National: Federal judge set to hear new challenge to Trump fraud commission Tuesday | The Washington Post

A federal judge will hear arguments Tuesday over whether a Watergate-era law prohibiting the government from collecting data on how Americans exercise their First Amendment rights bars President Trump’s Election Integrity Commission from American’s voting records. U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth of the District set the hearing Monday after Common Cause, a nonprofit government watchdog group, alleged that the Trump administration was violating the Privacy Act of 1974 by seeking the “quintessentially First Amendment-protected political party affiliation and voter history data” of every American. The court could rule on the request for a temporary restraining order as early as Tuesday.

National: DHS is refusing to investigate possible breach of voting machines | Business Insider

Pressure to examine voting machines used in the 2016 election grows daily as evidence builds that Russian hacking attacks were broader and deeper than previously known. And the Department of Homeland Security has a simple response: No. DHS officials from former secretary Jeh Johnson to acting Director of Cyber Division Samuel Liles may be adamant that machines were not affected, but the agency has not in fact opened up a single voting machine since November to check. Asked about the decision, a DHS official told TPM: “In a September 2016 Intelligence Assessment, DHS and our partners determined that there was no indication that adversaries were planning cyber activity that would change the outcome of the coming US election.” According to the most recent reports, 39 states were targeted by Russian hackers, and DHS has cited–without providing details–domestic attacks in its own reports as well. “Although we continue to judge all newly available information, DHS has not fundamentally altered our prior assessments,” the department told TPM.

National: Every Voting Machine at This Hacking Conference Got Totally Pwned | Gizmodo

A noisy cheer went up from the crowd of hackers clustered around the voting machine tucked into the back corner of a casino conference room—they’d just managed to load Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” onto the WinVote, effectively rickrolling democracy. The hack was easy to execute. Two of the hackers working on the touchscreen voting machine, who identified only by their first names, Nick and Josh, had managed to install Windows Media Player on the machine and use it to play Astley’s classic-turned-trolling-track. … The security industry encourages regular software updates to patch bugs and keep machines as impenetrable as possible. But updating the machines used in voting systems isn’t as easy as installing a patch because the machines are subject to strict certification rules.

National: Hackers Demonstrate How Vulnerable Voting Machines Are | US News & World Report

We shouldn’t need another reminder, but the DefCon hacking conference in Las Vegas provided one over the weekend anyway: Voting machines are highly susceptible to electronic attacks. You might remember the topic of hacking elections from such recent presidential campaigns as: last year’s. And while – this is important – there’s no evidence that hackers manipulated actual vote tallies in 2016, there’s every reason to believe that cyber-malefactors will try to do just that in future. And the DefCon gang proved how easy that would be. The convention set up a Voting Machine Hacking Village where attendees could see what they could do against more than 30 voting machines (procured, no kidding, via eBay and government auctions). It took less than 90 minutes before a hacker was able to crack the poorly-secured Wi-Fi on one voting machine (which is, thankfully, outdated and was apparently last used in 2015); another programmed a machine to play Rick Astley’s ghastly song, “Never Gonna Give You Up.” Imagine casting your vote on Election Day and getting rickrolled for your trouble.

Alabama: Judge blocks motion to immediately restore voting rights of many felons |

A federal judge turned down an advocacy group’s request that Alabama swiftly reinstate many recently convicted felons’ voting rights and take immediate steps to educate people about the impact of a new state law that restores access to the ballot for tens of thousands of felons. Chief District Judge W. Keith Watkins denied a request for preliminary injunction in a lawsuit against the state brought on behalf of 10 Alabama citizens by the Campaign Legal Center, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit. “Plaintiffs have not met their high burden for obtaining a mandatory preliminary injunction,” Watkins wrote in his Friday opinion. “They have failed to demonstrate that any of the preliminary injunction factors weighs in their favor.”

