National: House Democrats to unveil political reform legislation as ‘H.R. 1’ | The Washington Post

House Democratic leaders on Friday unveiled the outline of a broad political overhaul bill that will include provisions for public financing of elections, voting rights reforms and new ethics strictures for federal officials. The bill has been in the works for months as part of Democrats’ “For the People” campaign platform, a framework that helped them win the House majority in this month’s midterm elections. Numerous outside groups aligned with Democrats have pushed the party’s House leaders to schedule a reform bill as their first order of business, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced before the election that the bill would be designated “H.R. 1” — a symbolic title meant to emphasize its importance, even if it is unlikely to be the first piece of legislation to get a House vote in the new Congress.

National: Democrats vow quick action to bolster voting rights upon taking power | The Hill

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Friday outlined an ambitious overhaul to the way government operates — including legislation to strengthen voting rights protections. Pelosi, widely expected to be elected the next House Speaker, vowed to make it the first order of business when Democrats realize their newly won majority next year. The goal, Pelosi said, is “to reduce the role of money [and] advance fair elections, and one part of that is having the Voting Rights Act early on the agenda.” The effort would come following a midterm election that included a number of closely fought elections, including a tight race for governor in Georgia that was shadowed by accusations that black voters were being disenfranchised.

National: Bipartisan pair of senators introduces bill to create global election security information sharing program | The Hill

pair of senators on Friday introduced a bipartisan bill to create a program within the State Department to share information with U.S. global allies about election security. The measure would establish a way for the United States and other countries to share information on the best practices for administering elections, such as combating disinformation campaigns and conducting post-election audits. The bill is a companion to similar bipartisan legislation passed by the House earlier this year. Under the legislation, the new State Department program would offer grants to American nonprofit groups that work on election security to share information with similar groups in other countries. Foreign election officials would also be brought to the U.S. to study the election process and the program would offer U.S. election officials the chance to examine other nations’ election security measures.

Arizona: County Supervisor expresses concerns over ballot software | Kingman Daily Miner

Few people do things perfectly on the first try. There’s a learning curve, whether it’s a gymnast tumbling across an arena floor, a professional baseball player throwing his first pitch … or managing a data system essential to Mohave County’s 2018 General Election. That last example has been a cause for concern with Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson after an almost 36-hour delay in obtaining voter registration data after this year’s election. The delay was caused by e-poll staff unfamiliar with the county’s electronic polling software. Now Johnson has requested reimbursement from e-polling provider Robis Inc. for the county’s lost time. Mohave County began its contract in 2016 with Robis Inc, with the company acting as Mohave County’s vendor for electronic poll books, using a software known as Ask Ed. According to Johnson, data collection from Mohave County’s e-poll book software was seamless in 2016. The previous project manager left Robis in 2018, however, and a new project manager was assigned to Mohave County.

Florida: Embattled Broward County elections supervisor will fight suspension | Associated Press

The fallout over Florida’s turbulent recount is escalating after the state’s outgoing Republican governor decided to oust a South Florida elections official. Gov. Rick Scott late Friday suspended embattled Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes even though Snipes had already agreed to step down from her post in early January. Scott replaced Snipes with his former general counsel even though Peter Antonacci has no elections experience. Snipes responded by rescinding her previous resignation – and will now be “fighting this to the very end,” her attorney said during a Saturday news conference. “We believe these actions are malicious,” said Burnadette Norris-Weeks, who said that Broward County voters should be concerned about what Scott is trying to do in the Democratic stronghold by putting in an ally who could oversee the office into the 2020 elections.

