National: White House says it will destroy Trump voter panel data, send no records to DHS | The Washington Post

State voter registration data collected by President Trump’s abandoned election fraud commission will be destroyed and not shared with the Department of Homeland Security or any other agency, a White House aide told a federal judge. White House Director of Information Technology Charles Herndon also said in a legal filing in Washington late Tuesday that none of the controversial panel’s other “records or data will be transferred to the DHS or another agency” from this point on, except for disclosure or archiving that a court or federal law might require. Herndon’s declaration left unclear what other information the panel may have assembled since its formation in May, if any analysis was done and whether information had already been shared with others outside the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, according to lawyers who participated in a telephone conference call with the court Wednesday.

National: Republicans Are AWOL on Russian Election Meddling | Foreign Policy

Senate Democrats have produced a factual report about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attempts to undermine democracy. Everyone should read it. On Wednesday morning, Sen. Ben Cardin, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sent a report to his colleagues entitled “Putin’s Asymmetric Assault on Democracy in Russia and Europe: Implications for U.S. National Security.” This so-called minority staff report (because it was authored by the staff working for the Democratic minority on the committee) is an impressive piece of work. In more than 200 pages, it lays out Putin’s tactics over nearly two decades — and includes a host of specific practical recommendations for a U.S. response.

National: Groups document voting rights abuses in Indian Country | Associated Press

Election sites far from reservations. Poll workers who don’t speak tribal languages. Unequal access to early voting sites. Native Americans say they’ve encountered a wide range of obstacles that makes voting difficult. Advocates have been spending the last few months gathering stories from around Indian Country in hopes that tribal members can wield more influence in elections, and improve conditions among populations that encounter huge disparities in health, education and economics. “Some of the problems they were facing actually were issues we thought we’d taken care of long ago,” said OJ Semans, a Rosebud Sioux tribal member and executive director of Four Directions. “If you don’t keep your eye open and the communication open, things will reverse.”

Media Release: Verified Voting Says Paper Ballots and Post-Election Audits Can Safeguard our Elections as State and Local Election Officials Discuss Election Security

Marian K. Schneider: “Passing the bipartisan Security 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, regarding the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) summit held today in Washington, D.C. For additional media inquires, please contact   “As…

California: Sen. McGuire introduces bill to ensure all votes are counted | Lake County News

A strong democracy depends on a voter’s belief that their vote counts. However, in California, according to the Secretary of State’s Office, more than 25,000 residents would be shocked to know that their ballots had been thrown away and not counted in the November 2016 General Election cycle. These 25,000 mail ballots were thrown out because of a mismatching signature — the voter’s signature on their ballot did not match what was in their file. While mismatching signatures can occur for a number of reasons, there is no law that mandates local election officials notify voters that their ballot will be tossed, or provide them with an opportunity to correct the mistake.

Illinois: Judge: Referendum on Aurora election law can go on March ballot | Daily Herald

Residents of Aurora will decide March 20 whether county clerks will take over running their elections. Kane County Judge David Akemann ruled Tuesday there were enough signatures on petitions to put a question on the ballot, and that the primary election was suitable for the vote. Objectors Alex Arroyo and Gordon Leach had argued petitioners didn’t collect enough good signatures. They needed signatures from 1,000 registered voters in the part of Aurora subject to the Aurora Election Commission. Petition-passers collected more than 1,540 signatures. The objectors said only 974 were valid. They said more than 300 were invalid because they didn’t match signatures on voter registrations; 39 were invalid because the names were printed, not written in cursive lettering; more than 130 signers were not registered voters; and 93 didn’t count because they lived outside the jurisdiction.

Massachusetts: Early Voting Expansion Proposed To Include Massachusetts Primary | WAMC

The top election official in Massachusetts has scheduled the state’s 2018 primary for September 4th — the day after Labor Day.  Secretary of State William Galvin is also proposing legislation to allow five days of early voting for the primaries. The date of the primary had to be moved up to avoid conflicts with Jewish holidays that fall this year on the second and third Tuesdays in September.  A primary later in the month might not allow for any potential recounts to be completed in time to meet a federally-established deadline to mail general election ballots to military personnel stationed overseas, according to Galvin’s office.

New Mexico: Supreme Court clears way for ranked-choice voting in Santa Fe | Albuquerque Journal

The New Mexico Supreme Court on Tuesday cleared the way for ranked-choice voting in Santa Fe’s March 6 municipal election. The high court rejected city government’s petition seeking to overturn state District Judge David Thomson’s December ruling that Santa Fe had to implement ranked-choice voting, or RCV, in 2018. The Supreme Court’s order simply denied the city’s petition without explanation or comment. City spokesman Matt Ross said the decision was a disappointment, partly because no explanation was provided.

North Carolina: North Carolina’s Novel Anti-Partisan-Gerrymander Ruling | The Atlantic

Federal judges have yet again struck down North Carolina’s congressional districts as an unconstitutional gerrymander, dealing Republicans a blow and throwing the state’s maps into chaos just months before a pivotal midterm election. A three-judge panel, including one circuit-court judge and two district-court judges, ruled Tuesday evening that the Old North State’s redistricting plan relied too heavily on partisan affiliation in drawing constituencies, violating citizens’ rights under the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, the First Amendment, and Article I of the Constitution. The decision is the first time a federal court has ever struck down a redistricting plan as a partisan gerrymander. The final word, however, will likely come from the Supreme Court, which is considering two partisan-gerrymandering cases.