Arkansas: Local elections first test for revived Arkansas voter ID law | Associated Press

Arkansas’ revived law requiring voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot will be put to the test — and come under heightened scrutiny by opponents who fear the new measure could lead to disenfranchisement— when it takes effect this week. Voters heading to the polls early in three cities and two counties Tuesday for special elections on sales tax measures will be required to show photo ID before casting a ballot, or sign a sworn statement confirming their identity under the law approved by the Legislature earlier this year. The measure revives a similar voter ID restriction that was struck down by the state’s highest court three years ago. The American Civil Liberties Union, which successfully challenged Arkansas’ previous voter ID law, said it’ll be watching carefully to see how the latest restriction is enforced during early voting and on the Aug. 8 election day to prepare for another potential lawsuit if voters are being disenfranchised.

Florida: ACLU investing millions of dollars in Florida to restore ex-felons’ voting rights | The Washington Post

The American Civil Liberties Union, which has stepped up its political engagement as its Trump-era membership has swelled, is getting behind a campaign to end Florida’s felon disenfranchisement law by changing the state Constitution. The decision will put substantial financial and activist resources behind an ongoing campaign to put a “Voter Restoration Amendment” on the November 2018 ballot. “It’s going to be at least [a] $5 million commitment, maybe more,” said Faiz Shakir, the ACLU’s national political director, in an interview. “We’ll build through the end of the year, and to get the signatures we need to get on the ballot, we’re looking at a million.”

Florida: Broward County elections supervisor makes changes after being sued | Sun Sentinel

Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes may be fighting a federal lawsuit, but she testified Tuesday that it has already pushed her to do more to uncover people who should be removed from the county’s voting rolls. Snipes is in court defending her office against accusations brought by the conservative American Civil Rights Union that the county has thousands of ineligible voters on its lists. The ACRU, a Virginia-based nonprofit, is asking U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom to order the county to take additional steps in purging names that don’t belong on the rolls. The ACRU claims the county in recent years has had more voters on its rolls than eligible voting-age residents, or at the very least, that it has close to a 100 percent voter registration that it says is “improbable.” The trial in federal court in Miami could set a national precedent for how aggressive election officials need to be in removing non-voters from their rolls. The ACRU and other conservative groups have been challenging voter roll information in states and counties across the country.

Georgia: State cancels more than 591,500 voter records | Atlanta Journal Constitution

Georgia canceled the registration of more than a half-million voters over the weekend, part of an ongoing round of maintenance to clean up the state’s voting rolls. Each of the 591,548 voters affected by the move had already been on the state’s “inactive” registration list. That means they had not voted, updated their voter registration information, filed a change of name or address, signed a petition or responded to attempts to confirm their last known address for at least the past three years. None of the voters had had any contact with local election officials or the state since at least Sept. 16, 2014, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office.

Kansas: Couple complains to Kobach of ‘degrading’ voting experience | The Wichita Eagle

A Wichita couple has written an open letter to Secretary of State Kris Kobach complaining that they were subjected to “degrading, humiliating, demeaning, and unnecessary drama” in casting their votes in Wichita’s District 1 City Council election. Eugene and Mamie Jewel Anderson didn’t get the mail ballots they requested, although they have lived at the same address for 49 years. They had to fill out forms and cast provisional votes when they showed up in person at an advance voting site. In their letter, the Andersons questioned whether where they live – a historically black area of Wichita – may have been part of the difficulties. “Well, we jumped through all of those hoops, and were allowed to cast our Provisional ballots,” the letter said. “However, we are deeply concerned! Will we experience the same degrading, humiliating, demeaning, and unnecessary drama when we request advance ballots for the non-partisan General Election? Or is there a deeper problem of residing in a specific zip code or something else?”

