Media Release: Verified Voting Urges Congress to Pass the Secure Elections Act; Bipartisan Legislation Empowers States to Protect Themselves

Marian K. Schneider: “Passing the bipartisan Secure Elections Act will advance our nation’s efforts to protect and ensure trustworthy elections.” The following is a statement from Marian K. Schneider, president of Verified Voting, on the Secure Elections Act, which was introduced by Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) and co-sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sen. Lindsey…

National: Pressure builds to improve election cybersecurity | The Hill

Congressional efforts to secure election systems from cyberattacks are picking up steam with lawmakers under pressure to prevent hacks in the 2018 midterms. After the revelation that Russia tried to probe election systems in 21 states in the 2016 election, security experts, state officials and others demanded federal action to help states upgrade outdated voting machines and bolster security around voter registration databases. Last week, a bipartisan coalition of six senators introduced the Secure Elections Act, which includes a measure authorizing grants for states to upgrade outdated voting technology and shore up their digital security. “It is imperative that we strengthen our election systems and give the states the tools they need to protect themselves and the integrity of voters against the possibility of foreign interference,” Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), a Senate Intelligence Committee member, said when unveiling the bill.

National: Kobach fraud commission, stalled by lawsuits, will meet in January | The Topeka Capital-Journal

President Donald Trump’s controversial commission on election integrity should meet again in January after being delayed for months because of eight lawsuits demanding its staff’s time, the group’s de facto leader, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, said this week. … Eight lawsuits sit in federal court opposing the commission from plaintiffs including one of the commission’s own members and groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “I’m not aware of any presidential commission that has encountered so much litigation from special interest groups,” Kobach said. Kobach said his commission hasn’t met since September, largely because of that litigation.

Voting Blogs: Much ado about nothing in Alabama “fraud” charges | Election Updates

At the risk of being lost down a rabbit hole and subject to endless trolling, I just have to weigh in on the so-called evidence of vote fraud that was contained in Roy Moore’s court filing, in which he tried to get a delay in having the vote certified.  (The reason I decided to plow ahead is that Moore’s filing points out an interesting pattern in the precinct returns — it’s just that it’s not evidence of vote fraud.) There are a lot of claims made in Moore’s filing, and I don’t pretend to have time to take them all on.  The one that has the look of seriousness is based on some number crunching by Philip Evans, an electrical engineer from South Carolina who has taken a look at the precinct-level election returns from Jefferson County (Birmingham) and declared them to be impossibly skewed — or, as Mr. Evans  puts it, based on analyzing more than one hundred elections, “never has there been the level of statistical proof on the scale of Jefferson County” that the results were fabricated.

Maine: Critics vow to keep signature gatherers at Maine polls | Associated Press

A bill that includes a provision making signature gathering at Maine polling places a crime is not meant to kill the citizen initiative process as critics have claimed, Secretary of State Matt Dunlap said Friday. The bill, which includes a variety of unrelated provisions, is set for a Wednesday public hearing. One provision would prohibit exit polling, signature gathering, electioneering and charitable activities within 50 feet of the entrance to polling places. Dunlap, a Democrat, said some voters and municipal clerks have complained to his office about aggressive signature gatherers. “It gets pretty uncomfortable for the voter, I’ve seen it,” he said. “Situations where people are leaving the polls, and they’ll have people signing petitions, and they’ll yell, ‘Excuse me, excuse me, don’t leave!’ People will stop, startled.”

Michigan: Candidate says he’ll sue Gov. Snyder to move up election for Conyers’ seat | Detroit Metro News

A candidate for the U.S. House seat vacated by former U.S. Rep John Conyers filed a lawsuit against Gov. Rick Snyder demanding that the election be moved up to an earlier date. On Dec. 8, Gov. Snyder had announced that Conyers’ congressional seat would remain empty until the regularly scheduled November election, leaving it vacant for nearly a year. What’s more, political observers have pointed out that since the post will be listed twice — once in the August primary and again in the November general election ballots — the office could be held by two different people before January is out. In short, the move would leave Detroiters without effective representation for 11 months — and perhaps even longer.

