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National: Voter Suppression and Racial Targeting: In Facebook’s and Twitter’s Words | The New York Times

A report submitted to a Senate committee about Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election says that social media companies made misleading or evasive claims about whether the efforts tried to discourage voting or targeted African-Americans on their platforms. The report, which is based largely on data provided to Congress by companies such as Facebook and Twitter, was produced for the Senate Intelligence Committee by New Knowledge, a cybersecurity company, along with researchers at Columbia University and Canfield Research. It found the Russian campaign focused on influencing African-Americans and also tried to suppress voting.

Full Article: Voter Suppression and Racial Targeting: In Facebook’s and Twitter’s Words - The New York Times.

National: Targeting Black Americans, Russia’s IRA Exploited Racial Wounds | WIRED

Two days before the 2016 presidential election, @woke_blacks posted an anti-voting polemic to its Instagram account. “The excuse that a lost Black vote for Hillary is a Trump win is bs. Should you decide to sit-out the election, well done for the boycott,” the caption read. “I remind us all one more time, anyone who wins can literally change less about the state of Black people, we are on our own, esp. after Obama. Wise up my people!” Another user, @afrokingdom_, shared a comparable sentiment: “Black people are smart enough to understand that Hillary doesn’t deserve our votes! DON’T VOTE!” According to a new report commissioned for the Senate Intelligence Committee by cybersecurity firm New Knowledge, those accounts, along with dozens more, were part of an extensive and complex campaign to suppress the black American vote by the Russian firm Internet Research Agency.

Full Article: Russia's IRA Targeted Black Americans, Exploiting Racial Tensions | WIRED.

National: U.S. tech companies impeded Senate probe of Russian meddling, report says | UPI

Facebook, Twitter and Google impeded in the Senate investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, a new report said Monday.

The report was compiled by Britain’s University of Oxford and analyzed by the firm New Knowledge. It said the tech companies submitted incomplete data and misled lawmakers about the actions of Internet Research Agency, a Russian troll farm.

The Computational Propaganda Research Project done by the University of Oxford said the Russian agency used social media to polarize the United States from 2012 to 2018 — including campaigns to encourage African-American voters to boycott elections and Hispanic voters to distrust U.S. institutions. The propaganda, it said, encouraged extreme right-wing voters to be confrontational. The trolls also sent sensationalist, conspiratorial and other forms of junk political news and misinformation to voters across the political spectrum to get spark outrage and division, the report said.

“Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA) launched an extended attack on the United States by using computational propaganda to misinform and polarize U.S. voters,” the report states. “In this analysis, we investigate how the IRA exploited the tools and platforms of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube to impact U.S. users.”

Full Article: U.S. tech companies impeded Senate probe of Russian meddling, report says – UPI.com.

Full Article: U.S. tech companies impeded Senate probe of Russian meddling, report says - UPI.com.

National: Literacy Tests Are Gone, But Voter Suppression Isn’t | HuffPost

It used to be that literacy tests and poll taxes kept black voters from the ballot box. It was deliberate disenfranchisement put in place to block African-Americans after they legally gained the right to vote. But in 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed into law one of the most powerful pieces of legislation in the history of the United States. The law, called the Voting Rights Act, equipped the federal government with a bazooka it could aim at racist barriers standing in the way of minority voters. The Voting Rights Act not only wiped out many of those restrictions, but it was a profound acknowledgement that change could only happen if all Americans could choose who governed them. In Episode 1 of “Shut Out” we take a 1960s literacy test, designed to keep black people from voting, and learn more about how America made it hard, and continues to make it hard, for black voters to get to the polls.

Full Article: Literacy Tests Are Gone, But Voter Suppression Isn't: 'Shut Out,' Episode 1 | HuffPost.

Editorials: Democratic House will address most important civil rights issue in half century | Lawrence Lessig/USA Today

In its first act next January, the new House is scheduled to take up the most important civil rights bill in half a century. The bill signals a profoundly comprehensive understanding of the flaws that have evolved within our democracy. That it is scheduled first screams a recognition that these flaws must be fixed first, if we’re to have a Congress that is free to do the other critically important work that Congress must do. But that the bill is all but invisible to anyone outside the beltway signals the most important gap left in this most important fight to make representative democracy in America possible — if not again, then finally. The bill  —  denominated H.R. 1  —  is a radically comprehensive and practical fix to all but one of the critical failures of our evolved system of representative democracy. Crafted primarily by Representative John Sarbanes (D-MD), the bill recognizes that there are multiple flaws within our democracy and that these flaws must be addressed together.

