National: Virginia, Alabama elections will test gutting of the Voting Rights Act | Business Insider

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill didn’t mince words when addressing opponents of his state’s voter ID law, which requires voters show a government-approved photo ID at the polls. “People are entitled to their own opinions. But they’re not entitled to their own facts,” Merrill told Business Insider. “Everybody in Alabama that wants a voter ID has one.” Voting rights activists, who have long dismissed voter ID laws as discriminatory tactics that disenfranchise minority voters, disagree. They say the time it takes people to travel to the office where they need to pick up their IDs and the added cost for the underlying documents required to get the ID in the first place are just too burdensome for many voters. This will discourage many people from voting, civil rights defenders say, in upcoming elections across the country, including the governor’s race in Virginia on Tuesday and the special election for the US Senate seat in Alabama on December 12. Voting rights activists say the landmark 2013 Shelby v. HolderSupreme Court decision — which struck down parts of the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA) and helped pave the way for Virginia’s voter ID law — is perhaps the most blameworthy culprit.

National: The three kinds of election-hacking threats | Slate

It’s been almost a year since Election Day 2016, but the campaign news hasn’t stopped. Oct. 30 brought the first indictments in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between the Russian government and the Trump campaign. On Tuesday and Wednesday, representatives from Facebook, Google, and Twitter faced congressional grilling over widespread Russian influence on their platforms. Also on Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Department of Justice is considering charging Russian government officials for crimes related to the Democratic National Committee hack. Amid the flurry, it’s easy to blur these conversations—especially because they all seem to feature Russia. But the election-hacking conversation desperately needs to be untangled. Whatever other revelations may come, it helps to remember that election hacking is really about three separate threats: hacking voters, hacking votes, and causing disruption or chaos. … The second threat is of manipulated votes—essentially, that voting machines will be hacked. The Department of Homeland Security found no evidence that malicious actors successfully compromised any vote-tallying machines in 2016. However, a leaked NSA document from this summer shows that Russian hackers targeted and compromised a Florida-based voting-equipment vendor and then used the stolen credentials to target local election officials. Thankfully, the compromised vendor, VR Systems, doesn’t run any vote-tabulation equipment. However, its digital access and proximity to local election officials—who work with those who do program voting machines—is worrying.

National: Securing the vote: How efforts to prevent fraud, and voting rights, collide | CSMonitor

Richard Gabbay says he wasn’t trying to suppress anyone’s vote. He simply wanted to organize fellow Republicans for the upcoming 2016 presidential election in Florida’s Broward County. To help in his political organizing, he obtained a list of all registered voters in his precinct. But when he started to compare the names and addresses of his actual neighbors against the names and addresses listed on the official voting roll, he found major discrepancies. Ultimately, Mr. Gabbay identified 629 voters who he believed were no longer eligible to vote. They included seven individuals who had passed away and 570 who appeared to have moved away. In all, his list comprised 14 percent of all registered voters in his precinct. Gabbay and other critics charge that Broward County is failing to keep its voter rolls current and accurate. They say the county’s list of 1.2 million registered voters is grossly inflated with deceased or otherwise ineligible voters.

National: Inside story: How Russians hacked the Democrats’ emails | Associated Press

It was just before noon in Moscow on March 10, 2016, when the first volley of malicious messages hit the Hillary Clinton campaign. The first 29 phishing emails were almost all misfires. Addressed to people who worked for Clinton during her first presidential run, the messages bounced back untouched. Except one. Within nine days, some of the campaign’s most consequential secrets would be in the hackers’ hands, part of a massive operation aimed at vacuuming up millions of messages from thousands of inboxes across the world. An Associated Press investigation into the digital break-ins that disrupted the U.S. presidential contest has sketched out an anatomy of the hack that led to months of damaging disclosures about the Democratic Party’s nominee. It wasn’t just a few aides that the hackers went after; it was an all-out blitz across the Democratic Party. They tried to compromise Clinton’s inner circle and more than 130 party employees, supporters and contractors.

