National: Russian Election Hacking Efforts, Wider Than Previously Known, Draw Little Scrutiny | The New York Times

The calls started flooding in from hundreds of irate North Carolina voters just after 7 a.m. on Election Day last November. Dozens were told they were ineligible to vote and were turned away at the polls, even when they displayed current registration cards. Others were sent from one polling place to another, only to be rejected. Scores of voters were incorrectly told they had cast ballots days earlier. In one precinct, voting halted for two hours. Susan Greenhalgh, a troubleshooter at a nonpartisan election monitoring group, was alarmed. Most of the complaints came from Durham, a blue-leaning county in a swing state. The problems involved electronic poll books — tablets and laptops, loaded with check-in software, that have increasingly replaced the thick binders of paper used to verify voters’ identities and registration status. She knew that the company that provided Durham’s software, VR Systems, had been penetrated by Russian hackers months before. “It felt like tampering, or some kind of cyberattack,” Ms. Greenhalgh said about the voting troubles in Durham.

National: Electronic voting systems in the U.S. need post-election audits | TechTarget

The state of Colorado has taken a step toward rebuilding public trust in the election system in the United States.

Beginning in November 2017, Colorado will require risk-limiting audits, or RLAs, in elections statewide. The state has always required traditional post-election audits, but in 2009, a law passed requiring RLAs throughout Colorado. According to the statute, an RLA is “an audit protocol that makes use of statistical methods and is designed to limit acceptable levels of risk of certifying a preliminary election outcome that constitutes an incorrect outcome.” This means that all post-election audits in the state of Colorado compare a random sample of paper ballots to their digital counterparts. Colorado’s law is, in large part, a reaction to recent events in the U.S. and across the globe that have called the security of electronic voting systems into question and emphasized the importance of election audits for all levels of elections.

Alaska: State weighing options for conducting elections | Associated Press

The state of Alaska is exploring options for conducting elections after 2018, as it is faced with an aging voting system and financial pressures amid an ongoing state budget deficit. A bipartisan working group established by Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott is examining the issue. Josie Bahnke, director of the state Division of Elections, said one option that has gotten attention is a hybrid system would include allowing for early, in-person voting and voting by mail. But she said discussions are preliminary and more research must be done to see if this approach would work in Alaska, a vast state with far-flung communities. In certain parts of Alaska, the state must provide language assistance, including for a number of Alaska Native languages and dialects.

Georgia: New voting machines could change how your vote is cast | CBS46

Georgia is getting voting machines that could change how your vote is cast and counted. A spokesman for the Secretary of State’s Office would not confirm the details for this story, but we learned there’s about to be a big development that could signal a shift in election equipment. Express Vote machines will get a trial run in the Conyers mayoral race this November. “The pilot program in November addresses some concerns that have been raised about the state’s machines,” says Dr. William Boone, a political science professor at Clark Atlanta University. Rockdale County Elections Director Cynthia Welch told CBS46, “If all goes well, the state will probably ask for legislation where we can test the system statewide.”

North Carolina: It’s back to court for proposed new redistricting maps | News & Observer

New maps for electing members of the North Carolina House and Senate are ready for review by the judges who struck down the current maps. The General Assembly approved the maps Wednesday. Politicians from all corners of the state took advantage of their last chance to weigh in on the maps before final House and Senate votes, with Democrats taking up most of the speaking time to lodge a few final complaints to no avail. Rep. Deb Butler, a Democrat from Wilmington, acknowledged the Little League World Series team from Greenville who had spent the morning being applauded by legislators in between redistricting debates. She said the new maps are so unfair to Democrats that it would be as if the baseball team had to start every game down 6-0 and forced to bat with their non-dominant hands. She asked her Republican colleagues, who mostly supported the new maps, to reconsider their support. “The public, like those boys, expect nothing less than a level playing field,” Butler said. But in the end the maps passed both the House and Senate. Next stop: The judicial branch.

South Carolina: Watchdogs want full report cards on election weaknesses | The State

State election officials say that despite millions of cyber attempts to gain access to South Carolina’s voter registration system in the past year, no one has succeeded. But two election watchdogs complain that problems have been discovered and they want to be shown evidence of their severity. … Initial assessments by the S.C. National Guard’s Military Department Defense Cyber Operations and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security done in the wake of the Russian hacking of the presidential election found weaknesses in all county offices and at the state elections agency. The elections agency later hired the Charleston-based cybersecurity firm Soteria to plug the holes. But a USC computer science professor and a Lowcountry elections watchdog want to see the full assessments for themselves. “Every single county has at least a critical or high vulnerability,” said University of South Carolina computer science professor and elections analyst Duncan Buell. “They were not doing the no-brainer things for election security.” The Homeland Security assessment found the same level of vulnerability in servers used by the state agency, he said.

