National: Successful voting systems must be accurate, usable, accessible and secure |

Voting systems must be accurate, usable, accessible and secure to be successful, according to a new paper from a voting behavior expert at Rice University. “Improving Voting Systems’ User-Friendliness, Reliability and Security” will appear in Behavioral Science and Policy and summarizes voting systems in the United States used throughout the past decade and outlines lessons about how to improve them. In the paper, author Mike Byrne, a professor of psychology and computer science at Rice, summarizes previous voting research that supports his argument that the following four factors are critical to the success of voting systems. In his previous research on voting accuracy, Byrne found that voting machines fail to capture voter intent up to 4 percent of the time. He found a 1-2 percent error rate for paper ballots, a 1.5 percent error rate for direct recording electronic – DRE – machines and a 3-4 percent error rate for punch cards and lever machines. He said this is clear evidence that this issue must be addressed. Voting error rates were measured by comparing each voter’s intent with the actual vote that was cast.

National: Ex-Trump Aides Hunt for Untapped Voters, and Proof of Fraud | The New York Times

With President Trump’s poll numbers slipping, a group of the president’s former campaign aides is beginning an effort to encourage new voters in parts of the country that supported him in the election, and to stop what they contend are illegal votes in Democratic areas. The former aides are starting a group called Look Ahead America to identify “disaffected” rural and working-class Americans who either do not vote or are not on the voter rolls, in order to register and mobilize them ahead of future elections, according to a prospectus being distributed to possible donors. Look Ahead America also seeks to discourage or invalidate “fraudulent” votes by deploying poll watchers with cameras, and through what it called a forensic voter fraud investigation to identify “votes cast in the names of the deceased, by illegal immigrants or non-citizens,” according to the prospectus, which was shared with The New York Times.

Alabama: Why thousands of Alabama voters were moved to “Inactive Voter’ list | WPMI

Many voters were confused at the polls Tuesday because even though they had voted in the presidential race, they were told they were on the inactive voter list. The Alabama Secretary of State’s Office says out of the state’s 3.3 million voters, 340,162 were moved to the inactive list this year. Every four years, according to federal and state law, cards are sent to voters to verify their address. If they’re marked return to sender twice, the voter is put on the inactive list. Local 15 production assistant Caitlin Smith has lived in this same apartment for a year and voted in the presidential election.

Editorials: Illinois Automatic Voter Registration bill lingers on Rauner’s desk … why? | The Times

On June 1, the Chicago Cubs were 25-27, in third place in the National League Central, three games behind Milwaukee. As of Aug. 15, they’d improved to 62-56, taken over first place and the Brewers had fallen into third. Also on June 1, we published an editorial calling on Gov. Bruce Rauner to live up to his May promise to sign Senate Bill 1933, a measure that would make automatic voter registration the law of the land in Illinois. Rauner vetoed similar legislation in 2016, so lawmakers went back to work, crafting such agreeable legislation that it gained unanimous approval in both the House and Senate — a feat made even more staggering when placed in the context of the partisan rancor that has gripped and gridlocked Springfield for years. SB 1933 closely aligns the new automatic voter registration system with the state’s Real ID program and is designed to make the process less expensive, more modern and more secure. It also builds in the time it will take to develop a fair and effective system before launch, rather than putting the cart several lengths ahead of the horse.

Voting Blogs: Federal Lawsuits Challenge Indiana’s Wildly Disparate Precinct, Early Voting Site Laws | The Brad Blog

In two separate federal lawsuits, Common Cause v Marion County Board of Elections (May 2, 2017) and Indiana NAACP v. Lawson (Aug. 9, 2017), both challenging restrictions on voting rights in Indiana, civil rights organizations have sought to block what they describe as unconstitutional Republican schemes that, with “surgical precision”, seek to depress the vote in large minority, Democratic-leaning counties while contemporaneously enhancing voter turnout in white, Republican-leaning counties. The lawsuits entail two sets of laws. One of the lawsuits seeks to block a law that specifically targets Lake County — and only Lake County — for precinct consolidation and/or elimination. Lake County sports the state’s second largest African-American population and its largest Hispanic population. The other lawsuit challenges a voter suppression scheme that significantly reduces early absentee voting sites for a significant number of African-American (Democratic) voters in Marion County, even while mostly white (Republican) voters in neighboring counties benefit from a significant expansion in the number of available early absentee voting sites.

Texas: Voter Maps Blocked as Racially Biased by U.S. Judges | Bloomberg

Texas can’t use its current voter maps in the upcoming congressional midterm elections after a panel of federal judges ruled districts approved by state Republican lawmakers illegally discriminate against Hispanic and black voters. The three-judge panel in San Antonio gave the state three days to say if and when the Texas Legislature will fix the congressional map, which the judges concluded still carried the discriminatory taint of districts lawmakers originally drew in 2011 with the intent to squelch rising Latino voting strength. If Texas doesn’t intend to correct biased districts, the court will hold a hearing to solicit advice before redrawing the map on its own, the panel said Tuesday. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, expressed disappointment with the ruling, which he claimed didn’t square with the court’s approval of essentially the same district boundaries five years ago.

