Editorials: How to Expand the Voter Rolls | NYTimes.com

A country that should be encouraging more people to vote is still using an archaic voter registration system that creates barriers to getting a ballot. In 2008, 75 million eligible people did not vote in the presidential election, and 80 percent of them were not registered. The vast majority of states rely on a 19th-century registration method: requiring people to fill out a paper form when they become eligible to vote, often at a government office, and to repeat the process every time they move. This is a significant reason why the United States has a low voter participation rate. The persistence of the paper system is all the more frustrating because a growing number of states have shown that technology can get more people on voter rolls. There’s no reason why every state cannot automatically register eligible voters when they have contact with a government agency. The most common method, now used in 17 states, electronically sends data from motor vehicle departments to election offices.

Alaska: Anchorage Assembly Chair Refuses Call for Outside Election Investigator | alaskapublic.org

Voters are still waiting to find out why there was a shortage of ballots during the April 3rd Anchorage Municipal Election. The Assembly has refused an outside investigator and is set to take up the matter as soon as the Clerk’s office and the Election Commission finish their reports. Anchorage Assembly Chair, Debbie Ossiander says it’s too early to appoint an outside investigator to look into the Anchorage ballot debacle. The ACLU of Alaska made the request for an outside investigator Thursday, after widespread ballot shortages and reports that voters were turned away at the polls during Tuesday’s Municipal Election.

Hawaii: Federal Lawsuit Filed Friday Challenges 2012 Reapportionment Plan | Hawaii Reporter

The State of Hawaii has a long history of refusing to count military personnel and their families for purposes of reapportioning the Hawaii State Legislature. A lawsuit filed today asks a three-judge federal court to enforce the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution and require the State to count all residents of Hawaii. The 2010 U.S. Census reported 1,360,301 residents as the total resident population of Hawaii. The Census includes military personnel, military families and students as residents of Hawaii. It also counts minors, non-citizens, and incarcerated felons. In 1965, in Burns v. Richardson, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Hawaii’s use of its count of registered voters as the population basis for apportionment, a population base which effectively excluded low-registration groups such as military personnel and students, many of whom were below the pre-26th Amendment voting age of 21. Contrary to popular opinion, the Burns case does not permit the State to ignore military personnel and their families. The Court allowed counting only registered voters because there was no evidence doing so would result in apportionment substantially different from that which would have resulted if the State had simply counted everyone.

Minnesota: Voter ID: The devil may be in the details | Mankato Free Press

A party-line debate and party-line vote in the Legislature is likely to result in a major change in Minnesota voting rules, but the actual consequences remain in dispute. Democrats predict dire consequences — high costs, new restrictions that will discourage voting by certain groups, an end to Minnesota’s tradition of same-day registration — if voters approve the amendment as expected on Nov. 6. Republicans, who control the Legislature and put the issue on the general election ballot, say Democratic warnings are wildly overblown. The new requirement that voters show a government-issued ID before casting a ballot will boost confidence in elections while not substantially curtailing the right to vote, supporters of the law say. For the people who run local elections, though, the issue goes much beyond the standard partisan debate.

Montana: Supreme Court agrees to consider corporate free speech post-Citizen United | UPI.com

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to consider taking another bite of the corporate political free speech apple recently, accepting a petition asking justices to summarily overturn a Montana Supreme Court decision petitioners say flies in the face of Citizens United. Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission is the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision two years ago that basically negated campaign finance laws. In its ruling, the court said Congress shouldn’t be allowed to limit the amount corporations, unions and similar entities give to campaigns. In upholding a ban on corporate independent expenditures in state elections, the Montana Supreme Court determined that “unlike Citizens United, this case concerns Montana law, Montana elections and it arises from Montana history.” That ruling, the petition said, raises the question for the U.S. Supreme Court to consider: “Whether Montana is bound by the holding of Citizens United, that a ban on corporate independent political expenditures is a violation of the First Amendment, when the ban applies to state, rather than federal, elections.”

