A member of President Trump’s voter fraud commission, former Arkansas state Rep. David Dunn, died suddenly Monday from complications during surgery, according to his office. According to the Associated Press, Dunn was 52 years old. Dunn was one of five Democrats on the advisory panel, which has been embroiled in controversy ever since it was created earlier this year to study problems in the nation’s electoral system. In a statement, fellow commissioner J. Christian Adams, a Republican, said Dunn was “courageous to serve, courteous in his manners, and kind to everyone.” The commission has met only twice so far — the last time on Sept. 12 in New Hampshire. There’s been no word on when, where or whether it will meet again.
As Washington ignores the danger, state election officials have finally begun facing up to the threat of Russian hackers and other troublemakers infiltrating the American voting process in the midterm and presidential elections. There have been months of apparent indifference in many state election offices, despite stern warnings from federal security experts that hackers will be back for more after their 2016 meddling. But now state election officials have begun trying to tighten the security of outdated, vulnerable balloting systems. These systems were last updated after the hanging-chad debacle of the 2000 election, before internet hackers were a powerful threat.
Verified Voting Blog: Verified Voting Names Voting Rights Lawyer and Pennsylvania Election Official Marian K. Schneider New President
Schneider: “Now more than ever, we need to secure our voting systems, and Verified Voting is leading the way.” Nearly a year after intelligence agencies confirmed foreign interference in our elections – and with midterm primaries just around the corner – the U.S. is looking to safeguard its elections infrastructure. To that end, Verified Voting, the…
A crucial test for the future of Georgia elections begins Monday when early voting opens across the state ahead of the Nov. 7 local and special elections. Voters in Conyers will begin casting paper ballots along with new voting and tabulating machines as they decide on a new mayor and two City Council seats. The pilot program comes as advocates have sued to force the state to dump its aging all-electronic system amid fears of hacking and security breaches. And it could pave the way for the first elections system reboot in Georgia since 2002. “Everything is still on track and we are ready to go,” said Cynthia Welch, the elections supervisor for Rockdale County, which is running the Conyers election. Welch and her team have spent the past several weeks demonstrating the system, including to other local elections officials as well as lawmakers.
Indiana: Lawmakers push for Election Day voter registration, no-excuse absentee voting | Indianapolis Star
Election Day voter registration and expanded voting by mail should be considered by next year’s Indiana General Assembly, a panel of lawmakers decided Thursday. The committee’s chairman Sen. Greg Walker, R-Columbus, said he already is drafting legislation for the upcoming legislative session that would allow Hoosiers to mail in absentee ballots without having to provide an excuse required under current law. Hoosiers currently have to send in an application eight days before election day in order to receive an absentee ballot. On that application, they have to choose one of the 11 specific reasons available to vote absentee, such as working during the full 12 hours the polls are open or being away from the county during that same time period. Already, the state doesn’t check a person’s excuse to make sure it’s valid.
Arguments wrapped Thursday in a North Carolina lawsuit that aims to change American politics. The case targets partisan gerrymandering in general and North Carolina’s current congressional map in particular. Republican legislators, attorneys for good-government groups argue, drew intensely partisan lines, using detailed data from past elections to produce maps nearly guaranteed to elect 10 Republicans and three Democrats to Congress. Such partisan efforts have long been accepted, but the federal courts may eventually draw a line in the sand. North Carolina’s case is before a three-judge panel and could take months, or even years, to run its course. A similar case out of Wisconsin has already been argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, and the court’s decision is pending.
Pennsylvania: Gerrymandering: Advocates ask State Supreme Court to use rare power | Philadelphia Inquirer
Advocates are trying to fast-forward court action on changing Pennsylvania’s congressional map — considered among the most distorted in the nation — before the important 2018 elections. A state judge overseeing a suit by the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania wants to hold off any action pending a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a similar case out of Wisconsin, but the league is asking the state high court to fast-track the case. In a hearing earlier this month, Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pelligrini made clear he did not see the case being decided before the 2018 elections, saying, “I can tell you it isn’t going to happen.” On Monday he ordered a stay in the league’s suit. “The idea that we would have yet another election that takes place under a map that violates people’s constitutional rights to vote, that’s not acceptable,” Mimi McKenzie, legal director at the Philadelphia-based Public Interest Law Center, which is representing the league, said Thursday.
After his fellow commissioner fled the country, citing threats to her life, Kenya’s top election official on Wednesday accused the nation’s political parties of undermining the country’s stability and warned that he was not confident that next week’s presidential election would be credible. Kenyans are scheduled to vote — again — for president on Oct. 26. The nation’s current president, Uhuru Kenyatta, handily won the first election in August, beating the veteran opposition leader, Raila Odinga, by 1.4 million votes. But Mr. Odinga turned to Kenya’s Supreme Court, arguing that the vote had been manipulated to assure the president’s victory. To the nation’s surprise, the court ruled that the vote was flawed and, in a first for Africa, annulled the results, paving the way for a new election. Still, Mr. Odinga said he would withdraw from the race anyway, insisting that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission was deeply biased against him and would not be able to fix its underlying problems by election day.
