Editorials: The Other Big Voting Rights Case Before the U.S. Supreme Court | Juan Cartagena/Huffington Post

On March 18, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on whether Arizona’s incessant drive to suppress its Latino population can make it impossible for newly naturalized citizens to register to vote by mail. The case is Arizona v. The Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc. and it represents Arizona’s attempt to thwart the will of Congress when it established national norms for voter registration in federal elections with the National Voter Registration Act of 1995. The NVRA established for the first time in history a government obligation to register voters by requiring agency-based registration. While simplified to its common name, the Motor Voter law because it includes motor vehicle agencies, the NVRA is unique in that it also requires the government to affirmatively register low-income voters who apply for traditional welfare, food stamp and Medicaid benefits. In New York the state law implementing the NVRA also includes unemployment insurance agencies, for example. Finally, it completely changed the landscape on street voter registration by requiring all states to accept mail-in voter registration forms for federal elections, which in turn, was applied to registration for all elections. This also was a significant reform in states that previously required street registration campaigns to be attended by official state registrars, and on limited hours.

Editorials: Should We Reform the Electoral College? | Cato Institute

Let’s start with the basics: In presidential races, each state has electoral votes equal to the number of its House representatives plus two for its senators. Currently, there are 435 House members and 100 senators, plus three votes for Washington, D.C. (thanks to the 23rd Amendment), for a total of 538. The candidate who garners a majority — 270 or more — wins, even if he loses the popular vote. That’s what happened in the 2000 Bush versus Gore election, which sparked the effort to switch to popular voting for presidential elections. Ordinarily, that switch would require a constitutional amendment; but a group of activists came up with a scheme — the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC) — that could work without a constitutional amendment. Article II of the Constitution gives states broad authority to decide how their electoral votes are selected and divided among the candidates. In 48 states, the candidate who gets the most votes wins all of the state’s electoral votes. But the Constitution doesn’t require that rule. Maine and Nebraska have implemented district- by-district voting. One electoral vote goes to the winner in each congressional district, and the remaining two electoral votes are awarded to the winner of the statewide popular vote.

Voting Blogs: Early voting legislation biggest response to November lines so far | electionlineWeekly

Following the November election, just about every politician from the president on down vowed to do something about the lines some voters faced during the 2012 general election cycle. Now, with most Legislatures back at work — some have even completed their work for 2013 — altering, or allowing, early voting seems to be the most popular way legislators have chosen to tackle the problems of lines. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures 32 states and the District of Columbia allow voters to cast a ballot in person in advance of an election and Oregon and Washington offer all vote-by-mail thus making early voting a moot point. Of the remaining 16 states that did not offer early voting at the time of the November 2012 general election legislatures in more than half of those states are considering legislation that would allow voters to cast an early ballot. Bipartisan efforts to advance early voting have begun making their way through several statehouses.

Arizona: Latino youths protest Arizona election reform | NECN.com

A proposed overhaul of Arizona’s early voting laws has been blasted by Latino youth who say the Republican-backed effort would suppress minority turnout just as more Hispanics are registering to vote. Students on spring break are expected to lobby lawmakers at the Arizona Legislature Thursday in opposition to two measures that would limit who gets to vote early and how mail ballots are returned to local election officials. Hispanics leaders, including Arizona Democratic lawmakers, said the election bills are aimed at silencing voters who tend to vote for Democrats. Republicans currently control Arizona’s state government. “We are not going away,” said Daria Ovide, a Phoenix-based voting activist. “We are going to be voting no matter what and we are going to remember who was helpful and who was not helpful.”

Indiana: White blames lawyer for his voter fraud conviction | SFGate

Former Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White said in court documents Thursday that his attorney didn’t mount any defense to protect him from the conviction that forced him from office. The assertion is among several in a petition filed in Hamilton County asking a judge to toss out White’s convictions on voter fraud and other counts. White said the defense strategy used by his attorney — former Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi — was “deficient and unreasonable.” Brizzi did not call any witnesses at White’s February 2012 trial and immediately rested the defense after the prosecution wrapped up its case. White was sentenced last year to one year of home detention and remains free on bail. The document says Brizzi’s defense was riddled with errors and that the former prosecutor was “ignorant of the law.”

