National: Klobuchar bill modeled after Minnesota law to allow people to register to vote on the same day as the election | Hometown Source

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar today (Wednesday, April 24) highlighted her legislation to make voting easier for all Americans at a national forum hosted by the Center for American Progress (CAP) focusing on voting rights and increasing voter participation. Klobuchar’s Same Day Registration Act, which is modeled after Minnesota’s same day voter registration law, would require states to allow voters to register the same day as a federal election.

National: Federal Election Commission rules against married same-sex donors | Los Angeles Times

Married same-sex couples cannot make joint contributions to federal candidates as opposite-sex couples are permitted to do, the Federal Election Commission said Thursday, a decision that gay rights advocates said reinforced their case for overturning the Defense of Marriage Act. The five-member, bipartisan panel said the 1996 law defining marriage as between a man and woman prohibited the commission from viewing gay couples as spouses, even when they have legally wed under state law. The unanimous opinion came in response to a query by Massachusetts state Rep. Dan Winslow, a moderate Republican and supporter of gay marriage who is running in the April 30 special primary to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Secretary of State John F. Kerry.

Voting Blogs: More than a decade after HAVA, it’s time to go shopping | electionlineWeekly

It’s been more than a decade since the implementation of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA), which required states and counties to update their elections systems. The law, which was in response to the disastrous 2000 election in Florida, gave states until 2006 to comply with the voting system requirement. Although some weren’t happy about it and still remain opposed to the new DRE or optical-scan systems, all states were finally compliant by the 2010 mid-term elections. Now, with some of those post-HAVA voting systems starting to show their age, and other jurisdictions wishing to make the switch from DRE to optical-scan, counties and states are back in the market for new voting equipment.

Voting Blogs: Who’s The Boss? Arkansas, Florida Debate State Power to Discipline Local Election Officials | Election Academy

In recent weeks, two states have engaged in fierce debates over whether or not state election officials can engage in oversight and/or discipline of local election officials:

+ In Arkansas, Gov. Mike Beebe (D) has vetoed a series of bills that would have consolidated authority at the state level, including giving the State Board of Election Commissioners the power”to remove a county election commissioner if not qualified or for failure to perform duties.”

+ In Florida, an election reform bill that just passed the Senate on a party-line vote includes a provision that would allow the Secretary of State to put a county election supervisor on “noncompliant status” under state law. That status would allow the state to dock a supervisor’s pay for problems associated with the election process.

Arizona: Bill may ease state voting process | Yuma Sun

Arizona county recorders like Yuma’s Robyn Stallworth Pouquette want to be able to keep their early voter lists as clean and accurate as possible, reducing the use of time-chewing provisional ballots that delayed official statewide results of the 2012 general election by days. A bill working its way through the Arizona Legislature aims to do that. SB1261 gives the keepers of Arizona’s voter rolls the ability to remove voters from the permanent early voting list, or PEVL, if they haven’t used their early ballot in four years and don’t respond to a follow-up postcard query. Right now, the only way off the list is for a voter to make a request in writing.

Colorado: Mail-ballot bill passes Senate committee as it moves closer to law | The Denver Post

A big change to Colorado’s election system got another lopsided victory before a state Senate committee Wednesday night. The so-called Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act would provide mail ballots to every Colorado voter and allow registration all the way to Election Day. The State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee passed the bill on a 3-2 vote, three Democrats for, two Republicans against, after the bill passed the House without a single GOP vote last week. After a stop before the Senate Appropriations Committee, it goes to the full Senate. If it passes there — before 20 Democrats and 15 Republicans — by the end of the legislative session on May 8, it goes to Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper for a signature to become law.

