When Kris Kobach was first running for office in Kansas in 2010, he claimed he’d found evidence that thousands of Kansans were assuming the identities of dead voters and casting fraudulent ballots – a technique once known as ghost voting. Kobach even offered a name, Albert K Brewer of Wichita, who he said had voted from beyond the grave in the primaries that year. But then it emerged that Albert K Brewer, aged 78, was still very much alive, a registered Republican like Kobach, and more than a little stunned to be told he’d moved on to the great hereafter. No evidence emerged that anyone had ghost voted in Kansas that year. Seven years on, as Donald Trump’s point man on reforming the US electoral system, Kobach has not backed away from those same scare tactics – no matter that he is frequently called a fraud and a liar, and his allegations entirely baseless. On the contrary. Backed by a president who, days after assuming office, claimed that 3 to 5 million fraudulent ballots had been cast for Hillary Clinton, Kobach is enthusiastically spreading stories of voter impersonation on a massive scale, of out-of-state students voting twice, and of non-citizens casting illegal ballots.
President Trump’s voter fraud commission met in New Hampshire on Tuesday to discuss what members characterized as declining confidence in elections. But the most telling discussions of the session addressed declining confidence in the commission itself. As protesters outside the meeting accused the panel of promoting voter suppression, New Hampshire Secretary of State William M. Gardner, a Democrat on the commission, warned that “the specter of extreme political partisanship” threatened to undermine whatever work it was doing. And Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, another Democrat on the commission, dressed down the commission’s Republican vice chairman for what he called reckless statements about supposed voter fraud in New Hampshire.
President Trump’s “election integrity” commission, a source of roiling controversy since its inception, convened here Tuesday amid fresh discord over an unfounded assertion by its vice chairman that the result of New Hampshire’s Senate election last year “likely” changed because of voter fraud. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) largely defended an article published Friday in which he pointed to statistics showing that more than 6,000 people had voted in a close election here using out-of-state driver’s licenses to prove their identity. He suggested that was evidence of people taking advantage of New Hampshire’s same-day registration and heading to the Granite State to cast fraudulent votes. New Hampshire only requires voters to state their “domicile,” a looser standard than residency, and college students and others routinely vote without state-issued driver’s licenses.
The vice chairman of President Donald Trump’s commission on election fraud on Tuesday dismissed criticism that the panel is bent on voter suppression, saying there is a “high possibility” it will make no recommendations when it finishes its work — and even if it does, it can’t force states to adopt them. Trump, a Republican, created the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity in May to investigate his unsubstantiated claims that millions of people voted illegally in 2016. Democrats have blasted the commission as a biased panel determined to curtail voting rights, and they ramped up their criticism ahead of and during the group’s daylong meeting in New Hampshire. California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, a Democrat, said some voters have canceled their registrations or been hesitant to register since learning the group has asked state governments to provide data on individual voters. “Their voting suppression impact has already begun,” he said on a press call organized by the Democratic National Committee.
A member of President Donald Trump’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity was pushing fake news before its second meeting was even able to kick off on Tuesday afternoon. In an op-ed published by Breitbart just ahead of the meeting, Kris Kobach, the commission’s vice chairman, again asserted a debunked claim that more than 5,000 people in New Hampshire cast illegal votes during last year’s election. His suggestion that there was rampant voter fraud in the region was swiftly rebuked by the state’s secretary of state, Bill Gardner, who said New Hampshire’s election results were “real and valid.” By the end of the day, though, it became clear that several of the group’s members have a common goal: to publicize every known case of voter fraud from before and during the 2016 election and to clamp down on anything that made them possible ahead of the 2020 vote.
President Donald Trump is nominating Trey Trainor, an Austin lawyer well-known in Texas politics, to serve on the Federal Election Commission. The White House announced Trainor’s appointment late Tuesday night. He must be confirmed by the Senate. Trainor is a longtime attorney specializing in election law, campaign finance and ethics. He has served as the lawyer for the conservative nonprofit Empower Texans, defending it during its long-running battles with the Texas Ethics Commission over whether it should have to disclose its donors. Trainor originally supported U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in the 2016 presidential primary, but once Cruz dropped out, Trainor helped pave the way for Trump’s nomination at the Republican National Convention. Trainor served as general counsel to the RNC platform committee, a job that put him on the front lines of the party’s efforts to quell an anti-Trump uprising on the floor.
