Bahrain: Committee Set Up to Investigate Electoral Crimes | Asharq AL-awsat

Bahrain’s Attorney General Dr. Ali Al Buainain announced on Wednesday establishing a committee consisting of a Public Prosecution panel to conduct probes into election processes and suspected crimes. Composed of nine members, the committee will expedite procedures for revealing crimes and violations committed during elections. “The committee is functional with immediate effect and will operate until the electoral process is completed with the election of the MPs and councilors,” he said in a statement.

Bosnia: Bosnia-Herzegovina gears up for vote amid political frustration | The Guardian

On a tree-lined riverbank in the Sarajevo district of Grbavica, Rabina Baltić pauses at her stall selling tubs of sweetcorn, and gestures in disgust. “Future?” she asks. “There’s no future here! I have a university degree, but look how I work … We’ve lost hope. Every election it’s all mixed, religion and politics.” Twenty-three years after the end of its internecine war that left 100,000 dead, Bosnia-Herzegovina votes on Sunday to elect a bewildering number of national and sub-national presidencies, parliaments, and assemblies. Ethnic-nationalist parties representing the three main communities – Bosniak (Muslim), Serb, and Croat – are expected to top the polls as they have at most previous elections since the current political system was set up by the Dayton peace agreement in 1995. Hope that change will come to one of Europe’s poorest countries is dwindling. The average monthly wage is just over €400 (£355), while unemployment stands at more than 20%, rising to over 45% among young people. The grim economic situation is a major factor driving emigration from the country.

Canada: Liberals strike deal with Conservatives to raise pre-election spending limits | The Globe and Mail

The federal Liberal government will raise the maximum amounts political parties can spend in the run-up to an election after striking a deal with the Opposition Conservatives to allow the government’s election bill to move ahead. The bill’s proposed spending limits during what will be called the “pre-election” period were a major concern of the Conservatives, who generally lead the way when it comes to fundraising and would be in a position to outspend their competitors in the weeks before an election campaign. The Conservatives had attacked the pre-election spending limit as a blatant attempt by the Liberals to tilt the electoral rules in their favour, by limiting the ability of opposition parties to advertise during a period when the governing party continues to have access to government-funded travel and other avenues for self-promotion.

Czech Republic: Foreigners can vote in Czech local elections, but show little interest | Radio Prague

The Czech Republic’s communal elections, which will take place this Friday and Saturday, differ from their presidential and parliamentary equivalents in that citizens of other EU member states are also allowed to vote. This includes those living in the country on a temporary basis. However, interest in political engagement seems low among foreigners living in the country, with only a few thousand deciding to register. While EU citizens with permanent residence have been able to vote in communal elections since the country entered the EU in 2004, Czech law was unclear about whether those with temporary residency status can do so as well. Following a court ruling in 2014 the Ministry of Interior issued a recommendation to local district councils that they accept applications from temporary EU residents.

Gabon: Gabon holds first vote since violence-marred 2016 election | AFP

Oil-rich Gabon, ruled by the same political dynasty for nearly half a century, votes on Saturday in long-delayed legislative and municipal polls after a presidential election two years ago that was marred by deadly violence and allegations of fraud. The controversial re-election of President Ali Bongo in August 2016 by just a few thousand votes led opposition leader Jean Ping to claim that victory had been stolen from him. Violence broke out and dozens of people were killed according to the opposition, but the government says only four died. Ping’s headquarters was bombed and the opposition also claimed that widespread human rights abuses were committed by armed militias that took to the streets.

Romania: Romanians to vote in referendum LGBT groups say is fuelling hate | The Guardian

Romanians will be asked this weekend whether they want to redefine marriage as only being between a man and a woman rather than “two spouses”, in a referendum that LGBT activists say is fuelling homophobia. The result will have little practical effect, given that same-sex marriage is not legal in Romania, and critics of the referendum, which was brought by a conservative NGO called Coalition for the Family, say it has been seized upon by politicians as a distraction tactic. “The idea is to distract public attention from corruption allegations, and they are doing it at the expense of the LGBT community,” said Teodora Ion-Rotaru of Accept, a rights organisation. She said there had been an increase in hate speech over the past two weeks, worsening an already difficult situation for the LGBT people in a very conservative country.