New Jersey: Here’s what Sean Spicer said in New Jersey voter intimidation case |

Former White House spokesman Sean Spicer testified there were no signs keeping Republican National Committee staff members away from Donald Trump’s vote-counting operations on Election Night, but party officials knew to keep their distance. “It had been abundantly clear for the six years that I worked at the RNC that the RNC and its employees were prohibited from engaging in Election Day activities, including poll watching, so I intentionally stayed away from all of that,” said Spicer, then a top Republican National Committee official. Spicer’s testimony came as the Republican National Committee sought to end limits on its voter activities imposed 35 years ago as a result of GOP activities in the 1981 New Jersey gubernatorial election narrowly won by Thomas H. Kean. That consent decree expired Dec. 1, but Democrats are seeking to extend it.

New York: Groups push for early voting in New York | The Daily Star

Despite all the passion and hype that often accompany local and state elections, many New Yorkers choose not to vote. In fact, New York is near the bottom when it comes to voter participation, placing 41st among the 50 states in the percentage of its citizens who cast ballots in the 2016 general election. And that was a move up from its 44th-place finish from the 2012 election. Now, with the 2018 legislative session set to open Wednesday, a coalition of good-government groups and labor unions is pushing to make New York the 38th state to allow early voting. They contend that expanded opportunities for voters to make their choices will pump up participation.

North Carolina: How far into 2018 before North Carolina knows shape of election districts in gerrymander case? | News & Observer

As 2017 drew to a close, an often repeated phrase among observers of North Carolina politics was the only thing certain about the 2018 elections was uncertainty. With the filing period for candidates seeking state House and Senate seats set to open in mid-February, the lines for the election districts remain unclear. North Carolina lawmakers have canceled primaries for all judicial races and continue to weigh new options for how judges at all levels of state court get to the bench. Answers to some of the lingering questions might emerge early in January as federal judges hold hearings on a case that will determine the shape of election district maps for state legislative races.

Ohio: State’s move to toss inactive voters from rolls goes to court | Associated Press

Joseph Helle was expecting a different sort of reception when he returned home from Army tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and showed up to vote in his small Ohio town near Lake Erie. His name was missing from the voting rolls in 2011, even though Helle had registered to vote before leaving home at 18 and hadn’t changed his address during his military service. Helle, now the mayor of Oak Harbor, Ohio, is among thousands of state residents with tales of being removed from Ohio’s rolls because they didn’t vote in some elections. The Supreme Court will hear arguments Jan. 10 in the disputed practice, which generally pits Democrats against Republicans.

Pennsylvania: Judge Says Pennsylvania Election Districts Give Republicans an Edge, but Are Not Illegal | The New York Times

A Pennsylvania judge said Friday the state’s Congressional districts were drawn to give Republicans an advantage, but they did not violate the state Constitution, ruling in a high-profile gerrymandering case with the potential to have major consequences on the 2018 midterm elections. Judge P. Kevin Brobson of Commonwealth Court in Harrisburg noted that Republicans hold 13 out of 18 Congressional seats in Pennsylvania, a perennial swing state that has one of the most extensively gerrymandered maps in the country. Nonetheless, the judge said that Democrats who brought suit had failed to articulate a legal “standard” for creating nonpartisan maps.

Virginia: Department of Elections knew of issues with voting in wrong House districts before 2017 election | WTOP

Leaders of Virginia’s Department of Elections, House Speaker Bill Howell and Fredericksburg’s Electoral Board knew there were problems with voters assigned to the wrong House districts in the Fredericksburg area since at least early 2015, documents and interviews show. That is more than two years before the Nov. 7 election to replace Howell that is now mired in a federal lawsuit that could help decide which party controls the Virginia House of Delegates. “There were some issues raised in 2015 that we believed to have been resolved, and apparently, there were additional issues that were … still impacting voters,” Virginia Department of Elections Commissioner Edgardo Cortes said in an interview.

