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?

Wisconsin: Voter Suppression May Have Won Wisconsin for Trump | New York Magazine

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.

Argentina: Body Found in Argentine River Shakes Up Election | The New York Times

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.

Canada: Facebook to launch hotline for hacked Canadian politicians | The Globe and Mail

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.

Kenya: Drama in Appeal Court as case against election is withdrawn | The Standard

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.

Kenya: Election board CEO rejected by opposition goes on leave ahead of poll | Reuters

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.

Spain: Why the European Union’s hands are tied over Catalonia | The Conversation

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.

National: Russia Probes Spur Lawmakers on Election Security, Social Media | Bloomberg

After months of congressional investigations into Russian interference with U.S. elections, legislation is gaining traction in the Senate that would impose new disclosure requirements for political advertising on Facebook, Twitter, Google and other social media. Senator John McCain gave a big boost to a proposal by Democratic Senators Amy Klobuchar and Mark Warner to require disclosure of who’s paying for online political ads, announcing he’ll co-sponsor the bill. In two weeks, executives for the social media giants are due to testify at public hearings about Russia’s use of their networks to interfere in the 2016 election. “I’ve been fighting for free and open and full disclosure for the past 25 years. This is part of that effort,” McCain told reporters Wednesday.

National: Sessions: U.S. not doing enough to prevent interference in elections | Yahoo

Attorney General Jeff Sessions conceded Wednesday that the U.S. government is not doing enough to prevent future interference in elections by Russia and other foreign adversaries. “We’re not,” Sessions said, when asked by Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., if the government is taking adequate action to prevent meddling in its elections. “The matter is so complex that for most of us we’re not able to fully grasp the technical dangers that are out there.” Sessions said he accepts the U.S. intelligence community’s findings that Russia interfered with the 2016 election and may attempt to do so again. He said the Justice Department has been aggressively looking into the stealing of trade secrets in the private sector and noted that the FBI’s computer experts are also highly trained.

National: Democratic Senators want probe of Trump’s fraud commission | The Hill

A group of Senate Democrats is asking a government watchdog to investigate President Trump’s voter fraud commission. Democratic Sens. Michael Bennet (Colo.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Cory Booker (N.J.) sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) saying the panel, known as the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, is a “cause for serious concern.” “Investigative reports raise questions about the partisan motives and actions of the Commission,” the senators wrote. They added that the panel has “ignored numerous requests” from lawmakers seeking to clarify its activities.

National: Despite backlash over political ads, Facebook’s role in elections will only grow | Los Angeles Times

Negative headlines. Congressional inquiries. Corporate apologies. The heightening scrutiny surrounding Facebook after it allowed Russian trolls and inflammatory political ads to spread on its network is the kind of thing companies would do anything to avoid. But don’t expect it to harm the tech giant’s bottom line. As the political world looks to apply the lessons of Donald Trump’s victory to future campaigns, one of the few clear conclusions is that Facebook played an outsized role in propelling the candidate to his improbable win. The company’s ability to affordably target hyper-specific audiences with little to no transparency gives it a distinct advantage over other forms of media, researchers and political operatives believe.

Editorials: Voting Rights: The Struggle of Our Lifetime | Eric Holder/Harvard Law Review

When our nation was founded, only a minority of the new country’s people enjoyed the right to vote. Guided by the belief that more Americans participating in our democracy would make our union stronger and more just, our foremothers and fathers fought to expand voting rights to the poor, to women, and to people of color. Those who came before us gave their lives fighting for an America where race, gender, and economic status would not keep future generations from the ballot box. Despite setbacks along the way, we made significant progress advancing voting rights. But our struggle is not over. Today, voting rights face renewed attacks that threaten to reverse our hard-won progress and ultimately hijack our democracy.

California: Conservative group sets sights on California’s Voting Rights Act | San Francisco Chronicle

A conservative who led a successful legal challenge to a core provision of the federal Voting Rights Act is training his sights on California’s version of the law, which allows minorities to challenge the practice of local “at-large” elections on the basis of racial discrimination and seek to switch them to voting by district. The 2002 California Voting Rights Act forces cities, counties and school districts “to make race the sole factor in districting,” said Edward Blum, president of the nonprofit Project on Fair Representation, as his Virginia-based group asked a federal judge to overturn the law. The contention is related to the reverse-discrimination argument Blum’s group used in 2013 when it persuaded the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the 1965 federal law’s central enforcement provision.

Georgia: Judge: Voters Can Register Until 30 Days Before Federal Election | Associated Press

A federal judge says Georgia cannot close voter registration for any federal election, including runoff contests, more than 30 days before the election. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law had filed a lawsuit in April challenging the state’s registration deadline for voters wishing to participate in a June 20 special election runoff for an open U.S. House seat.