Georgia: Voting access takes center stage in Georgia runoff | Associated Press

As a battle over the fairness of Georgia’s recent election for governor moves from the political arena to the courtroom, two men are locked in a runoff race, with far less fanfare, to oversee the future of the state’s election apparatus. Republican state Rep. Brad Raffensperger faces former Democratic congressman John Barrow in a Dec. 4 runoff for Georgia secretary of state after neither garnered the more than 50 percent of votes required to win outright on Nov. 6. Official results show Raffensperger led by about 16,000 votes out of over 3.8 million cast. Raffensperger has support from President Donald Trump, who earlier this week endorsed him via Twitter. Barrow, meanwhile, has the endorsement of some top state Democrats, including former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. At stake in their runoff is the ability to reshape the state’s election system, which came under a national microscope during the recent race for governor between Abrams and Republican Secretary of State — now governor-elect — Brian Kemp.

Maine: Poliquin’s election challenge faces long odds | Kennebec Journal

Lawyers for Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin and the Democrat who defeated him will square off in federal court Wednesday in a case with ramifications far beyond Maine’s rural, sprawling 2nd District no matter the outcome. For U.S. Rep.-elect Jared Golden and supporters of ranked-choice voting, the election ended two weeks ago after the Democrat emerged from an instant runoff leading Poliquin by 3,509 votes. Yet Poliquin and his team are aiming for more than just a reversal of the election results as they push to make Maine the national, legal test case for ranked-choice voting in any federal election. “Whether a state can go beyond a plurality that is currently provided for in (the Constitution) is an open question the Supreme Court has never decided,” Lee Goodman, Poliquin’s attorney and a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, said last month.

Michigan: Redistricting backers worried bill would alter voter-approved plan | The Detroit News

A lame duck bill addressing the selection process for the state’s newly adopted citizens redistricting commission has the initiative’s backers crying foul. The proposal by Republican Sen. Phil Pavlov of St. Clair details rules and procedures for the selection of the commission, items already outlined in the Proposal 2’s language and, to some degree, left up to the discretion of incoming Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. Another set of bills introduced by GOP Sen. Mike Kowall of White Lake the same day clarify some rules surrounding items approved in Proposal 3, such as same day voter registration and no-reason absentee voting.

North Carolina: Allegations of G.O.P. Election Fraud Shake North Carolina’s Ninth District | The New Yorker

In October, during the final stretch of the congressional election in North Carolina’s Ninth District—one of the most tightly contested House races in the nation—Datesha Montgomery opened her door, in Bladen County, to find a young woman who explained that she was collecting absentee ballots. “I filled out two names on the ballot—Hakeem Brown for Sheriff and Vince Rozier for board of education,” Montgomery wrote in an affidavit. Under North Carolina law, only voters themselves are allowed to handle or turn in their ballots, but the woman at Montgomery’s door “stated the [other races] were not important.” Montgomery added, “I gave her the ballot and she said she would finish it herself. I signed the ballot and she left. It was not sealed up at any time.”

North Carolina: Bladen, Robeson Had 3,400 Absentee Ballots That Weren’t Returned. What Happened To Them? | WFAE

In the still un-certified 9th Congressional District race, Bladen and Robeson counties had the two highest rate of unreturned absentee mail-in ballots. Bladen and Robeson also stand out statewide, according to an analysis by Catawba College political science professor Michal Bitzer. He found there were about 19,400 absentee ballots by mail statewide that were requested but not returned for the Nov. 6 election. Robeson had 10 percent of those statewide non-returned ballots, and Bladen County had 8 percent of the non-returned ballots. That’s 3,404 ballots. The two counties make up less than 2 percent of the state’s population.

Pennsylvania: Why it could be much harder to steal the vote in swing state Pennsylvania | Salon

Pennsylvania, the 2016 battleground state where many counties refused to conduct a presidential recount, has settled a lawsuit with Green Party candidate Jill Stein and state residents, agreeing to have paper ballot-based voting in place by 2020 and a new audit process to verify vote counts before election results become official by 2022. “It’s a major improvement to have paper ballots,” Stein said Thursday. “That’s really critical. And it’s really important that we be watchdogging this, and that the issues of transparency and accountability be paramount. And [that] we constantly be measuring [what unfolds] against a very high bar for transparency and accountability.” The settlement comes two years after one of the most frustrating post-presidential election efforts to attempt to verify the outcome, where an unconventional candidate trailing in pre-election polls, Republican Donald Trump, had, in fact, won the three closest-margin states, according to the preliminary unofficial results in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

