Motivated by recent failures to recall Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni and former St. Tammany Parish Coroner Peter Galvan, a lawmaker says he’s filing a bill Thursday to reduce the threshold for petition signatures that must be collected to get a recall election on the ballot. State Rep. Paul Hollis, R-Covington, said he believes both houses of the Legislature will support his proposal when the session starts April 10 and will support the need to ease requirements under the state’s recall law, which he called the most onerous in the country. “I look at Louisiana compared to all the other states that allow for recalls and Louisiana’s threshold is by far the highest requirement and I certainly don’t want it to be the lowest and likewise I don’t want it to be easy, I just want it to be possible.”Full Article: Lawmaker filing bill to ease recall efforts | wwltv.com.
New Hampshire: Senate Kills Bill to Remove Redistricting Authority from State Legislature | New Hampshire Public Radio
The Republican-controlled state Senate killed a bill Thursday that would create an independent redistricting commission for state elections. Under New Hampshire law legislators have the job of re-drawing the state’s political map after every census report. That includes drawing district lines for the state House and Senate, the Executive Council, and New Hampshire’s two congressional districts.Full Article: N.H. Senate Kills Bill to Remove Redistricting Authority from State Legislature | New Hampshire Public Radio.
The House of Representatives has said it would not force the implementation of the electronic voting (e-voting) system in the 2019 elections as Indonesia was not yet ready. “One of the provisions agreed on by lawmakers in the deliberation of the election bill is that we will not apply the e-voting system in the near future,” said NasDem Party lawmaker Johnny G. Platte, who is also a member of the House’s special committee for the deliberation of the bill.Full Article: House to not apply e-voting in 2019 elections - Politics - The Jakarta Post.
India: Election Commission bans political analysis by astrologers, tarot readers until voting is over | Scroll
The Election Commission has barred astrologers and tarot readers from predicting election results, calling it a violation of the law. In an advisory to the Press Council of India and News Broadcasters’ Association on Thursday, the poll monitoring body said that no such programme/article can be aired or published before all rounds of voting are over. The commission cited Section 126A of the Representation of the People Act that states that no one can conduct any exit poll in any manner during the period when exit polls are banned. Any type of political analysis that predicts either the margin or the number of seats likely to be won will be considered as exit poll.Full Article: Ban on political analysis by astrologers, tarot readers until voting is over: Election Commission.
A severely visually impaired man has won his High Court case over the State’s duty to vindicate his right to vote privately and without assistance in referendums and elections. Robbie Sinnott had taken proceedings against the Minister for the Environment and the State. He was supported by the Free Legal Advice Centres. In his judgment, Mr Justice Tony O’Connor said Mr Sinnott has “an inspiring desire to learn and to participate”. He shared Mr Sinnott’s concerns about the Department of the Environment’s delay over years in introducing the relevant tactile voting systems, and about the lack of information made publicly available about them.Full Article: Visually impaired man wins case against State over voting.
The Senate Thursday passed amendments to the Electoral Act 2010, approving the use of electronic voting in future elections. It also approved that election results should be electronically transmitted to collation centers. The passage of bill followed the consideration of the report of the Senate Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on a Bill for an Act to amend the Electoral Act No. 6, 2010 and for other related matters (SB 231 and SB 234). Major highlights of the new bill include provision for the use of electronic voting by INEC during future elections, use of Card Reader and also gives INEC power to modify the voting process if there is a challenge.Full Article: Senate amends electoral act, approves electronic voting - YNaija.
The Russian government used “thousands” of internet trolls and bots to spread fake news, in addition to hacking into political campaigns leading up to the 2016 U.S. election, according to one lawmaker. Disinformation spread on social media was designed to raise doubts about the U.S. election and the campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, said Senator Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat. “This Russian propaganda on steroids was designed to poison the national conversation in America,” Warner said Thursday during a Senate hearing on Russian election hacking. The Russian government used “thousands of paid internet trolls” and bots to spread disinformation on social media.Full Article: Senator: Russia used 'thousands' of internet trolls during US election | PCWorld.
National: FBI Director Comey sought to reveal Russian election meddling last summer: report | The Hill
FBI Director James Comey sought to publish an op-ed as early as last summer about Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, but was barred from doing so by the Obama White House, Newsweek reported Wednesday. In a White House meeting in June or July, Comey reportedly brought with him a draft of the proposed op-ed and presented it to top administration officials, including former Secretary of State John Kerry and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch. “He had a draft of it or an outline,” a source with knowledge of the meeting told Newsweek. “He held up a piece of paper in a meeting and said, ‘I want to go forward, what do people think of this?'”Full Article: FBI Director Comey sought to reveal Russian election meddling last summer: report | TheHill.
