Russia has been repeatedly accused of interfering in recent elections. But Sweden is determined it won’t fall victim to any such meddling – with millions of leaflets being distributed and propaganda-spotting lessons for students. As campaigning intensified in the French election, the team of now President Emmanuel Macron said it was a target for “fake news” by Russian media and the victim of “hundreds if not thousands” of cyber-attacks from inside Russia. In Washington, sanctions were recently imposed on 19 Russians accused of interference in the 2016 US election and “destructive” cyber-attacks.
National: Trump claims, without evidence, that Mueller team plans to meddle in midterm elections | The Washington Post
President Donald Trump on Tuesday accused prosecutors working on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election of planning to meddle in this year’s midterm elections, escalating his attack on the probe while offering no evidence to back up his assertion. In several morning tweets, Trump attempted to cast himself as the victim of a partisan assault, part of a pattern of political deflection in recent days where the president has made false or exaggerated statements in defending his policies or attacking his perceived enemies. Over the weekend, Trump blamed Democrats for his policy of separating migrant families at the border, falsely said that the New York Times made up a source for a story on negotiations between the United States and North Korea, and continued to claim that the FBI’s use of a source to interact with members of his 2016 election team was an attempt to spy on the campaign.
Congress’s last chance to tell Americans — in a bipartisan way — about Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 election rests with 15 senators who meet twice a week behind closed doors. The Senate Intelligence Committee has become a rare symbol of unity on the divisive issue of Russia’s role in the presidential race — quite a feat for a panel with members ranging from conservative Trump ally Tom Cotton, R-Ark., to liberal Trump critic Kamala Harris, D-Calif. While bitter partisan fighting ripped apart the House Intelligence Committee and ended its Russia investigation in March with no agreement between Republicans and Democrats, the Senate panel managed to stay united.
Florida formally asked the federal government Wednesday for $19 million in election security money, one week after Gov. Rick Scott directed the state’s top election official to request it and two months after the feds announced the money was available. Secretary of State Ken Detzner signed the letter that went to Washington. The Department of State released a three-page letter that made Florida the 17th state to apply for its share of a $380 million pot of money included in a spending bill that President Donald J. Trump signed two months ago.
A civil rights organization and an Iowa State University student is suing Iowa’s secretary of state over a voter ID law they say infringes on Iowans’ ability to fairly cast a ballot. The League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa and ISU student Taylor Blair announced Wednesday morning that they are filing a lawsuit in Polk County District Court. Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, who administers Iowa elections, is named as the defendant in a draft of the lawsuit, which did not appear online in the state’s filing system as of Wednesday afternoon. Under the law, Iowans are required to present a valid form of identification when casting a ballot. Those forms include a driver’s license, non-operator’s license, passport, military ID, veteran’s ID or state-issued voter card.
Early voting earned positive reviews during its inaugural run in Massachusetts, but lawmakers have so far been hesitant about implementing the voter convenience for this year’s primary elections — historically low-turnout affairs in which some incumbents face challengers. “If we are going for good government, good democracy, why are we so hesitant to pass legislation that’s going to do just that?” Cheryl Crawford, executive director of MassVote, told the News Service on Tuesday. “A lot of our elections are won in the primaries.” In interviews, those familiar with the reform say it expanded voting opportunities in the 2016 general election but needs to be adequately funded to ensure that cities and towns of all sizes are able to accommodate voters over what are effectively multiple election days.
Nevada: Backers of state Senate recalls file last-chance appeal, likely heads to state Supreme Court | The Nevada Independent
Backers of groups attempting to recall two Democratic state senators are moving to appeal a court decision that found their efforts failed to gain enough signatures to qualify for a special election, likely sending the case to the state Supreme Court. The two political action committees seeking to qualify a recall effort against state Sens. Nicole Cannizzaro and Joyce Woodhouse on Tuesday filed a notice of intent to appeal an April decision by District Court Judge Jerry Wiese that neither recall petition had enough signatures to qualify for a special recall election, after the removal of several blocks of invalid signatures. The appeal is a last-chance effort for backers of the recall efforts, which were launched 10 months ago and need a favorable ruling from the state’s highest court to continue moving forward.
