National: Russia Hackers Had Targets Worldwide, Beyond US Election | Associated Press

The hackers who upended the U.S. presidential election had ambitions well beyond Hillary Clinton’s campaign, targeting the emails of Ukrainian officers, Russian opposition figures, U.S. defense contractors and thousands of others of interest to the Kremlin, according to a previously unpublished digital hit list obtained by The Associated Press. The list provides the most detailed forensic evidence yet of the close alignment between the hackers and the Russian government, exposing an operation that stretched back years and tried to break into the inboxes of 4,700 Gmail users across the globe – from the pope’s representative in Kiev to the punk band Pussy Riot in Moscow. “It’s a wish list of who you’d want to target to further Russian interests,” said Keir Giles, director of the Conflict Studies Research Center in Cambridge, England, and one of five outside experts who reviewed the AP’s findings. He said the data was “a master list of individuals whom Russia would like to spy on, embarrass, discredit or silence.”

National: Senators say ‘cyber war’ with Russia continues far beyond ’16 election | St. Louis Post-Dispatch

U.S. Senators privy to the nation’s secrets declared Wednesday that the United States faces what one called a “cataclysmic” cyberwar with Russia and other hostile entities, and these senators were highly critical of the American-based but global social media platforms on which that struggle is taking place. Capping two days of hearings in which executives from Facebook, Twitter and Google were hauled before various congressional committees probing Russian influence on the 2016 election, Senate Intelligence Committee members debunked as simplistic the narrative that Russian efforts in cyberspace were aimed solely at getting Donald Trump elected president. Instead, senators in both parties described a complex and ongoing effort to undermine western democracies as a continuation of the Cold War on platforms that barely existed a decade ago. The intent is to “sow conflict and discontent over this country,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who represents the Silicon Valley where the companies are headquartered.

Editorials: The real fraud is Trump and Kobach’s Voter Integrity Commission | St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the vice chairman and driving force behind President Donald Trump’s bogus Commission on Election Integrity, has gone silent. This could be because court documents unsealed last week, after he misled a federal judge, show his real agenda is amending the national Voting Rights Act to suppress votes. The commission hasn’t met since Sept. 12, when it was embarrassed by Kobach’s claim that 5,500 people may have committed fraud by registering to vote in New Hampshire without having a state driver’s license. It turns out that voting without a state ID is not illegal as long as someone — like a college student — is legally “domiciled” in the state. Reputable studies have shown fraud by voter impersonation is all but non-existent. But Kobach appears deeply worried about brown people. He’s the one who inspired the president-elect’s startling claim last November that Trump would have “won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”

Alabama: Even sponsors of the crossover voting law disagree on prosecuting cases as voter fraud | WHNT

One sponsor of the new crossover voting law says it’s “ludicrous and laughable on its face” to prosecute crossover voters on felony charges, saying that puts crossover voting on the same level as some kinds of drug trafficking. However, other sponsors of the law supported Secretary of State John Merrill’s efforts to see through the prosecutions. The law in question prevents people from voting in one party’s primary and then crossing over to vote in another party’s primary runoff. The Alabama Legislature`s measure blocking crossover voting, passed this year, didn`t spell out particular penalties, so the Secretary of State`s office is handling potential cases as vote fraud. One of the law’s sponsors, State Senator Bill Holtzclaw (R-Madison), stands behind that interpretation, “I support the law that we passed; I support that there has to be a bite to the bark. If not what`s the value in passing particular legislation like this?” But not all the bill sponsors agree with enforcing it as a Class C Felony, which carries up to 10 years in prison.

Arizona: Maricopa County’s Recorder Apologizes for His Online Tirade | Associated Press

Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes apologized Wednesday for recent inflammatory online comments made to a candidate for the Arizona Legislature who had criticized the design of election ballots. In a five-minute video on his Facebook page, Fontes said he was sorry for his “inappropriate and rude comments” to State House District 13 candidate Nathan Schneider and apologized to all county voters and residents and the elections department. Schneider complained on his own Facebook page Sunday that the county’s Nov. 7 election date was hard for him and his mother to find on the mail-in ballot and ballot inserts and wasn’t printed on the envelope.

