Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein was the beneficiary of at least one of the Russian-bought political ads on Facebook that federal government officials suspect were intended to influence the 2016 election. Other advertisements paid for by shadowy Russian buyers criticized Hillary Clinton and promoted Donald Trump. Some backed Bernie Sanders and his platform even after his presidential campaign had ended, according to a person with knowledge of the ads. The pro-Stein ad came late in the political campaign and pushed her candidacy for president, this person said. “Choose peace and vote for Jill Stein,” the ad reads. “Trust me. It’s not a wasted vote. … The only way to take our country back is to stop voting for the corporations and banks that own us. #GrowaSpineVoteJillStein.”
National: Group led by Dolphins owner wants to see every professional athlete registered to vote | The Washington Post
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills had an innovative idea last year. Having recently become interested both in politics and working as a voice for social change, the 25-year-old decided it was time for his team to think about getting more involved, too. So one day early in the 2016 NFL season, he printed out dozens of voter registration forms and stuck them in each of his 52 teammates’ lockers. “I was already registered, but I thought it would be cool for the team, to get everyone involved,” he said of the personal campaign he began a couple months before the 2016 presidential election. His effort didn’t exactly go as planned, however. “I didn’t get too many responses,” he said.
Lost amid the debate over whether Facebook can be trusted to police itself to stop Russian and other foreign interference in future U.S. elections or whether new legislation is necessary to accomplish this task is a potential insuperable roadblock to effective regulation: the conservative justices on the United States Supreme Court and their views of the First Amendment. Facebook, facing tremendous political pressure to reveal how Russia tried to influence the outcome of the 2016 election campaign through targeted Facebook advertising, recently revealed that entities backed by the Russian government purchased up to $150,000 in advertising aimed at promoting Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton. Then, last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced voluntary steps the company said it would take to assure greater transparency in political ads.
Since Donald Trump’s cataclysmic election, the unthinkable has become ordinary. We’ve grown used to naked profiteering off the presidency, an administration that calls for the firing of private citizens for political dissent and nuclear diplomacy conducted via Twitter taunts. Here, in my debut as a New York Times columnist, I want to discuss a structural problem that both underlies and transcends our current political nightmare: We have entered a period of minority rule. I don’t just mean the fact that Trump became president despite his decisive loss in the popular vote, though that shouldn’t be forgotten. Worse, the majority of voters who disapprove of Trump have little power to force Congress to curb him.
California: Cyber Security Experts Say California Vote Audit Has Exploitable Problems – capradio.org
Federal officials told California Friday that Russians probed the state’s election system for vulnerabilities before the 2016 election. That’s raising new questions over a bill on Governor Jerry Brown’s desk. Cyber security experts say the measure could weaken California’s voting systems. California relies on machines to tabulate the millions of ballots cast during an election, but counties also do a manual audit of one percent of precincts. A bill on Brown’s desk clarifies the audits only have to include ballots cast on or before election night—not provisional or late-arriving vote-by-mail ballots.
Florida: Chris King calls for ‘modernized’ voting systems, automatic voter registration | Florida Politics
Declaring it is time for Florida to “modernize” it’s voting systems, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King unveiled a policy statement Tuesday calling for universal voter registration and for voters to vote anywhere in their county. King, a Winter Park-based developer of affordable and senior housing, rolled out a seven-point voting and elections plan Tuesday to mark National Voter Registration Day during a speech at Florida State University. The address was the first of his campus college tour, which also includes stops Tuesday at the University of Florida and the University of North Florida. His Every Florida Voter Plan include calls for the abolition of gerrymandering, restoration of certain non-violent felons’ voting rights and some proposals aimed at making voter registration and voting easier.
