North Carolina: Here’s what the public had to say about GOP redistricting plans | News & Observer

People from across North Carolina concerned about the new maps proposed to be used to elect General Assembly members in 2018 had few supportive words on Tuesday for the lawmakers who had them drafted. With votes on the maps scheduled for Friday in both the House and Senate, the legislative redistricting committee held public hearings on maps that were released over the weekend followed by supporting documents on Monday. On Tuesday, legislators were posted in Raleigh, Beaufort Community College, Halifax Community College, Fayetteville and Guilford County at hearings that were live-streamed through technology in which the sound sometimes was disrupted. Speaker after speaker described the maps as ones that will allow the elected officials to select their voters, instead of voters selecting their representatives in government.

National: Senate bill bans joint cyber initiative with Russia | FCW

An authorization bill introduced Aug. 18 by Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) pushes back against a proposal floated by the Trump administration to set up a joint cyber initiative with Russia. The bill also establishes a strategy to protect U.S. election systems and pushes for increased pay rates for federal cyber professionals. It is not the first bill to call for a prohibition on potential U.S.-Russia cyber cooperation. Following President Donald Trump’s tweet on July 9 stating that he and Russian President Vladimir Putin had “discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit” in the future to guard against election hacking, a bipartisan group of legislators expressed alarm at the idea. Although Trump later backtracked, Senate Democrats introduced a standalone bill three days later to deny funding for any such plan.

National: Lawsuit: Trump’s Election Commission Is Hiding Public Information | Rewire

President Donald Trump’s election commission led by voter suppression advocates won’t be able to operate in the dark if a new lawsuit is successful. Trump in May signed an executive order creating the “Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity,” led by Vice President Mike Pence and Kris Kobach, who as Kansas’ secretary of state was routinely accused of advancing voter suppression efforts. The commission’s stated purpose is to investigate allegations of voter fraud in the 2016 election. The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School and the Protect Democracy Project filed a lawsuit Monday in federal court in New York to compel the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the Office of Management and Budget to answer requests and disclose public information related to the commission.

National: Servicemembers turned out in smaller numbers for 2016 presidential vote | Stars & Stripes

The 2016 U.S. presidential election failed to interest many military voters, a recently released federal study has found. Voting rates dropped from 58 percent in 2012 to just 46 percent in 2016 among servicemembers, says the Federal Voting Assistance Program report, released earlier this month. “A striking finding from our analyses is the reported drop in participation rate among military personnel in the 2016 election as compared to the general population,” FVAP program director David Beirne said in a report to Congress. “The data shows that more military members cited motivation-related reasons for not voting and were less interested in the election in 2016 than in 2012,” he added.

National: Trump-Russia dossier owner faces senators, Donald Jr still a no-show | The Guardian

The co-founder of a Washington opposition research firm that produced a dossier of salacious allegations involving President Donald Trump has met for hours with congressional investigators in a closed-door appearance that stretched into the evening. Glenn Simpson’s lawyer, Josh Levy, emerged from the day-long private appearance with the Senate judiciary committee and said his client had “told Congress the truth and cleared the record on many matters of interest”. “Following up on comments from certain Senate judiciary committee members who have noted Mr Simpson’s cooperation with this investigation,” Levy said, “I would like to add that he is the first and only witness to participate in an interview with the committee as it probes Russian interference in the 2016 election.”

Illinois: Massive Chicago Voter Breach Underscores Importance of Cloud Security | eSecurity Planet

In a vivid reminder of the need to secure data in the cloud, researchers at UpGuard recently came across more than 1.8 million Chicago voters’ personal information exposed online in a misconfigured Amazon S3 bucket belonging to voting machine company Election Systems & Software (ES&S). The publicly downloadable data, which was discovered on August 11 by UpGuard director of strategy Jon Hendren, included voters’ names, birthdates, addresses, phone numbers, driver’s license numbers and the last four digits of Social Security numbers. The data was put together by ES&S for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners prior to the 2016 election. Since Chicago only had 1.5 million active voters in November 2016, the data appears to cover all of Chicago’s voters, both active and inactive. This is part of a larger trend — other recent breaches linked to misconfigured Amazon servers have exposed 14 million Verizon customers’ data, more than 3 million WWE fan’s personal information, 4 million Dow Jones customers’ personal data, over 60,000 sensitive Pentagon files, and approximately 48,000 Indian citizens’ personal data.