National: Planning to Vote in the November Election? Why Most Americans Probably Won’t | The New York Times

Lula Hill voted in just about every election once she became old enough in 1952. Her coal mining family of registered Democrats believed that elections were like church services: You didn’t skip them. But over time, her sense of civic obligation faded. Mines started laying people off. Opioids started poisoning her neighbors. As her town lost its vigor, Ms. Hill watched as smiling politicians kept making promises and, in her view, growing richer. By the late 1990s, when political leaders — Democrat or Republican — talked about the greater good, she no longer believed them. “I just got to the point, I said, ‘I’m not going do it anymore,’” said Ms. Hill, sitting on a couch in the lobby of the hotel she owns and runs, the Hotel Madison, 30 miles south of Charleston. “I just can’t vote for any of them in good conscience.” She has not voted since 1996 and said she has no intention of starting in November. Ms. Hill is hardly alone in West Virginia, a state with one of the lowest rates of voter turnout in the country and where the Democratic senator, Joe Manchin III, faces a tough race.

National: Secure Elections Act sponsors eye lame duck session | FCW

Meanwhile, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), the primary Democratic sponsor, said she and other senators are working on refining the legislation, but noted that lawmakers have a short window of opportunity to pass the Secure Elections Act before the midterms reset the legislative calendar. “We have a new version [of the bill] coming out, and we just ask you to work with us; I would love to have it get passed in the lame duck,” Klobuchar said. “For people that want to delay it or stall it beyond that, well that’s up to you because then we’ll have a new Congress.” The Secure Elections Act looked poised for a floor vote in August or September before a Rules Committee markup was abruptly canceled. Blunt’s staff told FCW at the time that Republican senators were balking at some of the provisions after receiving complaints from state and local election officials, while Reuters reported that the White House came out against the bill at the last minute for similar reasons. Lankford and Klobuchar have continued to fight for the bill’s passage, but several prominent Democratic senators, including original co-sponsor Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), signed on to rival legislation spearheaded by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

National: Senators say midterms will inspire revived version of stalled election security bill | Washington Times

Senators supportive of the Secure Elections Act, a bipartisan bill to protect political contests from cyberattacks, said lessons learned from next month’s midterms could make their way into a revised version in the works. Sen. Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota Democrat, addressed efforts to rekindle the stalled Secure Elections Act during an event held Wednesday by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission in Washington, D.C. The bill will not be passed prior to the Nov. 6 midterms, according to both Mr. Blunt and Ms. Klobuchar’s co-sponsor, Sen. James Lankford, Oklahoma Republican, meaning states are missing out on millions of dollars that would have otherwise been allocated toward upgrading and securing voting and election systems, neglecting a major vulnerability raised by Russian hackers meddling in the 2016 race.

National: Security Clearances Won’t Get in the Way of Responding to Election Cyber Threats, Officials Say | Nextgov

A lack of security clearances among some state and local election officials shouldn’t hinder the Homeland Security Department from responding speedily to Election Day cybersecurity threats, the department’s top cyber official said Wednesday. Even if state and local election officials don’t have the necessary authorizations to view a particular piece of threat information, Homeland Security Undersecretary Chris Krebs said he’s confident those officials will start trying to mitigate the threat if he asks them to. “I’m confident that if I had a piece of information right now …I could say: ‘Look, I’ve got something you need to see. You need to take action. It’s going to take me a day or two to get you the information, but, in the meantime, you need to take action,” Krebs during an election readiness summit hosted by the Election Assistance Commission.\ “We have trust established so there would be at least the beginning of an article of faith that they would do something,” he said.

National: ‘No indication’ China intends to interfere with election infrastructure, Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen says | The Washington Post

The Department of Homeland Security hasn’t seen signs that China seeks to interfere in the midterm elections by targeting election infrastructure, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Tuesday — a statement that appears to be at odds with remarks President Trump made about Beijing last week. “We currently have no indication that a foreign adversary intends to disrupt our election infrastructure,” Nielsen told me at a cybersecurity summit hosted by The Washington Post. Nielsen did not endorse Trump’s alarming claim at the United Nations that China “has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election.” Without offering evidence, Trump said China does not “want me or us to win because I am the first president to ever challenge China on trade” — an especially striking comment considering the president has repeatedly equivocated on his support for the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to help him win. 

