Florida: Online voter registration form may violate law that created it, elections chief says | Sun Sentinel

Florida’s new online voter registration form violates the very state law that created it, Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher said Tuesday. “The law requires no differences [between in-person registration and] online,” Bucher told the Palm Beach Legislative Delegation. “But in the online program, voters must provide their exact name from the Department of Highway Safety and the last four digits of their Social Security number, and the date of issuance [of their driver’s license].” In-person registrants can provide either their Social Security number or their driver’s license number but do not need to supply both. With much fanfare, the Florida Department of State debuted online voter registration at the beginning of October. The online registration system was created under a bill passed by the Florida Legislature in 2015. That bill was filed by state Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, a member of the Palm Beach Legislative Delegation.

Georgia: New paper-ballot machines debut in Georgia | Atlanta Journal Constitution

More than a dozen voters have used new paper-ballot voting machines in Conyers with no reported problems, the first step of a new pilot program to test the machines in Georgia. “It’s fair to say we’re excited to get the ball rolling and partner with a good elections office and give voters a preview of what the future of voting may look like,” said Chris Harvey, Georgia’s elections director.  “This kind of technology seems to be what a lot of states are going toward,” Harvey added. “This is becoming the new normal.”

Iowa: Proposed rules for implementing Iowa’s voter verification law | Radio Iowa

Two dozen Iowans testified at a public hearing Monday afternoon, offering both praise and criticism for proposed rules to implement Iowa’s new voter verification law. Betty Andrews, president of the Iowa/Nebraska NAACP, said she’s worried the rules will make it harder for groups like hers to register new voters. “I have great concern about that,” Andrews said. One proposed rule will remove people from voter registration rolls if they’ve been called to jury duty, but notified the court that they couldn’t serve because they are not a citizen. Connie Schmett of Clive, a long-time GOP activist, praised the move. “We simply can’t allow our laws and our elections to be tainted,” Schmett said.

Massachusetts: Judge rejects city attempt to dismiss Lowell voting rights suit | Lowell Sun

A federal judge on Tuesday shut down the city’s attempt to dismiss a voting rights lawsuit, which alleges that Lowell’s at-large election system has shut minority candidates out of local offices for decades and continues to do so. But even as U.S. District Court Judge William Young dismissed the city’s arguments that the case did not have enough merits to proceed toward trial, he expressed a concern with the plaintiffs’ case. Lawyers representing the 13 Asian American and Hispanic residents who brought the suit had argued that if some city councilors and School Committee members were elected by district, at least one district would be majority-minority and therefore increase the chances of a minority candidate gaining office.

Nevada: Lawsuit seeks to strike down Nevada’s recall election laws | Associated Press

A federal lawsuit challenging petitions to recall three Nevada state senators in districts with significant Hispanic and African-American populations alleges the effort is an unconstitutional attempt to replace the legislators with Republicans in violation of the U.S. Voting Rights Act. The suit filed Monday in U.S. District Court also seeks to strike down Nevada’s recall laws, which do not require any cause or justification for a recall as long as the petition has signatures from 25 percent of voters in the previous election. Recall petitions were launched in August against Democratic Sens. Joyce Woodhouse of Henderson and Nicole Cannizzaro of Las Vegas, and Sen. Patricia Farley, a former Las Vegas Republican-turned-independent.

North Carolina: Veto override means no scheduled judicial primaries in 2018 | News & Observer

Primary elections for trial court and appeals court seats in 2018 have been scrapped after Republicans on Tuesday overrode Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of a bill that foretells potentially more judicial changes ahead. The House voted to make state law a measure — approved two weeks ago then formally objected to by Cooper — that also would delay candidate filing for those judicial races from February to June. The Senate voted Monday night for the override. At least 60 percent of the legislators present in each chamber had to agree to overcome Cooper’s veto. The override marks the latest action by the GOP-controlled General Assembly to retool the judicial branch. Earlier this year, lawmakers passed bills making District Court and Superior Court races officially partisan elections again and reducing through attrition the number of Court of Appeals judges from 15 to 12. Cooper vetoed both of those bills, but they were also overturned.