Full Article: Candidates can't forget to reform Congress, preserve our democracy.

Editorials: Yes, Russian Trolls Helped Elect Trump | Michelle Goldberg/The New York Times

This year, researchers at Ohio State University tried to measure the impact that fake news had on the 2016 election. They based their analysis on a postelection survey in which they’d asked voters 281 questions, three of which were intended to determine their exposure to online disinformation. Respondents were asked to rate the accuracy of statements claiming that Hillary Clinton was suffering from a serious illness, that she’d approved weapons sales to the Islamic State as secretary of state, and that Donald Trump had been endorsed by Pope Francis. “Belief in these fake news stories is very strongly linked to defection from the Democratic ticket by 2012 Obama voters,” wrote the researchers, Richard Gunther, Paul A. Beck and Erik C. Nisbet. Even after controlling for variables like ideology, education, party identification and dislike of Clinton, they found that believing a fake news story made people who voted for President Barack Obama in 2012 significantly less likely to vote for Clinton in 2016. The study’s authors don’t claim a clear causal link between propaganda and voting; it’s possible that people who rejected Clinton were more open to misinformation about her. It’s hard to believe, however, that at least some of them weren’t affected by a social media ecosystem saturated with deliberate lies.

Full Article: Opinion | Yes, Russian Trolls Helped Elect Trump - The New York Times.

Alaska: Lieutenant Governor wants audit of election system | Alton Telegraph

Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer said Monday that he wants an audit of Alaska’s election system following irregularities in the last two primaries. Meyer, a Republican, said the more he’s learning about the Division of Elections, the more he thinks it has done a “pretty good job.” He noted the division found irregularities in a state House primary this year, which the division previously said resulted in 26 suspect ballots being sent to the Department of Law for further review. In that race, the division said it had received seven absentee ballot applications for people that records indicated were dead. The division said it did not send ballots to those requestors. But Meyer said those irregularities and actions by some election workers in a 2016 House primary raised concerns. Questions arose in 2016 around election worker training in certain rural precincts.

Full Article: Alaska lieutenant governor wants audit of election system - Alton Telegraph.

Georgia: State has not followed good election security practices, cyber expert says | StateScoop

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s Nov. 3 accusation that Democrats attempted to hack the state’s voter registration database three days before a gubernatorial election he would go on to win was blasted at the time by cybersecurity experts, who said Kemp offered little evidence to support his claim. Six weeks later, a report confirming that Kemp made his accusation based on a single piece of flimsy evidence, and that no law-enforcement investigations ever took place, strongly suggests Georgia has ignored good election security practices, an expert in the field told StateScoop. Eric Hodge, the director of election security services for the security firm CyberScout, responded to a Dec. 14 report by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that found that Kemp’s claim that Democrats tried to hack the state voter file was based on a lone email to a Democratic volunteer from a software developer who said he found vulnerabilities in the database. In his capacity as secretary of state, Kemp, who resigned Nov. 8, was Georgia’s top elections official, leading to criticisms about whether he should oversee an election for governor in which he was also the Republican candidate.

Full Article: Georgia has not followed good election security practices, cyber expert says.

Georgia: Recount ordered in repeat election for Georgia House seat after tally shows 2-vote difference | The Atlanta Journal Constitution

A recount was ordered Monday in the repeat election for a Georgia House seat after a tally showed the incumbent losing by two votes. State Rep. Dan Gasaway’s attorney, Jake Evans, said the Homer Republican sought the recount in his race against GOP challenger Chris Erwin after exploring his legal options. “If any election shows that every vote counts, it is this one,” Evans said. “We anxiously await the recount results.” Gasaway’s campaign asked for the recount Monday, and Secretary of State Robyn Crittenden ordered it later in the day.

Full Article: Recount ordered in repeat election for Georgia House seat after tally shows....

