New York: Republicans Attack Cuomo’s Plan to Restore Felons’ Voting Rights | Wall Street Journal

Republicans are attacking an initiative by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to restore the voting rights of former felons, holding hearings and releasing a new digital advertisement accusing him of prioritizing sex offenders over other voters. Between April and September, 30,666 parolees received a conditional pardon allowing them to vote, a member of Mr. Cuomo’s cabinet revealed this week. It is unclear how many of those people have registered, said representatives for the State Board of Elections. Previously, those convicted of felonies in New York could vote only after completing parole. The governor, a Democrat seeking a third term in November, and his team cast their effort as necessary to combat the effects of mass incarceration, and said disenfranchising voters disproportionately impacts racial minorities.

North Carolina: Lawmaker To Propose Bill To Address Voters Affected By Hurricane Florence | WFAE

The ballots for North Carolina’s upcoming election have had a number of delays as cases on amendments and party affiliation wound their way through the court. Just as ballots were finally on track to meet September’s deadline for printing, Hurricane Florence came along. Now state leaders are trying to ensure those hit hard by the storm can still easily vote. The state’s deadline to register to vote is coming up on Oct. 12. While many residents are still focused on recovering from the storm, House Elections Chairman David Lewis of Harnett County wants to extend the voter registration deadline to at least Oct. 15, similar to an extension that was provided after Hurricane Matthew. He plans to introduce a bill to do just that and make other election tweaks when state lawmakers convene today in a special session to consider relief options in the wake of Florence.

Pennsylvania: Lawmakers float some redistricting ideas, but few expect results | WHYY

Top Pennsylvania House lawmakers have taken a brief stab at restarting the chamber’s long-deadlocked conversation on redistricting — filing amendments with a few options for changing the congressional reapportionment process. However, there’s still no clear path toward a consensus. One of the options involves a nine-member redistricting commission appointed by the legislature, with one non-partisan member. Another would create an 11-person commission chosen at random. A third would have the Secretary of the Commonwealth choose random commissioners, and give legislative leaders limited veto power.

South Carolina: In a first, voter registration deadline extended 10 days after Florence flooding | Post and Courier

South Carolina voters will have an extra 10 days to register to vote after a judge agreed Tuesday to an extension in the wake of massive flooding from Hurricane Florence. This is believed to be the first time South Carolina has ever extended state voter registration deadlines, State Election Commission Director Marci Andino said. The state has extended voting hours at some precincts after machine glitches or long lines. Giving South Carolinians more time to sign up for the Nov. 6 election was backed by the Election Commission, S.C. Democratic and Republican Party leaders as well as Republican Gov. Henry McMaster and his challenger, Democrat James Smith.

U.S. Territories: 2 panels to weigh arguments vs disenfranchisement in US territories | Saipan Tribune

Just weeks after the one-year anniversary of Hurricanes Maria and Irma hitting Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the issue of disenfranchisement in U.S. territories will be considered by both the U.S. Supreme Court and the Organization of American States Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on the same day. “The opportunity to have either the Supreme Court or the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights take up the issue of voting rights in U.S. territories is momentous in its own right. But to have both do it on the same day is something truly special,” said Neil Weare, president and founder of Equally American, a non-profit organization that advocates for equality and civil rights for the nearly 4 million Americans who live in U.S. territories. This comes as the U.S. Senate considers whether to confirm President Trump’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

Utah: Cox says Utah election system under fire, but safe from malefactors | Deseret News

Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox offered a positive message Tuesday speaking about election security issues — even amid unprecedented levels of hacking attempts, voters can cast their upcoming midterm ballot in confidence that it will be duly and fairly tallied. “We would encourage Utah voters to know that we’re on the front lines fighting this battle for you,” Cox said. “Know that this election is secure and you can be sure that your vote will count.” Cox, whose oversight of state elections is part of his duties as lieutenant governor, outlined the millions in new state funding and federal assistance that’s been dedicated to beefing up security measures for this election cycle, including the latest in voting machine technology, upgrades to the voter registration database protections and partnerships that have helped bolster the state’s digital resilience to those who would seek to infiltrate and disrupt the election process.