Maine: Secretary of state says he will reject second request for voter registration data | Portland Press Herald

Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap said Monday that he is unlikely to release any state voter registration data to the federal voter fraud commission to which he was appointed by President Trump. Dunlap said he will reject a second request for the data from the commission’s vice chairman, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who promised last week that the data would be held in confidence at the federal level. But Dunlap said he is uncertain that the federal Freedom of Information Act would allow the data to be protected from disclosure once it is in the federal government’s hands. He said he wants the commission, to which he was appointed in May, to first set goals for what it hopes to achieve as it investigates Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud.

Missouri: Opponents of voter ID law seek favorable results in upcoming hearing | MissouriNet

A lawsuit led by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) against Missouri’s new photo voter ID law will have a hearing in September. The suit, filed in Cole County Circuit Court in Jefferson City, claims the state hasn’t adequately provided education, poll worker training or funding for ID’s the law calls for.  Daniela Velazquez with the ACLU of Missouri says that voters’ right are under threat. “This lawsuit is really about ‘Can Missouri really implement this law that they said they were going to do without putting the voters of Missouri at risk for being able to vote” said Velazquez. When the lawsuit was filed in the second week of June, the ACLU had hoped a judge would issue a temporary restraining order to block the law before two local special elections took place – one in southern Missouri’s New Madrid, and the other in St. Louis city.  The judge declined to do so.

New Hampshire: ACLU suit says voter list restrictions have roots in 2006 bill | WMUR

A court petition by the American Civil Liberties Union and two state lawmakers seeking to block the secretary of state from sending voter data to President Donald Trump’s election integrity commission cites a 2006 state law that restricts how such voter information can be disseminated. But the sponsor of that bill 11 years ago, former House Speaker William O’Brien, said Monday the legislation was not intended to keep voter information that is already available publicly from the federal government. The ACLU’s reinstated petition to block Secretary of State William Gardner from sending publicly available voter data to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, on which Gardner serves, says that in 2006, Gardner’s office supported the O’Brien-sponsored bill that restricted the use of the data.

North Carolina: Judges: No special elections for redrawn districts | Associated Press

Federal judges on Monday rejected a request by North Carolina voters who sued over General Assembly district boundaries to hold special elections next March in new districts once lines are redrawn to eliminate illegal racial gerrymandering. The unanimous order by the three-judge panel means the next legislative elections won’t occur until November 2018, as regularly scheduled. But the judges did tell Republican lawmakers who control the legislature that they’ll have to approve new House and Senate boundaries by this September — at least two months earlier than GOP leaders sought. The three judges ordered lawmakers to draw the new maps by Sept. 1 but wrote that they would extend the deadline to Sept. 15 if lawmakers make enough progress on new boundaries in the next few weeks. Such movement would include disclosing remedial plans and creating a method by which the public and other legislators can make comments and present evidence.

North Carolina: How much proof is needed for a voter fraud allegation? Board of Elections considers stiffer standards | News & Observer

Republicans and voting-rights advocates went head-to-head over a proposal that would have people make fact-based claims when they allege voters have committed fraud. The State Board of Elections has proposed a stiffer standard for elections protests that would have people describe facts, say whether a lawyer helped them make their claims, and say whether they have any witnesses. The rule is being considered in the aftermath of the November election and the close race between Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and Democrat Roy Cooper. Republicans filed complaints in more than 50 counties alleging ballots were cast by dead people, felons, and people who voted in other states. Most of those complaints were dismissed, but they helped delay vote counts.

Ohio: Secretary of State tells Supreme Court that state’s voter purge practices are legal | Cleveland Plain Dealer

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted on Monday defended Ohio’s practice of beginning the process to cancel registrations of voters who haven’t cast ballots in two years, telling the U.S. Supreme Court its actions are needed to keep accurate voter rolls. In a legal brief, Husted said the state’s procedure doesn’t violate a federal prohibition against removing individuals for failing to vote. The brief said election boards ask inactive registrants to confirm their eligibility. Failure to respond to those confirmation notices – not failure to vote – is what triggers cancellation of a voter’s registration.