Federal and New York state officials say they will hold drills in the weeks leading up to primary elections for the U.S. House and Senate to prevent hacking and other cyber threats to voting systems, officials said on Wednesday. The exercises, which will begin in Albany on Thursday, come amid heightened scrutiny of the nation’s voting systems following Russian hacking in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. “The people of New York deserve an open, transparent election process they can trust, and these exercises are an integral part of restoring voter confidence and the integrity of our election infrastructure,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.
North Carolina: These candidates lost the election but might get a do-over. Some want to stop them. | News & Observer
State Rep. Beverly Boswell was defeated in a bitter primary just weeks ago, but members of a new party want to make sure that she and other defeated candidates will be able to try again in November if they choose. Those options could close if the legislature includes what’s called a “sore loser” provision in an election law. State law prevents candidates who lose primaries from running for the same office that same year as write-in candidates. The new proposal would extend the prohibition to defeated candidates running as members of the Green Party or Constitution Party. The Green Party won state recognition this year and the Constitution Party is expected to make it. Members of the Constitution Party delivered petitions to the state elections board Wednesday with enough signatures, they said, to earn official recognition as the state’s fifth party. The Constitution Party would join Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, and Greens.
Talks between the state of North Dakota a group of Native Americans failed to reach agreement over ways that tribal members can prove their identity in order to vote. Republican Secretary of State Al Jaeger said the two sides could find no agreement during the closed-door meeting Tuesday. He declined to discuss any of the proposals, saying they are confidential. Discussions “possibly may continue,” Jaeger said. “We’re leaving the door open.” Tom Dickson, a Bismarck-based lawyer for tribal members, said he was hopeful a settlement could be reached. But he said “the ball is in the state’s court.” The talks were suggested by U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland, who had criticized the state for raising a “litany of embellished concerns” about people taking advantage of his ruling last month that expand the proof of identity Native Americans can use for North Dakota elections.
Several briefs recently were filed with the U.S. Supreme Court, in support of a case related to the voting rights of residents of Guam and other U.S. territories. “Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands Bar Association, and leading voting rights scholars have each filed amicus briefs in support of Supreme Court review in Segovia v. United States,” said former Guam resident Neal Weare, who represents plaintiffs in the case. The case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which in October is expected to announce the cases it will hear. “We are thrilled with the support we have received for the idea that where you live should not impact your right to vote,” said Weare, who is the president of Equally American, a non-profit organization that advocates for equality and civil rights for the millions of Americans who live in U.S. territories. “Most Supreme Court petitions do not receive support from a single amicus brief, so it says a lot that three briefs have been filed in support of Supreme Court review here.”
Canada: British Columbia unveils its proposed question for voters in electoral-reform referendum | The Globe and Mail
British Columbians who participate in an electoral-reform referendum this fall would first be asked whether they want to switch to proportional representation, and then to rank three specific PR systems, the province’s Attorney-General said Wednesday. David Eby said the referendum would be conducted by mail-in ballot, with the campaign to begin July 1 and a voting period to run from Oct. 22 to Nov. 30. But opponents were quick to criticize the vote as overly complicated and to seize on what remains unknown, including what the district boundaries would look like under PR. Mr. Eby’s recommendations still must be approved by cabinet, but he said starting the campaign in less than four weeks can be done.
Colombia’s electoral authorities refuse to investigate voting corruption despite strong claims of widespread rigging. The fraud accusations originated from anti-corruption candidate Gustavo Petro and his supporters, who alleged that voting result charts were doctored to favor front-running rival Ivan Duque. The claims were neither confirmed nor denied by independent electoral observers. The European Union, who sent a small envoy of observers to monitor the vote, told Colombia Reports it refused to speculate. Ahead of the elections, Petro had warned of alleged attempts for voting to be rigged in favor of German Vargas, who ended fourth.