North Carolina: Political data released on proposed maps | News & Observer

Political data released by state lawmakers Monday shows voting patterns in proposed N.C. General Assembly districts. Most of the proposed districts lean Republican, similar to the current makeup of the General Assembly, where Republicans hold supermajorities in both the state House and Senate. Lawmakers drew new districts after courts ruled that the current maps, drawn in 2011, are unconstitutional racial gerrymanders. President Donald Trump would have won 33 of the 50 proposed Senate districts and 76 of the 120 proposed House districts. Statewide last year, Republican nominee Trump won 49.9 percent of the vote to 46.1 percent for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

North Carolina: ‘Sham’ maps slammed: Public blasts lawmakers over redistricting | WRAL

North Carolina residents slammed state lawmakers Tuesday, saying they need to start over in trying to replace voting maps federal courts have deemed illegal. Lawmakers face a court-imposed Sept. 1 deadline to adopt new House and Senate district maps, and tentative votes on the proposed maps have been scheduled for Friday and next Monday. Seven public hearings were held simultaneously across the state Tuesday afternoon to gather input on the proposed maps, which were rolled out over the weekend. A steady stream of people criticized the maps as no better than the maps drawn in 2011. The U.S. Supreme Court in June upheld the findings of a panel of three federal judges who found that the Republican-led General Assembly illegally packed too many black voters into a few districts to strengthen GOP districts elsewhere.

Pennsylvania: An Allegheny County election integrity coalition won’t get a ballot question but is still pushing for new laws | The Incline

A referendum effort to get a question about election integrity on the November ballot may have failed, but the coalition behind it still plans to lobby the Allegheny County Council to pass legislation. A coalition of groups including Don’t Tread on My Vote and VoteAllegheny plan to rally at the City-County building at 4 p.m. today and attend the 5 p.m. meeting of county council. As the activists previously explained to the Post-Gazette, their main aim is to get the county to create a commission to review voting machines and eventually have them replaced with ones that leave a paper trail. … With the referendum effort done, the coalition now plans to focus on lobbying county council to pass a 16-page ordinance it drafted or similar legislation.

South Dakota: Proposals could raise the bar for ballot questions | Argus Leader

After out-of-state groups spent millions of dollars on ballot measure and constitutional amendment campaigns last year, a task force is set to consider proposals Wednesday that could make it harder to pass a measure in South Dakota. Lawmakers, elections officials and ballot campaign insiders on the Initiative and Referendum Task Force have met twice this summer and are set to consider 20 draft bills aimed at reforming the state’s ballot initiative and referendum process. They could bump up the number of voters needed to pass a constitutional amendment, cap the number of amendments that voters can take up on each ballot and set up a board to hold hearings on ballot measures before voters take them up. And they’ll also consider requiring uniform font, changing filings deadlines and shifting some of the information that comes out about proposals before they hit the ballot.

Texas: Partisan redistricting in Texas: How much is too much? | The Texas Tribune

Partisan gerrymandering has traditionally been an accepted part of the redistricting process. To the victors go the spoils, and this has been especially true over the last decade with many of the post-2010 redistricting plans across the country representing some of the most extreme partisan gerrymanders in recent U.S. history. This fall, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider a case from Wisconsin and decide if there is a threshold for partisan gerrymandering that, once crossed, makes a redistricting plan unconstitutional. Our analysis of the current Texas delegation to the U.S. House, state Senate and state House of Representatives plans suggests that under a novel test presented by the Wisconsin plaintiffs, and heavily referenced by a federal lower court, Texas’s congressional redistricting plan is likely unconstitutional while the Texas Senate and Texas House redistricting plans are constitutional.

