The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s election security unit has no immediate plans to probe allegations of electoral fraud, despite President Donald Trump’s announcement this week he was giving the issue to the agency, according to administration officials. Trump said on Wednesday that he had asked the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to review voter fraud and determine appropriate courses of action, as he announced he was disbanding a presidential commission dedicated to the matter. Multiple officials and sources familiar with the matter said they were unaware of plans within DHS, a sprawling agency responsible for a wide array of national security issues, to investigate voter fraud.
At the top of the Indiana Senate Elections Committee agenda is a measure that would allow the votes of certain dead people to count. Under Sen. Greg Walker’s proposal, if someone casts an absentee ballot in Indiana but then dies before election day, the dead voter’s ballot would be counted. The goal of the bill is not to allow dead people to vote, Walker said. Instead, the measure is intended to save election workers’ time because they will no longer have to check absentee ballots against information about recent deaths, he said.
Maine’s secretary of state is accusing the U.S. Justice Department of “contempt for the rule of law” for declining to give him documents from the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, on which he served. Matthew Dunlap sued in November, contending the commission violated the Federal Advisory Committee Act by denying him and other members access to key documents and excluding them from much of the commission’s work. President Trump disbanded the voter fraud commission last week.
National: Trump’s voter commission is dead, but critics worry its mission may live on | The Washington Post
President Trump may have killed his panel probing allegations of widespread voter fraud, but the controversy surrounding its mission appears destined to continue. Upon issuing an executive order last week terminating the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity — which met only twice and faced a flood of lawsuits — Trump said he had asked the Department of Homeland Security to take a look at the panel’s work and “determine next courses of action.” Boosters of the commission, including its vice chairman and driving force, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), are pushing for the DHS to focus on using data that the department collects on citizenship to ferret out illegal voters on state voting rolls.
The head of the Central Intelligence Agency said on Sunday that Russia and others are trying to undermine elections in the United States, the next major one being in November when Republicans will try to keep control of Congress. U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election to try to help President Donald Trump win, in part by hacking and releasing emails embarrassing to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and spreading social media propaganda.
Government officials across the United States try to maintain accurate voter rolls by removing people who have died or moved away. But a case coming before the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday explores whether some states are aggressively purging voter rolls in a way that disenfranchises thousands of voters. The justices will hear arguments in Republican-governed Ohio’s appeal of a lower court ruling that blocked its policy of erasing from voter registration lists people who do not regularly cast a ballot. Under the policy, such registration is deleted if the person goes six years without either voting or contacting state voting officials.
National: How cities are bypassing states to explore registering hundreds of thousands to vote | Mic
States govern American elections. Officials there certify election results. They decide when and how people can vote. They influence who can cast a ballot. Since Republicans in 2010 began their march toward control of the legislature and governor’s office in 26 states, voting rights advocates and Democrats say the state-by-state election system has led voter suppression efforts to run rampant. Since 2010, 23 states have passed laws that make it more difficult to vote, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.
Editorials: I was on Trump’s fraud commission. Its demise was inevitable. | Matt Dunlap/The Washington Post
It didn’t surprise me when I got an email from the White House on Wednesday night that President Trump had moved to dissolve the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. The move came without warning, but given how incredibly dysfunctional the process had been from the start, dissolution was inevitable. Twelve days earlier, U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ruled that as a member of the commission, I am entitled to share in the work of the commission and to know when and where we were meeting, what communications we were having and what the commission was working on. That shockingly obvious conclusion came only after I filed a lawsuit to get answers to those very basic questions. The demise of the commission was inevitable simply because the voter-fraud vampire hunters on the panel and in the White House prioritized a desired result of the commission’s work above any sense of process. It didn’t matter that evidence of actual voter misconduct is incredibly rare anywhere in the United States; we’ve all heard the ghost stories, and the Trump administration’s solution was to find those ghosts and exorcise them.
Illinois: Judge will rule next week on whether motion to eliminate Aurora Election Commission can go on ballot | Aurora Beacon-News
A 16th Circuit Court judge said Friday he will hear the final arguments Jan. 9 about whether or not a referendum question asking to abolish the Aurora Election Commission can be on the March primary ballot. Judge David Akemann said the court will hear arguments, and likely make a decision, beginning at 10 a.m. Jan. 9 in room 320 of the old Kane County Courthouse, 100 S. Third St., Geneva. Akemann said state law gives him seven days from the first hearing, which was Thursday, by which to make a decision. That would put the final day Jan. 11, and Akemann said “the court’s going to keep to that schedule.” “We only have a very short window of time,” he said.
