“Complaint spurs voter machine recalibration”

This happens every year, and it is already happening this year. It doesn’t mean the machines are rigged:

The Alamance County Board of Elections will recalibrate the voting machines at the Graham early voting site after a second-hand, anonymous complaint.

A man claiming to be a concerned citizen called the Times-News and said that when a friend of his attempted to vote for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, it selected Republican candidate Donald Trump. The information was left in a voicemail with no return phone number or name of the individuals involved.

Alamance County Board of Elections Director Kathy Holland said she received a similar phone call from one of the local political parties about a man claiming the machine had selected a different presidential candidate from the one he was attempting to select. No one, she stressed, has complained while voting. She said they would recalibrate the machines after voting ended Monday evening at the Youth Services Building.


“A growing conflict over voting rights is playing out in Georgia, where the presidential race is tightening”


A growing conflict over voting rights and ballot access is playing out in Georgia, where civil rights activists are trading accusations with Republican elected officials and where stakes have risen considerably with the state’s new status as a closely watched battleground.

Activists said earlier this month as many as 100,000 Georgia voter registration applications have not been processed. One of the state’s largest counties offered only one early-voting site, prompting hours-long waits for many voters at the polls last week. And the state’s top election official has refused to extend voter registration deadlines in counties hardest hit by Hurricane Matthew.

These developments have prompted harsh criticism from voting rights activists. Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit to extend registration for six counties affected by the hurricane. Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who oversees elections, responded by taking to Twitter to rail against “left-wing activists,” whom he accused of trying to disrupt the upcoming election.


“Trump: ‘Too much is being made’ about what I said in the debate”

Politico has the audio of Trump talking about his comment on keeping us in suspense if he loses:

“Yes, I think too much is being made,” Trump told Bo Thompson on WBT-AM’s “Charlotte’s Morning News.” “But, you know, everybody had me winning the third debate and the second debate handily, easily. And when I made that statement, I made it knowingly, because what’s happening is absolutely ridiculous.”


“Why the Justice Dept. Will Have Far Fewer Watchdogs in Polling Places”

Eric Lichtblau for the NYT:


The federal observer program has really been a hallmark of the Justice Department’s voting rights work,” Kristen Clarke, the director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said. That effort “has really come to a grinding halt,” she said, “and that’s a game changer this election cycle.”

The Voting Rights Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson at the height of the civil rights era. In the Shelby County decision, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote that “our country has changed” since those days of rampant voter discrimination.

The decision — which freed nine states, mostly in the South, to change their election laws without advance federal approval — unleashed a wave of new voting arrangements in scores of jurisdictions throughout the country. Civil rights advocates argue that those changes, including voter identification requirements that have since been overturned, have been intended to make it more difficult for blacks, Hispanics and other minorities to vote.

The Shelby ruling did not specifically address the Justice Department’s authority to send observers inside polling places. But Ms. Gupta said department lawyers had interpreted the decision to mean that officials could send observers only into jurisdictions where there was already a relevant court order regarding voting practices.

That broad interpretation has puzzled some legal scholars on both the left and the right.

“I was a little surprised by the Justice Department’s decision, to be honest,” Derek T. Muller, a conservative scholar on election law at Pepperdine University School of Law, said.


“Indiana Officials Target A Black Voter Registration Drive On A Technicality”

Must-read HuffPo:

Varoga said the Oct. 4 police action prevented the group from registering 5,000 to 10,000 additional voters ahead of Indiana’s Oct. 11 voter registration deadline. He’s worried that clerks won’t count some of the 45,000 applications the group had already collected.

So why did state officials take such a dramatic step in interrupting the IVRP’s work just days ahead of the voter registration deadline?

From what we’ve gathered, it’s not because there’s any mass “voter fraud” scheme to steal an election. Instead, it seems the extraordinary investigation is likely to find no more than potential technical violations of obscure regulations for third-party voter registration groups.


“The good news on voting and democracy: Column”

Josh Douglas USA Today oped:

All politics is local, as the saying goes, and the same is true of election law. Although the U.S. Constitution protects the right to vote, local laws can expand its scope and influence democratic representation. Voters across the country are making choices this fall that will not only affect state and local elections, they will also serve as the catalysts for nationwide reforms.


FL: “Despite Trump’s plea, little sign of interest in poll watching”

Tallahassee Democrat:

Few local voters have answered Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s call to sign up as poll watchers to prevent a rigged election.  On the campaign trail this week, he warned of the media and partisans conspiring to steal the election.

“The election is absolutely being rigged by the dishonest and distorted media pushing Crooked Hillary – but also at many polling places –SAD.” Trump tweeted Sunday.

