California: Ballot irregularities discovered ahead of Long Beach city election | Los Angeles Times

With just over a week left before election day, the Long Beach city clerk has discovered ballot irregularities that could affect more than half of the city’s voting precincts in one of the most closely watched local elections in years. Ballot tabulators failed to count votes marked on the second page of some ballots, said City Clerk Larry Herrera. The mistake affects precincts that have two-page ballots — about 169 of the city’s 295 polling places. Herrera said his office discovered the problem Friday afternoon while running a routine “logic and accuracy” test on the ballots ahead of next Tuesday’s election. The city has not printed two-page ballots since 2007, according to Herrera, and since then some of the tabulation processes have changed but were not readjusted for the two-page ballots. The primary election, scheduled for April 8, is expected to narrow large fields of candidates vying for wide-open races for mayor and five of the nine City Council seats.

Georgia: State initiates online voter registration | The Daily Tribune News

With a new system going live Monday, Georgia residents will now be able to go online and register to vote. “In 2012, I worked with legislative leaders to craft a law that would allow for online voter registration,” said Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp in a press release. “We did this because Georgians deserve to be able to register to vote or change their information with as much ease as possible. This will not only provide benefits to the voter, but also for all 159 Georgia counties.” Locally, Bartow County Election Supervisor Joseph Kirk believed the online registration system will help his office keep the number of voters up, but he did not predict a large increase in registered voters.

Illinois: Madigan’s voting rights amendment advances | Associated Press

A proposal by Illinois’ powerful House Speaker to thwart future voter suppression efforts advanced in the Legislature on Tuesday, a move that contrasts starkly with recent electoral restrictions put in place by surrounding swing states where Republicans have legislative control. The proposed amendment to the state constitution, which would appear on the November ballot if it receives a supermajority in both the House and Senate, would bar the Legislature from enacting new laws that would add new requirements in order to vote. Rep. Michael Madigan, who doubles as Illinois’ Democratic Party Chairman, told committee members Tuesday that the amendment would ensure that no one is denied the right to vote based on their race, color, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation or income, and that it “sends a strong message that in Illinois we believe every eligible voter should be treated equally.”

Kentucky: Felon Voting Rights Restoration “Unlikely” To Pass in Kentucky This Year | WFPL

A bill that would restore voting rights for thousands of Kentucky felons isn’t likely to pass this year. Lawmakers say they could not reach an agreement over different versions of the proposed legislation. GOP Senate Floor Leader Damon Thayer previously amended the bill to include a five year waiting period and not cover felons with multiple offenses. Supporters of the proposed legislation have criticized Thayer’s changes, which would not affect about half of the 180,000 Kentuckians the original bill was meant to help.

Maine: Senate gives early nod to bill to dump Electoral College in favor of directly electing president | Bangor Daily News

By a 1-vote margin the Maine Senate Tuesday supported a bill that would move the Pine Tree State away from the Electoral College system when it comes to selecting a winning presidential candidate here. In an initial 17-16 vote the Senate approved LD 511, a bill that would allow Maine to join a compact of states in allowing the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states to be elected president. The current system depends on a complicated process, that can vary from state to state and which allows a candidate who may not have received the largest number of votes to be elected president. Lawmakers favoring the bill said it was long overdue and is an attempt at restoring value to the votes of individuals. “This bill would guarantee the presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes,” said Sen. John Tuttle, D-Sanford. Tuttle said the measure is meant to bolster the the principle of “one man, one vote.”

Wisconsin: Kevin Kennedy approaches 35th anniversary managing state elections | WisPolitics

Kevin Kennedy’s predecessor was removed as Wisconsin’s top elections official after a few “management issues.” Kennedy recalled that included mistakes in tallying results from the September 1982 primary and a mix-up with the wording for a ballot referendum that was supposed to gauge support on a nuclear weapons freeze. But the language sent to local clerks left the word “weapons” out of the question. So Kennedy has taken the approach that he’s auditioning each day to keep his post as Government Accountability Board director and general counsel. “I don’t stand for election every four years. I get reviewed every day by a citizen board,” Kennedy said in a interview. “As I tell people it takes four votes, not a million votes, to get rid of me.” Kennedy will celebrate 35 years with Wisconsin’s elections agency this week, first as legal counsel and then executive director of the old Elections Board before heading up the GAB, which was created in 2007 and began its work in place of the old Elections and Ethics boards in 2008.

Afghanistan: Rigging the Afghan Vote | The New Yorker

On April 5th, the scheduled date of Afghanistan’s upcoming Presidential election, there will be around a dozen polling centers in Chak, a narrow valley of mud homes and alfalfa farms that lies some forty miles from Kabul. A few of the centers, which are essentially rooms with a section curtained off for voting, will be in schools; others will be in mosques. At least two will be in tents pitched on mountain slopes, near the grazing ranges of nomadic herders. Freshly painted campaign billboards loom over the road into the valley. Tens of thousands of ballots are ready for delivery, and officials are considering a helicopter drop for some of the valley’s most remote reaches. None of this will matter, though, because on Election Day there will not be a single voter or election worker in any of Chak’s polling centers. When I asked a U.S.-backed militia commander in the area, whom I will call Raqib, to explain why, he drew a finger across his throat, and said, “Taliban.”