Virginia: Governor Northam threatens veto over GOP redistricting plan | The Washington Post

Gov. Ralph Northam warned Tuesday he would veto a redistricting plan that Republicans in Virginia’s House of Delegates hope to approve this month. The lawmakers are set to consider new legislative boundaries in response to a federal court’s ruling that 11 House of Delegates districts were racially gerrymandered. House Speaker Kirk Cox ­(R-Colonial Heights) said earlier Tuesday that he would summon lawmakers on Oct. 21 to take up a plan passed out of committee on a party-line vote last week. If the legislature fails to act by Oct. 30, judges at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia will handle the redistricting themselves.

Europe: EU member states under fire over expat voting restrictions | Parliament Magazine

MEPs will be asked this week to pile pressure on the European Commission and Council to protect the rights of expats to vote in May’s European elections. At present, citizens of the UK, Cyprus, Denmark, Germany, Ireland and Malta do not have the right to vote in national elections when they reside elsewhere in the EU. For example, a British citizen who has lived abroad for more than 15 years forfeits the right to vote. The campaign to remove the voting restrictions, which will be debated during this week’s plenary session in Strasbourg, is being led by ALDE group MEP Cecilia Wikström, a petitions committee member, who has previously tabled questions to the commission on the issue. “[The right to vote in elections] is a fundamental right common to the constitutional traditions of the member states and recognised in the EU treaties as related to the right of political participation,” Wikström said.

Afghanistan: Suicide bomber kills 14 at election rally in Afghanistan | Associated Press

A suicide bomber struck an election rally in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province on Tuesday, killing at least 14 people and wounding around 40, a provincial official said. The attack, the first since campaigning began last week ahead of elections for the lower house of parliament, underscored the widespread violence gripping the country 17 years after the U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban. The vote is scheduled for Oct. 20 but it’s unclear if the balloting will go ahead in areas controlled by the Taliban, who have seized several districts across the country in recent years and who carry out near-daily attacks. Tuesday’s attack targeted a rally for Abdul Naser Mohmand, an independent candidate, who was unharmed.

Bosnia: Observers Gather in Bosnia to Scrutinise Elections | Balkan Insight

More than 50,000 national and international observers will monitor Bosnia’s eight post-war election whose campaign has less than a week to run. The Central Electoral Committee has accredited 2,9191 observers, but this figure only refers to those who will be observing the CIK and the main vote collection centre. “International observers can submit their request by October 7, while municipal electoral committees are in charge of accreditations on that level,” Maksida Piric, from the CIK, told BIRN. The delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council Of Europe is coming on October 5 in a mission, joining 486 other confirmed international observers.

India: Fearing breach, Election Commission moves to secure cyber walls for 2019 | The Indian Express

Amid allegations and fear of cyber-meddling in polls abroad, the Election Commission (EC) has initiated an unprecedented drive to protect its voter registration database and office networks from unauthorised influence and access during the Lok Sabha polls next year. A chief information security officer in Delhi and a cyber security nodal officer in each state; regulations on cyber security exclusively for the Commission; third-party security audit of all poll-related applications and websites; workshops to train officers in cyber hygiene; and a proposal to recognise elections as ‘critical information’ under the IT Act, 2000. These are the key steps taken by the EC over the last nine months to secure elections from cyber threats, The Indian Express has learnt.

Iraq: After months of deadlock, Iraqis name new president and prime minister | Associated Press

Iraqis named a president and a prime minister designate Tuesday, capping five months of halting negotiations that played out amid widening popular unrest and an intensifying rivalry between the United States and Iran for influence over Iraq’s leadership. Within an hour of Iraq’s parliament electing veteran Kurdish politician Barham Salih as president, he announced that he had asked former oil minister Adel Abdul Mahdi to form the next government. The selection of the men showed how the sectarian loyalties in Iraq’s Kurdish, Sunni Arab and Shiite Arab communities that have prevailed since the U.S. invasion in 2003 are breaking down, giving way to more-pragmatic coalitions that cut across sectarian lines.