Trump’s vision of nefarious forces working to thwart the will of the people has failed to mobilize Leon County supporters to guard against Election Day fraud.

“No effect, nothing. None at all,” said Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho.


TX: “Officials prepare for uncertainty, confusion as early voting begins Monday”

Houston Chronicle:

Harris County politicos are bracing for uncertainty with Monday’s start to early balloting, as many voters remain confused about Texas’ voter identification requirements and Donald Trump continues to warn – without proof – of a “rigged election.”
Meanwhile, recent statewide polls foretell a closer presidential race than Texas has seen in two decades, with Hillary Clinton trailing Trump by low single digits.


Justice Ginsburg’s Hint on SCOTUS Appointments to Come

Joan Biskupic for CNN:

In a wide-ranging interview in July, Ginsburg lamented the stalled Garland nomination. I asked if she would ever try to help his prospects by passing word to Clinton of her own possible retirement in the near future, which would ensure subsequent opportunities to appoint younger, perhaps more liberal or groundbreaking justices.
Ginsburg said she did not believe any overt signal was necessary, declining to be explicit about her own plans yet observing that two justices are not far behind her in age, Anthony Kennedy, 80, and Stephen Breyer, 78.
“I think she has figured it out,” Ginsburg said of Clinton. “She’s bound to have a few appointments in her term.”

How mega-donors helped raise $1 billion for Hillary Clinton”


The effort paid off. Together with the party and pro-Clinton super PACs, the Democratic nominee had amassed $1.14 billion to support her campaign by the end of September — on par with what Obama and his allies brought in for his 2012 reelection bid. GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, who did not begin fundraising in earnest until the end of May, had collected $712 million, including $56 million of his own money.

Unlike Obama, Clinton fully embraced super PACs from the very beginning of her race, helping pull in larger checks from donors than the president did. An analysis by The Washington Post found that more than a fifth of the $1 billion donated to help her bid was given by just 100 wealthy individuals and labor unions — many with a long history of contributing to the Clintons. The analysis included contributions to her campaigns, joint fundraising committees, national parties, convention host committees and single-candidate super PACs.

The top five donors together contributed one out of every $17 for her 2016 run: hedge fund manager S. Donald Sussman ($20.6 million); Chicago venture capitalist J.B. Pritzker and his wife, M.K. ($16.7 million); Univision chairman Haim Saban and his wife, Cheryl ($11.9 million); hedge fund titan George Soros ($9.9 million); and SlimFast founder S. Daniel Abraham ($9.7 million).


“Outside Money Favors Hillary Clinton at a 2-to-1 Rate Over Donald Trump”


Six years after a Supreme Court decision opened vast new channels for money to flow into national elections, Democrats have built the largest and best-coordinated apparatus of outside groups operating in the 2016 presidential campaign, defying expectations that conservative and corporate wealth would dominate the race.

A dozen different organizations raised over $200 million through the beginning of October and since May have spent more than $110 million on television, digital, and radio ads in support of Hillary Clinton, according to records filed with the Federal Election Commission through Thursday.

The handful of organizations backing Donald J. Trump have raised less than half that amount, a steep dive from four years ago, when wealthy Republicans poured hundreds of millions of dollars into groups backing the Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

The Democrats’ success this year reflects, in part, Mrs. Clinton’s close personal ties to her party’s elite donors and her allies’ willingness to exploit the 2010 ruling in the Citizens United case far more aggressively than President Obama did.

But the Democrats are also deeply indebted to one man: Mr. Trump, whose provocations and tirades — along with a loud crusade against his own party’s donors — have virtually shut off what once promised to be a half-billion-dollar spigot of outside money.


“The Impact of Voter Fraud Claims on Voter Registration Reform Legislation”

Margaret Goarke has written this article for Political Science Quarterly. Here is the abstract:

MARGARET GROARKE examines the impact that claims of voter fraud has had on three cases of voter registration reforms in the United States. She argues that the opposition that these legislative efforts faced is best understood as a partisan strategy to redistribute the electorate.


“Little-known change to Wisconsin voting law could affect voters who plan to mail in absentee ballots this November”

Wisconsin State Journal:

Voters who mail in their absentee ballots have an earlier deadline to do so this year under a new state law that took effect last month.

Under the law the absentee ballots must be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 8, in order to count. Previously, mail-in absentee ballots had to be postmarked by Election Day and received by a clerk’s office by 4 p.m. on the next Friday.

The new law is one of a handful of changes to voting rules that could trip up some of the half-million to a million people in the state who only turn out to vote once every four years for presidential elections.