Maine: Member of Trump fraud commission decries ‘vacuum of information’ | Portland Press Herald

The Maine member of President Trump’s voter fraud commission has written a pointed letter to its executive director, demanding he be given documents and kept informed about the group’s activities and charging that there is “a vacuum of information.” Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, one of four Democrats on the 12-person commission, sent the letter Tuesday after learning from a reporter that a commission staffer had been arrested and charged with possession of child pornography. Dunlap said he had not only not known ahead of time about the arrest last week of researcher Ronald Williams II but he was not even aware he had been hired – or that the commission had any staff members apart from its executive director, Andrew Kossack. Williams, whose employment has been terminated, faces 11 counts of possession and distribution of child pornography, officials told The Washington Post.

Michigan: New committee opposing ballot initiative on gerrymandering hints at partisan fight ahead | Michigan Radio

If you’ve been to a fall festival or any kind of carnival in the state lately, chances are there was a booth there for Voters Not Politicians. That group is gathering signatures to get a proposal on the ballot. It wants an independent commission to draw the congressional and legislative districts to avoid gerrymandering districts in favor of one party or the other. Republicans, the party in power, have been responsible for drawing those maps. They say Voters Not Politicians is a Democratic front group, according to an article from Gongwer News Service.

North Carolina: Stung by Court Rulings, Republicans Aim to Change the Judges | The New York Times

Republicans with a firm grip on the North Carolina legislature — and, until January, the governor’s seat — enacted a conservative agenda in recent years, only to have a steady stream of laws affecting voting and legislative power rejected by the courts. Now lawmakers have seized on a solution: change the makeup of the courts. Judges in state courts as of this year must identify their party affiliation on ballots, making North Carolina the first state in nearly a century to adopt partisan court elections. The General Assembly in Raleigh reduced the size of the state Court of Appeals, depriving Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, of naming replacements for retiring Republicans. And this month, lawmakers drew new boundaries for judicial districts statewide, which critics say are meant to increase the number of Republican judges on district and superior courts and would force many African-Americans on the bench into runoffs against other incumbents.

Editorials: Puerto Ricans get short shrift as U.S. citizens | Orlando Sentinel

Puerto Rico faces an imminent humanitarian crisis. President Trump and Vice President Pence’s recent visits hopefully will result in additional federal resources and attention to address the human suffering happening on the ground. But their visits also highlight a democratic crisis that can no longer be ignored — one that Trump and other American leaders would be wise to address. As a Puerto Rican who relocated to Virginia shortly after Hurricane Irma, these issues are deeply personal. Puerto Ricans are American citizens by birth, although nearly half of Americans do not know this. However, residents of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands — whose population of nearly 4 million is greater than the smallest five states combined — cannot vote for president and are denied any voting representatives in the U.S. House or Senate.

Rhode Island: Embattled ex-Board of Elections head Kando files new suit in state court | Providence Journal

Ex-state Board of Elections executive director Robert Kando is once again suing his former employer, this time in state Superior Court. Kando filed suit Monday in Providence County Superior Court, accusing the board of violating his due process rights, the state Whistleblower’s Act and the Open Meetings Act by firing him in August 2016. The filing comes after U.S. District Court Judge John J. McConnell ruled in the board’s favor in June by refusing to reconsider his dismissal of Kando’s lawsuit challenging his firing from the $143,000-plus position he had held since 2005.

Texas: Challenge to voter ID law should be over, Attorney General argues | Houston Chronicle

The fight over the state’s embattled voter ID laws should be over, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton argued in a new court document filed late Tuesday. Paxton, as expected, filed a brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals calling for the judges to end a challenge to the state’s new voter ID law for good. In his 101-page document, the Republican argued that because the state has already added new exceptions to the law to allow people who have a reasonable-impediment to getting an ID to still vote, the case should be officially concluded. “This case should be over,” Paxton’s brief states.

International: Making voting both simple and secure is a challenge for democracies | The Conversation

Recent elections around the world have raised concerns about the procedures used for voter registration and their potential consequences. The effects include disenfranchisement (voters being prevented from casting a ballot) and voter rights, fraud and security, and mismanagement and accuracy. It’s critical to strike the right trade-off between making registration accessible and making it secure. But how many countries are affected by these sorts of issues? And which is more problematic – lack of security or lack of inclusion? Our Perceptions of Electoral Integrity survey asked experts for their assessments of electoral integrity in 161 countries that held 260 national elections from January 1 to June 30, 2017. The study used three criteria to monitor the quality of the voter registration process: inclusion, accuracy, and security.

Download the Report

Liberia: Allegations of Elections Foul Play to Trigger Run-Off Endorsement Delays | allAfrica.com

The barrage of suspected electoral fraud and irregularities has made political parties who did not make it to the runoff elections hesitant to endorse any of the two parties contesting in the November runoff election. While the ruling Unity Party (UP) and the opposition Coalition for Democratic are intensely lobbying to win over some of the major opposition political parties to complement their strength in the runoff election, most of the parties being relied upon are doubtful over who to support because they feel cheated in the elections. Liberty Party for example, is calling for reelection on ground that the October 10 polls did not meet the minimum standards to be referred as free, fair, transparent elections.