National: Activists Concerned About Counties Destroying Ballot Images | WhoWhatWhy

Election integrity activists are worried that various counties in the crucial state of Florida could defy federal law by destroying crucial documents required for election audits and recounts after the midterms. Specifically, Americans United for Democracy, Integrity, and Transparency in Elections (AUDIT-USA) believes that county supervisors of elections in Florida are either not retaining ballot images or are destroying ballot images that are required by law to be kept for 22 months after a state or federal election. “Most of the counties down there are destroying the ballot images,” said John Brakey, director of the nonpartisan group.

National: U.S. infrastructure vulnerable to cyberattacks designed to suppress voter turnout | CBS

Your voting booth might — or might not — be safe from hackers. But imagine a cyberattack that keeps you from going to your polling station in the first place. Security experts warn that critical infrastructure systems in the United States are vulnerable to crippling cyberattacks designed to suppress voter turnout by disrupting systems that cities and towns rely on. “If ransomware hits, what’s the backup plan to allow people to vote? Do we extend it a day? Do we hold off the tally of the votes? Do we take absentee ballots? What do we do?” said Fortalice Solutions CEO and former White House chief information officer Theresa Payton.

Editorials: A plea to end all partisan gerrymandering challenges | Lyle Denniston/Constitution Daily

Reopening a deeply divisive controversy that has troubled the Supreme Court for 32 years, four state legislators from North Carolina have urged the Justices to bar all constitutional challenges to partisan gerrymandering. The decades-long search for a way to judge the constitutionality of election maps that give one party’s candidates a clear advantage at the polls has been “an exercise in futility,” the state lawmakers argued.  The time has come to end that search altogether, according to the appeal in the case of Rucho v. Common Cause.  The document has just become available publicly. If the Court were to do as asked, legislators with control of their chambers would have no limit on how far they could go to create for their party an enduring domination of seats in state legislatures and even in the U.S. House of Representatives.  The only realistic remedy would be for the people of a state to take the task of drawing new districts away from the legislature, or — ultimately — for the nation to amend the Constitution.

Editorials: Ongoing Denial of Voting Rights in U.S. Territories Incompatible With Our Founding Values | Geoffrey Wyatt and Neil Weare/Civil Liberties Law Review

This week, the Supreme Court will consider a question concerning the voting rights of American citizens residing in U.S. territories – one that goes straight to our nation’s founding principles.  Under federal and Illinois overseas voting laws, state citizens who move to a foreign country or to American Samoa or the Northern Mariana Islands are permitted to vote absentee in federal elections in Illinois – but not if they move to Guam, Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands.  In our petition to the Supreme Court in Segovia v. United States, we argue that this disparate treatment – and the arbitrary denial of voting rights based on where you happen to live more generally – is irreconcilable with our most cherished values.

Arizona: Ninth Circuit Considers Arizona Ballot Delivery Law | Courthouse News

Attorneys for a Phoenix-area election volunteer and the state of Arizona faced off before the Ninth Circuit Wednesday over a state law restricting who can deliver ballots for people who can’t get out to vote. A recent Arizona law forbids most non-family volunteers from delivering ballots to polling places — something that used to be a widespread practice. According to volunteer poll worker Rivko Knox and her attorney, Spencer Scharff, the 2015 law conflicts with federal postal laws that allow deliveries like the ones Knox hopes to make. The case hinges on several aspects of federal postal law, which allows some private carriers to deliver mail when they are engaged in official duties and using a postal route. The state argued that volunteer poll worker deliveries don’t meet those criteria, but Knox’s attorneys say they do.

Florida: Inside the Unlikely Movement That Could Restore Voting Rights to 1.4 Million Floridians | Mother Jones

On a muggy August day in 2005, Desmond Meade stood in front of the railroad tracks north of downtown Miami and prepared to take his life. He’d been released from prison early after a 15-year sentence for gun possession was reduced to three years, but he was addicted to crack, without a job, and homeless. “The only thing going through my mind was how much pain I’d feel when I jumped in front of the oncoming train,” Meade said. “I was a broken man.” But the train never came, and eventually Meade walked two blocks to a drug treatment center and checked himself in. He got clean, enrolled in school, and received a law degree from Florida International University in 2014. Meade should have been the archetypal recovery success story­—­“[God] took a crackhead and made a lawyer out of him,” as he put it. But he’s not allowed to practice law. And when his wife ran for the Florida House of Representatives in 2016, he couldn’t vote for her. “My story still doesn’t have a happy ending,” he said. “Because despite the fact that I’ve dedicated my life to being an asset to my community, I still can’t vote.”

