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Nebraska: Ricketts vetoes bill to restore voting rights to felons sooner | Omaha World-Herald

The governor is headed for a showdown with state lawmakers over felon voting rights. Gov. Pete Ricketts vetoed a measure Thursday that restores the voting rights of felons immediately after they complete their sentences. He maintained that the Legislature violated the Nebraska Constitution by assuming the power to pardon that properly belongs to the executive branch of government. “Any effort to restore a civil right revoked in the Nebraska Constitution requires changing the Nebraska Constitution,” the governor said in a message announcing his first veto of the session.

Full Article: Ricketts vetoes bill to restore voting rights to felons sooner | Legislature | omaha.com.

New York: Election reformers make case for early voting, automatic voter registration | CNHI

Advocates for election reform say voter turnout across the New York could be greatly increased by allowing citizens to cast their ballots early and adopting automatic voter registration, as other states have. Without such measures, said Jennifer Wilson, program and policy director for the League of Women Voters of New York State, this state will continue to have one of the lowest voter-participation levels in the nation. “We think early voting would have an immediate impact,” Wilson said Wednesday after the Assembly Election Law Committee advanced legislation that would allow voting in New York up to seven days before an election.

Full Article: Election reformers make case for early voting | Local News | lockportjournal.com.

North Carolina: Why This Woman Who Cast An Illegal Vote For Donald Trump Is Getting A Pass For Voter Fraud | The Huffington Post

A North Carolina prosecutor announced Wednesday that he would decline to bring charges in one of the few cases of voter fraud in the state during the 2016 election. The decision is significant because North Carolina is asking the Supreme Court to uphold a law that would require voters to show photo ID at the polls. Of the 4.8 million votes cast, the incident was the single case of in-person voter impersonation at the polls in the 2016 election in North Carolina ― the kind of fraud the voter ID law would prevent. The 67-year-old woman, whose name is not being released, voted for Donald Trump on behalf of her mother, who died on Oct. 26, weeks before Election Day. The woman told the State Board of Elections that her mother had told her “if anything happens you have my power of attorney and you be sure to vote for Donald Trump for me.”

Full Article: Why This Woman Who Cast An Illegal Vote For Donald Trump Is Getting A Pass For Voter Fraud | The Huffington Post.

Texas: Ahead of 2018, trial likely looms in Texas political map battle | The Texas Tribune

As the 2018 election cycle nears, it appears Texas and its legal foes are headed for a trial — yet again — over what the state’s House and congressional boundaries will look like, and it will likely come this summer. “I think the trial is certain,” said Jose Garza, an attorney for the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, a lead plaintiff in the years-long challenge of the state’s political boundaries. “At the end of the day, we’re going to get new political maps, and the court’s going to draw them.” His comments followed a lengthy and complicated hearing Thursday over the fate of the state’s 2013 House and congressional maps — a high-profile status conference that followed a pair of federal rulings that Texas lawmakers intentionally discriminated against minority voters in initially drawing each map in 2011.

Full Article: Ahead of 2018, trial likely looms in Texas political map battle | The Texas Tribune.

Ecuador: Government Seeks Ban on Exit Polls after Disputed Election | PanAm Post

The president of the National Electoral Council (CNE) of Ecuador, Juan Pablo Pozo, announced that it will prohibit the early dissemination of exit polls. “From now on, no figures can be given, until the institutions have given them first, otherwise it generates unnecessary speculation by the people,” suggested the president of the CNE.  Reforms to the Democracy Code will also try to regulate electoral advertising on the internet. The initiative of the electoral body will be discussed for three months, starting next June, Pozo said on Wednesday, April 26.

Full Article: Ecuador Government Seeks Ban on Exit Polls after Disputed Election.

