Montana: Republicans Attack Their Own Bill Because It Makes Voting Too Easy | The Daily Banter

It’s no secret that when more people vote, Republicans lose. This is the reason the GOP works so hard to suppress voting rights under the guise of “protecting our elections from voter fraud.” However, even though we all know this is true, right-wing lawmakers never openly admit it–until now. In December, President Donald Trump announced that he has chosen Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke to head the Interior Department in his administration. As a result, Zinke’s congressional seat–the only one in the state– will be left vacant and have to be filled with a special election in the Spring. There’s a problem though: the counties in the state are having a hard time finding the money for a special election. Because of this budget issue, State Senator Steve Fitzpatrick introduced SB 305, a bipartisan bill that would allow counties to use mail-in ballots for the election.

Montana: Accusations Of Voter Suppression Fly Ahead Of Montana Special Election | MTPR

Accusations of voter suppression are already flying ahead of Montana’s anticipated special election. That would be held after Congressman Ryan Zinke vacates his seat, pending Senate confirmation of his appointment to become secretary of the interior. The cost of this special election falls on county governments, and many say they are too broke to set up polling places after the election last November. “We’re going to have to rob money out of another budget to pay for this election.” That’s Duane Mitchell, a Richland County commissioner, speaking in support of a Republican-sponsored bill on Tuesday that would allow counties to scrap most polling places and run the special election as a mail-in-ballot. “It would save us, we figure, $6,000 – $8,000.” It could also increase voter turnout, according to Montana GOP Chairman Jeff Essmann. And that, he says, could cost Republicans the election.

New Hampshire: New state Senate GOP voter registration plan tightens proof-of-residency requirements | WMUR

“Trust, but verify,” she said. “We trust you, but we want you to bring in proof.” The second-term Hampstead Republican, who chairs the Senate Election Law and Internal Affairs Committee, shared with the basics of her long-awaited amendment to Senate Bill 3 Thursday. “My constituents have been clamoring for this,” she said. Her bill requires that anyone who registers to vote within 30 days of an election, or on Election Day, present definitive proof of residency in the state. Those who do not can still vote but would be required to provide proof of residency to town and city clerks no more than 10 or 30 days after the election, depending on where they live. It’s a shorter turnaround requirement than under current law, and the follow-up provision in her bill would allow police on routine patrol to visit a home to seek proof of residency from the voter. Election law reform has been among the biggest issues at the State House this year in the aftermath of the 2016 election. It was drawing the attention of Gov. Chris Sununu and lawmakers even before President Donald Trump put New Hampshire in the national spotlight two weeks ago by making an unsubstantiated claim that that thousands of people were bused into the state from Massachusetts and voted illegally.

Texas: Plaintiffs oppose Texas and Justice Department effort to delay hearing on Photo ID law | Asian American Press

Groups and individuals suing Texas over its strict photo ID law filed a brief in U.S. District Court Thursday in opposition to a joint request by the state and the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), who asked to delay a hearing to determine whether the law was enacted with a discriminatory intent. The state and DOJ said in their request that a bill had been filed in the Texas Legislature which, if passed, would amend the existing strict law. Courts have held four times that the current law discriminates against African Americans and Latinos. In opposing the request, plaintiffs argue that the contents of the new legislation are speculative at this point, and that the bill has not yet been passed. Even if passed into law, the bill “has no bearing on whether SB 14, enacted in 2011, was passed with unlawful discriminatory purpose,” they wrote. The intent hearing was ordered by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals last summer when it ruled that the Texas law had a discriminatory effect.

International: Will Hackers Continue To Run Wild In 2017? | Wisconsin Public Radio

Hackers seemed to be running wild in 2016, from the leaking of the Panama Papers to the compromising of more than 1 billion Yahoo accounts, it wasn’t a good year for digital security. But, of course, the biggest cybersecurity story of the year very well may be the influence of Russian hacking on the United States presidential election – which U.S. intelligence agencies concluded were aimed at helping Donald Trump win – and its threat to undermine the foundations of American democracy. Lily Hay Newman, a security writer for WIRED, said Russia’s success in hacking the Democratic National Committee – which she described as a highly unsophisticated hack – and proliferating fake news to misinform voters may embolden its cadre of digital intruders to expand their reach. “Expect them to replicate their influence operations ahead of elections next year in Germany, the Netherlands and France, and potentially to even try new tricks like data sabotage or attacks on physical infrastructure,” Newman wrote.

