Science has always been political. The Enlightenment brought forth a series of revolutions that transformed both our understanding of the universe and our role in it. New scientific discoveries often threaten the justification for power of those in authority, placing scientists at the center of politics. Galileo’s confrontation with the Catholic Church comes immediately to mind, but tensions between scientists and political authorities erupt with relative frequency. One of the early figures of the English Enlightenment, Thomas Hobbes, fled to Paris over concern about how his political works would be taken by Parliament (Hobbes was a royalist, and hostile to the Catholic Church).
In Mercer County’s efforts to purchase a new voting system, the incumbent got first crack at displaying its wares. Omaha-based ES&S promoted its next-generation election machines for county commissioners and elections officials Thursday at the courthouse. Mercer County has used the ES&S-manufactured iVotronic machines for more than 10 years. Mercer, and Pennsylvania’s other 66 counties, are under an order from Gov. Tom Wolf to adopt voting systems that provide paper records of individual votes cast to alleviate concerns of election tampering in time for the 2020 elections. The iVotronic device does not meet that standard. All of the election options presented Thursday issue paper records of individual votes or read paper ballots, or both. Kevin Kerrigan, a senior sales engineer for ES&S, said the devices are designed to function for the long-term. “You’re going to buy this stuff and expect it to work for at least 10 years,” he said.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is taking responsibility for authorizing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to remain in charge of the Russia investigation, and detailed the process by which former FBI Director James Comey was fired. The comments come amid criticism from Republicans for the Justice Department’s decision to keep Rosenstein in charge of the special counsel investigation into Russian election meddling in 2016, and any possible collusion with President Donald Trump’s campaign. Sessions said in an interview released Thursday that he was the one who made the decision to recommend to Trump that he fire Comey, not Rosenstein — and that therefore Rosenstein isn’t disqualified from his role in the Russia investigation. “That decision … really fell to me, ultimately, on the Comey matter,” Sessions, who recused himself from the Russia investigation, told Hill.TV’s “Rising.” “And that’s not a disqualifying thing.”
Voting Blogs: States are applying for 2018 HAVA funds, how are they spending them? | electionlineWeekly
Earlier this year, the president signed Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 into law, the law includes $380 million in grants for states to improve their cybersecurity. To-date 32 states, America Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands have applied for their HAVA funds. Although states are allowed to draw down on their available funds in phases, most states seem to be applying for—and receiving—all their funds at one time. Once states have applied for their funds they have 90-days to provide a narrative on what they will be spending the money on. Part of the requirement for receiving the federal funds is a 5 percent match from states. How elections officials are getting those matches varies. Some states are relying on their Legislatures to allocate the funding and others are using existing funds allocated in state budgets.
Secretary of State John Merrill said Thursday his office is doing all it can to respond to voter ID requests. But they don’t know the scope of the need in the state. The Secretary of State’s Office does not have estimates of the needs for voter ID cards among the more than 3 million registered voters in Alabama, and Merrill said Thursday they do not plan to. “We don’t want to expend our energies and resources in trying to identify that need when we’re trying to meet it each and every day,” he said.
This redistricting process is as old as the republic, enshrined in the Constitution. It has been controversial from the start and vulnerable to distortion. Politicians with the power to draw the lines have done so to gain advantage — whether that meant ensuring that incumbents were reelected or that the political party in power produced districts that gave them a disproportionate share of the seats.This term, the Supreme Court is considering the role of partisanship. But is there a fair and equitable way to draw these district lines? Some states, California being the biggest, have decided the only way to produce fairer lines is to try to take politicians out of the process. Every redistricting cycle has produced oddly shaped districts, with lines snaking here and there across counties and neighborhoods. To the naked eye, there is no logic to the lines. To those who have drawn them, they are designed to give somebody, some group or some party an advantage, or to assure that racial minorities receive adequate representation.
Georgia needs new voting technology. That was the basis, at least in part, for a meeting at a Cobb County library Wednesday of state lawmakers, local election officials, a cybersecurity expert and political party representatives. They’re part of the Secure, Accessible and Fair Elections (SAFE) Commission appointed by Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp. It’s tasked with looking at how best to phase out Georgia’s current voting machines first introduced in 2002. “I think the time is late,” said Democratic state Sen. Lester Jackson, who sits on the commission. “But I think this is absolutely necessary, that we have a valid voting process for 2020. One of the most important elections of all time.”
