Congress could authorize top-secret security clearances for each state’s chief election official to help protect voting systems from cyberattacks and other potential meddling. That provision, which was part of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s 2018 policy bill for U.S. spy agencies, is one of the first concrete steps that lawmakers have taken to try to defend future elections from the sort of foreign interference that plagued the 2016 presidential race. The Senate panel is one of two congressional committees investigating what the American intelligence community says was a Russian government campaign to undermine the U.S. democratic system, discredit Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump win. The Senate Intelligence panel included language that would require Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to set up the clearances for state leaders in its annual bill setting policy for the intelligence community.
Congressional investigators have unearthed an email from a top Trump aide that referenced a previously unreported effort to arrange a meeting last year between Trump campaign officials and Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to sources with direct knowledge of the matter. The aide, Rick Dearborn, who is now President Donald Trump’s deputy chief of staff, sent a brief email to campaign officials last year relaying information about an individual who was seeking to connect top Trump officials with Putin, the sources said. The person was only identified in the email as being from “WV,” which one source said was a reference to West Virginia. It’s unclear who the individual is, what he or she was seeking, or whether Dearborn even acted on the request. One source said that the individual was believed to have had political connections in West Virginia, but details about the request and who initiated it remain vague. The same source said Dearborn in the email appeared skeptical of the requested meeting.
Frustrated that Democrats dominate elective office in California, a Republican eyeing a 2018 run against Sen. Dianne Feinstein wants to repeal the state’s top-two primary system that he says shuts out Republicans and disproportionately propels left-wing Democrats into office. “There’s no question more liberal candidates have been more successful,” said Thomas Palzer, who is pushing an initiative for the November 2018 ballot to repeal a clause in the California Constitution that says regardless of party, the top two vote-getters in a primary election advance to a November runoff. “To me, that’s not representative government.”
House Speaker Richard Corcoran announced Wednesday that he wants to repeal part of the Florida Constitution that provides public financing for statewide election candidates. Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, and House Commerce Chairman Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, announced they are asking the Florida Constitution Revision Commission to place the repeal on the 2018 general-election ballot. The commission, which meets every 20 years, has the power to directly place proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot. Corcoran has appointed nine of the 37 commission members, meaning his proposals are likely to carry a lot of weight with the panel.
The man who sounded the alarm about Georgia’s voting system sat down with CBS46 for a one-on-one interview. He tackles the question of whether your vote is safe. The 29-year-old says he’d heard Georgia’s election system was vulnerable and wanted to play around with it to “see what he could accomplish.” … “If a bad guy wanted to have everyone’s voter registration information, they probably have it today,” says Lamb, who is a cybersecurity researcher. He says this because one year ago, he did a simple Google search on the Georgia Secretary of State’s website. The cybersecurity researcher uncovered more than he could have ever expected. First, he found voter lists. “I thought that was pretty strange,” says Lamb. “So I immediately wrote a little bit of code to just download the website.” When he returned from lunch, he says, “I was shocked to find that I had about 15 gigabytes of data…voter registration information. I had full names, dates of birth, addresses, last four digits of social security numbers, driver’s license numbers. There were databases that are used on election day for actually accumulating the vote.” He believes the website was also vulnerable to a well-known hack and the server was not secure.
While some states argue over plans to make voter registration more difficult, Illinois’ political leaders are agreeing to do just the opposite. And we applaud them. In May, the General Assembly unanimously passed a bill to link voter registration to the act of obtaining a driver’s license or state ID. It’s called automatic voter registration and nicknamed “motor voter.” On Monday, Gov. Bruce Rauner will sign the bill, according to a spokesman in his office. He vetoed a similar measure in 2016, but legislators tweaked it this year to get his support. Automatic voter registration means Illinois residents automatically become registered to vote when they go to the Secretary of State’s office to get a driver’s license, as long as they are age-eligible. But wait, there’s more. Illinoisans also will be able to register to vote through other state agencies.
Reports that Kansas discarded provisional voter ballots in the 2016 election at a rate higher than almost any other state is further proof that Kansas should not be the model to follow in establishing federal election guidelines. Kansas becoming an election model for the country wasn’t a real concern until President Donald Trump appointed Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the architect of Kansas’ voting policies, co-chairman of Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. Kobach is the architect of some of the nation’s most restrictive voter registration policies. The requirements to register to vote require extensive documentation and are most burdensome on poor and elderly voters. New data from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission show just how effective those policies have been, not only at keeping people from the polls in Kansas, but also challenging their ballots once they do turn out.
The Montana Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld a judgment against a former state lawmaker from Bozeman who was fined $68,000 for having been found to have accepted and failed to report illegal corporate contributions. The court’s ruling affirmed a Lewis and Clark County jury decision in April 2016 against former Republican Rep. Art Wittich of Bozeman. The civil case was brought against Wittich, then a state senator, by Montana’s Commissioner of Political Practices, who at the time was Jonathan Motl. After a five-day trial, 10 of 12 jurors found that Wittich violated campaign finance laws during his 2010 state Senate campaign for District 35 by accepting nearly $20,000 in in-kind contributions from the National Right to Work Committee.
