The man who oversees the election office that threw out nearly 14,000 Kansans’ ballots from the 2016 general election is running for governor a year from now. That’s a thought six other Republicans in the gubernatorial primary field – and the Democratic candidates – probably can’t get out of their heads. Secretary of State Kris Kobach is known locally for his work in making it harder for Kansans to vote in the name of eliminating voter fraud – fraud that has been proven in the most infinitesimal numbers. He’s known nationally for that, plus being co-chairman of President Donald Trump’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity that was seemingly created to prove Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that he would have won the 2016 popular vote if not for 3 million to 5 million illegal votes.Full Article: Wichita Eagle editorial on Kansas elections | The Wichita Eagle.
Illinois this week became the tenth state to adopt an automatic voter registration law, and election reform advocates in Massachusetts are using the news to call on Bay State lawmakers to approve similar legislation. The law signed by Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner after unanimous passage in the Legislature there “creates more accessible and secure elections by automatically registering voters unless they opt out of the program,” members of the Election Modernization Coalition said in a statement. “The new law will add roughly one million new eligible voters to the voter rolls,” said the statement, signed by Pam Wilmot of Common Cause Massachusetts, Meryl Kessler of the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, Beth Huang of Mass Voter Table, Janet Domenitz of MASSPIRG, Cheryl Clyburn Crawford of MassVote and Jonathan Cohn of Progressive Massachusetts. “Similar laws in other states have been proven to increase turnout and make elections more secure by modernizing the voter registration process. It is a common sense and long overdue reform.”Full Article: Automatic voter registration now in place in 10 states - Lowell Sun Online.
Three days after Donald Trump’s election, Katie Fahey, a 28-year-old Michigander who works for a recycling nonprofit, sent a message into the Facebook ether, not knowing what might come of it. “I’d like to take on gerrymandering in Michigan,” she wrote. “If you’re interested in doing this as well, please let me know.” To her surprise, the message got shared, and shared, and shared some more. Pretty soon the Facebook post had turned into a Facebook group with a couple hundred supporters of all political persuasions from all over the state—lawyers and veterinarians, teachers and doctors, stay-at-home parents and accountants and mailmen. Google Docs and conference calls ensued, followed by fundraising and the formation of leadership committees. By early December, an ambitious statewide campaign to end gerrymandering in Michigan had emerged, with Fahey at its helm.Full Article: Michigan Suffers From Some of the Most Extreme Gerrymandering in the Country | The Nation.
North Carolina: ‘What’s the disincentive?’ to gerrymander over and over, asks judge | News & Observer
While the North Carolina General Assembly considered new maps for electing its members in 2018, a panel of federal judges were in a courtroom less than half a mile away weighing the next steps for two of at least five lawsuits that have challenged redistricting plans from the past decade. Three judges rejected a request to delay trials in two lawsuits filed last year by Common Cause and the League of Women Voters accusing lawmakers of using blatant partisan gerrymandering in 2016 to draw the districts that elect members of Congress. Those maps were drawn to correct unconstitutional racial gerrymanders.Full Article: Redistricting: NC partisan gerrymandering case goes ahead | News & Observer.
New Hampshire: Handwritten notes on N.H. voter checklists stall release to Trump fraud panel | Concord Monitor
New Hampshire election checklists being compiled for President Donald Trump’s electoral commission won’t be on their way to Washington anytime soon because they have to be cleaned of some voters’ personal information, including the identity of some potential victims of abuse. Review of the lists of voters compiled by more than 200 different town and city supervisors of the checklist and clerks found 51 polling place checklists from 42 communities “contained handwritten information that was either clearly confidential information or information which is not required for the election day checklist,” according to a memo released Tuesday from Secretary of State William Gardner and Attorney General Gordon MacDonald. “This information includes, among other things, dates of birth, driver’s license numbers, and telephone numbers.”Full Article: Handwritten notes on N.H. voter checklists stall release to Trump fraud panel.
A judge listened to testimony from witnesses on both sides in a lawsuit seeking to make it legal in the state for voters to photograph their marked ballots. Judge P. Kevin Castel did not immediately rule Tuesday on the merits of a year-old lawsuit brought by several voters who want to distribute pictures of their ballots on social media. Last year, the judge refused to shut down the 1890 law just before the presidential election, saying it would “wreak havoc” to let ballot selfies occur at thousands of polling places.Full Article: Judge hears testimony about ballot box selfies in New York | WANE.