Texas: U.S. Supreme Court temporarily blocks ruling against Texas House map | The Texas Tribune

A lower court ruling that invalidated parts of the Texas House state map has been temporarily blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court. Responding swiftly to an appeal by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, Justice Samuel Alito on Thursday signed an order to put on hold a three-judge panel’s unanimous ruling that nine Texas legislative districts needed to be redrawn because lawmakers intentionally discriminated against minorities in crafting them. Alito directed the minority rights groups suing the state to file a response to the state’s appeal by Sept. 7. The lower court’s ruling could affect nine House districts across Dallas, Nueces, Bell and Tarrant counties. But adjusting those boundaries could have a ripple effect on neighboring districts.

Angola: Two Main Opposition Parties Reject Election Results | Bloomberg

Angola’s two biggest opposition parties rejected provisional results from an Aug. 23 election that gave the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola a majority of votes. The southern African nation’s second-biggest opposition party, the Broad Consensus for Angola Salvation – Electoral Coalition, known as Casa-Ce, said in an emailed statement that the vote count lacked transparency and wasn’t based on reliable information. Its refusal to accept the outcome came after the biggest opposition party, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, or Unita, said Aug. 26 that it didn’t consider the provisional results valid.

Kenya: Supreme Court annuls Uhuru Kenyatta election victory | The Guardian

Kenya’s supreme court has declared Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory in the presidential election last month invalid and ordered a new vote to be held within 60 days.The decision to nullify the result, a first in Kenya, sets up a new race for the presidency between Kenyatta and the veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga. Analysts said it marked a watershed in the east African nation and set a unique precedent for the continent. Kenyatta accepted the court decision on Friday afternoon, calling for “peace, peace, peace” in a televised address. The six-judge bench ruled 4-2 in favour of a petition filed by Odinga, who claimed the electronic voting results were hacked and manipulated in favour of the incumbent. Kenyatta was declared the election winner with 54% of the vote.

National: Adam Schiff pushes to defund Trump’s voter fraud commission | The Hill

A Democratic lawmaker has introduced an amendment to an upcoming government spending bill that would defund President Trump’s controversial commission on voter fraud. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) announced the amendment in a press release this week that accuses the panel co-chaired by Vice President Pence of “appearing to lay the groundwork for a push to place new restrictions on voting that disproportionately disadvantages minority voters.” “This commission is an effort to validate the President’s repeated and baseless claim that millions of fraudulent ballots were cast in the 2016 election, and I fear it lays the groundwork for new efforts to make it more difficult to vote across the country,” Schiff said in the statement.

National: Judge Nails Trump’s Fraud Commission on Records Handling | Courthouse News

A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the Trump administration to show more evidence that a new commission tasked with investigating election fraud is complying with public-disclosure laws. The order this morning came as part of a demand by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law for limited discovery after the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity failed to release all of the materials it used during its first meeting on July 19. Despite having promised to release all materials before the meeting even occurred, the commission explained in a July 31 opposition brief that it could not do so because certain commission members did not submit their materials in advance.

Editorials: What’s ‘Proportional Voting,’ and Why Is It Making a Comeback? | Alan Greenblatt/Governing

It’s a sign of popular disillusionment with the current course of American democracy that the past couple of years have produced a flurry of reform ideas aimed at changing the way elections are conducted. The newer proposals allow voters to rank several candidates in order of preference, or create nonpartisan primaries in which the top-two finishers are nominated, regardless of party. One older idea that’s being talked about again is proportional voting. Proportional elections are conducted in other countries, and in many of those places, the rules are pretty simple. If a party wins 30 percent of the national vote, it wins 30 percent of the legislative seats. That’s not the way it’s generally been tried in the United States.

California: Senate passes bill to change San Diego elections | The San Diego Union-Tribune

legislation that could clear the way for major changes in San Diego County elections passed the state Senate Thursday and is headed to the governor for consideration. The bill by Assemblyman Todd Gloria, D-San Diego, would allow for a charter amendment that would require races for county offices to be determined in the November general election, regardless of the results in the June primary. The bill only applies to San Diego County. It passed the Senate by 23-14.

