The Democratic wave that rose on Election Day in Virginia last month delivered a final crash on the sand Tuesday when a Democratic challenger defeated a Republican incumbent by a single vote, leaving the Virginia House of Delegates evenly split between the two parties. The victory by Shelly Simonds, a school board member in Newport News, was a civics lesson in every-vote-counts as she won 11,608 to 11,607 in a recount conducted by local election officials. Ms. Simonds’s win means a 50-50 split in the State House, where Republicans had clung to a one-seat majority after losing 15 seats last month in a night of Democratic victories up and down the ballot, which were widely seen as a rebuke to President Trump. Republicans have controlled the House for 17 years.
National: Democrats push for Homeland Security, FBI briefing on Russian attacks on voting systems | The Hill
A group of nearly two-dozen Democratic lawmakers wants the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and FBI to brief the entire Congress on Russia’s efforts to target state voter systems ahead of the 2016 election. The Democratic lawmakers asked House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to arrange such a briefing in a letter sent Tuesday, labeling Moscow’s efforts to target election-related systems an “attack.” The letter was signed by House Democrats representing 18 of the 21 states identified by Homeland Security earlier this year as Russian targets before the 2016 election.
Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill says he is investigating concerns of voter fraud in last week’s Senate special election, even though he has publicly said there is no evidence of it. Merrill, a Republican, told Fox10 Monday he was investigating a viral clip of a Doug Jones supporter on election night. In a spontaneous interview in the moments after the race was announced for Jones, the supporter spoke about getting people out to vote. “We came here all the way from different parts of the country as part of our fellowship and all of us pitched in to vote and canvas together and we got our boy elected,” the supporter, who is not identified, says.
The election supervisor in Florida’s second-most populous county broke the law by destroying ballots cast in last year’s congressional primary involving Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, according to election-law experts across the political spectrum. The congresswoman’s opponent has sued to get access to the ballots. The case — one of three ongoing independent lawsuits plaguing Broward County Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes’ troubled office — stems from a June lawsuit filed in circuit court by Democrat Tim Canova. He had wanted to inspect the optical-scan ballots cast in his Aug. 30 primary race against Wasserman Schultz because he had concerns about the integrity of the elections office. Under longstanding federal law, ballots cast in a congressional race aren’t supposed to be destroyed until 22 months after the election. And under state law, a public record sought in a court case is not supposed to be destroyed without a judge’s order.
The 2016 Democratic primary election in Broward County may have passed without any technical glitches, but one candidate maintains a federal law was broken after the fact. Democratic candidate Tim Canova ran against Debbie Wasserman Schultz for her congressional seat, which covers portions of Broward and Miami-Dade counties on Aug. 30, 2016. When the results rolled in, Canova lost by more than 6,100 votes. But he didn’t formally contest the election. Instead, he made a public records request to inspect ballots at the Broward County Supervisor of Elections Office. In June 2017, he filed a lawsuit when he and the office argued over the ballot inspection.
A recount for a local election in southern Idaho has overturned a win that was decided by a coin toss last month. Dick Galbraith and Glen Loveland ran against each other for a seat on the city council in the small southern city of Heyburn. Officials said the race ended in a 112-112 vote tie, The Times-News reported To select the winner, a coin toss was held in mid-November. Galbraith lost and then requested a recount as allowed under state election laws. “I had a nagging feeling that it wasn’t right,” Galbraith said. “And honestly, I just had too much heartburn over losing to a coin toss.”
| Detroit Free Presss turned in more than 425,000 petition signatures to the Secretary of State Monday in an effort to recast how political district lines are drawn in the state. Volunteers for the group have been ubiquitous across the state, collecting the necessary 315,654 petition signatures from registered Michigan voters that are needed to get the constitutional amendment on the ballot. With a cushion of more than 100,000 signatures, the group is confident that a review of the petitions will survive and the issue will get on the November 2018 ballot. “The people of Michigan have come together to make it clear they want voters to choose their politicians, not the other way around,” said Katie Fahey, president of the group. “Michigan voters in November will have the opportunity to fix that system to bring transparency and accountability back into our democracy.”
