National: Yes, U.S. election integrity could be improved. Here’s why the Pence commission probably won’t do it. | The Washington Post

In May, President Trump created the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity to investigate electoral fraud in last November’s election, appointing Vice President Pence as its head. While the president has repeatedly argued that millions of unauthorized voters cast ballots, political scientists have debunked his claims. Experts do believe that the quality of elections in the United States could improve. But the Pence commission is unusual in several ways that may prevent that improvement. Here’s what the United States could learn from how other countries reduce electoral law violations, maintain accurate voter rolls, improve voter registration and ensure that voter’s choices are reliably recorded. The Pence commission’s objective is to evaluate the strengths and vulnerabilities of the voting process. Its first task, however, has been to investigate Trump’s contention that millions of illegal votes were cast last November.

National: Is Kobach a private citizen when serving on Trump commission? | The Kansas City Star

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s use of private email for a presidential commission could bring him into conflict with a 1-year-old state law meant to increase government transparency. Kobach, a candidate for Kansas governor, told ProPublica last week that he was serving on President Donald Trump’s voting fraud commission as a private citizen rather than as Kansas secretary of state and that he was using his personal gmail account for commission business rather than his official state account. Kobach, a candidate for Kansas governor and vice chair of the commission, said using his state account would be a “waste of state resources.” The ProPublica report scrutinized the use of private email by commission members and their possible violation of a federal statute that requires any federal government business conducted by private email to be forwarded to a government address within 20 days. But Kobach may also be running afoul of a state law, enacted last year, that made Kansas officials’ private emails subject to the Kansas Open Records Act, or KORA, if they pertained to public business.

Editorials: How the FEC Turned a Blind Eye to Foreign Meddling | Ann Ravel/Politico

When Facebook revealed to investigators that a Kremlin-linked troll farm paid the company $100,000 for divisive political ads during the 2016 election, many saw the news as a bombshell. But in a year of unpredictable leaks, scandals and scoops, this just might be the least surprising news. Almost everybody with a Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account saw a political advertisement on the internet last year. The opportunity for a political campaign is obvious. Internet ads give candidates and interest groups the ability to microtarget potential voters more effectively than TV, for far less money. Approximately two-thirds of Americans get at least some of their news from social media, while print newspaper readership is a fraction of what it once was. And yet, policymakers for years have ignored or outright opposed the need to hold the internet advertising industry to the same standards the country has already agreed on for television and radio. Our campaign finance rules are outdated for the internet age, and rules on the books aren’t enforced. Now, with the revelation that Russia, too, sees the political value in America’s online advertising market, the chickens have come home to roost.

California: In California, open primaries took the ‘politics’ out of politics | The Hill

Last month, the California legislature did something unheard of — by Washington, D.C., standards. They came together across party lines to amend and extend sweeping cap and trade emissions legislation. Business, agriculture, labor and environmentalists all had a seat at the table. By 2030, California’s population is expected to grow by five million people, yet our greenhouse gas emissions will shrink to 40 percent below 1990 levels. In this era of cynicism and gridlock, how is this possible? The answer may surprise you. It’s not because California is a “blue” state. If that were the reason, New York would be leading the country in legislative innovation, not state house scandals and indictments. Seven years ago, Californians overhauled the political system so that voters have more choices and politicians are incentivized to cooperate and innovate, not grandstand and polemicize.

Georgia: ACLU demanding changes from Secretary of State’s office | WXIA

The ACLU of Georgia is challenging Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp and the secretary of state’s office over their list maintenance procedures and compliance with federal and state law. In particular, they — along with several other organizations, including the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta and the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda — are pointing out that nearly 160,000 Georgia voters who have moved within the same county have recently been threatened with being placed on “inactive” status if they did not respond within 30 days, in violation of both federal and state law.

Kansas: Appeals court to grapple with Beth Clarkson voting-machine case in Wichita | The Wichita Eagle

Is voting rigged in Sedgwick County? Is there any way to prove it is or isn’t? Those are the fundamental questions underlying a Kansas Court of Appeals case to be argued Tuesday morning in a special court session at Friends University in Wichita. The appeals court is being asked to allow a recount of votes on audit tapes from voting machines to test the accuracy of the tallies reported by Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman. Wichita State University statistician Beth Clarkson has tried for seven years to gain access to the tapes. Her request was denied by Lehman and the denial was upheld in district court. Lehman and Sedgwick County say that there is no problem with the votes and releasing the tapes would risk compromising the secrecy of people’s ballots. Tuesday’s appeal arguments will feature two prominent Wichita attorneys.

Maine: Dunlap calls for voter fraud hardliner’s resignation | CNN

A member of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity is calling on a voter fraud hard-liner to resign from the panel after a controversial email he sent about the panel’s makeup became public. Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said it remains “an open question” whether the commission can continue its mission and stopped short of demanding Heritage Foundation expert Hans von Spakovsky step down — but said “certainly” he should start with an apology. At issue is an email sent by von Spakovsky to the Justice Department in February that was made public in a Freedom of Information Act request by the Campaign Legal Center last week. Von Spakovsky was named to the commission in June. In the email, which made its way to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, von Spakovsky says he had received a “very disturbing phone call” that the commission would be “bipartisan and include Democrats.”