Estonia: 10 Years After the Landmark Attack on Estonia, Is the World Better Prepared for Cyber Threats? | Foreign Policy

The Estonians just wanted to relocate a statue. Ten years ago today, authorities in Tallinn set out to remove a Soviet World War II memorial from the capital’s downtown. The Russian government had warned that removing the statue would be “disastrous for Estonians,” but since Moscow no longer called the shots in the Baltic state, the statue was duly shipped off to a suburban military cemetery. Soon after, Estonians found that they couldn’t use much of the internet. They couldn’t access newspapers online, or government websites. Bank accounts were suddenly inaccessible. “It was unheard of, and no one understood what was going on in the beginning,” Toomas Hendrik Ilves, then Estonian President, told Foreign Policy. Soon, he was informed that it was not an internal failure — but an attack from the outside. It was a Distributed Denial of Service Attack — an orchestrated swarm of internet traffic that literally swamps servers and shuts down websites for hours or days.

Full Article: 10 Years After the Landmark Attack on Estonia, Is the World Better Prepared for Cyber Threats? | Foreign Policy.

France: Cyber experts ‘99% sure’ Russian hackers are targeting Macron | France 24

The Russian cyber-spying group Pawn Storm (also known as Fancy Bear) has targeted French presidential front-runner Emmanuel Macron, according to Japanese cyber-security experts. Macron campaign officials, however, say the group has so far failed. Barely two weeks before the critical second round of the French presidential election, fears of Russian meddling in the 2017 campaign mounted with the publication of a report accusing Pawn Storm of targeting Macron’s En Marche! (Forward!) movement, employing identical tactics used to attack the Hillary Clinton campaign during the US presidential race. A 41-page report, “Two Years of Pawn Storm,” by the Japanese cyber-security firm Trend Micro detailed a long list of the group’s targets, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party ahead of the September German general elections.

Full Article: Cyber experts '99% sure' Russian hackers are targeting Macron - France 24.

Iran: Is Putin interfering in Iran’s presidential elections? | Iran Pulse

Iranian conservative presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi met with visiting Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov — an encounter that Raisi probably did not expect would end up causing problems ahead of the May 19 presidential elections. The hard-line Tasnim News Agency, which is seen as backing Raisi and reported the meeting, described Minnikhanov as an envoy of Russian President Vladimir Putin, seemingly to highlight Raisi’s stature. During the meeting, Minnikhanov reportedly told Raisi, “We hope that the relationship between Iran and Tatarstan will be [further] developed.” He added, “Vladimir Putin gives special importance to the spread of religion, including Islam, as he has formed a strategic group, which I head, for developing relations with Islam [the Islamic world].”

Full Article: Is Putin interfering in Iran’s presidential elections?.

Turkey: Merkel urges Turkey to respond to reported referendum irregularities | Reuters

German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Turkey on Thursday to answer questions raised by European observers over a referendum that expanded President Tayyip Erdogan’s powers and also said the EU must reflect on what future ties it wants with Ankara. A report by observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe found that up to 2.5 million votes could have been manipulated in Turkey’s April 16 referendum, which ended in a narrow victory for Erdogan’s push for greater powers. “The Turkish government must measure itself based on this report and answer the questions raised in it,” Merkel told the Bundestag lower house of parliament. “We will very carefully follow how Turkey deals with reports of possible irregularities.”

Full Article: Merkel urges Turkey to respond to reported referendum irregularities | Reuters.

National: Russia’s Interference in the U.S. Election Was Just the Beginning | The Atlantic

Mike Conaway, the Republican who replaced Devin Nunes as head of the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russian meddling in the U.S. election, has described his mission simply: “I just want to find out what happened,” he’s said. The more urgent question elsewhere in the world, however, isn’t confined to the past. It concerns what is happening—not just in the United States but in European democracies as well. In the Netherlands, Dutch authorities counted paper ballots in a recent election by hand to prevent foreign governments—and Russia in particular—from manipulating the results through cyberattacks. In Denmark, the defense minister has accused the Russian government of carrying out a two-year campaign to infiltrate email accounts at his ministry. In the United Kingdom, a parliamentary committee reports that it cannot “rule out” the possibility that “foreign interference” caused a voter-registration site to crash ahead of Britain’s referendum on EU membership. And in France, a cybersecurity firm has just discovered that suspected Russian hackers are targeting the leading presidential candidate. “We are increasingly concerned about cyber-enabled interference in democratic political processes,” representatives from the Group of Seven—Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.K., and the U.S.—declared after meeting in Italy earlier this month. Russia, a member of the group until it was kicked out for annexing Crimea, wasn’t mentioned in the statement. It didn’t need to be. The subtext was clear.

