IBT

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed two ballot measures — Proposition 107 and Proposition 108 — into law Tuesday. The measures call for presidential primaries to be held every four years in the state and allow unaffiliated voters to cast their ballots in the primary elections. Proposition 107 was approved by 64 percent of voters during the Nov. 8 election. The measure is expected to increase spending in the secretary of state’s office by nearly $210,000 during 2018-2019 and by $2.7 million during 2019-2020, when the next presidential elections will be held at which time the presidential primaries will be conducted. Spending is expected to increase every four years. “I think that a caucus doesn’t allow all the people who want to have a voice to have one,” Jessie Koerner, spokeswoman of Let Colorado Vote, reportedly said. “Only five percent of eligible voters voted in the caucus. So that really shows you how few people are able to take part.”

Florida: Vote registration fraud investigation could be underway | Florida Record

The Miami-Dade Office of the State’s Attorney would neither confirm nor deny whether there is an open investigation into alleged voter fraud in Doral during the November general election. NBC 6 reported about 20 people are under investigation for allegedly using an office building in Doral as their voter registration address. County election officials say voters must live at the addresses they list on their registrations. Those who provide addresses for places where they don’t live are in violation of state law. County election officials referred all questions related to the alleged investigation to the state attorney’s office. “We can never confirm or deny the existence of any investigation,” Lissette Valdes-Valle, a spokeswoman for the state’s attorney office, told the Florida Record.

Ohio: Online voter registration to start in January | Journal-News

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has a New Year’s resolution he wants to see Ohioans make: register online to vote. And that can goal can be completed as soon as the Times Square Ball completes its New Year’s Eve descent. “It’s another positive step in trying to improve elections in America,” said Husted. “So when it strikes midnight, raise your glass in champagne, give a toast and register to vote.” Lawmakers approved Senate Bill 63 this past summer, which authorizes the state to implement online voter registration, and it will be live at midnight on Jan. 1 on the Ohio Secretary of State’s website. “It eliminates another excuse for not voting,” he said. “Nobody can say it’s too hard. You don’t have to leave home to participate in Ohio democracy now.”

Pennsylvania: After Lebanon County problems, Pennsylvania reexamines voting machines | Lebanon Daily News

In Lebanon County, several voters reported attempting to vote for the Republican Party straight ticket, only to have their review screen show that they were voting for the Democratic Party straight ticket. There were no confirmed cases of someone actually casting an incorrect ballot. Both Anderson and election experts blamed the problem on calibration issues with the voting machines – like an iPhone or other electronic device, the touchscreen machines have to be programmed to properly register human touch. … Calibration is not the only concern with the machines, however, said Daniel Lopresti, a professor and chair of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Lehigh University.

Tennessee: Attorney general: Ballot box selfie ban constitutional | The Tennessean

A 2015 law banning ballot box selfies does not violate Tennessee voters’ free speech rights, according to a formal opinion issued by the Tennessee attorney general. But the Memphis lawmaker who sought the opinion says he hopes to overturn the law after legislators reconvene in January. Justin Timberlake sparked debate over the little-known law in October, when he shared a selfie with 39 million-plus Instagram followers that showed him casting his ballot at the New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Germantown, near Memphis. Timberlake, who lives in California but recently bought property near Nashville, said he had no idea he was doing anything illegal.

Texas: Team at Rice builds machine to transform the way we vote | Houston Chronicle

The drumbeat of election rigging and foreign hacking of voting machines have energized ongoing efforts to develop a new model of digital election equipment designed to produce instantly verifiable results and dual records for security. Election experts say this emerging system, one of three publicly funded voting machine projects across the country, shows potential to help restore confidence in the country’s election infrastructure, most of which hasn’t been updated in more than a decade. “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. It’s taken years and years to get it done,” said Dana DeBeauvoir, the Travis County clerk and leader of the voting machine project. “Now that we’ve had this election, there’s renewed interest.” A prototype of the system, dubbed STAR Vote, sits in an engineering lab at Rice University, and bidding is open for manufacturers who want to produce it wholesale. Similar efforts to innovate voting systems are in the works in Los Angeles and San Francisco. “County clerks in these jurisdictions are the rock stars of running elections,” said Joe Kiniry, CEO of Free & Fair, an election systems supplier currently bidding on contracts to manufacture the designs of both Travis and Los Angeles counties. “If they have success in what they do, it will have, in my opinion, a massive impact on the whole U.S.”

Wisconsin: 2016 in review: Wisconsin’s presidential recount | WPR

Finalizing the outcome of the presidential election in Wisconsin proved difficult this year, with the state thrust into a national battle over recounting the results. Despite finishing fourth in the state’s presidential vote, Green Party nominee Jill Stein requested the recount Thanksgiving week. Stein campaign manager David Cobb said it was needed to give voters confidence in the outcome of the election – won by Republican President-elect Donald Trump. “We are not interested in trying to change the result of the election,” Cobb said. “We are interested in verifying the results of the election, and to ensure that there’s integrity.” The request came amid questions about possible Russian interference in the presidential election, and concerns that technology used to cast ballots on Election Day could have been “hacked” to change the outcome. While Stein’s campaign presented experts who explained how that could have happened, the campaign did not provide any actual evidence of outside interference.

Czech Republic: Government to fight ‘fake news’ with specialist unit | The Guardian

The Czech government is to set up a specialist “anti-fake news” unit as officials attempt to tackle falsehoods, predominantly about migrants, which they claim are spread by websites supported by the government of Russian president Vladimir Putin. The new unit will aim to counteract interference in the Czech Republic’s forthcoming general election, to be held in October, amid polling evidence that online disinformation is influencing public opinion and threatening to destabilise the country’s democratic system, established after the fall of communism in 1989. Although definite links are hard to prove, officials say they are convinced the Kremlin is behind about 40 Czech-language websites presenting radical views, conspiracy theories and inaccurate reports. The officials believe the objective is to transform the Czech Republic’s current status as a western-aligned country.

Montenegro: Prosecutors seek Russians, Serbians over election attack | AFP

Montenegro’s prosecutors said Tuesday they have issued international arrest warrants for two Russian and three Serbian nationals suspected of planning an anti-government attack during October’s parliamentary election. The five are wanted for “setting up a criminal organisation and attempted terrorism,” a statement from the prosecutor’s office said. A group of Serbians was arrested on the eve of Montenegro’s October 16 polling day and accused of plotting to seize parliament.

Somalia: Amid vote criticism, Somalia swears in new MPs | AFP

Somalia on Tuesday swore in new lawmakers after weeks of voting in a complex political process seen as its most democratic election in nearly five decades, despite significant flaws. The new parliament was inaugurated under tight security in Mogadishu two months after voting began. Lawmakers are expected to elect a president by secret ballot, however it was unclear when that would take place. The vote for president has been put off several times as a result of delays in the election of lawmakers due to clan disputes, accusations of fraud, and organisational challenges. Top election official Omar Mohamed Abdulle said 284 members of parliament were sworn in. Some lawmakers were absent while other seats were still subject to disputes.