North Carolina: Durham elections worker pleads guilty to altering vote counts in 2016 primary | WRAL

A former Durham County elections worker has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor related to the mishandling of provisional ballot results during the March 2016 primary election, officials said Wednesday. Richard Robert Rawling, 59, of Cary, pleaded guilty last Friday to failure to discharge a duty of his office and was sentenced to 30 days in jail, suspended to a year on probation and a $500 fine, according to the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement. An obstruction of justice charge was dismissed. Elections board officials discovered the problem during a routine audit of primary results in April 2016. The issue involved provisional ballots, which are given to voters who experience some sort of administrative issue when they show up at a polling place, such as a glitch in voter registration or trying to cast a ballot in the wrong precinct.

Ohio: In Voter Purging Case, Supreme Court Appears Divided | Governing

Ohio is among a handful of states where voters can be kicked off voter registration rolls after not voting in three federal elections. During oral arguments on Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court appeared split on whether that practice violates federal election laws. Once a registered voter skips two years’ worth of elections, Ohio mails them a confirmation notice and then purges voters who don’t respond and don’t vote for another four years. In 2015 and 2016, Ohio purged 426,781 voters this way.

Ohio: Ohio Republicans propose changes to congressional redistricting; Democrats say it won’t end gerrymandering | Cleveland Plain Dealer

State lawmakers would still draw congressional districts, but would need bipartisan support to approve a map under a GOP proposal unveiled Wednesday morning. Sen. Matt Huffman, the Lima Republican behind the proposal, said requiring minority-party votes and setting new rules for how districts could be drawn are improvements over the current process. But Democrats and redistricting-reform advocates say the plan still allows for too much political maneuvering by the majority party. The Fair Districts = Fair Elections coalition plans to move forward with its proposed constitutional amendment.

Puerto Rico: Puerto Rico announces shadow congressional delegation | The Hill

Puerto Rican officials on Wednesday introduced the territory’s “Statehood Commission,” a shadow congressional delegation that will make the case for the territory’s statehood. Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón (R) announced the commission’s members on the House floor, saying territorial status subjects Puerto Ricans “to a second-class citizenship.” Gov. Ricardo Rosselló (D) named former governor Carlos Romero Barceló (D) and Zoraida Fonalledas (R) as shadow senators; and former governor Pedro Rosselló González (D), former governor Luis Fortuño (R), former president of the Senate of Puerto Rico Charles Rodríguez (D), former chief of the U.S. Office of Citizenship Alfonso Aguilar (R), and baseball Hall of Famer Iván ‘Pudge’ Rodríguez (I) as shadow representatives.

Virginia: Thousands of Virginians may have voted in the wrong state House districts | Washington Post

Thousands of Virginia voters may be registered in the wrong state House district, raising the possibility of election disputes. In a statewide analysis, The Washington Post found addresses of about 6,000 registered voters that appear to lie outside a map of the assigned House district. If their turnout tracked the state average, more than 2,800 mistaken state House votes could have been cast in November. Six of the 100 delegate races were decided by fewer than 500 votes. One was decided by a coin flip. One controversy stemming from such errors is now playing out in the 28th House District near Fredericksburg. Democrats are seeking a new electionbecause 147 people voted in the wrong race, while Republican Bob Thomas won by just 73 votes. (They can’t just throw out the individual bad ballots since they can’t be identified). A state Department of Elections investigation there, launched following voter complaints, found the 147 affected voters got the wrong ballot because official voter registration records placed them in the wrong district.

Kenya: EU Observers: Kenya’s 2017 Election Process Undermined Democracy | VoA News

The European Union’s chief observer for Kenya’s 2017 elections says the process was far from perfect, singling out, in particular, the country’s politicians. The EU mission is calling for Kenya to undertake reforms that will strengthen democracy. Speaking Tuesday at the European Parliament, the EU chief election observer in Kenya, Marietje Schaake, blamed politicians for problems with the country’s 2017 election. “The Kenyan people, including five million young people able to vote for the first time, did not fully enjoy their democratic rights as legally foreseen for all Kenyans,” said Schaake. “The electoral process was damaged by political leaders attacking independent institutions, and by a lack of dialogue between the opposing sides with escalating disputes and violence.”

Lebanon: Political Differences in Lebanon Undermine Electoral Reforms | Asharq AL-awsat

Members of the ministerial committee charged with examining the implementation of the new electoral law have admitted that it was impossible to apply the technical reforms stipulated in the law, with the parliamentary elections due on May 6. While the committee’s meeting on Tuesday, chaired by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, did not result in any decision on the matter, ministers have expressed clear stances towards the implementation of the reforms, in the wake of sharp disputes over the adoption of the biometric voting card and the mega center, which allows voting in place of residence. Ministerial sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that differences persisted over technical reforms, pointing out that any amendment in the law “requires prior agreement before submitting it to Parliament – a task that seems difficult so far.”

Spain: Catalonia Separatists Support Re-Election of Exiled Leader Puigdemont | Wall Street Journal

Catalonia’s two main separatist parties have agreed to support the re-election of ousted leader Carles Puigdemont as president, in a sign that pro-independence groups are eager to ratchet up the tension with Spain’s central government. The separatists’ agreement is the first significant step toward forming a new government in the restive Spanish region following regional elections Dec. 21. That vote was called after Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy imposed direct rule on the region in October in an attempt to quell the separatists’ push to secede from Spain. When a new and law-abiding government is seated in Catalonia, Madrid has said it would end direct rule.