Michigan: GOP pressure shaped district maps, court records show | The Detroit News

Republican mapmakers who drew Michigan’s current political districts were pressured to appease lawmakers and made changes to help gain legislative approval, according to documents and depositions in a federal lawsuit. The documents show mapmakers in 2011 gave top party officials the partisan vote history breakdowns of new districts, shared proposed maps with an interest group linked to the DeVos family, entertained suggestions from at least one GOP donor and faced backlash from incumbents vexed at how their districts were redrawn. “I think your map protects all nine incumbents and it looks good,” GOP redistricting guru Bob LaBrant, then a Michigan Chamber of Commerce official, told congressional mapmaker Jeff Timmer in a May 2011 email. It came as pressure from within and outside the Legislature began to rise.

South Carolina: Letter warns against connecting voting machines to networks | WYFF

A letter addressed to officials at the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission cites “grave concerns” over connecting voting machines to wireless networks. “The convenience of transmitting vote totals online does not outweigh the need of the American people to be assured their votes will be accurately transmitted and counted,” the letter reads. The South Carolina Election Commission’s website says touch screen voting machines are not accessible to wireless or wire-based computer systems. They aren’t connected to phone or network lines. “We often hear the assertion voting machines are not connected to the internet, and in many cases the voting machine you actually vote on in the polling location is not connected to the internet,” said Susan Greenhalgh, the policy director for the National Election Defense Coalition. “However, there are many states that the voting machine that is in the polling location is connected to the internet, perhaps temporarily with the use of these wireless modems.”

Texas: Thousands of Texas voter registration applications filed using online tool could be invalid | Dallas Morning News

More than 2,000 Texans who registered to vote using an online tool provided by a California nonprofit could be in for a rude awakening on Election Day — they are not, in fact, officially registered. In September,, which uses technology to increase voter turnout and bring more people into the political process, rolled out the tool to help Texans register for the November election. It was available in Dallas, Bexar, Cameron and Travis counties ahead of Tuesday’s registration deadline. Applications began rolling in, even from outside those four counties. But on Monday, the office of the secretary of state, the top elections administrator, told the nonprofit the applications submitted through it weren’t valid because they didn’t have original signatures. 

Afghanistan: Election Rally Bombing in Afghanistan Heightens Security Fears | The New York Times

A suicide bomber attacked an election rally on Tuesday in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar, killing at least 14 people and once again highlighting security concerns as candidates prepare for an Oct. 20 parliamentary vote amid a raging war. The attack struck at a gathering of about 300 supporters of the candidate Nasir Mohmand in Nangarhar’s Kama district. Najibullah Kamawal, the province’s director of public health, said at least 43 others were wounded. Officials feared the toll could rise. Mr. Mohmand survived, but with more than two weeks until Election Day, at least other seven candidates have already been killed across Afghanistan.

Armenia: Prime Minister Says He Will Resign In Push To Force New Elections | RFE/RL

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian vowed late on October 2 to tender his resignation in an effort to force early parliamentary elections before the end of the year. Rallying tens of thousands of supporters in Yerevan, he also announced the firing of six government ministers representing the Prosperous Armenia (BHK) and Dashnaktsutyun parties who he accused of hampering his drive for early elections. Pashinian called on supporters to rally outside the parliament building in central Yerevan immediately after lawmakers from the BHK and Dashnaktsutyun joined the former ruling Republican Party (HHK) in passing a bill that would make it harder for him to dissolve the current parliament.

Brazil: ‘Brazil is at war’: election plays out amid homicidal violence | The Guardian

Francine Farias had just completed a census of her tumbledown favela on the outskirts of one of the world’s most violent cities when she heard a volley of gunfire and her count was rendered suddenly out of date. One unpaved street away, her nextdoor neighbour, 17-year-old Ruan Patrick Ramos Cruz, lay dead in the dirt after being repeatedly shot in the head and chest by unknown assassins. “First I heard four [shots], then two more,” recalled Farias, a community leader in Loteamento Alameda das Árvores, a rundown 288-home settlement on the southern fringes of Feira de Santana. “It’s devastating to see one more young person die because of crime – a young man with his whole future before him,” added Farias, 31, who said her neighbour had become mixed up in drugs. “He’s the third since I’ve lived here. All of them the same age.” Cruz was the 296th person to die in Feira de Santana this year and the latest victim of an escalating murder crisis that has arguably made public security the key issue as Brazil holds its most unpredictable presidential election in decades.

