National: Election Assistance Commission announces meeting next week on securing mid-terms | InsideCyberSecurity

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission has announced that it will be holding a public meeting on Jan. 10 to review steps for securing the nation’s election system in advance of mid-term voting this fall. “Ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission will host an all day summit to highlight a spectrum of issues that state and local election officials will face as they work to administer a secure, accessible and efficient 2018 Election,” according to a Federal Register notice issued today. The congressionally mandated commission will hear from witness on “topics such as election security, voting accessibility, and how to use election data to improve the voter experience,” according to the announcement.

National: Critics Say Questions About Citizenship Could Wreck Chances for an Accurate Census | The New York Times

A request by the Justice Department to ask people about their citizenship status in the 2020 census is stirring a broad backlash from census experts and others who say the move could wreck chances for an accurate count of the population — and, by extension, a fair redistricting of the House and state legislatures next decade. Their fear, echoed by experts in the Census Bureau itself, is that the Trump administration’s hard-line stance on immigration, and especially on undocumented migrants, will lead Latinos and other minorities, fearing prosecution, to ignore a census that tracks citizenship status. Their failure to participate would affect population counts needed not only to apportion legislative seats, but to distribute hundreds of billions of dollars in federal money to areas that most need it.

Editorials: The Republicans’ Fake Investigations | Glenn R. Simpson and Peter Fritsch/The New York Times

A generation ago, Republicans sought to protect President Richard Nixon by urging the Senate Watergate committee to look at supposed wrongdoing by Democrats in previous elections. The committee chairman, Sam Ervin, a Democrat, said that would be “as foolish as the man who went bear hunting and stopped to chase rabbits.” Today, amid a growing criminal inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, congressional Republicans are again chasing rabbits. We know because we’re their favorite quarry.

Editorials: Florida’s 1.5 Million Missing Voters | The New York Times

Everyone remembers that the 2000 presidential election was decided by 537 votes in Florida. Far fewer remember another important number from the state that year — 620,000, the Floridians who were barred from voting because state records showed, correctly or not, they had been convicted of a felony. It didn’t matter whether their crime was murder or driving with a suspended license, nor whether they had fully served their sentence. In Florida, the voting ban is entrenched in the Constitution, and it’s for life. Today, Florida disenfranchises almost 1.5 million of its citizens, more than 11 states’ populations and roughly a quarter of the more than six million Americans who are unable to vote because of a criminal record.

Illinois: Automatic voter registration law doesn’t allocate money for implementation | Illinois News Network

Automatically registering voters anytime they register with certain state government agencies was considered a major legislative priority by some at the statehouse, but lawmakers haven’t put the necessary tax dollars behind it to get it started. As it is right now, Illinois residents can opt in to registering to vote when they get or update information for a state ID card or driver’s license. Lawmakers pushed to make that automatic and to include more state agencies. Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed the original automatic voter registration bill in 2016 with suggested changes he said made the bill better. Lawmakers followed his lead in 2017 and passed automatic voter registration.

Massachusetts: Secretary of State Galvin facing conflicts for picking state primary date | State House News Service

It is up to Secretary of State William Galvin to pick a date to hold Massachusetts’ 2018 state primary election and his request for public input hasn’t pointed to an obvious answer. The date of the state primary is usually settled without much discussion or public attention, but this year Galvin is required by law to move the primary to an earlier date in September due to a conflict with a Jewish religious holiday. The target date for the primary – 49 days before Election Day – is Tuesday, Sept. 18, but that date marks the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. One week earlier, Tuesday, Sept. 11, conflicts with the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. State law requires Galvin to schedule the primary within seven days of the second Tuesday of September, this year Sept. 11, leaving the secretary a window from Sept. 4 until Sept. 18 to hold the election.

New York: Push on for early voting in New York State | Press Republican

Despite all the passion and hype that often accompany local and state elections, many New Yorkers still 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 slated to open Jan. 3, a coalition of good-government groups and labor unions is pushing to make New York the 38th state to allow early voting.

North Carolina: With no North Carolina elections board, Winterville race decided by 1 vote and a judge | News & Observer

Nearly two months have passed since voters went to the polls in Winterville, the small Pitt County town near Greenville, to select its mayor and two Town Council members. On Tuesday, Wake County Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway decided the victor in one of the council races — a contest that resulted in a one-vote difference. Ridgeway held a hearing on Dec. 29 to determine whether the Pitt County Board of Elections exceeded its power when it decided to decertify the results from the race between John Hill, Ricky Hines and David Hooks. The case was unusual from the start. The election was held in November to fill a seat that became vacant last year after a councilman died. On Nov. 7, Hill was the unofficial winner with 421 votes, eight more than Hines got that night and 47 more votes than Hooks received.

