Senior White House adviser and son-in-law to the president, Jared Kushner, failed to hand over to Senate investigators emails concerning contacts with WikiLeaks and a “Russian backdoor overture,” according to a letter sent by two senior lawmakers. The letter, released Thursday by Sen. Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and its ranking Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, says Kushner failed to turn over “September 2016 email communications to Mr. Kushner concerning WikiLeaks” and other emails pertaining to a “Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite.” The lawmakers said they were seeking the documents that were “known to exist” from other witnesses in the investigation. “We appreciate your voluntary cooperation with the committee’s investigation, but the production appears to have been incomplete,” the letter, sent to Kushner’s attorney, Abbe Lowell, said. “It appears your search may have overlooked several documents.”
Following the recent declaration by the U.S. National Security Agency that Russian hackers tried to infiltrate the electronic voting machines used in the last U.S. presidential election, many people are calling for a lot of things especially for the electronic voting machines to be scrapped. Although the Russians did not succeed, more questions are still left on the table. U.S. senators looking for answers have constituted a committee and is hoping to pass a bipartisan bill called the Securing America’s Voting Equipment (SAVE) Act. The bill will enlist help from the Department of Homeland Security to organize an event like the one held at the DEFCON hackers conference in July, themed the “Voting Machine Hacking Village.”
After over two months of silence, there was a blip of activity from President Donald Trump’s voter fraud commission this week when a commissioner sent an email requesting information on voter fraud prosecutions by the Department of Justice and suggested the agency was not pursuing those types of cases vigorously enough. J. Christian Adams, a commissioner and former DOJ official, sent an email to Andrew Kossack, a federal official charged with the panel’s administration, and copied all of the other commissioners Monday. He asked that Kossack request an annual public report from DOJ on election crimes as well as voter fraud cases the department has pursued over the last decade.
How bogus is President Donald Trump’s voter fraud commission? One of the group’s own members, Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, has filed a lawsuit to get more information about what the panel is doing since no one is telling him, or other Democratic members. It is one of many lawsuits filed against the President’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. In his lawsuit, Dunlap contends that the commission is violating the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which seeks to prevent groups like the election advisory commission from being used to advance partisan objectives under the guises of a balanced review. The act says that the membership of advisory committees must be “fairly balanced in terms of the points of view represented.” In addition, commission materials must be available to all members. Dunlap’s suit alleges that only some commission members are preparing materials and then those materials are not shared with the entire commission, which includes seven Republicans and four Democrats. Materials, which Dunlap and other commission members have not previously seen, have been presented at commission meetings, where it is clear that other members have participated in writing them.
A 2016 Arizona law that expanded the ability of some groups to spend unlimited amounts of money on elections without disclosing their donors was challenged in court Wednesday by a group of Democratic lawmakers, a union and a voter advocacy group. The lawsuit filed in Maricopa County Superior Court seeks to overturn parts of the law allowing corporations and some non-profit groups to avoid disclosure. It also seeks to overturn the removal of the Citizens Clean Elections Commission from enforcement authority over some outside campaign spending, and to invalidate another part that allows political parties to pay for lavish fundraisers for candidates.
Connecticut: Mystery of ‘disappearing’ ballots solved after Portland election recount | The Middletown Press
Election officials believe they have determined why a number of votes were subtracted from the total during Friday’s election recount. The automatic recount was triggered when Democrat Benjamin R. Srb out polled Republican Timothy Lavoy by 19 votes in the competition for a seat on the Board of Selectmen and a similarly close race for the Board of Education. The recount confirmed Srb’s victory, and added one vote to his total. But a number of votes, some 69 in all, and disproportionately occurring on ballots for Republican candidates, “disappeared” in the recount, according to Town Clerk Ryan J. Curley.
Democrats on a legislative panel Wednesday urged state elections officials to quickly remove Illinois from a controversial interstate voter registration program amid warnings it is unreliable and vulnerable to hacking, threatening to act on their own if they don’t. “For months now it has been very obvious that millions of Illinoisans’ personal data is at risk because of our participation in this program,” state Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago, said at a joint state House and Senate committee hearing on the topic. “As soon as possible, the (State Board of Elections) should say the logical thing, which is, ‘We cannot participate in this program because it is putting Illinois at risk.’ ” Illinois is among a number of states evaluating participation in the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program, conducted through the Kansas secretary of state’s office that is aimed at flagging duplicate voter registrations across state lines.
On Monday, the Supreme Court accepted an appeal about the ability of a voter to wear clothing or campaign buttons at a polling place that endorses a political cause. The case of Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky had been before the nine Justices in private conference on five occasions until it was granted a court date. The question under consideration is if a Minnesota law that “broadly bans all political apparel at the polling place, facially overbroad under the First Amendment.” The law, Minnesota Statute Section 211B.11, actually prevents voters from wearing political badges, political buttons, or other “political insignia” at polling places, because the messages communicated are “designed to influence and impact voting” or promote a “group with recognizable political views.” The controversy started when Andrew Cilek of Hennepin County was temporarily stopped from voting because he was wearing a t-shirt with a “Don’t Tread on Me” and a Tea Party slogan, and a button endorsing Voter ID policies from a group called Election Integrity Watch.
Ohio’s voting watchdog, the Secretary of State has responded to a snafu that meant thousands of votes were tallied twice in Mahoning County earlier this month. Last week, Deputy Director of the Mahoning County Board of Elections Thomas McCabe said that some initial reports of “unofficial final” numbers may have been wrong as reported by the media. That’s because of a snafu that double counted more than 6,000 votes on election night. According to McCabe, two poll workers were using a scanning machine that hadn’t been reset. A last minute box of 18 “curbside” votes (votes in which a person is physically unable to get out of the car is allowed to vote via paper ballot).
