The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, took the extraordinary step on Monday of announcing that the agency is investigating whether members of President Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election. Mr. Comey’s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee created a treacherous political moment for Mr. Trump, who has insisted that “Russia is fake news” that was cooked up by his political opponents to undermine his presidency. Mr. Comey placed a criminal investigation at the doorstep of the White House and said officers would pursue it “no matter how long that takes.” Joined by Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, Mr. Comey also dismissed Mr. Trump’s claim that he was wiretapped by his predecessor during the campaign, a sensational accusation that has served as a distraction in the public debate over Russian election interference. Taken together, the two provided the most definitive statement yet that Mr. Trump’s accusation was false.
National: Russian hackers were likely surprised by blowback from cyberattacks on U.S. elections, analysts say | Los Angeles Times
The Russian cyberattacks that targeted last year’s U.S. presidential elections were as much about wanting to keep Hillary Clinton out of the White House as about proving to the world that the Kremlin was capable of pulling off this feat, a leading Russian expert on cybersecurity said Monday. “Russian hackers deliberately tried to weaken positions of Hillary Clinton,” said Andrei Soldatov, author of a 2015 book on the Kremlin’s cyberwars against its critics. “She was seen as Russia’s enemy No. 1, a person who inspired Moscow protests [against President Vladimir Putin], a person who would harm Russia the most.” But Moscow may have miscalculated the fallout of its intrusion, which has so far led to resignation of a high-ranking U.S. official, congressional investigations and a bipartisan circling of the wagons around the need to protect the integrity of America’s democracy, several leading Russia experts said.
Future U.S. elections may very well face more Russian attempts to interfere with the outcome, the FBI and the National Security Agency warned on Monday. “They’ll be back,” said FBI director James Comey. “They’ll be back in 2020. They may be back in 2018.” Comey made the comment during a congressional hearing on Russia’s suspected efforts to meddle with last year’s presidential election. Allegedly, cyberspies from the country hacked several high-profile Democratic groups and people, in an effort to tilt the outcome in President Donald Trump’s favor. Although Russia has denied any involvement, the FBI expects the country to strike again. “One of the lessons they [Russia] may draw from this is they were successful,” Comey said. “Because they introduced chaos and division and discord.” NSA director Michael Rogers agreed: “I fully expect them to continue this level of activity.”
Alabama Democrats last week filed their proposals to redraw the state’s House and Senate district maps to address a January court ruling that struck down 12 legislative districts due to improper use of race in their construction. “This is the Alabama Legislative Black Caucus’ proposal,” said Rep. John Knight, D-Montgomery, the sponsor of the House bill, whose district was one of the 12 ruled unconstitutional. “If they’ve got better ideas, different ideas, let’s start the process of drawing constitutional districts.” The proposed map redraws “a majority” of the House’s 105 districts, Knight said. Sen. Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, co-chair of the Permanent Legislative Committee on Reapportionment, said Monday the committee might look at drawing more districts.
In the last Legislature, a Democrat-sponsored bill aimed at increasing voter turnout in Alaska, especially in the Bush. It didn’t get a single hearing in the Republican-led House of Representatives. Now, Rep. Chris Tuck, an Anchorage Democrat, is in a powerful position leading the new House majority, and has reintroduced the legislation and the bill is making some progress. Cindy Allred works for Get Out the Native Vote, an organization that has been active registering and encouraging voting among Alaska Natives, many of whom live in rural areas.
Lawmakers on Monday sent to Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s desk a bill to require voters to show photo identification at the polls. The House concurred in Senate amendments to House Bill 1047 by Rep. Mark Lowery, R-Maumelle, which House members previously approved in different form. The concurrence was the final hurdle the bill had to clear to go to the governor. A spokesman for Hutchinson said Monday the governor generally supports a photo ID requirement for voters but would need to take a closer look at HB 1047 before deciding whether to sign it.
For the second year in a row, the Democrat-controlled General Assembly rejected Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s plan to take away lawmakers’ power to draw congressional districts. Without discussion, a key House committee on Monday killed Hogan’s proposal to cede that authority — and the less controversial power to General Assembly district boundaries — to a nonpartisan redistricting commission. The 18-5 party-line vote by the House Rules and Executive Nominations Committee effectively erases any hope the governor’s redistricting plan will advance this year. Hogan has pressed the legislature to take an up-or-down vote on his plan rather than letting it languish without one.
The effort to allow any Michigan voter to request an absentee ballot may be close to critical mass in the state Senate. That’s as more Republicans are accepting the idea that anyone who wants to mail in or drop off their ballot should be allowed to without having to lie to do it. The rule right now in Michigan is that, unless you’re a senior citizen, physically handicapped or expect to be out of town on Election Day, you’re expected to show up at the polls on Election Day. So, right now, people who want to vote absentee but don’t fit into one of those categories are just lying. “We are talking about a small change to encourage people, not to have to lie, whether or not they’ll be in town. I think it just encourages people to get out there,” Republican state Senator Wayne Schmidt told It’s Just Politics. Schmidt is sponsoring a bill to allow no-reason absentee voting in Michigan.
Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale announced Monday that he will not seek re-election in 2018, ending a career that focused on expanding voter participation and upgrading election equipment. Gale has served as the state’s top elections official since 2000, when he was appointed by then-Gov. Mike Johanns. His decision sets the stage for a potentially competitive race to replace him. “Being Secretary of State has been one of the most fulfilling, exciting and memorable experiences of my career,” Gale said in a statement. “I feel very lucky to have been able to offer my public service as a constitutional officer to Nebraska and its citizens.”