North Carolina: Legislature opens ballots to third parties in veto override | The North State Journal

The state legislature voted Tuesday for the 10th veto override since Gov. Roy Cooper has been in the Executive Mansion, well more than half of his 13 total vetoes. The lawmakers needed a three-fifths vote to override, voting in the Senate Monday night 26-15 along party lines and in the House Tuesday morning, 72-40. Two Democrats voted in favor of overriding the governor’s veto: Reps. William Brisson (D-Bladen) and Elmer Floyd (D-Cumberland). This time the override is on an election bill aimed at making it easier to get third-party candidates on the state’s election ballots, but also canceling the 2018 judicial primaries. Lawmakers say they want to allow newly eligible candidates to be able to get a closer look at planned new judicial district maps. The effort to update judicial district lines was launched over the summer by Rep. Justin Burr (R- Stanly), but some members of both parties say its overdue.

Texas: How the Texas redistricting lawsuit outlived a voter who sued | The Texas Tribune

Juanita Wallace was among many voters of color who sued the state over its redistricting plans in 2011, accusing lawmakers of redrawing its political boundaries in a way that diluted the power of black and Latino Texans. Six years later, several elections have played out using embattled state House and congressional maps, even though federal judges so far ruled that Texas leaders intentionally discriminated in approving the boundaries. And the maps will probably stay in place for the 2018 elections as the U.S. Supreme Court weighs the state’s latest appeal. Wallace — a longtime educator, civil rights advocate and former head of the Dallas NAACP — won’t be around to see the result. She died of cancer last year at age 70.

Wisconsin: Elections official blames Schimel for keeping him from talking | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The head of the state Elections Commission says the attorney general is effectively stopping him from participating in a forum on Wisconsin’s gerrymandering case — a move that he says amounts to a top Republican limiting the speech of a Democrat. Attorney General Brad Schimel counters he is simply following a rule for lawyers to make sure one of his clients doesn’t talk to opposing attorneys without his own lawyers present. The dispute comes as state officials adjust to a new elections agency that is split evenly between Democrats and Republicans. Mark Thomsen, a Democrat and chairman of the commission, was invited to speak Friday on a panel that also features attorneys challenging Wisconsin’s election maps and voting laws. Thomsen wanted to participate in the forum but Schimel barred Thomsen and the attorneys from appearing together because Thomsen is a named plaintiff in the lawsuits at issue.

Kenya: Election official flees country and claims presidential vote will not be free | The Guardian

A senior Kenyan electoral official has resigned and fled the country, in a new blow to the country’s presidential vote due to be held in eight days’ time. Roselyn Akombe quit as a commissioner of Kenya’s electoral board by issuing a statement from New York saying the rerun of the presidential election scheduled for 26 October cannot be free and fair. “I do not want to be party to such a mockery to electoral integrity,” Akombe said in a statement. The flight of such a high-profile electoral official underlines the growing crisis in the east Africa state, long seen as a bastion of relative political stability in a volatile region.

Liberia: Liberia Heads for Presidential Runoff | Wall Street Journal

A retired soccer star and Liberia’s vice president will square off in November in a runoff to succeed the longtime president after no candidate got enough votes in this month’s first round. George Weah, who was FIFA’s World Player of the Year in 1995, took 39% of the vote in the Oct. 10 poll, with nearly 96% of ballots counted. Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai of the ruling Unity Party was second with 29%. The two candidates, who topped a field of 20, will vie to succeed President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning economist who has served two six-year terms, the maximum allowed under the constitution. The contest is set to result in the West African nation’s first peaceful transition of power in more than 50 years. Final results, as certified by Liberia’s National Election Commission, will be announced by Oct. 25.

Macedonia: Ruling Social Democrats Secure Sweep In Local Elections | RFERL

Macedonia’s ruling Social Democrats (SDSM) have won a sweeping victory in the first round of local elections and delivered a severe blow to the conservative VMRO-DPMNE party that ruled much of the country for more than a decade. Macedonia’s State Electoral Commission late on October 16 reported final results that show the SDSM won outright 37 out of 81 municipalities and has a significant lead in another 13, while the VMRO-DPMNE lost control of 56 municipalities and won in only three rural areas in polls held on October 15. In the biggest prize, the SDSM appears close to wresting control of the capital, Skopje, from the VMRO-DPMNE, headed by former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski. Runoff elections are scheduled for October 29.