Indiana: Study Committee Considers Automatic Voter Registration | WBAA

Members of a legislative study committee Wednesday debated the merits of automatic voter registration. The discussion was part of an examination of election laws’ impact on voter participation. Ten states in the country have some form of automatic voter registration. In most of them, citizens are registered to vote while doing other business at the BMV. Advocates say the system could increase voter turnout.

Iowa: Cybersecurity firm to review Linn County election system | The Gazette

The Linn County election commissioner has retained a Corridor-based cybersecurity firm to review the county’s voter registration and election system. Linn County Auditor Joel Miller said the review of the system by ProCircular will support the countywide school board elections Sept. 12. “This is a continuation of our efforts to improve the integrity of the voting process to ensure that our systems and records are secure, and that every vote is accurately counted,” Miller said. He also cited a “sense of urgency” because of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s recent declaration that voting systems are considered “critical infrastructure.”

Kansas: Kobach’s office files 2 new election fraud cases in Kansas | Lawrence Journal World

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office has filed two new criminal election fraud cases, including one alleging that a non-U.S. citizen illegally attempted to vote last year. The three felony charges filed earlier this month in Johnson County against Sergio Salgado-Juarez marked the second time in two years that Kobach’s office has prosecuted a noncitizen for voting or attempting to vote. Legislators gave his office the authority to prosecute election fraud cases in 2015, making him the only top state elections official in the nation with that power. Ten of the 12 cases filed by Kobach’s office have charged people with voting illegally in Kansas while voting in the same elections in other states. His office filed four felony charges earlier this month in Franklin County against David E. Haddock, alleging he voted there last year while also voting in Colorado.

Maine: House Speaker Wants To Add Ranked-Choice Voting To Legislature’s Special Session | MPR

Maine Gov. Paul LePage is expected to call the Legislature into special session sometime this fall to take up several unresolved issues. But Maine’s speaker of the house expects that the session will also deal with other matters as well, including ranked-choice voting. House Speaker Sara Gideon says she wants to meet with LePage next week to nail down a time for the special session he plans to call. She says the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee will be asked to shape a proposal to address the constitutional problems with the voter-passed measure establishing ranked-choice voting in the state.

Michigan: ‘Nonpartisan’ redistricting board has partisan ties | The Detroit News

A majority of leaders behind a “nonpartisan” plan to reform the Michigan redistricting process have supported partisan Democrats in the past, fueling criticism from a conservative group opposing the effort. Seven of 10 board members of the Voters Not Politicians petition committee have given at least a combined $5,649 to Democratic candidates and causes since 2005, according state and federal campaign finance records compiled by the Michigan Freedom Fund. None have given to Republicans or third-party candidates. The group’s “anti-gerrymandering” petition proposes amending the Michigan Constitution to create an independent citizen redistricting commission that would redraw legislative and congressional boundaries every 10 years.

New Hampshire: Secretary of State’s Office Examines Processes After Disclosure of Nonpublic Info on Voter Checklists | NHPR

Deputy Secretary of State Dave Scanlan says the office is reevaluating its guidance to cities and towns after “handwritten confidential, non-public information” was found in the public voter checklists of more than 40 New Hampshire communities. Scanlan said his office conducts regular training with local pollworkers covering all kinds of angles of the state’s election laws, but they could do a better job explaining what information should and should not appear on those documents when training local election workers. “We talk to them about the proper way to mark a checklist,” Scanlan said. “In the past, though, I don’t think we have been specific saying that you should not put extraneous stuff on the checklist, because it’s a public document.”

New Hampshire: Why Is Bill Gardner Giving Cover To Trump’s Bogus Voter Fraud Panel? | TPM

For four decades, New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner (D) has earned bipartisan reverence for keeping his state’s primaries first in the nation. So why is he spending that hard-earned capital giving bipartisan cover to President Trump’s controversial voter fraud panel? … “I personally wish that he had declined to be involved,” Fergus Cullen, the former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party and a frequent Trump critic, told TPM. “It gives this farce a sense of legitimacy.” … Gardner has said he joined the Trump commission to prove whether or not there’s widespread voter fraud — something he’s much more skeptical of than others on the commission. But many argue that his mere presence fuels the insanity he’s trying to knock down, giving Trump and Kobach bipartisan cover.

Pennsylvania: Court To Decide Whether To Hear Gerrymandering Suit Similar To Case Before US Supreme Court | WSKG

Tom Rentschler, an attorney and former high school teacher, has lived in Berks County for most of his life. He remembers as a young adult going to the grocery store and bumping into his local congressman. But Rentschler, 53, says over time he and other voters in Berks County have lost their voice. “I just don’t think we have anyone speaking for our county,” he says. Berks County once made up a large portion of the 6th U.S. Congressional District. But the last time districts were redrawn in 2011, Berks’ more than 400,000 residents were sliced and diced into four separate congressional districts.

