Spain: Smashed doorways and rubber bullets: Catalonia votes in ‘illegal’ independence referendum | CNBC

Police fired rubber bullets, wrestled protesters, smashed doorways and carted off ballot boxes in several parts of Barcelona on Sunday, as long lines of people voted in an independence referendum that could radically reshape politics across a divided region. The outbreaks of police violence at a handful of polling locations served to heighten tensions in the Catalan capital, potentially boosting turnout for a vote that could have significant consequences for the autonomous region’s future, and that of Mariano Rajoy’s Spanish government. After polls closed Rajoy made a televised address reiterating that voters had been tricked by Catalonia’s political leaders, and that the national police had simply responded in accordance with their orders.

National: DHS is standing by its initial assessment that 21 states were targeted | HuffPost

Top election officials in two states say the Department of Homeland Security gave them faulty information last week when it said Russian hackers scanned their election systems last year. The accusations underscore the persistent barriers in information sharing as the federal government and states try to respond to hacking in last year’s election. DHS informed election officials in 21 states on Friday that Russian hackers had tried to access voter information, the first time many states found out they had been targeted. DHS has faced criticism for being slow to share information with states. Now election officials in Wisconsin and California say DHS has provided them with additional information showing that Russian hackers actually scanned networks at other state agencies unconnected to voter data. In Wisconsin, DHS told officials on Tuesday that hackers had scanned an IP address belonging to the Department of Workforce Development, not the Wisconsin Elections Commission. … Scott McConnell, a DHS spokesman, said in a statement the agency stood by its assessment that 21 states were targeted by Russian hackers last year. He suggested hackers still could have targeted election records, even if they did not target the IP addresses of the state’s election body.

National: Trump administration furthers states’ frustration over election hacking | CNN

Tension between state election officials and the Trump administration is only growing after two states say they were misinformed by the Department of Homeland Security about Russian government-linked hacking, further prolonging a months-long dispute over delayed information from the federal government. California and Wisconsin say DHS was incorrect in its initial assessment that their states’ systems connected to election administration were targeted by Russian hackers. The latest flap started September 22, when the Department of Homeland Security sought to notify state election officials on whether their states were among those targeted during last year’s presidential election. DHS previously said that 21 states’ election-related systems had been targeted — but had never said which ones were on the list. By Wednesday, DHS had to revise its alerts to both California and Wisconsin.

National: Google Prepares to Brief Congress on Its Role in Election | The New York Times

Google has become the latest Silicon Valley giant to become entangled in a widening investigation into how online social networks and technology products may have played a role in Russian interference in the 2016 election. On Friday evening, Google said it would cooperate with congressional inquiries into the election, days after Facebook and Twitter provided evidence to investigators of accounts on their networks that were linked to Russian groups. Google was called to testify at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Nov. 1. Google has also begun an internal investigation into whether its advertising products and services were used as part of a Russia-linked influence campaign, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke anonymously because they were not permitted to speak publicly about the issue. Exactly when the inquiry began is not known, but it has been discussed inside Google over recent weeks, the person said. The Wall Street Journal reported the internal investigation earlier.

National: How a Wisconsin Case Before Justices Could Reshape Redistricting | The New York Times

How egregiously can a majority party gerrymander a political map before it violates the Constitution? The Supreme Court has tried to answer that question for 30 years. On Tuesday, it will try again, hearing arguments in a case involving the Wisconsin State Assembly that could remake an American political landscape rived by polarization and increasingly fenced off for partisan advantage. Republicans declared a strategy in 2008 to capture control of state legislatures so that they could redraw congressional districts to their advantage after the 2010 census. Political scientists said that was one reason the Democratic presence in the House of Representatives had fallen to 75-year lows. After November’s election, Democrats took steps to reclaim legislatures before the 2020 census set off a new round of map drawing. In essence, the court is being asked to decide whether such a partisan divide should continue unabated or be reined in. The immediate stakes are enormous: A decisive ruling striking down the Wisconsin Assembly map could invalidate redistricting maps in up to 20 other states, said Barry C. Burden, the director of the Elections Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Other analysts said that at least a dozen House districts would be open to court challenges if the court invalidated Wisconsin’s map. Some place the number of severely gerrymandered House districts as high as 20.