North Dakota: Aging voting machines could pose a challenge for counties | Prairie Public Broadcasting

In 2017, the North Dakota Legislature was asked to fund new voting machines. The Legislature declined. And that means North Dakota is using the same voting system it purchased back in 2004. “That’s a long life span for technology,” said Deputy Secretary of State Jim Silrum. Silrum said the current machines use the Windows 7 operating system. Windows no longer supports that system, and Silrum said the counties have had to cannibalize their existing machines to have some that still work. “You can’t any longer find chips or motherboards that run slow enough, because modern technology has advanced,” Silrum said. “They just say, ‘Why would we want to build something so slow?'”

Oklahoma: Lankford Prioritizing Cybersecurity Ahead of 2018 Elections | Public Radio Tulsa

Another round of federal elections is just months away, and Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford has a bill to guard them against foreign interference. Provisions of the Secure Elections Act would help push out paperless voting systems and encourage all states to audit their elections after they’re finished. Lankford told CNN states will still be running their elections. “But where states are not keeping up their equipment, we need to be able to encourage those states and help provide some grants to those states to say, ‘Go take care of your equipment,'” Lankford said. “We don’t want to have at the end of the next election a guess that the election had fraud in it, that they got into an election system.”

Texas: What to expect in Texas’ voting rights court fights in 2018 | The Texas Tribune

As far as court battles go, 2017 was a busy year on the voting rights front in Texas — and 2018 will likely be no different. After years of litigation, Texas and its legal foes — minority and civil rights groups and voters of color — begin the year waiting on the courts to rule on the fate of the state’s embattled political maps and voter identification requirements. Federal judges are also expected to have the final word on whether lawmakers intentionally discriminated against Texans of color in drawing up both measures. There’s no saying whether the cases will be resolved in 2018. But as the sides await a final resolution years after the measures were first enacted, the attention will ultimately fall on whether Texas will be placed back under federal oversight of its election laws.

Virginia: Fairfax County registrar to deny voter registrations over concerns with Virginia system | WTOP

Thousands of people who recently moved to Fairfax County from other parts of Virginia are set to receive notice in the next week or so that their voter registration requests have been denied. This move follows concerns about the way a state Department of Elections system handles requests submitted through the Department of Motor Vehicles, the county’s general registrar said. To start with, that means about 5,000 letters to people who submitted some of the most recent address updates. The county’s general registrar is accepting similar voter registration updates through the Department of Elections website.

Egypt: Presidential election commission to announce election timetable Monday | Egypt Independent

The National Elections Commission held a press conference Tuesday, in which it announced its intention to announce the timetable and decisions governing the presidential election process at a conference to be held at the headquarters of the State Information Service on Monday. Mahmoud al-Sherif, the official spokesman of the State Information Service, said that the Commission is keen on clarity, openness and transparency, and welcomes local and international civil society organizations wishing to observe the elections.

Liberia: Carter Center Wants Electoral Laws Reviewed |

The observer mission of Atlanta based US group Carter Center is recommending to national government to carry out proper revision of electoral legislation that will help in addressing election gaps here. “We encourage the government to carry out a full review of electoral legislation through an inclusive process to address gaps and inconsistencies with the goal of bringing the legal framework in line with international standards for democratic elections,” the US group said Thursday, 28 December in Monrovia.

Russia: Putin’s Rival Can’t Run for President, But He’s Still a Threat | Bloomberg

Now that he’s been officially barred from challenging Russian President Vladimir Putin in presidential elections next March, opposition leader Alexey Navalny is counting on becoming an even bigger nuisance for the Kremlin. The 41-year-old Navalny, who is banned from appearing on state television and whose name Putin never even mentions in public, is urging his supporters to protest nationwide on Jan. 28 as part of a campaign to boycott the vote. “Going to vote now just means fixing Putin’s problems by helping him disguise his reappointment as something that looks like an election,” Navalny wrote on his blog after Russia’s Central Election Commission refused to register him as a candidate due to a fraud conviction that Navalny denounces as politically motivated. In a video, he accused Putin of being “afraid of running against me.”