Thailand: Deputy Prime Minister says Thailand will stick to 2019 date for general election | Reuters

There will be no delays to a general election planned in Thailand for 2019, the deputy prime minister said on Wednesday, amid the concerns of government critics and the opposition that it could be pushed back. The military government, which came to power after a 2014 coup, has promised to hold an election between February and May next year, following repeated delays on the grounds of constitutional and legislative steps needed ahead of a vote.

National: The Government Isn’t Doing Enough to Protect Voting Systems from Hackers | VICE

For many, the most important question as the midterms approach isn’t whether the Democrats or Republicans will win control of Congress, but whether the elections themselves will be secure. In 2016, Russian hackers likely targeted election systems in many states and penetrated Illinois’s registration database; this year there is concern that hackers will go after both government and private systems. In March, Congress made $380 million available to states seeking to improve their election systems’ cybersecurity. But state officials and election security experts say this doesn’t even come close to addressing the nation’s electoral cybersecurity needs. So what exactly do states need to do in order to secure their election systems? Although experts largely agree on basic guidelines, there is no one playbook for how to beef up electoral cybersecurity. America’s elections infrastructure is highly decentralized, with every state managing its own system. This is a benefit in some ways, said Jim Condos, Vermont’s secretary of state and a prominent voice in election cybersecurity discussions. It means bad actors can’t just break into one centralized system. But it also means states employ a patchwork of approaches to elections cybersecurity. The contours of threats and their fixes are constantly shifting as well.

National: Voting Rights Activists Threatened with Lawsuit by ES&S Over Sharing Instruction Manual | Alternet

One the country’s most dogged vote-count transparency activists, John Brakey of Tucson, Arizona, and the small non-profit he leads, AUDIT-USA, have been told by one of America’s biggest voting machine makers to take down the instruction manuals for their firm’s paper-ballot scanners from their website by Monday—or face a lawsuit, according to a September 27, 2018, letter from Timothy J. Hallett, Associate General Counsel for Election Systems & Software, or ES&S. Brakey, a barrel-chested grandfather who sees verifying vote counts as nothing less than a moral crusade to save American democracy from the dark forces that have colonized and privatized the ballot box, posted various ES&S manuals on AUDIT-USA’s website for a simple reason. The latest generation of high-speed scanners used to tally paper ballots has a built-in feature that he wants all precincts and counting centers to use: making an electronic image of every paper ballot cast. The digitized ballot images can be used to verify close counts, which has occurred in a handful of recent races across the U.S.

National: A Record 800,000 People Registered to Vote on National Voter Registration Day | Time

A record number of people registered to vote in the midterm elections on National Voter Registration Day last week, surpassing the previous record set during the 2016 presidential campaign. More than 800,000 people registered to vote this year as part of National Voter Registration Day, which fell on Sept. 25. The corresponding campaign had aimed to register 300,000 people. “Some us were saying, ‘Hey, maybe we’ll hit 400 or 500,000,” says Brian Miller, who coordinates National Voter Registration Day in his role as executive director of Nonprofit VOTE. “No one that I know of thought we would surpass 800,000 voter registrations. That surprised all of us. But I think it’s a sign of the interest in the midterms and the interest in having this unified day of action.”

Arizona: How Arizona Officials May Obstruct Thousands Of Voters | National Memo

As the close of voter registration approaches in Arizona for the November 6 midterms, it is more than likely that thousands—if not tens of thousands—of registered voters who recently moved inside the state will be walking into a trap on Election Day. At best, they will face an annoying and inconvenient runaround to find a polling place to cast a ballot that will count. But just as likely many voters who moved to another county will find that their voting status has been suspended for the 2018 election. The reasons for this likely quagmire are numerous. Some of the blame falls on Arizona residents who moved and didn’t revise their voter registration information. But a larger share of the blame falls on the state, especially two agencies involved in elections, for a series of uneven, bureaucratically opaque, and even legally dubious moves that don’t come down on the side of ensuring that all already-registered voters can participate.

