The expert who federal judges asked to redraw some North Carolina House and Senate district lines defended his final recommendations Friday, rejecting Republican arguments that he created boundaries with racial population quotas and helped Democrats. Stanford University law professor Nathaniel Persily released his proposal, which altered two dozen of the General Assembly’s 170 districts, mostly in the counties in or around Raleigh, Greensboro, Charlotte and Fayetteville. Some adjusted districts returned to the shapes that the legislature first drew in 2011. The judges will meet Jan. 5 in Greensboro before deciding whether to adopt the changes, about five weeks before candidate filing begins for next November’s elections. GOP lawmakers already have said it was premature for the judges to hire Persily as a special master, and House Speaker Tim Moore already has signaled map changes could be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
With results certified and an automatic recount completed, Lake County Elections Board is wrapping up the 2017 General Election. Board Director Jan Clair said she is beginning to work on the chargebacks for the election. It’s an odd-year election, so that means the costs of holding an election are being paid for by political subdivisions, such as cities and boards of education. Clair said elections cost about $1,000 to $1,500 per precinct. “There’s a shared expense in November (elections), for any subdivision overlapping another one,” Clair said. “In other words, in November, we had Willoughby City conducting their officers, we had the (Willoughby-Eastlake) Board of Education conducting their elections, so there’s a shared expense.” There were two countywide issues on the ballot, so Lake County pays for those costs.
National: Trump transition official wrote in email: Russia ‘has just thrown the USA election to him’ | The Independent
Russia threw the US election to Donald Trump, a top official in his transition team reportedly said in an email. Emails between top Trump transition officials suggested Michael Flynn was in close contact with other senior members of the transition team before and after he spoke to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, The New York Times reported. An email from K T McFarland, a transition adviser to Mr Trump, sent on 29 December, suggested Russian sanctions announced by the Obama administration had been aimed at discrediting Mr Trump’s victory. In emails obtained by the Times, she said the sanctions could also make it more difficult for Mr Trump to ease tensions with Russia, “which has just thrown the USA election to him.”
Editorials: I’m on Trump’s voter fraud commission. I’m suing it to find out what it’s doing. | Matthew Dunlap/The Washington Post
On Nov. 9, I filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in Washington, seeking to obtain the working documents, correspondence and schedule of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. What’s remarkable about my lawsuit is that I’m a member of the commission, and apparently this is the only way I can find out what we’re doing. The commission was formed in May to answer monster-under-the-bed questions about “voter fraud,” but the implicit rationale for its creation appears to be to substantiate President Trump’s unfounded claims that up to 5 million people voted illegally in 2016. Chaired by Vice President Pence, the commission has the chance to answer questions about potential fraud and to highlight best practices to enhance voter confidence in our election systems. Yet it isn’t doing that. Instead, the commission is cloaking itself in secrecy, completely contrary to federal law. Recommendations for changes in public policy — whether you agree with them or not — ought to come through an open, public discussion where any American can weigh in.
Georgia: Lawmakers turn timely attention to accuracy of Georgia’s voter tech | Columbus Ledger-Enquirer
A lawsuit that calls into question the accuracy and integrity of past elections is working its way through the system. In the meantime, a bipartisan group of Georgia lawmakers is considering changes that might make such issues moot with regard to future ones. For the last 15 years, Georgia has used touch-screen voting machines, most of which do not provide hard-copy records of vote counts. (The machines used in Muscogee County, as most local voters are aware, provide printed as well as electronic records of vote totals.) One of the advisers at the Thursday committee hearing was Susan Greenhalgh of Verified Voting, an advisory group founded by computer scientists which AP identified as “a non-partisan, non-profit organization that pushes for measures to make elections accurate, transparent and verifiable.” (Greenhalgh is not affiliated with any of the for-profit voter tech companies also represented at the committee meeting.)
The contest pits incumbent Mayor Rebecca Casper against Councilwoman Barbara Ehardt. Thirty miles to the south, Blackfoot also will hold a runoff election between incumbent Mayor Paul Loomis and challenger Marc Carroll. Runoff elections are triggered when a single candidate doesn’t garner more than a 50 percent of the vote. Though Idaho Falls’ 2005 runoff ordinance is relatively new, Gem State cities are generally trending away from the contests because of their impact on local budgets and how infrequently they change general results. Still, a handful of Idaho cities use runoffs to magnify and hone candidate viewpoints, as well as allow their community to elect with consensus.
Don Perata didn’t like it one bit. The former Bay Area state senator had lost a nail-biter of a mayor’s race in Oakland, Calif., and Perata, who’d outspent his rivals, felt like his victory had been snatched from the jaws of … victory. “If this were a normal election, I would’ve won in a landslide,” Perata said in his concession speech in 2010. Perata’s definition of “normal” was a plurality system. The system is familiar to most voters: It’s the sort of race in which you select one candidate, and the candidate with the most votes wins. The election, however, was Oakland’s first to employ ranked-choice voting. So Perata’s claim — he won the most first-place votes, some 34 percent of the total, 11,000 more than City Councilor Jean Quan — didn’t mean squat.
In June, more than 4,700 Grand Forks residents filtered through the Alerus Center — and only the Alerus Center — to vote on the future of a downtown’s Arbor Park. It was another sign of the polling consolidation popping up across the state, as voting locations continue a yearslong drop. The move was a first for the city, which had never before held its own single-site election. But in the aftermath of the vote, the debate over the park seemed settled, and Grand Forks leaders were glad to skirt the costs and logistical headache they say can come with polling sites all around town. Then came the lawsuit. A group of about two dozen voters sought to have the election voided, their case stated, in part because using a single-site system was an overreach of city authority. That claim was the result of months of concerns that the new system and its lower number of voting locations would reduce turnout and potentially change the election’s results.
