California: Bills mount as cities switch to district elections | The San Diego Union-Tribune

North County cities have spent more than $1 million switching from traditional at-large elections to a system that elects City Council members by voting districts, according to a tally by U-T Watchdog. The change has been spurred by a Malibu attorney threatening to sue cities over voting rights, but many officials see the effort as opportunism rather than any sincere desire to offer better representation to minority communities. “It’s just a money-making scheme,” said Oceanside consultant Mary Azevedo, who’s helped run numerous local political campaigns. “It’s not for the betterment of any city or group of individuals.” The attorney, Kevin Shenkman, said his motives are pure and “it’s about time” that minorities get the voice they deserve in local government.

Florida: Felons Want Voting Rights Back As Soon As They Complete Their Sentences | NPR

On most days from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Mary Grimes can be found pacing along a crowded street in Orlando, Fla., with clipboards in both hands. “Can I have five minutes of your time?” the 58-year-old says to a parade of passers-by. Those who are in a rush, she quickly wishes well; the others, Grimes directs to a blue and yellow form, reciting her spiel and soliciting a signature from each. For several months, she has made her living this way. She transforms public parking lots, city parks and sidewalks into a home office from which she urges registered voters to endorse proposed constitutional amendments.

Georgia: Civil Rights Lawyers Cheer Settlement in Georgia Voting Rights Case | Daily Report

A federal judge signed a consent order Tuesday concluding a voting rights challenge in Georgia that has drawn national attention because of a proposed earlier registration deadline before a hotly contested congressional election runoff. In the end, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp agreed not to impose voting registration deadlines earlier than those set by federal law 30 days before an election, according to an order signed by U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Batten Sr. of the Northern District of Georgia. Civil rights advocates filed the lawsuit in April after the secretary of state tried to impose a voter registration deadline for the special election for the Sixth District runoff. That would have cut off registration two months earlier than the 30 days the federal law allows. But Batten issued a preliminary injunction opening up registration. Batten’s order also said the secretary will also have to pay “reasonable attorney fees and costs” for the plaintiffs, which include: the Georgia NAACP, the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta Inc., Third Sector Development Inc. (parent of the New Georgia Project) and ProGeorgia State Table Inc.

Illinois: Voter advocates push Illinois to exit multistate voter database | Associated Press

Voter rights advocates are pushing Illinois election officials to withdraw from a longtime multistate voter registration database over questions of accuracy, security and voter suppression. The Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program is aimed at cleaning voter records and preventing voter fraud. States voluntarily provide their voter lists, and the program searches for duplicates. While a…

Louisiana: Schedler proposes appointments to reduce special elections | The News Star

What could Louisiana do with $6 million? How far do you think the state could stretch that money in additional infrastructure projects or health care? Those are the questions Secretary of State Tom Schedler is asking after the Oct. 14 elections garnered a scant 13.6 percent voter turnout statewide, and he’s asking lawmakers to allow some incomplete terms to be filled via appointment rather than special election to save voters money. In an interview with The News-Star, Schedler said he’s worked since taking office in 2010 to decrease the number of statewide elections, when possible, to reduce costs.

Ohio: He Didn’t Vote in a Few Elections. In the Next One, Ohio Said He Couldn’t. | The New York Times

Larry Harmon, a software engineer who lives near Akron, Ohio, says he is “a firm believer in the right to vote.” But sometimes he stays home on Election Day, on purpose. In 2012, for instance, he was unimpressed by the candidates. He did not vote, he said, because “there isn’t a box on the ballot that says ‘none of the above.’” Three years later, Mr. Harmon did want to vote, against a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana. But his name was not on the list at his usual polling place. It turned out that Mr. Harmon’s occasional decisions not to vote had led election officials to strike his name from the voting rolls. On Nov. 8, the Supreme Court will hear arguments about whether the officials had gone too far in making the franchise a use-it-or-lose-it proposition.

