This Week in 200 Words

In state updates, New Jersey held a statewide workshop on election security. Colorado banned using barcodes on ballots to count votes. The North Carolina House has drawn new voting maps, but has yet to confirm any. Nevada upgraded all of its voting machines and plans to release a report on election security.

In other news, Hillary Clinton announced that she agrees with Arnold Schwarzenegger on ending gerrymandering. A group of grandmothers in North Dakota have become advocates for anti-corruption. A state Senator in North Carolina has decided he’d rather retire than seek re-election in a fairly drawn district. A dark money group associated with the Governor of New Jersey has released its contributors. Senator Martha McSally has been targeted with ads by a dark money group. Lastly in St. Louis County, Missouri, a group has unveiled a plan that would make campaigns publicly financed.

National News

Concord Monitor: My Turn: Veto override would help ensure fair and honest elections

This bill calls for an independent commission to review our state’s voting districts and determine the fairest way to redraw them after the 2020 elections. If enacted, the commission’s work will ultimately empower New Hampshire voters in state and U.S. congressional elections. It will prevent incumbent lawmakers from drawing district maps that make their own re-elections easier for themselves but less fair for all concerned.

The Hill: Hillary Clinton praises Arnold Schwarzenegger for gerrymandering op-ed

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday praised actor and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for an op-ed he penned discussing widespread gerrymandering across the country.

Business Insider: The US should amend the Constitution to put an end to gerrymandering and protect our democracy

Whether it is done with the violence of a baseball bat or the sophistication of computer code, the effect is the same: deliberate voter suppression to rig the outcome.

Past efforts at addressing the practice have been waged principally for partisan advantage. For example, New Hampshire’s Republican Gov. Chris Sununu last month vetoed a bipartisan bill that would have established a citizen commission to protect voters from rigging districts to create a partisan outcome.

The Hill: Election security funds caught in crosshairs of spending debate

Funding to bolster election security efforts at the state level could become a sticking point during the ongoing government spending talks, with the House approving the funds while Republicans in the Senate remain staunchly opposed.

Nextavenue: The ‘Badass Grandmas’ Who Fought Corruption and Won

When Dina Butcher’s 17-year-old grandson Owen and his friend Cole saw early promotional material from a group calling for tough anti-corruption reforms in North Dakota, Cole said: “Is that your Grandma? Wow, she’s a badass!” The “Badass Grandmas” moniker for Butcher’s group of mostly retired, women political activists there, quickly took hold.

Shareblue Media: GOP state senator quits rather than run in district that’s not gerrymandered

Faced with the prospect of running in a district that’s no longer illegally gerrymandered, Wake County Republican state Sen. John Alexander decided to quit instead, the Raleigh News & Observer reported Thursday.

“It’s time,” Alexander said, saying he wants to spend more time with his grandchildren.

The timing of Alexander’s announcement came one day after he was caught on video trying to gerrymander his district to keep the seat safer for him, John Bisognano, the executive director of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, flagged on Twitter.

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Dark money group aligned with Gov. Phil Murphy finally discloses donors

A political nonprofit group founded by campaign advisers to Gov. Phil Murphy has disclosed its donors after resisting pressure to do so for months.

The group, New Direction New Jersey, said late Thursday it had raised about $6.8 million since its inception last year. About two-thirds of that haul, $4.5 million, came from a group affiliated with the New Jersey Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union.

OpenSecrets: New pop-up ‘dark money’ group targets Martha McSally with six-figure ad buy

A secretive new “dark money” group is hitting the airwaves — and the road — to help Democrats win Arizona’s hotly contested Senate seat in 2020.

Advancing AZ, which also goes by Honest Arizona, is hammering Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) over her vote to repeal much of the Affordable Care Act. The new group purchased nearly $155,000 worth of TV ads in Arizona to run through much of September, according to Federal Communications Commission records in OpenSecrets’ political ad database.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Group calls for public campaign financing in St. Louis County

With former St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger set to report to federal prison Saturday following his conviction for pay-to-play corruption, a group of local political activists called Monday night for a publicly funded campaign finance system in St. Louis County.

The “Honest Elections Act” proposal was put forward during a forum about money in politics and corruption held at the Kol Rinah Congregation and sponsored by the St. Louis County NAACP, the League of Women Voters of Metro St. Louis and political action groups Show Me Integrity and American Promise St. Louis.

State Updates

New Jersey- CBS Philly: New Jersey Holds Statewide Training Workshop On Election Security To Deal With Potential Natural Disasters, Cyberattacks

Election officials are scrambling to secure the vote before New Jerseyans head to the polls for campaign 2020. New Jersey is taking unprecedented action to make sure you and your vote are safe.

From natural disasters to cyberattacks, New Jersey election officials are determined to make sure that voters will be able to exercise their rights in next November’s elections. On Tuesday, they held the first-ever statewide training workshop on election security for representatives from every county, from Sussex to Cape May.

Colorado- CNN: Colorado becomes first state to ban barcodes for counting votes over security concerns

Citing security concerns, Colorado has become the first state to stop counting ballots with printed barcodes.

The state’s secretary of state told CNN she felt it was a necessary step to ensure Colorado maintains its position as a national leader on election security.

The decision is a further step toward prioritizing the role of human eye, rather than computers to count votes.

Nevada- Public News Service: NV Groups Promote Election Security on Nationwide Day of Action

Nevada has made big strides toward safeguarding the ballot box, but still has a ways to go, according to a new report on election security.

The “Citizen’s Report On Election Security in Northern Nevada and the Nation” will be released Tuesday as part of a nationwide day of action, with events in dozens of cities to draw attention to the real possibility of more attempts by foreign actors to hack our elections. Laura Hale, a volunteer on the Fair Democracy team with Indivisible Northern Nevada, commended the state’s recent efforts to upgrade all its election machines.

“In every county, in addition to the new machines and the paper records, we want to see audits being done,” Hale said. “We want to see that the databases are secured.”

Michigan- The Epoch Times:  Michigan Election Hacking Alleged Amid Charges of Extortion

A former campaign staffer for Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel being sued for extortion by a third party has claimed that an “underworld network” of Ukrainian computer hackers engaged in mischief during the 2018 election intended to benefit Nessel, according to a federal lawsuit brought by the worker’s former corporate client.

North Carolina- The News & Observer: NC House passes new maps, despite Democrat concerns about Eastern North Carolina

The North Carolina House of Representatives approved new political maps — drawn to replace the current unconstitutional maps — on Friday.

The vote was divided along party lines, with Republicans in support and Democrats opposed.

The N.C. Senate, which also has a Republican majority, does not plan to vote until Monday night on their own maps.