National: Sequoia v. Dominion: Former Election Firm With ‘Hanging Chad’ Ties Sues New Owner | Wall Street Journal

The voting machine maker that was partly blamed for Florida’s infamous hanging chads in 2000 was taken over by a competitor years ago, but the lawyers who are handling the company’s unfinished business are suing its new owner for money. Lawyers in charge of Sequoia Voting Systems Inc., now basically a litigation vehicle, are accusing Dominion Voting Systems Inc. of paying too little for Sequoia Voting’s operations in 2010. The dispute led Sequoia Voting to file for bankruptcy last month as its lawyers push Denver-based Dominion Voting for money. But back to hanging chads: Sequoia Voting sent punch-card ballots to parts of Florida for the 2000 presidential election, when some machines left behind stuck or hanging chads and led some ballots to be thrown out, according to press reports.

Arkansas: Pulaski County election panel, county clerk sue state election board over absentee ballots | Associated Press

The Pulaski County Election Commission and County Clerk Larry Crane have filed a lawsuit against the Arkansas Board of Election Commissioners over rules on how county election commissioners should handle absentee ballots under the state’s new voter-identification law, alleging the board overstepped its authority. The lawsuit, filed Wednesday, asks that the rules passed Feb. 28 be declared invalid. The rules allow an absentee voter who does not provide a proper ID when voting until noon on the Monday after the election to provide an approved form of ID — such as a copy of a driver’s license. The rules also say those absentee voters should be notified via first class mail that they must submit approved forms of identification before their votes can be counted.

Delaware: Panel OKs election boards consolidation | Delaware Newszap

A legislative task force approved a proposal Wednesday that would consolidate the state’s three county election boards into one state panel. The six-member Election Law Task Force, made up of two Republicans, two Democrats and the governor’s legal counsel, was formed specifically to comprehensively review Delaware Code on election protocol. The members voted 4-1 on the proposal by Rep. Earl Jaques, D-Glasgow, that creates an 11-member state elections board and eliminates election boards in Kent, Sussex and New Castle counties. Sen. Colin Bonini, R-Dover, was not present at the meeting.

Illinois: Chicago’s Board of Election Commissioners Introduces Electronic Poll Books | WTTW

Chicagoans who vote in the March 18 Primary Election will be checked in electronically by election judges instead of through paper poll books at all 2,069 precincts. Election Board Chairman Langdon Neal announced the introduction of electronic poll books at a press conference Wednesday. “We are very excited about introducing a networked, digital ‘E Poll Book’ solution,” Neal said. “Our goals with the E Poll Books are to: (1) streamline voter check-in; (2) make election judges’ work more manageable; and (3) safeguard our elections by uploading the very latest in voter-registration data and Early and Absentee voting records – to every precinct, all before the polls open on Election Day at 6:00 am.”

Indiana: Tippecanoe County’s election hardware certified | Journal and Courier

On the same day that Tippecanoe County Clerk Christa Coffey’s grousings about the tedious electronic poll book certification process appeared in print, the lab testing the equipment OK’d the county’s election hardware. It’s not because of the media attention, she said. Her frustration stemmed from the fact that the county’s two models of computers that needed to be certified as capable of running the election software had been at the testing lab since Friday. She told the Election Board on Tuesday that it was a one-hour test, and it still hadn’t been completed. “It had been at the lab since Friday, so I’m not sure where the delay came in,” Coffey said. “(I received confirmation) yesterday afternoon that our two laptops that we use were approved for use and all the hardware — the four-port USB hub (and barcode scanner).”