Nebraska: Not giving up on voter ID push, Senator plans to introduce new legislation | Omaha World Herald
A Gretna state senator is not giving up on bringing voter identification to Nebraska. Days after an opponent of voter ID visited Omaha, Sen. John Murante called a press conference Tuesday to say he plans to introduce a package of legislation with more than one option for enacting voter ID in the state. The details are still being worked out, and the senator did not offer specifics. “I am confident that these options will preserve the integrity of our elections without turning a single lawful voter away from the polls,” Murante said.
An effort to recall Democratic state Sen. Nicole Cannizzaro has enough signatures to continue, the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office said Tuesday. The petition to recall Cannizzaro gathered 15,018 valid signatures — clearing the 14,975 threshold, according to a notice of sufficiency the Secretary of State’s Office issued Tuesday to Clark County Registrar Joseph Gloria. Opponents have five business days to challenge the legal sufficiency of the recall, Deputy Secretary for Elections Wayne Thorley said. If legal challenges are unsuccessful, a special election will be scheduled.
The most populous county in New Mexico also boasts the most innovative, modern and professional polling jurisdictions in the nation. According to a new report from the UNM Center for the Study of Voting, Elections and Democracy (C-SVED), Bernalillo County is at the forefront of election administration nationally. The 2016 Bernalillo County Election Administration Report also notes the efficiency, cost-effective and high-integrity of the county’s federal elections. “This report represents voters, poll workers and election observers’ overall evaluation of the effectiveness and quality of election administration,” said Lonna Atkeson, author of the report and director of the C-SVED. “It provides valuable insights on what local election officials are doing right and wrong and where they need to focus to make improvements.”
North Carolina: Elections website was hacked, but it wasn’t as damaging as it could have been | News & Observer
As the fear of election equipment being hacked grows, the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement wants to get ahead of any potential threats by having additional staff members to address cybersecurity. In a presentation to the Joint Legislative Election Oversight Committee on Friday, Kim Strach, executive director of the state board, said election security is something everyone needs to be concerned about. Strach said there are two types of hacks that the state board has to keep an eye out for – internal and external.
South Carolina: South Carolina election agency can withhold cybersecurity documents, attorney general’s office says | Post and Courier
Amid intensified focus on election cybersecurity, South Carolina’s top government lawyers have advised the state’s election agency that it does not need to publicly release documents about how it is protecting voting systems. Citing a “significant increase” in open records requests about cybersecurity, State Election Commission Director Marci Andino requested an opinion from Attorney General Alan Wilson’s office about whether cybersecurity matters fall under an exception to the law that excludes information relating to “security plans and devices.” Assistant Attorney General Matthew Houck responded in an opinion that a court likely would find that the security plans exemption would apply to cybersecurity infrastructure, allowing the agency to withhold documents about the state’s protection systems.
Joyce Scott made hundreds of phone calls and knocked on countless doors, helping persuade South Dakota voters to approve a ballot measure last year tightening campaign contribution limits and creating a government ethics watchdog. Republican lawmakers quickly torched the new rules this year and instead are seeking changes that would make it far tougher for residents to bypass the statehouse at all. Scott and others angry about the swift repeal of the voter-backed anti-corruption initiative have turned to the 2018 ballot, hoping to enact a new constitutional amendment that even the Legislature can’t touch. “I was disgusted that we had to go through this again,” said Scott, a 75-year-old Democrat who collected signatures for the new campaign after seeing lawmakers dismantle the first ethics package. “We had already told them once what we wanted.”