National: Russia Was Helping Trump Just Days After He Entered the 2016 Primary | Newsweek

A U.S. intelligence assessment earlier this year reported that Russian Twitter accounts began backing Donald Trump as early as six months into his bid for the presidency, but new data shows pro-Trump and anti-Hillary Clinton activity started within weeks of him entering the race. In the three-month period after Trump announced his candidacy on June 16, 2015, tweets from Russian accounts pushed praise for him over criticism by close to a 10-to-1 margin, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of 159,000 deleted tweets from 2,752 accounts named during congressional hearings last Wednesday on Russian interference in the election. The accounts, which Twitter identified as run by the Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency, by equal or greater margins criticized Clinton and early Republican frontrunner Jeb Bush. “BOOM! DOWN GOES @jebbush,” tweeted @DorothieBell, claiming to be an American “Conservative wife, mother,” three weeks after Trump announced his bid. The account wanted to “take this once great country back!!!,” and provided a link to a Breitbart News story on Trump attacking Bush for soft immigration policies.

Georgia: Confusion And Questions Over Voting System Ahead Of Competitive Atlanta Election | WABE

In 2009, now Mayor Kasim Reed defeated Mary Norwood by 714 votes in a runoff. Eight years later, with seven candidates polling above 5 percent, the race to become Atlanta’s next mayor may be very close again. But today, there are more public questions about the integrity of the country and Georgia’s voting system, as well as doubts about voter education and whether residents in at least one part of the city will even know how long polling places are open. “This is a race with low voter turnout and a high number of candidates so accuracy is very important,” said mayoral candidate Cathy Woolard. “This race will probably be decided by handfuls of voters.” Last week, Woolard said she was concerned about confusion over how long polls would be open Tuesday in the sections of the city of Atlanta that are in DeKalb County.

New Hampshire: State hires voter fraud investigator | Associated Press

Voting rights and potential fraud remain politically charged issues in New Hampshire, but the state’s new elections investigator said he’s ignoring the partisan divide and focusing on his job. The hiring of Orville “Bud” Fitch by the secretary of state’s office comes as Republican lawmakers have increasingly sought to tighten voter registration and other election laws. The Republican-led Legislature included the new investigator position to enforce election laws in the state budget, and it passed legislation requiring the secretary of state’s office to look into cases in which address verification letters sent to voters are returned by the postal service as undeliverable. Fitch said he was confident in his ability to get the job done and “to provide professional and thorough work.”

North Carolina: Judge denies challenge of VR Systems election software | Associated Press

With only hours to go before Tuesday’s municipal elections, a trial judge has turned away North Carolina’s effort to avoid using the polling-place software of a company targeted by Russian hackers last year. Lawyers for the state elections board said the Election Day poll book software that VR Systems provides to nearly 30 of North Carolina’s 100 counties hasn’t been officially certified. VR Systems persuaded an administrative law judge last Friday to side with the Florida-based company, which says the software remains approved under the original certification it obtained eight years ago, in October 2009. Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway declined to intervene, deferring to Administrative Law Judge Don Overby’s ongoing oversight of the case, including a proposed hearing set for next spring. The elections board formally asked the state Court of Appeals late Monday to delay the enforcement of Overby’s restraining order and preliminary injunction.

Voting Blogs: Texas Voter ID Laws and Hurricane Harvey Join in Election Maelstrom | State of Elections

Hurricane Harvey made landfall as a category four hurricane on the South Texas coast on August 25, 2017. Harvey was the first major hurricane to make landfall in the continental United States since Hurricane Wilma made landfall in 2005. The storm stalled over Texas through the next several days, dropping 51.88 inches and 27 trillion gallons of rain over parts of Houston, the state’s most populated city, and causing nearly $200 billion in damages spread from Rockport in South Texas to Beaumont near the Louisiana border. As those affected by the storm struggle to piece their homes, their livelihoods, and their families back together, one could not fault them for not thinking about how Harvey might affect their ability to vote in the upcoming November 2017 statewide elections (which mainly concern proposed amendments to the state constitution) or the 2018 statewide elections.

Virginia: As Voters Prepare for Virginia Election, Data Helping Reduce Lines | Bipartisan Policy Center

When Virginia voters go to the polls on Tuesday they have a lot to consider when making their selections. But one thing they should not worry about is their experience at the polling place, especially concerns about long lines to cast ballots. More than any other state in the country, Virginia is at the forefront of monitoring polling place lines and finding new ways to improve the voting process in the future. Virginia joined the Bipartisan Policy Center and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Data Collection Project in 2014 and again in 2016 to investigate lines at polling places to resolve any problems in the future. The new data below show that just a small amount of effort is needed to gather information that can be valuable to addressing the problem of long lines at polling places.

