California: Palmdale ordered to hold by-district election for City Council posts | Los Angeles Times

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge, who earlier this year found the city of Palmdale to be in violation of the California Voting Rights Act, has ordered the city to hold a new by-district election for its four City Council posts. In a ruling dated last week and received by the involved parties over the weekend, Judge Mark V. Mooney ordered that the special election, to replace the balloting for council seats held last month, is to be conducted June 3, the same day as the California primary. Future elections are to be held in November of even-numbered years, to dovetail with state and federal balloting, in the expectation that such coordination will increase voter turnout. The judge allowed Palmdale to continue to elect its mayor by voters throughout the city. That means Mayor James Ledford’s recent reelection will not be affected by the ruling.

District of Columbia: Bill Would Give D.C. Residents Who Aren’t U.S. Citizens Voting Rights | DCist

A bill was introduced to the Council today that would allow people who are D.C. residents but not U.S. citizens local voting rights. The Local Resident Voting Rights Act of 2013 was introduced by Councilmembers Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 8), Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), David Grosso (I-At Large) and Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6). The bill would amend the District of Columbia Election Code to allow non-citizens over the age of 18 who have lived in D.C. for at least 30 days and are legal permanent U.S. residents to vote in local elections. Translation: D.C. residents with a green card would be able to vote in municipal elections. “Pot holes, community centers, playgrounds, minimum wage, taxes, supercans, snow removal, alley closings, alcohol license moratoriums, red light cameras – these are all important issues that voters in the District of Columbia entrust their leaders with,” Grosso said in a statement. “And unfortunately, not all of our residents have say in choosing the individuals who make these decisions. In my opinion, that is unjust.”

Florida: Scott’s administration eases showdown over Pinellas election | Tampa Bay Times

With furor growing over his surprise announcement of new restrictions on the handling of absentee ballots, Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner did Tuesday what critics say he should have done in the first place. He talked to a supervisor of elections — in particular, Deborah Clark of Pinellas County. And later Tuesday night, Detzner followed up with a letter to Clark suggesting he is satisfied with her work to make sure absentee ballots will be secure in Pinellas County’s upcoming special congressional election to replace the late C.W. Bill Young. Detzner also signaled he has no interest in upping the ante on a controversy that is pitting elected officials from around Florida against Gov. Rick Scott’s administration. “I do not see the need for any further legal action at this time,” concluded Detzner, Scott’s top elections official. But neither did he suggest any change to the new statewide directive announced last week.

Indiana: Tippecanoe County in search of new vendor to help certify poll books | Journal and Courier

The county terminated the contract with its election software consultants just six months before the next election. “It is now required in Indiana that electronic poll books have to be certified,” Tippecanoe County Clerk Christa Coffey said as she explained Monday to county commissioners why the contract needed to end. “Our current vendor, Votec, has determined they are not going to go through that certification process. So not only do we need to terminate this contract, but we need to find a new vendor.” The certification process is reviewed by the Voting Systems Technology Oversight Program, which is operated out of Ball State University in Muncie. The county has used Votec, which is based in San Diego, since the 2011 elections, Coffey said.

Louisiana: Appeals court examines state’s voter-registration obligations | The Advocate

A federal appeals court is considering whether Louisiana must help its poor citizens on public assistance register to vote when they interact with state agencies online, over the telephone or through the mail. If a lower court ruling from early this year is overturned, an ever-growing share of people who register online won’t be granted the protections guaranteed by the National Voter Registration Act, plaintiffs’ attorneys argued Tuesday before a three-judge panel of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Secretary of State Tom Schedler wants the court to overturn a ruling by U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo that Louisiana violated federal election law by failing to make registration opportunities available through the Department of Health and Hospitals and the Department of Children and Family Services. The suit was filed in 2011 by Luther Scott Jr. and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Pennsylvania: Lawmakers eye package of voter bills | New Castle News

Conflicts caused by the state’s last attempt to improve the integrity of elections was the biggest source of complaints logged by a watchdog group during the 2012 presidential race. But that isn’t stopping lawmakers from trying to tinker even more with the state’s election rules, again in the name of improving voting integrity. The Legislature’s state government committee conducted a hearing on a package of bills that includes tougher penalties for voter intimidation and a ban on promotional materials inside polling places. The bills come up as the state’s controversial voter ID law remains in legal limbo, blocked from taking effect by a state appeals court judge’s order. The law passed in March 2012 has never been enforced, but it has resulted in confusion and anger among poll workers told they had to ask for ID and voters told they didn’t need to show it. Like the voter ID law, a proposed ban on promotions in polling places could create conflict between voters and those who are supposed to be assisting them, advocates worry.

