Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the US election, wants to ask Donald Trump about contact between his former election campaign manager Paul Manafort and Russia, the New York Times reported on Monday. The paper said it had obtained a list of nearly 50 questions that Mueller, investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, wants to put to the US president. More than half relate to potential obstruction of justice. “What knowledge did you have of any outreach by your campaign, including by Paul Manafort, to Russia about potential assistance to the campaign?” is one of the more dramatic questions published by the Times.
National: Trump-allied House conservatives draft articles of impeachment against Rosenstein as ‘last resort’ | The Washington Post
Conservative House allies of President Trump have drafted articles of impeachment against Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who oversees the ongoing special counsel probe, setting up a possible GOP showdown over the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The document, which was obtained by The Washington Post, underscores the growing chasm between congressional Republican leaders, who have maintained for months that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III should be allowed to proceed, and rank-and-file GOP lawmakers who have repeatedly battled the Justice Department during the past year. The draft articles, which one of its authors called a “last resort,” would be unlikely to garner significant support in Congress. But the document could serve as a provocative political weapon for conservatives in their standoff with Mueller and the Justice Department.
Editorials: Truth Has Stopped Mattering in the Russia Investigation | Michelle Goldberg/The New York Times
On Friday, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee released a report based on their cursory investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Full of shoddy rationalizations and evasions, it purported to show that America’s intelligence community failed to use “proper analytic tradecraft” in concluding that Russia wanted to help elect Donald Trump, and that there is no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. Its real message was that, for Republicans in Congress determined to protect this president, evidence is irrelevant. Consider just one bit of spin about the Trump campaign’s clandestine Russia connections. During the presidential transition, Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Michael Flynn, who had been named national security adviser, tried to set up a back channel to the Kremlin through the Russian Embassy, in an apparent attempt to evade American intelligence monitoring. The majority report treats this, amazingly, as exculpatory: “Possible Russian efforts to set up a ‘back channel’ with Trump associates after the election suggest the absence of collusion during the campaign, since the communication associated with collusion would have rendered such a ‘back channel’ unnecessary.”
A federal court case isn’t over yet against Broward Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes. It claims she isn’t moving quickly enough to remove ineligible voters from the county’s roles. The American Civil Rights Union filed notice Sunday that it is appealing U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom’s March decision that found Snipes’ office was following the state’s requirements. The notice went to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. The ACRU and other conservative organizations have accused elections offices across the nation of not doing a good enough job purging their rolls of ineligible voters — including people who had died, moved, committed felonies or were not U.S. citizens. And they say that could encourage vote fraud.
The State Board of Elections recently held a public hearing at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston to give the public a chance to learn more about the upcoming implementation of Illinois’ automatic voter registration, set to begin in July. But in many ways, voters won’t be “automatically” registered to vote unless they seek a new federally compliant ID starting next January. The new system will phase in starting July 1. At that time, anyone who goes to their local Department of Motor Vehicles, whether to change a title or get a new driver’s license, will be able to opt in to register to vote or update their voting information electronically.
Kansas: Kobach’s office: Stopping him from paying contempt fine with state money ‘illegal’ | The Kansas City Star
Kris Kobach’s office says a House effort to stop him from using state money to pay fines for being found in contempt of court is illegal. A top lawyer in the secretary of state’s office condemned the Republican-controlled House’s decision to put the prohibition in its most recent budget. In a letter to legislative leaders obtained by McClatchy, senior counsel Sue Becker raised potential problems with the budget requirement. “(The) proviso is illegal and would require the State to expend significant resources in any futile attempt to defend it,” the letter says.
New Hampshire: No plan to enforce residency requirement for voting, even if it passes Legislature | Union Leader
As the state draws closer to enacting a residency requirement for voting, one question remains unanswered: How would the obligation to obtain a New Hampshire driver’s license and vehicle registration after voting be enforced? No one seems to know. The Secretary of State’s office says “check with the Division of Motor Vehicles,” while the DMV says, not our problem. More precisely, here’s what David Scanlan, the deputy secretary of state for elections, had to say when asked how the state would verify that non-residents followed the law after declaring themselves as New Hampshire residents for the purpose of voting.
A single statewide question greets voters on the May 8 ballot, asking them to amend the Ohio Constitution to create what backers claim will be a less partisan way to redraw congressional districts each decade. Both the Republican and Democratic parties have endorsed it. It has a broad swath of bipartisan support from government watchdog, business, labor, and agricultural organizations. Even the American Civil Liberties Union, which argues the plan would still allow partisan gerrymandering, isn’t asking voters to reject it. Keary McCarthy, one of the leaders of the “yes” campaign on Issue 1, said a modest budget of less than $500,000 will focus on promoting the broad, bipartisan support. But he also knows that the multistep process involved could be relatively confusing to explain.
For the second time this month, a state House panel has stripped a bill that would have established an independent redistricting commission made up of citizens, and replaced it with language that gives the legislature even more power over the process. GOP House State Government Committee Chair Daryl Metcalfe called the surprise meeting Monday, because the bill’s supporters were trying to circumvent his panel to get the measure to the House floor. A number of lawmakers complained they were only given about ten minutes’ notice of the amendment. Metcalfe’s version of the bill would put six lawmakers in charge of the redistricting process. That’s one more than current law allows. It would also get rid of the governor’s ability to sign or veto the maps, and it would allow the Commonwealth Court to be a final arbiter of disputes, not the state Supreme Court.
