The co-chairs of the Congressional Task Force on Election Security want to know what the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plans do now that President Trump has turned the work of his defunct voter fraud commission over to the agency. In a letter Tuesday, Reps. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Robert Brady (D-Pa.) asked DHS Secretary Kristjen Nielsen to clarify what the agency’s responsibilities are related to the Presidential Commission on Election Integrity Trump dissolved earlier this month. The commission, which Trump created to investigate his unfounded claims that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 presidential election, was plagued by controversy and legal battles from its inception.
Katie Fahey is 28 and lives in a small village just outside Grand Rapids, Mich. She works as a program officer for the Michigan Recycling Coalition. In her spare time, she founded and leads a massive volunteer effort that could end partisan gerrymandering in Michigan. If you doubt that a private citizen can make a difference, meet Fahey. Like many others, Fahey anguished over America’s growing polarization. After the 2016 elections, she resolved to do something. “Nobody trusted the system — on the right, on the left, on the middle,” she said. “I was nervous to go to Thanksgiving dinner. I didn’t want another holiday to be ruined by divisiveness.”
A bipartisan organization pushing ballot measures to change the way Colorado draws its legislative and congressional boundaries announced the support Monday of a number of groups representing rural, minority, business and civic reform interests. Fair Districts Colorado, a group chaired by Kent Thiry, the CEO of kidney dialysis giant DaVita Inc., said it now has the backing of Progressive 15 and Action 22, associations representing 37 counties in northeastern and southeastern Colorado, respectively; the African Leadership Group, an advocacy organization for African immigrants; Clean Slate Now, a group devoted to campaign finance reform; and Colorado Concern, an association of some of the state’s top business executives.
By the time the 2016 presidential election rolled around, New Mexico had one of the lowest rates of voting-age citizens registered to vote. Only two-thirds of the state’s eligible voters had signed up to cast a ballot, compared to at least 80 percent in Maine and the District of Columbia, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Perhaps unsurprisingly, New Mexico also had one of the lowest rates of election turnout among its voting-age population. One state lawmaker wants to make it easier for people to vote through an amendment to the New Mexico Constitution that would require the state to ensure every citizen who is eligible to vote is at least registered.
It’s time New York state finally changed its antiquated voting rules and procedures that are perpetuating the state’s low voter turnout, Democratic lawmakers in the Legislature said Tuesday as they announced yet another election reform package. New York ranks among the bottom in terms of voter turnout, a situation Senate Democratic Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, of Yonkers, called “extremely embarrassing” during a news conference detailing some of the 13 voting rights bills aimed at making it easier for New Yorkers to cast ballots. Among the Democrats’ top priorities is allowing early voting, which already is in place in 34 states.
As the Ohio Senate rushes toward passage this week of a Republican proposal to overhaul how Ohio’s congressional districts are redrawn, an outside coalition pushing its own plan said Monday it would fight the lawmakers’ plan at the polls. “I think we have no choice,” said Sam Gresham, chairman of Common Cause Ohio and a member of Fair Districts Ohio. “We’ve been out here for years coming up with fair legislative districts. And we passed a proposal in 2015 [for state legislative districts]. We’re not going to give up simply because they’ve put a proposal forward.” Fair Districts is a coalition of government watchdog, labor, and voting-rights organizations. It would have to finance an opposition campaign to convince voters to reject the legislative proposal in May while circulating petitions for its own proposal for November. Should both pass, the second would supersede the first.
A small change took place during the state special legislative session last year, one that at least one local election administrator expects will make it harder for Texans to apply to vote by mail. Texans who want to apply to vote by mail in the state must now do so by mail. In the past, voters could also apply by email or fax. Those options still exist, but they must be supplemented with a mailed application, received by the early voting clerk after no more than four business days. The change, which was passed as part of SB 5, would “make it more challenging for voters to apply for that ballot,” Fort Bend County Election Administrator John Oldham wrote in a news release.
Texas: Dallas Democrats strike back at GOP lawsuit to remove 128 candidates from primary ballot | Dallas Morning News
Lawyers for 14 of the 128 Democratic candidates whom the Dallas County GOP is trying to have removed from the March primary ballot have asked a court to dismiss the case. According to a document filed late Monday on behalf of 14 candidates threatened with removal, the Dallas County Republican Party and its chairwoman, Missy Shorey, have no standing to bring the suit, since they are not candidates in the election. “The DCRP is clearly not a candidate and Shorey does not allege that she is a candidate for any office,” according to the filing from the lawyers. “As such, neither the DCRP nor Shorey have the necessary personal interest to have standing to seek the removal of any candidate from the ballot.”
