President Donald Trump and Kris Kobach’s voter fraud commission is a stain on our democracy. It is already harming voters by reducing the registration rolls. Two weeks ago, the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity asked election officials in all 50 states to turn over detailed voter information. Now, in response, voters in some states — such as Colorado, Florida and North Carolina — are seeking to “unregister,” asking their states to remove them from voter rolls before any information is sent to the commission. As Denver elections director Amber McReynolds lamented, “I never expected to see more withdrawals in a day than new registrations. The impact on voters is real. The impact on civic engagement is real. The impact on election offices is real.”
Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a woman he was told was a Russian government lawyer who had incriminating information about Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton that could help his father’s presidential campaign could lead investigators to probe whether he violated U.S. election law, experts said. Trump Jr. met the woman, lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, on June 9, 2016, after an email exchange with an intermediary. The emails, tweeted by Trump Jr. on Tuesday, could provide material for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential election. In one of the emails dated June 3, 2016, Trump Jr. wrote: “If it’s what you say I love it.” He released the tweets after the New York Times said it planned to write about their contents and sought his comment.
National: Trump’s Election Commission Plans to Abandon Insecure Voter Data Collection Methods | Gizmodo
Since the president’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity requested voter rolls from state election officials—allegedly for the purpose of investigating Trump’s unproven claims about widespread voter fraud—45 states and the District of Columbia have either partially or wholly declined to share their data, and security experts have raised concerns about whether the commission has the technical capabilities to keep the data secure. A federal judge raised questions last week about the security of voter data transferred to the commission. Sources tell Gizmodo that the White House is backing down from its initial requests for state election officials to send the data through a file transfer website created by the Army and not intended for civilian use. The commission plans to propose another option for states to submit data, the sources said. … Kris Kobach, the vice chairman of the commission, initially provided two ways for officials to send in their voter data: The first is an email address that, as Gizmodo reported, does not support basic encryption protocols. Voter data sent to the address would be transmitted over an unencrypted connection, leaving it vulnerable to interception or manipulation.
The voting rights community isn’t holding its breath for a “report” expected out of President Trump’s sham election commission that advocates predict will be used as a cudgel for restrictive voting laws. They already have a good idea of how the Trump administration, led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, will seek to scale back access to the ballot with an approach that has its antecedent in the scandal-plagued Justice Department of George W. Bush. It was signaled clearly in a under-the-radar letter sent by the DOJ to most states late last month. The letter did not get as much as attention as the wide-reaching data request from the Trump election commission—which is being led by Vice President Mike Pence and hard-right Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R)—but voting rights advocates told TPM they find it just as concerning, if not more so.
Following the Trump administration’s request for voter registration data as part of the newly established Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, some U.S. states have seen an uptick in citizens moving to keep their information out of the federal government’s hands. Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state and vice chairman of the commission, sent a letter asking officials in each state to provide personal records of voters — including name, birthdate, last four digits of Social Security numbers, party affiliation and felony convictions. A total of 16 secretaries of state and Elections Board members spoke with ABC News about constituents’ responses to the request. Ten states noted at least a slight increase in citizen calls and emails, and some citizens inquired about the process to unregister to vote, or how to secure their personal information.
Wired magazine had it right with its headline “Trump Wants All Your Voter Data. What Could Go Wrong?” As the article notes, “The private ballot is tradition in the United States. Now, President Trump’s voter fraud commission wants to collect every American’s voting history and make it available to the public—all in the name of ‘election integrity.’” Forty-four states have already said they will not comply for a variety of reasons. Other sites can discuss the merits of the request or rejection of the requests. Here we want to examine the implications of big data and why arbitrary collection of this information may not be a great idea. For this particular request, states were asked to provide quite a bit of information about voters and their voting history. This included details like a voter’s political party affiliation, address, voting history, felony history, and the last four digits of their Social Security numbers. Some of this is disturbing in its own right like the last four digits of Social Security numbers. This information is often used in conjunction with other details like an email address to set up accounts on websites. These are often financial sites.