Virginia: In race critical to House control, GOP urges judges to stick by disputed ballot ruling | The Washington Post

Republicans on Friday asked a three-judge panel in Virginia to stick by its decision to count a disputed ballot in a squeaker legislative race, a ruling that threw the contest — and control of the House of Delegates — into limbo. House Republicans were responding to a motion Democrats had filed Wednesday, asking a recount court to reverse itself and declare Democratic challenger Shelly Simonds the winner over Del. David E. Yancey (Newport News) by a margin of one vote. A win by Simonds would split the 100-seat House down the middle, forcing a rare power-sharing arrangement on a chamber that Republicans have controlled for 17 years.

Utah: Once again, Utah lawmakers try to eliminate straight ticket voting | KSTU

Rep. Bruce Cutler proudly describes himself as a Republican and a fiscal conservative. But he believes that’s not necessarily why you should vote for him. “I hate labels. I’m not one to like labels,” the state representative from Murray told FOX 13 recently. It’s partly why he’s proposing a bill in the 2018 legislative session that would eliminate straight ticket voting in Utah. “I just think that people need to vote for the person rather than the party. We’ve seen this on the national level,” he said, referring to the recent Alabama senate race involving Roy Moore, who faced accusations of sexual misconduct involving girls. (Rep. Cutler added he would not support Moore.)

China: Thousands sign petition against government bid to shorten voting hours | Hong Kong Free Press

The Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau (CMAB) reasoned that the shortening of polling hours could reduce fatigue and neighbourhood disturbances, as well as allow results to be announced earlier. Currently, polls are open for 15 hours from 7:30am to 10:30pm. However, a study suggested this week that – if the government shortens voting time at the end of the day – pro-democracy voters would likely be affected the most. The bureau launched a public consultation for the proposal on November 13. The deadline for accepting views came on Friday.

Germany: Germany ends 2017 without a government for Angela Merkel | Deutsche Welle

It was just before midnight on November 19 that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s dream of a so-called “Jamaica coalition” collapsed. The political constellation consisting of the conservative union parties (CDU/CSU), the business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP) and the pro-environment Greens — whose colors together reflect those of the Caribbean country’s flag — was to not be. Christian Lindner, the FDP leader, stood up from the negotiating table in the Parliamentary Association building and declared that his party had had enough. The FDP could not support policies they didn’t believe in, he said. Outside, Lindner said a few words into the microphones, then vanished into the night.

Honduras: US silent as Honduras protesters killed in post-election violence | The Guardian

Tinsel and colored lights still adorn many houses in Choloma, a gritty manufacturing town near the Caribbean coast of Honduras, but at the home of David Ramos there are no signs of the festive season. “Christmas no longer exists for us: not this year, not any year,” said Ramos as he leafed through freshly printed pictures of his oldest son. José Ramos, 22, was killed by military police officers last month, at a protest over alleged fraud in the country’s presidential election. The contested results triggered the country’s worst political crisis in a decade and have led to the deaths of at least 30 people, according to the Committee for the Families of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras (Cofadeh), a human rights group. Most of the victims were opponents of President Juan Orlando Hernández, who they say rigged the vote to beat the opposition candidate, Salvador Nasralla.

Russia: Supreme court rules Kremlin critic cannot run for president | The Guardian

Russia’s supreme court has upheld a ban on the government critic Alexei Navalny from running for president, a decision he has vowed to respond to with nationwide protests. “We don’t recognise elections without competition,” Navalny wrote on Twitter after the ruling on Saturday. He did not attend the hearing, which his lawyers say they will appeal against at the European court of human rights. The ruling was widely expected and came after Russia’s central election committee said on 25 December that Navalny, 41, was not allowed to stand for public office until at least 2028 because of a previous fraud conviction.