Texas: Special session imminent for state Legislature | Houston Chronicle

Texas’ redistricting battle is about to heat up again. As the Legislature’s regular 90-day session winds to an end, state lawmakers are girding for Gov. Rick Perry to call a special session that could start as early as Tuesday on congressional and legislative election maps. Meanwhile, a federal court is putting its gears back in motion to again take up a lawsuit by minority and voting rights groups challenging Republican-drawn redistricting maps passed by the Legislature in 2011. A hearing scheduled for Wednesday in San Antonio will mark the first time the three-judge panel weighs in on the case in about a year. The flurry of action on the state level on redistricting comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling next month on a case involving Section 5 of the federal Voting Rights Act.

Bhutan: Bhutanese brave mountains and monsoon for election | Bangkok Post

Bhutan begins its second-ever parliamentary election on Friday, after polling officials trekked for up to seven days to reach voters in the most remote corners of the Himalayan kingdom. Bhutanease wait to cast their votes at a polling station in Thimphu on April 23, 2013. Bhutan begins its second-ever parliamentary election on Friday, after polling officials trekked for up to seven days to reach voters in the most remote corners of the Himalayan kingdom. While the electorate comprises fewer than 400,000 people, voting is a huge logistical challenge across the rugged terrain, where democracy was ushered in just five years ago after Bhutan’s “dragon kings” ceded absolute power. Armed with satellite phones to send in results, polling staff have braved heavy rains and slippery leech-infested trails to ensure that even isolated yak-owning nomads can cast their vote, the national Kuensel newspaper reported.

Philippines: Poll integrity questioned – CBCP Notes Large-Scale Vote-Buying, Disenfranchisement, Transmission Failures | Manila Bulletin

Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma yesterday asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to seriously address questions raised regarding the conduct of the May 13 midterm polls. The Comelec should particularly explain why the second automated polls seemed to be “out of tune,” Palma said. He issued the call a day after the CBCP National Secretariat for Social Action (Nassa) issued a statement questioning the last elections. On Tuesday, the Catholic Church’s social action arm said the May elections was a “mockery of our democracy” and the results were “questionable, citing the large-scale vote-buying, disenfranchisement of voters, malfunction of voting machines, corrupted compact flash cards, and transmission failures among others. “Nassa is not blind to the glaring discrepancies and election violations, the highly-suspicious interventions during the canvassing, and the possible manipulation of election results during the lull hours of transmission, canvassing and consolidation of votes,” the statement reads. “In principle, there are many valid points raised because a lot of people thought the elections were okay, but we all know that like in music it was out of tune, which puts into question so many things,” said Palma.

National: IRS Has History of Extra Scrutiny of Groups | Wall Street Journal

The Internal Revenue Service unit under fire for its reviews of conservative organizations has a long history of targeting groups with extra scrutiny, including foreclosure-assistance charities, credit-counseling services and New York Jewish charities, interviews with current and former employees show. The scrutiny has included such tactics as listening to telephone calls between groups and their clients, according to one group’s lawyer. In the case of tea-party organizations, IRS officials studied social-media postings to gauge political activity. Sometimes the tactic of extra scrutiny for particular kinds of groups seeking tax exemptions helped manage a flood of entities in areas where abuse was common; other times it snagged innocent parties, subjected applicants to long delays and even made IRS employees feel uncomfortable.

Voting Blogs: Heavy Lifting: San Francisco's Voter Guide is One for the Books | Election Academy

It certainly doesn’t stack up to David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged or Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace, but this fall’s voter’s guide in San Francisco will certainly help prop open just about any door. The voter’s guide for the 2013 fall election will clock in at more than 500 pages. The phonebook-sized guide is courtesy of a city law that requires the full text of a referendum, as it was presented during the signature drive, to appear in the voter’s guide. The legal text for the referendum — regarding the height of a condo project — includes numerous pages of text from the city’s planning commission, board of supervisor meeting testimony and environmental studies. “If printed with the referendum, this would be San Francisco’s largest voter guide,” explained Jon Arntz, director of elections for San Francisco.