Texas: Seniors push back against mail-in ballot fraud law | TWC

Keeping Texas elections secure: that’s the goal of a new measure lawmakers passed during the special session. But the law has the side effect of repealing a measure meant to make it easier for senior citizens to vote. “The primary purpose of the bill was to address some of the issues with voting by mail,” said Texas Secretary of State Interim Legal Director Caroline Geppert. “That tends to be the area here in Texas where we see more complaints of possible fraud or alleged fraud.” The new law, passed during the special legislative session, increases fines and penalties for tampering with ballots or voting fraudulently.

Virginia: State hurt by gerrymandering, panelists say | Daily Press

Redistricting could explode as the top — and most heated — issue the next governor and General Assembly will face early next year, Virginia’s leading campaigner for reform said at a panel hosted by Peninsula Voices for Change. About 30 people attended the panel at Tabb Library Wednesday evening to discuss gerrymandering and redistricting in Virginia. Two Virginia cases working their way through state and federal courts and a Wisconsin case headed for the U.S. Supreme Court could mean “2018 will be a big year for redistricting,” said panelist Brian Cannon, executive director of the One Virginia 2021 advocacy group. “I think the next governor will have this on his desk,” Cannon said, adding that he thinks sooner or later Virginia will move toward an independent commission to draw House of Delegates, state Senate and congressional districts.

Angola: Angola Prepares for Historic Election | VoA News

Excitement and suspicion are swirling around Angola’s capital as the nation readies itself for a historic vote Wednesday, in the first election many citizens will have seen without the longtime president on the ballot. Jose Eduardo dos Santos is stepping down after 38 years in power. Five parties are challenging his powerful People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola, or MPLA, which has ruled since independence in 1975 and is widely expected to win again. Already, the two main opposition parties, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, or UNITA, and Broad Convergence for the Salvation of Angola Electoral Coalition, or CASA-CE, have said they see irregularities in the election preparations.

Australia: ‘Paperless option’ confirmed for same-sex marriage postal plebiscite | SBS

Australians who are based overseas or who cannot get material by post; those who are blind or with low vision or other disability; and those who are aged care residents may be given the option to vote via the paperless method, but this is in limited circumstances. Voters who are eligible will be able to request a secure access code which will then allow them to indicate their response to the plebiscite. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) said: “Whilst it is expected that nearly all eligible people in Australia will be able to participate using the postal service, the ABS will implement a number of strategies to ensure all eligible Australians have the opportunity to respond to the survey.”

Canada: Limit to election campaign lengths, new third-party rules likely coming in fall, Liberal minister says | National Post

The minister responsible for elections reform says she is aiming to introduce legislation this fall that could impose a time limit on election campaigns. In an interview, Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould outlined changes her office is considering — including how to deal with foreign “actors” who she said are “getting ever more creative.” A House of Commons committee recommended in June that a maximum election writ period be set at 43 days, more than a month shorter than the unprecedented 78-day campaign in 2015.

Kenya: Spoilt Votes, Insecure Systems Among Issues in Nasa Petition |

The contention whether or not rejected and spoilt votes should have been factored in, during computation of the 50 per cent plus one threshold for winning a presidential election is yet again expected to feature in the 2017 presidential election petition. In its 14-point relief pleadings, the National Super Alliance (NASA) is seeking to convince the Supreme Court bench to review a precedence set in the 2013 presidential election petition where the court decided that rejected votes ought not to be included in calculating tallies in favour of any candidate. NASA has also lined up a series of affidavits among them those filed by election officials, its presidential agents and technology experts, all poking holes on crucial election processes which the alliance argues compromised the credibility of the August 8 General Election.

Liberia: Presidential Transition Act Surfaces at Legislature | Liberian Observer

With the elections approximately six weeks away, the winner off the popular vote will be entitled to just a brief moment to gloat and then get down to the business of assuming leadership of the country.  And from the day the President-elect and Vice President-elect are announced, a series of transitional activities must take place leading up to inauguration. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has submitted a new bill (act) to the Legislature that, if passed into law, will be titled, The Presidential Transitional Act of 2017. The bill makes room for, among other things, any logistical, political, security, appropriative and other activities that would be required for the smooth transfer of political power between the President and Vice President and the President-elect and Vice President-elect, respectively.