South Dakota: Military voting abroad gets a technology boost | Argus Leader

A new system unveiled Monday will help overseas South Dakota military personnel exercise their right to vote even as they defend that right for those at home, Secretary of State Jason Gant said Monday. It will make it easier for military personnel to obtain absentee ballots and register to vote. That process can take as long as 60 days now, but the new system will allow ballots to be filled out in a few minutes. No other state is doing anything like it, Gant said. “We wanted to truly be innovative in the country,” Gant said. “We didn’t want to copy what another state had done.” The system will enable service members to use the cameras on electronic devices, such as iPads or smartphones, to scan the bar code on their common access cards, the identification cards issued to all service members. … While the system uses online technology, it is not online voting because it requires users to print and mail the ballot. Online voting is controversial because opponents fear that voting information can be intercepted or altered.

Texas: November Election Shows Texas Voter ID Means Long Wait At The Polls | Opposing Views

Texas’ new voter ID laws could cause voting delays of up to six hours in upcoming elections. About 14,000 voters were delayed while attempting to vote in Dallas County on Nov. 5, the Dallas Morning News reported. Thousands of Texas voters signed affidavits or cast provisional ballots because their name on the voting rolls didn’t exactly match their name on their photo ID. The affidavit testifies that the voter is who they say they are. If a voter refuses to sign an affidavit, they could cast a provisional ballot. The number of provisional ballots — 1,365 — is more than double the number from a similar election in 2011. It is unclear how many people signed affidavits, but two of the leading candidates for Texas governor in 2013, Republican Greg Abbott and Democrat Wendy Davis, both had to sign them. Davis’ driver’s license reads “Wendy Russell Davis,” while Abbott’s says “Gregory Wayne Abbott.”

Virginia: Attorney general recount locks up voting machines | Roanoke Times

Every state voting machine used in the Nov. 5 election is in lockdown mode — including those the Roanoke Voter Registration office would like to use in January’s special election. The Roanoke Voter Registration Office is putting on a special election Jan. 7 but doesn’t have any machines to record the vote — at least at the moment. Thanks to the impending recount in the squeaker of an election for Virginia attorney general, every voting machine in the state used in the Nov. 5 election is in lockdown mode to protect the results. Republican Mark Obenshain requested the recount after the state board of elections certified a 165-vote victory for Democrat Mark Herring.

Virginia: Some voting equipment doesn’t meet requirements | The Washington Post

Virginia elections officials say some voting equipment used in the November election doesn’t meet state requirements. State Board of Elections chairman Charles E. Judd said that there should be uniformity in the election process. “This vast diversity of equipment in the state is problematic,” Judd said. “We should have two kinds of equipment and not 10 or 12 kinds around the state. We should have some uniformity so it applies to the code and it makes it more efficient.” Judd and other board members discussed the issue Monday during a meeting, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

Virginia: 3 judges named for Attorney General recount court | The Washington Post

With a preliminary hearing scheduled for Wednesday, a three-judge panel has been named to oversee the recount for Virginia attorney general. Republican Mark Obenshain is seeking a recount of the Nov. 5 general election in his pitched race with Democrat Mark Herring, who leads him by 165 votes. Obenshain’s office says besides the previously designated Richmond Circuit Judge Beverly W. Snukals, the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia has named two other jurists to the so-called recount court.

Editorials: A vote for more efficient Virginia elections | The News Leader

The State Board of Elections met Monday and some of what its members had to say wasn’t good. Virginia has too many different kinds of voting machines, and too many of those are outdated. This would be disturbing even if the attorney general’s race wasn’t heading to a recount. Worse, in our view, is that the old voting machines are part of the problem: Our entire voting system is due for a retool. We encourage the state board to take the lead in upgrading not only the equipment but the process as a whole. Voting in the 21st century can and should be efficient and produce accurate results that reflect the true will of the majority. Turnout last month was 37 sad percent. Distasteful candidates didn’t help; nor did an antiquated system. And when 63 percent of our citizens do not bother to vote, democracy as a whole suffers.

Editorials: Is Croatia’s ‘yes’ vote tyranny of the majority? | Al Jazeera

On December 1, Croatia, the newest European Uion member state, held a referendum on same-sex marriage. However, unlike other European countries, Croatia was not voting on its legalisation, but on whether a new clause, defining marriage as a “union between a woman and a man”, should be included in the constitution. The preliminary results show that 65 percent have said “yes”. The referendum was called for in reaction to the election promises [Sr] of the ruling coalition to give certain rights to same sex couples. A Croatian Catholic group “In the Name of the Family” launched a petition on this matter, gathering 750,000 signatures. As a result, the Croation parliament, with 104 out of 151 votes, decided to open the decision-making to the public, through a referendum. Although less than 40 percent of the 3.8 million [Sr/Hr/Bs] eligible voters actually took part in the referendum, the results are binding, as there is no required quorum. Although most Balkan countries include sexual orientation in their anti-discrimination laws, Croatia’s call for referendum and the petition do not come as much of a surprise to anyone in the region. Past attempts at asserting LGBT rights have been greeted with contempt and sometimes outright violence. Croatian analysts and intellectuals indicate that the referendum on marriage is just a prelude to the referendum on the use of the Cyrillic alphabet in Croatia.