Although elections officials say they’re seeing more failures with their 13-year-old touch-screen voting machines, it could be years before voters get to cast ballots on a new statewide system that’s estimated to cost at least $40 million. “South Carolina has been using the current system since 2004, and it’s reaching the end of its useful life,” said Chris Whitmire, a spokesman for the state Election Commission. “We are seeing more issues with machines, the most common of which is touchscreen failure.” He added: “While no votes are lost when that happens — and we can handle isolated failures — we have to take steps to ensure the viability of the system in the years to come.”
Democrat Joshua Cole’s campaign has filed a federal lawsuit aiming to get late-arriving absentee ballots counted in Stafford County. The legal maneuver could also delay final certification of election results long enough for Democratic lawyers to figure out whether more than 600 voters in the Fredericksburg part of the contested House of Delegates district were given the wrong ballots. Cole, who trails Republican Supervisor Bob Thomas by 82 votes in the results certified by the Stafford County and Fredericksburg electoral boards, is one of three Democrats trailing in tight House races. For now, Republicans would hang on to control of the chamber with a 51-49 majority. Del. David Toscano of Charlottesville, the House Democratic leader, said he is hopeful that the final 10-vote margin in House District 94 in Newport News could be flipped in a recount.
Utah: Judge is poised to ‘adjust gerrymandering with gerrymandering,’ giving Navajos an edge in southern Utah county | The Salt Lake Tribune
History may be in the making in San Juan County this week when a judge holds hearings that could place the Navajo community in the political driver’s seat — a stark departure from the past century dominated by Anglos. On Thursday, federal Judge Robert Shelby will hold public hearings in Monticello at 10:30 a.m. and Bluff at 3:30 p.m. regarding several map proposals — all of which most likely would lead to Navajos holding majorities on the two most powerful government bodies in the county.
State and county officials have formed a task force to address Wyoming’s aging election equipment. Teton County Clerk Sherry Daigle said it’s now ten years old and the technology has gotten behind the times. “Technology is outdated the day you put it into effect because it moves so fast,” she said. “And a lot of the equipment we have is, you know, they’re computer scanners and readers. So we wanted to make sure we’re not behind the eight ball.” Daigle said the challenge will be coming up with the money. It will cost the state $8 to 10 million dollars to replace the state’s current equipment.
The Russia scandal has ricocheted back across the pond. And it’s dragging Silicon Valley’s giants along with it. Spurred on by Prime Minister Theresa May’s threat to retaliate against Russian interference, a parliamentary committee wants to grill executives from Facebook, Google and Twitter. The committee, following similar inquiries by U.S. lawmakers, is investigating whether Russians are using American internet companies to sway British elections, including last year’s Brexit vote.
A solid majority of Australians voted in favor of same-sex marriage in a historic survey that, while not binding, paves the way for Parliament to legally recognize the unions of gay and lesbian couples. Of 12.7 million Australians who took part in the government survey, 61.6 percent voted yes and 38.4 percent voted no, officials announced on Wednesday morning. Participation was high, with 79.5 percent of voting-age Australians sending back their postal ballots. “The Australian people have spoken, and they have voted overwhelmingly ‘yes’ for marriage equality,” said Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who called the survey in a move described by advocates as a delay tactic devised to appease his party’s far-right faction. “They voted ‘yes’ for fairness, they voted ‘yes’ for commitment, they voted ‘yes’ for love.”
Hundreds of police and soldiers fanned out across many of Honduras’ poorest slums on Wednesday after gang members threatened people campaigning for election candidates. With a November 26 general election looming the authorities rolled in in force. They checked IDs while stopping people and cars in poorer areas of the capital Tegucigalpa, the second city San Pedro Sula, the Caribbean port of La Ceiba and other areas. Gangs including one called Barrio 18 have been threatening campaigners ahead of the vote. Among those harassed were people canvassing for President Juan Orlando Hernandez, who is seeking re-election.
Following Somaliland’s third presidential election on 13 November 2017, the 60-member mission, funded by Britain’s government and drawing on members from 27 countries is now finalizing its interim report to Somaliland’s National Electoral Commission as observers return to Hargeisa. Says chief observer Dr. Michael Walls of the Development Planning Unit (DPU) at University College London (UCL) and Somaliland Focus UK: “On election day, we are pleased to have observed a poll that in the main seems to have preserved the integrity of the electoral process. While we are aware of some key concerns, these do not seem to be substantive and systematic enough to have undermined the election itself, and we congratulate Somaliland on a largely peaceful process; another progressive step in their electoral evolution.”
Some 59,000 people have registered to vote in the general election, including on the supplementary roll. There are 86 candidates contesting the 17 People’s Representatives seats in parliament. Nine nobles representatives will also be elected. In August the King dissolved the parliament amid concerns the government of Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva was acting unconstitutionally and gathering power for itself.
United Kingdom: Russia used hundreds of fake accounts to tweet about Brexit, data shows | The Guardian
Concern about Russian influence in British politics has intensified as it emerged that more than 400 fake Twitter accounts believed to be run from St Petersburg published posts about Brexit. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh identified 419 accounts operating from the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA) attempting to influence UK politics out of 2,752 accounts suspended by Twitter in the US. One of the accounts run from the Kremlin-linked operation attempted to stir anti-Islamic sentiment during the Westminster Bridge terror attack in March in a bogus post claiming a Muslim woman ignored victims – a claim that was highlighted by mainstream media outlets including Mail Online and the Sun.