National: Antonin Scalia: Voting Rights Act Is An ‘Embedded’ Form Of ‘Racial Preferment’ | Huffington Post

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said Monday that the Voting Rights Act is an “embedded” form of “racial preferment,” according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. He later criticized United States Supreme Court precedents that expanded the number of minority groups, positing that “child abusers” could be a minority, but do not deserve special protection. Scalia’s remarks, made at the University of California Washington Center, echoed his description of the voting act as “racial entitlement” during arguments in Shelby County v. Holder in February.

Alabama: Voter registration bill bogs down in House | The Montgomery Advertiser

Lawmaking proved slow-going in the Alabama House of Representatives Tuesday, as a bill that would move up the deadline to register to vote drew filibusters from black lawmakers. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Wes Long, R-Guntersville, would move the deadline to register to vote from 10 days prior to an election to 17 days prior. Registrars have supported adoption of the measure, saying they need the additional time to prepare a proper list of voters for elections and correct any mistakes that may emerge on voter registration forms. The bill passed the House in 2011 — with a window of 14 days — but did not move out of the Senate.

Colorado: Elections bill stirs passions | Our Colorado News

A Democratic-sponsored bill that would put in place sweeping changes to how Colorado elections are conducted passed a state legislative committee on April 15, following a lengthy and heavily debated hearing that went deep into the night. House Bill 1303 would change the state’s election code to allow for same-day voter registration and would put ballots in the mailboxes of every registered voter. The bill also would do away with a system where “inactive” voters — those who did not vote in the previous election — do not continue to receive mail-in ballots. Democrats say the changes would encourage more involvement in the voting process, and would save taxpayer dollars on things like voting equipment, because fewer people would need to vote in person.

Florida: Elections reform bill: Senate poised to pass elections reform bill | Orlando Sentinel

The Florida Senate is poised to pass an election reform inspired by last year’s criticized elections, but will likely do so without the votes of minority-party Democrats who object the fix doesn’t completely solve all the problems that led to long lines and late vote counts. Though there are some difference between the House and Senate bills (SB 600/HB 7013), both would give elections supervisors discretion to hold between eight and 14 days or early voting, and allow early voting on the Sunday before a general election.

Massachusetts: Reformers: Momentum building behind voting reform bills | Georgetown Record

State election reform advocates are optimistic their longtime efforts to enact early voting, online voter registration and other changes at the polls could gain traction this year. MassVOTE and other voting rights groups said long lines at some polls in last year’s presidential election seem to have sparked renewed interest in such reforms. State Sen. Barry Finegold, D-Andover, Senate chairman of the Joint Committee on Election Laws, filed a bill this year that bundles several measures that reformers have long supported. Some of these measures passed the House last year, but died in the Senate at the end of the legislative session, advocates said.

Montana: Montana House backs election-related referendums | Missoulian

After lengthy debates, the House on Tuesday endorsed two proposed referendums dealing with elections. By a 60-40 vote, the House approved Senate Bill 405 by Sen. Alan Olson, R-Roundup, to change a 2005 state law and end voter registration at 5 p.m. on the Friday before Election Day. People no longer would be able to register to vote on Election Day and then cast their votes same day as has been the case since the 2005 law passed.

North Carolina: Voter ID proposal clears House Elections Committee |

A bill requiring voters to present photo identification at the polls was endorsed Wednesday by a North Carolina House Committee. Republicans in the House Elections Committee overcame solid Democratic opposition to advance the bill, 23-11. The vote followed more than two hours of mostly unsuccessful amendments from Democrats who wanted to broaden the forms of acceptable ID and ease restrictions. Voter ID is a contentious issue nationally and on the state level. Republican lawmakers say it ensures election integrity but Democrats label it an attempt to suppress voter turnout in the name of a problem that lacks documented proof.

North Carolina: Poll finds support for voter ID drops with more information about alternatives, impact of laws | Facing South

One of the strongest arguments going for lawmakers who support tougher voter ID laws is that, according to many polls, the measures have public support. In North Carolina, for example, a WRAL TV survey last October found 69 percent favor requiring a photo ID to vote. But a new poll by SurveyUSA — sponsored by the N.C. League of Women Voters and Democracy North Carolina — finds that most North Carolina voters are also fine with non-photo ID alternatives, and don’t think voter ID should be a top priority.