New Hampshire: Who Gets to Claim a Stake in New Hampshire Elections? Untangling a Question at the Heart of ‘Domicile’ Debate | New Hampshire Public Radio
Curtis Moore has voted in New Hampshire since 2008. He says he’s got a New Hampshire driver’s license and a New Hampshire mailing address in the town of Randolph — where he’s worked off and on for the Randolph and Appalachian Mountain Clubs for nearly two decades. As far as he can recall, registering to vote here in the first place was pretty simple. “I just went to the town clerk and gave her an address,” Moore says. “I think I did have a New Hampshire license at the time that maybe she looked at. Maybe not.” Either way, he says, “I had a couple of things for proof.” Right now, though, Moore’s not in New Hampshire. In fact, he spends very little time in the state these days. “When I initially became a New Hampshire resident, it was probably close to 50 percent of the year,” Moore says. “Now, it’s probably more like 10 percent — or maybe even less. It’s dwindled with time.” Moore’s line of work takes him all over the place. Right now, he’s in New Zealand, but he plans to be back in the summer.
Colorado: Steve Curtis, ex-Colorado GOP party chairman, suspected of voter fraud, forgery | The Denver Post
Former Colorado Republican party chairman Steve Curtis, 57, has been charged with voter fraud and forgery, prosecutors say. Curtis, an AM radio talk show host, appeared Tuesday in Weld County District Court, where he was advised that he faces two counts in the case: forgery, a Class 5 felony, and misdemeanor voter fraud.
Declining to exercise your right to vote would cost you money if a long-shot bill at the state Capitol is approved. Eligible voters who don’t cast a ballot would be hit with a $10 fine under the bill, which was sponsored earlier this month by Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, D-Manhattan. The idea behind the proposal is to make voting compulsory: All eligible voters would be required to turn in a ballot, even if they don’t actually vote for anyone.The purpose of the bill, according to a memo by the sponsor, would be to boost voter-participation rates. READ THE BILL: Compulsory voting
The future of a bill that trims down the early voting period is uncertain after its author withdrew it from committee consideration Monday following logistical concerns from the attorney general’s office and county election officials. House Bill 288, authored by state Rep. Mark Keough, R-The Woodlands, would have shrunk the early voting period from 12 to seven days and pushed it closer to Election Day. Jason Millsaps, Keough’s chief of staff, said the attorney general’s office had concerns with how the bill could impact litigation over the state’s voter ID law. The attorney general’s office was worried prosecutors in federal court could potentially use HB 288 as an example of attempted voter suppression, Millsaps said.
The New South Wales opposition has warned against a plan to force voters to show identification at polling booths, saying the laws are unnecessary and would serve only to disenfranchise parts of the electorate. The NSW government is due to respond in coming months to a parliamentary committee’s report on the 2015 state election, which recommended that voters be required to produce ID in future polls. On Tuesday federal Liberal MP for North Sydney and NSW moderate powerbroker, Trent Zimmerman, called for compulsory voter ID for federal elections in the Coalition party room meeting. Identification laws are designed as a way of preventing voter fraud, but are criticised for imposing a barrier to voter participation.
China: With 65,000 mock votes from a target of one million, does Hong Kong even care about its leadership election? | South China Morning Post
The public’s sense of powerlessness and privacy concerns might explain the low turnout for the mock chief executive election poll, according to the organisers and a pan-democrat lawmaker. The remarks came after just 65,000 people voted in the mock ballot that opened on March 10 and ended on Sunday, well short of the organisers’ target of one million votes. IT sector lawmaker Charles Mok said organisers should assess why there was such a low turnout and tackle privacy concerns so the mock vote can become a better tool to gauge public opinion in the future. After consulting computer experts and other professional organisations, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data issued a second warning on Sunday, saying it had established that the organisers, when collecting voters’ personal data, had breached information security practices.
A former anti-Indonesian guerrilla fighter is leading a slow vote count in East Timor’s presidential election, the country’s first without help of the United Nations. Backed by Fretilin, the party that led the revolutionary struggle to the country’s independence, Francisco “Lu-Olo” Guterres was leading with 59.24 per cent of votes. But only 34.34 per cent of votes had been counted by early Tuesday, reflecting huge logistical problems in the largely mountainous country with a poor road network. In previous elections, UN helicopters were used to ferry ballot boxes from the most remote polling stations.
A Bundestag committee on the hack was later informed that the intruders — possibly a team of Russian hackers, known variously as APT28, Sofacy and Fancy Bear, with suspected links to the Kremlin — had roamed around freely in the system for three weeks, spying on communication between lawmakers and their staff, and eventually absconding with a large trove of information. In the aftermath, the parliament held several emergency meetings and brought in government cyber specialists to analyze the attack. Eventually, the network and its security system were rebuilt from scratch, according to Klaus Vitt, Germany’s highest ranking government official in charge of information technology. But by then, the proverbial horse had bolted.
India: Electronic voting machine fraud? Roll out VVPATs, only way to silence doubting politicians, say ex-CECs | The Indian Express
Calling for a quick rollout of the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines in all polling stations across the country, former Chief Election Commissioners S Y Quraishi and H S Brahma have said that the paper trail system is the only way to silence politicians raising doubts over alleged tampering of electronic voting machines or EVMs. Speaking at The Indian Express Idea Exchange event on Monday (transcript will be published in The Sunday Express), Brahma said: “I personally feel worried when political parties and politicians question the credibility of voting machines. The credibility of EVMs has been established beyond doubt through court judgments. Having said that, I think, once we cover all polling stations with VVPATs, it will put an end to 90 per cent of the allegations leveled against EVMs and we will have the most dependable election process in the world.”