Recently, several members and staffers on the House Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russia’s role in the Presidential election, visited the National Security Agency, in Fort Meade, Maryland. Inside the enormous black glass headquarters of America’s largest spy agency, the congressmen and their aides were shown a binder of two to three dozen pages of highly classified intercepts, mostly transcripts of conversations between foreign government officials that took place during the Presidential transition. These intercepts were not related to the heart of the committee’s Russia investigation. In fact, only one of the documents had anything to do with Russia, according to an official who reviewed them. What the intercepts all had in common is that the people being spied on made references to Donald Trump or to Trump officials. That wasn’t even clear, though, from reading the transcripts. The names of any Americans were concealed, or “masked,” the intelligence community’s term for redacting references to Americans who are not the legal targets of surveillance when such intelligence reports are distributed to policy makers.
Delaware: Legislation seeks to prevent political meddling in drawing districts for the General Assembly | Sun Times
A plan to change how the state sets the borders for legislative districts has attracted bipartisan support in the upper chamber of the General Assembly. Senate Bill 27 seeks to overhaul General Assembly redistricting by taking it out of the hands of the legislature, sponsor Sen. Bryan Townsend said. Instead, an independent commission would redraw voting maps without reference to politics. The Democrat of Newark said the idea is to create an unbiased and transparent method of setting boundaries. The legislation proposes a nine-member nonpartisan commission.
Cobb County detectives have arrested a suspect in connection with the theft of four ExpressPoll polling machines out of a poll manager’s truck days before Tuesday’s elections, according to a county press release. The machines contained names, addresses and driver’s license numbers for every voter in Georgia. They are the devices poll workers use to scan IDs when voters enter the polling place. The detectives served a warrant on a Clayton County residence at 1 a.m. Wednesday. According to Cobb County spokeswoman Sheri Kell, the suspect and several accomplices told detectives the polling equipment was deemed useless and thrown in a dumpster. That dumpster has since been emptied and its contents taken to a landfill.
Kansas: Kobach seeks stay of order to hand over Donald Trump immigration meeting documents | The Kansas City Star
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach won’t hand over the documents from his November meeting with President Donald Trump just yet. Kobach filed a motion in federal court Wednesday to stay an order from a federal magistrate judge requiring him to share the documents with the American Civil Liberties Union as part of a lawsuit about voting rights in Kansas. Kobach met with Trump at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., weeks after the Republican won the presidency. Kobach was photographed carrying a stack of papers that was labeled as a strategic plan for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and that contained a reference to voter rolls. The ACLU has sought access to the documents and to a draft amendment to the National Voter Registration Act, which Kobach has crafted and shared with his staff, as part of a federal lawsuit seeking to overturn a Kansas law. That law requires voters to provide proof of citizenship, such as birth certificate, when they register to vote.
The Montana Green Party is appealing a decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to deny an emergency motion requesting that Thomas Breck’s name be added to Montana’s special congressional election ballot. Breck of Missoula, along with Independent candidates Steve Kelly and Doug Campbell, said they now plan to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, alleging that they were turned down “on the basis of an unconstitutional state law.”
In just a few years, voting districts will be redrawn across the country, and there’s a bipartisan push trickling down to the Lehigh Valley to do away with “gerrymandering.” Every 10 years, voting lines are redrawn with the census. Gerrymandering refers to manipulating voting district lines to benefit a party. It’s named after Eldridge Gerry, a former vice president and Massachusetts governor in the early 1800’s. In Pennsylvania, the political party in charge draws the lines. With the lines set to be drawn again in 2020, there is a growing movement to change how the districts are divided.
Washington: Ballot Box Bill Near Becoming Law, But Not Popular with Elections Officials | Spokane Public Radio
Every piece of legislation considered by a body of elected officials has some kind of back story. Sometimes a bill is sparked by an idea from a constituent. That was the case with one bill (Senate Bill 5472) now waiting for Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s signature. It started with an innocuous question about election drop boxes. “A high school teacher in the town of Granite Falls asked me, ‘Why doesn’t my community have a drop box?’ His community, Granite Falls, has about 35-hundred people,” said Sen. Kirk Pearson (R-Monroe). The drop box to which he’s referring is a place where voters can take their completed ballots. The other option in Washington is to mail ballots. But Pearson doesn’t like that option, as he told his colleagues on the Senate floor in February.