New Caledonia: Uncertainty remains over New Caledonia referendum roll | Radio New Zealand

A year out from New Caledonia’s independence referendum, it is still unclear who will be allowed to vote. A similar referendum was held during the tumultuous 1980s but the indigenous people boycotted it, which exacerbated tensions between the Kanaks and French loyalists. Since then two major accords between the rival camps have stabilised the political scene, with the 1998 Noumea Accord providing the decolonisation roadmap to next year’s vote. Challenges to finalise the electoral roll remain, which legal scholar Mathias Chauchat is watching closely.

Venezuela: Opposition governors boycott swearing in ceremony | Associated Press

Venezuela’s opposition boycotted a swearing-in ceremony Wednesday for governors held by the all-powerful, pro-government constitutional assembly following disputed elections largely won by ruling party candidates. Eighteen new socialist governors stood, lifted one hand and pledged to uphold Venezuela’s constitution in the ceremony at the assembly’s chamber. A painting of the late President Hugo Chavez stood nearby. Notably absent were the five opposition candidates who won seats in Sunday’s regional elections. The opposition’s alliance said earlier in the day that it would boycott the session before a body they consider unconstitutional. “They will only pledge before God and their respective legislative councils,” the opposition said in a statement.

Texas: Paxton officially requests review of redistricting ruling | San Antonio Express-News

As expected, Attorney General Ken Paxton on Tuesday officially asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review a lower court’s ruling that invalidated two of Texas’ 36 congressional districts. “The lower court’s decision to invalidate parts of the maps it drew and adopted is inexplicable and indefensible,” Paxton said in a statement. “We’re eager for the high court to take up the case.” The U.S. Supreme Court already temporarily suspended a San Antonio court ruling that found congressional districts 27 and 35 were drawn with discriminatory intent. It also froze a separate ruling from the three-judge federal panel requiring the state redraw nine of its legislative districts because of “intentional discrimination” by race.

National: The fix is in for hackable voting machines: use paper | Naked Security

Want better security of election voting results? Use paper. With the US almost halfway between the last national election and the 2018 mid-terms, not nearly enough has been done yet to improve the demonstrated insecurity of current electronic voting systems. Multiple experts say one obvious, fundamental move should be to ensure there is a paper trail for every vote. That was a major recommendation at a panel discussion this past week that included representatives of the hacker conference DefCon and the Atlantic Council think tank, which concluded that while there is progress, it is slow.

National: Russian troll factory paid US activists to help fund protests during election | The Guardian

Russian trolls posing as Americans made payments to genuine activists in the US to help fund protest movements on socially divisive issues, according to a new investigation by a respected Russian media outlet. On Tuesday, the newspaper RBC published a major investigation into the work of a so-called Russian “troll factory” since 2015, including during the period of the US election campaign, disclosures that are likely to put further spotlight on alleged Russian meddling in the election. The existence of the troll factory, which has a history of spamming Russian and English blogs and comment forums, has been reported on by many outlets including the Guardian, but the RBC investigation is the first in-detail look at the organisation’s activity during the election period.

National: Conflict Mounts Inside Fraud Commission in the Wake of Child Porn Arrest | ProPublica

The arrest, on child pornography charges, of a researcher for the controversial Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity is intensifying conflict inside the group, with two Democratic members asserting again that a small band of conservatives holds disproportionate power. The researcher, Ronald Williams II, who was arrested late last week, previously worked as an intern at the Department of Justice on a case with J. Christian Adams, who is now a Republican member of the commission. Democratic commissioner Matt Dunlap contends Williams’ involvement with the commission is the latest in a series of discoveries suggesting a few conservative members wield outsize clout; Dunlap claims that Democratic members have been largely excluded from planning. Today he wrote a letter to the commission demanding information. “I am seeking information because I lack it,” stated the letter, a copy of which was given to ProPublica. “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.” The letter demanded copies of “any and all communication between members of the commission” beginning in May.

Alaska: Judge rules Democratic Party can run ‘nonpartisans’ in their primary | Must Read Alaska

In a 33-page ruling, an Alaska Superior Court judge has ruled that the Alaska Democratic Party may run candidates in its primary who are not officially aligned with any political party. In practical terms, this means a non-Democrat could win against a registered Democrat in the Democrats’ primary,  and then go on to represent the Democrats in the general election. For example, if Gov. Bill Walker decides to run in the Democrats’ primary, he might beat Mark Begich, whom many have thought is considering a run. If he won in the Democrats’ primary, he’d have to appear on the General Election ballot as a Democrat, according to the court ruling.

Arkansas: Arkansan on Trump voter group dies at 52 | Arkansas Democrat Gazette

A former Arkansas lawmaker serving on the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity died Monday in Little Rock. David Dunn, a lifelong Democrat from Forrest City who served three terms in the state House of Representatives, died at CHI St. Vincent Infirmary in Little Rock while undergoing surgery to fix an aortic aneurysm, friends said. He was 52 years old. Dunn, who grew up in Pine Bluff, was a former executive director of the Forrest City Chamber of Commerce. After serving in the General Assembly from 2005-11, he co-founded Capitol Partners, a Little Rock lobbying firm.