A dead dog in Moscow. A dead dissident in London. Twitter trolls run by the Kremlin’s Internet Research Agency. Denial of service attacks and ransomware deployed across Ukraine. News reports from the DC offices of Sputnik and RT. Spies hidden in the heart of Wall Street. The hacking of John Podesta’s creamy risotto recipe. And a century-old fabricated staple of anti-Semitic hate literature. At first glance these disparate phenomena might seem only vaguely connected. Sure, they can all be traced back to Russia. But is there any method to their badness? The definitive answer, according to Russia experts inside and outside the US government, is most certainly yes. In fact, they are part of an increasingly digital intelligence playbook known as “active measures,” a wide-ranging set of techniques and strategies that Russian military and intelligence services deploy to influence the affairs of nations across the globe.
In a sign that the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election will remain a continuing distraction for the White House, the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, is in talks with the West Wing about interviewing current and former senior administration officials, including the recently ousted White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, according to three people briefed on the discussions. Mr. Mueller has asked the White House about specific meetings, who attended them and whether there are any notes, transcripts or documents about them, two of the people said. Among the matters Mr. Mueller wants to ask the officials about is President Trump’s decision in May to fire the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, the two people said. That line of questioning will be important as Mr. Mueller continues to investigate whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice in the dismissal of Mr. Comey.
Jason Kander might have fallen a bit short in his bid to become a U.S. senator last fall, but when he put out a call for summer help in Manassas, some of his 194,000 Twitter followers didn’t hesitate to answer. In the days since President Donald Trump’s election (and Kander’s own 3-point loss to Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.), the former Missouri Secretary of State has been crafting a new kind of political organization: “Let America Vote,” a group Kander says is designed to “create political consequences for politicians who’ve made voting more difficult or failed to stand up for voting rights.” But with the 2018 midterm elections still a long way out, the Democrat turned his eye toward the statewide races in Virginia as a good place to start. His team of organizers, largely culled from the staff of his Senate bid, saw an opportunity to make an impact in Northern Virginia and made plans to open the group’s first field office in Prince William County.
It’s been called a faulty, error-prone failure. But that might not stop this system for rooting out vote fraud from getting a national debut. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the vice chair of President Donald Trump’s vote fraud commission, is looking to expand the “Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program” that he’s developed in his state to sweep possible illegal voters off the rolls. Crosscheck is a computer system designed to detect fraud by finding matches in voter registration lists shared by dozens of states and thereby detecting suspected double voters.
The Trump administration moved deeper into the politics of voter suppression this week by reversing the federal government’s opposition to Ohio’s effort to purge tens of thousands of voters from the rolls simply because they vote infrequently. A federal appeals court blocked Ohio’s move last year as a violation of voting laws, in a case brought by civil rights advocates and backed by the Obama administration’s Department of Justice. Now that an appeal has been accepted for this term by the Supreme Court, Trump appointees at Justice — not career professionals — have changed the government’s position to side with Ohio, in effect endorsing the purge and asking that it be allowed to go forward.
Arizona: Voter fraud in Arizona: How often does it happen, how is it stopped? | The Arizona Republic
President Donald Trump has called voter fraud an issue that may have swayed the outcome of the 2016 popular vote. Without proof, he claimed that millions of people voted illegally in the election. Through an executive order in May, he created a Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. The commission likely could replicate work done in Arizona since 2008. Since that year, state officials have examined hundreds of thousands of cases where someone might have voted twice in an election. After scrutinizing those cases, 30 were sent to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. Twenty resulted in convictions. The path to those convictions started with the work of the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program, now run by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
Two counties identified as having more registered voters than citizen voting age population by a watchdog organization say they have rectified the issue. In April, the watchdog group Judicial Watch sent a letter to the Illinois State Board of Elections identifying 24 counties that had more registered voters than voting-age population. Two west-central Illinois counties, Cass and Scott, have nearly or totally corrected the issue, according to officials. Scott County Clerk Sandy Hankins addressed the matter with the board of commissioners in July, noting that the state felt the county was within regulation. However, Hankins took steps to correct any problems by mailing new voter identification cards.
