National: Voting Technology Needs an Upgrade: Here’s What Congress Can Do | Union of Concerned Scientists

Voting systems throughout the United States are vulnerable to corruption in a variety of ways, and the federal government has an obligation to protect the integrity of the electoral process. At a recent meeting of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s Committee on the Future of Voting, the Department of Homeland Security’s Robert Kolasky put it bluntly: “It’s not a fair fight to pit Orange County (California) against the Russians.” While the intelligence community has not confirmed that the hackers working on behalf of the Russian government to undermine the 2016 election were successful at tampering with actual vote tallies, they certainly succeeded at shaking our confidence in the electoral process, which over time could undermine faith in democracy. The management of statewide eligible voter lists is a particularly challenging but crucial responsibility. On the one hand, data entry errors, duplicate records and “live” records for deceased voters invite voter fraud and inaccuracies in voting data. On the other hand, overly broad purging of voter lists can result in the exclusion of eligible voters from the rolls.

Kenya: Election rerun to go ahead after court fails to rule on delay | The Guardian

Kenya’s presidential election rerun is set to go ahead on Thursday after the country’s supreme court failed to consider a petition to postpone the highly contentious vote. Amid high tension and fears of violence, only two supreme court judges attended a hearing on Wednesday morning – three short of the five judges needed for a quorum. “This matter cannot be heard this morning,” David Maraga, the chief justice, told reporters in Nairobi, the capital. Elections will now proceed, an election board lawyer said afterwards. Thursday’s disputed election was called after the supreme court annulled an election held in August due to procedural irregularities. The August presidential election was won by the incumbent, Uhuru Kenyatta, by a margin of nine percentage points. Opposition leaders have said they do not believe the rerun will be fair and have called on supporters to stay at home, while Kenyatta has repeatedly said voting should go ahead.

National: ‘Nothing Going On’ With Trump Fraud Commission Due To Multiple Lawsuits | NPR

The work of President Trump’s commission studying voter fraud and other voting problems has been stalled by the eight lawsuits filed against it, according to one commission member. Indiana’s Republican Secretary of State Connie Lawson says the suits, which seek release of all of the commission’s correspondence, among other things, have had a “chilling” effect. Some Democrats on the 11-member panel have complained in recent weeks that they’re being kept in the dark about its activities and plans. But Lawson says she doesn’t think anybody’s being shut out because “right now, there’s nothing going on.” Speaking to reporters after testifying about voting matters on Capitol Hill, Lawson says her understanding is “that they wanted to get some of these lawsuits settled and then move forward.” “It’s very chilling to know that you can’t really work without somebody suing over something that you’ve done,” she adds. “We’re not emailing each other. We’re not conversing with each other.”

National: The Supreme Court’s quiet gerrymandering revolution and the road to minority rule | London School of Economics

On October 3rd the Supreme Court heard oral argument in a case that will, for better or worse, literally reshape American democracy.  Wisconsin plaintiffs in Whitford v Gill asked for constitutional protection against the dilution of their votes from extreme partisan gerrymandering in the state, the practice of drawing legislative and Congressional district boundaries to maximize the seat advantage for the incumbent party. Several justices voiced concern over the courts jumping into this political thicket.  But there was no acknowledgement that this Court has been an enabler in allowing political parties to draw electoral districts with the explicit goal of maximizing electoral advantage, over the right of citizens to cast an equally weighted vote.

Alabama: Secretary of State: 5-year prison sentences for intentional crossover voters |

The ACLU of Alabama says it is “stunned” by Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill’s statements about crossover voters, including comments attributed to Merrill in an interview with ThinkProgress. Merrill said those who knowingly and willingly violated the law should go to prison and pay a hefty fine, according to the publication. “I want every one of them that meets that criteria to be sentenced to five years in the penitentiary and to pay a $15,000 fine for restitution,” Merrill said in the article. Merrill told it was important to stress that me meant willful violators, including those who might have broken the law to make a point.

Arizona: Report says Reagan broke state law in election | Arizona Daily Sun

The failure of Secretary of State Michele Reagan to get ballot brochures on time to the homes of 200,000 voters ahead of last year’s election broke state law, according to a new report released Wednesday. Attorney Tom Morrissey, asked to investigate by Attorney General Mark Brnovich, said his year-long inquiry found Reagan’s staff failed to follow various procedures designed to ensure that Arizonans knew what they were voting on in the May 2016 special election. Potentially more significant, Morrissey said Reagan was aware of the problem more than two weeks before she notified the public that many of them would not be getting the brochures on time describing the details of Proposition 123 to put more money into public education and Proposition 124 to make changes to public pension plans.