Technology threatens to fundamentally change the nature of elections and democratic governance. New media forms, including social media, are fueling political polarization as people communicate with general audiences and narrowly focused groups, without the deliberation typical of traditional forms of communication. Hacking, misinformation, “fake news” and cybersecurity threats are expanding the power of a few while undermining public confidence in the accuracy of mass media and information. Politicians are using detailed voter information to play to their bases, allowing them to ignore the rest of their constituents. Democratization, which had advanced steadily for decades, is now threatened by the rise of authoritarian governments and the closing of the political space to civil society, journalists and others.
Voting Blogs: Pence-Kobach, the First Day of Hearings, and the Von Spakovsky Affair | More Soft Money Hard Law
The Pence-Kobach Commission just conducted its first public hearing, and its leadership may have hoped to use the occasion to recover a degree of credibility or measure of respectability for its operations. If that was the plan, it did not work out well. The Vice Chair Kobach started the day in retreat from claims, published the Friday before, about illegal voting in the last New Hampshire Senate election. This is the latest example of his utter disregard of the facts and appetite for sweeping, false claims that have been enough to disqualify him as a serious participant in the national discussion of voting rights.It certainly makes a mockery of his leadership of a presidential Commission supposedly conducting an impartial inquiry into the risks of illegal voting. Then the Campaign Legal Center released an informative email that it obtained by FOIA request to the Department of Justice for materials relating allegations of voting fraud in the 2016 election.
If you have ever looked at the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG), you might be overcome by the sheer size of the document and the level of detail included. If your state requires federal certification for the voting systems you use, the VVSG 1.0 (2005) or 1.1 (2015) are the specifications used to test the voting systems against. We all learned a lot from the process of creating and refreshing the VVSG over the years. In the meantime, so much has changed. The technology has changed, the market of voting technology has changed, laws have changed — elections have changed. We all learned a lot from the process of creating and refreshing the VVSG over the years. In the meantime, so much has changed. The technology has changed, the market of voting technology has changed, laws have changed — elections have changed. On September 12, 2017, the Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC), a committee formed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), adopted a new version of the VVSG, which they’re affectionately calling VVSG 2.0.
Delaware will put out a request for bids on new voting machines by the end of month. Delaware’s current voting machines have been in use since 1996. The state has about 1,600 voting machines. Considered state of art when they were purchased more than twenty years ago, they’re now outdated. A 2015 report by the Brennan Center for Justice notes that the machine models Delaware uses are no longer being made and have outlived their expected lifespan. … Manlove adds Delaware will probably have to wait until 2020 for the new voting machines because the purchasing process will take some time.
The U.S. Supreme Court won’t hear a Maryland gerrymandering claim at the same time as a similar challenge from Wisconsin. The court issued an order Wednesday denying the motion of Republican plaintiffs to have their case before the court at the same time as Democratic plaintiffs from Wisconsin. In U.S. District Court, the plaintiffs — who include three Republican voters from Frederick County — argued that the redrawn districts amount to an unconstitutional violation of their First Amendment right to free speech. The case arrived at the Supreme Court after two U.S. District Court judges denied 6th District voters’ request for a preliminary injunction to require a new map before the 2018 election. The judges also decided to place a hold on the case until the Supreme Court considered the Wisconsin case.
Maine: Dunlap blasts head of election integrity commission over N.H. voter fraud assertions | Portland Press Herald
A day after admonishing the vice chairman of President Trump’s election integrity commission for making unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud in New Hampshire, Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said it is becoming clear that most of his fellow commissioners define voter fraud not as violations of voting laws but as having policies that make it easy for people they don’t want to see voting having too easy a time doing so. “Maybe I’m being too cynical,” Dunlap said Wednesday, “but they are looking at voter fraud as being if legislatures are making it too easy for people who don’t own property in a town to register there.” Dunlap – who has been criticized by fellow Democrats for participating in the voter fraud commission – emerged as one of the panel’s most vocal critics during its meeting Tuesday at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. He said Kris Kobach’s suggestion that thousands of people had acted illegally when they registered to vote in New Hampshire using out-of-state licenses was a “reckless statement to make” and factually untrue.
New Hampshire: Facts Win: Why a New Hampshire judge blocked the state’s new voter suppression law | Slate
On Tuesday morning, President Donald Trump’s “election integrity” commission was preparing to meet in New Hampshire when a state court issued a major ruling: New Hampshire’s harsh new voting restrictions, which would impose fines and jail time on voters who fail to provide certain documentation, cannot be enforced in Tuesday’s special election. According to the court, the law’s penalties likely violate the state constitution, which guarantees all adult residents “an equal right to vote in any election.” The court’s order constituted an oblique rebuke to the commission’s very purpose. New Hampshire’s GOP-controlled legislature passed its voter suppression law in response to Trump’s allegations that mass voter fraud swung the state against him in 2016. Trump formed his voter fraud commission to prove that such fraud gave his opponent millions of illegal votes in the Granite State and beyond. Just last week, commision co-chair Kris Kobach claimed he had “proof” that votes were stolen in the state. Now a court has examined the evidence—and found no such proof. The decision is a well-timed reminder that this administration’s wild claims of voter fraud cannot stand up to even the slightest scrutiny.