Editorials: Demise of Trump election commission teaches Kansas lessons about Kobach | The Kansas City Star
The demise of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity is great news for every American who values a free and fair ballot. President Donald Trump formed the commission last May. He falsely claimed millions of illegal votes cost him a popular vote victory in 2016, and he wanted an investigation to prove it. The commission, led by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, met just twice. It eventually crumpled under an avalanche of lawsuits, secrecy, poor management and discord. Few will regret the commission’s collapse. This saves the nation from a final report Kobach and others undoubtedly would have used to restrict voter rights in advance of the 2018 midterm elections.
Maine: Trump refuses to release documents to Maine secretary of state despite judge’s order | Portland Press Herald
President Trump’s decision last week to pull the plug on his troubled voter fraud commission was partly the result of Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap’s effort to force the body to behave in a transparent and bipartisan manner, a struggle that gained intensity Saturday, when Dunlap learned the administration would not be turning over working documents to him as a federal judge had ordered. Trump killed the commission – which was mired in lawsuits, infighting among commissioners, and an organizational culture so secretive it had refused to tell its own membership if and when it would meet again – “rather than engage in endless legal battles at taxpayer expense,” according to a White House statement.
When Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo last week proposed reforms to make voting easier in New York state, he left something out: The cost, and how the additional expenses of maintaining early-voting sites would be covered. Cuomo’s proposal includes allowing people to vote before Election Day, no-excuse absentee voting, same-day registration and automatic voter registration — all ideas that would require approval from the Legislature, and in some instances would require amending the state constitution. They are all, however, items that progressives believe would get more people to vote. “We should make voting easier, not harder,” Cuomo said in his annual State of the State address in Albany on Wednesday.
A federal judge on Friday rejected a request for a new election that might have forced a 50-50 split in Virginia’s House of Delegates, calling ballot mistakes cited by Democrats a “garden-variety” problem that doesn’t merit federal intervention. Democrats had hoped a new election in the 28th District would provide an opportunity for an even split in the chamber, which is now on track to be controlled by a 51-49 GOP majority. Democrats cited state election officials who said 147 voters received the wrong ballot before Republican Bob Thomas beat Democrat Joshua Cole by only 73 votes. It is the second defeat in as many days for Democrats. On Thursday, election officials broke a tie vote in another House district by drawing names from a bowl, and picking the Republican.
The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) will head to the polls on Sunday, in a parliamentary election that has failed to stir enthusiasm among a largely disillusioned electorate. Elections in the internationally unrecognised entity are typically dominated by the long-running dispute of Cyprus, a Mediterranean island split between Turkish Cypriots in the north and Greek Cypriots in the south. With a solution to the problem, however, not in sight, campaign discussions this time have largely centred around TNRC’s enduring issues: corruption, nepotism, citizenships distributed to Turkish nationals and Ankara’s grip on the pseudo-state.
From the US to Germany, security officials have warned about the growing threat to elections from Russian disinformation campaigns — and in the Czech Republic there are fears that this week’s presidential election could become the next target. Miloš Zeman, seen as one of Russia’s most outspoken backers within the EU, is running for re-election. Following revelations about the scale of Russian efforts to influence the US presidential election in 2016, Czech politicians and officials are worried Russia could try similar moves.
Election officials in Honduras on Friday rejected the opposition’s appeal demanding the annulment of President Juan Orlando Hernandez’s re-election, which was lodged over voter fraud allegations in the bitterly disputed poll. The country’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), in a statement, cited a lack of evidence and dubbed the opposition’s actions “groundless.” Election officials declared Hernandez the victor after he narrowly defeated leftist opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla in the November 26 vote.
The Russian government has launched a sophisticated campaign to influence Mexico’s 2018 presidential election and stir up division, a senior White House official said in a video clip published by Mexican newspaper Reforma. U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said in a speech last month to the Washington-based Jamestown Foundation that there was already evidence of Russian meddling in Mexican elections set for July. “We’ve seen that this is really a sophisticated effort to polarize democratic societies and pit communities within those societies against each other,” said McMaster in a previously unreported video clip from Dec. 15 that was posted on Twitter by a reporter with Mexican daily newspaper Reforma on Saturday.