Quote of the Day: Fraudulent Fraud Squad Edition

(For background on Trump supporters wearing red to supposedly ferret out voter fraud—just like figuring out skew in public public opinion polls by looking at the size of Trump rallies, see here).


“Group Plans Anti-Clinton ‘News’ In Black Press”


A right-leaning nonprofit has proposed an 11th-hour effort to place news articles critical of HIllary Clinton and other Democrats in black newspapers in the runup to the November election, BuzzFeed News has learned.

The American Media Institute has approached Republican donors to finance the articles, three sources said. They were to run in a nominally apolitical black wire service that serves the black press, the sources said.

One source shared details of the plan with BuzzFeed News out of concern that the proposal “looks like voter suppression,” the source said. The group’s founder, Richard Miniter, adamantly denied that charge. It is also unclear whether any donors have committed to financing the project in the election’s final weeks.


“Donald Trump jokes that it’s okay for his supporters to commit voter fraud”

It would be funny if his earlier comments were not so corrosive;

 As Donald Trump once again warned his supporters on Saturday that voter fraud is rampant and could cost him the election, he wondered aloud if he’s receiving any of the fraudulent votes.

“Maybe they’ll vote for Trump, I don’t know, maybe I shouldn’t be saying that,” Trump said at a Saturday night rally in a convention center near the airport here. “I may be hurting myself, you’re right. You’re right. Maybe they’re going to vote for Trump. Alright, let’s forget that. It’s okay for them to do it.”

His tone was joking — but Trump’s comments follow several days of serious allegations that the system is “rigged” against him and that rampant voter fraud could cost him the election. He has claimed that Democrats are voting using the registrations of people who have died and that undocumented immigrants are illegally voting, even though there is little evidence that such fraud is widespread. At the rally on Saturday, he also suggested that some people are voting more than once by visiting several polling locations.

“There is the issue that everybody says: ‘Oh, oh, it doesn’t take place,'” Trump said. “Are these people playing games with us? Right? ‘Oh, it doesn’t take place.’ These are the people that negotiate our trade deals. These are the people that don’t know what’s going on in real life or these are the people that are just playing games with you. There is the issue of voter fraud. Isn’t it amazing how they say: ‘There’s no voter fraud.’ Folks, it’s a rigged system, and it’s a rigged election, believe me.”


“Go Midwest, Young Hipster If you really want Democrats to win in Iowa, move there.”

Alec MacGillis for NYT Sunday Review:

Liberals have a simple explanation for this state of affairs: Republican-led gerrymandering, which has put Democrats at a disadvantage in the House and in many state legislatures. But this overlooks an even bigger problem for their party. Democrats today are sorting themselves into geographic clusters where many of their votes have been rendered all but superfluous, especially in elections for the Senate, House and state government.

This has long been a problem for the party, but it has grown worse in recent years. The clustering has economic and demographic roots, but also a basic cultural element: Democrats just don’t want to live where they’d need to live to turn more of the map blue.


“The Price I’ve Paid for Opposing Donald Trump”

Horrifying and condemnable conduct. David French:

Trump’s alt-right trolls have subjected me and my family to an unending torrent of abuse that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I distinctly remember the first time I saw a picture of my then-seven-year-old daughter’s face in a gas chamber. It was the evening of September 17, 2015. I had just posted a short item to the Corner calling out notorious Trump ally Ann Coulter for aping the white-nationalist language and rhetoric of the so-called alt-right. Within minutes, the tweets came flooding in. My youngest daughter is African American, adopted from Ethiopia, and in alt-right circles that’s an unforgivable sin. It’s called “race-cucking” or “raising the enemy.” I saw images of my daughter’s face in gas chambers, with a smiling Trump in a Nazi uniform preparing to press a button and kill her. I saw her face photo-shopped into images of slaves. She was called a “niglet” and a “dindu.” The alt-right unleashed on my wife, Nancy, claiming that she had slept with black men while I was deployed to Iraq, and that I loved to watch while she had sex with “black bucks.” People sent her pornographic images of black men having sex with white women, with someone photoshopped to look like me, watching


It gets worse.


Trump Talking Points Urge Surrogates to Push Voter Fraud Line

Jonathan Swan for The Hill:

In campaign talking points sent out Wednesday and obtained by The Hill, the Trump team told Republican surrogates to cite examples of voter fraud in North Carolina, Colorado, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Under a headline ‘Must make points on rigged system,’ the Trump campaign encourages surrogates to say, “We have also seen very significant recent voting irregularities across the country from Pennsylvania to Colorado and an increase in unlawful voting by illegal immigrants.”

