Editorials: The 200-Year History of Using Voter Fraud Fears to Block Access to the Ballot | Pema Levy/Mother Jones

It seemed inevitable after evidence of voting irregularities appeared in the contested race in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District: Republicans used the problems to push for tighter voting laws last month. Voting restrictions in the name of fraud prevention have been at the forefront of Donald Trump’s presidency ever since he claimed in the wake of his election that millions of fraudulent votes had been cast against him and he created a commission to investigate voter fraud. (Never mind that the commission failed to document any evidence of widespread fraud, or that North Carolina’s issues appeared to stem from impropriety on the part of the Republican candidate’s campaign, not voters.) But raising fears of fraud in order to make it harder for people—particularly people fitting certain demographic profiles—to vote didn’t start with this administration, or even in the past 100 years. As Harvard University historian Alexander Keyssar lays out in his 2000 book, The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States, the tactic dates back to the early decades of the 19th century. Throughout US history, politicians and activists ginned up stories about fraud in order to keep their opponents from the polls. “Legislative debates were sprinkled heavily with tales of ballot box stuffing, miscounts, hordes of immigrants lined up to vote as the machine instructed, men trooping from precinct to precinct to vote early and often,” he writes. 

National: Voting Issues and Gerrymanders Are Now Key Political Battlegrounds | The New York Times

Voting rights and partisan gerrymandering, traditionally the preoccupation of wonky party strategists and good-government groups, have become major flash points in the debate about the integrity of American elections, signaling high stakes battles over voter suppression and politically engineered districts ahead of the 2020 presidential race. When Democrats take the majority in the House on Thursday, the first bill they plan to introduce will be broad legislation focusing on these issues. Early drafts of their proposals include automatic voter registration, public elections financing and ending gerrymandering by using independent commissions to draw voting districts. But action and anger go far beyond Congress. With voters increasingly aware of the powerful impact of gerrymandering and doubtful about the fairness of elections, voting issues have become central to politics in key states including Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Editorials: Trump illegally asked Russia to help him win in 2016. He shouldn’t get away with it. | Fred Wertheimer and Norman Eisen/USA Today

Prosecutors triggered a national firestorm last month when they asserted that President Donald Trump conspired with his ex-fixer, Michael Cohen, to commit campaign finance crimes involving hush money payments to two women. But the discussion has overlooked another Trump campaign finance offense — one that is even easier to prove because it occurred in plain sight. On July 27, 2016, Trump called on Russia to find presidential Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s missing emails. “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump proclaimed. He added, “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

Alaska: Fairbanks election lawsuit goes before Supreme Court | Alaska Public Media

All three parties filed briefs and objections last Friday to a ruling on the lawsuit holding up Alaska’s House District 1 election. Two months after election day, the Alaska Supreme Court is scheduled to hear each party argue their points at an oral hearing this Friday morning, Jan. 4. In the meantime, the state House is at a standstill, unable to elect a speaker until a majority is decided. The careful, persnickety points each party argues can be fascinating, or frustrating. Half the voters in this downtown Fairbanks district voted for each side. The race was certified as a tie between Democrat Kathryn Dodge and Republican Bart LeBon, until the Nov. 30 recount put LeBon one vote ahead.

Georgia: Will Georgia Double Down on Non-Transparent, Vulnerable Election Machines? | WhoWhatWhy

How could Georgia make its current voting system worse? Officials seem to have found a way. Even before the 2018 midterm election, the Peach State had achieved notoriety based on, among other things, its use of hackable paperless voting machines. Paperless voting machines are considered an especially attractive target for hackers and corrupt insiders because they provide no independent paper record of voter intent that can be used to determine whether electronic tallies are legitimate. Thus, Georgia is one of just a handful of states that still exclusively use such paperless machines. The good news is that Georgia, which was the first state in the country to deploy paperless machines statewide, has finally decided to replace these machines. But Georgia’s newly elected Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger (R), hopes to replace them not with hand-marked paper ballots and scanners (as virtually all independent cybersecurity election experts recommend), but rather with touchscreen ballot-marking devices, a prime example of which is the ExpressVote system from Election Systems & Software, LLC (ES&S). The ExpressVote is the specific system that Governor-elect Brian Kemp (R) began promoting last year. ES&S is Georgia’s current vendor.

