National: Kris Kobach Can Prove U.S. Elections Are Messy, But That’s Not The Same Thing As Fraudulent | FiveThirtyEight

President Trump’s voter fraud commission has the stated goal of ensuring the integrity of the vote as “the foundation of our democracy.” But, like the buried foundations of a building, who votes and how they vote aren’t easy things to examine. In alleging that there’s widespread voter fraud, commission Vice Chair Kris Kobach has relied on proxies, such as the indirect measure of matching up names in voter registries to identify people registered in more than one state. In the lead-up to the commission’s second meeting last week, he also railed against thousands of New Hampshire voters who registered using out-of-state licenses — which he claimed proved that people were hopping state borders to illegally swing elections. The experts I spoke with said those metrics don’t really measure the existence or risk of illegal voting. In fact, they said, it’s probably impossible to conclusively prove or disprove allegations of widespread illegal voting — though they pointed out that very few cases have ever been found and prosecuted, even as Kobach is aggressively seeking them out to prove his hypothesis of rampant voter fraud.

National: DHS tells states about Russian hacking during 2016 election | The Washington Post

The Department of Homeland Security contacted election officials in 21 states Friday to notify them that they had been targeted by Russian government hackers during the 2016 election campaign. Three months ago, DHS officials said that people connected to the Russian government tried to hack voter registration files or public election sites in 21 states, but Friday was the first time that government officials contacted individual state election officials to let them know their systems had been targeted. Officials said DHS told officials in all 50 states whether their systems had been attacked or not. “We heard feedback from the secretaries of state that this was an important piece of information,” said Bob Kolasky, acting deputy undersecretary for DHS’s National Protection and Programs Directorate. “We agreed that this information would help election officials make security decisions.”

National: DHS notifies states that Russian hackers targeted during election | Politico

The Department of Homeland Security on Friday notified the 21 states that it says Russian government hackers tried to breach during the 2016 election. Alabama, Minnesota, Washington and Wisconsin have all confirmed that DHS had said they were among the states targeted. But all four said the breach attempts were unsuccessful. In total, a DHS official said only a few networks were successfully breached, and none of those networks involved vote tallying. “DHS notified the Secretary of State or other chief election officer in each state of any potential targeting we were aware of in their state leading up to the 2016 election,” DHS spokesman Scott McConnell told POLITICO.

National: Group urges Senate to probe DOJ link to Trump voter fraud commission | The Hill

A civil rights group on Thursday called on members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to question Attorney General Jeff Sessions at an oversight hearing next month about the Department of Justice’s connection to President Trump’s voter fraud commission. Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, urged the senators in a statement to “closely examine evidence” that DOJ’s Civil Rights Division is engaged in collusion with the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. “The goals of the Commission are fully antithetical to the mission of the Division, which is charged with fighting — not prompting — voter suppression,” she said.Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) announced on Wednesday that Sessions is scheduled to appear before the Senate committee for DOJ’s annual hearing on Oct. 18.

Editorials: We’re under constant threat of cyberattack, and Congress isn’t prepared to do anything about it | Brianna Wu /The Washington Post

Last October a coordinated cyberattack sabotaged massive parts of the American and European Internet. The Mirai Botnet turned our Internet-connected devices against us. Millions of webcams, VCRs, baby monitors and telnet services were seized and used to take down Twitter, major news outlets and commercial infrastructure. Web access was cut off, electronic systems stopped working, and we couldn’t get news about what was happening. It wasn’t a team of sophisticated hackers behind the attack, but one angry gamer — reportedly a man with a grudge against the PlayStation network. The truth is that someone with minimal technical knowledge can set up a node of the Mirai Botnet in less than 15 minutes. One would think that members of Congress would lie awake at night at the thought of a malicious botnet whose next target could be military and financial institutions. And yet, no major federal initiatives were launched in the aftermath of Mirai. Rather, the security of vital infrastructure was left for private industry to solve.