California: State bans bots secretly trying to sway elections | CNET

California has declared open season on the use of bots to try to secretly influence elections. Legislation signed by California Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday makes it illegal to use automated online programs, or bots, to try to influence voters’ opinions during an election without revealing the source’s artificial nature. The law also applies to bots trying to sell merchandise or services. Bots are everywhere in technology, ranging from search engine spiders that crawl the internet looking for new web pages, to malicious bots that come with a virus. They’ve also been traced to Russian attempts to sow the seeds of discontent among Americans by spreading false or deceptive information during the 2016 election.

Kansas: Post-Election Audits In Kansas Begin With 2019 Elections | KMUW

Starting next year, Kansas counties are required to do post-election audits. The check will make sure the voting process — from equipment to office procedures — is done correctly, and the election results are accurate. According to legislation approved earlier this year, a county election board will review at least one contested race on federal, state and county levels. According to legislation approved earlier this year, a county election board will review at least one contested race on federal, state and county levels. The audit will be a hand recount of paper ballots, regardless of the method of voting, in one percent of randomly selected voting districts in each county.

Missouri: Judge expects to rule on voter photo ID case next week | News Tribune

Cole County Senior Judge Richard Callahan said Monday he expects to have a ruling next week in the lawsuit challenging Missouri’s new law requiring a photo identification as the easiest way to cast a vote at the polls. He gave lawyers for both sides until the end of Wednesday to submit any final briefs in the case. The lawsuit was filed earlier this year by national group Priorities USA, two Missouri residents and the West (St. Louis) County Community Action Network. They argue that a 2016 voter-approved amendment and the enacting legislation adding the photo ID language to Missouri Constitution don’t “eliminate the express, constitutional right to vote” that already is defined in two different places in the Constitution — and they want Callahan to block enforcement of the law during the Nov. 6 general election. “Plaintiffs started this case talking about the right to vote, and the unique place it holds in our democracy,” lawyer Uzoma Nkwonta, of Washington, D.C., told Callahan at the beginning of Monday’s final arguments in the trial that began last week.

North Carolina: Legislator, state NAACP propose voting changes post-Florence | Associated Press

A civil rights group and key legislator are concerned enough about how residents displaced by Hurricane Florence will be able to vote that they’re seeking action on ballot and registration access. On the eve of special session addressing Florence relief, the state NAACP held a news conference Monday asking the state elections board to extend the traditional voter registration deadline from Oct. 12 to Oct. 17 in close to 30 eastern counties. But Republican Rep. David Lewis, a House Elections Committee chairman, said he’s put together legislation for Tuesday’s special session for Florence relief that would extend traditional registration until Oct. 15 in 28 counties currently declared federal disaster areas.

North Dakota: Officials Tell Tribes of Election Requirements | Associated Press

North Dakota is going ahead with requiring residents to provide a street address in order to vote on Election Day, even though some American Indian tribes have argued in federal court that they sometimes aren’t assigned on reservations. Secretary of State Al Jaeger’s office notified the state’s five tribes by email late Friday of North Dakota voter ID requirements. The email said obtaining a residential street address is a quick and no-cost process that can be done by notifying 911 coordinators in any of North Dakota’s 53 counties. A file containing a downloadable poster was attached to the email. “The effort is to educate people who vote and how to comply with the law,” Deputy Secretary of State Jim Silrum said Monday.

South Carolina: Public officials, advocacy groups push for extension of voter registration deadline | WCSC

The ACLU of South Carolina and Attorney General Alan Wilson are pushing for an extension on the deadline for South Carolinians to register to vote. The requests for extending the deadline come after several counties were impacted by the threat and damages from Hurricane Florence in September. “In these extraordinary circumstances, we strongly recommend that measures be taken to ensure that all voting-eligible South Carolinians who need additional time to register to vote as a result of the impact of Hurricane Florence be given that time so that they are not disenfranchised by this natural disaster,” the ACLU said in a letter sent to the Election Commission.