California: Assembly passes several election-related bills | Associated Press

Immigrants who are not U.S. citizens could serve as poll workers in California under one of several election-related bills that passed the state Assembly on Thursday. As many as five noncitizens could volunteer in a precinct under AB817 from Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda. Those poll workers must be legal permanent U.S. residents. Bonta said allowing immigrants to serve as poll workers would increase the number of bilingual volunteers who could assist voters.

Florida: Secretary of State praises new election law | First Coast News

Florida’s top elections official said he believes Florida’s new election law will solve the problems that plagued the presidential election last year. Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner praises the law as a bipartisan effort that included contributions and support from Republicans, Democrats, supervisors of elections and the Florida League of Women Voters. The reforms eliminate many of the provisions in Florida’s previous election law that contributed to long lines and frustrated voters.

Minnesota: Ranked choice, but how many? | StarTribune.com

Voters in Minneapolis will have their second opportunity this November to rank candidates based on preference. But how many rankings should they get? The current number is three, but a City Council committee on Thursday took testimony about the implications of increasing it to five or more. The discussion initially arose during an elections committee meeting earlier this week focused on some technical changes to the ranked choice voting process and interpretations of voter intent. Ranked choice voting, which the city used during a less contentious election in 2009, takes into account voters’ rankings to choose a winner if a candidate does not get more than 50 percent of the first-choice votes. The candidate with the fewest first-choice votes is eliminated after each round – and their supporters’ votes are redistributed based on their rankings – until someone surpasses 50 percent.

Minnesota: Tweaking ranked-choice voting: Minneapolis considering three changes | MinnPost

Members of the Minneapolis City Council got scolded by a member of the Charter Commission as they prepared to change some of the rules on how ranked-choice voting will be administered in this fall’s election. “I would submit that 13 declared candidates for office, in an election year, five months prior to an election, have no business changing election laws,” said Devin Rice of the Charter Commission. He also was critical of an earlier council decision to reduce funds available for voter education, given the incidence of voter error in the 2009 election. Errors in using ranked-choice voting showed up on 6.5 percent of ballots cast, Rice said.

Ohio: House Upholds Landis' Victory – Last Contested Legislative Race of the 2012 Election | The Times-Reporter

State Rep. Al Landis says he can turn his full attention to representing the residents of Tuscarawas and Holmes counties in Columbus, now that the Ohio House of Representatives has voted to uphold his victory in November’s disputed 98th District contest. “This will allow me to deal with the issues of the 98th District,” the Dover Republican said Wednesday, hours after the GOP-controlled House voted 58-32 along party lines to affirm his victory. “I think the focus of the House will be different now, since this isn’t hanging out there,” he said. “They can get back to focusing on legislation for the state.” Landis was one of two House members who abstained from voting on the resolution naming him the winner. “I recused myself on all issues involved in the process,” he said.

Texas: House Approves Changes to Ballot Harvesting Bill | The Texas Tribune

The final version of a controversial bill filed to prevent so-called ballot harvesting was approved by the House, but not before a key provision was diluted in the Senate. House Bill 148, by state Rep. Cindy Burkett, R-Sunnyvale, was signed by the House on Friday. It makes it a crime to offer a person compensation based on the number of mail-in ballots he or she collects during an election. Proponents of the bill say the practice leads to voter fraud and possible voter intimidation.

Afghanistan: Election Commission begins voter registration for 2014 polls | The Hindu

Afghanistan started voter registration on Sunday, in preparation for next year’s presidential polls, an election commission official said. “We started voter registration this morning in 41 different registration centres across the country in all of 34 provinces so that Afghans can use their given right to vote,” said Noor Mohammad Noor, a spokesman for the Afghan Independent Election Commission. “It is going on well. In Kabul, there are three centres. We don’t have exact figures on the turnout, but initial reports say that the participation in registration process is encouraging,” he added. Registration will continue until two weeks before election day, slated for April 5, 2014, the commission said.

Egypt: Court says police and army should vote | Times-Standard

Egyptian Islamists and former members of the nation’s military voiced concern Sunday about the potential pitfalls stemming from a decision by the country’s top constitutional court that would allow members of the armed forces and police to vote in the nation’s elections. For decades, a long-running legal tradition in Egypt’s army and police barred soldiers, conscripts and members of the security from voting while in the service. The ban, which was written into law in 1976, was widely seen as a move designed to keep both the military and the security agencies out of politics—despite the fact that the country was run by former generals. The Supreme Constitutional Court said Saturday the ban violated the country’s new constitution, which stipulates that all citizens have the right to vote. The court also shot down 12 other articles of the election laws drafted by Egypt’s Islamist-led legislature, saying they too went against the charter.

Iran: Iran asks the West to keep out of elections | Al Jazeera

Iran has accused the US and France of “interference” for criticising it for barring hundreds of would-be candidates in next month’s presidential election. Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said on Sunday that Tehran was “highly sensitive” about comments targeting its internal affairs, while his spokesman Abbas Araqchi said: “Elections in Iran are free and transparent. They are held based on the country’s laws and regulations.” Their comments came after the news on Tuesday that the Guardians Council, Iran’s unelected electoral watchdog, had cleared just eight male candidates out of 868 registrants to stand in the June 14 election. Two key figures – moderate former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Ahmadinejad ally Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie – were among those disqualified.

Italy: E-voting pilot kicks off in Salento | ZDNet

You’d expect to hear about Salento in a travel blog, inviting you to explore the villages and secluded white sand beaches of this Italian gem. But there’s more to the region than scenery: it’s the home of one of Italy’s first major experiments with e-voting. First, the trivia. Martignano is the one of the region’s smallest towns, situated in an area known as the Grecia Salentina, a language enclave of ten municipalities where griko is spoken, a language originating from ancient greek (Salento was once part of the Magna Grecia). Small yet culturally lively, Martignano still has one of the best broadband infrastructures in Italy. Melpignano is another town in the Grecia Salentina, and also uses griko. Onto the politics: smaller towns and municipalities in Italy have recently been asked to cast their votes as part of an “advisory referendum” on the question of whether to join up with other towns with up to 5,000 citizens. It’s a part of an ongoing countrywide bid to try to reduce public spending by cutting the number of small municipalities and provinces and the amount of administration that goes with them.

Mongolia: Dominion ImageCast to be used in Mongolian Election | Ubpost News

The 2013 Presidential Election Campaign has officially started on May 22, in which three candidates received their mandates to run for president. They were officially registered by the General Election Commission to run in the 6th Presidential Election in Mongolia. They are Ts.Elbegdorj, the current President of Mongolia, from the Democratic Party; former wrestler, champion B.Bat-Erdene, from the Mongolian People’s Party; and the Minister of Health, N.Udval, from the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party. … The parliamentary meeting held on December 21, 2012 came up with a decision to allow using the automated technique and device, “New ImageCast,” in the operations of voter registration, poll taking, and ballot paper counting. Accordingly, the ballot papers of the Presidential Election will be counted by an automatic device for the first time through Dominion Voting, the company that started providing the world market with election products in 2002. Mongolia introduced its ImageCast electronic voting machine in the Parliamentary Election, conducted last year. According to the local media, the ballot papers of the 2013 Presidential Election will be counted electronically by a machine.

Pakistan: Signs of manipulation: Imran Khan calls for thumbprint verification | The Express Tribune

The head of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Imran Khan, called upon the Election Commission of Pakistan and the Supreme Court to probe the thumbprint impressions of ballots of four National Assembly constituencies to ascertain the rigging trend in the May 11 polls. While addressing via a video-link a gathering of party workers at D-Chowk, Islamabad, Imran said that it is the duty of the chief justice and chief election commissioner to listen to the “hue and cry” raised by people who believe that the results of 25 to 30 constituencies were manipulated.