According to reporting by Reuters, a Moscow-based think tank linked run by retired senior Russian foreign intelligence officials appointed by Vladimir Putin developed plans for a propaganda and misinformation campaign aimed at influencing the 2016 US Presidential election. Sources interviewed by Reuters described two documents produced by the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies that outlined strategies for influencing the election. The first was aimed at encouraging U.S. voters to elect a president who would take a softer line toward Russia, while the second, based on the assumption that Hillary Clinton would be elected recommended focusing on voter fraud to undercut the U.S. electoral system’s legitimacy and damage Clinton’s reputation.
An article in Wired examining the fight against partisan gerrymandering and suggests that current efforts may the most auspicious in decades due to new quantitative approaches—measures of how biased a map is, and algorithms that can create millions of alternative maps—that could help set a concrete standard for how much gerrymandering is too much. Last November, some of these new approaches helped convince a United States district court to invalidate the Wisconsin state assembly district map—the first time in more than 30 years that any federal court has struck down a map for being unconstitutionally partisan. That case is now bound for the Supreme Court.
Within days of Alabama Governor Robert Bentley’s resignation, new Governor Kay Ivey has changed the date for the special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat previously held by Jeff Sessions to this calendar year. Bentley had been criticized for putting the special election off until next year and Ivey moved quickly to set the primary for August 15, with a runoff, if necessary, for September 26. The general election will be held on December 12.
With the closely-watched special election in Georgia’s 6th Congressional district going to a run-off in June, civil rights and voting organizations have filed a suit challenging a Georgia law that prohibits voters from voting in the runoff election who weren’t registered in time for the first round. The plaintiff’s allege that the restriction violates Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act, which requires states to allow voters to participate in any election for federal office as long as they register at least 30 days prior.
Last week, Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske claimed that the state’s DMV of encouraged the registration of non-citizen voters, by allowing ID-seekers to also fill out voter registration forms at driver’s licenses offices even if they had presented a green card. Voting right advocates and DMV officials were quick to point out that federal law requires the DMV to submit voter registration applications to the state’s election officials regardless of the applicant’s apparent citizenship status. Cegavske on Wednesday released a statement saying that research by her department had found three non-citizens that are alleged to have voted in the November 2016 election in November, though she declined to say if her office would attempt to prosecute the three voters.
A voting rights group in North Carolina called for state and local officials to investigate whether allies of North Carolina’s former governor and the state Republican Party broke laws when hundreds of people were accused of voter fraud or absentee ballot irregularities last November. Democracy North Carolina said most of the accusations were irresponsible because the claims weren’t backed by evidence or could be eliminated based on cursory reviews of voter roll information. The protests were designed to intimidate voters for political gain or put in doubt the election result, the group’s report describing its own review alleges.
For the third time this Spring, courts have found Texas voting districts unconstitutional. This week it was the state legislative districts that were determined by a three-judge federal panel were also intentionally drawn to dilute votes based on race, and also violated the “one person one vote” principle of equal-sized voting districts that is the core consideration of the Voting Rights Act.
A New York Times article examined the role of Russian-sponsored misinformation in today’s presidential election in France. Turkey’s high election board has rejected formal calls by the country’s main opposition parties to annul the result of a referendum that will grant RecepTayyip Erdoğan sweeping new powers as president and the British parliament overwhelmingly agreed to a early general election on June 8, less than 12 months after deciding to quit the European Union.