Florida: Seminole County elections supervisor: State law loophole robs thousands of voters | Orlando Sentinel
Kevin Gross is a longtime political candidate who has run for Seminole CountyCommission three times and most recently for Clerk of Courts. But his name has never appeared on a ballot. He has never mailed out campaign fliers or even set up a campaign website. Still, Gross’ low-profile campaigns as a write-in candidate have had a big influence on Seminole’s elections process by shutting out a majority of the county’s voters. Now, Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Michael Ertel is urging legislators to take another crack at closing a loophole in the state’s election law that allows a write-in candidate — such as Gross and others across Central Florida — to close off primaries to all voters. “This little loophole has kind of bastardized the [elections] process,” Ertel said. “This is about the voters having faith and trust in the process. And it’s our job to make sure that everyone understands the process is working fairly for everyone.”
Illinois: Automatic voter registration bill signed into law; Cook clerk says will enable cleanup of voter rolls | Cook County Record
When Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a bill on Aug. 28 to automatically register Illinois residents to vote, the man in charge of the office that oversees elections in suburban Cook County said the signature was the final piece in a long sought tool to “clean up” voter rolls in the county and elsewhere. Illinois’ automatic voter registration (AVR) “makes our voter rolls cleaner and more inclusive, streamlines the process of voter registration, cuts costs associated with paper-based voter registration and is a natural registration fraud fighter,” Cook County Clerk David Orr said in a statement. The AVR bill passed both the Senate and House in May. Illinois is the 10th state, plus Washington, D.C., to approve AVR.
Ohio: California joins 11 states to oppose one of the ways Ohio cancels a voter’s registration | Los Angeles Times
California’s attorney general joined a group of other states on Monday to ask the Supreme Court to abolish a controversial policy in Ohio that cancels a voter’s registration for not frequently casting a ballot. A federal appeals court earlier this year found the Ohio practice to be illegal. Though California doesn’t use a similar process, state Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra signed on to a court filing with 11 other states and the District of Columbia to urge the justices to uphold the lower court’s ruling. “Removing eligible voters from registration lists serves to silence and suppress citizens,” Becerra said in a written statement. “All too often, state policies like the one we’re opposing in Ohio make it harder for our most vulnerable citizens to vote.”
Washington: State Reveals Upcoming Federal Cybersecurity Pilot, After DHS Confirms Attempted Election Breaches | Gov Tech
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials said three months ago that people linked to the Russian government had attempted to hack election-related sites and information in 21 states. But on Sept. 22, DHS made it official, contacting election officials in those states to more formally notify them of having been targeted. Only one, the state of Illinois, was deemed as having been “breached,” according to a Washington Post analysis that pointed to the previously revealed exposure of personal information belonging to “tens of thousands of voters.” With its next election about six weeks away, a top Washington state elections official said the agency will soon embark on a three-month federal pilot aimed at improving cybersecurity, and officials are optimistic the electoral cycle will be uneventful and appear largely unchanged to voters.
Wisconsin: In reversal, DHS says Russians did not seek to hack Wisconsin’s election system | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
The federal Department of Homeland Security reversed itself Tuesday and told Wisconsin officials that the Russian government had not tried to hack the state’s voter registration system last year. Instead, Homeland Security said, the Russians had attempted to access a computer system controlled by another state agency. The development — disclosed during a meeting of the Wisconsin Elections Commission — came four days after federal officials told the state that Russians had tried to hack systems in Wisconsin and 20 other states. Juan Figueroa, a member of Homeland Security’s election infrastructure team, on Tuesday told state officials by email that Wisconsin’s voter registration system had not been targeted in a hacking attempt after all. He said Russians had tried to access a computer system run by the state Department of Workforce Development.
Sites in 20 Wisconsin cities took part in National Voter Registration Day efforts Tuesday. The event comes a day after a University of Wisconsin-Madison study showing the state’s voter ID law lowered turnout last year. The study from UW-Madison estimates that up to 23,000 people in Dane and Milwaukee counties did not vote in November 2016 because of the state’s voter ID law. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that between 16,800 and 23,250 voters in two of the state’s most Democratic counties did not vote because of the law. Shauntay Nelson of the group Wisconsin Voices says part of the problem was just confusion, and she says events like National Voter Registration Day can cut through that. “Our intention is to partner with as many people as possible to educate individuals and to really begin to help them to understand that there really are avenues,” Nelson said.