Kansas: Ford County pays more than $70,000 to firm hired in Kansas voting rights case | Topeka Capital Journal

Ford County has paid more than $70,000 in legal fees to the firm representing County Clerk Debbie Cox, who was sued over voting access in one of the state’s few majority-minority cities. In October and November, the county paid $71,481 to the Hinkle Law Firm, which is based in Wichita, a document obtained through an open records request indicates. The money comes from the county’s general fund, Cox said. The ACLU sued Cox in late October after she moved Dodge City’s sole voting location outside city limits because the original location was to undergo construction. The lawsuit alleged that the move disenfranchised voters and in particular, the Hispanic population, who make up about 60 percent of the town.

North Carolina: Hearing into North Carolina ballot fraud claims postponed | Associated Press

A planned hearing digging into allegations of possible ballot fraud in the country’s last undecided congressional race was scrapped Wednesday, with North Carolina’s governor blaming Republicans for not backing his plan to temporarily recreate the disbanded state elections board. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper said he won’t try to ram ahead with a Democrats-only elections board. State elections staffers then announced the Jan. 11 meeting was postponed due to the lack of a board authorized to subpoena witnesses and hold hearings. Cooper contended he had the authority to reshape a three-Democrat, two-Republican elections board to hold the hearing into an unusually large number of unused absentee ballots and a large advantage in absentees favoring Republican Mark Harris in two of the 9th congressional district’s rural counties.

Vermont: Lawmakers to propose ranked-choice voting in upcoming session | VTDigger

The upcoming legislative session will see a push among some lawmakers to change the way Vermonters cast their ballots during elections. Legislators in the House and Senate plan on introducing bills that would institute a ranked-choice voting system in Vermont. Champions of ranked-choice voting argue the system leads to a more accurate reflection of public opinion in election results, by requiring winners to receive the majority of voter support or face a “run off”. Sibilia plans on spearheading an effort in the House to pass a ranked-choice bill into law. Sen. Chris Pearson, D/P Chittenden, will also be introducing a a ranked-choice bill in the Senate.

Wyoming: Lawmaker introduces legislation to tackle crossover voting | KPVI

A newly elected state senator is introducing a bill to address crossover voting in Wyoming’s elections, despite a lack of appetite by the committee that sets the rules for elections across the state. Sponsored by Senator-elect Bo Biteman, R-Ranchester, the bill — if enacted — would require voters looking to switch their party to fill out an application before a notary or election official, which they would then be required to file with the county clerk. Like previous versions of the bill, the legislation also sets parameters for when voters can change their party, and would prevent voters from changing their party affiliation during the roughly 10-week period between candidates officially filing for office and the primary election.

Bangladesh: Western powers call for probe into Bangladesh election irregularities, violence | Reuters

Western powers on Tuesday condemned election day violence in Bangladesh and described a range of other irregularities that marred a vote in which Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s alliance secured more than 90 percent of parliamentary seats. The strongly-worded assessments from the UK, European Union, and United States could hit the image of Hasina, who won a third straight term to power following Sunday’s election. Hasina’s opponents have rejected the election result, citing what they describe as widespread rigging and voter intimidation. She has denied impropriety, calling it a peaceful vote that saw enthusiastic participation from her supporters. The capital Dhaka was quiet on Tuesday, but the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) said its workers were being attacked in several areas elsewhere in the country by activists of the Awami League – charges the party denied.

