Estonia: MEP Kristiina Ojuland Ejected From Reform Party Over Alleged Vote Rigging | Politics | News | ERR

The Reform Party, headed by Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, has cast out MEP Kristiina Ojuland for vote rigging in an internal party election in May. After the scandal emerged in a newspaper report last week, Taimi Samblik, a regional development director, admitted to having secretly cast e-votes on behalf of roughly 40 elderly party members who later said they had not voted. Samblik, who left the party today, said she had been persuaded to rig the votes by Ojuland in May, and in another leadership vote in 2011, by Lääne-Viru County Governor Einar Vallbaum, who has so far avoided being expelled.

Iran: How the ballot works in the Iran election | BBC

Nearly 50 million people are eligible to vote in Friday’s elections in Iran – almost 70% from the capital, Tehran, and the major cities while about 30% of voters come from rural areas. There are nearly 70,000 polling stations and, according to the authorities, nearly one million people are involved in making sure the vote will go smoothly. All a voter needs to cast a ballot is his or her birth certificate, which will be stamped to show that they have voted. Also, they will have to press their thumbs into an ink pad to make sure there are no repeat voters. Voters will be given a ballot paper on which they will have to write the name of their candidate of choice. Those who cannot read or write will be helped by those inside the polling stations – this is always the cause of speculation as a source of irregularity.

National: Supreme Court nears rulings on key voting rights cases | Washington Times

The Supreme Court is expected this month to announce rulings on two key voting rights cases that could reshape how Americans nationwide cast ballots in federal elections. The more high-profile of the two pending rulings — which could come as early as this week — involves an Alabama county that is pushing back against federal oversight of its election procedures. The other centers on an Arizona law that requires voters to submit documentary proof of citizenship when registering to vote. While both cases deal with specific jurisdictions, the court’s decisions will set legal precedents that could — depending on whether the justices uphold, strike down or suggest changes in the laws — trigger states nationwide to reform the way they hold elections and who they allow to vote.

Colorado: Judge voids Center election but finds no intentional wrongdoing | Center Post Dispatch

After winding up testimony from Town Clerk Christian Samora and hearing closing arguments from both sides Thursday, District Judge Martin Gonzales rendered a timely decision Friday morning on the March 19 Center recall election. Gonzales based his decision strictly on the ruling handed down in the 1964 Colorado Supreme Court decision Taylor v. Pile: “If any absentee ballots are “numbered in such a manner that the vote of any person thereafter may be determined by comparison with the number on the ballot and the poll registration book is contrary to the state of Colorado’s constitutional and statutory guarantee of a secret ballot and, therefore, void ab initio [from the beginning].”

Iowa: State auditor will review use of federal money to investigate alleged voter fraud | Des Moines Register

The Iowa state auditor’s office has agreed to review whether Secretary of State Matt Schultz has improperly used federal money to investigate possible illegal voting in Iowa. State Auditor Mary Mosiman, who was appointed to her post last month by Gov. Terry Branstad, detailed the plans in a letter sent last week to state Sen. Tom Courtney, D-Burlington. Because Mosiman formerly worked in the secretary of state’s office, she said she has assigned final responsibility for the review to her chief deputy, Warren Jenkins. The state auditor’s office agreed to proceed after being informed by the Inspector General of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission that federal officials did not plan to conduct the review because the commission did not have a sufficient number of members to constitute a quorum. Without a quorum, the commission cannot issue rulings.

Kentucky: Beshear says he will decide soon when to schedule legislative redistricting |

Gov. Steve Beshear hopes to determine within about a week when to call a special legislative session to redraw the boundaries of state House and Senate districts. Beshear, after meeting for about an hour Monday behind closed doors in his Capitol office with Senate President Robert Stivers and House Speaker Greg Stumbo, said they were “working on a set of ground rules” for a special session and “are already looking at their calendars for a date.” Only the governor may call a special session and set its agenda. The legislature determines how long one will last. Beshear and the legislative leaders want a special session to run for only five days. That’s the minimum needed to make a law. The session will cost taxpayers about $65,000 a day.

Nevada: Sandoval vetoes bill to expand early voting in Nevada | Associated PRess

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval has said no to extending voter registration deadlines in Nevada. The Republican governor late Friday vetoed AB440, along with three other bills. The measure would have extended Nevada’s voter registration deadlines to the Friday before a primary or general election through early voting. If someone registered in person during the early voting period, they would have been allowed to vote. Under current law the deadline comes three weeks before an election.

New Hampshire: House Democrats, Senate Republicans far apart – for now – on voter ID reforms | Concord Monitor

When Democrats won control of the House last fall, rolling back or repealing the state’s new voter ID law was one of their priorities. But the Senate’s Republican majority has so far thwarted that plan, with just weeks left to reach some sort of compromise. “I always hope that people can come to compromise, and I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to compromise on this issue – although the history has not been very successful in terms of compromise on this issue,” said Rep. Gary Richardson of Hopkinton, the Democratic floor leader in the House. The Democratic-led House in March passed a bill, largely along party lines, that rolled back the voter ID law enacted last year by the GOP-controlled Legislature over a veto from then-Gov. John Lynch.