U.S. Territories: Supreme Court to consider review of voter rights in U.S. territories | Virgin Islands Daily News

The U.S. Supreme Court will meet privately in conference Friday to consider whether to grant review of Segovia v. United States, a voting rights lawsuit that seeks to expand voting rights in the U.S. territories. Neil Weare, president and founder of Equally American, a nonprofit that advocates for equality and civil rights for Americans living in the territories, said in a Monday press release that the news is “momentous.” “The federal government’s response to hurricanes Maria and Irma has demonstrated just how important it is that Americans living in U.S. territories enjoy the same right to vote as their fellow citizens,” said Weare in the press release. “We hope the Supreme Court will take the opportunity to consider whether voting rights can be arbitrarily protected or denied based on where one happens to live outside the 50 states.”

Australia: E-voting systems are still too vulnerable to be feasible for Australia | Tech Wire Asia

Voting in Australia has long followed the same formula – use pencils to mark on a piece of paper behind a cardboard booth, then folding said paper and slotting it into a box. For years, having humans manually count paper ballots have created an electoral system that is deemed highly secure and tamper-resistant. Compulsory voting in the country has helped secure against suppression tactics that have affected elections in the US and the UK. In the digital age, it is tempting to move voting online; the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) tried dabbling in e-voting in 2013. However, experts warned that e-voting brings more harm than good. The trouble of electronic voting has been in the spotlight for the past few years at DefCon, the world’s largest hacker conference taking place annually in the US, where hackers have been showcasing vulnerabilities to the US election equipment, databases, and infrastructure. In fact, this year an 11-year-old managed to hack into replica websites to manipulate vote tallies in just 10 minutes.

Canada: New cybersecurity centre to look at election interference threats | Associated Press

A fresh look at Canada’s ability to defend against possible online threats to the next national election will be one of a new federal cybersecurity centre’s first tasks. An updated version of a groundbreaking report on lurking dangers to electoral integrity will be issued in the new year, said Scott Jones, head of the fledgling Canadian Centre for Cyber Security. The new federal body aims to be a clearinghouse of information, advice and guidance on threats for the public, Canadian businesses, and owners and operators of critical infrastructure, such as power grids and banking systems. “We want to be that trusted source of information for Canadians,” Jones said in an interview.

Finland: ‘We are constantly one step behind’: Finland worries about cyber warfare in shadow of Russia | The Independent

Finland, on the northern edge of Europe and with a population of fewer than 5.5 million, may not seem an obvious player in struggles of geopolitics. But being situated in the shadow of its giant neighbour, Russia, has meant that the country has been inevitably drawn into the world of hybrid warfare. Helsinki was the focus of global attention as the venue of the summit between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, with questions inevitably raised over claims that the Russian president had placed his man in the White House through manipulation of the US election. Away for the limelight Helsinki has become the base for a major cyber-defence programme for the west with the establishment of the Nato-backed European Centre for Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threat, which has received funding and resources from the US, Britain, France and Nordic states.

Macedonia: A referendum on Macedonia’s new name fails to settle anything – One step forward, two steps back in Skopje | The Economist

IT HAD been billed as the most important vote in the region’s recent history, a referendum in favour of settling a long-standing dispute between Greece and Macedonia. Instead, voters have opened the door to instability and uncertainty. The vote, held on September 30th in Macedonia, which aimed to endorse an historic compromise agreement between the two countries over Macedonia’s name, has instead thrown the deal into question. It is on life support. But Ana Petruseva, director of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Macedonia, says “it is not dead yet.”

Spain: Tensions flare at Barcelona protests on anniversary of independence vote | The Guardian

Tens of thousands of Catalans congregated in Barcelona on Monday to mark the first anniversary of the region’s unilateral and illegal independence referendum as groups of pro-independence activists blocked roads, motorways and a high-speed rail line and surrounded the Catalan parliament. Police in the city estimated that about 180,000 people took part in a rally in the city on Monday evening. Tensions flared between police and protesters as some hardline demonstrators jumped over barriers at the entrance to the parliament. There were similar scenes outside the Barcelona headquarters of Spain’s national police. Crowds of students filled the city’s central square on Monday afternoon, waving yellow, red and blue separatist flags and chanting “1 October, no forgiving, no forgetting”. Nearby, others let off smoke bombs and fireworks.