Connecticut: UConn’s Center for Voting Technology Research supports fair and free elections | The Daily Campus

The University of Connecticut’s Center for Voting Technology Research (VoTeR Center) is working to keep state elections fair and fraud free, a topic recently brought to light by Secretary of State Denise Merrill in a statement released Friday. “(On Oct. 26th), along with representatives from the state’s information technology and public safety departments, I met with regional officials from the United States Department of Homeland Security to discuss how we can work together to ensure that Connecticut elections are safe from outside interference or manipulation,” Merrill said. The center aids this mission by advising state agencies in the use of electronic voting equipment and investigating voting solutions, according to its website. “We’ve been in existence since 2006 and we’ve been working with the Secretary of the State’s Office since then,” said Dr. Alexander Schwarzmann, professor and head of the UConn computer science and engineering department. “Our work was motivated by the nationwide change in the way that elections are conducted with the help of technology.”

Florida: Voting restoration amendment has 750,000 signatures | Florida Politics

The main backer of a proposed constitutional amendment that would automatically restore some felons’ voting rights after they complete their sentences says his group now has collected over 750,000 signatures. Desmond Meade, president of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, also said on Wednesday that he’s confident the amendment will have a million signatures by year’s end. “The needle is moving,” he said in a phone interview. The Florida Division of Elections website showed as of the end of Wednesday that the citizen ballot initiative, known as “The Voting Restoration Amendment,” has 301,064 verified signatures. Initiatives need 766,200 valid signatures for ballot placement. Signatures must be spread across Florida’s 27 congressional districts, with the total number due pegged to voter turnout in the most recent presidential election.

Georgia: Latest development in elections suit just makes whole thing curiouser and curiouser | Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

There have been some rather sudden and noteworthy changes regarding the Georgia secretary of state’s office and the lawsuit over the reliability and integrity of the state’s voting system. The casual version is that Secretary of State Brian Kemp has changed lawyers, edited his Facebook page, and revised his account of how and why data on a server at the heart of the suit quickly and quietly vanished. Headline detail: The reason the secretary of state has new legal counsel is that the Georgia attorney general’s office announced Wednesday it will no longer represent Kemp and other election officials in the suit. As reported by the Associated Press, Cristina Correia, the assistant AG handling the case, notified the court, the secretary of state’s office and other attorneys Wednesday by email that the attorney general’s office is withdrawing. A spokesperson for the department would not comment, and Correia’s email did not say whether the private firm that will represent Kemp and the other defendants will be paid at state expense, AP reported.

Georgia: Former Gov. Roy Barnes’ firm to represent Georgia in lawsuit | Atlanta Journal Constitution

Former Gov. Roy Barnes’ law firm will represent Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp in a lawsuit that a national election transparency advocacy group filed to force the state to overhaul its election system. The Department of Administrative Services has replaced Attorney General Christopher Carr with Barnes Law Group to represent Kemp, the state Election Board and others named in the case, Kemp spokeswoman Candice Broce said. The Charlotte-based Coalition for Good Governance, led by Executive Director Marilyn Marks, has said that reported security lapses show the state’s system is “vulnerable and unreliable” and should not have been used for the 6th Congressional District runoff race in June — nor should it be used in next week’s election. Kennesaw State University runs the Center for Elections Systems and is also a defendant in the lawsuit. …  KSU said the server that had been examined by the FBI was wiped so it could be repurposed, and that the FBI had a copy of the data that were on the server.

Indiana: State Sued Over Its Aggressive New Voter Purge Program | Mother Jones

A lawsuit is seeking to block an aggressive new effort by the state of Indiana to purge voters from its rolls. If it succeeds, it would deter other states from following suit. But if it fails, these states could be emboldened to begin purging more voters—and particularly minority voters. Indiana is one of 30 states that participate in Crosscheck, a program administered by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. A Republican known for pursuing policies that make it harder to register to vote and cast a ballot, Kobach is the vice chair of President Donald Trump’s controversial election fraud commission, and he seems eager to nationalize his controversial priorities such as Crosscheck. The program compares registration lists for participating states and alerts states if registrations in two states appear to match, suggesting that someone might have moved and neglected to cancel his or her earlier voter registration. Because it compares only first names, last names, and birthdates, it generates a high rate of false positives—one study found that its error rate is more than 99 percent—and has prompted some states, including Florida, to withdraw from the program. 

