The governor may be the determining signatory on which two competing pieces of legislation being debated in the Guam Legislature would become law. Bills 156-34 and 45-34 attempt to legislate election reform related to primaries. While Bill 156 intends to change the date of the primary election and the date of filing candidate nomination papers – to ease the burden on the Guam Election Commission – Bill 45 would eliminate the primary entirely. Sen. Mary Torres introduced Bill 156, while Sen. Joe San Agustin introduced Bill 45.
Illinois: ‘Embarrassing’ Voter Data Leak Will Never Happen Again, Chicago Election Chief Says | DNAinfo
The head of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners Tuesday apologized to aldermen for allowing the personal information of 1.8 million Chicago registered voters to be exposed on a public server. Executive Director Lance Gough said the Aug. 12 discovery that Election Systems & Software discovered backup files stored on a Amazon Web Services server that included voter names, addresses, and dates of birth. In many cases it also included the voters’ driver’s license and state identification numbers and the last four digits of Social Security numbers. “It was quite embarrassing,” Gough said. “I’m here to apologize. This will never happen again.”
Kansas: BuzzFeed sues Kris Kobach over refusal to provide emails through KORA request | The Topeka Capital-Journal
BuzzFeed is suing Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and his office for refusing to comply with an open records request for emails containing immigration- and election-related terms. The lawsuit, filed Friday in Shawnee County District Court, says Kobach’s office first asked for $1,025 for 13 hours of work and an attorney’s review, then refused to release any records when a reporter challenged the cost. In denying the request, Sue Becker, senior counsel for KSOS, said records may be unrelated to Kobach’s official business or policy proposals exempt from open records law. BuzzFeed is asking the court to order Kobach’s office to provide the documents as required by the Kansas Open Records Act and pay attorney fees.
The State Board of Elections fired its executive director and assistant to the director on Tuesday. The board did not explain why Executive Director Maryellen Allen, a Democrat, and Assistant to the Director Matthew Selph, a Republican, were dismissed. “This was a bipartisan decision of the state board of elections, both non-merit employees, that their services were no longer needed,” said Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, who serves as the chairwoman of the board. When pressed for the reason, Grimes just repeated her earlier statement. “Their services were no longer needed,” she said. Both Allen and Selph said they were not given a reason they were fired, but Selph said he felt it was because he raised questions about the operation of the board.
The New York City Board of Elections is admitting it broke state and federal law when it improperly removed voters from the rolls ahead of the presidential primary last spring, including more than 117,000 voters in Brooklyn. That’s according to a draft consent decree announced Tuesday— nearly a year after the Board was sued in federal court for violating the National Voter Registration Act and state election law. The Brooklyn voter purge was first reported by WNYC just days before last spring’s primary election. As a part of the settlement, the Board agreed to a series of remedial measures that will be in place at least through the next presidential election, November 2020 — pending court approval. The deal restores the rights of improperly purged voters and establishes a comprehensive plan to prevent illegal voter purges in future elections.
Two websites run by the Czech Statistical Office (CSU) were taken offline after a DDoS attack at the weekend tried to disrupt reporting of the country’s parliamentary elections. The results of the election, held on Friday and Saturday, were posted to the sites; showing billionaire Andrej Babiš’ populist ANO party with the largest share of the vote at nearly 30%. A statement on the CSU site reportedly had the following: “During the processing, there was a targeted DDoS attack aimed at the infrastructure of the O2 company used for elections. As a result, servers volby.cz and volbyhned.cz had been temporarily partly inaccessible. The attack did not in any way affect either the infrastructure used for the transmission of election results to the CSU headquarters or the independent data processing.” The sites are now back up and running.
Iceland on Saturday holds its second snap election in just a year after a slew of scandals ensnaring its politicians in a nation whose economy is thriving thanks to tourism. Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson of the conservative Independence Party called the vote last month after a junior member of the three-party centre-right coalition quit the government over a legal scandal involving the prime minister’s father. Saturday’s vote will be the fourth time Iceland has held legislative elections since its 2008 financial crisis, when its three major banks collapsed and the country teetered on the verge of bankruptcy. With the emergence of several anti-establishment parties, Iceland’s political landscape is splintered, with at least eight parties vying for the 63 seats in the single-chamber parliament.
Kenya stood on Tuesday at dangerous crossroads two days ahead of presidential elections, with deep divisions between rival leaders, publicly-voiced doubt over the vote’s credibility and a last-ditch legal bid to delay the poll. The opposition staged further protests, pursuing its vow to keep up the pressure from the street but also fuelling anxiety over potential violence on polling day and beyond. And in a further twist to the saga, the Supreme Court announced it would meet on the eve of voting to hear a petition to delay the election. Thursday’s drama is rooted in a decision by the same court to overturn the result of the first presidential election, which took place on August 8.
On September 1, after Kenya’s Supreme Court became the first in Africa to nullify a flawed presidential election, Kenyans danced in the streets and some revelers pledged to convert to Seventh Day Adventism, the religion of Kenya’s somber chief justice, David Maraga. Then the mood darkened. President Uhuru Kenyatta, whose dubious victory had been overturned, told supporters that the judges were “crooks” and threatened to “fix” them. Chief Justice Maraga revealed that he and his bench colleagues had received numerous threats; when nearly $5 million mysteriously appeared in his bank account, he instructed the bank to return it at once. A rerun was scheduled for October 26. but the opposition leader Raila Odinga pulled out two weeks ago, claiming that nothing had been done to remedy the problems that marred the first election. Then, just last week, the election commission’s chairman confirmed that his institution was presently incapable of guaranteeing a credible poll. The previous day, one of his own officials, made the same claim after fleeing to the US in fear of her life. Throughout October, street demonstrations against the electoral commission have taken place across the country, and security forces have killed dozens of people. Meanwhile, the United States and the rest of the international community appear to be looking the other way as this nation, an important US trading and defense partner, dissolves into undemocratic chaos.