New Hampshire: Voters, advocates sue to block new law toughening voter registration | The Boston Globe
The League of Women Voters of New Hampshire and three New Hampshire voters are suing state officials to block a new law that toughens voter registration requirements, rules that civil rights advocates say amount to intimidation designed to discourage thousands of young residents from voting. The lawsuit, which was filed in state court Wednesday morning, challenges a measure New Hampshire’s GOP Governor Chris Sununu signed in July tightening the requirements for registering to vote in the state. Specifically, would-be voters must provide documentary evidence, such as a driver’s license or utility bill, that New Hampshire is their place of domicile — or their primary home — and that they plan to stay for longer than a temporary stint.
The head of New Hampshire’s Democratic Party filed a lawsuit Wednesday challenging a new state law that requires voters who move to the state within 30 days of an election to provide proof that they intend to stay. The party contends it presents confusing, unnecessary and intimidating hurdles to voting. Democratic Chairman Raymond Buckley said the law amounts to voter suppression. He’s asking for a judge to declare the law, signed by Republican Gov. Chris Sununu in July, unconstitutional. The lawsuit names Attorney General Gordon MacDonald and Secretary of State William Gardner as defendants. A statement from MacDonald’s office says the law is presumed to be constitutional. “The Department of Justice will defend it vigorously and we are confident it will be sustained,” the statement said.
Angolans voted Wednesday in an election in which the defense minister is the front-runner to succeed President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who will step down after 38 years in power in an oil-rich country beset by widespread poverty and corruption. About 9.3 million Angolans were registered to vote for the 220-member National Assembly; the winning party will then select the president. Dos Santos’ chosen successor is Joao Lourenco, the defense minister and a former governor who fought in the war against Portuguese colonial rule as well as the long civil war that ended in 2002. Dos Santos, accompanied by wife Ana Paula dos Santos, and Lourenco voted separately in Luanda, the capital, reported the state-run Agencia Angola Press. The main opposition leader, Isaias Samakuva of the UNITA party, cast his ballot at a university in a Luanda suburb.
Australia: Malcolm Roberts’s election may have been invalid, government solicitor tells court | The Guardian
Malcolm Roberts could be the exception among sitting parliamentarians ensnared in the dual citizen saga in that his election in 2016 may have been invalid, the high court has heard. Roberts and former senator Scott Ludlam were different to the other three politicians so far referred to the high court – Barnaby Joyce, Larissa Waters and Matt Canavan – because they knew they had been citizens of other countries, the solicitor-general, Stephen Donaghue, told the court on Thursday. Tony Windsor, the former independent MP and rival to Joyce, has been allowed to join the citizenship case, which chief justice Susan Kiefel has set down hearings in Canberra in October.
Kenya: Elections are only part of the story in Kenya’s history of post-poll violence | Mail and Guardian
Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga and his National Super Alliance are contesting the country’s general election results in the Supreme Court. Odinga rejected the official results which showed that Uhuru Kenyatta had reclaimed the presidency. In the days following the announcement that Kenyatta had won, opposition supporters attempted to engage in peaceful protests. International and local media reported on clashes between police and residents in Nairobi and Kisumu. Earlier in the year state security forces were also deployed against opposition supporters agitating for reforms to the country’s election commission. But media reports often misrepresent the cyclical unrest in Kenya as a typical response to the announcement of election results. It is true that post-election violence has been a feature of many Kenyan elections, specifically those in 1992, 1997, and 2007. But dismissing post-election violence because it is an expected reaction to the outcome ignores the complexities of Kenya’s political reality.
A conference to gather political leaders to discuss the future of Liberia and the conduct of violent free elections is expected to kick up on August 25, 2017. The church of Liberia under the auspices of Turning Point Liberia is bringing church leaders and political leaders to discuss the way forward in these elections. The Head of Turning Point Liberia Bishop Jonathan Foxx is calling political leaders to use this opportunity to interface with the church. “This is to evaluate their moral and spiritual values, which we believe will grant us as community of Christian believers the insight to make a Godly and wise decision come October, for the first time in the history of Liberia, Church leaders have surface to address issues pertaining to the General elections.”
Five tiny political parties could all end up kingmakers in Norway’s parliament after elections on Sept. 11, presenting a risk to Norway’s key oil industry and making it even more difficult to form a government than before. The Greens aiming to shut Norway’s oil industry and the Marxist Red party seeking social justice are among those hoping for influence, as are the more experienced Socialist Left, centrist Liberals and the socially conservative Christian Democrats. Overall, the Nordic nation faces at least ten potential alternatives for minority or majority coalition governments and the outcome of the vote is particularly hard to predict, pollsters say.