National: The Few Democrats on Trump’s Fraud Panel Push Back | Bloomberg

There’s a story that’s been going around over the past several months about busloads of people from Massachusetts driving into New Hampshire to vote illegally in last year’s election. President Trump told it to a group of senators in February, as part of a story about why he lost in New Hampshire. The head of his voter integrity panel, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, alluded to it in a Sept. 7 article on He also cited data made public by New Hampshire’s Republican House speaker that more than 5,000 people with out-of-state driver’s licenses had voted in New Hampshire in November. In his Breitbart piece, Kobach used those statistics to conclude that the outcome of the state’s Senate election, won by Democrat Maggie Hassan, and the awarding of its four electoral votes, which Hillary Clinton won by 0.4 percent, were “likely changed through voter fraud.” New Hampshire is a strange state to accuse of voter fraud. First, it’s tiny, with just 1.3 million people. Second, New Hampshire votes a lot more than most other states, electing its governor, lawmakers, and other state officials every two years instead of four. Bill Gardner, New Hampshire’s Democratic secretary of state, and also one of five Democrats on Trump’s 12-member voter fraud commission, has overseen 490 elections in his 41 years on the job. And while he says there are discrepancies in almost every election, including a handful of fraudulently cast votes, Gardner insists there’s no evidence to support claims that the problem is rampant.

Editorials: Social media and democracy: Optimism fades as fears rise | Rob Lever/AFP

Just a few years ago, Facebook and Twitter were hailed as tools for democracy activists, enabling movements like the Arab Spring to flourish. Today, the tables have turned as fears grow over how social media may have been manipulated to disrupt the US election, and over how authoritarian governments are using the networks to clamp down on dissent. The latest revelations from Facebook and Twitter, which acknowledged that Russian-backed entities used their network to spread disinformation and sow political discord, have heightened concerns about the impact of social networks on democracy. “Both services are ripe for abuse and manipulation by all sorts of problematic people, including hostile intelligence services,” says Andrew Weisburd, a non-resident fellow with the Alliance for Securing Democracy.

Arizona: Group asks Arizona to restore voting rights to felons | AZ Central

The American Civil Liberties Union launched a nationwide campaign Sunday on voting rights, with an emphasis in Arizona on restoring the voting rights of people convicted of a felony crime. The Let People Vote campaign is working with community members to help pass a bill in the Arizona Legislature to restore the voting rights of citizens with felony convictions upon the completion of their sentence. Alessandra Soler, ACLU Arizona executive director, said the organization aims to take back the vote in direct response to the Trump administration’s investigation of voter fraud, a problem she said “doesn’t exist.”

California: A sloppy signature might keep your 2018 ballot from being counted | Los Angeles Times

Few Californians are likely to spend any time thinking about how carefully they signed their voter registration card years ago. Nor is there much reason to assume that those who vote by mail think much about the neatness of their signature on the envelope containing that absentee ballot. But those two signatures — and whether they’re deemed to match — actually are key to whether the ballot counts. And while voting absentee was once uncommon, it’s now used by millions of Californians, some who will be newly pushed into doing it come 2018. The reality is that current California law is so flexible as to be vague when it comes to what an elections official should do when faced with an absentee voter’s sloppy signature. It simply states that the ballot counts if the official “determines that the signatures compare.”

Florida: Once called too risky, Florida online voter registration finally arrives | Tampa Bay Times

Florida is now the 35th state in the U.S. where people have the option to register to vote or to update their registration online. The system went live Sunday, more than two years after the Legislature passed a bill requiring online registration to take effect by Oct. 1, 2017. … Applicants are required to provide information, such as the date their driver’s license was issued and the last four digits of their Social Security number. The 2018 election for U.S. Senate and governor will be the first in Florida to use online registration. The new option has been years in the making. County election supervisors lobbied for it for years, saying it will save money, improve accuracy of voter rolls and improve convenience for voters. But Gov. Rick Scott’s administration strongly resisted it, citing “potential risks and challenges” and the possibility of cyber-attacks, more than a year before Russians attempted to hack the state’s voting system in the 2016 election.