Virginia: Localities scramble to get paper ballot voting machines in time for Election Day | WTVR

With Election Day rapidly approaching, poll workers in roughly a dozen localities all over the Commonwealth, including bigger cities like Norfolk and small ones like Hopewell, frantically train on brand new voting machines. On September 8, the Virginia Board of Elections voted to immediately de-certify all paper-less voting machines in the state. Those were the machines that allowed voters to vote by touching the screen. “We’ve had concerns in Virginia about the paper-less equipment for a while, and we’ve been kind of on a path to replacing them state-wide,” Edgardo Cortes, the state Commissioner of Elections, said.

Chile: Low turnout in Chile election could hand victory to Pinera | Reuters

The frontrunner for Chile’s presidency, billionaire businessman Sebastian Pinera, faces an array of left-wing parties in this year’s elections but he can expect help from one quarter – low turnout. Recent opinion polls give Pinera, a conservative former president, a commanding lead over his seven mostly left-of-center rivals for the Nov. 19 first round but predict he is unlikely to take the more than 50 percent needed to avoid a run-off. While a unified left might muster the votes to defeat Pinera in the second round, weak turnout fed by disenchantment with politics and interparty bickering would pave the way for a Pinera win.

Congo: December vote date: What’s at stake? | AFP

Democratic Republic of Congo has said elections to replace President Joseph Kabila will take place by December 2018, a year later than scheduled. Following is an explanation why the decision is so important for DRC’s political crisis: A mineral-rich country a quarter the size of Europe, but mired in poverty and corruption, scarred by ethnic divisions and fighting in its east, DRC is one of Africa’s most volatile nations. The present crisis brewed after Kabila refused to step down last December on the expiry of his second and final term in office. The 46-year-old has been president since 2001, taking over from assassinated father, Laurent.

Estonia: Government freezes resident ID cards due to security flaw | Engadget

Estonia’s residents use their mandatory national IDs to access pretty much anything, from online banking to online voting. So, it was a huge blow to the program when experts found a security flaw in the chip the ID used that makes it possible for bad players to impersonate and steal the identities of all 760,000 affected individuals. That might not sound like a huge number, but that’s half the small country’s population. Now, the country has blocked most of its residents from accessing all its online services for a weekend, so it can go in and and fix the vulnerability.

Liberia: Court Delays Liberia’s Presidential Runoff | The New York Times

The Supreme Court of Liberia on Monday halted a presidential runoff election scheduled for Tuesday, delaying the first democratic transfer of power in the West African country in recent political history. In a unanimous ruling, the court ordered the National Elections Commission to spend more time investigating a complaint from Charles Brumskine, the third-place finisher in the Oct. 10 election, that the vote had been marred by fraud. The former soccer star George Weah and Vice President Joseph Boakai, the top two vote-getters in the election, were supposed to compete in the runoff, having finished with 38 percent and 29 percent of the vote. To win outright, a candidate needed more than 50 percent.

Nepal: Court seeks amici curiae in petition seeking voting rights for public servants and security personnel | Republica

The Supreme Court on Sunday asked the Nepal Bar Association (NBA) and the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) to send amici curiae to plead in the apex court Monday in relation to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) that demands voting rights for public servants and security personnel deployed on election duty. Following Sunday’s hearing on the petition, a division bench of justices Deepak Raj Joshee and Dambar Bahadur Shahi asked the bar bodies to send one representative each to plead as amicus curiae. Stating that this issue was sensitive as it is associated with the fundamental rights of citizens, the bench asked the two bodies to send their representatives. 

Nicaragua: Five reported killed after Nicaragua local elections | Digital Journal

At least five people died and 11 were wounded in acts of violence during and after weekend municipal elections in Nicaragua that saw President Daniel Ortega’s party the victor, various party leaders and local media said Monday. Two people were killed in the remote community of Sandy Bay Sirpi, on Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast. Both were members of the indigenous Yatama party, the group’s leader, George Henriquez, told AFP. A member of the right-leaning Liberal Constitutionalist Party was killed with a shot to the head as he served as a polling officer in the northern town of Wiwili, a spokesman for the party, Jorge Irias, told the media. The other two killed were members of the Citizens for Liberty Party, in the northern town of Yali, party leaders said.