National: Senate Intelligence Committee to start Russia probe interviews next week | The Washington Post
The Senate Intelligence Committee will begin as soon as Monday privately interviewing 20 people in its ongoing investigation of Russian involvement in the 2016 election as well as potential ties to the Trump campaign, its leaders said Wednesday. Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said that “if there’s relevance” to those and other interviews that he and Vice Chairman Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) anticipate scheduling, “they will eventually be part of a public hearing.” The two leaders stood side by side to update reporters about their investigation in a rare joint news conference Wednesday on Capitol Hill, called just as the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation appeared to be grinding to a halt.Full Article: Senate Intelligence Committee to start Russia probe interviews next week - The Washington Post.
Santa Clara County’s gaffe-plagued elections office has made one mistake too many for state officials. An Assembly committee Wednesday approved an audit of Santa Clara County’s Registrar of Voters office requested by Assemblyman Evan Low, D-Campbell, who cited a litany of errors since 2010 from erroneous ballots to counting mishaps that could raise doubts about the validity of election results. “It’s not uncommon for administrative mistakes to be made, but the frequency of these mistakes is of particular concern,” said Low, chair of the Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee. “And I don’t know of any other county having such issues.”Full Article: Santa Clara County: Election error audit in the works.
Nebraska lawmakers are considering a measure this session to help felons re-enter society after prison. A legislative committee has advanced a bill that would restore voting rights to felons as soon as they complete their sentence, including prison time and parole. … Now, a bill prioritized by senator Justin Wayne of Omaha would restore voting rights to felons as soon as they complete their sentence, including prison time and parole. “People don’t get surprised and think ‘oh no, I lost my voting rights’. they know they were committing a felony, and they know there is penalties for committing a felony” Sheriff Kramer said.Full Article: Bill sparks debate over felon voting rights.
New Hampshire: Offices ask Gov. Sununu to investigate voter fraud claims, preserve state reputation | Concord Monitor
Several New Hampshire towns are asking Gov. Chris Sununu to investigate claims of voter fraud made by President Donald Trump. Webster’s select board signed its letter at a meeting Monday evening. “All municipalities, including Webster, take great pride in the integrity of our elections and the way in which they are managed by municipal employees and dedicated volunteers,” the letter reads. Referencing Trump’s claims that both he and Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte lost in New Hampshire because “thousands” of voters were illegally bused in from Massachusetts, the Webster select board said these allegations reflect poorly on New Hampshire and “deserve serious attention.”Full Article: Offices ask Gov. Sununu to investigate voter fraud claims, preserve state reputation.
Expect an impassioned, and probably lengthy, debate Thursday morning when the Republican-backed voting reform bill, Senate Bill 3, comes to the state Senate floor for a vote. The bill tightens the requirements for new voters to show that they are domiciled in the state. It doesn’t stop anyone who goes to the polls without an ID from voting, but requires proof of residency be provided afterwards. But by all accounts, the bill -– dubbed a “voter suppression” bill -– by its opponents, is fully expected to pass the Senate on a 14-9 party-line vote. Read two of our earlier reports on the bill here and here.Full Article: NH Primary Source: GOP election reform bill expected to pass NH Senate on party line vote.
The Pennsylvania Attorney General is joining an investigation of last week’s special election for a North Philadelphia state house seat. The results are also being challenged in court. It’s been a bumpy ride for this seat. The ballot featured just one name– a Republican, though the district is 85 percent Democrat. Democrat Emilio Vazquez ran a write in campaign, as did Cheri Honkala of the Green Party. Honkala and Republicans complained throughout the day about Democratic election officials violating electioneering and voter assistance laws.Full Article: Pa. AG Joins Investigation Into Special Election Fraud Complaints « CBS Philly.
With federal funds about to run out, the Wisconsin Elections Commission asked lawmakers Tuesday to stave off what would be a 28% staffing cut in just over two years. A federal grant is running out for the agency, which relies on that stream of money to fund 22 of its 32 positions. GOP Gov. Scott Walker has set aside $2.5 million in new state tax dollars in his two-year budget to retain 16 of those positions. But six positions would still disappear, amounting to a 28% staffing cut in an agency that has already seen job losses since 2015. “We are concerned that such a significant staffing reduction will mean that the agency will not be able to adequately carry out the duties and responsibilities assigned to it under federal and state laws,” said Jodi Jensen, a Republican who sits on the commission.Full Article: Wisconsin Elections Commission warns of significant staff cuts.
