New York: No Microscopic Type On This November’s Ballots, Board Of Elections Promises | New York Daily News

The city Board of Elections is going to try something different this November: Printing ballots voters can actually read. The Board took a beating over the eye-straining six-point typeface on last year’s general election ballots from a legion of elected officials and watchdog groups who said the print was preposterously small. The 2013 problem arose because of the number of languages — as many as five in some pockets of Queens — into which the ballots had to be translated. Now the Board will do what some say it could well have done last year: Print no more than three languages on any single ballot, which will boost the type size to 10 points. The agency insisted it had no choice but to microsize the print citywide last year because providing ballots with varying type sizes might trigger accusations of discrimination and possibly lawsuits.

National: Election Panel: Long Lines Were Management Problem | NPR

The commission President Obama appointed last year to figure out how to fix long lines at the polls and other election problems has sought to steer clear of the many partisan land mines surrounding how Americans vote. The two co-chairmen of the panel continued to that navigation Wednesday as they presented their unanimous recommendations to the Senate Rules Committee. When asked by Democrat Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota whether some states were doing things intentionally to disenfranchise voters — like limiting early-voting days — commission co-chairman and Democratic election lawyer Bob Bauer responded diplomatically. First, he said the commission was struck by how much it had heard from both Democrats and Republicans, “once the lights were off and the doors were closed,” about their desire to improve the way elections are run. And then he told senators that any partisan plots to disenfranchise voters would be far less likely to succeed if states adopted some of the changes proposed by the bipartisan panel, like improving the accuracy of voter registration lists.

National: Judge questions feds’ role in Kansas, Arizona voting laws | Wichita Eagle

A judge strongly questioned Tuesday whether a federal commission has the authority to prevent Kansas and Arizona from demanding proof-of-citizenship documents from people trying to register to vote using federal forms. Judge Eric Melgren repeatedly pressed Department of Justice lawyer Bradley Heard to explain how a Supreme Court decision last year on Arizona’s proof-of-citizenship law allows the federal Election Assistance Commission to reject requests from Arizona and Kansas to add state-law requirements to the instructions for filling out the voting form. “The single pivotal question in this case is who gets to decide … what’s necessary” to establish citizenship for voting, Melgren said. Heard said that decision lies with the EAC under the federal National Voter Registration Act, also known as the motor-voter law. He said the law empowers the commission to decide what questions and proofs are necessary to include in the federal registration form.

Delaware: Supporters say same day registration bill ensures voter access | The News Journal

Supporters of same-day voter registration called on Delaware lawmakers Wednesday to approve the practice and reject efforts to prevent voters from registering on the same day as primary elections. “This bill ensures fair and equal access for all citizens to engage in their right, not privilege, their right to exercise their vote,” said Rep. John Kowalko, D-Newark South, during a press conference Wednesday held by a interest groups promoting the bill that cleared the House Administration Committee last year. Proponents say same-day registration reduces the need for provisional ballots, boosts voter registration, increases turnout among minorities and young voters, and is particularly effective during primary elections when a majority of Delaware’s elections are decided. It’s unclear whether the legislation has enough support to clear the House.

Iowa: Ex-felon voting rights bill gets OK from split Iowa Senate panel | The Des Moines Register

The Iowa Senate State Government Committee split along party lines Wednesday in approving a bill to make it easier for ex-convicts to regain their right to vote Senate File 127 requires that upon discharge from certain criminal sentences, citizenship rights related to voting and holding public office must be restored. The measure was approved on a 9-6 vote with all Democrats in favor and all Republicans against. The bill now goes to the Senate floor, where it is likely to win approval. However, Republicans who control the Iowa House are unlikely to consider the measure. Under a policy enacted in 2005 by then-Democratic Gov. Tom Vilsack, former offenders automatically regained their voting rights once they were discharged from prison or parole. But when Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican, returned to office in 2011 he signed an executive order that has made it much more difficult for ex-felons to vote.