Ohio: Supporters of Voters Bill of Rights can now collect signatures to put issue on November ballot | Cleveland Plain Dealer

A group pushing to enshrine voting provisions in the Ohio Constitution got the green light Thursday morning to collect signatures to put the amendment on the November ballot. The Ohio Ballot Board unanimously agreed Thursday the “Ohio Voters Bill of Rights” should be presented to voters as one amendment. The amendment writes into the Constitution minimum early, in-person voting hours — 12 hours during the weekend before Election Day and 10 hours each day during the preceding week — current identification standards, absentee ballot procedures and online voter registration. One of the group’s leaders, Cincinnati Democratic Rep. Alicia Reece, said the amendment protects those voting provisions from changes by lawmakers and removes the “political football” game played by both parties over voting procedures.

South Carolina: More election woes down the road, lawmakers warned | The State

State lawmakers are warning that another flawed election law could make the debacle of 2012 that knocked hundreds of candidates out of primaries seem tame by comparison. Sen. Larry Martin of Pickens, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told the Senate on Wednesday that the office of state Attorney General Alan Wilson has issued an opinion concluding that a 2008 law under which most of the state’s counties combined election and voter registration boards is unconstitutional. The reason, state Solicitor General Robert Cook explained in the opinion, is that under the state’s Constitution, the Legislature is prohibited from passing laws that are customized for certain parts of the state but not others. “Act No. 312 is simply an amalgam of laws, each for a particular county,” Cook wrote.

Wisconsin: In narrow vote, Senate backs ending early voting on weekends | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

After being blocked by Democrats a day earlier, Republican state senators narrowly approved bills Wednesday to end weekend voting before elections, allow lobbyists to make political donations earlier in the political season and curb lawsuits by those exposed to asbestos. Under one bill, approved by a one-vote margin, early voting in clerks’ offices could occur only on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Clerks would not be able to hold early voting during all of that period, however, because they would be limited to allowing a total of 45 hours of early voting a week. Democrats told Republicans they saw the move as an effort to suppress voting by their supporters. “I feel like I’m in 1906, fighting the fights that people who came long before me had to fight,” said Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee), who is African-American. “I would argue it screams of backward-thinking mentality, all the way back to Jim Crow, and you should be ashamed.”

Wisconsin: The politics of Voter ID in Wisconsin | Capitol Times

Gov. Scott Walker is putting the entire weight of the governorship behind Voter ID. Walker told reporters Tuesday that he was willing to call a special session of the Legislature this summer in order to pass a new bill requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls. Although Walker signed such a bill into law in 2011, it was quickly ruled unconstitutional by two Dane County judges and is now being considered by the state Supreme Court, which is expected to deliver a ruling in the coming months. If the high court upholds the lower court rulings, finding that the bill cannot be implemented as written, Walker suggested that the Legislature could pass a new bill that would address any objections from the judiciary while still preserving an ID requirement.

Brazil: Presidential election: Winning hearts and likes | The Economist

In June Brazil’s elites received a rude introduction to the power of social media. Protests, many convened via Facebook, saw millions take to the streets to air disaffection with politicians. Those same politicians now want to harness social networks for their election campaigns. Just before Dilma Rousseff was elected president in 2010, 6m Brazilians used Facebook at least once a month. As they gear up for a presidential poll in October, 83m do. Only the United States and India have bigger Facebook populations. One Brazilian in ten tweets; one in five uses Whatsapp—part messaging service, part social network. Cyberspace is seen as a crucial battleground for the election, even before campaigning officially starts on July 6th. In September, shortly after the protests petered out, Ms Rousseff reactivated her Twitter account, dormant since the 2010 election. She has also joined Instagram and Vine, two image-sharing sites, and revamped her Facebook profile. Last month Ms Rousseff’s Workers’ Party (PT) held its first workshop for activists on how best to use social networks. It plans 13 more in the coming months.