California: ‘Accessible Vote by Mail System’ Comes To San Mateo Co., Election Officials Say | San Carlos Patch

San Mateo County Chief Elections Officer Mark Church Wednesday announced the release of a new Accessible Vote by Mail system for disabled and visually impaired voters. The new Accessible Vote by Mail system allows disabled and visually impaired voters to access and mark their ballot in a screen-readable format using their personal computers. San Mateo County will be the first county in the State of California to deploy an Accessible Vote by Mail system for disabled and visually impaired voters, as authorized under AB 2252 Remote Accessible Vote by Mail Systems. “Once again, San Mateo County is at the forefront of expanding voting opportunities,” said Chief Elections Officer Church. “This time we are leading the way by improving voting accessibility for disabled and visually impaired voters”. 

Guam: Lawmakers to vote on bill eliminating primary elections | The Guam Daily

The amended version of Bill 45-34, a measure from Sen. Joe San Agustin seeking to eliminate primary elections on Guam, was moved to the voting file during session yesterday. Lawmakers debated the provisions of the bill, with San Agustin emphasizing the cost-saving goal of the bill, noting that the primary elections are paid for by the public through appropriations made to the Guam Election Commission. Eliminating the primary elections would generate savings, he said. The Legislature’s Committee on General Government Appropriations convened a public hearing for the bill in August, during which Sen. Michael San Nicolas, committee chair, estimated the cost of holding a primary election at around $400,000. San Nicolas added that the 2016 primary resulted in about 2,000 spoiled ballots, which came to an estimated cost of about $32,000.

Illinois: Aurora City Council backs Election Commission referendum | Aurora Beacon-News

The Aurora City Council has backed an effort to put a referendum on the March 18 primary ballot asking voters if they want to eliminate the Aurora Election Commission. The 9-3 vote by aldermen this week came after a debate about what authority the city has, the legality of the city’s resolution and just what is or is not voter suppression. In the end, those aldermen supporting the resolution said it simply endorses putting the question on the ballot, giving the voters a chance to vote for or against, without telling them how to vote. “We urge that the voters be able to put the question on the ballot,” said Ald. Robert O’Connor, at large. “The law provided that the voters establish (the commission), and the law provides that the voters must change it, if they want to change it.”

Kentucky: Fired staffer launches allegations at Secretary of State Grimes | Lexington Herald Leader

The recently fired assistant to the director of the State Board of Elections alleged in a letter to some members of the board that the office of Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes improperly gathered voter information from the state’s voter registration system during campaigns. In the letter, Matthew Selph, who was fired by the Board of Elections on Tuesday along with director Maryellen Allen, recalled a conversation with a staffer in the Secretary of State’s Office who said he was directed by the office to gather information “probably 3 or 4 times. . . every time they were running.” He did not specify what information was gathered. Selph has reported the conversation to the Executive Branch Ethics Commission. “Data that is released is documented, recorded and tracked through every step of the system to ensure that everything was done properly,” Selph, a Republican, wrote. “When the data was taken out of this building on a thumb drive, that trust was broken. We have no way to know what was on it, where it went or what it was used for.”

Maine: After Legislature delays ranked-choice voting, push for people’s veto is on | Portland Press Herald

Maine residents could be ranking the candidates for governor and Congress when they vote in the June primaries even though the Legislature passed a bill Monday to delay a ranked-choice voting system. Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said Tuesday that supporters of ranked-choice voting could block the bill to delay and repeal the law if they can gather enough signatures within 90 days of the Legislature’s adjournment, expected in early November. That would force another referendum vote – a so-called “people’s veto” – on the matter, likely during the June primary elections that would be the first test of ranked-choice voting. After failed attempts earlier this year to fix the ballot question law, the Legislature passed a bill Monday delaying the shift to ranked-choice voting while adding a poison pill to kill the citizen-backed law in 2021 if the Maine Constitution is not changed.

New York: Voter registration purge lawsuit settled by NYC Board of Elections, plaintiffs say | am New York

The city Board of Elections has settled a lawsuit over its illegal purging of over 200,000 voter registrations prior to the 2016 primary elections, the New York attorney general said Wednesday. The good government group Common Cause New York sued the BOE in November 2016 after hundreds of voters, including many in Brooklyn, arrived at the polls on April 19, 2016, and were told they were no longer registered. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office and the Justice Department later joined the lawsuit.