Iowa: Election officials unable to verify felons’ rights | The Des Moines Register

Iowa elections officials don’t have a uniform or accurate way to check whether potential voters are ineligible felons — a systematic failure that has resulted in people being wrongly disenfranchised or allowed to vote illegally. In interviews with The Associated Press, state and county officials blame a lack of funding, disparate use of technology at polling places and record-keeping errors. Major shifts in state policy have exacerbated the problem by creating confusion among offenders and bureaucrats. Attorney General Eric Holder called on Iowa and other states Tuesday to restore voting rights for former inmates, saying that millions of citizens are unfairly disenfranchised. He criticized Gov. Terry Branstad’s 2011 order requiring former felons to apply to regain their voting rights instead of having them automatically restored, noting that only a tiny number of ex-offenders have done so.

Missouri: Voter ID rules pass House committee on party-line vote | Columbia Daily Tribune

The House Elections Committee voted along party lines Wednesday to approve two proposals requiring voters to show government-issued identification before casting ballots. The identical 8-4 votes showed that no Republicans have waivered in their support of the proposals and Democrats remained solidly against them. The votes approved a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow the state to require identification and a bill to enact the requirements themselves. The committee rejected an amendment to allow college students to use their school-issued identification when they vote. The bill establishing the requirement would allow only Missouri driver’s licenses or non-driver identification cards or other state or federally issued identification that includes a photo and an expiration date. The measures now move to the Republican-dominated House for debate.

Missouri: Report: Voter-ID bill could disenfranchise 220,000 | MSNBC

A proposed voter ID bill in Missouri could disenfranchise 220,000 registered voters, according to an impact report released on Tuesday by Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander. The report notes that passing House Bill 1073, which introduces new limitations on acceptable types of voter identification, would make Missouri’s voter laws some of the strictest in the country, alongside Indiana and Texas. To pass the bill, the state would first have to change their constitution.  “Our state has one of the strongest voting rights provisions in the constitution anywhere in the country,” Kander explained on Sunday’s Melissa Harris-Perry. “The Republican strategy here is to amend our state constitution to weaken the voting rights provision and then pass the most extreme version of this kind of law in the country.”

North Carolina: Voting law hits black voters: Study | MSNBC

North Carolina’s recent voting law changes will disproportionately affect black voters in the state, according to a study published Wednesday by Dartmouth University. “The study provides powerful ammunition for the pending legal challenges,” says Brenda Wright, a voting rights expert with the liberal think tank Demos. “It shows that virtually every key feature of North Carolina’s election legislation will disproportionately cut back on registration and voting by African Americans in North Carolina as compared to whites.” North Carolina was once covered by the Voting Rights Act’s requirement that states and other jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination in voting submit their voting law changes to the Justice Department for approval. After the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional last year the formula for determining which jurisdictions were covered by that requirement, North Carolina’s Republican-dominated legislature passed a package of voting law restrictions.

Ohio: Aging voting machines could jeopardize elections, officials say | The Columbus Dispatch

Across much of the country, voters are casting ballots at voting machines with expired warranties or outdated components. For the next election, these machines will likely suffice, but these decade-old machines could fail in the next few years. The problem is two-fold: Many Ohio counties say they do not have the money to purchase replacements for their 2005-era machines, and anyway, there’s little incentive for them to update. Voting-machine technology hasn’t advanced much since the federal government last revised its certification standards — in 2005.

Oklahoma: Cherokee Nation Election Commission purchases voting system | Tahlequah Daily Press

The Cherokee Nation Election Commission recently announced it has purchased its own automated election system, which will allow the tribe to run its own elections in 2015. In the past, the Cherokee Nation has contracted with various vendors, including Unicyn and Automated Election Services. According to Cherokee Nation Election Commission Director Connie Parnell, by owning its own equipment, computers and software, the tribe will save hundreds of thousands of dollars and improve election security. “Frankly, it’s more cost-effective,” said Parnell. “The last election in October 2013 cost almost $300,000. Each big election was costing that much, without adding in the cost of runoffs and special elections.”

Texas: Voter ID Law Will Face Scrutiny Before the November Election | WOAI

A federal judge in Corpus Christi ruled on Wednesday that a federal lawsuit challenging the legality of the state’s controversial Voter ID law is expected to begin in September as scheduled, 1200 WOAI news reports. Civil Rights groups like the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, which is one of the groups fighting voter i.d., says it is very important that the law be thrown out before the November general election.

