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The Voting News Daily
Nepal Still Waits for a New Government

The Voting News Daily for 12/27/2017

The Voting News Daily is a service of the Verified Voting Foundation. Democracy depends on the integrity of elections and on the confidence of citizens that election results are correct. Please contribute to VerifiedVoting's efforts to promote accurate and transparent voting technology and election administration.


 

Today's Featured Article:
Russia never stopped its cyberattacks on the United States | Michael Morell and Mike Rogers/The Washington Post

Every first-year international-relations student learns about the importance of deterrence: It prevented a Soviet invasion of Western Europe during the height of the Cold War. It prevented North Korea from invading South Korea in the same time frame. Today, it keeps Iran from starting a hot war in the Middle East or other nations from initiating cyberattacks against our infrastructure.

And yet, the United States has failed to establish deterrence in the aftermath of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. We know we failed because Russia continues to aggressively employ the most significant aspect of its 2016 tool kit: the use of social media as a platform to disseminate propaganda designed to weaken our nation.

There is a perception among the media and general public that Russia ended its social-media operations following last year’s election and that we need worry only about future elections. But that perception is wrong. Russia’s information operations in the United States continued after the election and they continue to this day. 

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A U.S. appeals court in Washington on Tuesday upheld a lower court’s decision to allow President Donald Trump’s commission investigating voter fraud to request data on voter rolls from U.S. states. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) watchdog group, which filed the lawsuit, did not have legal standing to seek to force the presidential commission to review privacy concerns before collecting individuals’ voter data. EPIC had argued that under federal law, the commission was required to conduct a privacy-impact assessment before gathering personal data. But the three-judge appeals court panel ruled unanimously that the privacy law at issue was intended to protect individuals, not groups like EPIC. “EPIC is not a voter,” Judge Karen Henderson wrote in the ruling.

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The request from Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap seemed to be a given for any member of President Trump's voter fraud commission: He wanted transparency. But Dunlap, among a handful of Democrats on the panel launched by executive order in May with the stated goal of restoring confidence and integrity in the electoral process, said he was denied full access to internal information. So he sued the commission he sits on. On Friday, a federal judge ruled the panel must give Dunlap access to relevant documents in order to allow him to fully participate in the commission's work. "He has a right to access documents that the commission is considering relying on in the course of developing its final recommendations," U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly wrote in a lengthy opinion.

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Even before a defiant Roy S. Moore stood at a lectern this month and refused to concede the Alabama Senate race, one political reality was clear: An extraordinary turnout among black voters had helped push Doug Jones to a rare Democratic victory in this state. That turnout, in which registered black voters appeared to cast ballots at a higher rate than white ones, has become the most recent reference point in the complicated picture about race and elections laws. At issue, at a time when minorities are becoming an increasingly powerful slice of the electorate, is how much rules like Alabama’s voter ID law serve as a brake on that happening. The turnout by black voters in Alabama raises a question: Did it come about because voting restrictions were not as powerful as critics claim or because voters showed up in spite of them?

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When Athenians came up with the idea of democracy 2,500 years ago, they figured the best way to be sure that the people, and not a tyrant, ruled was to pick their Council of 500 by lot — basically, the way the next member of the House of Delegates the 94th district could be selected. And the way control of the nation’s oldest legislature, the Virginia House of Delegates, will be decided. While Americans don’t normally chose officials this way, it’s not unknown when an election ends in a tie. As it did in six races — school boards, county commissioners and city councils — in Colorado this year. The winners in those cases were drawn by lot, as Colorado law dictates — pretty much echoing Virginia’s with pretty much the same lack of detail about the method.

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The Russians are coming for our elections — to disrupt them, to discredit them, and even to affect their outcome. They’ll be coming in 2018, and in 2020. The trouble is that even if we figure out what they’re up to, our own government may be unable or unwilling to stop it. That’s the conclusion one has to come to upon reading reports like this new one from Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima, and Greg Jaffe, which describes how powerless the federal government has been and continues to be in the face of an ongoing war that Vladimir Putin is waging against U.S. democracy. It was hard enough to resist when the executive branch wanted to resist it; who knows how hard it will become as President Trump feels more politically threatened by upcoming elections and Robert S. Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in 2016.

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Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore released a poem on Christmas Eve, just days before the final totals in his losing effort against Democrat Doug Jones are to be certified. Moore's self-written poem was posted to Facebook. It tells the story of a young girl whose father had died and the following Christmas miracle. "Have a Blessed and Merry Christmas!" the note accompanying the video said. Moore has not addressed his loss to Jones, the first Democrat in more than 20 years to be elected to the Senate from Alabama. The former Alabama Chief Justice hasn't conceded the race, saying he wanted to wait until all military and provisional ballots were counted. That happened last week and did not change the results of the election.

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A new federal lawsuit alleges political district maps drawn by Michigan’s Republican-led Legislature discriminate against Democratic voters to protect GOP majorities at the state Capitol and in Congress. Former Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer filed the suit Friday on behalf of the Michigan League of Women Voters and various Democrats, including former state Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Fred Durhal Jr. of Detroit. The complaint contends 2011 maps drawn by Republicans represent a “particularly egregious example of party gerrymandering,” whereby a party in power draws districts to give itself an advantage in elections.