Russia: Opposition leader’s fraud conviction arbitrary, Europe’s top rights court says | Reuters

Europe’s top human rights court ruled on Tuesday that Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s conviction for fraud in 2014 had been “arbitrary and manifestly unreasonable” and ordered Russia to pay him compensation. “We have won. Thanks everyone for support,” tweeted Navalny, a campaigner against corruption among Russia’s elite who hopes to run against Vladimir Putin in a March election. Putin is widely expected to seek and win a fourth term as president. Russian authorities have three months to decide whether to appeal against the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), the TASS news agency cited Russia’s deputy justice minister and ECHR representative Mikhail Galperin as saying.

Venezuela: Opposition Denounces Latest Vote as Ruling Party Makes Gains | The New York Times

For members of Venezuela’s opposition, the big question heading into Sunday’s elections seemed less about whether they would win than how much power they would be allowed to wield once they did. Widespread dissatisfaction with President Nicolás Maduro’s ruling party was plain to see. Violent demonstrations had taken over the streets for months, while many thousands of Venezuelans had fled the country to escape scarcities of food and medicine, rampant violence and a triple-digit inflation. Polls had predicted that opposition candidates could nearly sweep the board in Sunday’s gubernatorial races, taking as many as 18 of the nation’s 23 statehouses. Yet the result was the opposite: Candidates aligned with the president won at least 17 state races, some by wide margins. Opposition candidates took only five. They even lost in states that were considered overwhelmingly pro-opposition.

National: State officials to be given access to 2016 election cyberattack data | CBS

CBS News has learned that in an unprecedented effort to enhance election security ahead of the 2018 midterms, select state officials will be given access to some of the most sensitive information about the extent of the 2016 cyberattacks, but that access will require them to submit to the time-consuming and lengthy process of filling out federal security clearance applications. The process online can take up to 10 hours and, even after completing the application, some election officials say they have doubts about the extent of what they’ll be able to see.During the 2016 election, suspected Russian hackers scanned and probed voter databases and other election related computer networks in at least 21 states.

Alabama: Senator’s proposal would mean fewer special elections | AL.com

An Alabama senator wants to change the way empty seats are filled in the Legislature. Recent vacancies have set the stage for three special elections near the end of four-year terms, elections for seats that will almost immediately be up for grabs again. Under the state Constitution, when a lawmaker resigns, dies or is removed from office, the governor schedules a special election, and the seat stays empty until the election is decided. Sen. Rusty Glover, R-Semmes, proposes amending the Constitution so that if a vacancy occurs during the last two years of the term, the governor would appoint a replacement to finish the term. The appointee could not run for a full term.

Alabama: Russian invasion? Roy Moore sees spike in Twitter followers from land of Putin | Montgomery Advertiser

At least 1,100 Russian-language accounts followed Republican U.S. Senate nominee Roy Moore’s Twitter account over the past few days. Moore’s team says they want to know why. “We had absolutely nothing to do with this,” said Drew Messer, a spokesman for the campaign, on Monday. “We’ve never purchased followers or dummy ads on Twitter. We’ve asked Twitter to look into this.” The increase helped push Moore’s following on Twitter from about 27,000 accounts on Friday to over 47,000, ahead of Democratic nominee Doug Jones, who has about 39,000 followers on Twitter. Many of the new followers for Moore appear to be bots, with only a handful of followers and generic profile art, including photos of singer Avril Lavigne.

California: Efforts to pry loose Trump tax returns hit a wall | Politico

Efforts to pry loose President Donald Trump’s tax returns at the state level have hit a wall, stalling in statehouses across the country including in California, a hotbed of anti-Trump resistance. Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed legislation late Sunday that would have forced presidential candidates to make their tax returns public before appearing on the California ballot, marking the death there of a measure once ballyhooed by Democrats and open government advocates as an end run to Trump’s refusal to disclose his tax filings. Democrats have seen similar proposals stall in more than 20 states since Trump’s election. But Brown’s veto here — in a deeply liberal state where Democrats control every statewide office and both houses of the Legislature — marked a new low for the offensive.