Colombia: Congressional elections saw ‘unprecedented voter fraud and vote buying’: Electoral Observers | Colombia Reports

Colombia’s Sunday congressional elections saw an unprecedented amount of voter fraud and vote buying, though violent pressure on voters from armed illegal groups largely abated, according to electoral observers. As the dust cleared approaching midweek after Colombia’s congressional elections, candidates were crying fraud and corruption. Former President and senator elect Alvaro Uribe called the Sunday’s elections “illegitimate” in an interview with Blu Radio; defeated presidential primary candidate Camilo Romero insisted on Twitter that ballots were missing across the country; and presidential candidate Aida Avella told Colombia Reports that “money,” not votes, guaranteed candidates congressional seats this past weekend. MOE spokesperson Fabian Hernandez told Colombia Reports subsequently that “we have never received this many complaints about election fraud” since the organization’s foundation in 2007.

El Salvador: Former guerrilla wins El Salvador vote; rival protests | Reuters

A former Marxist guerrilla leader won El Salvador’s presidential election by less than 7,000 votes, final results showed on Thursday, and his right-wing rival continued to press to have the vote annulled. Salvador Sanchez Ceren of the ruling Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), which as a militant group fought a string of U.S.-backed governments in a 1980-1992 civil war, won 50.11 percent support in Sunday’s vote, results showed. Challenger Norman Quijano, the 67-year-old former mayor of San Salvador and candidate of the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (Arena) party, had 49.89 percent support. He has filed a claim to annul the election due to fraud. The electoral tribunal’s president, Eugenio Chicas, said the five-member court unanimously validated the election results, showing that Sanchez Ceren beat Quijano by 6,364 votes.

India: India’s Record-Breaking 2014 Elections | The Diplomat

India’s upcoming general election will be the largest democratic event in history, with more than 814 million people entitled to vote to decide the country’s 16th government. This, however, is not the only record that will be broken when the world’s largest democracy goes to the polls. According to the Centre for Media Studies, Indian politicians will spend as much as $4.9 billion during the electoral contest, which will end in May. The estimate makes this year’s general election the second most expensive of all time, behind only the 2012 U.S. presidential campaign in which, according to the U.S. presidential commission, $7 billion was spent. India’s electoral rules only allow candidates to spend $114,000 to contest parliamentary seats. With 543 seats available in India’s lower house, the total spent should amount to just below $62 million. But the actual costs of fighting an election are much higher, and a combination of fundraising (online and from the Indian diaspora), advertising costs and bribery contribute to the $4.9 billion estimate.

New Zealand: Flag fall: A date for the general election is set | The Economist

When he announced September 20th as the date for the next election, New Zealand’s prime minister, John Key, highlighted the difficulties of forming the next government. The country has a voting system of proportional representation much like Germany’s, and a party leader who may hold the balance of power has a record of prevarication. It could, said Mr Key, be a “very complex environment. And if New Zealand First holds the balance of power, goodness knows how long it will take him to decide what he’s going to do.” The “him” in question is Winston Peters of New Zealand First, who after an election in 1996 took eight weeks to decide between throwing in his lot with the centre-right National Party, Mr Key’s bunch, or with the Labour Party. In the end he chose National, but he has since served as a minister in both National-led and Labour-led governments. Mr Key has been pushing Mr Peters to declare beforehand which side he will back. A government supported by a minor party or parties looks likely this time, too.

Russia: Duma passes bill allowing voters to contest election results | RT

The Russian Lower House has approved an amendment allowing the annulment of election results if voters complain of irregularities. The bill changing the federal law on the basic guarantees of voters’ rights has been presented following last year’s ruling of the Constitutional Court confirming that ordinary citizens can contest election results, though only in the constituencies in which they cast their votes. Previously, the processes of investigating violations at elections could only be started after complaints from candidates or participating parties.

Serbia: Election Silence: Parties must wrap up campaigns by midnight | B92

Participants in early parliamentary elections in Serbia, to be held on March 16, are under legal obligation to end their campaigns by midnight tonight. This is when “election silence” begins – a period when all election propaganda, public rallies, and publishing of predictions of election results are prohibited. The ban will end on Sunday at 20:00 CET, when polling stations close. During this time, the media are allowed to report about the turnout and where the candidates had voted – but not broadcast any statements they made. The media can also provide information on where and when the citizens can vote.