Democrats have trumpeted that they are the brave defenders of democratic norms in the Trump era, fighting for political maps that give voters a true voice. They celebrated in January when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down the state’s congressional district map as gerrymandered, casting themselves as political victims finally receiving justice from the courts. For six years, they had struggled under districts carefully constructed to ensure Republicans a majority of the state’s congressional delegation in a competitive state. With the brand-new lines raising fresh hopes for November, they now have a chance to flip numerous seats in Pennsylvania, and maybe even take back control of the U.S. House. “Loving this map. Exactly what I was fighting [for]. Fair. And. Reflective,” tweeted Margo Davidson, a Delaware County state lawmaker running for Congress. “Major win for democracy,” retweeted Philadelphia City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, a former member of the General Assembly.
Cybersecurity experts with the Washington National Guard are teaming up with state election officials to tighten election security in Washington for the 2018 midterms. Other states across the country are forming similar partnerships with National Guard units. However, Washington’s National Guard has long been recognized as a leader in cybersecurity. “You have a number of guard members who are Microsoft employees and Google employees, so they have been on the forefront of cybersecurity planning,” said Secretary of State Kim Wyman. Wyman says she will meet with Washington National Guard leaders in coming weeks to discuss their exact role in the state’s larger effort to secure elections systems. The nation’s Intelligence Chiefs warned earlier this year that Russia is expected to try and meddle in the 2018 midterms after vulnerabilities were exposed in 2016.
The Australian Electoral Commission wants a stress test of ageing IT infrastructure completed ahead of the next election, part of international efforts to protect against foreign hacking such as Russia’s interference in the 2016 US presidential vote. Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers has conceded authorities in Australia and New Zealand remain “nervous” about the risk of domestic or overseas hacking and disruption to “front-facing services” including the online enrolment system, postal vote application system and virtual tally room. The Council of Australian Governments has ordered health checks of electoral systems, with intelligence organisations including the Australian Signals Directorate and the Australian Cyber Security Centre co-operating with the AEC ahead of a possible federal election in late 2018 or early 2019.
Botswana, the vast but sparsely populated diamond rich country, has been consistently hailed as a bastion of democracy, holding free elections since independence in 1966. Only recently, the country witnessed a bloodless, smooth transfer of power for the fifth time, with former army general, Ian Khama handing over power to his deputy, Mokgweetsi Masisi, who becomes Botswana’s fifth President. But as Botswana prepares for its 12th election in 2019, the media landscape has been dominated by a new elephant in the room, the electronic voting machines (EVM). This will be the first time since the first election in 1965, Botswana introduces an electronic voting system, to replace the manual process. However, the move has been met with overwhelming resistance from the opposition who argue, this is meant to influence the outcome of the poll, which has been dominated by the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) since independence from Britain.
Registration began Monday for political parties contesting Cambodia’s upcoming general election, with Prime Minister Hun Sen dismissing calls for a boycott by opposition supporters whose party was dissolved by pro-government courts last year. Hun Sen said in a speech to school graduates on Monday that the July 29 election will proceed as planned and will not be obstructed by any individuals or groups. Sam Rainsy, the self-exiled leader of what was the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, reiterated his group’s position that voters should not cast their ballots if his party is not allowed to contest the election.
The Trudeau government is proposing to limit the length of federal election campaigns, restrict the amount of spending allowed in the period immediately before a campaign and introduce new rules to regulate third-party political activity — all part of a new set of reforms to Canada’s elections laws. Political parties also would be required to disclose how and what information they collect from voters. “The changes we are proposing in this legislation will update the Canada Elections Act to better address the realities facing our democratic institutions in the 21st century,” Scott Brison, acting democratic institutions minister, said Monday afternoon after tabling legislation in the House of Commons. “It will make real, tangible improvements to make elections more efficient, inclusive and effective for all Canadians.”
There are claims of foul play in French Polynesia’s territorial election which have prompted calls to cancel last month’s first round on one island. With the ruling party standing nine candidates with criminal convictions for corruption, a movement is taking hold to urge voters to cast blank ballots. Campaigning is continuing for this weekend’s second round and there is tough talk. The Tahoeraa Huiraatira party is warning of riots in Tahiti of the kind seen in 1995 if the rival Tapura Huiraatira party stays in power for another term.
Iraq plans to use a new electronic system in next month’s national elections that will limit fraud and allow for the announcement of results within hours of polls closing, the election commission said Monday. The Independent High Electoral Commission said that 60,000 devices will be distributed nationwide to send voting data via satellite. Employees have tested the system and found it to be as reliable as hand-counting, the commission said. In previous elections, voters filled out ballots and then dipped their fingers in purple ink, a measure that was designed to prevent repeat voting. Images of jubilant voters raising purple fingers came to symbolize hope for a democratic future after the U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.