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As cleanup continues from the most recent North Carolina elections held without a regulatory board to settle disputes, both local and state officials are wondering if the court case that vacated the board will be settled before the next elections in May. County boards and judges — not the state elections board — are still handling appeals from municipal elections in November. They include a mayor’s race that was decided by three votes and a one-vote race where ineligible voters cast ballots. North Carolina hasn’t had a statewide elections board since June because Gov. Roy Cooper is challenging a law that would change the board’s composition to be divided evenly between Republicans and Democrats. Cooper, a Democrat, has gone to court against the GOP-controlled legislature to keep the system that gives the governor’s party a majority of the board’s members. The litigation is now before the state Supreme Court.

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A federal judge has handed down new voting districts to replace those declared discriminatory against American Indian voters in southeastern Utah, but a prominent county commissioner said Friday that the county plans to appeal. The new election districts are designed to give an equal voice in local races to native residents who make up about half the population. Mark Maryboy called them a well-deserved victory that comes after a half century of struggle. "It means a great socio-economic development for the Navajo people in San Juan County," said Maryboy, who is Navajo and a former county commissioner. "Navajos make better county officials. I don't think Navajos will discriminate against the white county population."

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A race that would tip control of Virginia’s House of Delegates, whose constant and nearly comic pendulums between candidates has attracted national attention, took one more twist on Tuesday when a drawing to break a tie was unexpectedly postponed. The Virginia State Board of Elections announced it would delay a drawing of lots after receiving a letter from lawyers for the Democratic candidate, Shelly Simonds, that she was legally fighting the ruling of a recount court last week. The election board’s one-line announcement, on Twitter, came just hours after an announcement that there would be a live video stream of the drawing, which was to be held adjacent to the State Capitol, in response to the huge interest in the race beyond Virginia.

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State Attorney General Brad Schimel said he will be taking "a more expansive look into whether there were other illegal activities going on" at the now-defunct Government Accountability Board. Schimel made his comments about the old GAB during a television interview that aired Sunday on "Upfront With Mike Gousha." Last week, Republican state Senate leaders authorized Schimel to look into activities of the shuttered agency, including wide-ranging probes it conducted with prosecutors of Gov. Scott Walker and other Republicans. The state Supreme Court shut down the investigation in 2015, finding nothing illegal had occurred.

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An audit report delivered by the Electoral Observation Mission of the Organization of American States (OAS / MOE) listing irregularities in Honduras' voting process has been denounced as "false, baseless and subjective" by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE). Among the irregularities, the observers noted that trucks moving ballots arrived at polling stations "without the accompaniment of custodians," with "open or incomplete suitcases missing the minutes, the incident sheets and the voting papers," and incidents of vote-buying. The TSE, however, rejected the concerns in a statement Friday, insisting that all electoral material was protected by military personnel and handled accordingly. The ballots may have arrived in a disorganized condition, it said, but they arrived safely and in their entirety.

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Three weeks after the second phase of Nepal’s parliamentary & provincial elections, the country still doesn’t have a government. These are the first elections after a new Constitution was approved in 2015. The Left Alliance between the Maoist Centre and the Unified Maoist-Leninists appears to have won, over the Nepali Congress party, which has been mainly in power since 1991. But the Election Commission has yet to publish the final results. "The Nepali Congress is being a sore loser," explains Kunda Dixit, the chief editor of the weekly Nepali Times.

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Aleksei A. Navalny, a Russian anticorruption activist, would have no real chance of defeating President Vladimir V. Putin in an election. The authorities have cast him as an utterly irrelevant showboat. But on Monday the Kremlin barred him from running for president in March. Then on Tuesday, threatening legal action, it warned him against organizing a boycott of the election. In one surreal turn after another, the Russian authorities have dismissed Mr. Navalny, a charismatic and canny street politician, as a nonentity — and then have done everything in their power to make sure that is the case. The boycott warning came from Mr. Putin’s spokesman, and was issued the same day the president, who has been in power for almost 18 years, was formally nominated to seek a fourth term.

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Spain’s King Felipe VI has urged Catalan leaders to respect their region’s diversity and avoid another confrontation over independence in a Christmas speech. Felipe’s remarks on Sunday came three days after separatist parties in Catalonia, led by ousted president Carles Puigdemont, won an absolute majority of seats in a parliamentary vote. The wealthy north-eastern region’s newly elected parliament must “face the problems that affect all Catalans, with respect to plurality and bearing in mind their responsibility to the common good”, the monarch said. “The road cannot lead again to confrontation and exclusion, which as we already know generate nothing but discord, uncertainty and discouragement.” Spain’s central government called the election after sacking Puigdemont’s cabinet, dissolving the Catalan parliament and stripping the region of its treasured autonomy following an independence declaration on 27 October.

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Articles and commentary included do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors of The Voting News or its allied organizations.

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