John McCain devoted much of his career in the Senate to controlling the influence of money in public life — in part to try to recover from his own role in a big congressional influence scandal. McCain, who died Saturday of brain cancer, made money and influence big themes of his first presidential race. “Y’know, there’s a little game they got in Washington,” he told a crowd in New Hampshire in 1999. “And that is: Look at the tax bill when it comes out, to figure out who’s getting the benefit — because of the very complex and convoluted way that they write the tax laws. And it’s a disgrace.” Although McCain, an Arizona Republican, lost the Republican nomination to George W. Bush, his warnings that money was corrupting politics reverberated in many state primaries, amplifying his message and propelling him toward an unexpected legislative triumph in the Senate that helped define his career. … McCain, who served more than 30 years in the Senate, began as an unlikely crusader.
National: Facebook and Microsoft briefed state officials on election security efforts today | TechCrunch
So much for summer Fridays. Yesterday, BuzzFeed reported that a dozen tech companies, including Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Snapchat, would meet at Twitter headquarters on Friday to discuss election security. For two of them, that wasn’t the only meeting in the books. In what appears to be a separate event on Friday, Facebook and Microsoft also met with the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and two bodies of state election officials, the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED) and the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS), about their election security efforts.
Democratic Party officials, after a yearslong battle between warring ideological wings, have agreed to sharply reduce the influence of the top political insiders known as superdelegates in the presidential nomination process. Under the new plan, which was agreed to on Saturday afternoon in Chicago at the Democratic National Committee’s annual summer meetings, superdelegates retain their power to back any candidate regardless of how the public votes. They will now be largely barred, however, from participating in the first ballot of the presidential nominating process at the party’s convention — drastically diluting their power. Superdelegates will be able to cast substantive votes only in extraordinary cases like contested conventions, in which the nomination process is extended through multiple ballots until one candidate prevails. “After you lose an election, you have to look in the mirror,” said Howard Dean, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Mr. Dean had recorded a video message to committee members urging them to back the proposed changes.
Melting in South Florida’s humidity, a young congressional campaign manager let his nerves show. Sitting across from a pair of visitors on a café patio, he widened his eyes when they asked if there were any tool he wished he had to help protect his campaign from cyber attacks. “I have no idea! I don’t even know what that would be, to be honest.” Weeks away from Election Day, the operative’s fear is increasingly common — practically unavoidable in 2018, in fact. Midterm campaigns are entering the fall more anxious than ever about looming threats of email phishing, text hacking, and countless other ominous possibilities that could derail their hopes with the touch of a Muscovite button. And it’s becoming increasingly clear to many that they may just not be ready for what’s coming — or what’s already occurred.
Sen. John McCain held his seat in the Senate for nearly 32 years. After McCain’s death Saturday, it will fall to Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to name his successor. State law gives Ducey, a Republican, the power to fill the Senate vacancy for the next two years, until a special election is held in 2020 to select a person to complete the final two years of McCain’s term. The seat will then be up again for a full six-year term in the 2022 election. Arizona law also stipulates that the appointee must be from McCain’s party. Ducey has avoided any discussion in recent months about which Republican he might appoint to fill McCain’s seat, citing respect for the senator and his family. “Out of respect for the life and legacy of Senator John McCain and his family, Governor Ducey will not be making any announcements about an appointment until after the Senator is laid to rest,” said Daniel Ruiz, a spokesman for Ducey.
A judge has upheld a 2016 Arizona law that bans groups from collecting early mail-in ballots from voters and delivering them, marking the second time this year that a legal challenge to the statute has failed. U.S. District Judge Douglas Rayes on Friday dismissed the latest challenge to the statute that bans anyone but caregivers or family members from delivering a completed early ballot to a polling place. The lawsuit was filed by Democratic activist Rivko Knox, who said the law caused her to stop delivering ballots for voters who request assistance. Rayes rejected arguments from Knox’s attorneys that the law was unconstitutional because it’s trumped by federal statutes and violated her free-speech rights.