Editorials: The Russians are hacking. Luckily Trump fraud commission isn’t in charge | Michael P. McDonald/USA Today

It’s bad news that Russian hackers targeted election systems in 21 states last year, as the Department of Homeland Security confirmed in calls to the states Friday. And it would be bad news if we had to rely on President Trump’s Commission on Election Integrity to clean up this mess. Fortunately, we don’t. Trump’s commission has been in the spotlight as commission members trade accusations and refutations of voter fraud. It happens, but wild allegations of oceans of fraud evaporate to drops once vigilant election officials and law officers conduct their investigations. Meanwhile, another group is quietly tackling the cyberattacks that are a potentially greater threat to the integrity of our elections. In the closing days of the Obama administration, under the cloud of Russian interference in 2016 campaigns and voting, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced elections as critical infrastructure. This designation triggered work to form an Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council to address cybersecurity. The differences between the voter fraud and infrastructure efforts reveal much about what is wrong and right about contemporary politics.

Editorials: Kris Kobach’s “voter fraud” circus goes off the rails | Michael Latner/Salon

When Dr. John Lott Jr. came before the Kobach-Pence “election integrity” commission last week and called for background checks for voters – the same kind that gun owners must undergo before purchasing a weapon – even the clowns had to realize that the circus had run off the road. After all, there are more than 30,000 gun deaths annually in America. Between 2000 and 2014, however, every comprehensive study – whether by courts, academics or journalists — have found only a handful of cases of voter impersonation. Lott, however, told the commission that his proposal would allow Democrats to “go and prove, essentially, to Republicans, that there’s no fraud.” There can no longer be any reasonable doubt that it is the fraudulence of this commission, rather than unverified claims of voter fraud, that is the greater threat to our democracy. Last Tuesday’s second meeting of Trump’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, headed by Kansas Secretary of State and newly minted Breitbart columnist Kris Kobach, began under clouds of controversy that only grew darker as the day progressed.

California: Could California force Trump to release his tax returns? | San Jose Mercury-News

President Donald Trump broke with 40 years of precedent when he refused to release his tax returns during his campaign. Now California lawmakers want to force him to decide between sharing his returns or giving up his spot on the state’s 2020 presidential ballot. California would become the first state in the country to require presidential candidates to release their tax returns if a bill passed by the Legislature last week is signed by Gov. Jerry Brown. But legal scholars say there are significant questions whether the legislation passes constitutional muster. And it’s not clear whether Brown, who didn’t release his own tax returns in his most recent two gubernatorial races, backs the bill. “You can bet that if Governor Brown signs it, the second the ink is dry someone will sue,” said Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School who says there are strong constitutional arguments on both sides of the issue.

Colorado: GOP votes down move to cancel 2018 primary | Associated Press

Colorado Republican leaders on Saturday voted down an attempt by party activists to cancel the 2018 primary in order to prevent participation by unaffiliated voters. State voters last year approved changes that allowed Colorado’s 1.4 million unaffiliated voters to cast ballots in either the Democratic or Republican primary. The changes also included an “opt-out” provision that allowed for canceling primaries if the vast majority of a party’s leaders agree. In Saturday’s vote, 67 percent of the Republican central committee voted to stick with the primary system, versus 33 in favor of opting out, Republican Party spokesman Daniel Cole said. Party leaders also agreed to revisit the issue in two years, he said. The vote came after some Republicans activists said only party members should be able to participate in candidate selections, so that those chosen would better reflect GOP values.

Florida: Online voting registration coming in October | USA Today

By October 2017 Florida will join 35 states and the District of Columbia offering an online voter registration option. The new online process will supplement the traditional paper-based system. In place of a paper application, voters will be able to complete and submit their voter registration application via the internet. To be eligible to register to vote online, a person must have either a Florida-issued driver’s license or identification card. The signature that is already on file with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles is the same signature that will be used for the person’s voter registration record.

Indiana: With Federal Lawsuit Pending, GOP and Dems Renew Fight Over Early Voting | WIBC

Marion County Republicans are offering a deal on a seven-year stalemate over early voting, but Democrats aren’t biting. Common Cause is suing to force Marion County to offer more early voting locations. State law lets either party block early voting, and Republicans have. The lawsuit notes their counterparts in heavily Republican neighboring counties have expanded early voting, while Democratic-dominated Marion County has been limited since 2010 to the City-County Building, which is hard to reach and has little nearby parking. 