Kentucky: Quarles appointed to committee on military voting bill, says lawmakers have not yet met | News-Graphic.com

A measure which would change the way military service personnel receive absentee ballots and cast their votes remains in limbo, a Scott County lawmaker said Wednesday. Among the high-profile proposals before Kentucky legislators during this year’s General Assembly was a bill backed by Secretary of State Allison Lundergan Grimes, which would facilitate electronic ballot requests and submissions. Differing versions of the bill passed both the House and Senate, and a conference committee made up of members of each chamber has been picked to hammer out a compromise. … The chambers are at odds over whether or not service personnel can return ballots electronically or must still mail in hard copies. The Senate struck the provision for electronic voting from its bill due to concerns over cyber security. Senate President Larry Stivers, R-Manchester, stressed those concerns while presenting the bill for a vote earlier in the session. “If my bank account is hacked, I can see that,” he told fellow lawmakers. “If a ballot is tampered with, who would ever know?”

Maryland: Republican legislators struggle against same-day voter registration | MarylandReporter.com

Facing the prospect of same-day registration for early voters, Republican delegates battled Wednesday to pass amendments intended to safeguard elections from fraud. Since the beginning of session in January, every effort to improve access to voting has been met with a counter-initiative to cut down on voter fraud. Republicans feel that voter fraud is a widespread problem across the state and that most efforts to expand voting access further weaken the integrity of the vote. “Same-day registration may be convenient for some, but it also opens the door for potential misuse in my opinion,” said Minority Leader Anthony O’Donnell, who unsuccessfully sought to tack two different amendments onto the bill, HB 224.

New Hampshire: House freezes voter ID law, rejects repeal | NewsTimes

The New Hampshire House rejected a proposal Thursday to repeal the state’s voter identification law, instead passing legislation that would prevent tighter regulations from taking effect until the attorney general’s office completes an inquiry into the last election. Rep. Timothy Horrigan, D-Durham, argued for repeal, saying the voter ID law is “an excessive solution to a virtually nonexistent problem.” Horrigan said no evidence of voter fraud exists in the state. But Rep. Shawn Jasper, R-Hudson, countered that voter fraud in New Hampshire has never been found because no one has looked for it. Jasper said a number of “suspicious” cases from 2012 could prove to be fraud. He added that even if fraud isn’t widespread it could tip the scales in tight elections.

Ohio: Changes to Ohio’s election laws head to governor | The Marietta Times

With a presidential election behind them, Ohio lawmakers passed several bills Wednesday to make changes to the battleground state’s election laws. One measure was more contentious than the other: It would restrict the time groups have to collect the extra signatures needed to make sure their ballot questions get before voters. Under the proposal, groups couldn’t gather additional signatures until the secretary of state notifies them whether their initial petitions have fallen short. Current law already allows groups 10 days to file any added signatures once they get notification from the state’s elections chief. But campaigns typically continue to collect signatures after they submit their initial petitions to maximize their time to get additional names. That time has varied, depending on how long it takes election officials to certify that the initial signatures are from valid Ohio voters.

South Carolina: Grooms concedes, but recount set in GOP House race | Rock Hill Herald

Former Gov. Mark Sanford will likely face former Charleston County councilman Curtis Bostic in a GOP runoff for an open congressional seat, after state Sen. Larry Grooms conceded second place Wednesday to Bostic. Grooms conceded in the crowded GOP primary in South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District even though a recount of the votes, required by state law, will be held later this week. In unofficial returns Tuesday, Bostic edged out Grooms for second place by 493 votes. Sanford was the top vote-getter among Republicans. “The margin is too big to recover from, but state law will still govern the mandatory recount,” Grooms said Wednesday. “It’s highly, highly unlikely that any errors could overturn a 400-vote margin.”

South Carolina: Senators stall proof of citizenship requirement to vote | The State

A bill that would require people to provide proof of citizenship before registering to vote was delayed Wednesday in the Senate. Three groups opposed the bill, but a ticking clock and the U.S. Supreme Court were more responsible for the hold up. The Supreme Court heard arguments this week on a similar law in Arizona, and Sen. Chip Campsen, a Charleston Republican who sponsored the S.C. bill, said he would prefer to wait on the high court’s decision before moving ahead. He also continued the bill’s consideration because the subcommittee ran out of time before finishing its discussion.

West Virginia: Secretary of State prepares for voter ID bill push | Charleston Daily Mail

After 35 days of the legislative session, there’s been more talk in the West Virginia House of Delegates on guns and pepperoni rolls than voter identification laws. With several bills before both legislative chambers, though, that could change at any minute, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant said. “The way I look at it is, in the beginning, even before the session started, I read in the paper and I was asked questions when folks were saying that this was going to be their priority bill,” Tennant said Wednesday. “When this was something to add burdens, to add more restrictions, more burdens to voters, that was going to be their priority.”