Secretary of State Mac Warner released some stunning figures this week during an appearance on MetroNews Talkline; the names of 47,490 outdated and ineligible voters have been removed from the voter rolls just since he took office. Warner’s office and county clerks used the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) to clean up the rolls. ERIC allows participating states to compare voter eligibility records using voter registration and motor vehicle registrations, U.S. Postal Service addresses, and Social Security death records. Those 47,490 names were struck for a variety of reasons. In the most common instance, a woman changed her name when married, reregistered and was on the rolls twice. Others moved away and registered in another county or state, but remained on the books in their original location. In other cases voters were never taken off the rolls after they died.
Albania’s parliament voted for a new president without casting a single ballot on Wednesday, convening and then closing the first of five election rounds in less than 10 minutes because no candidate came forward to run. The bizarre non-election went ahead despite a boycott by the opposition Democratic Party, which quit parliament two months ago and has since insisted Tirana first needs to name a technocratic government. To ensure that the ceremonial figure of president is a compromise figure, the constitution requires a candidate to get three-fifths of the vote to win in the first three rounds. If no candidate wins, the rules then say a simple majority will do to pick the new head of state.
India: Congress questions Government’s ability to provide VVPATs by 2019 elections | Deccan Chronicle
With the Election Commission’s decision to monitor production of the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) by the 2019 assembly elections, the Congress Party on Thursday questioned the government’s ability of providing these machines. “We need at least 16 lakh Paper Trail machines before the 2019 elections. Whether the government will be able to fulfill the target or not is a crucial question. It’s a much wider issue and for the purity of election process it is essential. If the EVMs are not functionally accurate then they cannot be used,” Congress leader K.C. Mittal said. He further said the issue needs to be investigated by expert committees. “In the 2014 parliamentary elections I had raised objections. There is something wrong with the EVMs. The Uttar Pradesh Election Commissioner says he cannot hold municipal elections with the earlier EVMs. Then why were the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh held on the same EVMs? These questions need to be answered,” he added.
Indonesia: Jakarta election: 64,000 police, soldiers deployed to prevent intimidation as voters head to polls | ABC
Jakarta police say they are prepared for unrest as residents head to one of the most bitterly fought elections the city has ever seen. In a sign of the potential threat, a mass of more than 64,000 police, soldiers and security offices will be deployed across the capital. Indonesia’s police chief has warned against the intimidation of voters with the poll being heavily fought on religious grounds. At the capital’s national monument, known as Monas, officers rehearse drills ahead of the poll. “The brief to us is to control the crowd,” commander Muhammad Alwafi told the ABC.
U.S. media outlets in Russia will face investigations into whether they illegally influenced the country’s parliamentary elections in 2016. Outlets such as Voice of America, Radio Free Europe (RL/RFE) and CNN will all fall under the spotlight, said Leonid Levin, the head of the State Duma Committee on Information and Communication. He said that journalists’ work could have affected Russian elections. “The structures we are discussing are part of a larger American system of pressure on our country,” Levin said at a committee meeting on Tuesday. “They are using a variety of instruments in respect to both the Russian electoral process and on our country as a whole.” Levin also pointed to similar investigations on Russian state media in the United States.
Turkey’s top election authority has voted against annulling the referendum to further empower President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Main opposition parties had challenged the results following complaints of vote-rigging. Turkey’s high electoral board (YSK) rejected appeals from the country’s main opposition parties to annul the referendum results, the board said in a statement on Wednesday. The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the pro-Kurdish HDP had called on the electoral board to annul Sunday’s referendum because unstamped ballot papers were included in the count. They argued that this contravened Turkish electoral law. The board overwhelmingly voted to reject the parties’ appeals.
It’s vast, secretive and completely nondescript. Now there are fears Russia’s mysterious “Internet Research Agency” could unleash a major disinformation campaign ahead of critical elections in the UK and France. The huge building at 55 Savushkina Street, St Petersburg has been described as a “troll factory” for hundreds of workers charged with pumping out Russian propaganda in comment threads and articles online. The Atlantic Council’s Information Defense fellow Ben Nimmo said Russia has already been accused of being behind “ham-fisted” attempts to influence the French election, but it’s unclear how it will respond to news of the snap election in the UK. “Russian operations are extremely pragmatic. My assessment is that they will be looking at the situation in the UK and thinking what’s going to be useful. It’s much more about ‘Is there a particular angle, constituency, party for us to support?’” he told news.com.au. “It’s entirely possible the Kremlin will think it’s not worth us backing any of these because there’s not anything in it. It’s possible there will be no disinformation at all.”