Ohio: Emails, documents are stark reminder of Ohio’s secret gerrymandering process | Cleveland Plain Dealer

For weeks in 2011, state-paid contractors, on leave from their public jobs for Republican lawmakers, worked secretly in a hotel room described as the “bunker” to create political maps aimed at creating safe Republican districts for most of Ohio’s congressional delegation.
The maps, drawn in part with guidance from national Republican Party leaders and the staff of U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner, often disregarded community concerns and instead focused on political gains by creating districts that in some cases weave more than 100 miles across the state. It worked. In three election cycles since, no seat has changed party hands – a 12-4 GOP majority despite a much closer overall vote.

Wisconsin: Elections chairman: State must ready for more Russian attempts to hack election systems | Wisconsin State Journal

Wisconsin’s election IT infrastructure must be better secured before the 2018 election after federal officials said “Russian government cyber actors” targeted it during last year’s campaign, state elections commissioners said. “We now know from (the federal Department of) Homeland Security that the Russian government attempted to gain access to the Wisconsin election structure — and that they’re going to come back again,” commission chairman Mark Thomsen said. How the state should respond will be the topic of a special elections commission meeting next month. But Thomsen, a Democratic appointee to the commission, said Gov. Scott Walker’s decision to cut funding for the commission in the state budget will make the task more difficult.

Kenya: Ethnic tensions threaten to engulf post-election Kenya. This activist sees a way out. | PRI

Kenyan activist Boniface Mwangi is calling out his country’s leaders as “tribal kingpins” that he says are taking the country to the brink of disaster. He and thousands of others have taken to the streets to protest corruption and what they say is an electoral system that exacerbates Kenya’s ethnic divisions. “I went to protest against police violence and got shot with a tear gas canister,” notes Mwangi, with more than a touch of irony. Tensions are especially high in Kenya after last week’s presidential election re-run. President Uhuru Kenyatta has now been declared the winner, with 98 percent of the vote. Challenger Raila Odinga boycotted the balloting, arguing it would not be free and fair. He said that about the original vote, too.

Liberia: Togo, Guinea leaders mediate deepening Liberia election dispute | AFP

West African leaders held mediation talks Wednesday with all sides involved in Liberia’s disputed election, following a Supreme Court announcement it would summon the country’s electoral commission to explain alleged fraud and irregularities. Liberia’s top court has reviewed a legal complaint backed by three political parties and found “constitutional issues raised” by the electoral commission’s actions during an October 10 presidential election, it said on Tuesday. A Supreme Court hearing on the issue is set for Thursday at 9am (0900 GMT). The legal complaint was lodged by the opposition Liberty Party but has the backing of the ruling Unity Party and its presidential candidate, incumbent Vice-President Joseph Boakai.

Spain: Puigdemont absent as deposed Catalan leaders appear in court in Madrid | The Guardian

The deposed leaders of Catalonia’s separatist government have begun arriving at court in Madrid to face possible charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds over their roles in last week’s declaration of independence. Notable by his likely absence, however, is the dismissed Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, who is in Brussels and refusing to come, according to his lawyer. “He will not go to Madrid and I have suggested that he be questioned here in Belgium,” Paul Bekaert told Spain’s TV3 television on Wednesday. The hearing at the national court in Madrid, which deals with major criminal cases, began at 9am and will continue on Friday.

Venezuela: How Venezuela Fell Victim to ‘Clear Manipulation’ in Election | Wall Street Journal

Aires Pérez Rodríguez traveled by canoe for three hours to deliver the paper receipts showing a total of 225 votes cast for state governor in this hamlet. Then he passed them to his aunt, who drove them a further 150 miles to the Bolívar state capital. When the official count was released days after the Oct. 15 election, however, there were an extra 471 votes for the government’s candidate. It wasn’t just Mr. Pérez, the opposition party’s election monitor, who noticed. The ruling Socialist Party’s own election supervisor in El Casabe realized it, too. “This is illegal,” said Luciano Mendoza, the election supervisor, who showed The Wall Street Journal the voting-machine receipts that counted just a third as many votes from the hamlet as reported by electoral authorities later. “They say they bring justice, but instead they commit fraud.”