Michigan’s voting age could be lowered to 16 if lawmakers pass a bill that was introduced this week. This bill, sponsored by Senator David Knezek and Representative Yousef Rabhi, follows an outpouring of teen advocacy after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School in Parkland, Florida in February. The legislators hope to give teenagers a voice in the political process– after all, they say, the political process impacts 16 year olds. “We allow 16-year-olds to go off and get jobs and pay taxes, but we fail to allow them to exercise their voice come election time,” Knezek told the Detroit Free Press. “Young people are setting aside their differences and identifying issues they think need to change. And they can do everything to get that change except vote.”
The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a Minnesota law that prohibits people from wearing political clothing or buttons at polling places, calling the ban overly broad but leaving room for the state to impose narrower restrictions. The 7-2 ruling invalidating the particulars of Minnesota’s law left state and county officials who administer elections unsure what’s proper attire and what isn’t for the upcoming August primary and the November general election. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority that Minnesota’s law needed clearer parameters for both voters and election officials to avoid confusion and prevent potential violations of First Amendment free-speech rights.
North Carolina: This early voting plan would take away a popular day. It’s speeding through the North Carolina House | News & Observer
popular day for early voting would be eliminated under a proposal that supporters say is meant to bring uniformity to the 100 North Carolina counties’ one-stop voting schedules. The proposal to change early voting has bipartisan support and is speeding through the legislature. It was made public late Wednesday night and received a preliminary vote of approval in the state House on Thursday afternoon. House Speaker Tim Moore moved on to a vote before lawmakers were able to signal that they wanted to talk about the proposal. “Aren’t we going to debate the bill?” Rep. Marcia Morey, a Durham Democrat, could be heard asking while House members were voting.
The prime ministers of Greece and Macedonia faced political storms at home Thursday, two days after reaching a historic deal to settle a decades-old dispute over Macedonia’s name. Greece’s Alexis Tsipras faces a vote of no-confidence in his government by Saturday afternoon, while Macedonia’s Zoran Zaev is contending with the refusal of the country’s president to sign off on the deal if it’s approved by parliament. Zaev and Tsipras have agreed that the former Yugoslav republic should be renamed North Macedonia, ending a disagreement that had prevented it from joining international institutions such as NATO and had poisoned bilateral relations since the early 1990s.
When Mexican voters go to the polls on 1 July to pick a new president, they will able to choose between candidates including Richie Rich, Alligatorfish, and the Untamed One thanks to a ruling by the country’s electoral institute. Voters will now be allowed to scribble a candidate’s nickname, initials or campaign slogan anywhere on the ballot – rather than mark an X over their names – and have it count as valid. The National Electoral Institute (INE) – which organises the election and referees all partisan political activities in Mexico – changed the rules barely three weeks ahead of the vote that will also renew congress, elect nine governors and hundreds of mayors.
A soft-spoken parliamentarian, it’s easy to overlook Fatma Benli in a busy cafe until she starts recalling the disinformation campaign that nearly derailed her election bid two years ago. The small room we’re in begins to shudder as the sitting MP for the ruling AK Party passionately explains that she could have lost because of fake news and online narratives. “There was fake news circulating on every major social media platform,” the 44-year-old told Al Jazeera, reeling off a litany of examples where she and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were repeatedly attacked in spurious social media posts. “Facebook, Twitter, it came from all sides.”
The president and his wife drive slowly across the dusty sports ground, preceded by a pickup full of local reporters, flanked by a crowd of excited teenagers, and followed by a large cloud of dust. Banners are held aloft, flags waved. Zimbabwe’s election campaign has reached Chegutu, a small agricultural town on the high, flat uplands 70 miles west of Harare. The rally is one of the first since the official declaration of the campaign last month. The coming election – on 30 July – is the latest turning point in the most tumultuous few months in almost four decades of Zimbabwe’s political history.