Editorials: Sheldon Silver and Assembly must okay return to lever voting machines | New York Daily News

New York’s mayoral candidates on Tuesday began collecting the petition signatures needed for their names to appear on the September primary ballot — for an election that promises to be a botch of infamous proportions. This, right now, is the moment for the Legislature to rescue the city from a near-certain nightmare by authorizing the Board of Elections to press the old, clunker, mechanical voting machines back into action. At Washington’s orders, the board mothballed the contraptions in favor of electronic ballot scanners. But these devices are functionally useless up against the quick succession of elections that are likely this fall: first a primary, then a runoff if no candidate gets more than 40%, then the November general election.

Texas: Redistricting is Harder Than It Looked | The Texas Tribune

The Texas Legislature’s redistricting mission was supposed to be easy-peasy: Zip in for a special session, ratify the court-drawn maps used as a stopgap in the 2012 elections, close the legislative books and go home. The attorney general said the Legislature could cut away some of the tangled litigation that had the state defending its maps in separate federal courts in Washington and San Antonio. The special session would be over in seven to 10 days, lawmakers said. Instead, it is like taking a shortcut through a swamp — the sort of well-intentioned romp that marks the beginning of so many classic horror movies. The legal and political monsters appeared right on cue, and what was supposed to be a quick march could become a hard slog.

Wisconsin: Committee approves revised election bill |

Campaign donors could contribute twice as much to their favorite candidates and voters could register online under a dramatically reworked election reform bill the state Assembly’s election committee approved Monday. In a rare compromise, Republicans and minority Democrats removed language designed to reinstate voter photo identification requirements. They also dropped provisions banning in-person absentee voting on weekends and limiting local recall elections. The elections committee approved the changes 8-1, setting up a vote in the full Assembly on Wednesday. Democrats on the panel still called the bill troubling, but they thanked Republicans for changing it. The committee’s chairwoman, Rep. Kathleen Bernier, R-Chippewa Falls, still signaled the GOP plans to return to voter ID this fall.

Guinea: Mediator: Guinea’s opposition may agree to election if conditions are met | The Washington Post

After weeks of violent clashes, Guinea’s ruling party and opposition succeeded in drafting a framework which might allow the country to move forward with much-delayed legislative elections, according to the international mediator brought in to help bridge the chasm between the two sides. Said Djinnit, the special representative of the United Nations Secretary-General, explained on Sunday that the opposition has agreed to rescind their boycott and will take part in the poll so long as 10 conditions are met. In return, the ruling party has agreed to delay the June date for the ballot. They have also agreed to allow Guineans living overseas to vote, a concession to the opposition since most expatriates have historically voted in favor of the opposition.

Iran: In Iran vote, reformists struggle with few options | Associated Press

Despite four years of non-stop pressure, arrests and intimidation, Iran’s dissidents still find ways to show their resilience. Protest messages still ricochet around social media despite Iran’s cyber cops’ attempts to control the Web. Angry graffiti pops up and then quickly painted over by authorities. Mourners at the funeral of a dissident cleric flashed V-for-victory gestures and chanted against the state. But just a look at the sidewalks around Tehran’s Mellat Park shows how far Iran’s opposition has fallen as the country prepares for Friday’s presidential election.

Iran: Hardliner drops out of election, narrows field for allies | Reuters

The 12-man Guardian Council, largely under the sway of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had already barred all but eight of the 686 people who registered as candidates, including pragmatic ex-president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. That left four hardliners, separated only by small differences on issues such as Iran’s nuclear stand-off with the West, facing a lone independent outsider and two relative moderates who may be able to generate popular support. Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel, a close adviser to Khamenei related to him by marriage, had been one of three so-called “Principlist” conservative candidates alongside Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf and former foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati before announcing on Monday he was dropping out.

Malawi: Electoral Commission to launch 2014 elections strategic plan | Malawi Nyasa Times

The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) will launch the 2014 Tripartite Elections, the Civic and Voter Education Strategy and the 2013 to 2017 Strategic Plan on Friday at Hotel Victoria in Blantyre. According a statement issued by Chief Elections Officer Willie Kalonga on Monday, delegates to the launch will include Presidents and Secretaries General of all political parties registered in Malawi, government officials, civil society organisations, the academia, development partners, the media, members of the diplomatic corps and other electoral stakeholders.

Venezuela: White House dodges request urging Venezuelan government to hold recount of April election

Just like he did with the petition to deport CNN host Piers Morgan in December, President Obama has dodged calls by Americans to urge the South American country of Venezuela to hold a recount on its April 14 election. The petition, which was posted on the Administration’s “We the People” page on April 15, asks the Administration to refuse to acknowledge the legitimacy of the new Venezuelan government until there is a recount of the previous day’s vote. The election was held just a month after longtime leader Hugo Chavez passed away from cancer.