Kansas: Kobach criticizes New Hampshire election law, but Kansas officials say our law is much the same | Lawrence Journal World

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has used national media to allege that New Hampshire’s voting law left that state susceptible to voter fraud. Now, Kansas election officials are quietly acknowledging the same issue that riled Kobach in New Hampshire also exists in Kansas. What caught Kobach’s eye in New Hampshire is that New Hampshire voters were using out-of-state driver’s licenses to prove their identity at New Hampshire polling places, and that many of those voters still hadn’t applied to receive a New Hampshire driver’s license more than 10 months after the election. Kobach said in a column published on the conservative website Breitbart that the driver’s license issue was evidence of nonresidents of the state committing voter fraud. However, Kansas election officials told the Journal-World that same scenario is legal under Kansas law.

North Carolina: Replacing outdated machines will cost Madison County $400,000 | Asheville Citizen-Times

Madison County will have to invest more than $433,000 in new voting equipment before the next presidential election. The local Board of Elections at its monthly meeting inside its offices Sept. 20 discussed a plan to break up the expense over three years. “We’ll be replacing the whole voting system, the whole shooting match,” said Kathy Ray, the board’s director. “In addition to the equipment, we’ll need new supplies and materials to accommodate the new voting system.” The purchase is necessary because the machines currently in use, touchscreen iVotronic models, will be decertified by the state Sept. 1, 2019. That change will force the county to buy new machines that meet state guidelines. “The county commissioners need to know this,” board chairman Jerry Wallin said of the imminent expenditure, adding that the funds will come out of the budget crafted by the five-member panel. Wallin said he hand-delivered a memo outlining a plan to divide the expense over the next three budget years. “Did the county manager (Forrest Gilliam) pass out?” board member Dyatt Smathers asked with a smile.

Ohio: Lawmakers look for new way to draw congressional lines | Dayton Daily News

State lawmakers plan to take another run at changing how Ohio’s congressional districts are carved out — a politically charged issue that has eluded reform for years. Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Medina, said this week that legislative leaders will announce details on a congressional redistricting study group this week. “Regardless of which side of the aisle you fall on, it’s worth airing out that discussion and seeing if we think there is a better process than what we have now,” Obhof said. “I’ve expressed some concerns in the past and I maintain those that any time you’re chipping away at something that has traditionally been a responsibility of the Legislature you should be cautious about that but I think there is plenty of room for us to have discussions and have meaningful opportunity for reform in the coming months.”

Texas: Lawmakers change voting in nursing homes — for one election, by accident | The Texas Tribune

Elderly Texans living in nursing homes and other residential care facilities will test a new system of voting during the state’s constitutional election in November. But the law triggering that new system will vanish from the books shortly after voting wraps up — because the Legislature passed a bill that may have needed an extra round of proofreading. Local election administrators are now preparing to implement the overhaul for a single election before it’s scrapped. State law allows Texans with disabilities, those who are at least 65 years old or those who plan to be out of their home county during voting to request a mail-in ballot. Under House Bill 658, when residential care facilities request five or more absentee ballots, counties are required to send election judges — representing both major political parties — to deliver the ballots during early voting and oversee voting at those homes, providing assistance if necessary. Residents will vote this way rather than mailing in their ballots, and registered voters who hadn’t requested ballots can vote on-site. 

Wisconsin: Turns out Russia went after Wisconsin’s voter registration system | Mashable

Another piece of the messed-up puzzle that was the 2016 U.S. presidential election fell into place today, as the Department of Homeland Security confirmed that “Russian government cyber actors” targeted the voter registration system of a key battleground state. While U.S. officials had already claimed that the Russian government went after 21 states’ voter registration systems, this is the first time that names have been publicly named. And, sorry to say it Wisconsin, you have the dubious distinction of being the state in the spotlight. According to Reuters, the Department of Homeland Security notified all 21 states on Sept. 22, with Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Michael Haas quickly identifying his specific state as being affected soon after.

Wisconsin: Elections Commission creating elections security team, plan | Associated Press

Wisconsin elections officials have created a security team and are putting together a formal security plan amid concerns about Russia’s meddling in the U.S. election last year and evolving cyber-security risks. The Wisconsin Elections Commission plans to work together with federal, state and local elections officials on the plan in advance of next year’s elections to prevent any security breaches, a memo describing the effort said. The commission was to discuss the effort Tuesday. The move comes as federal investigators and the Senate Judiciary Committee investigate Russia’s involvement in the 2016 presidential election. President Donald Trump on Friday called allegations of Russian election meddling a “hoax,” and insisted the media was the “greatest influence” on the 2016 campaign.