Bahrain: Record number of Bahraini women elected to parliament | Al Jazeera

A record number of women have been elected in Bahrain’s elections in what officials say is an historic achievement that has broken the glass ceiling of representation in the country’s parliament. By the election’s second and final round of voting on Sunday, a total of six women were voted in, doubling the number of female legislators in the tiny Gulf kingdom. “The 2018 elections are historic for Bahrain,” Mohammed al-Sayed, spokesperson for Citizens for Bahrain organisation, told Al Arabiya English news channel. “We will certainly have more women in parliament, and this is a source of pride for all Bahrainis as we believe in equality and the important role played by Bahraini women in society and politics,” he continued.

Bangladesh: US to send election observers amid opposition concerns | Deutsche Welle

A senior official at the US embassy in Dhaka said on Saturday that Washington was planning to send 12 observer teams to monitor the December 30 parliamentary elections in Bangladesh. Each team will comprise two observers and will monitor polls in various constituencies across the South Asian country, William Moeller, a political officer at the US embassy in Dhaka, told the Reuters news agency. “The Bangladesh government has emphasized that it plans to hold a free and fair election,” Moeller said.

China: Hong Kong pro-democracy legislator barred from local election | Al Jazeera

Hong Kong authorities have barred a pro-democracy legislator from running in a local election due to his “implicit” support for Hong Kong’s independence from China, in what critics say is another instance of civil rights being eroded in the Beijing-ruled city. Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, 40, a former journalist and land activist, was democratically elected as one of Hong Kong’s 70 legislators in a 2016 election, winning more votes than any other candidate despite running as an independent. He had planned to contest a separate grassroots poll to represent a village in the rural hinterland of the New Territories. 

Estonia: President formally green lights election, advises level-headed voting | ERR

President Kersti Kaljulaid signed into action the go ahead for the general election in Estonia, due on 3 March 2019. Whilst the date of 3 March has long been talked about, according to § 78 (3) of the Estonian constitution, the president ”calls regular elections of the Riigikogu..” (official English translation), so the move was necessary to make the date official. The deadline for so doing was Sunday, 2 December. Ms Kaljulaid also made a speech at an event in the eastern Estonian town of Jõhvi, giving practical advice and setting out her views on the importance of democratic behaviour.

Georgia (Sakartvelo): Thousands in Georgia protest against presidential election results | Reuters

Thousands of Georgians protested in the capital Tbilisi on Sunday against the result of the country’s presidential election, as defeated candidate Grigol Vashadze said opposition parties would challenge the outcome in court. Vashadze has described the election as a “criminal farce” and has called for snap parliamentary elections after the central election commission said on Thursday that Salome Zurabishvili, who was backed by the ruling Georgian Dream party, had secured 59.5 percent of the vote. Vashadze had 40.5 percent, it said. “We don’t recognize illegitimate results of this rigged election and demand an early parliamentary election to be called in the country,” Vashadze told thousands of supporters at Sunday’s rally in Tbilisi. Zurabishvili is set to become the country’s first female head of state, although the role is largely ceremonial.

Malta: New electronic vote counting system modified without Electoral Commission’s consent | The Malta Independent

Sources who were in the counting hall where the new electronic vote counting system was being tested yesterday expressed serious concerns over the way the system had been modified between the first and second mock test. It transpires that the company responsible for operating the system had made amendments to it without informing the Electoral Commission or the political parties’ delegates. Such changes made without their consent could be potentially dangerous, sources claim. During the first mock test of the new system in November, a number of concerns had been flagged, especially on the number of ballot sheets that the system failed to recognise and were subsequently passed on to a human adjudicator. This amounted to approximately 40 per cent of the votes.