It’s hardly a secret that the Alternative for Germany party (known as the AfD in German) is a huge fan of Vladimir Putin. Unlike other German parties, the anti-immigrant group is prone to vocally endorsing the Russian president and his policies, both at home and abroad. And the appreciation is clearly mutual. But this time, the AfD’s cozying to Moscow may backfire. The German parliament has opened an administrative inquiry into a trip to Moscow that three leading AfD members took in early 2017, according to German media. Earlier this month, it emerged that an unidentified Russian sponsor paid for the private jet that flew them back to Berlin, footing a €25,400 bill. The AfD delegation was made up of then-party leader Frauke Petry, her husband Marcus Pretzell, who at the time was also a key party figure, and Julian Flak, a lawmaker in Saxony’s state parliament. Both Mr. Pretzell and Mr. Flak have confirmed the reports. However, they declined to say which person or organization paid for the trip.
Close to three weeks after parliamentary polls, confusion reigns in Iraq as allegations mount of election fraud even with negotiations to form a government well underway. Since the May 12 victory of anti-establishment electoral lists, long-time political figures pushed out by Iraqi voters hoping for change have called for a recount — with some even calling for the poll results to be cancelled. Iraqi authorities have agreed to review the results, but have yet to take any concrete measures. Experts say claims of fraud are more likely to stem from frustrated outgoing politicians, rather than any major electoral manipulations in a country determined to turn the page after a brutal three-year fight against the Islamic State group. In a surprise to many, the parliamentary poll saw populist Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr’s electoral alliance with Iraq’s communists beat a list of former anti-IS fighters close to Shiite Iran. “To cancel these results is not possible, it would lead to a crisis and perhaps armed clashes,” political analyst Essam al-Fili told AFP.
Zimbabwe set its first election of the post-Robert Mugabe era for July 30 in what should be a straight fight between President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ruling party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. The election comes after Mugabe, who ruled the southern African nation for almost 40 years, was forced to step down as president in November. It will feature European Union monitors for the first time since he expelled Western observers in 2002 after they alleged his Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front was guilty of human rights abuses. Zanu-PF denied the charges and accused the Western nations of interfering in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs.
As local clerks finalize ballots for the statewide primary, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson today detailed how new voting equipment, $11 million in new federal security grants and the extensive preparations her office has made will better protect Michigan’s elections system for the 2018 election cycle. “Most importantly, every voter across Michigan still will use a good, old-fashioned paper ballot to mark their choices,” Johnson said three weeks before the August primary ballots will be sent out. “Then they’ll feed the ballot into a new next-generation voting machine designed with security in mind. But buying all new election equipment isn’t all we’ve done to safeguard our election system.”
Malfunctioning Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) have again marred elections in India and raised question about the reliability of the devices. Election Commission (EC) officials blamed heat waves for affecting the machines. On Monday numerous media reports emerged about EVMs not working, with opposition parties claiming tampering as four Lok Sabha, or Lower House of the Indian Parliament, seats and nine assembly constituencies held by-elections. However, the EC has called the large number of EVM failures exaggerated and said defective machines did not diminish the credibility of elections, the Press Trust of India (PTI) reported. According to media reports, the EC was also ridiculed after its officials said the EVM machines malfunctioned due to heat waves in the northern region of Uttar Pradesh.
National: Trump Asked Sessions to Retain Control of Russia Inquiry After His Recusal | The New York Times
By the time Attorney General Jeff Sessions arrived at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort for dinner one Saturday evening in March 2017, he had been receiving the presidential silent treatment for two days. Mr. Sessions had flown to Florida because Mr. Trump was refusing to take his calls about a pressing decision on his travel ban. When they met, Mr. Trump was ready to talk — but not about the travel ban. His grievance was with Mr. Sessions: The president objected to his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. Mr. Trump, who had told aides that he needed a loyalist overseeing the inquiry, berated Mr. Sessions and told him he should reverse his decision, an unusual and potentially inappropriate request. Mr. Sessions refused.