Afghanistan: Afghan Women See Hope in the Ballot Box | New York Times

Mariam Wardak is one of those young Afghans with her feet in two worlds: At 28, she has spent much of her adult life in Afghanistan, but she grew up in the United States after her family fled there. She vividly remembers the culture shock of visits back to her family’s village in rural Wardak Province a decade ago. “A woman wouldn’t even show her face to her brother-in-law living in the same house for 25 years,” she said. “People would joke that if someone kidnapped our ladies, we would have to find them from their voices. Now women in Wardak show their faces — they see everybody else’s faces.” Ms. Wardak’s mother, Zakia, is a prime example. She used to wear a burqa in public, but now has had her face printed on thousands of ballot pamphlets for the provincial council in Wardak. She campaigns in person in a district, Saydabad, that is thick with Taliban.

Canada: Blind voters could also be disenfranchised under feds’ elections law overhaul | The Hill Times

Advocates for the blind and marginalized Canadians with a range of disabilities warned MPs Tuesday the government’s plan to legislate an end to vouching in federal elections would prevent many of the people they represent from being able to vote. Leaders from the Canadian Institute of the Blind, which lends support and volunteer services to tens of thousands of blind or partially sighted citizens, and an advocate with People First called on the Conservative government to amend key sections of controversial election legislation they said would heighten ballot box hurdles that their members and clients already face. The testimony came as a House of Commons committee hearing witnesses on Bill C-23 began a rush to jam in as many witnesses as possible in the two weeks remaining before a government-imposed May 1 deadline for the committee to complete its business and send the bill back to the House for final passage.

Editorials: Canada’s attack on democracy sets tone for Australia | Sydney Morning Herald

Australians who value democracy should turn their eyes to Canada to catch a glimpse of what might be heading our way. Two weeks ago, international academics added their names to a call by 160 Canadian experts to stop a piece of legislation being rushed through parliament that aims to radically change electoral processes in Canada. Introduced by the Conservative Party government in Canada, and with a name that would do George Orwell proud, the ‘’Fair Elections Act’’ seeks to insert partisanship and inequality into Canadian electoral procedures in a manner reminiscent of 19th century processes. The proposed act will reduce voting rights, foster partisan bias in election administration and weaken campaign finance laws. Along with Australia, Canada has a reputation for being a world leader in electoral processes, which makes the proposals all the more shocking and internationally significant. Elections Canada – the equivalent of our Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) – is considered a strong and fiercely independent electoral administrator. But, if passed, the proposed act will move the enforcement arm of the agency into the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, a government department. This will diminish the independence of the agency but also, crucially, it means the activities of the commissioner would no longer be reported to parliament.

India: Poll officers offer fake voter IDs for Rs 1,000 | India Today

As the country prepares itself for the biggest dance of democracy, there are people who have made all the arrangements to derail the democratic process. In a startling revelation, it has emerged that polling officials in Delhi and NCR are ready to facilitate bogus voting in exchange for money. Even though NCP chief Sharad Pawar termed his comments-urging supporters to vote twice-as a joke, a sting operation by Aaj Tak revealed that such an arrangement is possible and politicians can use this to buy votes in the coming Lok Sabha elections. Booth Level officers (BLOs), who are responsible to ensure that no fake votes are cast on the polling day, have accepted on hidden camera that they can provide fake voter ID for as low as Rs.1,000-1,500 per person.

Nigeria: Electronic voting divides Senate | The Sun News

Senate has commenced amendment of the Electoral Act (2010) with members divided over electronic voting in the 2015 polls and whether all the elections should be conducted same day. In an unprecedented move in the Seventh Senate, the chamber yesterday passed for second reading, three separate bills seeking various amendments to the electoral law. The bills, which were sponsored by Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, Deputy Minority Whip, Abu Ibrahim and Alkali Jajere, seek to determine the tenure of the office of the Secretary of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and removal of the commission’s chairman’s powers to appoint the secretary. Besides, the amendments equally seek the conduct of general elections, six months before the expiration of the tenure of the incumbent while bye-elections should be held twice a year.

Ukraine: Still Reeling From Crisis, Ukraine Prepares For Presidential Vote | NPR

After a winter of lightning-fast changes – a president ousted and a peninsula apparently lost to Russia — Ukrainians are beginning to look ahead to elections on May 25 to replace Viktor Yanukovych. The opposition leader who seemed to have the inside track a few weeks ago, ex-world champion heavyweight Vitali Klitschko, has taken himself out of the running. Klitschko will stand for mayor of Kiev and throw his support behind billionaire Petro Poroshenko, who made his fortune in the candy business. Although not widely known in the West, Poroshenko has relatively broad appeal in this deeply divided country. He was a prominent backer of both the Orange Revolution in 2004 and the recent pro-European demonstrations in Kiev’s Independence Square.