Tuesday’s primary is a dry run for democracy in a tense time of cyber-threats. It will be the most thorough test of voting operations since Russian operatives tried to hack Florida voting rolls before the 2016 presidential election. But it’s not one election, it’s 67 — one in every county from the Key West to Pensacola. As counties plan for what’s often a low-turnout election, they have spent millions of dollars safeguarding computer servers, installing surveillance cameras and card readers, building security barriers and training workers to detect threats they can’t see. “We want to make sure that our employees know what a phishing email looks like,” says Lisa Lewis, supervisor of elections in Volusia County, a county the Russians targeted two years ago. “If there’s no subject line, I tell people, ‘Don’t open it.’ ”
Georgia: Elections board takes less than a minute to reject proposal to close 7 of 9 polling places in majority-black county | CNN
In a meeting that lasted less than 60 seconds, a Georgia elections board voted down a plan Friday to close seven of a majority-black county’s nine polling places ahead of November’s midterm elections. Critics had said the plan to consolidate polling places in Randolph County, Georgia, was a brazen attempt to suppress the black vote in Georgia’s governor race, which pits former Georgia House minority leader Stacey Abrams, who is black, against Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who is white.
Indiana’s top elections official is planning to use more than $7.5 million in federal funding on improving the state’s election security but won’t upgrade its voting machines. Republican Secretary of State Connie Lawson has announced plans for using the federal assistance to strengthen voting systems ahead of the November election. Indiana was among the states and territories to receive money from the $380 million approved by Congress amid ongoing threats from Russia and others. Indiana will also spend an additional $659,000 on election security under the requirement to match 5 percent of grant funding with state money, The Indianapolis Star reported. The state money will go toward evaluating election infrastructure, conducting third-party testing, implementing email encryption and training state and county officials, according to Lawson.
Kansas: ‘There’s no road map for him’: Deaf candidate for Kansas House aiming to make history | The Kansas City Star
As the Olathe candidate knocked on a voter’s door, a dog inside barked and the sound of footsteps approached. The candidate didn’t look up. He’s deaf. The door opened. The homeowner started to say hello but trailed off as the candidate gestured to his ear and smiled. He pointed to his shirt — “Haulmark for Kansas” — and held up a pamphlet advertising his campaign. The homeowner nodded, tilting his head slightly, and looked on. There have been deaf city counselors and a deaf mayor, but Chris Haulmark, if elected, would be the first deaf legislator — at the state or national level — in U.S. history, according to the National Association of the Deaf. “It will be the very first time in America’s history that finally a deaf person has been invited to the table to sit with the other politicians, legislators and lawmakers and be able to make decisions together,” Haulmark, 39, said recently at an event commemorating the Americans with Disabilities Act.
One of the losing bidders for Louisiana’s voting machine replacement work wants a re-do, saying the bid process was “irresponsibly rushed and fundamentally flawed.” Election Systems and Software filed a formal protest late Thursday (Aug. 23) with the state’s procurement office, objecting to the choice of another vendor for the lucrative contract. The protesting company said the process used to choose Dominion Voting Systems to replace 10,000 early voting and Election Day machines was mishandled from the start by Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, his office and the team that evaluated the bids.
Local city and town clerks are looking for guidance as the state develops methods and regulations to automatically register eligible voters in time for the 2020 presidential elections. “I think it’s going to unfold as we get closer,” said Fitchburg City Clerk Anna Farrell. “We want everything to be clear as we move forward.” Gov. Charlie Baker signed the law to enact automatic voter registration earlier in the month. The Registry of Motor Vehicles, MassHealth, and the Health Connector will be the agencies that automatically register residents who meet the qualifications to vote. There is an option to opt out.
mid concerns about hacking from Russia, Iran and other countries, New Hampshire plans to spend a quarter of a million dollars in federal grant money on assessing whether its election systems are vulnerable to intruders. David Scanlan, the deputy secretary of state, said that $250,000 from the five-year grant will be used to hire a firm that will attempt to hack the election system to help identify any weaknesses. The state also plans to embed software in the election database that can recognize abnormal activity and shut it down. The state also wil monitor the “dark web” for signs the state is being discussed among hackers. “It’s kind of an ear to the ground to find if New Hampshire is being discussed in any way to give us a heads up of when a potential attempt to hack might happen,” Scanlan said of the “dark web” effort. Scanlan said there is no evidence so far that anyone has attempted to hack and get into New Hampshire’s election system.