Oregon: Former Oregon Secretary of State Files Elections Complaint Against Current Secretary of State Dennis Richardson | Willamette Week
Former Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins today filed an elections complaint against the man who succeeded her as the state’s top elections officer, the current Secretary of State Dennis Richardson. Atkins is a Democrat and Richardson a Republican. The complaint comes in response to a newsletter Richardson published earlier this week, in which he commented on a scathing audit his audits division did of the Oregon Health Authority, which has been under fire for making more than $100 million in erroneous Medicaid payments.
Judges have been asked repeatedly to decide whether the lawmakers in charge of drawing congressional district lines have gone too far to favor their parties. A group of Democratic voters from Pennsylvania is approaching the issue in a different way, asserting it’s wrong for the congressional map to be made to boost one party – at all. The case is scheduled to be tried starting this week before a three-judge federal panel. The potential fallout is immense in a state where Republicans have consistently controlled 13 of 18 congressional seats even though statewide votes for congressional candidates are usually divided nearly evenly between Republicans and Democrats. A victory for the plaintiffs could mean a quick redrawing of districts before the 2018 midterm elections and could establish new rules for how congressional districts are remade after the 2020 census.
Here’s the dilemma. Reform begins at the ballot box. But what if access to the ballot itself needs reform? Such is the case in Pennsylvania. If, for example, you’re an independent or third-party voter – and there are more than 1.1 million of you – you can’t vote for candidates in primary elections. … We’re a “closed primary state” – one of only nine, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. This is wrong on its face. It helps protect the political status quo. It disenfranchises citizens, even while using their tax dollars to pay for elections in which those citizens can’t participate. And it’ll get worse as more (especially younger) voters step away from the two major parties. In Philadelphia, for example, independents and third-party voters now total 117,800 – outnumbering registered Republicans.
A third Democratic candidate has filed for a recount contesting the results of the November 7 election that nearly cost Republicans their majority status in the Virginia House of Delegates. The campaign of Josh Cole, the Democratic nominee in last month’s District 28 race, requested the recount Friday in Stafford Circuit Court, following in the footsteps of similar efforts mounted recently by fellow Democratic House of Delegates hopefuls Donte Tanner and Shelly Simonds. Republicans currently hold 66 of the 100 seats in the lower house of Virginia’s legislature, but that number is expected to change significantly next year as an outcome of last month’s vote.
Wisconsin: Walker makes it harder for candidates to get a recount in close races | Wisconsin Gazette
Gov. Scott Walker has made it harder to ask for an election recount in Wisconsin. Walker last week signed into law a bill introduced in reaction to Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein’s 2016 recount request in Wisconsin after she finished a distant fourth. Under the new law, only candidates who trail the winner by 1 percentage point or less in statewide elections could seek a recount. If that had been in effect last year, Democrat Hillary Clinton could have requested a recount since she finished within that margin, losing the state by only 22,000 votes. But Stein would have been barred. Democrats argued against the change, saying if candidates want to pay for a recount they should be allowed to pursue it. Stein paid for the Wisconsin recount.
The NSW Electoral Commission has invited pitches from suppliers to replace the core system behind iVote in preparation for increased use of the online voting system at the next state election. It follows the passage of legislation allowing previously ineligible voters to use technology-assisted voting in NSW’s general elections and by-elections. The existing iVote system was originally introduced for the 2011 state election as a way for blind and vision impaired citizens to vote independently and privately. It has since been expanded to support those voting from overseas or interstate.
A coalition of movements pushing for greater autonomy for Corsica looks likely to dominate a newly constituted assembly on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica, returns from the first round of voting on Sunday show. Pe a Corsica, or “For Corsica” in the local dialect, had 45.4 percent of the vote, according to returns from the Interior Ministry. A center-right regional list, or slate, of candidates followed with 15 percent. A list linked to the center-right Republicans opposition party had 12.8 percent, and the list linked to the national ruling party of President Emmanuel Macron had 11.3 percent. One of Pe a Corsica’s joint leaders Monday ruled out pushing for full independence, saying: “It’s not the issue right now.” In an interview with Europe1, Gilles Simeoni said “the Catalan model is not transferable to Corsica,” referring to the Spanish region that’s in a standoff with Madrid after holding a referendum on independence.
Electoral authorities in Honduras seemed poised to hand the president a second term on Monday even after tens of thousands took to the streets in the biggest protests yet over suspected vote count fraud since last week’s disputed election. U.S.-backed President Juan Orlando Hernandez called for his supporters to wait for a final count as protesters from the opposition flooded streets across the country to decry what they called a dictatorship. As night fell Sunday, the sound of plastic horns, honking cars, fireworks and beaten saucepans echoed over the capital Tegucigalpa, challenging a military curfew imposed to clamp down on protests that have spread since last week.
Liberia’s Supreme Court on Friday began hearings of an appeal filed by two political parties claiming fraud in the first round of the presidential election and calling for a re-run of the vote. “We remain optimistic till the final ruling is given. This is the rule of law and the Supreme Court is the final decision-making body.” Darius Dillon, a leader of the Liberty party, told journalists. Liberty’s veteran opposition leader Charles Brumskine along with incumbent Vice President Joseph Boakai of the Unity party brought the demand to Liberia’s top court on Monday after the country’s electoral commission ruled that irregularities recorded during voting did not affect the overall result.