With approval of new North Carolina legislative districts behind them, House Republicans returned Tuesday to Raleigh to advance their efforts to redraw election districts for trial court judges and local prosecutors. Unlike a federal court’s mandate to approve House and Senate districts before a Sept. 1 deadline, Republicans in the chamber aren’t being forced to perform redistricting on the boundaries for Superior Court and District Court judgeships and for district attorneys. In fact, a judicial expert from the UNC School of Government told representatives at the first meeting of the House judicial redistricting committee that wholesale changes to judicial maps haven’t been completed since the advent of the state’s modern court system in 1955.
Despite an equipment malfunction that threatened to delay the vote-counting Tuesday, the Lucas County Board of Elections finished reporting the Toledo primary election earlier than most years, Director LaVera Scott said Wednesday. The board reported a 100 percent count at 11:15 p.m. “We were done earlier in this election than we’ve ever done in a primary,” Ms. Scott said. The computer that hosts the board’s vote-tabulating database broke down about 6 p.m., just 90 minutes before the polls were to close. The computer server was purchased in April, 2015 for $6,974 and is serviced and under warranty by the board’s elections contractor, Dominion Voting Systems Co., of Denver. Ms. Scott said Dominion emailed an apology and promised the county a new server for the November election.
Texas: Report: Few high schools in Texas comply with voter registration law | Austin American-Statesman
No private high schools and just 14 percent of public high schools in Texas requested voter registration forms for their students from the Secretary of State, according to a report released Wednesday by the Texas Civil Rights Project. The organization as well as the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law found that 198 out of 1,428 public high schools requested the forms. In total, the organizations said, six percent of high schools in Texas requested forms. Schools can receive the forms from other organizations, such as the county, but the Texas Civil Rights Project argued during a press conference Wednesday that the state’s low youth voter registration and turnout rates prove that’s not effective even if that’s the case.
Utah: Voting rights lawsuit over Navajo voting rights in San Juan County to advance to trial | Utah policy
Last week, U.S. District Court Judge Jill Parrish issued a decision in Navajo Nation Human Rights Council v. San Juan County, et al, allowing the lawsuit to proceed to a trial on the merits of the plaintiffs’ claims that San Juan County is not providing effective language assistance to Navajo-speaking voters and is providing unequal voting opportunities to Navajo voters. The plaintiffs, the Navajo Nation Human Rights Council and several individual members of the Navajo Nation, are represented by counsel from DLA Piper, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, ACLU of Utah, and the ACLU Voting Rights Project. In the lawsuit, plaintiffs challenged San Juan County’s decision to switch to a mail-only voting system and offer in-person early voting only in the majority white part of the County. After plaintiffs sued in early 2016, the County announced it would reopen a limited number of polling places for election day voting and in future elections. Plaintiffs continue to assert that the County is violating the federal Voting Rights Act and the United States Constitution.
U.S. Territories: Trump administration pushes for fewer voting rights for territories | Pacific Daily News
The Trump administration is arguing in federal court that, if one U.S. territory doesn’t have the same rights as the others, then all of them should be stripped of those rights, according to a group pursuing lawsuits in federal court related to territorial rights. According to Neil Weare, a former Guam resident, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago on Friday will consider an equal protection challenge by plaintiffs in Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Weare is president and founder of We the People Project, a non-profit that advocates for equal rights and representation in U.S. territories. According to Weare, the plaintiffs would be able to cast absentee ballots for president and voting representation in Congress if they lived in other U.S. territories or a foreign country, but are denied those rights based solely on their ZIP code.
Verified Voting in the News: Board of Elections Ends Use of Touch-Screen Voting Machines | Wall Street Journal
Election administrators in Virginia ordered the state’s remaining touch-screen electronic voting machines be taken out of service in advance of the coming statewide election, after hackers demonstrated vulnerabilities in an array of election technology at a recent security convention. Virginia, one of two states holding statewide elections for governor and state legislature this year, won’t use any touch-screen machines in the Nov. 7 general election after the State Board of Elections voted Friday to revoke the certifications on all such systems still being used in the state. Virginia will switch to paper ballots counted and processed by computerized scanners. James Alcorn, chair of the board, said in a statement the move was “necessary to ensure the integrity of Virginia’s elections.” … The decision by Virginia to stop using touch-screen electronic voting machines marks a victory for advocates who have long criticized paperless electronic voting systems as insecure and potentially vulnerable to tampering and mischief.