Editorials: What more proof do we need that Venezuela’s ruling party rigged the vote? | Francisco Toro/The Washington Post
The surprises are still coming from Venezuela’s elections for state governor on Oct. 15. The headline result — a shocking, across-the-board victory for the ruling Socialists — stunned the public in Caracas and those up and down the hemisphere. But that, as has now become clear, is not the end of the story. The ruling party founded by the late Hugo Chávez and run by his handpicked successor, Nicolás Maduro, piled on the dirty tricks to win this election. In itself, that is nothing new. Illegal campaign funding, intimidation, threats, harassment, coercion: All these things have become sadly normalized in Venezuela over the past five years, and they no longer count as news.
United Kingdom: ‘Fake news’ inquiry asks Facebook to check for Russian influence in UK | The Guardian
Mark Zuckerberg has been asked to search for evidence that Russia-linked Facebook accounts were used to interfere in the EU referendum and the general election as part of a parliamentary inquiry into “fake news”. Damian Collins, the chair of the digital, culture, media and sport committee, has written to the Facebook founder after suspicions that Russian “actors” used the platform to interfere in British politics. Facebook has 32 million users in Britain. Similar evidence on the 2016 US presidential election has already been supplied by Facebook to several US Senate committees, including the Senate intelligence committee, before a hearing with legal representatives from Facebook, Twitter and Google on 1 November in Washington DC. Facebook in the US disclosed last month that an influence operation that appeared to be based in Russia spent $100,000 (£75,000) on adverts to promote divisive political and social messages over a two-year period. In a letter to Zuckerberg sent on Thursday, Collins wrote that the committee was investigating the phenomenon of fake news.
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.”
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.
California: Injunction sought that would freeze switch to voting by district | The San Diego Union-Tribune
A movement to change the way Californians elect their local officials, one that is costing millions of dollars to implement, may find itself in legal limbo. A federal court judge in San Diego is being asked to issue a preliminary injunction that could halt changes being made, under threat of legal action, by dozens of…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Efforts to boost public confidence in U.S. elections are proceeding on two parallel tracks right now. One is moving slowly, but steadily. The other is hardly moving at all. Most of the attention has gone to a commission set up by President Trump to look into allegations of voter fraud and other electoral problems. The panel — called the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity — has been mired in controversy ever since it was formed earlier this year. Its work now appears stalled amid internal divisions and outside legal challenges. But as that panel limps along, several other efforts to address threats to U.S voting are making progress. This month, the federal government and state and local election officials met in Atlanta to start the process of sharing more information about potential threats and pooling security resources.
National: Panel backs bipartisan congressional action for securing election data systems | InsideCyberSecurity.com
Congressional staff on Thursday heard from a panel — including a former high-ranking Justice Department official and a state county clerk responsible for election-data rolls — that called for swift, bipartisan action on legislation offering new requirements and funding for states to upgrade and secure the nation’s election system from foreign and other malicious hacks. The move could have implications for industry by setting security requirements on the technologies and products sold to state election officials, and underscores a growing sentiment for a physical backup to operations that take place in cyberspace. Susan Greenhalgh, an election specialist with the non-profit group Verified Voting, said the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Department of Homeland Security are meeting with the Election Assistance Commission to promote use of the NIST cybersecurity framework by state officials. The EAC was established by Congress in 2002 to assist states with guidance and funding to upgrade voting systems. Greenhalgh spoke as part of the panel on election security held on the Senate side of the Capitol on Thursday.
Donald Trump’s advisory commission on election integrity has integrity questions of its own – with some of its own members raising concerns about its secretive operations. Democrats in the Senate are requesting a government investigation of the commission for ignoring formal requests from Congress. This week, two members sent letters to commission staff complaining about a lack of information about the panel’s agenda and demanding answers about its activities. In a letter sent on 17 October, Maine’s secretary of state, Matthew Dunlap, said he was not being made aware of information pertaining to the commission and requested copies of all correspondence between its members since Trump signed the executive order creating it in May. “I am in a position where I feel compelled to inquire after the work of the commission upon which I am sworn to serve, and am yet completely uninformed as to its activities,” Dunlap wrote in his letter to Andrew Kossack, the commission’s executive director.
The names of Alabama voters who crossed party lines to vote in last month’s Republican Senate runoff will be given to prosecutors, the state’s election chief said Friday. Secretary of State John Merrill said his office has identified 674 people who voted in the Democratic primary and later voted in the GOP runoff in violation of the state’s new crossover voting ban. Merrill said he plans to send the names to the attorney general and district attorneys after local election officials check the list for errors. The move signals a hardline approach to the new state law — used for the first time in the U.S. Senate runoff — that adds fraudulent crossover voting to the list of other felony voting crimes, such as voting twice. Merrill said it was the “right thing” to report violations but noted that it is prosecutors’ decision on whether to pursue charges.