The week began with the confirmation by FBI Director James Comey that that an investigation of ties between Russia and the Trump campaign have been underway since last July. Then Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes mysteriously disappeared into the night leaving a committee staffer in an Uber taxi the night before hastily arranging a press conference to reveal that he has seen evidence of incidental surveillance of the Trump transition team. Then Nunes cancelled the committee’s next open hearing, a move Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the committee, called a “dodge” to avoid another bad press day for the President. Schiff has questioned the chairman’s ability to lead an unbiased investigation.
The New York Times notes that “nationwide, Republican state legislators are again sponsoring a sheaf of bills tightening requirements to register and to vote. And while they have traditionally argued that such laws are needed to police rampant voter fraud — a claim most experts call unfounded — some are now saying the perception of fraud, real or otherwise, is an equally serious problem, if not worse.”
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a bill requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls. The legislation is strikingly familiar to a measure that the state Supreme Court struck down in 2014. The bill contained some new provisions, most notably one that allows people without photo identification to sign a sworn statement saying they are registered in Arkansas, but it is certain to face another court challenge. In Iowa a similarly contentious voter ID bill cleared the Senate by a straight party-line vote and will return to the House where it was initiated by Secretary of State Paul Pate.
It now seems that Kennesaw State University officials received a warning before the presidential election that a server system used by its election center may be vulnerable to a data breach but waited until another breach earlier this month, just before a closely-watched special election to notify state officials. A spokeswoman for Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who is said to have been furious at university officials for not telling his office about the contacts before this month, said he has confidence in how the presidential election was run and that additional data checks by the office confirm the election’s results.
After defeating a proposal from the Governor earlier in the week, the Maryland Senate approved a bill that would require the state to create a nonpartisan commission for redistricting. However the new plan is contingent on five other states agreeing to do the same. Senators were divided between those who see the bill as a hollow gesture and others who say it’s a first step toward fixing Maryland’s confusing, gerrymandered political districts.
The fight over Montana’s only congressional seat was thrust into the legislative arena , as lawmakers continued debate over whether to conduct the May 25 special election by mail. Passions flared in the House Judiciary Committee as dozens of people — some driving more than 400 miles to attend a hearing — urged lawmakers to save counties from financial hardship and logistical nightmares by allowing the election to be held with only mail-in ballots.
A motion filed in U.S. District Court claims that Texas should be blocked from using a map of congressional districts that was found to have been drawn in violation of the U.S. Voting Rights Act, a federal court was told Thursday. A ruling earlier this month invalidated three districts that the court said were drawn by Republicans to intentionally discriminate against Latino and black voters.
Bulgarians voted in a closely-fought election, with the centre-right GERB party challenged for power by Socialists who say they will improve ties with Russia and the overwhelming majority of the Hong Kong’s 7.3 million people have no say in deciding their next leader, with the winner chosen Sunday by a 1,200-person “election committee” stacked with pro-Beijing and pro-establishment loyalists.