If somebody you know got stopped seven or eight times for driving drunk, would you think they had a problem? Texas lawmakers have now been popped by federal judges seven or eight times in recent years for intentionally discriminating against minority voters in with voter ID and redistricting legislation. Think they’ve got a problem? The federal government has a program for repeat offenders like Texas; it’s called “preclearance,” and it forces states with histories of official racial discrimination to get their new election and voting rights laws checked by the feds — either the Justice Department or the courts — before those laws can go into effect.Full Article: Analysis: The Texas Legislature’s persistent discrimination | The Texas Tribune.
With less than a month to go in Germany’s election campaign, third place has become the most sought-after prize. Angela Merkel’s center-right bloc has held a lead of about 15 percentage points across a variety of polls for weeks. The Social Democrats, under Martin Schulz, may yet close the gap, but history suggests they have virtually no chance of winning. The battle for third place, however, is anything but over. A cluster of parties, including the far-left Die Linke, the liberal Free Democrats (FDP), the Greens and the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) are in a dead heat, all polling in the 7-10 percent range.Full Article: In German election, third is the new first – POLITICO.
Iraq’s oil-producing region of Kirkuk will vote in a referendum on Kurdish independence on Sept. 25, its provisional council decided on Tuesday, a move that could increase tension with Arab and Turkmen residents. The ethnically mixed region is claimed by both the central government in Baghdad and the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq. The vote is “definitely happening” on Sept. 25, Kirkuk Governor Najmuddin Kareem told Reuters after a majority of the provincial council voted in favor of taking part. Only 24 of the 41 council members attended Tuesday’s vote, with 23 voting in favor of participating in the referendum. One abstained.Full Article: Iraq's Kirkuk province to vote in Kurdish independence referendum.
Kenya: Court orders opposition access to electronic vote-count systems after presidential poll | Reuters
Kenya’s Supreme Court on Monday ordered the election commission to allow the opposition, which is disputing the results of this month’s presidential poll, to have access to its computer servers and electronic devices used in the counting of votes. Election authorities say President Uhuru Kenyatta won a second term in the Aug. 8 poll by 1.4 million votes. A parallel tally by independent monitors based on a sample of around 2,000 polling stations produced a similar result. But opposition leader Raila Odinga’s coalition said in its court petition that results from more than a third of polling stations were flawed. At least 28 people were killed in election-related violence, many of them shot by police after the results were announced, amid scattered protests in opposition strongholds.Full Article: Kenyan court orders opposition access to electronic vote-count systems after presidential poll.
The Carter Center has launched an international election observation mission to Liberia’s Oct. 10 presidential and legislative elections. Six long-term observers recently joined a core team of experts already on the ground. Together, the team represents six countries. The Center’s observers will meet regularly with representatives of the National Election Commission, political party candidates, civil society organizations, the international community, and citizen election observers to assess electoral preparations and the pre-electoral environment, including election administration, campaigning, voter education, and other issues. They will be joined by a larger delegation of election observers in October that will assess the voting, counting, and tabulation processes.Full Article: FrontPageAfrica Newspaper - Carter Center Launches International Election Observation Mission in Liberia.
There are 534 candidates contesting next month’s election – with more women standing than in 2014. The Electoral Commission has officially released the electorate and party list candidates for the September 23 election. There are 16 registered parties, fielding a total of 534 candidates – slightly down on the 554 people who ran in the last election. This year the gender split is 341 men, 190 women and three gender diverse or not specified. In 2014, there were 390 men and 164 women candidates.Full Article: Confirmed: 534 candidates gear up for the election - NZ Herald.
A Seoul court sentenced a former spy agency chief to four years in prison Wednesday, finding him guilty of meddling in the 2012 presidential election through a covert cyber operation. The Seoul High Court handed down the verdict to Won Sei-hoon, who headed the National Intelligence Agency (NIS) from 2009 to 2013, more than two years after the top court sent the case back to the lower court for retrial, citing insufficient evidence. Won was put behind bars immediately after the ruling. He was on trial without detention.Full Article: Ex-spy chief sentenced to 4 years in jail for election meddling.
The vice chair of a presidential commission charged with investigating voting fraud swung back at the Democratic leader of the Senate Friday, saying it was “pathetic” that Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer equated the panel with white supremacists and a deadly rally earlier this month in Charlottesville, Virginia. “It’s a pathetic, partisan attempt to wrap Charlottesville around every issue he can think of,” said Kris Kobach, the vice chair of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. “It’s complete nonsense.” On Thursday, Schumer, a Democrat from New York, posted a piece on Medium.com calling for President Donald Trump to disband the commission. He also said if Trump failed to do so, Congress should consider attaching riders to “must-pass” legislation in September that would prohibit the panel’s operation.Full Article: Voter Fraud Panel Chair Swipes at Schumer Over Charlottesville.