Breitbart News landed an election scoop that went viral in August 2016: “Exclusive: ‘Black Men for Bernie’ Founder to End Democrat ‘Political Slavery’ of Minority Voters… by Campaigning for Trump.” If the splashy, counterintuitive story, which circulated on such conservative websites as Truthfeed and Infowars, wasn’t exactly fake news, it was carefully orchestrated. The story’s writer—an employee of the conservative website run by Steve Bannon before he took over Donald Trump’s campaign—spent weeks courting activist Bruce Carter to join Trump’s cause. He approached Carter under the guise of interviewing him. The writer eventually dropped the pretense altogether, signing Carter up for a 10-week blitz aimed at convincing black voters in key states to support the Republican real estate mogul, or simply sit out the election. Trump’s narrow path to victory tightened further if Hillary Clinton could attract a Barack Obama-level turnout. Bannon’s deployment of the psychological-operations firm Cambridge Analytica in the 2016 campaign drew fresh attention this month, when a former Cambridge employee told a U.S. Senate panel that Bannon tried to use the company to suppress the black vote in key states. Carter’s story shows for the first time how an employee at Bannon’s former news site worked as an off-the-books political operative in the service of a similar goal.
The Anchorage League of Women Voters has sent a resolution to the State of Alaska asking it to adopt the mail-in ballot for the General Election. It’s not clear from the resolution if the League wants only Anchorage to be able to conduct the General Election with a mail-in ballot, or if the League expects the entire state to “go postal” in November. The resolution sent to the Division of Elections leaves that open to interpretation and seems to suggest a hybrid of regular and mail-in voting for areas outside of Anchorage. But Anchorage would be all mail-in, as it did in the Municipal Election in April. The wording “supports the State of Alaska utilizing the Municipality of Anchorage new vote-by-mail system beginning with the State of Alaska elections in 2018;” It’s the first public push from mail-in ballot proponents to get the entire state on the system.
Less than three months from the primary election, it is entirely unclear whether Florida is adequately prepared to fend off any cyber attacks that could compromise the results. Sen. Marco Rubio has his doubts, the state has yet to receive millions in federal dollars to improve security and county elections supervisors acknowledge they are scared. With the federal investigation continuing into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election, Gov. Rick Scott and state officials should accelerate efforts this summer to ensure voters can have confidence in the integrity of this year’s election. The state’s track record so far is not encouraging. The Legislature failed to approve money for the five cyber security experts Scott wanted to hire even though the Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau reported last year that five Florida counties were targeted in unsuccessful Russian attacks in 2016. Counties are still buying and installing sensors that can monitor and detect — but not stop — electronic attacks with $1.9 million in federal money sent by the state. And just last week, Scott overruled the state’s top elections official and declared the state will belatedly seek another $19 million in federal money to help counties further secure election systems.
Maine: Judge denies Republicans’ bid to escape ranked-choice voting in June 12 primaries | Portland Press Herald
A federal judge on Tuesday turned down a request for a preliminary injunction barring the use of ranked-choice voting in the Maine Republican Party’s June 12 primaries, including the contest to become the party’s gubernatorial candidate. The party filed suit after its state convention in early May, saying delegates unanimously wanted to continue to use a plurality vote in the primary, meaning that the candidate who gets the most votes in the initial round of balloting would win. But the Maine secretary of state had decided that ranked-choice voting, adopted by referendum in 2016, would be used in this year’s primary balloting. In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Jon Levy dismissed the party’s main argument – that ranked-choice voting might result in a different candidate being selected than if the nominee were chosen in a plurality vote. The party had argued that ranked-choice voting therefore violated its First Amendment rights of freedom to associate.
More Nebraska county election officials are seeking state permission to conduct elections exclusively by mail as turnout figures rise. Garden County was the first in Nebraska to conduct a countywide all-mail election after receiving approval to pilot the project from the Secretary of State this year, the Lincoln Journal Star reported . Nebraska counties with populations of 10,000 people or fewer have had the option since 2009 to hold all-mail elections, if given state approval. More than 58 percent of Garden County voters cast a ballot in the May 15 primary election, compared to statewide voter turnout of about 24 percent.