Bulgaria: MPs Reject Compulsory Voting and Electronic Voting | Sofia News Agency

Bulgarian MPs rejected the proposal of center-right party GERB for introducing compulsory voting during the second reading debate of the new Election Code. The proposal was backed by 55 MPs, with 100 votes against and 6 abstentions, according to reports of Sega daily. The proposal of GERB (Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria) for introducing electronic voting was also voted down. Socialist MP Maya Manolova explained that she had voted against the introduction of compulsory voting because of EC Directives stipulating that voting at local elections in EU Member States was a right and it was not to be made obligatory to exercise. She added that the introduction of compulsory voting would also violate the Constitution.

Iraq: Kurdistan Parties Concerned About Fraud With New Voting System | Rudaw

Political parties in the autonomous Kurdistan Region are concerned that new electronic cards that voters will use in Iraq’s parliamentary elections in April can encourage irregularities, because the system is not fully computerized. Kurdish officials worry that the new cards contain several flaws. They note that because polling stations are not connected by computer, any card holder can vote more than once at different election booths. Another concern has been that cards are issued on the basis of old voter lists, containing names of people who are long dead, or common names appearing more than once as different individuals. “The fear is what happens to the additional cards that are not received by people; how about the duplicate cards and the dead people?” wondered Aram Sheikh Muhammad, an elections official of the Change Movement (Gorran).

Thailand: Court rejects Thailand opposition demand to annul election | Malaysia Sun

Thailand’s Constitutional Court has declined to consider a petition by the opposition to annul the February 2 vote citing insufficient grounds. Wiratana Kalayasiri, opposition Democrat Party lawyer, had argued that the poll violated the constitution for several reasons, including that it was not completed in one day. The government blamed the delay on the opposition blocking polling stations. Thailand has been in a political crisis since mass anti-government protests kicked off in November. They were sparked by a controversial amnesty bill which critics said would allow former leader Thaksin Shinawatra to return to Thailand without serving time in jail for his corruption conviction. The opposition’s legal challenge was based on the failure to hold the entire election on the same day. “This case is over,” said Kalayasiri. “But if the government does anything wrong again, we will make another complaint.”

Voting Blogs: Canvassing, Contests, and Recounts, oh my! Rejected Absentee Votes in Virginia’s Attorney General’s Race | State of Elections

The victor in Virginia’s attorney general race was up in the air well into December.  Localities had until November 12 to turn in the results of the contest between Sen. Mark Obenshain and Sen. Mark Herring.  One of the delays in declaring a winner arose from a problem in Fairfax County, where a discrepancy in absentee votes was uncovered.  In the 8th District in Fairfax County, only 50 percent of absentee ballots that were requested were cast compared to 88 percent in the 10th District and 86 percent in the 11th District. Once localities sent in their tallies to the state, the State Board of Elections will review the totals. The SBE had until November 25 to certify the results.  If the margin of victory is within one percent, the losing candidate can request a recount, as Obenshain has done.

Canada: Panel says now not the time for Internet voting; more study is needed | GlobalPost

Provincial and municipal governments should not implement Internet voting until a technical committee can study potential online systems and test security concerns, a panel formed by B.C.’s chief electoral officer recommended Wednesday. The recommendations were submitted to the legislature by the Independent Panel on Internet Voting, which stated in its report that the current risks of implementing Internet voting in the province outweigh the benefits. “The panel recommends to go slow on Internet voting in British Columbia,” Keith Archer, the chief electoral officer said in a news release. “British Columbians must have confidence that their voting system is fair and trustworthy.” The panel states that those who administer elections don’t have the technical expertise to evaluate voting systems, so the committee which would study the systems should include experts in Internet voting, cryptography and computer security.

Thailand: Amid political turmoil, Thailand’s election body takes centre stage | The Star

As Thailand tries to resolve a debilitating political stalemate, five unelected officials have been armed with the power to over-rule its government in key areas and chart a route out of the mess left by this month’s disrupted election. For three-and-a-half months, protesters, mostly from Bangkok and the south, have been seeking to overthrow Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and rid the country of the influence of her brother, ousted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra. At the general election on February 2, the protesters disrupted polling or blocked candidates from registering in almost 70 of the 375 voting constituencies, leaving the new House of Representatives without the required quorum of members. That means Yingluck’s Puea Thai Party government will continue on a caretaker basis, despite almost certainly winning a majority, until elections are held to fill the remaining seats.