The astonishing email just released by Donald Trump Jr., setting up the meeting last year with a Russian lawyer, is devastating for the White House. Above all, it underscores that the Trump family knew of a secret Russian campaign to interfere in the American election — and embraced it. Read the whole email exchange, but here’s the key paragraph: “The Crown prosecutor of Russia … offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father. This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” This passage undermines the Trump and White House position in three crucial ways — not attributed to vague “sources” but in black and white documentary form.
Editorials: Voter fraud commission very quickly runs into roadblocks | Carl P. Leubsdorf/The Dallas Morning News
One of democracy’s best protections against blatantly preposterous proposals is that the perpetrators inevitably go too far. In the case of President Donald Trump’s fraudulent voter fraud commission, that didn’t take long. Even before next week’s first official meeting, the panel Trump created to pursue his ridiculous claim that 3 million to 5 million Americans voted fraudulently last November, is running into roadblocks both federal and state. On Monday, it temporarily suspended its request for reams of public and personal election data in the wake of multiple federal court suits from liberal groups contending it has failed to protect voters’ privacy. But the principal resistance has come from the nation’s secretaries of state, many of them Republicans.
In March 1965, Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church in Selma served as the starting line of the two famous marches toward Montgomery that propelled the voting rights movement into the national consciousness. Four months later, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law, ushering in a new era of increased access to the polls for African-Americans and other minorities across the South and beyond. On Saturday, a new voting rights effort kicked off inside that historic church, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once spoke and Selma marchers nursed their wounds after being beaten by state troopers near the Edmund Pettus Bridge 52 years ago.
Florida: Local elections officials trying to convince some registered voters to stay registered | News-Press
Local elections officials are trying to talk voters out of unregistering, as privacy concerns continue to mount in response to a special commission created by President Donald Trump. Fears about data breaches and identity theft — or flat-out aversion to what many perceive as a Big Brother-ish information gathering activity — continued even as a representative of the commission on Monday told state officials not to provide the voter data previously requested. Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner was among the state officials who received the missive from Andrew Kossack, the designated federal officer for the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.
Kansas: Inaccuracies Posted On Kansas Secretary Of State Website Through Voter Registration Deadline | KMUW
Kansans who registered to vote at the DMV or otherwise used the federal voter registration form are eligible to vote in all races, according to court rulings, whether they’ve provided a citizenship document or not. But those voters might be confused by inconsistencies on Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s website. As of Tuesday, the deadline to register to vote in the primary elections on August 1, the website contained conflicting information on the Kansas proof-of-citizenship rule. In accordance with a federal court order issued last October, some parts of the KSSOS.org site, and associated state websites, have been updated. The new language clarifies that voters using the federal registration form aren’t currently subject to the proof-of-citizenship rule and can vote in all races.
A new law in New Hampshire requires that voters moving to the state within 30 days of an election provide proof that they intend to stay and subjects them to an investigation if they can’t provide the proof and want to vote in future elections. Earlier this year, President Donald Trump alleged widespread voter fraud in New Hampshire, although there’s been no evidence to support this. Republican Gov. Chris Sununu signed the bill into law Monday, effective in 60 days. It provides that those who can’t provide proof such as a driver’s license or lease would still be allowed to vote, but if they don’t follow up with elections officials within 10 to 30 days, authorities could go to their homes to investigate. In cases where officials can’t verify someone’s address, the voter would be removed from the voter rolls for future elections.
Texas: Voting rights battle in Pasadena could have Texas-wide legal ramifications | The Texas Tribune
Cody Ray Wheeler has a cowboy’s name. It’s a product, he says, of being born the son of a North Texas refinery worker. In some ways it’s emblematic of a changing Texas: Wheeler, who is Hispanic, represents a city council district with a majority-white voting constituency in this Houston suburb. It’s also a name that has put him at the center of a voting rights battle over whether city leaders here pushed changes to the council map to undercut the electoral power of a booming Hispanic majority. “A Hispanic wasn’t supposed to win that seat,” Wheeler said over barbecue on a recent steamy afternoon. He’s convinced his non-Hispanic last name made the difference in his narrow 33-vote margin of victory in 2013. “I could not run as a Hispanic candidate,” he said. “I would’ve lost.”