New York: City elections official under fire for soliciting money from a voting systems contractor | NYPost.com

The city’s Board of Elections has suspended an employee who is a top official in the Queens Republican Party after being notified that he was caught on tape soliciting a $25,000 “finder’s fee” from a company competing for a $65 million contract in 2009, The Post has learned. Several sources said the Department of Investigation provided information to the board that Stephen Graves, first vice chairman of the Queens GOP and a $66,392-a-year board employee, asked for the money from Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems as it was battling rival Elections Systems & Software of Omaha, Neb., to sell the city its first electronic voting machines. “He was recommending the use of a particular lobbyist,” said one source. “In exchange for that he wanted a finder’s fee.” The lobbyist, who was not identified, was supposed to receive $250,000 a year for five years, the source said. Dominion didn’t make any payments, and ES&S ended up winning the fiercely fought contract in a 6-1 vote on Jan. 5, 2010, with two board commissioners abstaining.

Pennsylvania: Religious questions for Pennsylvania voter ID law draw fire | PennLive.com

Nothing is sacred about your religion when it comes to getting a state identification card without a photo. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation offers ID cards for those with religious objections to being photographed. The Amish and certain sects of the Mennonite community are among those who object to having their photos taken because of their faith. To get a nonphoto ID for religious reasons, applicants must answer a series of 18 questions that delve deeply into their faiths and other personal information. Now that Pennsylvania has passed one of the nation’s toughest voter ID laws to prevent voter fraud, the scope of the questions is drawing criticism.

Wisconsin: Voter ID requirement: The face of voter suppression and discrimination | allvoices.com

Meet Ruthelle Frank an 84 year old woman living in Wisconsin. She is one of millions of people who are at risk of losing their right to vote in November as result of wide-ranging state by state efforts to deny people the access to vote. The good news is that after ten months of advocacy by the American Civil Liberties Union, she was able to vote last Tuesday in Wisconsin, but her fight isn’t over yet. A Wisconsin judge declared a state law requiring people to show photo ID in order to be allowed to vote unconstitutional before the primary, issuing a permanent injunction blocking the state from implementing the measure. “Without question, where it exists, voter fraud corrupts elections and undermines our form of government,” wrote Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess in his decision. “The legislature and governor may certainly take aggressive action to prevent its occurrence. But voter fraud is no more poisonous to our democracy than voter suppression. Indeed, they are two heads on the monster.”

Myanmar: Myanmar by-election riven with irregularities, ruling party complains | TODAYonline

Myanmar’s ruling party, which was founded and backed by the country’s former military junta rulers, yesterday complained that there were voting irregularities in last weekend’s by-election, which saw them soundly beaten by the country’s leading dissident, Ms Aung San Suu Kyi, and her party. Last Sunday’s landmark by-election brought the charismatic Nobel Peace Prize laureate and her National League for Democracy (NLD) party into office for the first time when they won 43 of the 45 seats up for grabs. The Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) – which is comprised of many of the same former generals who seized power in 1988 and kept Ms Suu Kyi under house arrest for 15 years – won the one seat not contested by the NLD in the by-election.

Voting Blogs: African Elections in 2012 on the World Stage and in the Classroom | Concurring Opinions

Teaching U.S. election law in the shadow of a presidential election is an election law professor’s dream. There is no better backdrop for the material or more engaging context to capture student interest in the subject.  However, as I also teach a comparative election law course that examines election law issues internationally, I had a difficult time deciding which to offer this fall in light of the seemingly record number of presidential and legislative elections this year.  On no other continent is this cloudburst of elections more evident than in Africa.  The concentration of African elections is owing  not just to Africa having more countries and democracies than any other continent; rather, the combination of the Arab spring and the happenstance of calendrical synchronicity has yielded a mother lode of elections on the continent.  Africa is evidence that, against many odds, democracy is at work. In the United States, democracy works in large part because of deeply entrenched historical values and a multiplicity of modern interests that depend on democratic institutions.  Indeed, in much of the Western world, democracy enjoys a worn expectation as a successful form of governance.  In modern Africa, however, democracy increasingly prevails because the lion’s share of its inhabitants is moving steadfastly and stubbornly against authoritarianism and the one-party state in hopes for a fairer, freer, and more equal form of government.  Simply put, democracy in Africa grows from the same soil of revolution and idealism that nourished the seeds of U.S. democracy nearly three centuries ago.  For those of us interested in the study of democracy, Africa is a place to watch in 2012.