Indiana: After Obama’s 2008 Win, Indiana GOP Added Early Voting in White Suburb, Cut It in Indianapolis | Slate
n 2008, Barack Obama squeaked out an unexpected win in Indiana thanks in part to his huge margin of victory in Marion County, which has a large population of black Democrats. The state’s Republicans got to work right away, cutting early voting in Marion County, which includes the state capital of Indianapolis, while expanding it in a nearby suburban county filled with white Republican voters. That’s the distressing but entirely predictable upshot of a blockbuster report published by the Indianapolis Star on Thursday. The Star found that between 2008 and 2016, Republican officials reduced the number of early voting stations in Marion County from three to one, resulting in a 26 percent decline in absentee voting in the 2016 presidential election. (Early votes are cast via absentee ballots.) Meanwhile, officials added two early voting stations to the neighboring Hamilton County, which is populated primarily by white Republicans. The county saw a 63 percent increase in absentee voting in 2016. There is now one early voting station for every 100,000 voters in Hamilton County and one for every 700,000 voters in Marion County. In total, the number of people who voted in Marion County decreased by 11,261 between 2008 and 2016 and increased in Hamilton County by 27,376—this “despite an increase of registered voters in both counties,” the Star reports.
The NAACP is suing Indiana officials to block a new state law that the civil rights group says would discriminate against black and Latino voters in heavily populated Lake County by consolidating voting precincts. The lawsuit challenges a law that applies only to Lake County, which is home to Indiana’s second-largest African-American population and its largest Hispanic population. It alleges that the new law unfairly reassigns large numbers of voters to new polling locations that may be difficult for black and Latino voters with mobility issues or a lack of reliable transportation to reach. The federal lawsuit, filed Thursday by the Gary NAACP and the Priorities USA Foundation, names Indiana’s secretary of state and members of the Indiana Election Division as defendants.
He won’t even be able to vote, but a 16-year-old Wichita high school student says he’s serious about his bid to run for governor of Kansas. Jack Bergerson has filed to run as a Democrat in the 2018 race for governor of Kansas, saying he wanted to give people another option, The Kansas City Star reported . And it doesn’t faze him that he won’t even be old enough to vote in the election. “Under Kansas law, there is no law governing the qualifications for governor, not one,” said Bryan Caskey, director of elections at the Kansas secretary of state’s office. “So there’s seriously nothing on the books that lays out anything, no age, no residency, no experience. Nothing.” When Bergeson, a junior at The Independent School in Wichita, found out about the lack of requirements, he thought, “Oh, I could do that.”
Michigan Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof and other Republican legislators are fighting subpoenas that could force them to testify and expose internal debate over a controversial law to ban straight-ticket voting. The legal drama is unfolding more than a year after a federal judge first suspended the straight-ticket ban in the run-up to the 2016 election, ruling the change could disproportionally burden African-American voters and limit their opportunity to participate in the state’s political process. Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office are fighting to implement the ban ahead of the 2018 election cycle, arguing it would neutrally apply to voters of all races. The case is scheduled to go to trial in late December.
A prosecutorial probe is continuing six months after state election officials referred 31 cases of potential double voting to Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office in an effort to root out voter fraud. A statewide audit released in February found that 31 Michiganians appeared to vote twice in the November presidential election — once by absentee ballot and once in person on Election Day. The discoveries led then-state Elections Director Chris Thomas to refer the cases to Attorney General’s office for the first time in at least 36 years. Thomas told reporters in February it was part of a “far-reaching” anti-fraud effort to “aggressively root out illegal voting” after the state’s investigation into voting irregularities in Detroit found mismatched vote totals in the Nov. 8 election. Half a year later, Schuette’s office is still looking into the cases and has no updates on the investigation, said spokeswoman Andrea Bitely.
