Virginia: City of Bedford Virginia, Justice Department reach consent decree on section of Voting Rights Act | The Republic

The Justice Department and the city of Bedford have reached agreement on a vestige of the segregated South — federal oversight of its local elections.

Justice officials announced Thursday they have filed a consent decree in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia that would free the city of 6,222 from government approval of any election changes.

The election oversight is part of the Voting Rights Act, which was enacted in 1965 to address widespread election abuses intended to deny African-Americans the vote.

Michigan: Warren MI mayoral contenders will remain on ballot, can withhold age | The Detroit News

The state Court of Appeals this morning ruled incumbent Mayor Jim Fouts and mayoral contender Kathleen Schneeberger will remain on the August election ballot and don’t have to reveal their dates of birth.

The ruling stems from a Macomb County Circuit Court lawsuit filed against the Warren Election Commission and its members seeking to block the two from appearing on the ballot on allegations they violated an election mandate for failing to disclose their age.

The three mayoral challengers behind the suit, City Council member Kathy Vogt and residents Joseph Hunt and James McDannel, argued they provided their age in affidavits prior to the May 10 filing deadline and Fouts and Schneeberger should have done the same.

US Virgin Islands: Elections Officials Plan US Virgin Islands Voter Outreach | St. Croix Source

Election officials will hold a series of outreach events throughout St. Croix in the coming months, targeting schools, post offices, shopping areas and other places in an effort to get as many residents as possible registered to vote. And one of the first events on the schedule will be a voter registration event at the ceremonies marking Emancipation Day, July 3, in Frederiksted.

Board member Dodson James told fellow members about the outreach committee’s plans during the board’s regular meeting Wednesday morning. While James said a schedule has not been completed, board member Adelbert Bryan suggested adding the Emancipation Day drive. His motion passed unanimously.

Bangladesh: BNP won’t join Bangladesh election commission dialogue | The Daily Star

In a crucial meeting of party policymakers, the main opposition BNP last night decided not to join dialogue with the election commission (EC) on June 13. Sources said the party will inform the EC of their decision through a letter.

The party high command also decided to declare an agitation programme against the government move to bring amendments to the country’s constitution.

The formal announcement regarding hartal may come on Friday, said party insiders after the closed-door standing committee meeting at BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia’s Gulshan office.

El Salvador: Salvador to have absentee vote in 2014 election | Associated Press

Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes says his Central American country will allow citizens living abroad to vote in the 2014 presidential election.

Funes says a government commission is looking into the necessary steps to implement absentee voting. He says the commission is getting advice from nations that already permit citizens out of the country to cast ballots.


Madagascar: Two days of talks, but still no end to Madagascar impasse | Mail and Guardian

Madagascar’s feuding political leaders ended two days of talks on Tuesday without signing a deal on ending the crisis sparked by strongman Andry Rajoelina’s takeover of the island two years ago.

The talks, which were convened by the 15-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC), ended at about 6pm (4pm GMT) with a press statement that sought to highlight the common ground between the 11 political parties present but did not say why the leaders had failed to reach an agreement.

Jordan: Opposition blasts new draft election law | Arab News

Jordan’s opposition parties on Tuesday rejected the newly proposed election law for what they said its failure to adopt fully the principle of proportional representation.

The new draft election law was proposed this week by the National Dialogue Committee (NDC) to spearhead political reform that has been sought by four months of protests that were inspired by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.

“We have followed up with deep concern and disappointment the new draft election law which has been worked out by the NDC,” the Coordination Committee of the Opposition Parties said in a statement.

Somalia: Rival leaders agree to defer elections | Reuters

Somalia’s feuding leaders agreed on Thursday to extend the mandate of both government and parliament for a year and hold elections by August next year.

The mandate for Somalia’s latest transitional government was meant to expire in August but President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, a former Islamist rebel leader, and speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden, who covets the top job, had been at loggerheads over what should happen then.

“We agree to defer elections of the President and the Speaker and his deputies for twelve months after August,” a deal signed by the Somali president and speaker in Uganda said.

Thailand: Party could face ban over poll placards | Bangkok Post

The For Heaven and Earth Party could be disbanded if its controversial “Vote No” placards are found to be in violation of election laws, an Election Commission member says.

Commissioner Somchai Juengprasert said that a panel had been set up to look into the contents of the party’s placards, erected around town, that feature animals in suits. The inquiry committee is a joint effort between the EC and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration.

The probe follows the EC’s decision that the animal placards which were put up by the For Heaven and Earth Party are election-related and covered by election regulations.

The Voting News Daily: Senators Holperin, Hansen and Wirch headed for Wisconsin recall election, North Carolina: Big voter turnouts and perceptions of fraud

Wisconsin: Senators Holperin, Hansen and Wirch headed for Wisconsin recall election | Wausau Daily Herald All three Democratic state senators targeted for recalls will have to stand for election this summer after the board that oversees elections declined on Wednesday to invalidate petitions circulated against them, even though it found evidence of fraud. The Government…

Wisconsin: Senators Holperin, Hansen and Wirch headed for Wisconsin recall election | Wausau Daily Herald

All three Democratic state senators targeted for recalls will have to stand for election this summer after the board that oversees elections declined on Wednesday to invalidate petitions circulated against them, even though it found evidence of fraud.

The Government Accountability Board voted to reject thousands of signatures it determined were either fraudulent or collected by circulators through misleading means, such as saying the petition was for something other than recalling the Democrats.

But even after those signatures were tossed, more than enough remained to force recall elections for Sens. Jim Holperin of Conover, Dave Hansen of Green Bay and Bob Wirch of Pleasant Prairie.

Editorials: Big voter turnouts and perceptions of fraud |

Since North Carolina Republicans introduced a Voter ID bill in February that would require all citizens to show a photo ID before voting, one thing has become crystal clear. State efforts are part of a nationwide drive to tighten rules on voting. In the past two months no less than 13 state legislatures, all of them controlled by Republicans, have advanced Voter ID legislation.

Sponsors in North Carolina and elsewhere claim showing driver’s licenses or a similar card will eliminate voter fraud and, as the North Carolina bill is named, “Restore Confidence in Government.” Democrats have countered that there has been no wave of election fraud that needs fixing. Instead, they insist, Republicans are trying to make it harder for the elderly, the poor and the transient – those who often lack driver’s licenses – to vote. They compare the measure to historic poll taxes that once disfranchised thousands of North Carolinians.

National: Organisation appeals for expat Americans to stand up and be counted | Telegraph

The Overseas Vote Foundation (OVF), a not-for-profit group dedicated to helping Americans overseas take part in federal elections, began its “Counting Citizens” project in April this year.

Using the power of social media to spread the word, the group is appealing for expats to register on a dedicated website, and help the organisation produce a reliable estimate of the number of Americans currently living abroad

“At the moment, there no is no accurate up-to-date estimate of how many American citizens abroad there are or where they are,” said Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat, the president of the OVF. “Expats are not included in the US census, and previous estimates have been very rough, and often non-official.

Texas: So Many Elections, So Little Time | The Austin Chronicle

And now for some completely different election news: A seemingly innocuous Texas Senate bill, passed and awaiting the governor’s signature, may drastically affect Austin’s local elections, even extending the terms of the mayor and three City Council members by six months.

Senate Bill 100, legislation from San Antonio Dem Leticia Van de Putte, was drafted to bring the state in line with federal law requiring that federal ballots be delivered to military and overseas voters at least 45 days before an election. It preserves Texas’ current March primary date, while postponing potential primary run-offs to the fourth Tuesday in May, so as to meet the 45-day requirement.

National: New Research Result: Bubble Forms Not So Anonymous – Princeton researchers deanonymize optical scan ballots| Freedom to Tinker

by Will Clarkson Today, Joe Calandrino, Ed Felten and I are releasing a new result regarding the anonymity of fill-in-the-bubble forms. These forms, popular for their use with standardized tests, require respondents to select answer choices by filling in a corresponding bubble. Contradicting a widespread implicit assumption, we show that individuals create distinctive marks on these forms, allowing use of the marks as a biometric. Using a sample of 92 surveys, we show that an individual’s markings enable unique re-identification within the sample set more than half of the time. The potential impact of this work is as diverse as use of the forms themselves, ranging from cheating detection on standardized tests to identifying the individuals behind “anonymous” surveys or election ballots.

If you’ve taken a standardized test or voted in a recent election, you’ve likely used a bubble form. Filling in a bubble doesn’t provide much room for inadvertent variation. As a result, the marks on these forms superficially appear to be largely identical, and minor differences may look random and not replicable. Nevertheless, our work suggests that individuals may complete bubbles in a sufficiently distinctive and consistent manner to allow re-identification.

