National: Democrats move to give grants to states for boosting voting security, access to polls | The Hill

A pair of Democratic lawmakers introduced legislation on Tuesday that would give federal grants to states to boost voting system security and increase voter access to elections. Reps. Gerry Connolly (Va.) and Jim Langevin (R.I.) introduced the Fair, Accurate, Secure, and Timely (FAST) Voting Act to improve voter participation and voting system security and encourage automatic voter registration. “Access to the ballot is fundamental to American democracy,” Connolly said in a statement. “In recent years, several states have taken action to restrict the franchise under the guise of preventing ‘voter fraud.’ America doesn’t have a voter fraud problem; we have a participation problem. Rather than erect barriers, we should be looking for innovative ways to expand the franchise and streamline the voting process.” Connolly appeared to buck President Trump’s claim of widespread voter fraud during the 2016 presidential election.

National: House Oversight Committee Won’t Investigate Trump’s Voter Fraud Claims | NBC

The House Oversight Committee will not investigate President Donald Trump’s unproven claims of wide-spread voter fraud during the 2016 election, Chairman Jason Chaffetz said Tuesday. Speaking on CNN, the Utah representative said he does not see any evidence to back up Trump’s tweets. “We can’t just investigate everything that’s ever thrown out there by the Democrats, by the Republicans. We have to pick and choose,” he said. Trump has repeatedly, and without evidence, pushed claims that millions of ballots were cast illegally in the 2016 election and called for a probe into the issue. Days after his inauguration, Trump tweeted: “I will be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD, including those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal and even, those registered to vote who are dead.”

National: House Intelligence Committee sets date for first Russia hearing | The Hill

The House Intelligence Committee will hold its first public hearing in its contentious investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election on March 20, Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) announced Tuesday. The hearing is scheduled for the same day that Senate is set to begin its own high-stakes hearing to weigh the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to fill the vacant slot on the Supreme Court. A preliminary witness list, which Nunes cautioned may be modified or expanded as necessary, includes a who’s-who of current and former senior intelligence officials linked to the probe. Invited to testify are: FBI Director James Comey, National Security Agency head Adm. Mike Rogers, former CIA director John Brennan, former national intelligence director James Clapper, former acting attorney general Sally Yates and two senior officials from the cybersecurity firm that first put the finger on the Russians for the breach of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

Arkansas: Lawmakers refer voter ID proposal to 2018 ballot | Arkansas News

Lawmakers on Tuesday referred to the November 2018 ballot a proposed constitutional amendment to require voters to show photo identification at the polls. House Joint Resolution 1016 by Rep. Robin Lundstrum, R-Springdale, passed in the Senate in a 24-8 vote. The House approved the measure last month in a 73-21 vote, so Senate approval was the final hurdle the resolution had to clear to make the ballot. Sen. Larry Teague, D-Nashville, was the only Democrat to join Republicans in voting for the measure. No Republican voted against it, although some did not vote.

Florida: Legislation that would make Secretary of State an elected position advances | Florida Politics

Historically, the Secretary of State in Florida was elected by the public, but that changed in 1998, when constitutional changes removed that position from the elected Cabinet of the executive branch. Now, 19 years later, Fernandina Beach Republican Sen. Aaron Bean wants to bring that position back into the Cabinet. At the Senate Committee on Ethics and Elections meeting on Tuesday, Bean told his colleagues that the main motivation for his joint resolution (SB 882) is to add another member to the Cabinet, which currently consists of four members – the governor, attorney general, chief financial officer and agriculture commissioner.

California: Proposal would lower voting age to 17 | San Jose Mercury News

California would become the first state in the nation to allow 17-year-olds to vote in a general election under a proposed state constitutional amendment introduced this week by a Silicon Valley legislator. In 1971, 18-year-olds across the United States won the right to vote through the 26th Amendment. But the U.S. Constitution doesn’t prevent states from further lowering the voting age, notes the measure’s main sponsor, Assemblyman Evan Low, D-Cupertino. Allowing citizens to vote while they’re still in high school will help to establish their voting habits early, before their transition to college or work, argues Low, who heads the Assembly Committee on Elections and Redistricting.

Massachusetts: Republican Bill Would Allow State To Cover Early Voting Costs | WAMC

Republicans in the Massachusetts Senate want to reimburse cities and towns for the state-mandated costs of last year’s early voting program. Early voting in the 2016 election in Massachusetts cost the state’s municipalities an estimated $720,000 in expenses mandated by the state. Republican State Senator Don Humason of Westfield said legislation that is to be filed this week by the Senate’s minority party will allow cities and towns to seek some financial assurance following the introduction of early voting. “Now that the program has been implemented and was successful and we’ve had time to look back on it, I think it is a good idea our caucus files this bill,” he said Tuesday.