Kansas: ACLU kicks off voting effort on Kris Kobach’s home turf | The Kansas City Star

Kansas has once again taken center stage in the fight over voting rights in America. The American Civil Liberties Union on Sunday night made a point of calling out Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who has championed stricter requirements for voters and alleged widespread election fraud that he’s been unable to prove. The criticism of Kobach came as the ACLU kicked off a 50-state “Let People Vote” campaign at the Lied Center in Lawrence, roughly a half hour from Kobach’s office in Topeka. “This is going to be difficult, this is complex,” said Faiz Shakir, the ACLU’s national political director. “Because given the dysfunction in Congress, we are not going to pass anything through there to expand voting rights. It would be ideal if we could. But it’s not going to happen. “So the only way that we can fight to expand voting rights in America is to go state by state by state.”

Kansas: Voting experts to discuss voter suppression in Kansas, the ‘capital of voter suppression’ | The Daily Kansan

More than 20,000 Kansas citizens were prevented from participating in the 2016 election because of voter suppression, said Davis Hammet, the 27-year-old founder of Loud Light, an organization that focuses on increasing youth civic participation in Kansas. Hammet, along with three other Kansas voter experts, will address the topic of voter suppression in a panel discussion sponsored by the ACLU of KU. The panel discussion will begin at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 5, in the Centennial Room of the Kansas Union. “It’s so bad, voter suppression,” Hammet said. “Kansas is the voter suppression capital of the country, and it calls into [question] the legitimacy of every elected official. So that’s why these issues are critical. It’s really about do we have a democracy or not in Kansas.”

New Mexico: New petition filed to force ranked-choice voting in Santa Fe | Albuquerque Journal

Efforts to implement ranked choice voting in time for the 2018 municipal election in Santa Fe were renewed Friday when an emergency petition was filed in state District Court. Last week, the state Supreme Court rejected a similar petition. Since that decision, however, the software needed to implement the ranked choice voting method has been certified. “On September 27, 2017, New Mexico’s Voting System Certification Committee unanimously recommended it for certification, and as mandated by the State’s election code for voting systems, it has now been certified and will be used throughout the State in the upcoming 2018 elections,” according to the petition filed by Maria Perez of FairVote New Mexico — a nonpartisan group that advocates for electoral reforms at the local, state, and national level — and others.

Texas: Pasadena to pay $1 million to settle voting rights lawsuit | Houston Chronicle

Pasadena Mayor Jeff Wagner on Friday asked the City Council to settle a voting rights lawsuit that led to national portrayals of the Houston suburb as an example of efforts to suppress Latino voting rights. The proposed settlement with Latino residents who sued the city in 2014 over a new City Council district system calls for the city to pay $900,000 for the plaintiffs’ legal fees and $197,341 for court costs. The item will be on Tuesday’s City Council agenda. “While I strongly believe that the city did not violate the Voting Rights Act or adopt a discriminatory election system,” Wagner said in a statement, “I think it’s in the best interest of the city to get this suit behind us.”

Virginia: Voting like it’s 1999: Virginia jurisdictions to back up ballots on paper | WTOP

It’s all about security. Or rather, the perception of security. “Until security on the internet feels like something the people can trust … paper is the future,” said David B. Bjerke, director of elections and general registrar of voters of Falls Church, Virginia. Paper — or lack of it — was one of the reasons that several models of voting machines were suddenly decertified by Virginia’s State Board of Elections. The tipping point came over the summer, when hackers at the DEFCON gathering in Las Vegas demonstrated how they could compromise the security of direct recording electronic machines. “I understand why the Virginia State Board of Elections made their decision,” said Bjerke. “The security that was involved in these DREs, the direct recording electronic machines, hadn’t been updated since 2004. So, obviously, technology has increased since then. And the ability to hack equipment in general has increased. And so, without updating those security protocols, I understand why they wanted to make all DREs decertified.”

Wisconsin: Authorities didn’t tell Wisconsin about Russian hacking for a year | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Wisconsin officials for a year were not told about specific attempts by the Russian government to gain access to the state’s voter registration database, the leaders of the state Elections Commission said Friday. Friday’s statement from the commission comes after a week of conflicting reports about what Russian agents attempted to do and when state and federal officials knew about it. Wisconsin systems were targeted in July and August 2016. Wisconsin officials were aware of the attempts but not that Russian government actors were behind them, according to Friday’s statement and public records. In one of the incidents, the attack was targeted at a different state agency, not the Elections Commission.