Full Article: Russia's Interference in the U.S. Election Was Just the Beginning - The Atlantic.

National: Russian hackers heavily targeted news outlet in days before U.S. election, researchers say | Cyberscoop

Hackers working for the Russian government sent a barrage of targeted phishing emails between 2014 and 2016 to employees of major news outlets, and they focused particularly on Al Jazeera in the days before and shortly following the U.S. presidential election, according to new research by cybersecurity firm Trend Micro. It’s unclear exactly why the elite team of hackers — known as APT-28, Fancy Bear or Pawn Storm — focused so heavily on the Qatar-based, state-funded global broadcaster during that short window. Like other news agencies targeted over the longer two-year span, including the New York Times and Buzzfeed, the award-winning outlet covered the election in detail and dedicated a section of its website to election-night coverage.

Full Article: Russian hackers heavily targeted news outlet in days before U.S. election, researchers say.

National: House Russia investigators optimistic under Conaway’s leadership | Politico

Rep. Mike Conaway, the House’s new top Russia investigator, is telling lawmakers on the Intelligence Committee that they should expect to be in Washington more than usual as the beleaguered probe gets a reboot, panel members said after a closed-door meeting Wednesday. Committee Democrats welcomed Conaway’s remarks, describing the Texas Republican as a “straight-shooter” who was committed to a thorough, bipartisan investigation into Russia’s interference in the presidential election, including the possibility of collusion with the Trump campaign.

Full Article: House Russia investigators optimistic under Conaway's leadership - POLITICO.

Alabama: Bill would eliminate requirement to give reason for voting absentee | AL.com

Alabama voters would not have to give a reason for voting absentee under a bill that passed the state Senate last week. Current law requires voters to sign an affidavit attached to the ballot that affirms their identity and gives one of the following reasons for voting absentee: out of town on election day; physically incapacitated; working all day while the polls are open; attending college in another county; being an armed services member or the spouse or dependent of one. The bill, by Sen. Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham, would eliminate the requirement to give a reason and the requirement to have two witnesses or a notary public sign the identifying affidavit.

Full Article: Bill would eliminate requirement to give reason for voting absentee | AL.com.

Arizona: Ducey to Decide if Voter Registration Deadline Controversy Repeats | Associated Press

If Gov. Doug Ducey signs legislation headed to his desk, Arizona won’t see a repeat of a controversy that erupted last October after Secretary of State Michele Reagan set the last day for voter registration on a legal holiday. Reagan’s decision cost at least 2,000 citizens their vote in November and led to a federal lawsuit by state and national Democratic parties. A federal judge ruled the Democrats likely would have won but waited too long to file the lawsuit. Reagan refused to extend the Oct. 10 voter registration deadline even though it fell on Columbus Day. The Democrats noted there’s no mail service and state motor vehicle offices were closed that day and sued on Oct. 19.

Full Article: Ducey to Decide if Voter Registration Controversy Repeats | Arizona News | US News.

Colorado: Secretary of State on 2016 Electoral College vote: ‘They’re investigating’ | The Colorado Independent

“They’re investigating.” That’s what Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams said this week about the state attorney general’s office and a probe into what happened during Colorado’s Electoral College vote last year— four months after it took place. On Dec. 19, 2016, during a traditional ceremony where the state’s nine national electors cast their official votes for president, one of them, Micheal Baca, did not cast his for Colorado’s popular vote-getter Hillary Clinton, and was stripped of his duties and replaced.