Virginia: Some are Calling for an End to Split Precincts Following Voting Errors in Fredericksburg | WVTF
Confusion over split precincts led to a meltdown in Fredericksburg last year, when dozens of voters were given the wrong ballot. Now some lawmakers are hoping for a fix. When most voters walk into their home precincts, they are handed a ballot that has candidates for one House seat. But some precincts are split in a way where some voters are supposed to receive one ballot while others receive another. That led to massive confusion last year in Fredericksburg, which is why Delegate Vivian Watts wants to outlaw split precincts. “Four of my 20 precincts are split. One of them is particularly impossible to figure out where that line is. How in the world are the people going to hold me accountable as an elected official if they don’t even know who represents them?”
West Virginia: House passes single-member district bill; subcommittee reviews redistricting bill | Charleston Gazette-Mail
The West Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill Monday that could fundamentally alter the chamber’s political and electoral landscape. House Bill 4002 would nix the state’s reliance on multimember districts, where residents in certain areas vote for more than one delegate, yielding more than one winner. Following the decennial census, the bill would compel the Legislature to draw 100 single-member districts. In West Virginia’s 67 House districts, 11 of those districts have two members, six districts have three members, two districts have four members, and one district has five members. The vote passed 72-25. Of the 25 “no” votes, only three came from delegates who represent single-member districts: Phillip Diserio, D-Brooke; Ed Evans, D-McDowell; and Isaac Sponaugle, D-Pendleton. Fifty-three delegates serve in multimember districts.
Republican state senators Tuesday denied the confirmations of the directors of Wisconsin’s ethics and elections commissions — and the leader of the state Senate said he hoped to remove two civil servants at those agencies next. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said Republicans had lost faith in the Ethics Commission and Elections Commission because they continue to employ people who worked for the now-disbanded Government Accountability Board. The accountability board participated in a sweeping investigation of Republicans that was shut down in 2015 after the state Supreme Court concluded nothing illegal occurred. “I wish they’d all resign,” Fitzgerald told reporters of former accountability board employees.
The Australian Electoral Commission’s (AEC’s) handling of the nation’s 2016 election was deeply flawed, the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) has found. The auditor’s investigation was kicked off after the 2016 double-dissolution election, which introduced at short notice optional preferential voting for Australia’s Senate. The AEC anticipated a complex count, and in March 2016 had begun work on a system to automate the Senate count, but its timetable was foreshortened by the early election. That set off a chain of events that resulted in wasted money and security failures, the auditor has found.
Editorials: Are Czechs about to reelect the Trumpiest president in Europe? | Jakub Janda/The Washington Post
Voters in the Czech Republic are preparing for their most important election since 1989. On Jan. 26, they will begin heading to the polls to pick their next president. The winner of the first round of the two-stage election earlier this month was the incumbent Milos Zeman, who is facing a strong runoff challenge from Jiri Drahos, a pro-western centrist and the former head of the Academy of Sciences. As of now, the race is considered too close to call. For Czechs, Zeman needs little introduction. He has spent his first five-year term excoriating migrants and Muslims, whipping up fears of terrorism, and praising President Vladimir Putin of Russia. He is possibly the closest thing to President Trump that we have today in Central Europe – except Zeman took office long before Trump did.
Honduran armed forces have been engaged in violent clashes with Nasralla supporters as the Opposition Alliance team called for fresh demonstrations. According to former presidential candidate Salvador Nasralla, two additional people were killed while protesting Honduras’ alleged fraudulent election results. Nasralla said in a tweet, “They just killed 2 more today 23/1/18 in SPS (San Pedro Sula) and another in Arizona, Atlantida. I can’t sit and dialogue with someone who kills my compatriots. I demand that as the winner of the election, according to the majority, that the killings stop and the country is demilitarized.”
Venezuela: Maduro eyes re-election as Venezuela fires starting gun for presidential vote | The Guardian
Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro has said that he is ready to seek another term in office after the pro-government constituent assembly declared that new presidential elections must be held by 30 April. Analysts described Tuesday’s announcement as an attempt by the ruling socialist party to exploit opposition disarray – and cement control before the country’s economic crisis becomes even more acute. The announcement comes after the European Union levied sanctions against seven high-ranking officials for their role in cracking down on democratic freedoms and for violently crushing anti-Maduro protests last year. “If the world wants to apply sanctions, we will apply elections,” said a defiant Diosdado Cabello, one of the sanctioned officials and vice-president of the assembly, a pro-Maduro body that has assumed extraordinary powers to run the country. “There will be revolution for a long time to come.”