Pennsylvania: Effort to address Allegheny County voting machine vulnerabilities faces hurdles | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A grassroots effort to examine — and likely replace — Allegheny County’s voting machines has itself been struggling for lack of a vote. Its latest challenge came Friday morning in the courtroom of Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Joseph James. At issue is a 16-page proposal to establish a “voting process review commission,” which would study the county’s electronic voting machines and recommend replacements. Under the measure, supported by the League of Women Voters and VoteAllegheny, voters would have to approve a referendum to pay for any new equipment. Activists fear that electronic touch-screen machines like those used in Allegheny County are susceptible to hacking — and that because those machines do not produce a hard copy of votes cast, there may be no way to get a reliable tally of votes.

Utah: Navajo case challenging Utah mail-in ballots heads to trial | Santa Fe New Mexican

A lawsuit filed by members of the Navajo Nation who say mail-in voting in southern Utah disenfranchises tribal voters is headed for trial. U.S. District Judge Jill Parrish set a March 16 trial date Thursday in the case filed by the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission and the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah. Mail-in ballots are harder for Navajo voters to receive because many don’t have mailboxes and can be difficult to use for people who speak Navajo, said John Mejia with the ACLU.

Argentina: Santiago Maldonado’s death overshadows elections | Al Jazeera

One person’s shadow will loom large over Argentina’s legislative elections on Sunday. It isn’t Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s, the former two-term president running for a senatorial seat that could either propel her into a third presidential bid or potentially end her life-long political career. It isn’t that of Education Minister Esteban Bullrich, Fernandez’s main opponent. Instead, the name that will be at the forefront of voters minds will be Santiago Maldonado, a 28-year-old tattoo artist and indigenous rights activist from Veinticinco de Mayo, whose body was found on Thursday, nearly 80 days after his disappearance in a case that has captivated the attention and political discussions of the entire country.

Argentina: Macri Wins Big Endorsement in Midterm Elections | Bloomberg

Argentine President Mauricio Macri’s reform agenda received a critical boost on Sunday after his Cambiemos alliance gained ground in congressional mid-term elections. Preliminary results showed Cambiemos is set to win Argentina’s five largest electoral districts, including the key battleground of Buenos Aires province where his ally Esteban Bullrich defeated ex-President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, a fierce critic. With 99 percent of votes counted, Bullrich was on 41 percent with 37 percent for Fernandez, according to the National Electoral Directorate. At a national level, Cambiemos won in 12 out of 24 provinces and gained between 41 percent and 42 percent of the total vote, Cabinet Chief Marcos Pena said. “We are the generation that is changing history,” Macri told a crowd of supporters in Buenos Aires. “This is only just beginning.”

Czech Republic: Election Won by Anti-Establishment Party Led by Billionaire | The New York Times

n anti-establishment party founded by a billionaire oligarch overpowered the Czech Republic’s longstanding mainstream parties on Saturday, making the blunt-talking, enigmatic tycoon almost certain to become prime minister in a coalition government. Ano, the party formed by Andrej Babis, 63, had nearly 30 percent of the vote with 99 percent of ballots counted. The Social Democrats, who have been at the center of Czech politics for a quarter-century and had finished first in the previous election, came in a distant sixth with just 7 percent. The Communists were fifth. And the Christian Democrats, another party that traces its roots to the country’s founding, got less than 6 percent, perilously close to the cutoff to qualify for seats in Parliament. Ano was not the only anti-establishment party to do well. The extreme right-wing Freedom & Direct Democracy, with 10.7 percent, doubled its proportion from the previous election. That was just a fraction of a percentage point behind the youth-oriented Czech Pirate Party, an anti-establishment movement from the opposite end of the political spectrum.

Japan: Shinzo Abe secures strong mandate in Japan’s general election | The Guardian

Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has secured a strong mandate for his hard line against North Korea and room to push for revision of the country’s pacifist constitution after his party crushed untested opposition parties in Sunday’s general election. Abe’s Liberal Democratic party (LDP) and its junior coalition partner Komeito were on course to win 311 seats, keeping its two-thirds “supermajority” in the 465-member lower house, an exit poll by TBS television showed. Some other broadcasters had the ruling bloc slightly below the two-thirds mark. A supermajority would allow Abe to propose changes to the constitution, which currently restricts its military to a defensive role. Most voters, however, oppose reform. After a day that saw millions of voters brave driving rain and powerful winds brought on by Typhoon Lan, Abe’s election gamble appeared to have paid off, after he called the vote more than a year earlier than scheduled.

