Allies of Stacey Abrams, the Democrat who narrowly lost the Georgia governor’s race, filed a federal lawsuit on Tuesday calling for sweeping changes to the state’s election procedures, and accusing Brian Kemp, the Republican victor, of systematically disenfranchising poor and minority voters when he was secretary of state. The litigation is a postscript to a bitter and close-fought election that many Democrats felt Mr. Kemp had rigged for his own benefit, while many Republicans considered Ms. Abrams — who did not acknowledge Mr. Kemp’s victory until 10 days after the election — a sore loser. Lauren Groh-Wargo, Ms. Abrams’s campaign manager, said the lawsuit would “describe, and then prove in court, how the constitutional rights of Georgians were trampled in the 2018 general election.”
Since February, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission has operated with only two members, Chair Thomas Hicks and Christy McCormick. The lack of a quorum has prevented the four-member body from voting on a number of election and security-related initiatives. That dynamic is set to change as the Senate Rules Committee scheduled a hearing this week to consider the nominations of two additional commissioners, Donald Palmer and Benjamin Hovland, to fill the remaining slots. During a Nov. 26 board meeting, Hicks noted that “should they be confirmed, hopefully by early January or February, this will be the first time since 2010 we’ll have a full contingent of four commissioners at EAC.”
Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort held secret talks with Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and visited around the time he joined Trump’s campaign, the Guardian has been told. Sources have said Manafort went to see Assange in 2013, 2015 and in spring 2016 – during the period when he was made a key figure in Trump’s push for the White House. In a statement, Manafort denied meeting Assange. He said: “I have never met Julian Assange or anyone connected to him. I have never been contacted by anyone connected to WikiLeaks, either directly or indirectly. I have never reached out to Assange or WikiLeaks on any matter.” It is unclear why Manafort would have wanted to see Assange and what was discussed. But the last apparent meeting is likely to come under scrutiny and could interest Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor who is investigating alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
A divided federal appeals court panel ruled Tuesday that Alaska’s cap on total contributions that candidates can receive from nonresidents is unconstitutional. However, the three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld other campaign contribution limits that it said were tailored to prevent corruption or the appearance of corruption. The case brought by three individuals and an Alaska Republican Party district challenged elements of state campaign finance law. An attorney for the plaintiffs did not immediately return a message seeking comment. Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth, in a statement, expressed disappointment that the court struck down limits on nonresident contributions but said she was pleased with the rest of the ruling. Her agency said it was reviewing the decision and evaluating next steps.
Arizona: Navajo Nation drops claim that would delay certification of Arizona election results | Arizona Daily Star
The Navajo Nation has dropped a legal claim that could have delayed formal certification of the general election results. But the tribe still contends early voting procedures used in three Arizona counties violate the rights of tribal residents. And an attorney for the tribe, Patty Ferguson-Bohnee, said Monday that unless there is a deal, they will be back in court. At a brief hearing Monday, U.S. District Judge Dominic Lanza agreed to essentially put the legal dispute on the back burner. In a blistering statement from the bench, however, the judge blasted the tribe’s attorneys for waiting until this past Tuesday to file suit for a temporary restraining order on a narrow issue that would have delayed announcing a final vote tally for all races statewide.
When the dust settled from the 2018 Florida Senate recount, Republican Rick Scott had beaten Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson by 10,033 votes. Give or take a few hundred. Maybe more. As the New York Times put it on November 16, in what was one of the more understated headlines of the year, “Nearly 3,000 Votes Disappeared from Florida’s Recount. That’s Not Supposed to Happen.” No, it’s not. The American people are asked to have a bit of faith in our system of government, but no faith should be required when it comes to election results. Faith depends on believing in things unseen, and ballots can be seen and touched, counted and recounted. But in a few counties in Florida, election officials essentially asked the voters to close their eyes, click their heels together three times, and believe that their initial unofficial results were correct, even though hundreds or thousands of votes had gone missing during the machine recount.
Palm Beach County was plagued by broken machines and missed deadlines this midterm election, putting them once again in the national spotlight. Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher blamed the problems on the machines, which at one point during the machine recount overheated, causing them to have to recount thousands of votes that had already been counted. Bucher said she has repeatedly asked for new machines for the past 10 years, but has been stuck using the eight machines already there when she took office in 2009. The problem is those machines use a software that only allow each individual race to be scanned at a time. Bucher said and the county confirmed there is money in the budget to the tune of $11.1 million set aside to pay for new counting equipment, but it hasn’t been purchased yet.