After a heated 2016 election season, Wyoming lawmakers are looking to implement several new regulations relating to political campaigns during elections. During its meetings this week in Lander, the Wyoming Legislature Joint Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee advanced several draft bills for further consideration relating to election issues. And some of those pieces of proposed legislation pertain to a slew of controversial incidents in Wyoming in 2016. Just weeks before the 2016 general election, the Wyoming Republican Party filed a complaint with the secretary of state’s office alleging left-wing political groups based in Laramie engaged in shadowy tactics stemming from a series of mailers critical of Republican candidates. The mailers described in the GOP complaint alleged that the source of funding, a group known as Forward Wyoming Advocacy, was connected to another organization, ELLA WY, which was hired by several Democratic candidates for consulting services. While any firm connection between candidates, their campaigns and Forward Wyoming Advocacy is yet unclear, Republicans alleged it constituted a violation of Wyoming election law.
Kurds packed polling stations across northern Iraq on Monday in a historic referendum on independence despite vigorous opposition from the country’s central government as well as regional and world powers. Church bells tolled, and imams implored Kurds over mosque loudspeakers to vote when polls opened across the Kurdish region — a swath of mountains, oil fields and desert that has been run as a semiautonomous enclave for decades. The poll is expected to produce an overwhelming “yes” result that many Kurds see as the culmination of a century-long and bloody struggle for self-determination. Kurdish authorities said that 3.9 million people were eligible to vote and that final results were expected by Thursday.
Ireland will hold a referendum next year on whether to repeal its ban on abortion in almost all circumstances, a few weeks before Pope Francis is expected to visit. Leo Varadkar, the taoiseach, told the Irish parliament on Tuesday that a national vote on whether to abolish the eighth amendment to the constitution, which gives a foetus the status of a citizen even in early pregnancy, would take place in summer 2018. Under current law, a woman convicted of having an illegal termination in Ireland can face up to 14 years in prison. However, women are free to travel abroad for abortions, and thousands each year do so, mainly to England. Last year the UN human rights committee found that Ireland’s abortion laws were “cruel, inhuman and degrading”. It repeated this criticism in June.
The Spanish region of Catalonia is scheduled to hold a referendum on independence on Sunday, despite fierce opposition from the central government in Madrid and from the courts, which say the vote would violate the Constitution. The unity of the country is at stake, as is the political survival of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. He has stepped up pressure in the region, which has seen arrests and the confiscation of campaign materials. Some Catalan leaders have suggested that Mr. Rajoy is taking the country back to the dark days of dictatorship, although he has resisted hard-liners’ calls for him to seize complete administrative control of Catalonia. Mr. Rajoy has fought off Catalan pressure before, including five years ago, when Spain’s economic crisis, and Catalonia’s tax contributions to poorer regions, bolstered the secessionist movement. But separatists in the region today are determined to press ahead. Here’s a guide to the vote, and to the events that led up to it.
Police will be deployed at polling stations to prevent people from voting in the Catalan independence referendum, the Spanish government has confirmed. Although the Catalonia regional government has insisted the unilateral poll will go ahead on Sunday, the Spanish government has vowed to stop the vote, which it says is a clear violation of the constitution. Spain’s constitutional court has suspended the legislation underpinning the referendum while it rules on its legality. A spokesman for the Spanish government’s Catalan delegation said on Tuesday that the region’s prosecutor had ordered the Mossos d’Esquadra, Catalonia’s police force, to take control of polling booths and identify those in charge. “The order has been conveyed and it will be executed with all normality,” he said.
Voting pamphlets and explanations of federal bills should be available online in sign language, says the Swiss Federation for the Deaf, which has handed in a petition to the federal chancellery. For the more than 10,000 people in Switzerland who are deaf or profoundly hard of hearing, the voting pamphlet appears in the “wrong language”, the federation said in a statementexternal link on Monday. “Their language is sign language. Written German is a foreign language they have to struggle to learn,” it wrote. “Having to understand complex political content in this foreign language is an unnecessary hurdle which violates Swiss and international law on barrier-free access to information.” The federation explained that without appropriate measures, “the free formation of opinions and therefore political participation is made more difficult – if not impossible – for affected people”.