Pennsylvania: Online voter registration and two other government reforms pass Senate |

The Senate passed legislation today that would allow residents aged 18 years and older to register to vote online until 30 days before the election by a 49-0 vote. The measure, sponsored by Sen. Lloyd Smucker, R-Lancaster County, now goes to the House for consideration. It is expected to result in significant cost savings being realized as was the case in other states that have made this move. Government reform groups also suggest the online registration will improve the accuracy of registrations and official voter rolls as well as eliminate the chance of anyone intercepting or failing to turn in registration forms to county officials.

Kenya: Electoral Commission to Meet After Supreme Court Ruling | VoA News

Senior officials of Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) plan to meet Thursday to review its performance following last month’s general election. The meeting comes after judges of the Supreme Court recommended investigation and prosecution of any IEBC officers found responsible for failure of an electronic voter identification system during and after the balloting. Critics say the failures undermined the integrity of the voting results. “We recommend that this matter be entrusted to the relevant state agency, for further investigation and possible prosecution of suspects,” the Supreme Court judges said.

Pakistan: Nadra awaits nod, funds for organising polling abroad |

A source said Nadra chief Tariq Malik had written letters to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis to inform them that his organisation was ready to deploy e-voting facility for overseas Pakistanis. “There is no denying the fact that deployment and installation of e-voting software in host countries is an uphill task and Nadra needs an immediate official nod, including funds amounting to $1.5 million,” said the Nadra official. Any inordinate delay would result in the disenfranchisement of 4.5m Pakistanis living abroad who could otherwise take part in the general election, he added. Under the directives of Supreme Court (SC), Nadra developed a software within the given deadline for overseas registered voters to exercise their right to franchise. A demonstration was also made which was three-member bench of the SC headed by the chief justice.

Venezuela: Manual recount not possible in Venezuela, chief justice says |

A manual recount of votes isn’t possible in Venezuela, the head of the country’s Supreme Court said Wednesday, suggesting there is no legal basis for the opposition’s push for a ballot-by-ballot audit of the narrow presidential election results. In nationally televised remarks, Venezuelan Chief Justice Luisa Estella Morales said Venezuela’s 1999 constitution eliminated manual recounts in favor of a “system audit.” “In Venezuela the electoral system is completely automated. Therefore, a manual count does not exist. Anyone who thought that could really happen has been deceived,” she said. “The majority of those who are asking for a manual count know it and are clear about it. Elections are not audited ballot by ballot but through the system.”

Venezuela: Why People Want a Full Recount of Votes in Venezuela | ABC

With recent news of post-election violence in Venezuela, one issue has slightly faded away from the horizon. The reason there is a political crisis in Venezuela at all is because a large segment of the population does not trust in the results that were announced by election officials on Sunday. They want votes to be audited and counted once again, and have been angered by recent declarations from government officials that no such thing will be done.

Venezuela: Supreme Court rules out recount after vote, deadly demos | AFP

Venezuela’s Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled out a recount of a disputed presidential vote won by the late Hugo Chavez’s political heir Nicolas Maduro, upping the pressure on his rival to concede. Tensions have been rising in Venezuela since Sunday’s contest to replace Chavez, who died last month aged 58 after a long battle with cancer. Maduro was named the winner, narrowly defeating opposition leader Henrique Capriles. Eight people were killed and dozens more injured in post-election violence in the oil-rich South American country on Monday — mainly in big cities, where Capriles did well. Each side has accused the other of stoking violence.

Venezuela: Options narrow for opposition as Supreme Court chief says no way for vote recount | The Washington Post

Venezuela’s opposition watched its options dwindle Wednesday after the head of the Supreme Court said there could be no recount of the razor-thin presidential election victory by Hugo Chavez’s heir, leaving many government foes feeling the only chance at power is to wait for the ruling socialists to stumble. Opposition activists and independent observers called the judge’s declaration blatant and legally unfounded favoritism from a purportedly independent body that is packed with confederates of President-elect Nicolas Maduro, Chavez’s hand-picked successor. The recount issue isn’t before the court, but its president, Luisa Morales, appeared on television at midday to declare that the opposition call for an examination of each and every paper vote receipt had “angered many Venezuelans.”

Venezuela: US calls for Venezuela election recount after narrow win for Nicolás Maduro |

The United States is hesitating to recognise Nicolás Maduro as president of Venezuela and has called for a recount of the vote from Sunday’s closely fought election. The procrastination is likely to embolden Venezuela’s opposition and enrage many on the left in Latin America, who have long accused the US of interfering in the region’s politics. The US secretary of state, John Kerry, said he had yet to evaluate whether the disputed result was legitimate when asked about the matter by members of the House of Representatives. “We think there ought to be a recount,” he told the foreign affairs committee in reference to Venezuelan opposition demands for a full audit of the vote.