CBS News has learned that in an unprecedented effort to enhance election security ahead of the 2018 midterms, select state officials will be given access to some of the most sensitive information about the extent of the 2016 cyberattacks, but that access will require them to submit to the time-consuming and lengthy process of filling out federal security clearance applications. The process online can take up to 10 hours and, even after completing the application, some election officials say they have doubts about the extent of what they’ll be able to see.During the 2016 election, suspected Russian hackers scanned and probed voter databases and other election related computer networks in at least 21 states.
An Alabama senator wants to change the way empty seats are filled in the Legislature. Recent vacancies have set the stage for three special elections near the end of four-year terms, elections for seats that will almost immediately be up for grabs again. Under the state Constitution, when a lawmaker resigns, dies or is removed from office, the governor schedules a special election, and the seat stays empty until the election is decided. Sen. Rusty Glover, R-Semmes, proposes amending the Constitution so that if a vacancy occurs during the last two years of the term, the governor would appoint a replacement to finish the term. The appointee could not run for a full term.
Alabama: Russian invasion? Roy Moore sees spike in Twitter followers from land of Putin | Montgomery Advertiser
At least 1,100 Russian-language accounts followed Republican U.S. Senate nominee Roy Moore’s Twitter account over the past few days. Moore’s team says they want to know why. “We had absolutely nothing to do with this,” said Drew Messer, a spokesman for the campaign, on Monday. “We’ve never purchased followers or dummy ads on Twitter. We’ve asked Twitter to look into this.” The increase helped push Moore’s following on Twitter from about 27,000 accounts on Friday to over 47,000, ahead of Democratic nominee Doug Jones, who has about 39,000 followers on Twitter. Many of the new followers for Moore appear to be bots, with only a handful of followers and generic profile art, including photos of singer Avril Lavigne.
Efforts to pry loose President Donald Trump’s tax returns at the state level have hit a wall, stalling in statehouses across the country including in California, a hotbed of anti-Trump resistance. Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed legislation late Sunday that would have forced presidential candidates to make their tax returns public before appearing on the California ballot, marking the death there of a measure once ballyhooed by Democrats and open government advocates as an end run to Trump’s refusal to disclose his tax filings. Democrats have seen similar proposals stall in more than 20 states since Trump’s election. But Brown’s veto here — in a deeply liberal state where Democrats control every statewide office and both houses of the Legislature — marked a new low for the offensive.
Iowa: Secretary of State’s office considers proposals to implement new voter ID law | Des Moines Register
Iowans filled a cramped conference room at the Lucas State Office Building on Monday to offer both praise and criticism of the state’s new voter identification laws as the Secretary of State works to begin implementing the changes. Then-Gov. Terry Branstad signed the bill into law in May, enacting a new requirement that every voter present government-issued identification at the polls on Election Day. Monday’s public hearing was intended to give Iowans a chance to discuss the rules governing how the law will be implemented. “The bill is the law now,” said Daniel Zeno with the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa. “The goal of the rules, we believe, should be to make sure it’s crystal clear so that voter registration organizations, same-day registrants, pre-registered voters all know what the rules are and that we’re protecting the voting rights of all Iowans.” The law, for example, says a voter’s registration will be canceled if that person submits a notice declining to serve on a jury because he or she is not a legal citizen.
The Maine Legislature is again wrestling with whether to implement, delay or repeal a law passed by voters last November that made Maine the first state to approve a statewide ranked-choice voting system to elect legislators, the governor and members of Congress. In 2017, the Legislature three times failed to reach consensus on what to do with the law, leaving next year’s primary and general elections in a kind of legal limbo. The law is set to be used for the first time in the June 2018 primaries when Maine’s political parties will select candidates for those races. But last May, the state Supreme Judicial Court issued an advisory opinion to the state Senate, saying that if ranked-choice voting were used in the general election for governor or legislators, the results could be challenged in court because the system violates the Maine Constitution. And on Monday, the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee, after hours of public testimony, failed to reach consensus on a bill that would implement parts of the law that do not raise constitutional concerns, and delay the rest until voters could be asked to amend the constitution.
A federal judge will hear arguments Tuesday on the city’s request that he dismiss a federal civil rights lawsuit claiming that Lowell’s election system discriminates against minorities. The 13 plaintiffs in the case argue that system, whereby all nine city councilors and six School Committee members are elected at-large, ensures that Lowell’s majority-white population can effectively block minority candidates from gaining office. Only four non-white residents have been elected to the City Council, and none have been elected to the School Committee. Virtually all other cities in Massachusetts have switched to some form of district-based representation. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in May. In September, the city moved to have the case dismissed.
The state Senate voted Monday night to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of a measure that would cancel all judicial primary elections in 2018. The House is expected to follow suit Tuesday, although that vote may be delayed. Senate Bill 656 would also make it easier for third-party and unaffiliated candidates to get on the ballot for statewide or municipal races, but not in legislative races. It would also lower the percentage of primary votes required to avoid a runoff. Republican House and Senate leaders say they’re canceling the judicial primaries because they intend to redraw the state’s Superior Court and District Court districts by next spring, so the primary would likely be delayed.
North Carolina: Partisan gerrymander trial highlights differences from Wisconsin case | News & Observer
Morton Lurie is a Raleigh resident who describes himself as a conservative Republican. On Monday, he was one of the North Carolina voters standing outside a federal courthouse in Greensboro, criticizing a map drawn in 2016 that has given Republicans a 10 to 3 edge in Congress. Though it can be difficult to keep up with all the redistricting lawsuits filed this decade in North Carolina, Lurie is one of the challengers of maps adopted by the Republican-led legislature last year to correct two of the 13 congressional districts found by federal judges to be unconstitutional racial gerrymanders. Lurie objects to districts that are essentially safe seats for one party or another. “The House of Representatives is that part of our government designed to be sensitive to the interests and will of voters spread across the country,” Lurie told media during a break in a trial that started Monday in his lawsuit.
Pennsylvania: Judge grants stay in state gerrymandering lawsuit as federal lawsuit gets December trial date | WPMT
A Commonwealth Court judge Monday granted a stay in the state lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania’s Congressional district map, as a district judge set a December trial date in a federal lawsuit also seeking to force lawmakers to re-draw the map. Respondents to the state lawsuit, filed by the League of Women Voters PA, argued a ruling should be stayed until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on Gill v. Whitford, a gerrymandering case from Wisconsin. Oral arguments in that case were heard earlier this month, and the Supreme Court justices are continuing to deliberate on that case. The separate lawsuits hope to reach the same end result, but are using different methods to do so.
Austria: Austria turns sharply to the right in an election shaped by immigration | The Washington Post
Austria became the latest European country to take a sharp turn right on Sunday, with the conservative People’s Party riding a hard-line position on immigration to victory in national elections and likely to form a government with a nationalist party that has long advocated for an even tougher stance. The result puts the 31-year-old foreign minister and People’s Party leader, Sebastian Kurz, in line to become Austria’s next chancellor after a campaign in which he emphasized the need to strengthen border controls, reduce caps on refugees and slash benefits for newcomers. Much of Kurz’s rhetoric echoed positions long held by the Freedom Party, which for decades has anchored the far right of politics in this nation of 8.7 million.
An anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim party won the Austrian elections on Sunday, and its leader might form a government with a party founded by ex-Nazis. So much for the hopes of spring that election results in the Netherlands and France hinted that the political tide in Europe had turned away from the far right. Last month, Alternative for Germany became the first far-right party to enter Germany’s Parliament since World War II, winning 13 percent of the vote and 94 parliamentary seats.
European observers said on Monday vote-buying and significant procedural problems marred Kyrgyzstan’s presidential vote, though they praised the move towards an orderly transfer of power in the volatile ex-Soviet state. Sooronbai Jeenbekov, a protege of the outgoing president, won on Sunday with 55 percent – a stronger result than the near tie polls had predicted. Opposition leader Omurbek Babanov conceded defeat but said he would investigate irregularities. The election is seen as a test of stability in the central Asian country where Russia still holds considerable sway and two previous leaders were ousted in violent riots. Kyrgyz news website Turmush.kg published a video showing hundreds of Babanov supporters rallying outside a local government building in his home Talas region. But there were no reports of violence.
The former international footballer George Weah and Liberia’s vice-president, Joseph Boakai, will face a runoff for the country’s presidency on 7 November, the electoral commission announced on Sunday. With tallies in from 95.6% of polling stations, Weah took 39% of the votes and Boakai 29.1%, both well short of the 50% barrier required to win outright from the first round of voting held on Tuesday. Whoever wins the second round of voting will replace Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first elected female head of state, who is stepping down as president after a maximum of two terms. Jerome Korkoya, the chairman of the National Elections Commission, told journalists that 1,550,923 votes had been counted and turnout was at 74.52% across the small west African nation. The handover would represent Liberia’s first peaceful transfer of power in more than seven decades.
Venezuela’s opposition has called for street protests after President Nicolas Maduro’s government won a majority of governorships in a surprise result from Sunday’s regional elections. The Democratic Unity’s election campaign chief, Gerardo Blyde, demanded a complete audit of the 23 governor races and called on its candidates to lead “street activities” on Monday in protest over the results the party said it would not recognise. The ruling Socialist party took 17 governorships, while the Democratic Unity coalition took five, with results irreversible in all but one of the 23 states, said Tibisay Lucena, the electoral board president. “Chavismo is alive, in the street, and triumphant,” a beaming Maduro said in a speech to the nation, referring to the ruling movement’s name for former president Hugo Chavez.