Venezuela’s opposition presented evidence Thursday of possible ballot tampering in gubernatorial elections, seeking to bolster its claim that its shock loss at the polls was the result of fraud. The Democratic Unity Roundtable’s claim rests on results from a single race, in industrial Bolivar state, where pro-government candidate Justo Noguera was declared the winner by just 1,471 votes over opposition candidate Andres Velasquez. The opposition coalition said the results on the National Electoral Council’s website don’t match the tallies from 11 ballot boxes certified by poll workers representing multiple political parties. It said the inconsistencies resulted in 2,199 votes from those polling stations being awarded incorrectly to Noguera, enough to swing the vote in his favor. Electoral authorities had no immediate comment.
When the Homeland Security Department alerted state governments about Russian attempts to probe their election systems in 2016, it followed an ad hoc, one-size-fits-all process, mostly reaching out through existing cybersecurity relationships with governors’ offices. As a result, the officials running those elections—which are often politically firewalled from governors—were sometimes left in the dark. As the clock counts down to national elections in 2018 and 2020, Homeland Security is taking the opposite approach, asking top election officials in all 50 states how they’d like to communicate about relevant information security information, said Robert Kolasky, acting deputy undersecretary for Homeland Security’s cyber and infrastructure protection division.
An empty chair fielded question after question from an angry Senate panel Thursday, after a White House cybersecurity coordinator invoked executive privilege and skipped the hearing. Representatives from the FBI, the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security testified beside the empty chair, telling the Senate Armed Services Commitee they are working to increase coordination and communication. But much of the hearing was focused on Rob Joyce’s empty chair, which Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said showed “a fundamental misalignment between authority and accountability” in cybersecurity efforts at a time when Russians are meddling in an attempt to “destroy the fundamentals of democracy.” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, said the lack of federal coordination leaves local governments “by themselves to fight a sophisticated cyber-adversary like Russia.”
The CIA said on Thursday that the U.S. intelligence community has not reached new conclusions on Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election, hours after the agency’s director, Mike Pompeo, said that intelligence agencies had determined that the meddling had no effect on the results. “The intelligence assessment with regard to Russian election meddling has not changed,” Ryan Trapani, a CIA spokesman, told The Washington Post, “and the director did not intend to suggest that it had.” Pompeo reportedly said during a security conference in Washington on Thursday that “the intelligence community’s assessment is that the Russian meddling that took place did not affect the outcome of the election.”
National: Warner, Klobuchar, McCain Introduce Bipartisan Legislation To Prevent Foreign Interference In Elections | Alexandria News
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ranking Member of the Senate Rules Committee, U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, and U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services today introduced the Honest Ads Act to help prevent foreign interference in future elections and improve the transparency of online political advertisements. “Online political advertising represents an enormous marketplace, and today there is almost no transparency. The Russians realized this, and took advantage in 2016 to spread disinformation and misinformation in an organized effort to divide and distract us,” Senator Warner said. “Our bipartisan Honest Ads Act extends transparency and disclosure to political ads in the digital space. At the end of the day, it is not too much to ask that our most innovative digital companies work with us by exercising additional judgment and providing some transparency.”
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Thursday that interference in U.S. elections by another nation “is warfare,” telling an audience in New York that such meddling has become Russia’s go-to tactic. “I will tell you that when a country can come interfere in another country’s elections, that is warfare. It really is, because you’re making sure that the democracy shifts from what the people want to giving out that misinformation,” Haley said Thursday at a forum hosted in New York by the George W. Bush institute. ”And we didn’t just see it here. You can look at France and you can look at other countries. They are doing this everywhere. This is their new weapon of choice. And we have to make sure we get in front of it.”
Sacramento County Registrar of Voters Jill LaVine on Oct. 10 presented details about how county voters will vote next year. She gave the details to the Elk Grove-South County Democratic Club. LaVine’s speech was an educational presentation related to Senate Bill 450 – aka the California Voters Choice Act – which was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on Sept. 28. Through that bill, beginning in 2018, ballots will be sent to every registered voter. LaVine noted that voter registration will automatically occur through any interaction one has with the Department of Motor Vehicles. But she added that those who do not specify a political party preference will be defaulted to the category of “no party preference.” Voters will also be introduced to vote centers, LaVine said.
Florida: Does this candidate’s last name start with G or T? She’s suing to change the ballot | Miami Herald
Claiming gender and ethnic discrimination by elections officials, a candidate for Miami City Commission has asked a judge to order new ballots printed that properly identify her surname and place it ahead of the names of her two competitors. Denise Galvez Turros says she filed a complaint in circuit court Wednesday arguing that Miami’s city clerk erred when he identified her last name as Turros. Though her name is reflected on the ballot as “Denise Galvez Turros,” it was placed third after competitors Manuel “Manolo” Reyes and Ralph Rosado because of alphabetical ordering.