Slovenia: President Pahor fails to win majority, faces runoff | Reuters

Slovenian President Borut Pahor will face a second-round election on Nov. 12 after he fell short of a majority in Sunday’s first round, as he tries to win a second five-year mandate. With 99 percent of the vote counted, according to the State Election Commission, Pahor had 47.1 percent of the vote. In next month’s runoff, he will face Marjan Sarec, the mayor of the city of Kamnik, who took 25 percent. Turnout reached 43.5 percent.  The result contradicted exit polls by TV Slovenia that showed Pahor winning in the first round. “In the second round anything is possible, although Pahor is a big favorite,” Peter Jancic, the editor of political website Spletni Casopis told Reuters.

The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for October 16-22 2017

At a Congressional hearing, local election officials responsible for election-data rolls 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. 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 untimely death of former Arkansas state Rep. David Dunn, a member of President Trump’s voter fraud commission, was only one of the crises facing the fraud commission this week. Maine’s Democratic secretary of state, Matthew Dunlap complained of a lack of communication from the commission and said it was “frustrating” to learn from reporters this past weekend that a man described as a researcher for the commission — Ronald Williams II — was arrested on charges of possessing child pornography.

A New York Times editorial called on Congress to assist state’s in securing the nation’s election infrastructure from cyber threats. The editorial notes that Colorado and Rhode Island are introducing risk-limiting post election audits, West Virginia has hired a computer security expert, and Delaware is planning to get rid of it’s Shouptronic direct recording electronic voting machines.

Te Verified Voting Foundation announced that it has named voting rights lawyer and former Pennsylvania election official Marian K. Schneider as its new president. A lawyer with expertise in voting rights and election law, Schneider has extensive experience with state government administration as well as in the nonprofit social justice sector. 

Georgia took a first step toward replacing their aging Diebold touchscreen voting machines with voters in some early voting centers casting paper ballots using ES&S DS200 optical scanners and Expressvote ballot marking devices. The pilot program comes as advocates have sued to force the state to dump its 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.

A panel of lawmakers decided that same day voter registration and expanded voting by mail should be considered by next year’s Indiana General Assembly. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 19 other states don’t allow no-excuse absentee voting. A few states send ballots by mail to every citizen. The majority of studies on Election Day voter registration found that such policies increase turnout, according to the Government Accountability Office.

Arguments concluded in a North Carolina lawsuit that targets partisan gerrymandering in general and North Carolina’s current congressional map in particular. A similar case out of Wisconsin has already been argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, and the court’s decision is pending. In Pennsylvania, advocates are trying to fast-forward court action on changing Pennsylvania’s congressional map before the 2018 elections.

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.

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.

National: A Death And More Questions For Trump’s Fraud Commission | NPR

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.

Editorials: States Take On Election Hacking. Washington Ignores It. | The New York Times

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…

Georgia: Voters test paper ballots beginning Monday | Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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.

North Carolina: Arguments wrap in partisan gerrymander case | WRAL

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.

Kenya: Election Official Fears New Vote Won’t Be Credible | The New York Times

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: Opposition claims evidence of tampered vote count | Associated Press

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.

National: Sharing Election Threat Info with States Won’t be One-Size-Fits-All, DHS Says | Nextgov

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.

National: Senators say feds leave local officials on their own on cybersecurity | Cronkite News

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.”

National: CIA: Intelligence assessment has not changed on Russia election interference | The Hill

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.” 

National: Nikki Haley on Russia meddling: Election interference is ‘warfare’ | Politico

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.”

California: New voting model coming to Sacramento County | Elk Grove Citizen

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.