Wisconsin: The research that convinced SCOTUS to take the Wisconsin gerrymandering case, explained | Nicholas Stephanopoulos/Vox
In June, the Supreme Court agreed to hear its first partisan gerrymandering case in more than a decade. This case, Gill v. Whitford, involves a challenge to the district plan that Wisconsin passed for its state house after the 2010 Census. The case also involves a quantitative measure of gerrymandering — the efficiency gap — that has created a bit of a buzz. One reporter compares it to a “silver-bullet democracy theorem” and a “gerrymandering miracle drug.” Another speculates that it may be the “holy grail of election law jurisprudence.” I’m an attorney in Whitford and the co-author of an article advocating the efficiency gap, so I appreciate the attention the metric is getting. But I still think much of this interest is misplaced. The efficiency gap is, in fact, a simple and intuitive measure of gerrymandering, and I’ll explain why in a minute. But the true breakthrough in Whitford isn’t that plaintiffs have finally managed to quantify gerrymandering. Rather, it’s that they’ve used the efficiency gap (and other metrics) to analyze the Wisconsin plan in new and powerful ways. These analyses are the real story of the litigation — not the formulas that enabled them.
A vote to replace Congo’s president Joseph Kabila might not be possible this year, the head of the electoral commission said. Opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi said it was “a declaration of war on the Congolese people.” Corneille Nangaa, the president of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’s electoral commission, said on Sunday that the 12-month deadline since the end of Kabila’s tenure was unlikely to be met for logistical reasons. “The parameters at our disposal give us, more or less, reason to think that, in December, it will probably not be possible to stick to that date,” Nangaa said in an interview on France’s TV5Monde.
Italy’s politics is currently paralysed. Since the resignation of PM Matteo Renzi last December, the majority of the population and most political parties want an election, even though one is not scheduled to occur until next year. The country is now on its fourth consecutive unelected PM, Paolo Gentiloni. As he leads the government Renzi remains behind the scenes, calling the shots for his party and itching to get back into power. Yet an early election cannot occur immediately, nor can electoral reform happen overnight. It is a debate Italians and Canadians are quite familiar with. Italy has seen such proceedings, on and off, for more than two decades. The numerous reforms that have emerged from this debate demonstrate perfectly the various tradeoffs that electoral reform entails, and illustrate the idea that no electoral system is perfect.
New Zealand: How New Zealand’s growing alt-right movement plans to influence the election | New Zealand Herald
A worldwide surge in populist politics has breathed new life into the vestiges of New Zealand’s far right. Kirsty Johnston reports from within the fringe. When outrage over racist posters at Auckland University hit headlines in late March, their white supremacist creators were elated. They’d tricked the media! Their message was being heard! Their Facebook page was up to almost 100 likes! Members of the Western Guard, the supremacists’ secret online group, began to plan a second wave. They decided to mobilise their new recruits and plaster campuses nationwide. They made signs for Nelson, for New Plymouth, for Taupo. “White Lives Matter” the templates read. “You can prevent white genocide. Your country needs YOU!” As more recruits joined in the coming days, energy built. The fledgling club discussed its limits – were gays allowed? No way, the hive mind said. They decreed it was probably best not to use ethnic slurs in public “just yet”.
Papua New Guinea’s struggle to complete its election tells the story of the country’s continuing woes. It is derived from one part corruption, one part inadequate funding, and several parts of the kind of bureaucratic incompetence that mars so many PNG institutions. This year’s election — the ninth since independence from Australia — which in theory finished last Saturday, started quietly with the most low-key campaigning period in living memory — since most candidates simply did not have the money to spend on the colourful electioneering of the past. In 2002, especially in the Southern Highlands, about 100 people died as the election campaign burst into tribal warfare.
Only President Paul Kagame has a chance of winning the 2017 presidential election. And he could stay in power until 2034. “More of a coronation than real contest.” That’s how the Kenyan daily The Standard characterised Rwanda’s presidential poll slated for 4 August. It sums up the reality well. In countries with competitive politics, elections are an important moment giving rise to debate and excitement. Not so in Rwanda. Rwandans have become accustomed to polls where everything is settled in advance. This was the case before the genocide, when the country was officially a one-party state. And it has been the case since 1994, after which Rwanda became a de facto one-party state under the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF).