The Voting News Daily: States line up to challenge stringent Section 5 voting rights provision, Data for Democracy Four Years Later: Pew’s Election Administration By The Numbers

National: States line up to challenge stringent Section 5 voting rights provision | The Washington Post Conservative activists and Republican attorneys general have launched a series of lawsuits meant to challenge the most muscular provision of the Voting Rights Act 0f 1965 before a Supreme Court that has signaled it is suspicious of its constitutionality. Working…

Idaho: With defeat of Loertscher bill, Idaho legislative primary elections stay in May «

Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, didn’t get support from his own committee Wednesday in his push to move legislative primary elections to August. The House State Affairs Committee, a panel chaired by Loerstscher, voted down his measure after strong opposition from a number of county clerks and Secretary of State Ben Ysursa. Loertscher told his colleagues that the May primary election hampers legislators, who are typically required to be in the Statehouse from early January to late March or early April. He believes moving the primary back to August would allow lawmakers to focus on legislative work in the early months of the year and still run a full campaign later in the year. But the measure received little support in public testimony. A number of county clerks, in town for meetings with the Idaho Association of Counties, told the panel that pushing the primary back would cause too much work in a year when they are facing numerous obstacles.

Minnesota: Legislators contentious over Voter ID | Minnesota Public Radio

Several groups are ramping up opposition to a constitutional amendment that would require Minnesotans to present a photo identification to vote. GOP legislative leaders say they want to put the issue to voters this fall. It’s an issue gaining momentum across the country. There are 15 states that require people show a photo ID to vote and another 26 states with legislation to create voter ID laws or strengthen them. Mississippi passed voter ID via constitutional amendment last year, but that state’s law requires approval by the U.S. Department of Justice before it can take effect. The Justice Department last month rejected a new South Carolina law that requires people to show government-issued photographic identification when they vote in person. Groups representing minorities, seniors, disabled people and others hope to convince Minnesota lawmakers to stop it here.

New Hampshire: Ballot inspection bill likely to die in House | NEWS06

An attempt to allow citizens to inspect ballots is likely to be killed today by the House. House Bill 1548 would repeal the right-to-know exemption for ballots passed in 2003 after groups began asking the Secretary of State’s Office to review ballots when the retention period ended but before they were destroyed. Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan said, “After we started getting requests like that, the Legislature passed the exemption to place in statute what had been long-standing policy.” Ballots were always considered private after an election, he said. Ballots were always sealed and held and only opened for a recount or a court order, Scanlan said.

Ohio: Election law may be repealed |

Senate President Tom Niehaus announced Thursday that majority Republicans introduced legislation to repeal the divisive elections overhaul bill that is scheduled for a referendum vote in November, Gongwer News Service reports. Sen. Bill Coley (R-Middletown) is the sponsor of the bill (SB295). Republicans hope “to take a step back and revisit the debate in hopes of reaching a more bipartisan consensus,” Niehaus, R-New Richmond, said in a statement.

Ohio: Senate Republicans plan to repeal controversial elections law |

Ohio Senate Republicans on Thursday set into motion a plan to repeal a controversial election law and replace it with new changes that would take effect before the November election. But the House Speaker isn’t yet on board with the plan, and a group of voting rights advocates have vowed to seek a referendum — with the backing of President Barack Obama’s campaign — if Ohio lawmakers pass a new elections law. A bill was introduced Thursday to repeal House Bill 194 — the election law overhaul package GOP lawmakers passed last year that restricted opportunities for early voting and made other changes that opponents said amounted to voter suppression.

South Carolina: In voter ID case, South Carolina fights back against Obama administration |

South Carolina’s attorney general is asking a three-judge panel in Washington to reverse a Justice Department decision blocking the state’s new voter ID law. Obama administration officials said the state law would discriminate against African-American voters. In court papers filed on Wednesday, Washington lawyer Paul Clement and state Attorney General Alan Wilson requested that a three-judge panel be appointed to decide whether South Carolina’s voter ID law violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The litigation sets up another election-year flashpoint between the Obama administration and state governments over the balance of federal-state power.

Wisconsin: Judge refuses to halt new voter ID law, but trial date to be set | Wisconsin State Journal

A Dane County judge on Wednesday refused to immediately halt Wisconsin’s new voter ID law, but left the door open for two Milwaukee groups to prove their case at a trial before him. Circuit Judge David Flanagan wrote that the Milwaukee NAACP and Voces de la Frontera had not sufficiently demonstrated irreparable harm for him to issue a temporary injunction they were seeking to stop the law before the Feb. 21 primary election.

Maldives: Maldives’ ousted president awaits arrest | euronews

He has gone from president to prospective prisoner in the space of a few days. At home in the Maldives, ex-leader Mohamed Nasheed says he expects to be arrested at any moment by plotters who ousted him in a coup. “The new Home Minister has pledged that I will be the first former president to spend all my life in jail, so I think he’s working on his delivery of his pledge,” he told reporters. “I hope the international community will take note of what is happening in the Maldives, and if they can’t do something right now, it certainly will be late tomorrow.”

Slovenia: Slovenia’s legal framework provides sound basis for democratic elections, some aspects could benefit from further review, says ODIHR final report | OSCE

Slovenia’s early parliamentary polls on 4 December 2011 showed that the legislative framework provided a sound basis for the conduct of democratic elections, although certain aspects could benefit from further review. These are the conclusions of the final report released by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights on 7 February 2012. The report says that the election administration appeared to work efficiently and impartially while a wide selection of registered candidates provided a pluralism of choice for voters. The registration of candidate lists was inclusive and accommodated the appearance of new parties on the political scene. However, the report says that the provision of dual voting rights to citizens belonging to the Italian and Hungarian minorities diverges from the fundamental OSCE commitment regarding the equality of the vote and is at odds with international good practice.