Ohio: Grand jury rejects charges against 17 identified in Jon Husted’s illegal voting probe | Cleveland Plain Dealer

A grand jury voted not to charge 17 Cuyahoga County residents who were among dozens of non-U.S. citizens identified by Ohio Sec. of State Jon Husted’s office as illegally voting or registering to vote in past elections. The grand jury voted late Tuesday not to hand up false voter registration charges against 16 people, and not to charge a 17th person with illegal voting, according to court documents made public Wednesday. The dates of offenses listed in court records date back to September 1996. Voter fraud cases can be hard to bring because investigators must show the voter knew they were not allowed to register to vote or cast a ballot.

Utah: Voter Rolls Lawsuit Still Active, Even If Trump’s Fraud Commission Isn’t | KUER

A lawsuit over Utah’s voter rolls is still up in the air — and so might President Trump’s voter fraud commission that requested the data in the first place. President Trump created the Election Integrity Commission at the beginning of his term to investigate unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud during the election — costing him the popular vote, so he claimed. That led to a blanket request to all 50 states for their voting rolls, including more sensitive data such as birth dates and voting history.

Botswana: Electronic voting machine case drags on | Mmegi Online

The bare-knuckled fight over the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in the 2019 general elections will go for final case management conference on November 6.  The case pits the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) against the Attorney General (AG), chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and secretary to the IEC respectively. BCP’s attorney, Gabriel Komboni told Mmegi that the AG has raised a point regarding the amendment of declaration and affidavit. “We filed our amended declaration and they objected. They want us to file another affidavit, but we think that does not make sense. Whatever they are complaining about is a matter of evidence that will be dealt with during trial,” said Komboni.

Israel: Government Eyes Measures To Prevent Election Cyber Sabotage | Vos Iz Neias

Israel is on guard against hacking ahead of the next general election, one of its most senior cyber security officials said, identifying Iran as posing the greatest overall risk to the country’s cyber security. The government is bracing against the risks of fake news, possible denial of service attacks on civic institutions, or efforts to hack the correspondence of politicians or government officials in order to leak embarrassing details. “We are on the way to identifying and assisting from a distance everywhere we find or identify as a vulnerability … and make it tougher for the bad guys to hack,” Yigal Unna, head of technology at the prime minister’s cyber directorate, told a Reuters Cyber Security Summit. Since the 2016 U.S. election, Western countries have been fretting about the possibility of Russian hacking to influence their internal politics.

Kenya: Polls open in rerun boycotted by opposition leader | The Guardian

Kenyans have begun voting in an election rerun that has polarised the country and is likely to be fiercely disputed in the absence of the opposition leader Raila Odinga, who is boycotting the poll. In stark contrast to the first election, which the supreme court annulled last month, many polling stations in Odinga strongholds saw only a trickle of voters. In Nairobi’s Kibera slum, tangled wire and charred streets marked the spots where there had been sporadic outbreaks of violence overnight. Police fired teargas at opposition supporters who tried to set up barricades in front of a polling station, prompting them to lob stones at the officers. Similar scenes were repeated in the western towns of Migori, Siaya and Homa Bay.

Kenya: Shooting, tear gas, bonfires mar Kenya election re-run | Reuters

Kenyan opposition supporters clashed with police and threw up burning barricades on Thursday to challenge the legitimacy of an election rerun likely to return Uhuru Kenyatta as president of East Africa’s chief economic and political powerhouse. In the western city of Kisumu, stone-throwing youths heeding opposition leader Raila Odinga’s call for a voter boycott were met by live rounds, tear gas and water cannon. There were no immediate reports of casualties and Reuters found no polling stations open. In Kibera and Mathare, two volatile Nairobi slums, riot police patrolled. Protesters set fires in Kibera early in the morning. Nearly 50 people have been killed by security forces since the original August vote that Kenyatta won but which was annulled by the Supreme Court due to procedural irregularities.

Switzerland: Should people with severe mental disabilities be able to vote? | SWI

People with disabilities and placed under full guardianship are the only Swiss citizens who do not have the right to vote. This violates the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which Switzerland ratified in 2014. Experts are now committed to overturning this inequality. People in this group are those with serious and long-term disabilities, that according to Article 136 of the Federal Constitutionexternal link, makes them ‘permanently incapable of judgement’. As they are unable to care for themselves, the Cantonal Protection Office for Children and Adults places them under full guardianship.