New Hampshire: Database flags 142 possible voter fraud cases, not Trump’s ‘thousands’ | Associated Press
Fewer than 150 of the nearly 95,000 New Hampshire names flagged by a multistate voter registration database represent cases of possible fraud, the secretary of state said Tuesday. The Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program is aimed at preventing voter fraud by identifying duplicate voter registration records among those voluntarily provided by states. New Hampshire was among 28 participants last year, though some states have dropped out or are re-evaluating the program amid criticism that it results in false matches and doesn’t properly protect personal information. After the 2016 general election, the system flagged 94,610 New Hampshire voters whose first and last names and dates of birth matched those in other states. That amounts to about 1 in 9 voters, but officials eliminated all but 142 of the matches after taking a closer look at middle names and other information, including the marked checklists maintained by poll workers. Of the 142, officials have sent 51 to the attorney general’s office for investigation and are waiting for information from other states on the rest, Secretary of State Bill Gardner told the Ballot Law Commission.
Saratoga County Board of Elections has once again rejected a request for copies of the electronic ballots cast in November’s charter referendum that was defeated by 10 votes. In a May 25, 2018 letter from the county Board of Supervisors, the former chair of the now disbanded Charter Review Commission Bob Turner was informed that the request “is duplicative of your previous request, which (has) been fully settled.” Turner said the move by Board of Election Commissioners Roger Schiera (Republican) and William Fruci (Democrat) “undermines the public’s confidence in the integrity of the electoral process. If the election was run properly, there is nothing to hide,” Turner said. The city’s charter-change advocates submitted a second Freedom of Information Law request after an April 12 ruling of 3-2 in Kosmider vs. Whitney in the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court. A panel of five judges ruled that electronic ballot images in this Essex County case can be accessed through a FOIL request. The Board of Supervisors in Essex County, the Sun Community News reported, has filed a paperwork reserving the right to appeal.
The two sides fighting over North Dakota’s voter identification law failed to reach a settlement Tuesday, May 29. More than two years after several members of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa sued Secretary of State Al Jaeger over the state’s voter ID laws, the two sides met in a settlement conference at the federal courthouse in Bismarck Tuesday. But that ended without an agreement, Jaeger told county auditors in a message. Jaeger, a Republican, said he couldn’t disclose any proposals because the talks were confidential. He said “discussions may continue.”
Any day now, the U.S. Supreme Court may decide a case that could change how Ohio removes people from voter rolls. The court heard arguments in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute in January. Federal law lays out a process for taking people’s names off the registered voter list if they have moved to a new address and haven’t updated election officials. Ohio is one of several states to begin the removal process if voters skip elections and don’t have other contact with their local election board. … Under federal law, state election officials can send a forwardable confirmation mailer to the address asking if the voter still lives there. A voter can send the card back in either to confirm that they do, or to update their address. If state officials don’t receive any response, federal law requires them to wait four years. If the voter doesn’t cast a ballot or update their address, they can be taken off the rolls.
An initiative to reform Utah’s nominating system failed to make the ballot after opponents convinced nearly 3,000 people to withdraw their name from a petition in support of the measure, election officials said Tuesday. Initiatives on medical marijuana, redistricting and Medicaid expansion did make the ballot, officials announced, making them the first to be decided by Utah voters in 14 years. Tuesday’s result is a victory for defenders of the current political system, but will also heighten questions about the ability to block initiatives from reaching voters. Republican Gov. Gary Herbert has spoken out against urging voters to withdraw names from petitions they’ve already signed and said last week the system ought to be rethought.
Barbados elected its first female prime minister as the opposition inflicted a crushing defeat on the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP), winning all the seats in the Caribbean island’s parliament, election results showed on Friday. Mia Mottley’s victory in Thursday’s elections returns the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) to power on the island of some 285,000 people for the first time in a decade. The Electoral and Boundaries Commission said the BLP had elected all 30 members of the parliament, delivering the first clean sweep in the history of the legislature. The DLP had previously held a slim majority with 16 seats. “This victory is the people of Barbados’ victory,” Mottley, 52, told supporters outside the BLP’s Bridgetown headquarters early on Friday, calling the result a vote for a more inclusive and transparent kind of leadership for Barbados.