Georgia: Lawsuit seeks broad changes after alleged Georgia election problems | The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A sweeping lawsuit filed Tuesday in the wake of Georgia’s fierce race for governor calls for a federal judge to overturn state laws that resulted in purged registrations, canceled ballots and many other obstacles to voting. Backed by former Democratic nominee for governor Stacey Abrams, the lawsuit continues a fight for voting rights that formed the foundation of her campaign. Abrams isn’t trying to change the result of this month’s election that she lost to Republican Brian Kemp, but the upcoming legal battle could decide the rules for elections in 2020 and beyond. The lawsuit, filed by a new group called Fair Fight Action, demands that Georgia use paper ballots to validate the accuracy of elections, stop canceling voter registrations of those who haven’t participated in a recent election and guarantee enough election equipment so voters don’t have to wait in line for three hours or more. It also seeks to weaken the state’s “exact match” law, which stalled voter registrations of some legitimate voters because they had hyphenated or long names.
Editorials: Stacey Abrams’ New Lawsuit Against Georgia’s Broken Voting System Is Incredibly Smart | Richard Hasen/Slate
Defeated Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and her allies are taking on Georgia’s shoddy election system in the right way: through a big and bold lawsuit. At the very least, the lawsuit will shine the light of day on how Georgia makes it much harder than many other states to register and successfully cast a ballot. If the lawsuit achieves its more ambitious aims, a court could put Georgia’s voting system back under federal supervision for up to 10 years. Rather than how a typical voting lawsuit works with a singular focus on a problematic aspect of Georgia’s electoral process—like overexuberant voter purges or its shoddy voting machinery—the lawsuit makes an argument that the cumulative effect of Georgia’s system is to deny voters, especially voters of color, the opportunity to easily cast a ballot which will be fairly and accurately counted.
Kentucky is one of two states that permanently ban people with felony convictions from voting. It’s enshrined in the state constitution. The only way to restore voting rights is to appeal to the governor. Sen. Morgan McGarvey, a Democrat from Louisville, said he will propose a constitutional amendment to allow voting rights to be restored to some people who have completed their felony sentences. “When the constitution was written in Kentucky a lot of these crimes weren’t even felonies. We’ve made them that since then. So it’s not like the constitution intended to deprive people of their voice and their own community for the rest of their lives for a simple mistake,” McGarvey said. McGarvey said the legislation, which hasn’t been finalized yet, will likely still ban people who have committed voter fraud or crimes that involve violence or sexual assault.
Mississippi: Civil rights lawsuit claims Mississippi made it nearly impossible to vote by absentee ballot | Salon
A civil rights group is suing top officials in Mississippi for giving voters very little time to cast absentee ballots in Tuesday’s special runoff Senate election, making it nearly impossible for some votes to be counted. Democrat Mike Espy faces appointed Republican incumbent Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith Tuesday after neither received a majority of the vote in the November 6 election. According to a federal lawsuit filed by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, election officials did not send absentee ballots for the run-off until Nov. 17. Many out-of-state voters did not receive the ballots until Thanksgiving time. Under state law, absentee ballots must have been submitted by Monday, Nov. 26 at 5 p.m. Absentee ballots in the state must also be notarized, which means many voters had just one business day to get the ballot stamped and delivered to their county elections office, Mississippi Today reported. “Mississippi’s absentee ballot procedures stand out as some of the most burdensome in this country,” the lawsuit says, accusing the state of violating the Constitution.
New Mexico’s midterm election results were certified Tuesday, but not before a dispute over the legality of online absentee ballots applications roiled a meeting of the State Canvassing Board and prompted questions from Gov. Susana Martinez about whether Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver had overstepped her legal authority. While the secretary of state, a Democrat, staunchly defended the program’s legal moorings and the integrity of this year’s general election results, Martinez, a Republican, and others suggested the online absentee ballot requests could open the door to voter fraud. “This is a statutory process, and the statute wasn’t followed,” Pat Rogers, an Albuquerque lawyer, said during Tuesday’s meeting at the state Capitol.
The election is over but the battle over voter ID continued Tuesday as hundreds of people gathered to protest in front of the state Legislative Building. Legislators are drafting a voter ID bill after it passed as a constitutional amendment during the midterm elections earlier this month with more than 55 percent of the vote. A previous voter ID bill from 2013 was struck down in 2016 by a panel of judges who said it targeted African Americans with “discriminatory intent.” The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the decision. Some of the top questions that legislators will have to answer in the coming days include whether student IDs will be accepted at the polls, whether expired IDs will be allowed, and what the state will do to help people without an acceptable photo ID get one in order to avoid being disenfranchised.
The state board of elections Tuesday refused to certify the results of the 9th Congressional District election after one board member cited what he called “unfortunate activities” in the eastern part of the district. It’s unclear what those activities involved or what the failure to certify might mean. The board discussed the matter in closed session. Republican Mark Harris defeated Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes. Election board member Joshua Malcolm raised the issue in what was expected to be a routine certification of the results of North Carolina’s 13 congressional races. He asked the board to remove the 9th District from the list of those to be certified.