Iowa: Secretary of State’s office considers proposals to implement new voter ID law | Des Moines Register

Iowans filled a cramped conference room at the Lucas State Office Building on Monday to offer both praise and criticism of the state’s new voter identification laws as the Secretary of State works to begin implementing the changes. Then-Gov. Terry Branstad signed the bill into law in May, enacting a new requirement that every voter present government-issued identification at the polls on Election Day. Monday’s public hearing was intended to give Iowans a chance to discuss the rules governing how the law will be implemented. “The bill is the law now,” said Daniel Zeno with the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa. “The goal of the rules, we believe, should be to make sure it’s crystal clear so that voter registration organizations, same-day registrants, pre-registered voters all know what the rules are and that we’re protecting the voting rights of all Iowans.” The law, for example, says a voter’s registration will be canceled if that person submits a notice declining to serve on a jury because he or she is not a legal citizen.

Maine: Lawmakers take another stab at implementing ranked-choice voting | Portland Press Herald

The Maine Legislature is again wrestling with whether to implement, delay or repeal a law passed by voters last November that made Maine the first state to approve a statewide ranked-choice voting system to elect legislators, the governor and members of Congress. In 2017, the Legislature three times failed to reach consensus on what to do with the law, leaving next year’s primary and general elections in a kind of legal limbo. The law is set to be used for the first time in the June 2018 primaries when Maine’s political parties will select candidates for those races. But last May, the state Supreme Judicial Court issued an advisory opinion to the state Senate, saying that if ranked-choice voting were used in the general election for governor or legislators, the results could be challenged in court because the system violates the Maine Constitution. And on Monday, the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee, after hours of public testimony, failed to reach consensus on a bill that would implement parts of the law that do not raise constitutional concerns, and delay the rest until voters could be asked to amend the constitution.

Massachusetts: Lowell elections bias suit heading to court | Lowell Sun

A federal judge will hear arguments Tuesday on the city’s request that he dismiss a federal civil rights lawsuit claiming that Lowell’s election system discriminates against minorities. The 13 plaintiffs in the case argue that system, whereby all nine city councilors and six School Committee members are elected at-large, ensures that Lowell’s majority-white population can effectively block minority candidates from gaining office. Only four non-white residents have been elected to the City Council, and none have been elected to the School Committee. Virtually all other cities in Massachusetts have switched to some form of district-based representation. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in May. In September, the city moved to have the case dismissed.

North Carolina: Senate votes to override election law veto | WRAL

The state Senate voted Monday night to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of a measure that would cancel all judicial primary elections in 2018. The House is expected to follow suit Tuesday, although that vote may be delayed. Senate Bill 656 would also make it easier for third-party and unaffiliated candidates to get on the ballot for statewide or municipal races, but not in legislative races. It would also lower the percentage of primary votes required to avoid a runoff. Republican House and Senate leaders say they’re canceling the judicial primaries because they intend to redraw the state’s Superior Court and District Court districts by next spring, so the primary would likely be delayed.

North Carolina: Partisan gerrymander trial highlights differences from Wisconsin case | News & Observer

Morton Lurie is a Raleigh resident who describes himself as a conservative Republican. On Monday, he was one of the North Carolina voters standing outside a federal courthouse in Greensboro, criticizing a map drawn in 2016 that has given Republicans a 10 to 3 edge in Congress. Though it can be difficult to keep up with all the redistricting lawsuits filed this decade in North Carolina, Lurie is one of the challengers of maps adopted by the Republican-led legislature last year to correct two of the 13 congressional districts found by federal judges to be unconstitutional racial gerrymanders. Lurie objects to districts that are essentially safe seats for one party or another. “The House of Representatives is that part of our government designed to be sensitive to the interests and will of voters spread across the country,” Lurie told media during a break in a trial that started Monday in his lawsuit.

Pennsylvania: Judge grants stay in state gerrymandering lawsuit as federal lawsuit gets December trial date | WPMT

A Commonwealth Court judge Monday granted a stay in the state lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania’s Congressional district map, as a district judge set a December trial date in a federal lawsuit also seeking to force lawmakers to re-draw the map. Respondents to the state lawsuit, filed by the League of Women Voters PA, argued a ruling should be stayed until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on Gill v. Whitford, a gerrymandering case from Wisconsin. Oral arguments in that case were heard earlier this month, and the Supreme Court justices are continuing to deliberate on that case. The separate lawsuits hope to reach the same end result, but are using different methods to do so.