Editorials: Outdated technology is a greater threat than hackers to US elections | Antonio Mugica/Washington Examiner
The recent DefCon hacking conference demonstrated why America needs to modernize its voting systems with more technology, not less. Participants exposed vulnerabilities in various pieces of election technology at DefCon’s Voting Machine Hacking Village and, predictably, had no difficulty infiltrating many of the systems. The twist? They were hacking into technology that hadn’t been updated since the early 2000s. Interestingly, the key takeaways from this hack-a-thon closely mirror the recommendations recently put forth to Congress by 100 security experts. They include the need for multiple levels of encryption, post-election audits and secure servers. But it’s important to remember that these findings aren’t new. And my company, Smartmatic, has been using such measures to protect voters for over a decade, so we know the technology exists. The hackers at DefCon highlighted the dramatically archaic state of U.S. voting machines and reminded the public to prioritize securing voting infrastructure for upcoming elections. In a field where the half-life of software can be just a few months, it’s no surprise hackers took down equipment that was over a decade old. The concerning part is that some of this technology is still used in elections today.Full Article: Outdated technology is a greater threat than hackers to US elections.
California: Judge invalidates law that would have allowed public financing of political campaigns | Los Angeles Times
A Superior Court judge has struck down a new law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown that would have allowed cities, counties and the state to provide public financing of political campaigns, ruling that it violates a ban on that use of taxpayer dollars established nearly 30 years ago, officials said Monday. Judge Timothy M. Frawley in Sacramento ruled that the financing law, which was signed last September, “directly contradicts” Proposition 73, an initiative approved by voters in 1988 that bans use of public money for campaigns.Full Article: Judge invalidates law that would have allowed public financing of political campaigns in California - LA Times.
Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a measure Monday allowing automatic voter registration in Illinois, a move that comes a year after he rejected a similar measure over concerns about voter fraud. Illinois joins more than half a dozen other states with some form of automatic voter registration, which proponents say boosts civic participation. “This is good bipartisan legislation and it addresses the fundamental fact that the right to vote is foundational for the rights of Americans in our Democracy,” Rauner said at a Chicago bill signing ceremony attended by supporters. “We as a people need to do everything we can to knock down barriers, remove hurdles for all those who are eligible to vote, to be able to vote.”Full Article: Illinois Governor Signs Automatic Voter Registration Law | WBEZ.
North Carolina: State Supreme Court weighs GOP lawmakers stripping Cooper’s powers | Associated Press
North Carolina’s highest court on Monday tackled the question of how far the Republican-led legislature can go to minimize new Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s ability to pursue goals that helped him get elected last year by reshaping state government. The state Supreme Court heard arguments in a lawsuit brought by Cooper that claims legislators violated North Carolina’s constitution this spring by passing a law diminishing the governor’s role in managing elections.Full Article: State Supreme Court weighs GOP lawmakers stripping Cooper's powers | Associated Press | greensboro.com.
North Carolina Republicans quickly positioned themselves Monday to approve new General Assembly districts before a court-ordered deadline later this week, even as Democrats argued the new maps display the same unlawful racial bias that judges found in the earlier ones. The full House voted 65-47 for district lines that appear to help the GOP retain its strong majority in the chamber. The Senate followed late Monday with a 31-15 vote giving final approval to its remap, which also should help keep Republicans firmly in charge there, too. The Senate already had debated extensively on its plan before giving initial approval last Friday. The votes were largely along party lines favoring Repubilcans. The House still must consider the Senate map this week and the Senate must vote for the House districts, but these actions are likely perfunctory. Redistricting plans aren’t subject to the veto stamp of Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat.Full Article: General Assembly Clears Key Hurdles to Meet Maps Deadline | North Carolina News | US News.
The secretary of state’s office is set to officially roll out its new online voter registration system in Tennessee. The new system is already available online but the office will officially announce it next week. The move will put the state’s voter registration into the digital age as Tennessee joins a majority of other states that have already implemented similar systems. “This system meets people where they already are: online,” Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. “It will improve accuracy and efficiency for voters and election officials by ensuring there are fewer errors and more accurate voter rolls.”Full Article: Tennessee to roll out online voter registration.