Maine: Rep. Poliquin to appeal ruling upholding his loss in ranked-choice election | Portland Press Herald

Rep. Bruce Poliquin is appealing a recent federal judge’s rejection of his lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of ranked-choice voting. Poliquin and three other residents of Maine’s 2nd Congressional District filed a notice of appeal Monday, four days after a U.S. District Court judge dismissed his constitutional arguments and refused to order a new election. Attorneys for Poliquin said they plan to file a brief Tuesday with the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston. The two-term Republican lost the 2nd District election to Democratic Rep.-elect Jared Golden in the nation’s first use of ranked-choice voting to decide a congressional race. Poliquin trails Golden by more than 3,500 votes and has sought to overturn an election process that his campaign claims was confusing for many voters and potentially violated the U.S. Constitution.

Full Article: Rep. Poliquin to appeal ruling upholding his loss in ranked-choice election - Portland Press Herald.

New York: Cuomo’s Election Day Holiday Call Surprises Even Advocates | NY1

If they didn’t know already, the breakdowns on Election Day reminded voters that New York has some of the most antiquated voting laws and processes in the country. From a lack of early voting to the fact that voters must declare a party affiliation more than six months before a primary, New York can make voting hard. “On this issue, we’re way far behind. New York is one of only 13 states that doesn’t have early voting,” said Susan Lerner, the executive director of advocacy group Common Cause New York. “Texas adopted early voting in 1996. So it’s embarrassing.”

Full Article: Cuomo's Election Day Holiday Call Surprises Even Advocates.

Oregon: The Governor Who Couldn’t Vote: Why America Forgot About Carolyn Shelton | OPB

Calling the America of the early 20th century a “man’s world” is an understatement. In most of the country, women were not considered full citizens. The march toward women’s suffrage — and the rights that came with it — was slowly moving ahead. But setbacks were common. In Oregon, women found themselves once again shut out of the larger political process. In the fall of 1908, the state’s male electorate dealt the suffragists one of the most resounding blows in their long battle for voting rights. Men overwhelmingly voted against granting suffrage to women. It was the movement’s fourth defeat since 1884. Meanwhile, a young woman in the state’s capital was quietly making political history. On a Saturday morning in February 1909, Carolyn B. Shelton took a seat at the Oregon governor’s desk in Salem. She was the nation’s first female governor.

Full Article: The Governor Who Couldn’t Vote: Why America Forgot About Carolyn Shelton . News | OPB.

Pennsylvania: Getting New Voting Machines Is ‘Right Thing,’ Governor Says | Associated Press

It’s the “right thing” for every Pennsylvania county to buy new voting machines in time for the 2020 presidential election to give voters confidence in the balloting, Gov. Tom Wolf said, although he acknowledged that it is a costly proposition. The governor, a Democrat, told The Associated Press on Friday that one of the biggest challenges his administration faces in the matter is helping counties afford an estimated tab of $125 million. It is, he said, “a big, big purchase.” With a large number of voting machines that do not create an auditable paper trail, Pennsylvania is viewed as one of the most vulnerable states after federal authorities say Russian hackers targeted it and at least 20 others during the 2016 presidential election. In April, Wolf gave counties a deadline of 2020 to switch to voting machines that leave a paper trail. His administration has suggested that it could decertify all of the machines in use after 2019’s election.

Full Article: Getting New Voting Machines Is 'Right Thing,' Governor Says | Pennsylvania News | US News.

Wisconsin: Early voting limit challenged in federal court | Associated Press

The fight over restricting early voting in Wisconsin returned to federal court Monday, three days after Gov. Scott Walker signed into law a new limit passed during a lame-duck legislative session. A coalition of liberal groups, with the support of former Democratic U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, asked a federal judge to block implementation of the early voting restrictions. The same judge in 2016 struck down a similar two-week early voting limitation as unconstitutional. Attorneys for the groups argued that Republicans called the lame-duck session “as part of a partisan attempt to retain and regain power” and the early voting limitation was “in direct violation” of the court’s 2016 order.

Full Article: Wisconsin’s early voting limit challenged in federal court | The Seattle Times.