Florida: Groups Object to Restrictions in Elections Bill | South Florida Times

Several groups on Monday criticized language in an elections bill that they say would make it more difficult for some minority, disabled and elderly voters to cast ballots. A provision in the wide-ranging bill wouldn’t allow voters to use assistants to cast ballots if they didn’t previously know them. Also, nobody could assist more than 10 voters per election. That means that people who can’t read English, are blind, have a disability or have trouble voting for any other reason wouldn’t be able to ask for help from trained volunteers at the polls unless they already know them. “This is again not about what’s best for Florida’s elections, but it’s politicians getting in the way of solutions for democracy,” said Gihan Perera, executive director of Florida New Majority, a group that advocates for minorities.

Florida: Election bill may limit outside volunteer help in elections | NBC

Some controversial changes may soon be coming to Florida elections. A  provision in a new wide-ranging elections bill proposed by Republican State Senator Jack Latvala would limit the ability of outside volunteers to help in elections if they did not know the voter prior to the election. The law would also limit the number of people volunteers could help to 10 voters per election. Voting rights groups blasted the Florida Republican’s rewrite of the bill in a conference call with reporters on Monday, saying that the bill would make it harder for some minority, elderly, and disabled voters to cast their ballots. They argued that people who don’t speak English, or have trouble voting for any other reason wouldn’t be able to seek help from trained volunteers at the polls unless they already know them. Executive director of Florida New Majority advocate group Gihan Perera said that the bill would not help reform elections but instead create new barriers to voting for the Latino community and other segments of the population.

Guam: Judge dismisses disabilities case against Guam Election Commission | Pacific Daily News

A lawsuit against the Guam Election Commission alleging it violated several local laws was dismissed in the Superior Court of Guam on Monday. Former Democratic Party Executive Director Carlo Branch in January 2011 sued the Election Commission, saying it had violated Guam open government laws and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The case went before Judge Arthur Barcinas in November last year and the decision to dismiss the case was made on April 22.

North Carolina: Voter ID Opponents React To Bill’s Passage, Vow To Continue To Fight | Huffington Post

Opponents of a voter ID bill that passed the North Carolina House on Wednesday are not backing down, vowing to continue to fight what they say is a discriminatory practice. The measure, which passed the House in a 81-36 vote, would require voters to show a state-issued ID in order to vote. It would also make student IDs from public colleges a legal form of identification, but not student IDs from private institutions, and it would tax the parents of college students who register to vote in the state where they are attending school. The changes would go into effect in 2016 if the bill becomes law. College students quietly protested the bill in the Statehouse Wednesday as the vote took place. They wore black tape over their mouths bearing phrases like “Justice” and “My voice is being silenced.”

North Carolina: Voter ID one step closer to become state law | Charlotte Observer

The state House passed a bill Wednesday requiring voters to show a photo ID when they go to the polls in 2016, after an emotionally charged debate that underscored North Carolina’s political polarization. House Republicans pushed through the measure saying that the public demanded more stringent ballot security at polling places, that voter fraud was more prevalent than is understood, and that in a modern, mobile society fewer election officials personally knew voters.

South Carolina: Stephen Colbert endorses sister Elizabeth Colbert Busch: Do campaign finance laws apply? | Slate Magazine

As the faux-conservative Colbert Report host, Stephen Colbert has lampooned campaign finance laws and the U.S. electoral system by starting his own super PAC and announcing bids for the presidency and “the president of the United States of South Carolina.” But another Colbert—this one with a hard t at the end—is also vying for the political spotlight: Elizabeth Colbert Busch, Stephen’s older sister, who’s facing off against avid Appalachian Trail hiker and former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford in a May 7 special election for South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District. Colbert has twice devoted show segments to his sister’s campaign, including one endorsing her candidacy, and has mocked Sanford on countless occasions. With the show’s nightly viewership of 1.5 million and the documented “Colbert bump” in a politician’s support after an appearance, is Colbert violating election laws by blending his hosting role with his sister’s campaign?