France: Is Putin supporting Le Pen to bring about the end of the EU? | Sky News

Russia’s meddling in the US election is well documented. It is now accused of doing the same in France. France is a more important target for Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader abhors the idea of blocs of countries acting together. Multi-national groupings like the EU give their members a combined clout he cannot match leading a country whose economy is no bigger than Italy’s. It makes sense for Mr Putin to seek the break-up of the European Union. His intervention in the US elections helped bring to power a man who championed Brexit and whose rhetoric undermines the EU. Mr Putin knows Marine Le Pen can helped deliver his strategic goals in Europe. The far-right French presidential candidate has threatened to pull France out of the eurozone and a hold referendum on EU membership. Many economists doubt the single European currency can survive the former and predict an ensuing economic catastrophe across Europe. The EU is also unlikely to remain intact if a majority of French people voted for a Frexit.

Germany: Voting rights group decries migrant exclusion | Deutsche Welle

Seven months out from Germany’s September election, Citizens For Europe began its campaign Thursday by concluding that only 2.9 percent of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative parliamentarians had migrant backgrounds. That compared with 21 percent of Germany’s 82 million inhabitants having migratory origins, including people of color. In the Bundestag as a whole, the migrant origin quota was only 5.9 percent, Citizens for Europe (CFE) concluded. In a graphic video focusing first on her Christian Democrats and allied Bavaria Christian Social Union, CFE depicts 9 CDU/CSU parliamentarians with migrant backgrounds, compared to 302 without. And, it asks, how representative is the conservative Bundestag parliamentary group? It’s currently led by CDU whip Volker Kauder, a close aide to Merkel. Further videos on other parties, including the Social Democrats, would follow, said Citizens for Europe, which describes itself as a “non-partisan” group formed in 2010 by committed and young citizens in the EU.

Montenegro: Djukanovic Says Russia Trying To Destabilize Balkans | InSerbia News

Montenegro’s former prime minister accused Russia of seeking to destabilize the Balkans following a thwarted attempt to overthrow Podgorica’s pro-Western government. Milo Djukanovic, who stepped down after an alleged plot emerged on election day in October aimed at preventing the small Balkan country from joining NATO, said that pro-Moscow groups “harnessed a lot of destructive material toward Montenegro” in that coup attempt. Montenegro is now “in the line” of Moscow’s attempts to expand its influence in the Balkans, and pro-Russian opposition parties are ready to use “bloodshed and a coup” to install a pro-Kremlin government, Djukanovic said on February 21 in an address to Socialist Democratic Party youth in Niksic.

Editorials: Russia’s assault on America’s elections is just one example of a global threat | David Ignatius/The Washington Post

One of the most startling allegations in a January report by U.S. intelligence agencies about Russian hacking was this sentence: “Russia has sought to influence elections across Europe.” This warning of a campaign far broader than the United States got little attention in America. We may be missing the forest for the trees in the Russia story: The Kremlin’s attempt to meddle in the 2016 U.S. presidential election is part of a much bigger tale of Russian covert action — in which Donald Trump’s campaign was perhaps a tool, witting or unwitting. This secret manipulation, if unchecked, could pose an “existential threat” to Western democracy, argues Gérard Araud, France’s ambassador to Washington. The investigations begun by the FBI and Congress hopefully will reveal or debunk any connections between the Trump team and Russia’s hidden manipulators. A larger benefit is that these inquiries will bolster transatlantic efforts to reclaim the political space the Kremlin is trying to infiltrate. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said last weekend in Munich that the world is entering the “post-West” era. Unless the United States stands solidly with its allies, Lavrov’s claim may prove accurate.

United Kingdom: Election watchdog probes spending by EU referendum campaign groups | The Telegraph

Investigations have been launched into the spending returns of both lead campaigns in last year’s EU referendum, Stronger In and Vote Leave, the Electoral Commission watchdog has announced. New figures reveal that a total of more than £32 million was spent on the campaign, with the Leave side funded by donations totalling £16.4 million outgunning the Remain side’s £15.1 million. The spending returns show that the Brexit battle was the most expensive referendum ever fought in British political history, said the Commission. After its initial inspection of spending returns from both sides, the Commission found that neither Stronger In nor Vote Leave had submitted all the necessary invoices and receipts to back up their accounts. The watchdog also said details of suppliers were missing for some payments.