Belarus: ‘It’s easier to hack an election than eBay’: confessions of a Belarusian hacker | The Guardian
According to Sergei Pavlovich, one of the Russian-speaking world’s most notorious hackers, “it is easier to hack an electoral system than eBay or Citibank”. The Belarusian cyber-criminal known as Policedog online started hacking early on, and by the age of 20 he says he was earning $100,000 a month as a “carder”, turning stolen credit card information into cash. By the early 2000s he was one of the leading figures in the Russian and Eastern European cyber-underworld. In an exclusive interview Pavlovich, now 33 and with a 10-year jail term behind him, gives a rare insight into a community that has been accused of carrying out aggressive cyber-activity on behalf of the Kremlin. Allegations that the Russian government deliberately hacked Democratic party emails to try to steer Donald Trump to victory in the US presidential election have been rebutted by the now president and denounced as “baseless” and “amateurish” by the Kremlin.Full Article: 'It's easier to hack an election than eBay': confessions of a Belarusian hacker | World news | The Guardian.
A decade ago, Rafael Correa was sworn in as president of Ecuador in the Andean village of Zumbahua. In the presence of fellow “pink tide” socialist presidents Hugo Chávez and Bolivia’s Evo Morales, five indigenous priests sprinkled him with sacred herbs and evoked the spirits of the moon and sun to provide him with positive energy. But as Ecuadoreans prepare to go to the polls this Sunday, his successor candidate can no longer count on the support of the country’s indigenous population. The blessing of Pachamama – the Andean Mother Earth – has deserted him. “We will vote to reject correaismo,” Carlos Pérez Guartambel, a leader of indigenous party Pachakutik, told AQ. “(Correa) has plundered indigenous symbols and beliefs. He has prostituted his principles by supporting large-scale mining projects and violating the profound connection with Pachamama.”Full Article: The Controversy That Could Swing Ecuador's Election | Americas Quarterly.
Senator Richard Burr, who has access to some of the most highly classified US intelligence, said Moscow has shown a clear will and ability to disrupt elections in Western democracies. “What we might assess was a very covert effort in 2016 in the United States, is a very overt effort, as well as covert, in Germany and France,” he told reporters. “I remind you that we’re within 30 days of the first French election, with four candidates. It will go down to two candidates with a runoff in May,” he said. “I think it’s safe by everybody’s judgment that the Russians are actively involved in the French elections.”Full Article: Russia 'actively involved' in French election, warns US Senate intelligence chief - France 24.
Amid fears of a rising populist tide in Europe, Germany seems to be resisting its rightward tug with unique success. The day after Donald Trump’s election, The New York Times hailed German Chancellor Angela Merkel as the “Liberal West’s Last Defender.” And it was to Merkel, the new “leader of the free world,” that Barack Obama directed his final phone call as president. Meanwhile, others around the world are embracing right-wing populism, from the Britons’ stunning decision to leave the European Union to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist agenda to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s authoritarian policies. Trump’s election has appeared at times to inject fresh energy into the right-wing parties of Europe. As some countries there brace for national elections this year, the prospects for these parties look bright. In France, for example, far-right National Front party leader Marine Le Pen is expected to advance to the second round of balloting in April’s presidential elections; recent polls show her beating scandal-ridden conservative candidate Francois Fillon in the first round.Full Article: Does Germany Hold the Key to Defeating Populism? - The Atlantic.
Elections present a milestone beyond which countries either strengthen their democratic credentials or become failed states. Often states fail when there are either perceived or blatant election malpractices. This in turn can lead to prolonged civil unrest.
Numerous cases exist across the continent. But I will use the Kenyan case to illustrate how election processes can be compromised, and then brought back from the brink with the use of technology. Following the election in 2007 Kenya erupted into two months of unprecedented conflict. People were unhappy with the outcome which saw Mwai Kibaki of the incumbent Party of National Unity being declared the winner ahead of Raila Odinga and his Orange Democratic Movement. Many disputed the final tally. To preempt a similar situation in future elections, a commission led by former South African judge Justice Johann Kriegler was set up. The Kriegler Commission made several critical findings. These included instances of double voter registration, widespread impersonation and ballot stuffing. It concluded that, as a result, it was impossible to know who actually won the election.