Pennsylvania: Why Pennsylvania sends too many Republicans to Washington – and why that could change | Philadelphia Inquirer
Pennsylvania sends too many Republicans to Washington. That’s not a partisan attack. It’s just math. Of the 18 Pennsylvanian members of the House of Representatives, 13 are Republicans and 5 are Democrats. That split should be more like 11 to 7 or even 10 to 8 if the districts were drawn without attempts at favoring Republicans, according to recent expert analyses. It’s all about the map: Several lawsuits are attempting to get various state legislative and congressional maps declared unconstitutional on the basis of partisan gerrymandering, the idea that one political party drew the lines in a way that benefited them unfairly. The lawsuits rely on a set of tools that for the first time could convincingly identify skewed maps and persuade the courts that a state’s map goes too far in favoring one party. A federal court has ruled Wisconsin’s state legislative map unconstitutional, the first victory in a partisan gerrymandering case in three decades.
The Texas Senate on Friday voted 21–10 to approve a House-amended version of Senate Bill 5, a measure that broadens the definition of mail-in voter fraud and ups the penalties for those who commit it. Since it was first passed in the Senate earlier this summer, the bill has been altered to repeal a nursing home voting provision that Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law. That law, House Bill 658, would have created a process for collecting absentee ballots at thousands of Texas nursing homes, effectively turning those facilities into temporary polling places during early voting to discourage voter manipulation. The proposal now heads to the governor’s desk for his signature or veto. According to state Rep. Tom Oliverson — who championed the nursing home law — Abbott’s office now supports repealing it, just months after he signed it and praised it on Twitter as “a bi-partisan effort targeting voter fraud at nursing homes.” Abbott’s office has not returned requests for comment this week.
The campaign for the August 23’s general election in Angola begins today for last week. It can be decisive in the search of the vote for next parliament. Since the official election beginning of last July 23, 22 days ago, the presidential candidates of the six leading forces traveled nationwide to present their programs, some more elaborate than others, with change as a more repeated expression. While the ruling PeopleÂ´s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) holds the word ‘change’ in its draft, the rest of contenders are seeking out to replace the party that has been running the nation for nearly 42 years.
Australia: Deputy Prime Minister Can Claim New Zealand Citizenship. Too Bad for Him. | The New York Times
The citizenship scandal that has roiled Australia’s Parliament threatened to claim its biggest casualty on Monday after the deputy prime minister was revealed by the New Zealand government to be a New Zealander, unbeknown to him. The Australian Constitution prohibits people with dual citizenship from holding seats in the national legislature. Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, 50, the leader of the right-leaning National Party, has served in the House of Representatives since 2013, after serving eight years in the Senate. He is also the minister of agriculture, the source of a well-publicized dispute over dogs brought into Australia in 2015 by the actor Johnny Depp.
The head of the panel that drafted Egypt’s 2014 constitution, possibly the most progressive in the country’s history, denounced calls to amend the charter on Saturday, saying in a carefully-worded statement that parliament should focus instead on implementing it. Amr Moussa, a respected statesman and a former foreign minister and Arab league chief, was apparently responding to calls by some lawmakers to extend by two years the four-year term the president serves in office. President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has less than one year left in his first term. He has yet to say whether he is running for a second term, but he is widely expected to do so in June 2018. The constitution stipulates the president can only serve two terms. The relevant clause cannot be amended unless the change “brings more guarantees,” according to the constitution. Moreover, any amendment must be approved in a nationwide referendum before it comes into force.
Kenya: Flying rocks, teargas and a dead child: the grisly aftermath of the Kenya election | The Guardian
Mid-afternoon, and black smoke trails above the grey tenements. Broken glass, burned tyres, rubble and makeshift barricades block roads. Charred spars mark where a stall once stood, incinerated in confused clashes overnight. Police, armed with batons and assault rifles, cluster around their trucks. Angry men shout slogans and wave fists. The morning has seen much violence: teenagers throwing rocks, police firing teargas. During the night, Mathare, a sprawling slum in Nairobi, has echoed to the sound of gunfire and police helicopters. There have been many casualties, some fatal. Now there is a pause. The police are waiting. So too are the youths they have pursued through the narrow lanes for almost 18 hours – since the Kenyan election commission declared Uhuru Kenyatta, in power since 2013, had won the presidential polls held on Tuesday by a substantial margin.