The Republican Party of Texas dropped its lawsuit to remove embattled Congressman Blake Farenthold’s name from the 2018 primary ballot. Farenthold asked to have his name removed from the primary ballot following ongoing accusations of sexual harassment, but his request came after the state’s deadline to remove himself from the ballot. Chris Gober, an attorney representing the Republican Party of Texas, told an Austin federal judge that they were dropping their lawsuit because the party and the Secretary of State’s office had come to an agreement that the party chairman, James Dickey, is ultimately responsible for submitting the list of candidates running in the 2018 primary election.
So much for German efficiency. Ongoing attempts to form a new government after the country’s September 24 election are once again looking bleak. After the collapse of lengthy coalition talks between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), its Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU), the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) and the environmental Green party, all hopes were put on resuscitating a grand coalition between the CDU and the Social Democratic Party (SPD). Now those hopes will have to be put on ice.
The president of Honduras declared himself re-elected on Tuesday despite calls from the Organization of American States (OAS) for a fresh vote over allegations of fraud and deadly protests following last month’s disputed election. In Washington, his rival asked the United States and others to reject the result and cut off aid, warning that protests in which more than 20 people have died could escalate into generalized violence unless there is a new election. The opposition alliance said it would file a legal challenge to the country’s electoral tribunal’s verdict that President Juan Orlando Hernandez won the Nov. 26 election.
Senators up Capitol Hill went at loggerhead during heated argument at the public hearing. The ruling Unity Party (UP) and opposition Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) are due to meet at a presidential runoff election scheduled by the NEC for 26 December. Some Senators argued that NEC was proceeding wrongly by setting date for the runoff election, insisting that such responsibility squarely rests at the feet of the Liberian Legislature. But others argued that the Supreme Court’s ruling instructed NEC to set date for the runoff, but in conferment of the 1986 Liberian Constitution.
After Catalonia declared independence two months ago, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain took extraordinary control of the region and called elections, gambling that voters would punish the separatists who had propelled the nation’s worst constitutional crisis in decades. That election now comes Thursday, but far from solving the conflict, it could just as easily complicate the task of governing the first of Spain’s 19 regions to have its autonomy stripped, placing the country in uncharted political terrain. While Catalonia’s volatile politics have made predictions treacherous, polls indicate a potentially fractured result that may prolong the deadlock over the prosperous northeastern region’s status, even if it denies the separatists a victory.
Catalonia votes on Thursday for a new administration in an election many hope will resolve Spain’s worst crisis in decades after the region declared independence leading Madrid to sack local leaders. Polls suggest neither the pro-independence nor the pro-unity camp will win a majority. The likely outcome is a hung parliament and many weeks of wrangling to form a new regional government. In the separatist heartland of rural Catalonia, fireman Josep Sales says he hopes the results will endorse the result of an Oct. 1 illegal referendum on independence from Spain and lead to the creation of a republic. “If we get a majority, something will have to be done. And if the politicians don’t do it, the people will unite,” he said, speaking from the town fire station where many of the red fire engines bear the slogan ‘Hello Democracy’.
Debate on age limits and term length for the president of Uganda came to a sudden halt Tuesday when a lawmaker reported seeing soldiers on the premises. The allegation led to a scuffle between legislators and parliamentary police. The legislature was already on edge because of the proposals being discussed. Parliament is debating a bill that would abolish the age limit for 75 presidential candidates, a move that would enable longtime President Yoweri Museveni to run for another term in the 2021 election. Opposition lawmakers and some members of the ruling party object to the bill, and debate that began Monday has been tumultuous. On Monday, shouting and chair-throwing forced Speaker Rebecca Kadaga to suspend six members of parliament.
The Scottish government has set out a range of potential changes to how MSPs and councillors are elected. A public consultation has been launched on proposals for widespread reform of Scotland’s electoral systems. These include term limits for Holyrood and councils, expanding the voting franchise to all residents and trying out “innovative” electronic voting. Government business minister Joe Fitzpatrick said it was “a good time to think about modernising” the system. Holyrood took on new powers over the running of elections under the 2016 Scotland Act.