Wisconsin: ‘A reason to stand up’: Wisconsin activists fight threat to African American vote | The Guardian

The Milwaukee pastor Greg Lewis spent weeks before the November midterms working to get out the vote. Through the Souls to the Polls program, Lewis and other Milwaukee church officials educated members of the community about their voting rights, ensured they were registered and had proper documentation, and got them to polling places to cast their votes – sometimes encouraging them directly from the pews to the polls. It was exhausting work, Lewis said, but necessary to make sure members of the city’s “overlooked” and “underserved” African American community were able to make their voices heard. “People are tired of being abused and misused, and others are tired of seeing those people abused and misused,” said Lewis, a minister at St Gabriel’s Church of God in Christ on the city’s north side. “And we really came together.”

Full Article: 'A reason to stand up': Wisconsin activists fight threat to African American vote | US news | The Guardian.

Virginia: Court clerk: Virginia Beach recount process begins in ‘organized chaos’ | Southside Daily

The historic recount of three City Council elections began here Monday, as a medley of people packed a city conference room to commence the review of more than 170,000 ballots. The three DS-850 ballot-counting machines — the use of which three of the six candidates involved in the recount objected — lined the front of the room, as sheriff’s deputies managed traffic across the room. Circuit Court Clerk Tina Sinnen described the process — an unprecedented one that has been crafted in the public eye over the last several weeks — as “organized chaos,” illustrating the interlocking puzzle of people, process, and access required to administer the state’s first recount of multiple elections.

Full Article: Court clerk: Virginia Beach recount process begins in ‘organized chaos’ | Southside Daily.

Europe: EU Leaders Call for Steps to Tackle Election Disinformation | Associated Press

With European Union elections closing in, EU leaders are calling for measures to tackle the deliberate spread of disinformation. EU leaders said Friday that the threat “is an acute and strategic challenge for our democratic systems.” In a statement from their summit in Brussels, the leaders call for “an urgent response that needs to be sustained over time, in full respect of fundamental rights.”

Europe: Madrid and London drafting deal to preserve voting rights after Brexit | EL PAÍS

Madrid and London are negotiating a bilateral treaty to maintain local voting rights for the 280,000 British nationals living in Spain and the more than 115,000 Spaniards residing in the UK, said diplomatic sources. On March 30, 2019, the UK will exit the European Union and British migrants will lose their right to vote in municipal elections. Whether or not British Prime Minister Theresa May secures parliamentary approval for the Brexit deal, UK nationals will no longer be considered EU citizens after that date. If there is agreement on the transition period, UK citizens in Spain will preserve most of their rights intact until December 2020, but this does not extend to voting in the municipal and European elections of May 26, 2019.

Full Article: UK out of the EU: Madrid and London drafting deal to preserve voting rights after Brexit | In English | EL PAÍS.

Afghanistan: Election set for April 20 amid Taliban talks with US | Al Jazeera

Afghanistan’s presidential election will take place next year on April 20 with results due by June, the electoral authority in the conflict-ridden country announced. The 12-day registration of presidential hopefuls will start next week, Gulajan Abdulbadi Sayad, head of the Independent Election Commission, told a news conference in the capital Kabul on Monday. “All necessary preparations and an action plan are in place. Soon the recruitment of staff for the presidential polls will also begin,” he said. He pledged the results of the April 20 presidential polls would be out by June.

Full Article: Afghan election set for April 20 amid Taliban talks with US | News | Al Jazeera.

Congo: Campaign violence sparks election fears | Financial Times

When one of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s leading opposition presidential candidates campaigned in the mining town of Lubumbashi last week, security forces reportedly sprayed his convoy with tear gas and live ammunition, leaving at least three people dead. Martin Fayulu was heading from the airport towards the city centre surrounded by thousands of supporters, when the clash took place. The next morning the shells of burnt out vehicles littered the tree-lined streets and torn ruling-party campaign posters flapped in the wind. “First we felt the tear gas, and then they fired shots,” Mr Fayulu told the Financial Times in an interview in Lubumbashi. “How can we continue campaigning in this atmosphere?” Congo’s elections next Sunday are set to be historic — the country’s first transition of power by the ballot box as President Joseph Kabila steps down after 17 years in office. But Mr Fayulu’s experience has raised fears they will be far from democratic.

Full Article: Congo campaign violence sparks election fears | Financial Times.