Egypt: Election limbo keeps Egypt’s IMF loan on ice | Gulf Times

Once parliamentary elections are out of the way, Egypt stands a chance of securing an International Monetary Fund loan to help address its currency and budget crisis; the problem is that no one knows when that will be. With face-to-face contact between Egypt and the IMF re-established this week after a two-month gap, both sides are pushing for urgent action, but with strikingly different emphases. President Mohamed Mursi’s government wants a full $4.8bn loan, as agreed in principle last November, but based on a gentler reform programme than originally planned, “in light of preserving growth rates, employment and protecting the poor”. By contrast, the IMF’s top official for the region, Masood Ahmed, spoke only of “possible financial support” after he met the government and central bank in Cairo on Sunday.

Pakistan: Election Commission says e-voting not feasible now for overseas Pakistanis | Dawn.com

The Election Commission of Pakistan and the government appeared to be poles apart in the Supreme Court on Tuesday on the issue of extending the facility of electronic voting to Pakistanis living abroad. While the court wishes to see the facility extended to overseas Pakistanis to enable them to cast their votes in the coming elections, the ECP insists that the electronic voting is not a feasible option at the moment. Although the Ministry of Information Technology says the task is achievable with the help of sophisticated software, it agrees that it is not feasible in the coming elections. During the hearing of a case relating to the grant of voting rights to Pakistanis living abroad, Director General of Elections Sher Afgan said a meeting held in the ECP on Monday had concluded that in the absence of a proper legislation the facility could not be extended at the moment. But he added that a team had been set up under him to develop a mechanism and procedures.

Paraguay: UNASUR Mission Begins Observation on Paraguayan Elections | Prensa Latina

A UNASUR technical mission that will observe the Paraguayan general elections to be held in April, is now employed in the verification of electoral rules and the organization of the elections. The mission of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) will continue this work until Monday, as announced by the general coordinator of the delegation, Alejandro Tullio, who is Argentina’s national election director.

Venezuela: Police fire tear gas during clash ahead of vote | Reuters

Police fired tear gas in downtown Caracas on Thursday as anti-government student protesters clashed with supporters of late President Hugo Chavez in an increasingly volatile atmosphere ahead of next month’s election. Several hundred students were marching to the election board’s headquarters to demand a clean vote when they were blocked by government supporters who hurled stones, bottles and eggs at them, a Reuters witness said. Some of the students threw stones back, other witnesses said. “We were holding a peaceful march. … All we want is democracy,” said law student Eduardo Vargas, 19, whose eye was injured in the incident. “We’re all Venezuelans. We just want a fair vote.”

Florida: Miami’s Voter Fraud Is Only the Beginning of Election Hacking | The Atlantic Wire

Authorities have confirmed tor the first time ever, that hackers attempted and almost succeeded at rigging a Miami primary vote, uncovering underlying security issues with the online voting systems of the future. In the Miami-Dade primary election last August, requests for over 2,500 phantom absentee ballots flooded the Miami Dade voter registration site, a phenomenon which a grand jury has now confirmed came from hackersreports MSNBC’s Gil Aegerter. Because it had some hallmarks of trickery, the election department’s software was able to halt the scheme before it actually affected the election. But, the scarier part is how easy the hack was to perform, as theMiami Herald‘s Patricia Mazzei explains. With a tiny bit more skill, this person could have bypassed the trigger that caught the hack. “And that, of course, is the most frightening thing: that any moderately or even marginally skilled programmer could have done this,” Steven Rambam, who reviewed the IP addresses associated with this hack told Mazzei. So, yeah, this is just the beginning.

Kentucky: Security concerns at center of voting debate | The State Journal

Whether Kentuckians deployed or living overseas should have the option to cast ballots using the Internet has been among the more heavily debated topics of this year’s legislative session. Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes has led the charge to make an electronic transmission system available for military and overseas voters from Kentucky, a main provision in Senate Bill 1 that was later removed. Some, such as Senate President Robert Stivers and Common Cause of Kentucky, a government watchdog group, have raised concerns with cyber security and election integrity. Supporters say secure systems have been implemented by other states without issue. The bill, sponsored by Stivers, R-Manchester, is set for a conference committee. Two key parts of the legislation – electronic submission of absentee ballots and allowing a two-day extension to receive them – were removed by the Senate and later reinserted by the House, prompting debate in both chambers as votes were cast.