Another Trump talking point reads: “Non-citizen votes may have been responsible for Barack Obama’s narrow margin of victory in North Carolina in 2008.”


PA GOP Files Complaint to Send Poll Workers to Other PA Counties

You can read the complaint at this link.

UPDATE: I have now had a chance to look at the legal arguments in this complaint. I cannot speak to the state constitutional issues, but as to the U.S. Constitutional issues, this seems exceptionally weak. The argument is that the failure to allow some voters within the state to serve as poll watchers violates equal protection, due process and First Amendment speech rights. I have never seen such an argument not extended to the act of voting, but to the act of watching at the polls. I cannot see how this severely burdens voters’ rights, and nothing in the complaint demonstrates that it does. I don’t think the federal arguments have much of a chance of going anywhere.

(It also seems awfully late in the process to be filing this).


If Today’s Internet Outage/Hacking Was a Dry Run for Election Day, Things Could Get Very Bad

Earlier I suggested that today’s Internet hack which disrupted things could be a dry-run for election day. The NY Times now reports the pernicious and widespread nature of this attack:

And in a troubling development, the attack appears to have relied on hundreds of thousands of internet-connected devices like cameras and home routers that have been infected — without their owners’ knowledge — with software that allows hackers to command them to flood a target with overwhelming traffic.

Security researchers have long warned that the increasing number of devices being hooked up to the internet, the so-called Internet of Things, would present an enormous security issue. And the assault on Friday, security researchers say, is only a glimpse of how those devices can be used for online attacks.

Suppose this is Russia or another foreign or domestic actor intent on disrupting our elections, and suppose the next attack presents a greater series of outages.  Here’s the kind of stuff that could potentially be disrupted on Election Day:

  1. Emails, messages, and telephone calls (over VOIP, at least) to and from election officials and volunteers dealing with problems at polling places that inevitably pop up (ballot problems, polling place problems)
  2. Voters obtaining correct information on where and when to vote, and polling place problems
  3. Accurate journalistic reports of voting, vote totals, problems at the polls
  4. Law enforcement activities that may be necessary if there are acts of voter intimidation or other problems
  5. Lots of everyday other features of daily life, from electricity, to traffic control, to emergency services, and to the rest of what is connected to the internet grid

If there are significant problems with people being able to vote on Election Day, this could lead to court lawsuits to keep polls open late, or even to extend voting to a different day, potentially throwing the results of not just the presidential election but numerous elections into question.

Further, a wide internet outage on any day could create a situation for uncertainty and the spread of misinformation. This is especially dangerous on an election day where between the Trump’s campaign charges of rigging and Russian and other interference with our process.

Let’s hope our cyber defenses are good, and that people act rationally and calmly in the event there are problems.



Talking to Josh Marshall of TPM on His Podcast About Trump, Voter Fraud, and Election Rigging Nonsense


 Concerned about voter suppression? Bands of feral Trumpers descending areas with large populations of black or Hispanic voters to harass and vet voters? Me too. So in Episode #7 of the Josh Marshall show I talked to my favorite election law expert, Professor Rick Hasen. Rick isn’t just an election law experts he’s one of the most knowledgable and vocal experts on bogus claims of ‘vote fraud’ and voters suppression. We talk about all these issues, incredibly pressing in the lead up to election day, in Episode #7 of the Josh Marshall Show.

Hedge Fund Manager Gives $21 Million to Pro-Clinton Super-PAC, Pushing Campaign Finance Reform

Matea Gold for WaPo on an unusual plutocrat:

The Florida-based investor said he has contributed $40 million to Democratic super PACs and allied groups in 2016, double what he had planned to spend at the beginning of the election. He said he was driven by the desire “to leave my children a better country” by helping elect candidates who will restructure a system that allows such huge donations in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision…

Sussman said he has had limited interaction with Clinton as she has made her second presidential run — just a quick conversation in which they discussed overhauling the campaign finance system. “I’m not into the face time with the politicians,” he said. “I have had a four-minute conversation with her, where she assured me this is a top priority.”


“Wyoming is requiring citizenship proof from naturalized voters”


The Wyoming Secretary of State’s Office alerted county clerks to require an undetermined number of people to provide proof of citizenship before allowing them to vote, stirring anger from some who say it has deterred people from casting ballots.

State Election Director Kai Schon said some noncitizens can apply for driver’s licenses and that information did not make it into the voter registration system until recently, making it necessary to ask some people to show they are qualified to vote.

 I smell a lawsuit.  We had a similar case in Louisiana.