National: The Fraud Commission Wants Your Voter Data — But Experts Say They Can’t Keep It Safe | ProPublica

The voter-fraud-checking program championed by the head of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity suffers from data security flaws that could imperil the safety of millions of peoples’ records, according to experts. Indivisible Chicago, a progressive advocacy group in Illinois, filed a public-records request with Illinois and Florida for information on the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program. Crosscheck was created and run by the Kansas secretary of state’s office and is often cited by Kris Kobach, Kansas’ secretary of state, as a way to identify voters casting ballots in more than one state. Indivisible Chicago then posted emails and other documents it received, including messages exchanged between elections officials in Illinois and Florida and Crosscheck. The emails and records revealed numerous security weaknesses. Crosscheck’s files are hosted on an insecure server, according to its own information. Usernames and passwords were regularly shared by email, making them vulnerable to snooping. And passwords were overly simplistic and only irregularly changed.

National: Proposed law would regulate online ads to hinder Russian election influence | Ars Technica

A bipartisan group of federal lawmakers wants to make it more difficult for Russia to influence US elections. To that end, the group has drawn up legislation requiring Internet-based companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook to disclose who is buying political advertisements on their platforms and maintain those records after elections. The Honest Ads Act would heap on the Internet some of the same types of political advertising rules that apply for TV, radio, and print. The legislation is designed to somehow enforce federal election laws that forbid foreign nationals and foreign governments from spending money in the US to influence elections.

National: Democrats on Trump’s fraud commission say they’re in the dark about what it’s doing | The Washington Post

Democratic members of President Trump’s voter fraud commission are voicing mounting frustration about its mission and lack of collaboration, raising questions about the future of a bipartisan panel that has been a magnet for controversy since its inception. In just the past week, two of the commission’s four Democrats have written letters to its executive director, demanding basic information such as when the panel might meet again, what kind of research is being conducted by its staff and when it might send a report to the president. Their concerns are being fed by suspicions that the panel’s direction was preordained and that the agenda is being driven by its Republican members, several of whom would like to see restrictions on voting imposed that would be detrimental to Democrats. “I think the basis of this whole commission was an urban legend,” said Alan King, a probate judge in Alabama and one of the Democratic members who recently wrote commission leaders seeking information. “If you’re going to go down this road, it needs to be done right, and it needs to be done in a professional way. So far, I haven’t seen that.”

National: Obama’s army enlists in redistricting fight | Poiitico

Organizing for Action, the progressive group born out of Barack Obama’s old campaign apparatus, is joining the redistricting effort that Obama has made a central cause of his post-presidency. On Monday, OFA officially launched a partnership with the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, chaired by former Attorney General Eric Holder. OFA officially runs independently from Obama, though the former president made the announcement himself. “OFA volunteers and supporters will provide the grassroots organizing capacity and mobilization that we’ll need to win state-level elections and move other initiatives forward ahead of the 2021 redistricting process, making sure that states are in the best position to draw fair maps,” Obama wrote in an email sent to the OFA’s list, which he called “Our Next Fight.”

Alabama: Local District Attorneys will decide if hundreds of accused crossover voters will be prosecuted | WHNT

Nearly 700 Alabama voters could be facing up to 10 years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines. Their crime? Voting in the wrong runoff election. Just seven lines of legal code adopted last year, makes all the difference. It’s the Crossover Voting Ban, that makes it illegal for someone who votes in one party’s primary to vote in the runoff of another party. The first test of the law was the recent special election primary to replace Jeff Sessions’ Senate Seat. Over the weekend, Secretary of State John Merrill released the number of violators of the law. Jefferson County leads the state with 380 people accused of crossover voting. Madison County had the second most, with 63 reports. The next highest was Montgomery County with 34. In all, 674 people are accused of breaking the law.

Georgia: State test drives paper ballots | Valdosta Daily Times

Georgia election officials are bringing back paper ballots – at least temporarily – in the city of Conyers local election, providing a glimpse of what may one day replace the state’s aging voting machines. The on-loan voting equipment went into action last week in Conyers, a small city just outside of Atlanta, as early voting started for the Nov. 7 election. With the system being used in the pilot program, called the ExpressVote Universal Voting System, voters are issued a paper ballot that they insert into a touch-screen voting machine, prints their choices onto the ballot. Voters can then review their selections on the paper ballot before inserting it into a tabulation machine, which scans the ballots and secures them in a locked box. If there’s a mistake, the voter is issued a new ballot.

Maine: Ranked-choice voting law could be delayed until 2021 | Bangor Daily News

The ranked-choice voting law enacted by voters in 2016 is in danger of full repeal following a series of votes Monday in the Legislature, but it has a stay of execution until December 2021. The law, which was deemed partially unconstitutional earlier this year by an advisory opinion of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, has been at the center of controversy in the Legislature for months. Lawmakers adjourned this year’s regular session in August with the House and Senate in disagreement and unable to pass a bill. However, the two chambers agreed in preliminary votes Monday to delay implementation of the law until December 2021, as long as the Legislature can amend the law by then to bring it into constitutional compliance. A failure to do that would lead to a full repeal of the ranked-choice voting law.