Utah: County Clerk: Waiting several days for election results may be the new norm | Daily Herald

Vote-by-mail has put a whole new spin on determining election results. Though the Associated Press declared Provo Mayor John Curtis the winner Tuesday night in a three-way Republican primary for the 3rd Congressional District, his opponent Chris Herrod has still not conceded, and thousands of votes wait to be counted in Utah County alone. Dozens of mayoral and city council candidates also await final results to see if they advanced to the general election Nov. 7. Utah County Clerk/Auditor Bryan Thompson says he has had multiple candidates and city officials express frustration with the delay, but more results will likely not be released until Friday.

Washington: About those ‘democracy vouchers.’ They didn’t work for everyone | KUOW

This year, Seattle embarked on a bold political experiment in public funding for elections: the Democracy Voucher program. But Hisam Goueli, a candidate for Seattle City Council Position 8, says the new voucher system is broken and lead to “frustration and tears” for his campaign. Although he received nearly $20,000, the money arrived the day before the primary election. Goueli saw the program as a great opportunity for a first-time candidate like himself to run a competitive campaign. In the taxpayer-funder program, each registered voted in Seattle was issued four $25 vouchers, which they can “donate” to the candidate of their choice. But Goueli says that dream turned into a total nightmare, when he and his campaign manager ended up spending “four or five hours each day trying to get the democracy voucher program working.” 

West Virginia: Secretary of State’s Office sends notices to outdated voter registrations | The Independent Herald

In an effort to keep the state’s voter registration rolls as up to date as possible, the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office on Aug. 9 mailed about 130,000 postcards to registered voters whose addresses have been flagged as outdated. By updating voter registrations, West Virginia Elections Director Donald Kersey said the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office is not only complying with the duties outlined in the National Voter Registration Act but is also ensuring the integrity of any election. … Kersey said the roughly 130,000 registered voters represent about 11 percent of the total population of registered voters. He added that by updating the state’s voter registration rolls, the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office is able to get an accurate picture of voter turnout.

Germany: Russian-Germans in focus amid fears of Moscow propaganda | Reuters

German political parties campaigning for elections next month are competing to attract 2 million voters with roots in the former Soviet Union, amid concerns that Russian propaganda could sway votes in the community. The biggest push for votes has come from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which has six Russian-German candidates on its party slate, and whose leaders have had two meetings with the community in recent weeks. Including candidates for the Social Democrats, conservatives and other parties, a record number of Russian-German candidates are standing in the election on Sept. 24, after years of having just one representative there – Heinrich Zertik, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU). Zertik is one of about 3 million Germans with roots in Russia and the former Soviet Union, whose ancestors moved there hundreds of years ago, but who faced persecution, torture and exile after two world wars.

Kenya: Opposition Leader Says He’ll Expose Election Fraud | The New York Times

The leader of Kenya’s opposition party said Wednesday he would challenge the results of last week’s presidential election in the Supreme Court, not in the hopes of overturning the outcome but as a way to expose evidence of widespread vote-rigging. “Whether the court rules in our favor or rules against us, we don’t really care,” the opposition leader, Raila Odinga, said in an interview after making the announcement in front of supporters and media. “We want this evidence to come out so that people can know how they did it and who did, so they know that it was stolen.” At the same time, he called on Kenyans to seek justice by practicing civil disobedience if the Supreme Court fails to give a fair ruling. “This is about the people of Kenya so that the Kenyans are justified to use civil disobedience means to seek justice if they don’t get it in a court of law,” Mr. Odinga said. “So we will use all constitutional means.”

Nepal: EU, United Nations contribute additional 1.6 million euros for elections | Republica

The European Union (EU) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) have announced to provide an additional 1.6 million euros grant as part of their electoral assistance to Nepal to reinforce their cooperation with the Election Commission of Nepal. The grant will be used to provide needful electoral assistance to the EC through the UNDP-managed Electoral Support Project (ESP), according to a press statement issued jointly by UNDP  and EU Office in Kathmandu on Wednesday. 

New Zealand: ‘Jailhouse lawyer’ Arthur Taylor loses appeal to allow prisoners to vote | New Zealand Herald

One of New Zealand’s longest-serving prisoners has lost an appeal to allow inmates to vote behind bars. Arthur William Taylor, who has spent about 40 years of his life in prison, and prisoners Hinemanu Ngaronoa and Sandra Wilde – brought their cases to the Court of Appeal, arguing it was discriminatory to ban prisoners from voting. The case was originally taken in 2013 by Taylor – a self-described “jailhouse lawyer”. He also sought and won a “declaration of inconsistency” in the High Court, saying a broad-sweeping ban on prisoners’ voting was an unjustified limitation on the right to vote. That decision was upheld on appeal this year, but does not mean Parliament must repeal the ban.