Angola’s constitutional court on Wednesday upheld the ruling party’s landslide win in last month’s election which will usher in the MPLA’s fourth decade in power and rejected opposition claims the poll was flawed. The ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola won 61.7 percent of the vote, and 150 of the 220 seats in parliament, the country’s electoral commission said in its final results. President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, 75, who has ruled since 1979 and is reportedly in poor health, will hand over to former defence minister Joao Lourenco at the presidential inauguration expected on September 21.
Brazil’s Superior Electoral Tribunal (TSE) and the Brazilian Computer Society (SBC) have signed a cooperation agreement to apply best practices to the technology supporting voting processes in the country. According to the TSE, the involvement of the Brazilian Computer Society aims at “establishing means of integration, research and improvement of computing” at the electoral tribunal. … Flaws found in the Brazilian electronic voting system in the general election of 2014 pointed to the possibility of fraud. At the time, two of the top computer science universities in Brazil suggested that it is possible to easily break the secrecy of the machines and unscramble the order of votes recorded by the devices.
Sarah Rambatz became a target early last week. In the internet, right-wing agitators declared open season on the young woman from Hamburg. “What do we do with brainwashed traitors?” asked a user on KrautChan, a web platform popular among right-wing online activists. “Simply getting rid of her isn’t acceptable in a civilized society. Or is it?” The national spokesperson for the youth organization of the Left Party was hoping to become a member of Germany’s federal parliament, the Bundestag, but now her political career lies in ruins. She had asked on Facebook for “anti-German film recommendations.” More specifically, she wrote: “Basically anything where Germans die.” After the post went public, her campaign ended. She is no longer seeking a seat. The screen shot of her tasteless Facebook post spread with lightning speed across social networks and a wave of hatred broke over the young woman, who was attacked with lines like: “This whore deserves to be screwed to death and dismembered.” On Wednesday, Rambatz told the Hamburg’s Morgenpost newspaper she was at wit’s end. “For several days, I have been in close contact with the police and other government security officials,” she told the paper. “My family and I are getting death threats.”
Mozambique opposition leader Afonso Dhlakama accused electoral officials on Monday of fabricating data to ensure a landslide victory for his rival Armando Guebuza in last week’s presidential elections. The National Electoral Commission has yet to release official results, but the Electoral Observer Group, an umbrella group of non-governmental organisations, said at the weekend that with 90 percent of the votes counted, the ruling Frelimo party’s Guebuza had an unassailable lead over his rival. If Dhlakama’s Renamo party refuses to accept the results it could stoke tensions in its strongholds in the country’s remote central and northern regions. Renamo laid down its guns in 1992, ending 16 years of often brutal conflict, but power via the ballot box has eluded it.
The government has proposed to introduce the weighted voting system to conduct elections of president and vice-president under the 2015 constitution. The Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs has already determined the weight of votes to be cast by members of the electoral college that comprises all lawmakers of both Houses of the federal Parliament as well as all provincial assemblies. The draft law has been sent to the Cabinet for further discussion before registering it in Parliament. Article 62 of the constitution states, “The President shall be elected by an electoral college composed of the members of the Federal Parliament and of the State Assemblies. The voting weight age of the members of the Federal Parliament and of the State Assemblies shall vary as provided for in the Federal law.”
Spain’s top prosecutor is investigating more than 700 Catalan mayors for cooperating with a planned referendum on the region’s independence after the nation’s constitutional court ordered the vote put on hold, the prosecutor’s office said Wednesday. Catalonia’s regional police force is under orders to arrest the mayors if they refuse to appear for questioning, State Prosecutor Jose Manuel Maza’s office said. The announcement significantly raised the stakes in an increasingly tense standoff between Catalan independence supporters and national authorities over the referendum planned for Oct. 1.
Zimbabwe’s High Court, ruling in favour of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, has ordered the government to allow people to vote in any constituency in a presidential election in March, the Daily News said on Saturday. “High Court Judge Rita Makarau ordered Tobaiwa Mudede, the registrar-general, to allow people to vote anywhere in the country and not necessarily in their constituencies as decreed by the government,” the privately owned newspaper said. Tsvangirai, leader of the main opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), poses the biggest challenge to President Robert Mugabe’s 22 years in power in the March ballot.