More than 90 percent of absentee ballots for the 2018 runoff election have to be remade, according to V.I. Board of Elections Chairman Arturo Watlington Jr., an unavoidable reality of the short time span between the General Election and the runoff. On Tuesday, Watlington said board members on St. Thomas counted 273 absentee ballots — of which, more than 250 will have to be remade because they are not “official” runoff election ballots and cannot be fed into the voting machines. Watlington said the two weeks between the Nov. 6 General Election and Nov. 20 runoff election gave little time for elections officials to order and receive new ballots.
UK voters are among the most concerned in Europe that elections could be sabotaged by cyber-attacks, according to a new European Commission study. The survey polled over 27,000 citizens across the EU with face-to-face interviews to better understand their concerns ahead of upcoming European elections in May 2019. While an average of 61% said they were worried about potential cyber-attacks manipulating the results of the election, the figure rose to 67% in the UK — one of the highest of any country. UK voters (64%) were also more likely than most Europeans (59%) to fear foreign actors and criminal groups influencing elections covertly. Across Europe, 67% said they were concerned that their personal data could be used to target the political messages they see — a reference to the Cambridge Analytica scandal that may have impacted the results of the US presidential election and Brexit referendum in 2016.
Georgia (Sakartvelo): Georgians set to vote in hotly contested presidential runoff | Associated Press
Two of Georgia’s former foreign ministers are facing off against each other Wednesday in a tight runoff that will mark the last time Georgians elect their head of state by popular vote. Georgia, a nation of nearly 4 million people in the volatile Caucasus region south of Russia, is transitioning to a parliamentary republic. Presidential powers have been substantially reduced with the prime minister becoming the most powerful figure in the country. After the new president’s six-year term ends, future heads of state will be chosen by delegates. …Though the election lacks the usual importance, it is seen as a crucial test for the ruling Georgian Dream party which is led and funded by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili who made his fortune in Russia.
On the 125th anniversary of women exercising suffrage for the first time in NZ, the support party has called for a change in the law that sees incarcerated people ‘unjustifiably denied the right to vote’. The Green Party has added its voice to a growing call for a change in the law that denies people in prison the chance to vote, using parliamentary question time to urge Justice Minister Andrew Little to revisit an issue he has described as “not a priority”. The party’s move follows a landmark decision in the Supreme Court earlier this month and the launch of a campaign today by JustSpeak.
South Korea plans to develop a blockchain voting system, with trials starting next month in the private sector. The Ministry of Science and ICT, and the National Election Commission (NEC) said they will develop a blockchain-based online voting system by December. The NEC ran an online voting system, dubbed K-voting, back in 2013, which has since been used by 5.64 million people but trust in the voting system remains low due to hacking and fraud concerns. The latest system to be developed will apply blockchain in voter authentication and result saving, which will increase transparency and security, the government said.
Taiwan: Beijing likely meddled in Taiwan elections, US cybersecurity firm says | Nikkei Asian Review
Beijing probably targeted Taiwan with cyber operations to help the pro-China opposition Kuomintang win a swathe of midterm elections across the island, according to a leading U.S. cybersecurity company. Fred Plan, senior analyst at FireEye, told the Nikkei Asian Review that while his firm is still investigating possible attacks that occurred ahead of last Saturday’s vote, experience shows that China conducts cyber espionage in Taiwan, especially ahead of major political events. “Elections are typically preceded by an increase in cyber operations targeting Taiwan and we expect this to be the case again,” Plan said. “Taiwan has always been a primary target of malicious cyber operations, especially from actors aligned with the People’s Republic of China.” “I’d be very surprised if China wasn’t doing that” in the recent elections, he added.
The main opposition coalition in Togo said on Monday it will boycott December 20 general elections and call for further protests over what it alleged was a “fraudulent” poll. “We’re not going to give our blessing to this masquerade being prepared,” a co-ordinator in the coalition, Brigitte Adjamagbo-Johnson, told local radio. Togo’s Constitutional Court has validated ballots for 12 parties – but not any for the 14-party opposition coalition that has staged protests in the former French colony over the past year. Ballots for 17 independent candidates have also been approved.
A European Court has rejected an appeal by Brits living in Europe, including 97-year-old war veteran Harry Shindler, who claim that the Brexit referendum was invalid because at least a million Britons were deprived of a vote. Harry Shindler, who lives in Italy, and 12 other British expats questioned the legality of the Brexit referendum in 2016 because they and more than a million Britons living in the EU did not get to have their say due to the 15-year rule on voting rights for expats. That controversial rule bars any British citizen from voting in UK elections or referendums if they have been living out of the country for more than 15 years. The UK’s Conservative government has long promised to abolish the 15-year rule but failed to do so. The French lawyers representing the Brits said that due to this fact, the European Union should not have accepted the UK’s intention to withdraw and start negotiations for leaving the bloc.