Editorials: Get these math nerds fitted for heroes’ capes in Texas voting rights fight  | Dallas Morning News

Here’s a genius idea: Mathematicians are putting their heads together to untangle the knotty national gerrymandering mess. A math professor at Boston-area Tufts University, Moon Duchin, deserves a big share of the credit for organizing this big-brain powered movement. She’s orchestrating workshops at campuses across America to devise and disseminate cutting-edge numbers tools to help courts identify voting maps that are drawn unfairly. Drawing amoeba-shaped districts in order to clump voters from disparate areas together to benefit a particular party or demographic has so polarized Congress that most elected officials fear a primary challenge more than losing in a general election. This eviscerates any incentive to compromise or to work on bipartisan solutions. Redistricting reform is designed to make lawmakers accountable to real people than to the extremes of each party. Simply put, gerrymandering is the scourge of American politics.

Utah: Count My Vote may take initiatve to the ballot because of constant efforts to dismantle SB54 | Utah Policy

The organizers behind Count My Vote say they’re encouraged the SB54 compromise worked beautifully in the recent GOP 3rd CD primary election. But, the ongoing effort to undo that agreement may push them to take the issue of eliminating the caucus system directly to the people. previously reported that Count My Vote was readying to refile their petition initiative to do away with the caucus/delegate/convention route to the ballot, leaving only a direct primary. Rich McKeown says the constant effort to do away with the legislative compromise has changed the dynamic. “It has been an absolute struggle,” said McKeown. “We have given some thought about taking this to the people. It never went to the people. It was a compromise with the legislature, so that’s the consideration we have. We’re trying to assess the landscape and trying to determine whether to move forward.”

Germany: Wahl-O-Mat App pairs voters with political parties | Deutsche Welle

Animal rights, weapons exports, health care, fake news, refugees, sovereign debt, retirement and marijuana legalization. Those are just some of the issues on voters’ minds ahead of Germany’s federal election next month – and some of the issues the Wahl-O-Mat, Germany’s official voting advice application (VAA), quizzes its users on. With a reported 46 percent of voters undecided on which way to cast their ballots, the unveiling of the latest Wahl-O-Mat on Wednesday came with an extra sense of buzz and anticipation. Since first launching in 2002, the Wahl-O-Mat (roughly translated as “Vote-O-Meter”) has become an engrained part of the German election process. At Wednesday’s presentation in Berlin, the president of the Federal Agency for Civic Education (bpb), Thomas Krüger, described the voter tool as Germany’s “democratic national sport.”

Iraq: Contested Kirkuk Province to Vote in Kurdistan Independence Referendum | World Politics Review

Iraq’s oil-rich Kirkuk province voted on Tuesday to participate in a Kurdish independence referendum scheduled for September, in a move that could raise tensions in the disputed region. The ethnically mixed province of Kurds, Arabs and Turkmen has long been at the center of disputes between Baghdad and the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Iraq’s Kurds plan to hold a non-binding independence referendum on September 25 in three northern provinces that make up the autonomous Kurdistan region. Controversially, the vote also includes so-called disputed areas outside the KRG’s official boundaries, captured when the Iraqi army crumbled in 2014 as the so-called “Islamic State” (IS) swept through the country.

Kenya: Election Result Is Repealed | The New York Times

The Kenyan Supreme Court nullified on Friday the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta last month, ordering a new vote to be held within 60 days after a stunning decision that found that the election was tainted by irregularities. The Aug. 8 election which was conducted peacefully, was thought to be Kenya’s freest yet and was largely praised by international observers. Yet, because the ruling might provoke violence, the authorities had also bolstered security in light of the contentious nature of the campaign, with tensions still running high and the country’s history of postelection clashes. The court sided with opposition figures, who had complained about election irregularities and raised questions about the fairness and transparency of the vote. A top election official in charge of voting technology was murdered about a week before the election, and although the casting of ballots went smoothly, their collation and electronic transmission were flawed, leading the opposition to assert that as many as seven million votes had been stolen.

New Caledonia: New call for sincere New Caledonia rolls | Radio New Zealand

New Caledonia’s pro-independence FLNKS movement says for next year’s independence referendum to be fair, the electoral roll needs to be sincere. Under the Noumea Accord, voting rights are restricted to long-term residents, but for years there have been disputes over the make-up of the roll. There are claims that some settlers are on the roll although they fail the residency requirements.