Canada: Deliberate Denial of Service Assault Disrupts NDP Internet Voting | SPAMfighter

An advanced cyber-assault, which created chaos during the federal NDP party’s election, has been attributed to a specialized Web hacker who utilized over 10,000 PCs globally for so slackening the pace of the online-voting that it started to crawl, thus published vancouversun.com dated March 28, 2012. Actually, according to the provider of the Internet-based balloting, Scytl Canada, one Denial-of-Service assault was deliberately unleashed with the objective of disrupting the voting exercise by the NDP on 24th March 2012. It was determined that the assault successfully clogged the channel of the voting mechanism so voters had to wait long to gain access. This slackening of the voting speed thus frustrated the party’s representatives gathered at Toronto.

Egypt: Electoral commission says 23 registered to run for presidency | Al-Arabiya

Egypt’s electoral commission on Sunday said 23 people registered to run for the upcoming presidential elections, hours after the doors have officially closed for candidacy registrations. Each candidate is hoping to lead the Arab world’s most populous nation through a fragile transition following an uprising that toppled long-time president Hosni Mubarak last year. The candidates include former Arab League chief Amr Moussa, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Khairat el-Shater, former Brotherhood member Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh and Mubarak’s last prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq. Former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, a stalwart of the Mubarak regime and seen as close to the ruling military, registered less than half an hour before the 2:00 pm (1200 GMT) deadline. Suleiman. 74, announced he planned to run on Friday, saying overwhelming public pressure had aroused his sense of soldierly duty. He had needed to collect the signatures of 30,000 eligible voters by Sunday’s deadline in order to take part.

Malaysia: Expatriates Lobby for Overseas Voting Rights | NYTimes.com

Nurul Syaheedah Jes Izman, 27, a graduate of New York University, lives in New Jersey and works on Wall Street as a financial analyst. Though she has spent her college years and all of her working life in the United States, she closely follows political developments in her native Malaysia, reading Malaysian news Web sites every day and talking with friends and family back home about the issues. But under current Malaysian law, Ms. Nurul Syaheedah will not be able to vote in the next election, widely expected this year, unless she makes the 23-hour trip home. The only Malaysians living overseas who are allowed to vote by absentee ballot are government workers, military personnel and full-time students and their spouses. “The right to vote is a basic right of all citizens,” Ms. Nurul Syaheedah said in an e-mail. “No one should be disenfranchised in this time and age, even from a different location overseas. We are all rightful stakeholders in our nation.”

South Ossetia: Ex-KGB man Tibilov wins presidency in South Ossetia | chicagotribune.com

A pro-Russian former KGB officer appeared set on Sunday to win a presidential election run-off in the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia, where Moscow is seeking to re-assert control. Preliminary results announced by the election commission showed Leonid Tibilov, 60, leading human rights ombudsman David Sanakoyev with about 55.8 percent of votes against his rival’s 41.3 after 67 percent of the ballots had been counted. The tiny region of about 30,000 people declared independence after a 2008 war between Russia and Georgia but remains heavily dependent on Moscow’s financial help and military protection amid growing dissatisfaction over how funds are spent.

South Ossetia: Rebel South Ossetia holds run-off election | AFP

Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia held a run-off vote Sunday to elect a leader after months of political turmoil. Former local head of the KGB security service Leonid Tibilov was facing human rights commissioner David Sanakoyev after falling short of the 50 percent required to win in the first round, with 42.5 percent of votes last month. Residents of South Ossetia’s main town Tkhinvali slowly gathered at polling stations to cast ballots after polls opened at 8 a.m. local time on the day when the mostly Orthodox Christian region celebrates Palm Sunday. About 35,000 people are registered voters at the 84 polling stations in the impoverished region where a heavy Russian military presence remains after the 2008 war with Georgia.