New Jersey: Technical glitch shakes up Sussex County New Jersey election results – ES&S iVotronic DRE | New Jersey Herald

Past Cinderella’s curfew and beyond the target deadline for the Sussex County Board of Elections, a small gathering including Freeholder Rich Vohden, freeholder candidate Dennis Mudrick, acting County Clerk Jeffrey Parrott, Sheriff Michael Strada and two of Franklin Mayor Paul Crowley’s children waited for results of the Tuesday primary election. The unofficial results that never came.

Numbers appeared to be coming in smoothly for the first half of the evening. However, as charts displaying unofficial results flashed on the wall via a projector, watchers noticed the number of reporting districts changed, and not always in an upwards direction. According to the results, the number of districts reporting numbers were decreasing, and the number of Walpack votes totaled   61, though only 22 registered voters reside in the community.

New Jersey: Troublesome voting machine cartridge from East Hanover New Jersey likely to decide Morris freeholder race – Sequoia Advantage DRE |

A vote cartridge from East Hanover that is expected to be read today may reveal whether Republican Freeholder incumbent Margaret Nordstrom or challenger William “Hank” Lyon won the primary nomination Tuesday night.

As of this morning Lyon, a resident of the Towaco section of Montville who works for his familys restaurant business, Qdoba Mexican Grill, had a six-vote lead over Nordstrom, a freeholder since 1999.

The unofficial tallies are Lyon with 12,234 votes and Nordstrom with 12, 228 votes. But one vote cartridge in East Hanover could not be read last night so county election officials today got a court order from Superior Court Assignment Judge Thomas Weisenbeck to have the cartridge removed from the voting machine and brought to the Morris County Clerks office where it will be read and recorded by witnesses.

North Carolina: Voter ID bill given initial OK on North Carolina House floor | NewsTimes

The Republican-led North Carolina House late Wednesday muscled through legislation requiring voters to show photo identification before casting an in-person ballot, despite Democratic accusations the bill is a voter suppression measure designed to boost GOP political fortunes.

By a vote of 67-50, the House gave tentative approval to the voter ID restrictions just before midnight at the close of a marathon day in which General Assembly members considered scores of bills as a self-imposed procedural deadline late Thursday approached. The party-line vote, however, appears to keep Republicans a few votes short of overcoming any potential veto by Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue.

The measure received about 10 minutes of debate for the first of two required votes before the new day began. House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, pledged a longer discussion later Thursday on the divisive bill.

North Carolina: House’s final decision on North Carolina voter ID bill could come Thursday | Sun Journal

Just a few moments before the stroke of midnight Wednesday, the state House gave its tentative approval to a bill requiring North Carolina voters to produce a government-approved photo ID to cast their ballots.

The Republican majority limited debate on the bill, entitled “Restore Confidence in Government,” to a brief explanation by bill sponsor Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, and short comments by Minority Leader Joe Hackney, D-Orange, and Majority Leader Paul “Skip” Stam, R-Wake.

A final vote on the bill could come on Thursday. House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, said that House members would be allowed to debate the bill fully at that time.

Minnesota: Rep. Ryan Winkler Speaks Out Against Voter ID Proposal | Golden Valley, MN Patch

Rep. Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley) Tuesday challenged Republican representatives’ plan to put a constitutional amendment requiring voter photo identification on the ballot after Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed the measure.

“Older women, students, the disabled, battered women are just a few of the groups that would be harmed by the constitutional amendment that Republicans are proposing today,” Winkler said at a news conference Tuesday.

Winkler said Republicans argued they are trying to stop voter fraud, but that voter fraud is not an issue in Minnesota. He also said requiring a photo ID would not prevent felons from voting.

Pennsylvania: Boockvar wins Pennsylvania court Democratic primary | 21 News

A statewide recount for a Commonwealth Court seat is over, and Doylestown lawyer Kathryn Boockvar is the winner in the Democratic primary. The Department of State announced Wednesday that Boockvar won by a little more than 2,000 votes out of 621,000 cast.

The results show Boockvar defeated Pittsburgh lawyer Barbara Behrend Ernsberger by nearly the same margin that was reported in unofficial results shortly after the primary.

Editorials: Maine Voices: Legislature should not revoke Mainers’ voting rights | The Portland Press Herald

The Maine House and Senate are poised to limit the most fundamental democratic process — voting. L.D. 1376, “An Act To Preserve the Integrity of the Voter Registration and Election Process,” will eliminate Maine’s nearly 40-year tradition of Election Day registration. It is a very bad deal for Maine voters. Election Day registration means that voters can register and vote on the same day. It works well.