Maryland: Election security in doubt after hearing | Capital News Service

Maryland legislators learned last week the state’s electronic balloting system may need better security measures to protect voters’ information and that the lawmakers must be the ones to add those protections. The state’s electoral board told lawmakers Sept. 6 that they are powerless to make those changes, and that any security changes must come directly from the legislative body. Last year, the state’s Board of Elections voted 4-1 to certify a new system for online ballots, even though experts in cybersecurity and computer science publicly objected. While nearly all states have a system in place for signature verification, the General Assembly did not vote last year on the topic so there was no verification system in place, leaving Maryland as the only state in the nation without one, according to a report last year by Capital News Service.

Ohio: Parties in lawsuit call Ohio purges voter suppression | Associated Press

Groups challenging Ohio’s system for removing inactive voters from rolls are disagreeing with the state elections chief’s arguments and the Trump administration’s contention that the purges are legal. The American Civil Liberties Union and the New York-based public advocacy group Demos said in their latest U.S. Supreme Court filing that targeting registered voters who fail to vote in a two-year period for eventual removal from the registration rolls, even if they haven’t moved and remain eligible, is a tool for voter suppression.

China: Young democracy activist among Macau election winners | Associated Press

Macau voters have elected a young pro-democracy activist to the Chinese casino capital’s legislature, as opposition lawmakers expanded their presence at the expense of candidates linked to the gambling industry. The results released early Monday are a surprising sign of faith in young people with progressive ideas among Macau’s notoriously apathetic electorate. Official results showed that 26-year-old Sulu Sou won a seat in Sunday’s election for the city’s semi-democratic legislature, making him the city’s youngest-ever lawmaker, according to local news reports.

Germany: Moscow Takes U.S. Meddling Tactics to German Vote | The Cipher Brief

In less than a week, on September 24th, the German public will vote in the country’s general elections – not only to determine who will sit in the country’s parliament, known as the Bundestag, but also who will become – or remain – Chancellor. As the economic and political European heavyweight, Germany has been seen as the anchor for an EU in crisis, making it a prime target for those seeking to undermine European unity and stability. Russia has shown a propensity for taking subtle, and not so subtle, measures to sow confusion and undercut political opponents in the West – most prominently in last year’s U.S. elections that may have helped bring the administration of Donald Trump into power. Russia’s cyber-enabled influence campaigns seek to exacerbate societal divisions by disseminating false narratives and leveraging hack-and-leak tactics that promise compromising and salacious material on critical voices.

Iraq: Supreme Court steps in to block Kurdish independence vote | The Guardian

Iraq’s supreme court has ordered the suspension of next week’s referendum on the independence of Iraqi Kurdistan, as legal and political pressure mounted on the Kurds to call off the vote. “The supreme court has issued the order to suspend organising the referendum set for 25 September … until it examines the complaints it has received over this plebiscite being unconstitutional,” it said. Ayas al-Samouk, a court spokesman, said it had received several complaints, as a parliamentary source said at least eight lawmakers had called on the court to intervene on constitutional grounds.

Kenya: Election re-run in doubt amid technology issues and high court hearings | Deutsche Welle

Insiders at Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) say there is a possibility that the country’s presidential election do-over could be moved from October 17 to either the 26th or 27th, owing to issues with voting technology. French-supplied voting software known as the Kenya Integrated Elections Management System (KIEMS) needs to be reconfigured before voting takes place. It is expected to be used in more than 250 parliamentary, senatorial and gubernatorial petitions filed in numerous Kenyan courts by losing candidates who wish to challenge the election’s victor. Workers at IEBC point out that the 41,883 polling stations throughout Kenya will require at least 42,000 reconfigured kits. In addition to this, there will likely be a need for extra standby kits in case technical issues occur.

Nepal: Voting peaceful in previously troubled southern Nepal | Associated Press

Tens of thousands of people voted peacefully Monday in a previously troubled southern Nepal province where ethnic violence demanding constitution changes had led to dozens of deaths in recent years. Police said there was no trouble during the voting in the No. 2 province, where security had been stepped up for the municipal and village council elections. The Madhesi ethnic group wants their provinces to have more territory than was assigned under the constitution adopted in 2015.

United Kingdom: Voters to be asked for ID in trials of system to combat electoral fraud | The Guardian

Voters in five local authorities will need to show ID before they can vote in local elections next May, in a move aimed at combating voter fraud but which Labour and the Liberal Democrats have warned could disenfranchise thousands of people. Voters in Woking, Gosport, Bromley, Watford and Slough will be asked to show ID at polling stations before being issued with a ballot paper, but the five local authorities are likely to trial a variety of systems, including showing photo ID or providing polling cards where individual barcodes could be scanned. The Cabinet Office and Electoral Commission said details were still being finalised of what photo ID would be required, as well as a system involving non-photo ID, but both would be trialled to see which was more effective and efficient.

Togo: Ruling party calls rally to drown out opposition | AFP

Togo’s ruling presidential party on Monday urged supporters to take to the streets to coincide with planned opposition demonstrations against the slow pace of political reform. Georges Kwawu Aidam, the first vice-president of the Union for the Republic (UNIR) told AFP there would be marches on Wednesday and Thursday in support of a controversial constitutional reform bill which the opposition see as not going far enough. A parliamentary panel last Friday approved the bill to revamp the constitution and introduce a presidential term limit after days of protests against the regime of Faure Gnassingbe, the scion of one of Africa’s oldest political dynasties. But the panel rejected wholesale 48 amendments proposed by opposition parties.