Montana: Donors once again much more limited in contributions to Montana candidates | Associated Press

Montana’s limits on direct contributions to political campaigns are justified in trying to prevent corruption or the appearance of corruption while still allowing candidates to raise enough money to run a campaign, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday. The decision overturned a ruling by U.S. District Judge Charles Lovell, who in May 2016 said the limits enacted by voters in 1994 restricted political speech. “This lawsuit … sought to open the floodgates of money in Montana elections by making it easier for out-of-state corporations to buy officeholders,” Gov. Steve Bullock said in a statement. “I’m glad the federal courts upheld Montana’s limits on money in elections. “For a century in Montana, winning an election for state office has meant going door to door and meeting face to face with everyday voters: democracy at its best. Today, we’re one step closer to keeping it that way. Elections should be decided by ‘we the people’ — not by corporations, millionaires, or wealthy special interests buying more television ads,” he said.

Italy: Northern Italy regions overwhelmingly vote for greater autonomy | The Guardian

Two of Italy’s wealthiest northern regions on Sunday voted overwhelmingly in favour of greater autonomy in the latest example of the powerful centrifugal forces reshaping European politics. Voters in the Veneto region that includes Venice, and Lombardy, home to Milan, backed more powers being devolved from Rome in votes that took place against the backdrop of the crisis created by Catalonia’s push for independence. Veneto President Luca Zaia hailed the results, which were delayed slightly by a hacker attack, as an institutional “big bang”. But he reiterated the region’s aspirations were not comparable to the secessionist agenda that has provoked a constitutional crisis in Spain. Turnout was projected at around 58% in Veneto, where support for autonomy is stronger, and just over 40% in Lombardy. The presidents of each regions said more than 95% of voters who had cast ballots had, as expected, voted for greater autonomy.

Kenya: Ballot papers arrive as Kenya set to hold controversial election rerun | The Guardian

Ballot papers for Kenya’s presidential election next week have begun arriving in the country, in a sign that the troubled poll will probably go ahead. The final batch of papers is scheduled to arrive from Dubai on Tuesday, less than 48 hours before Kenyans vote for a second time in less than three months to elect a president. There have been widespread doubts that the Kenyan election officials could overcome huge logistical obstacles to organise the election, taking place after the supreme court annulled the result of an election in August won by the incumbent president, Uhuru Kenyatta. That the ballot papers have had to be printed overseas – candidates and parties were unwilling to trust local firms – is evidence of the acrimony and mutual suspicion that characterises politics in Kenya.

Editorials: Kenya’s election rerun could be a major setback for African democracy | The Washington Post

Kenya’s fragile political system has veered between breakthrough and breakdown over the past two months amid a hotly contested presidential election. Now the country itself appears in danger of a violent implosion. The government of Uhuru Kenyatta insists it will go ahead with a rerun of the presidential vote on Thursday even though the incumbent’s principal challenger has withdrawn and senior election officials have warned that the outcome will not be credible. That could lead to mass protests and bloodshed — not to mention a major setback for African democracy.

Slovenia: Ex-Comic Stymies Slovenian President’s Path to Re-Election | Bloomberg

Slovenian leader Borut Pahor will compete against comedian-turned-mayor Marjan Sarec for the presidency in a runoff despite winning the first round by a wide margin. Pahor won 47 percent, the election commission in the euro-area country of 2 million people said on Sunday. That fell short of the majority needed to clinch re-election in the first round. Sarec was runner up with 25 percent, and the two will face off again on Nov. 12. Forced out of government six years ago, when voters rejected his plan to address a financial crisis that almost drove the country into a Greece-like international bailout, Pahor, 53, has staged a comeback. He was elected to the mostly ceremonial presidency a year later and has built a strong lead in opinion polls.

Spain: How technology powered the Catalan referendum | openDemocracy

This month’s vote was a wake up call for Governments around the world, that in an age of technology, silencing the voice of democracy is easier said than done. The movement for independence in Catalonia is not a new phenomenon. In fact, the first political party to call for a split from the rest of Spain was founded back in the 1930’s, but in recent years, those calls have been growing in intensity. With a healthy majority in the Catalan parliament, nationalists acted with authority, if not authorisation, as they announced plans to hold a referendum on independence on October 1. Despite efforts to thwart the vote by the Spanish Government, Catalans went to the polls anyway in open defiance of what they perceived to be a Spanish attempt to deny them a democratic voice. Ballot papers were hidden away from the National Police and the Civil Guard, and normal citizens took to the streets around polling stations to defend ballot boxes from confiscation by the police. 

United Kingdom: UK lawmakers ask Facebook for any evidence of Russian-linked Brexit activity | Reuters

A British parliamentary committee has written to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg asking for information on any paid-for activity by Russian-linked Facebook accounts around the 2016 EU referendum and the 2017 UK election. The request was made by Damian Collins, chair of parliament’s Digital, Media and Sport Committee as part of its effort to gather evidence for an inquiry it is conducting into fake news. “Part of this inquiry will focus on the role of foreign actors abusing platforms such as yours to interfere in the political discourse of other nations,” Collins wrote in a letter to Zuckerberg circulated to media by the committee.