Eliminating Election Day registration will disenfranchise the thousands of Maine citizens who rely on it. And to what end? There have been only two cases of voter fraud prosecuted in Maine in 30 years. In addition to Maine’s tradition of election integrity, we have a tradition of vibrant civic engagement. In fact, Maine has one of the highest rates of voter participation in the country.

This move will turn back the clock on our democracy. It will turn back the clock on voting rights.

Nevada: Special election court hearing set in Nevada |

The Nevada Supreme Court on June 28 will hear oral arguments on whether the special election to fill Dean Heller’s seat in Congress will be a free-for-all or be limited to candidates chosen by party central committees.

The court announced Wednesday that it has scheduled an hourlong hearing in the case of the Nevada Republican Party versus the Nevada Democratic Party. Each side will have 30 minutes to make its case. Thirty people already have signed up for the tentative Sept. 13 election for the 2nd Congressional District.

Nevada: Supreme Court to hear argument on special election law before ballot deadline | The Republic

The Nevada Supreme Court is preparing to review a lawsuit challenging a special election law before the July 6 deadline to get the candidates on the ballot. The court said Wednesday the full bench will hear from the state and the major political parties on June 28 in Carson City.

The court has been asked to decide whether the state’s first election to fill a vacant House seat will be open to all major party candidates or just candidates chosen by party leaders.

Nevada: Cherchio will seek recount in North Las Vegas race |

After losing an election by a single vote in Tuesday’s tightest race, Richard Cherchio said a recount is almost a no-brainer. “We need to know everybody’s vote was counted properly,” said Cherchio, incumbent North Las Vegas City Councilman for Ward 4.

Dentist Wade Wagner defeated Cherchio, who was appointed to the seat in 2009, by a tally of 1,831 votes to 1,830. Because the race was so close, Cherchio wasn’t ready to concede.

“We’re going to look at all the ballots,” he said.

Estonia: How Estonians became pioneering cyberdefenders |

Ahead of spring elections, Agu Kivimägi was tasked with trying to ensure that online voting in Estonia wasn’t vulnerable to attack. Its pioneering system of casting national ballots via the Internet would be a hacker’s prize target.

After the ballots were counted, returning Estonia’s center-right government to power, e-voting escaped assault – or any technical difficulties, for that matter. Mr. Kivimägi, who oversees computer security for Estonia’s Interior department, is part of the world’s first volunteer cyberarmy, deployed this year to help ward off hacker strikes and defend against online warfare.

Made up of Estonia’s best information technology (IT) minds, from programmers to lawyers, the 150-member Cyber Defense League is Estonia’s cyber national guard. Should Estonia come under attack, they would deploy under the command of the National Defense League, a volunteer force created to safeguard the country’s security and independence.

Thailand: Thailand cracks down on beastly “no vote” billboards | Monsters and Critics

Thai election authorities Thursday ordered the removal of ‘no vote’ posters in Bangkok depicting politicians as monkeys, buffaloes, dogs, tigers and crocodiles.

Election Commission chairman Apichart Sukhakhanond said the billboards, put up by the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) movement, had to be removed because they were larger than regulation size. ‘I don’t want to get into the details,’ Apichart told reporters.

On Wednesday, the commission had voted that the billboards were election-related, even though the PAD is not competing in the July 3 polls, and it had the authority to decide on their removal.

Thailand: People’s Alliance for Democracy roars over Thai billboard ban

People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) will seek a court injunction blocking the removal of billboards with “animal” politicians, its spokesman Panthep Pourpongpan said today.

The PAD’s legal team was checking pertinent provisions before petitioning either the Central Administrative Court or the Civil Court to launch an emergency inquiry into the issue.

The PAD is furious following the Election Commission (EC)’s ruling on Wednesday to ban the “No” vote and animal-headed politicians billboards introduced by the PAD, saying these violated election laws. Its commissioners voted 4-1 to have the “No” vote billboards removed for violating the electoral law and the cleanliness ordinance.

Tunisia: Constituent Assembly Election In Tunisia Put Off |

Tunisia’s first election following the ouster of its long-serving President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in January last has been put off by three months, reports said on Wednesday. Consequently polls for electing the country’s new Constituent Assembly will now be held on October 23.

Announcing the postponement, Interim Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi said the Electoral Commission had asked for time-out ostensibly for resolving technical problems.

He said there were several Tunisians who had reservations on delaying elections. Even the interim government had been initially reluctant but it nonetheless wanted polls to take place in a transparent manner.