Washington: Director of Elections Tells DOJ Voter Rolls Are ‘Accurate’  | NPR

Washington state’s voter rolls are “accurate,” and the state follows federal election laws. That’s the message Washington Director of Elections, Lori Augino, is sending to the U.S. Department of Justice. President Donald Trump has alleged widespread voter fraud in last year’s election. He’s formed a Commission on Election Integrity to investigate. Trump’s Department of Justice has also sent letters to secretaries of state asking for information on how they purge their voter rolls of “ineligible voters.” Augino has now sent a four-page response to DOJ. It says the state routinely compares its voter registration database to lists of deaths and felony convictions. And the state looks for duplicates every night.

Kenya: Election official ‘tortured and murdered’ as fears of violence grow | The Guardian

Fears of electoral violence in Kenya rose on Monday after colleagues of a senior Kenyan election official who was found dead said he had been tortured and murdered. The body of Chris Msando, the head of information, communication and technology at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the main body overseeing the polls, was found on the outskirts of Nairobi on Saturday but news of his death was released 48 hours later. The corpse of an unidentified woman was also found. The apparent murders come nine days before voters in the east African state will choose a new president, as well as lawmakers and local representatives. Msando, who had a key role developing a new electronic ballot and voter registration systems at the IEBC, had been tortured before he died, election officials said.

Liberia: Elections Campaigns Officially Begin Today |

The National Elections Commission (NEC) has declared campaign open for the ensuing elections as of today, Monday, July 31, at 12:01 a.m. until Sunday, October 8 at 11:59 p.m. “During the campaign period,” NEC chairman Jerome G. Korkoya said, “candidates are allowed to publish or display campaign literature, posters, flyers, banners, t-shirts, caps or other promotional items designed to support their election. “Both political parties and independent candidates are allowed to hold marches, parades, rallies or other assemblies for the purpose of soliciting voters and promoting their candidature by way of speeches, pictures, banners, placards, or any other printed materials. They can organize campaign committees, associations and movements to support their elections.”

Senegal: Opposition cries foul as Senegal holds tense vote | AFP

Senegal voted in a tense general election Sunday, with ex-president Abdoulaye Wade accusing his successor of engineering problems with the ballot to thwart an opposition victory. The vote to elect a new parliament is seen as a test run for President Macky Sall ahead of a 2019 presidential election and follows a campaign marred by violence. The first results are due early on Monday in the west African nation, where more than 6.2 million people are registered to vote. There were hours-long delays to voting in several places, and some voters complained of being left off the electoral rolls. “I’m going home. I’ve checked at several polling stations and my name doesn’t figure anywhere. However I normally vote here,” complained Souleye Tine in Dakar’s working-class Medina neighbourhood.

Venezuela: Opposition leaders, election experts decry Venezuela vote | Reuters

President Nicolas Maduro says 8 million Venezuelans cast ballots on Sunday in an election that will give his leftist government more power, but experts say the voting was rife with irregularities and opposition leaders are crying foul. The official vote tally is similar to those seen in victories won by late President Hugo Chavez when he was at the peak of his popularity, and tens of thousands of ecstatic red-shirted Venezuelans danced and cheered at the presidential palace when he was re-elected. During the weekend vote to elect members of a constituent assembly, many streets were deserted and the opposition boycotted the vote championed by Maduro, who is widely blamed for an unprecedented economic meltdown marked by food shortages, runaway inflation and spiraling poverty levels.

Venezuela: Maduro claims poll victory as opposition cries foul | BBC

Electoral officials in Venezuela say turnout in the controversial election for a constituent assembly was 41.5%, a figure disputed by the opposition. The opposition coalition said 88% of voters abstained and it refused to recognise the election. It also called for more protests on Monday. Sunday’s election was marred by violence, with widespread protests and at least 10 people killed.
President Nicolás Maduro hailed the poll as a “vote for the revolution”. It was a victory speech for him and his followers but after a day of violence on the streets it’s a pretty hollow victory – if you can even call it that.