Austria: Austria turns sharply to the right in an election shaped by immigration | The Washington Post

Austria became the latest European country to take a sharp turn right on Sunday, with the conservative People’s Party riding a hard-line position on immigration to victory in national elections and likely to form a government with a nationalist party that has long advocated for an even tougher stance. The result puts the 31-year-old foreign minister and People’s Party leader, Sebastian Kurz, in line to become Austria’s next chancellor after a campaign in which he emphasized the need to strengthen border controls, reduce caps on refugees and slash benefits for newcomers. Much of Kurz’s rhetoric echoed positions long held by the Freedom Party, which for decades has anchored the far right of politics in this nation of 8.7 million.

Editorials: In Election, Austria’s Nazi Past Raises Its Head | The New York Times

An anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim party won the Austrian elections on Sunday, and its leader might form a government with a party founded by ex-Nazis. So much for the hopes of spring that election results in the Netherlands and France hinted that the political tide in Europe had turned away from the far right. Last month, Alternative for Germany became the first far-right party to enter Germany’s Parliament since World War II, winning 13 percent of the vote and 94 parliamentary seats. 

Kyrgyzstan: Vote-buying, counting glitches marred Kyrgyzstan vote – observers | Reuters

European observers said on Monday vote-buying and significant procedural problems marred Kyrgyzstan’s presidential vote, though they praised the move towards an orderly transfer of power in the volatile ex-Soviet state. Sooronbai Jeenbekov, a protege of the outgoing president, won on Sunday with 55 percent – a stronger result than the near tie polls had predicted. Opposition leader Omurbek Babanov conceded defeat but said he would investigate irregularities. The election is seen as a test of stability in the central Asian country where Russia still holds considerable sway and two previous leaders were ousted in violent riots. Kyrgyz news website Turmush.kg published a video showing hundreds of Babanov supporters rallying outside a local government building in his home Talas region. But there were no reports of violence.

Liberia: Weah to face Boakai in runoff for Liberian presidency | The Guardian

The former international footballer George Weah and Liberia’s vice-president, Joseph Boakai, will face a runoff for the country’s presidency on 7 November, the electoral commission announced on Sunday. With tallies in from 95.6% of polling stations, Weah took 39% of the votes and Boakai 29.1%, both well short of the 50% barrier required to win outright from the first round of voting held on Tuesday. Whoever wins the second round of voting will replace Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first elected female head of state, who is stepping down as president after a maximum of two terms. Jerome Korkoya, the chairman of the National Elections Commission, told journalists that 1,550,923 votes had been counted and turnout was at 74.52% across the small west African nation. The handover would represent Liberia’s first peaceful transfer of power in more than seven decades.

Venezuela: Opposition calls for protests after Socialist party claims win | The Guardian

Venezuela’s opposition has called for street protests after President Nicolas Maduro’s government won a majority of governorships in a surprise result from Sunday’s regional elections. The Democratic Unity’s election campaign chief, Gerardo Blyde, demanded a complete audit of the 23 governor races and called on its candidates to lead “street activities” on Monday in protest over the results the party said it would not recognise. The ruling Socialist party took 17 governorships, while the Democratic Unity coalition took five, with results irreversible in all but one of the 23 states, said Tibisay Lucena, the electoral board president. “Chavismo is alive, in the street, and triumphant,” a beaming Maduro said in a speech to the nation, referring to the ruling movement’s name for former president Hugo Chavez.

National: DHS and top election officials finally meet to begin hashing out ‘critical infrastructure’ designation | Washington Examiner

Top election officials from around the country met this weekend to create the formal organization to hash out what powers and lines of communications the Department of Homeland Security should have after the department designated voting systems in the states and territories as “critical infrastructure” earlier this year. By voting to adopt a charter for a “Government Coordinating Council,” the secretaries of state now have a group that has an official channel and a single “voice” to communicate with DHS. The move marks the first major step in the coming together between the nonpartisan National Association of Secretaries of State, or NASS, and DHS, amidst a contentious and sometimes mistrusting year.