Cameroon: Anglophone crisis looms over presidential election | Al Jazeera

On the morning of October 7, eight of Cameroon’s 10 regions will vote in a presidential election that could end the long-running leadership of Paul Biya, who has been in office since 1982 and was prime minister in the seven years before that.  Dissidents in the remaining two regions – the South West and North West – home to Cameroon’s English-speaking minority, have threatened a showdown. “There is localised violence in the Anglophone regions … more than 1,000 men have pledged to dislodge the elections in those regions by violence,” says Hans de Marie Heungoup, senior analyst for Central Africa at the International Crisis Group. Besides fighting by Boko Haram in the Far North and North regions and rebel incursions from the Central African Republic into the Eastern region, Cameroon is largely beset by the Anglophone crisis, a separatist uprising with roots in the pre-World War I era when it was a German colony.

Canada: Trudeau government beefs up legislation to fight federal election interference | Associated Press

The Trudeau government is beefing up legislation aimed at making it easier for Canadians to vote and harder for foreign entities to interfere in federal elections. It has sponsored a number of amendments to Bill C-76, including one that would ban advocacy groups from ever using money from foreign entities to conduct partisan campaigns. When the bill was introduced last spring, the government proposed only to prohibit the use of foreign money by so-called third parties during the weeks immediately prior to an election being called and during the actual campaign, known as the pre-writ and writ periods.

Pennsylvania: ‘They are actually suppressing votes’: voters abroad are blocked from state election website | Philadelphia Inquirer

Thousands of registered Pennsylvania voters who live outside the United States are being blocked from accessing absentee ballots on the state’s website in a move intended to beef up election security. Several other states, including New Mexico, Tennessee, Georgia, and Vermont, also appear to be blocking foreign access to their election sites. “This should be a red flashing light issue in the state of Pennsylvania right now. They need to solve it — today,” said Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat, president and CEO of the nonprofit U.S. Vote Foundation. “Because they are actually suppressing votes if this is how it is right now.” Under UOCAVA, an acronym for the law enshrining their voting rights and procedures, military and overseas civilian voters are supposed to be able to request an absentee ballot and have it sent to them to fill out and return. In Pennsylvania, voters can request absentee ballots by mail or as a download link by email.

National: DHS says teamwork is improving election security | FCW

A month out from the 2018 midterms, all eyes are on the Department of Homeland Security as it approaches its first real test since being given a broader election security mandate in the wake of the 2016 presidential elections. Speaking at a cybersecurity event hosted by the Washington Post, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen highlighted improvements in information sharing across the federal government and with state and local officials as well as closer relationships with stakeholders that will lead to faster coordination in the wake of an emerging threat. “First of all, the information sharing is much stronger than it even has been before,” said Nielsen when asked what had changed in the department’s approach since 2016. “So [we’re] working very closely with the intel community, and the moment that we see something significant we are — in conjunction with the IC — sharing with our state and local partners. The sharing is quicker, faster, more tailored.”

Georgia: Civil rights lawsuit filed against Secretary of State Brian Kemp | WJBF

A new lawsuit set to be filed against Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp and the plaintiffs say every Georgia voter needs to know about it right now. Have you received something like this in your mailbox? A simple postcard that might look kind of like junk mail.  But if you didn’t return it and you missed voting in a few elections you, and tens of thousands more Georgians, might not be registered to vote anymore, and you’ll have received no further notice. Some say that’s an urgent problem because October 9th is the last day to re-register before the November election.

Nevada: Group looks to help Nevada felons regain voting rights | Las Vegas Review-Journal

With the voter registration deadline looming, a new organization is encouraging Nevada’s felons to push past misinformation and re-secure their right to cast a ballot. Almost 90,000 people in Nevada, or about 4 percent of the voter-age population, are unable to vote because of state laws. But there are avenues available for felons to regain the right, advocates said Tuesday morning at a press conference outside the Regional Justice Center in downtown Las Vegas. “You have a pathway to restoring your voting rights. That’s often the biggest misconception,” said Aaron Esparza, organizer of Las Vegas Restore Your Vote. The national campaign, an offshoot of the Campaign Legal Center, has launched in Nevada, Alabama, Alaska and Texas.