Honduras: Election authority agrees to review disputed presidential vote | Deutsche Welle

The president of Honduras’ Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), David Matamoros, said Monday that authorities had agreed to review the electoral rolls and results from the vote. Castro, the wife of ousted former president Manuel Zelaya, filed a complaint on Monday claiming fraud in the election, in which conservative Juan Orlando Hernandez was victorious. “Let us find the tools for it, and let’s do this in the most public way possible so that absolutely no doubt remains,” said Matamoros. Castro, 54, claims tally sheets were altered, that the voter registry included people who were dead or out of the country, and that polling stations were not properly monitored. Her husband, who was removed from office in a 2009 coup that sparked a period of ongoing political instability in Honduras, has asked for the 16,135 original polling station documents to be brought to the TSE for manual review.

India: Homeless in Delhi Get Chance to Exercise Voting Rights | New York Times

On a hazy Tuesday morning at a homeless shelter, Durga Dayal, 27, showed me his voter identity card with great elation. As I sat looking at his voter card, scores of people flitted in and out of the shelter, inquiring about whether their cards had arrived as well. The excitement was palpable and justified as a new voting bloc has emerged in the national capital before the Delhi state assembly elections on Wednesday. Considered one of the most marginalized communities in the state, around 7,000 of the homeless are expected to make their way to the polling booths for the very first time to cast their votes. “It is a good step as it will help in improving the voting percentage and also to spread awareness about the right to vote in elections,” said Ravinder Kumar Bajaj, an electoral registration officer in charge of Chandni Chowk, a locality in old Delhi. A large number of the homeless have been registered as voters in this assembly constituency.

Mauritania: Ruling party leading in legislative election | Reuters

Mauritania’s ruling party is leading in local and legislative elections while a once-outlawed Islamist party looked poised to become the main opposition, preliminary results showed on Tuesday. The legislative vote, which was boycotted by 10 other parties, are the first since an army putsch catapulted Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz to power in 2008. Abdel Aziz won a presidential election in 2009 and is now a Western ally in fighting al Qaeda in the poor and frequently unstable Sahel region of West Africa. Mauritania, a country of 3.2 million people, has reserves of iron ore, copper and gold and is seeking to encourage exploration in its offshore oil and gas sector.

Nepal: Institutionalized poll rigging took place, claims Maoist party | Telegraph Nepal

As per an internal committee formed by the Unified Maoists to investigate presumed election wrongdoings, the party has concluded that the election was rigged in an institutionalized manner and the investigation further reveals that the election commission and security agencies were directly involved in the vote fraud. Now the fun will perhaps begin. The committee led by party leader Barsaman Pun ‘Ananta’ in his findings claims, “The vote fraud was carried out institutionally and at the policy and organizational level.” The committee member Ram Chandra Jha said, “The investigation has revealed that including the Election commission, the security agencies were also involved.”

Venezuela: Electoral system improved significantly: official | Global Post

Venezuela’s automated electoral system has been improved significantly, as votes can be easily audited and verified, the nation’s top election official said Tuesday. In an interview aired on state-owned Venezolana de Television (VTV), Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (NEC) President Tibisay Lucena said: “In Venezuela we defeated electoral fraud … with an automated system and with technology.” Some of the most significant recent changes to the electoral system, she said, include upgrading the Voter Registry to include some 20 percent of Venezuelans over 18 who were not included, and improving the allocation of the voting centers.

Texas: Federal Judge Denies Abbott’s Motion To Move Voter ID Trial To After 2014 Election | Texas Public Radio

Federal District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos in Corpus Christi has denied Attorney General Greg Abbott’s request to move a lawsuit challenging Texas’ Voter ID law to a March trial date in 2015. Opening arguments will begin a few months before state general elections in September 2014. State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, the head of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus and a plaintiff in the case, said Abbott’s request of the court is more about political ambitions.

Virginia: Elections officials say some voting equipment is outdated | Richmond Times-Dispatch

State elections officials expressed concern Monday that some of the voting equipment used in November balloting is outdated and does not meet requirements under state law. Don Palmer, secretary of the State Board of Elections, said at a board meeting that some of the voting machines are not able to flag overvotes or undervotes, which would allow those ballots to be inspected manually. Republican Mark D. Obenshain hopes that the proper count of such ballots in the upcoming recount will sway the election result of the attorney general’s race, in which Democrat Mark R. Herring was certified the winner by 165 votes. An undervote would be one in which a selection would be made in at least one race, but not others. Overvotes include ballots in which two candidates were originally marked for a race, but one was crossed out. “The code requires in a recount situation that undervotes, overvotes and write-ins be rejected so they can be analyzed personally by the recount teams and observers of each party,” Palmer said. If there is a dispute over a particular ballot — meaning if the voter’s intention isn’t immediately clear — it would go to the recount court in Richmond, a panel of three judges headed by Richmond Circuit Court Judge Beverly W. Snukals.