Full Article: Colorado secretary of state on 2016 Electoral College vote: ‘They’re investigating’ | The Colorado Independent.

Louisiana: House Lawmakers Not Keen to Restore Vote to Some Ex-Felons | Associated Press

Proposals to restore the voting rights of more than 70,000 Louisiana ex-felons on probation or parole got a chilly reaction from some state lawmakers Wednesday. A House committee rejected one such proposal and convinced a lawmaker to delay action on a similar bill until next week. Rep. Patricia Smith, a Baton Rouge Democrat, pulled her proposal from a vote after her colleagues expressed concern about giving the vote back to people who have been on parole or probation for five years. Similar proposals have died before in the conservative Louisiana Legislature.

Full Article: House Lawmakers Not Keen to Restore Vote to Some Ex-Felons | Louisiana News | US News.

Michigan: Civil Rights Commission urges U.S. Supreme Court to review emergency manager law | Michigan Radio

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission wants the U.S. Supreme Court to take up a case against Gov. Snyder. That’s what commissioners decided with a 5-0 vote Tuesday. They ordered the Michigan Department of Civil Rights to file an amicus brief urging the high court to review the issues raised in the case Bellant v. Snyder. The case makes the claim that Michigan’s emergency manager law, Public Act 436, violates the federal Voting Rights Act by diluting the voting power of people in certain communities, particularly African Americans.

Full Article: Michigan Civil Rights Commission urges U.S. Supreme Court to review emergency manager law | Michigan Radio.

Nebraska: Legislature moves bill to let unelected senators serve longer | Associated Press

The Nebraska Legislature gave initial approval Thursday to a measure that could let appointed state senators serve more than two and a half years before they face an election, but several lawmakers say the bill needs more work to ensure voters can choose their representative. Vacancies that occur earlier than 60 days before an election now are filled during the election. A proposal by Sen. John Murante of Gretna would instead require that vacancies occur before Feb. 1 of an election year to be filled in the next election.

Full Article: Nebraska moves bill to let unelected senators serve longer | The Herald.

Nevada: Same-day voter registration gets OK in Nevada Senate | Las Vegas Review-Journal

The Nevada Senate approved a bill Tuesday extending voter registration before Election Day, in some cases allowing same-day registration, and expanding voting hours in some jurisdictions. Senate Bill 144 was one of several election-related bills voted on as the Nevada Legislature faced a deadline Tuesday to pass bills out of their house of origin.
SB144 was approved on a 12-9 partisan vote, with state Sen. Patricia Farley, I-Las Vegas, voting with Democrats to approve it. Specifically, the bill extends voter registration until the last day of early voting, which is the Friday before a Tuesday election. Under existing law, voter registration closes on the third Tuesday before the election.

Full Article: Same-day voter registration gets OK in Nevada Senate – Las Vegas Review-Journal.

North Carolina: In 2016, in-person voter fraud made up 0.00002 percent of all votes in North Carolina | Vox

One in nearly 4.8 million. That’s how many fraudulent votes North Carolina’s voter ID law would have stopped in the 2016 election had it not been halted by the US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, based on a recent audit from the State Board of Elections. After all this time, the court battles, and the protests that the law would disproportionately hurt minority voters, it turns out the push for voter ID was all to stop just one potentially fraudulent vote out of 4,769,640 cast last November. North Carolina’s voter ID law imposed strict voter ID standards, as well as restricted the amount of early voting days, to stop in-person voter impersonation. A judge halted most of the law last year after concluding that it “target[ed] African-Americans with almost surgical precision.” The audit’s findings expose the lie behind voter ID laws: Republican lawmakers say (in public) that their voter ID laws are meant to stop voter fraud, but actual voter fraud is vanishingly rare. Instead, these laws are seemingly geared — by some Republicans’ admission, in fact — toward making it harder for minority and Democratic voters to cast a ballot.

Full Article: In 2016, in-person voter fraud made up 0.00002 percent of all votes in North Carolina - Vox.