Maine: Ranked-choice voting law still needs 16 amendments for proper implementation | The Maine Wire
For those who attended or streamed the public hearing for LD 1646, “An Act to Bring Maine’s Ranked-Choice Voting Law into Constitutional Compliance,” on Monday, Oct. 16, proponents of the bill led you to believe that Maine was ready to implement ranked-choice voting. Dozens of campaign volunteers turned out to testify in favor of ranked-choice voting, however they completely overlooked several facets of the law that still conflict with existing statute and the Maine Constitution. So just how bad is Maine’s ranked-choice voting law?
Close elections almost by definition conjure up countless explanations of what might have changed the result. As the fine voting-rights journalist Ari Berman notes, one of the more shocking and significant developments on November 8, 2016, was Donald Trump’s win in Wisconsin, a state that had not gone Republican in a presidential election since the 49-state Reagan landslide of 1984. Explanations were all over the place: Clinton’s stunning loss in Wisconsin was blamed on her failure to campaign in the state, and the depressed turnout was attributed to a lack of enthusiasm for either candidate. “Perhaps the biggest drags on voter turnout in Milwaukee, as in the rest of the country, were the candidates themselves,” Sabrina Tavernise of the New York Times wrote in a post-election dispatch that typified this line of analysis. “To some, it was like having to choose between broccoli and liver.” Virtually no one, says Berman, talked about voter suppression, even though Scott Walker’s hyperpolarized state had enacted and fought successfully to preserve one of the nation’s strictest voter ID laws, expected and designed to reduce minority turnout.
The recovery of a corpse this week in a river in Patagonia has shaken up Argentina in the final stretch of a high-stakes midterm election, amid widespread speculation that it is the body of Santiago Maldonado, an indigenous rights activist missing for more than two months. The remains were found on Tuesday less than 1,000 feet upriver from where Mr. Maldonado, 28, was reported last seen on Aug. 1 during an indigenous rights protest that was broken up by security forces. Mr. Maldonado’s ID was found on the body, his brother, Sergio Maldonado, said at a news conference Wednesday night, although relatives were awaiting the results of a forensic examination to confirm the identity. “Until I am 100 percent certain I will not confirm it,” Mr. Maldonado said hours before the body was flown to Buenos Aires for an autopsy, which was scheduled to begin Friday morning.
Facebook Inc. is launching an initiative to help Canadian politicians and parties protect their accounts in the lead-up to the next federal election, while acknowledging the difficulties of policing fake news and misleading ads on its platform. The social-media company will launch a Canadian “election integrity initiative” on Thursday, Kevin Chan, Facebook Canada’s head of public policy, said in an interview. The changes will include an emergency e-mail address politicians and parties can contact to have Facebook staff shut down and restore accounts that have been hacked. In addition, Mr. Chan said, Facebook will issue a cyberhygiene guide they can use to secure their pages, and launch a partnership with a non-profit group called MediaSmarts to educate voters on the dangers of fake news.
An appeal against the decision to allow more presidential candidates in next week’s repeat election was withdrawn on Thursday after dramatic court proceedings. Claims of bribery and a last-minute change of lawyers representing Abraham Kiplagat, who had appealed the High Court decision that opened the door for five other presidential candidates for the October 26 poll, rocked the hearing at the Court of Appeal. The case was an appeal against a judgement that allowed Thirdway Alliance candidate Ekuru Aukot’s name to be included on the ballot for the October 26 poll.
The chief executive of Kenya’s election board, who the opposition has demanded must be fired before a repeat presidential election scheduled for Oct. 26, said on Friday he was taking three weeks of leave. Ezra Chiloba said he had taken a personal decision to take leave in light of the opposition’s demands, without giving more details. He said all arrangements were in place for the election, as ordered by the Supreme Court. “This is the first time I‘m taking leave since my son was born. He turns two years (old) in two weeks’ time,” he told Reuters. The court annulled the first election, held in August and in which incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta was declared winner, over procedural irregularities.
In recent weeks, the dispute over Catalonia’s quest for independence from Spain has captivated the attention of many parts of the world. There is concern about further outbreaks of violence if the government in Madrid and the Catalonian independence movement cannot resolve their differences. This has led commentators to call for the European Union to step in and mediate. But such hopes are not well founded. The EU has neither the tools nor the will to tackle the separatist crisis in Spain. Here’s why. First, the conflict over Catalonia’s status comes at a less than ideal time for the EU. Officials in Brussels are consumed with thorny negotiations over the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU, the continuing flow of migrants to Europe, and challenges to the rule of law in Poland and Hungary, to name just a few issues. There is crisis fatigue in the EU and limited enthusiasm for trying to put out another fire.