North Carolina’s General Assembly on Monday will consider changes for two amendments that, if approved by voters in November, would dramatically shift the balance of power away from the governor and to the state legislature. The amendments are part of a battle between the state’s Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and legislative Republicans, who hold supermajorities in both houses of the legislature. The amendments would allow the legislature to claim more power over appointments to both open judicial seats and the state Board of Elections. At present, Cooper holds the power to appoint judges to vacant seats and to the Board of Elections.
The morning after his GOP primary election loss, Foster Friess asked other state party gubernatorial candidates whether they would support banning Democrats from switching parties on primary day. In an email to Wyoming GOP chairman Frank Eathorne and to each Republican candidate or a representative of their campaign — with the exception of Gordon — Friess said voting results didn’t reflect his vision of Wyoming’s political makeup. “It seems like the Democrats have figured out this party switch deal to their advantage,” Friess said in the email. “I guess there’s 114,000 registered Republicans and 17,000 registered Democrats. No way is that the actual mix, and with Trump getting 70% of the vote, it shows how the Democrats have been able to control our elections with putting on a Republican coat.”
Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election may be motivating other foreign adversaries to use social media to try to disrupt U.S. elections going forward, security experts warn. Experts point to Facebook’s announcement this week that it shuttered hundreds of pages tied to foreign governments, with many of the pages — as well as accounts shut down on Twitter and Google — linked to the government of Iran. The development boosted the Trump administration’s claim that other foreign groups, not just Russians, are intent to sow discord while putting a fresh spotlight on the need to ward against election meddling coming from any country. “Look no further than the amazing return of investment yielded by [Russian President] Vladimir Putin in the 2016 election,” said Ron Hosko, a former assistant director of the FBI’s criminal investigative division. “When you see that kind of impact and the U.S. government’s … reticence to fire like weapons back, it is to me not at all surprising that we now have Iran involved in these misadventures,” added Hosko, who is now president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund.
An anti-corruption referendum in Colombia failed to pass on Sunday after narrowly falling short of a required one-third quorum. Nearly 11.7 million of nearly 36 million registered voters turned out to vote on seven measures designed to battle corruption and improve transparency. A threshold of 12.1 million voters was needed to make it binding. However, of those that cast a vote nearly 99 percent supported the proposals, sending a clear message to political elites that the public wants corruption to be taken seriously.
Jean-Pierre Bemba has been banned from running in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s presidential election later this year by the country’s electoral commission. Bemba, a former vice president, was considered one of the top opposition contenders since returning to the country in August after he was acquitted of war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC). However, an appeal in another case about interfering with witnesses is still pending. The electoral commission called that synonymous with corruption – DRC law prevents people convicted of corruption from running for president. The announcement came late on Friday as the electoral commission issued a list of eligible candidates for the long-delayed December 23 polls. Bemba can appeal the decision and the final list of candidates is expected next month.
As the process of by-elections on vacant seats of National and Provincial Assemblies will start from Tuesday (tomorrow), the Election Commission of Pakistan remains jittery over use of internet voting (I-voting) for overseas Pakistanis because of technical complications. The ECP spokesperson said that I-voting facility would be extended to overseas Pakistanis in coming by-elections in compliance with the Supreme Court orders. The spokesperson said that the court had ordered the ECP to go for I-voting in the coming by-elections, even though the ECP had planned a pilot project that would not impact the actual poll results.
Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader said Saturday he respectfully rejects the court ruling upholding the president’s narrow election win and called the inauguration set for Sunday “false,” while U.S.-based election observers said the country does not yet have a “tolerant, democratic” voting culture. Nelson Chamisa spoke a day after the Constitutional Court unanimously rejected the opposition’s claims of vote-rigging in favor of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, saying it did not bring “sufficient and credible evidence.” Chamisa said “we have the right to peaceful protest” and that other routes will be pursued. “Change is coming,” he said. “Political doors are going to be opened very soon.” He gave no details. Last month’s peaceful election was seen as a chance for Zimbabwe to move on from Robert Mugabe’s repressive 37-year-rule. Now Chamisa alleges “a new persecution” after a deadly crackdown on the opposition.