New Hampshire: Bill would add new requirements to prove voter eligibility | Associated Press

A Republican-backed election law bill is drawing criticism for a provision that says local police might visit people’s homes to verify they are legally eligible to vote. “This is a very hard thing for the League of Women Voters to watch, an attempt to change voting laws based on unsubstantiated claims and fears of widespread voter fraud,” Liz Tentarelli, president of the league’s New Hampshire chapter, testified Tuesday during a public hearing on the Senate bill. The bill aims to put stricter scrutiny on people who register to vote on Election Day or within 30 days of its arrival by requiring them to show verifiable proof that they intend to live in the state. Proof would include a driver’s license, evidence of residence at a university, a lease or deed, or a handful of other items. One provision in the bill says volunteering on a political campaign counts as a “temporary purpose” and, on its own, doesn’t qualify someone to vote in New Hampshire.

Ecuador: General Fired by Correa Claims Vote Security Was Breached | PanAm Post

Former Ecuadorian general Luis Castro Ayala warned of a lack of transparency and security breaches with regard to the vote count during the nation’s elections on February 19. According to Castro Ayala, the Ecuadorian Army was not involved in the chain of custody of the ballot boxes after the voting had concluded. He alleges that the chain of custody should always count on the presence of the armed forces in order to safeguard the popular will. Castro Ayala says it is necessary to analyze “the participation and responsibility of the institution during the electoral process, considering respect for Constitutional order and the will of the people manifested at the polls.”

France: Insurgents Thrust Establishment Aside in Crucial Vote | Bloomberg

The old order is fading in France. Every election since Charles de Gaulle founded the Fifth Republic more than half a century ago has seen at least one of the major parties in the presidential runoff and most have featured both. With Republicans and Socialists consumed by infighting and voters thoroughly fed up, polls suggest that neither will make it this year. For the past month, survey after survey has projected a decider between Emmanuel Macron, a 39-year-old rookie who doesn’t even have a party behind him, and Marine Le Pen, who’s been ostracized throughout her career because of her party’s history of racism. “We’ve gone as far as we can go with a certain way of doing politics,” said Brice Teinturier, head of the Ipsos polling company and author of a book on voters’ disillusionment. “Everyone feels the system is blocked.”

Netherlands: Election results to come 6 days after March 15 vote | Politico

The Dutch Electoral Council Tuesday updated its procedures for the March 15 parliamentary elections. Official results will be announced March 21, but preliminary figures will be available election night. The Electoral Council said they’d allow the communes and regional offices to use software to tally votes, in parallel to manual counting. Dutch officials will still have to transfer the results from some 9,000 polling stations and regional electoral headquarters to The Hague by hand, but the people counting the votes will be able to use the oft-criticized “supporting election software” instead of working with spreadsheets.

Russia: Cyber attacks and election interference by Russia are acts of aggression says Nato chief | International Business Times

Nato’s principle of collective defence, should be widened to include fake news and cyber hacking, the alliance’s top British officer has said, suggesting that recent moves by Russia be considered acts of aggression. In the wake of Russia’s alleged interference in the US election, European spy agencies fear that Moscow is also involved in meddling in ballots in Germany, France and the Netherlands amid concern that it seeks to promote populist parties. General Sir Adrian Bradshaw said that disinformation and interference could come under the remit of Article 5 of Nato’s treaty. The 1949 founding article specifies defence against an armed attack, but its critics argue that it does not take into account the nature of hybrid 21st century warfare.

Russia: US bill to target Russia’s possible influence in European elections | The Guardian

A bipartisan resolution in the House of Representatives targeting Russia for its role in election hacking will be announced on Wednesday. The bill, introduced by Republican congressman Peter Roskam of Illinois and Democrat congressman David Cicilline of Rhode Island, will declare that it is US policy “to sanction entities and individuals within Russia or associated with the Russian Government engaged in hacking, cyber-attacks, and propaganda campaigns with the intention of interfering in democratic elections”. The legislation comes after bipartisan concern about the Russian role in influencing the 2016 election through hacking, including of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. But the proposed legislation is forward-looking and is focused on potential Russian interference in European elections in 2017 including the upcoming presidential election in France, rather than the 2016 cyberattacks, which are currently being investigated by multiple congressional committees.