Wisconsin: State has made progress heading off hackers but more could be done | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Russian hacking attempts grabbed headlines this week, but they weren’t the Wisconsin elections agency’s first cyber attack with an international flavor. For a day in August 2011, an older version of the state’s elections website and several other state sites were knocked out of commission by a cyber vandal. The elections site had its homepage plastered with the phrase “hacked by sovalye” — a phrase that appeared to refer to the Turkish word for “knight.” Since then, the state government as a whole has gotten more serious about protecting itself from internet attacks — efforts that may have paid off last year amid Russian attempts to influence, or undermine confidence in, the November elections. 

Germany: Far right’s Frauke Petry plans new political party in Germany | Politico

Frauke Petry said she plans to form a new political group in the German parliament after leaving the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD). Petry, the party’s former leader who quit following the group’s stunning election results last week, told newspaper Welt am Sonntag in an interview Sunday that she wants to form a new party in the Bundestag, but would not reveal what it would be called. She also said that she and her colleagues would “soon form a group and perhaps a faction” with the goal of running in the 2019 Saxon regional parliament election. Still, Petry said she does not hope to see members leaving the AfD en masse along with her.

India: Tibetans living in exile to vote first time in Himachal assembly elections | Times of India

It is for the first time that Tibetans living in India will participate in assembly elections in India. They are all set to cast their vote for new government in Himachal Pradesh. Tibetans started registering themselves as voters during parliamentary elections. This time too new voters have registered for upcoming polls in the state. Officials said that about 300 new voters have been registered this time. This hill town is considered as the global capital of the Tibetan residents across the world. Voting rights to Tibetans were granted in 2014. There are mixed reactions from the community on the move. Majority of the Tibetans believe that Indian citizenship would affect their freedom movement. Tibetan government in exile has not put any restrictions on Tibetans in this regard stating that it’s a matter of personal choice.

Russia: “No rules”: Russian activist’s death a symbol of pre-election violence | Reuters

Russian opposition activist Ivan Skripnichenko died after being attacked by a man angry he opposed Vladimir Putin. Over a month later, nobody has been arrested, his family can’t see his autopsy, and authorities say he probably died of heart disease. The assault on the 36-year-old father-of-two is one of a growing number of vicious attacks on opposition figures in the run-up to a presidential election in March which Putin, the incumbent, is widely expected to contest. Most activists do not believe that Putin or the Kremlin have a hand in the attacks, which have included caustic liquid being thrown in a victim’s eyes, a car being set alight, and, in one case, an activist being bashed over the head with an iron bar. But critics say the way the authorities have handled the cases – it’s rare for anyone to be arrested and a nationalist group which says its carries out such attacks openly boasts about its activities – shows that they are at best turning a blind eye, and at worst tacitly condoning the violence.

Spain: Chaotic, violent referendum in Catalonia shows landslide support for secession from Spain | The Washington Post

The results of a controversial and chaotic referendum in the Catalonia region of northeast Spain on Sunday showed landslide support for independence for the restive but affluent area, a lopsided vote sure to be vigorously challenged by the constitutional court and central government in Madrid as illegitimate and illegal. According to the Catalan government, 90 percent of the ballots cast were for independence — with 2,020,144 voting yes and 176,566 no. Minutes after the first few thousand votes were posted, the regional president and leading secessionist, Carles Puigdemont, appeared on stage to announce that Catalonia had won “the right to independence” and called on Europe to support its split from Spain. But nothing about the vote was regular — or orderly, transparent or peaceful. Images of police beating voters in stylish, cosmopolitan Barcelona fueled a widespread perception that Europe, in particular, and the West, in general – far from cheering on the breakup of Spain – face yet more tensions and dislocation. And it is far from clear that Catalonia is any closer to independence. The vote left the region and nation deeply divided.

Spain: Clashes during Catalan independence vote injure hundreds | The Washington Post

Just minutes after the first boisterous voters entered the polling station at an elementary school here on Sunday, dozens of National Police officers in riot gear smashed through the front window and began searching for the ballot boxes. But the activists who organized this controversial vote on independence for the Catalan region were two steps ahead. As the police forced their way through shouting crowds into the polling station, the organizers spirited away the ballots and hid them in the classrooms amid coloring books and crayons. An hour later, after police had driven away in their big black vans, under a hail of insults, the ballot boxes reemerged and the voting recommenced. The pattern was repeated again and again across hundreds of polling stations Sunday in the Catalan region of northeast Spain, where a secessionist movement is pushing ahead with a disputed referendum on independence that the central government in Madrid, backed by the courts, has called illegitimate and illegal.