Ohio: Tuition saver or vote suppressor? GOP plan for college-student residency stirs controversy | The Columbus Dispatch

A Republican budget amendment approved last week has Ohio universities worried about the potential annual loss of more than $100 million in tuition payments, while Democrats see it as an effort to suppress voting by college students. Under the GOP proposal, an institution must charge in-state tuition if it provides an out-of-state student with a letter or utility bill that the student can use to show residency and vote in Ohio. The provision, university officials say, would reduce tuition for thousands of out-of-state students who now pay up to $15,500 more than in-state students. Republicans say the provision is, indeed, aimed at lowering tuition.

Texas: House erupts in showdown on voter’s rights | San Antonio Express-News

The Texas House erupted Thursday into a partisan showdown over voting rights when the chamber’s Republicans muscled through a measure they argue will help crack down on mail-in voter fraud. Tensions flared on House floor for more than three hours as Democrats fought Republicans over a measure to criminalize “ballot harvesting” of mail-in votes, a process in which a group or an individual collects and mails completed ballots for other people. House Bill 148 by Rep. Cindy Burkett, R-Sunnyvale, takes aim at the practice by capping the number of ballots an individual can mail in any election to 10. Republicans argued that the mail-in voting system is rampant with fraud in part because of ballot harvesters.

Texas: Online voter registration bill pushes for modern method | San Antonio Express-News

It’s a question often posed to Bexar County election officials: Can Texans register to vote online? The answer remains “not yet,” but that would change Sept. 1 under a measure approved by the Texas Senate this week. Sent to the House, the bill authored by Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, aims to modernize the state’s voter registration process the same way Texas has made it easier to complete other official transactions via the Internet.

Iran: Election Rhetoric Heats Up in Iran | Iran Pulse

Election rhetoric in Iran has increased since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s controversial statements earlier in the week, in which he threatened to reveal sensitive information about his political enemies and taunted them that they are “nobody” to confront him. Immediately after the statements, several figures in Iran responded. Hassan Firouzabadi, chief of the armed forces, said that what the president did “was unacceptable, and it is disturbing public order.” He added that “we hope the president puts an end to this type of discourse.” Hossein Shariatmadari, editor of the Kayhan newspaper, which is close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, also responded to the president’s statements. He wrote to the president, “There could be two reasons why you still haven’t revealed anything. Either you’re bluffing … or you’re worried they’ll reveal something about you. Could there be any other reason?”

Russia: Election watchdog Golos fined | BBC

Election watchdog Golos has become the first non-governmental organisation (NGO) to be fined in Russia under a controversial new law. A Moscow court ruled Golos had failed to declare itself as a “foreign agent” after receiving funds from abroad after the law took effect in November. It was fined the sum of 300,000 roubles (£6,200; $9,500; 6,300 euros). The NGO said it had returned the money – a prize for its human rights work – as soon as it entered its account. It also denied being involved in political activity. It says it will appeal against the verdict. Golos, which received assistance in the past from the US government development agency USAID, insists it no longer accepts foreign funding. Now in its 13th year, the NGO did much to expose fraud at the 2011 parliamentary election, when it charted abuses across Russia, notably through its online “map of violations”.

Venezuela: Opposition to boycott vote audit | USAToday

Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles Radonski said Thursday his movement will boycott an audit of the election results and push the government to hold a new presidential vote. Capriles said the opposition would not participate in the audit because the National Electoral Council did not meet its demand for an examination of registers containing voters’ signatures and fingerprints. He said the opposition would go to the Supreme Court to challenge the results of the April 14 election, which was narrowly won by Nicolás Maduro, the handpicked successor of President Hugo Chávez, an anti-American leader who died from cancer.

Venezuela: The Roots of Venezuela’s Recount | The National Interest

After fourteen years of Hugo Chávez’s personalist leadership, Venezuelans took their first steps into a brave new world of political contestation on April 14 when they elected a president to fulfill Chávez’s term. The fireworks that marked the aggressive campaign are, in a sense, still going off. The unexpectedly close special presidential election between interim president Nicolás Maduro and opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, with a difference of 1.8 percent of the vote (or 272,865 votes), was followed by postelection turmoil in the streets and opposing international calls for either a vote recount or immediate recognition of Maduro’s slim victory.