Germany: Merkel Re-Elected as Right Wing Enters Parliament | Der Spiegel

For the past several months, it was clear that the German election wasn’t going to be much of a cliffhanger. And that expectation was met in spades on Sunday as the first projections emerged soon after the polls closed at 6 p.m., with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives easily outpacing the center-left Social Democrats as the country’s strongest party. The result will send Merkel to her fourth term in the Chancellery. Nevertheless, Sunday’s vote marks a significant shift in German politics, with initial projections showing the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party winning over 13 percent of the vote, thus becoming the first overtly right-wing party to win seats in the country’s federal parliament in over half a century. The result slightly outpaces the most recent public polling data — and is a far cry from the 7 percent the AfD had been polling at as recently as mid-summer — and it means the party will send close to 90 deputies to the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament.

Iraq: Kurds vote in independence referendum | Al Jazeera

People in Iraq’s autonomous region of Kurdistan are voting in an independence referendum, amid rising tensions and international opposition. Polls opened at 05:00 GMT with balloting also taking place in the disputed areas between the northern city of Erbil and the capital Baghdad, as well as the oil-rich province of Kirkuk, which is ethnically mixed. The central government in Baghdad, which strongly opposes the referendum, sought control of the region’s international border posts and airports on Sunday, in anticipation of Monday’s vote. Iraq’s government has also called on foreign countries to stop importing oil from the Kurdish region and to deal with them instead.

Kyrgyzstan: Foreign Ministry accuses Kazakhstan of backing opposition presidential candidate | Reuters

Kyrgyzstan accused Kazakhstan on Wednesday of interfering in its Oct. 15 election after Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev met a Kyrgyz opposition presidential candidate, underlining tensions between the Central Asian neighbors. Nazarbayev’s office said on Tuesday he had met the candidate, Omurbek Babanov, a leader of the Kyrgyz opposition Respublika-Ata Zhurt party, in Kazakhstan, and had expressed readiness to work “with a new president in whom the Kyrgyz people will put their trust”. The Kyrgyz foreign ministry said it viewed the meeting and Nazarbayev’s comments as an expression of support for Babanov, 47, one of the main challengers to the ruling party’s candidate.

Liberia: Ballot papers arrive in Monrovia | Africanews

Ballot papers for the Liberia 2017 elections arrived on Saturday night in Monrovia, the capital. They were offloaded off an Egyptian carrier under tight security at the Roberts International Airport before being taken to the National Elections Commission(NEC) head office. The three million copies are only for the presidential vote, and more are expected by September 28. Liberian NEC says by the end of the month, ballot papers for the House of Representatives will have arrived as well.

New Zealand: As Jacinda Ardern falls short in election, New Zealand gets hung parliament | The Guardian

The future of New Zealand’s new government has been put in the hands of Winston Peters, a cantankerous, anti-immigration politician who prefers fishing to politics, after vote counting finished in the general election. Neither of the major parties – National, led by the incumbent prime minister, Bill English, or Jacinda Ardern’s Labour – secured enough seats to form a majority government in a frustrating poll on Saturday. National secured 46% of the vote, giving it 58 seats in parliament, while Labour took home 35.8% and 45 seats. Both parties were scrambling to form coalitions with the minor parties in order to reach 61 seats and the ability to govern in the 120-seat parliament. Peters, the unpredictable leader of the populist New Zealand First party, became kingmaker after gaining 7.5% of the vote and nine seats, although not his own seat of Northland. The 72-year-old lawyer made a teasing statement to the media about his intentions before rushing to board the last ferry home on Saturday night.

Spain: Catalan campaigners hand out a million referendum ballots | The Guardian

Catalan independence campaigners have held rallies across the region, distributing 1m ballot papers a week before people are due to vote in a sovereignty referendum that the Spanish government has vowed to stop. Thousands of people congregated in town squares around Catalonia on Sunday to show their support for the vote as tensions between the pro-independence regional government and the Spanish state continued to rise. Speaking at a rally in Barcelona, the president of the independence group Òmnium Cultural, Jordi Cuixart, said: “Here are the packs of ballots that we ask you to hand out across Catalonia.” Carme Forcadell, the speaker of the regional parliament, told a Barcelona crowd: “I ask you to go out and vote! Vote for the future of Catalonia!”