Bangladesh: Sheikh Hasina denies Bangladesh poll fraud as opposition cries foul | Financial Times

When Selina Akther went to vote in Dhaka in Bangladesh’s general election, she was surprised when the polling agent entered the booth with her. Her surprise turned to outrage, she said, when he then cast her vote. He selected the “spade” button on the screen of one of the electronic voting machines — the symbol of one of the small parties that is part of an alliance with Bangladesh’s ruling Awami League — Ms Akther told the Financial Times. It was not the party she had wanted to support in Sunday’s polls, but despite her protests to the centre’s electoral official, she said, it was too late — her vote was cast.

Canada: With election ahead, we need to make public records truly public | The Conversation

Citizens require access to public records in order to become properly informed about the activities of their governments and to provide sound feedback on government policies, plans and programs. However, many Canadian citizens have learned through experience that freedom of information (FOI) legislation is not properly serving citizens. As a result, they lack information and informed interactions with their elected representatives, and are reduced to musing about public affairs with other citizens. As a federal election year dawns, an alternative approach is needed — and soon, because the relationship between citizens and governments is under serious challenge. Claims of “fake news” are too often displacing discussions that are based on evidence.

Congo: Warning of ‘Fictitious’ Election Results Online, Congo Cuts Internet for 2nd Day | The New York Times

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s government cut internet connections and SMS services across the country for a second straight day on Tuesday as the country nervously awaited results from the weekend’s chaotic presidential election. Both the opposition and ruling coalition said on Monday they were on track to win after a turbulent Election Day on Sunday, in which many Congolese were unable to vote because of an Ebola outbreak, conflict and logistical problems. Barnabé Kikaya bin Karubi, a senior adviser to President Joseph Kabila, said internet and SMS services were cut to preserve public order after “fictitious results” began circulating on social media. “That could lead us straight toward chaos,” Mr. Karubi said, adding the connections would remain cut until the publication of complete results on Jan. 6.

Indonesia: KPU reports propagators of ‘cast ballots’ rumor to police | The Jakarta Post

The General Elections Commission (KPU) has reported fake news propagators to the police after misinformation about seven containers of cast ballots from China for presidential candidate pair Joko Widodo-Ma’ruf Amin caused uproar over the internet. “It was reported to the Cyber Crime Police and we were about to report it to the National Police,“ KPU commisioner Ilham Saputra said on Thursday as quoted by Antara. He said that on Wednesday evening until early Thursday, the KPU and the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) went to Tanjung Priok Port in North Jakarta in response to a rumor that the ballot containers were located there. “After checking, we confirmed that the information was incorrect. There were no containers of cast ballots,” he said.

Japan: Japan already in for politically hectic 2019, but may see ‘double election’ | The Japan Times

Take a quick look at Japan’s political calendar for 2019. It’s shaping up to be one heck of a year. There will be nationwide local elections in mid-April, which will be followed by Emperor Akihito’s historic abdication at the end of the same month and the arrival of a new era. A little less than two months later, in late June, the nation will host the Group of 20 summit in Osaka for the first time ever, before political tensions soar once again later in the summer when a pivotal Upper House election is held. The nation will then brace for a consumption tax hike, slated for October, from the current eight to 10 percent. Hectic? That’s for sure. But experts say Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, determined to follow through on his longtime quest to revise the postwar Constitution, could make things even more complicated by engineering what is often dubbed a “double election” — where he strategically dissolves the Lower House to coincide with the pre-scheduled July Upper House poll.

Madagascar: Thousands protest ‘election fraud’ in Madagascar | Al Jazeera

Madagascan security forces have fired tear gas to break up a protest by supporters of losing presidential candidate Marc Ravalomanana, who claims he was denied victory in last month’s election because of fraud. In the runoff vote on December 19, Ravalomanana won 44 percent against Andry Rajoelina’s 55 percent, according to official results. Thousands of Ravalomanana’s supporters gathered in the centre of the capital Antananarivo on Wednesday but were quickly dispersed by police using tear gas, according to an AFP reporter at the scene. “We came to erect a giant screen projecting anomalies in the second-round election but we were fired at with tear gas,” Hanitra Razafimanantsoa, a lawmaker from Ravalomanana’s party, told the media.