Canada: Pierre Poilievre attacks head of Elections Canada | Toronto Star

As criticism of the Conservatives’ electoral reform bill continues to mount, Democratic Reform Minister Pierre Poilievre launched an attack on Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand.
Poilievre said Tuesday that Mayrand, the independent head of Elections Canada appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, is criticizing the so-called Fair Elections Act out of a desire for more power. “The reality is that regardless of amendments and improvements that the bill potentially will have included, the CEO will not ultimately approve it,” Poilievre said.
“(Mayrand’s) recommendations really boil down to three broad requirements for him: he wants more power, a bigger budget, and less accountability.” Poilievre also accused Mayrand of “grasping at straws” and making “astounding” claims about Bill C-23 in an attempt to scuttle the legislation. Poilievre was asked to take back his comments in the House of Commons Tuesday. He declined, saying he stood by his testimony.

Algeria: Only woman in Algeria poll race ‘won’t hold back’ | Saudi Gazette

A string of white pearls around her neck, her hair tied in a bun, Louisa Hanoune, the only woman running for Algeria’s presidency, holds out her palms and declares: “I have clean hands”. The remark triggers an outburst of celebratory ululations and chants of “Louisa! Louisa!” among supporters of the 60-year-old leftist candidate, who is widely popular in Algeria, even among conservatives hostile to feminism. “I have clean hands,” she declares in a husky voice. “I have not held back, I have not sold off any businesses, I have not oppressed women.” She was speaking at a gathering in Kolea, about 40 km west of Algiers, where many women were among the roughly 300 supporters of the head of the Worker’s Party, who has been a member of parliament since 1997.

National: Clinton: Voting limits derail civil rights | The Hill

President Bill Clinton ripped the Supreme Court’s conservative justices and Republicans pushing voter identification laws on Wednesday, accusing them of undermining civil rights. Clinton, speaking at an event at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, Texas celebrating the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, warned that some “would turn back the clock” on civil rights for short-term political gain. “Last year in one of the most radical departures from established legal decision-making in my lifetime the Supreme Court threw [The Voting Rights Act] out, or at least threw a very important provision of it out, and said ‘We don’t care what Congress found by 90 percent vote and we have no evidence to prove them wrong, but our opinion is they should not have extended the Voting Rights Act. And it sent a signal across the country,” he said.

Arkansas: Hearing set in voter ID lawsuit; plaintiffs oppose GOP’s intervention | Arkansas News

A hearing has been scheduled in a lawsuit over how absentee ballots should be handled under the state’s new voter ID law. Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox on Tuesday scheduled a hearing on motions in the case for Monday at 9 a.m. The suit, filed March 12 by the Pulaski County Election Commission and Pulaski County Clerk Larry Crane, alleges that the state Board of Election Commissioners exceeded its authority when it adopted an emergency rule in February concerning absentee ballots. Also this week, the commission argued in a filing that the state GOP should not be allowed to intervene in the case. The emergency rule states that if county election officials receive an absentee ballot that is not accompanied by a copy of the voter’s ID, as required under Act 595 of 2013, they should treat it as a provisional ballot and give the voter until noon on the Monday following the election to submit ID and have the ballot counted.

Arkansas: State panel approves permanent rules on absentee ballots | Arkansas News

The state Board of Election Commissioners voted Wednesday to approve proposed permanent rules on how absentee ballots should be handled under Arkansas’ new voter ID law. The rules state that if an absentee voter fails to submit a copy of his or her identification with an absentee ballot, as required under Act 595 of 2013, the ballot should be treated as a provisional ballot and the voter should be given until noon on the Monday following the election to submit ID and have the ballot counted. The rules go next to the Administrative Rules and Regulations Subcommittee of the Arkansas Legislative Council for review.

Illinois: Illinois looks to add right to vote to state constitution | MSNBC

Add Illinois to the list of states where voting rights could be on the ballot this fall. Land of Lincoln lawmakers are advancing a bill that would put a proposed constitutional amendment on voting rights before the state’s voters in November. The Democratic-controlled House overwhelmingly passed the measure Tuesday afternoon with strong Republican support, and it’s expected to pass the Senate, which also is run by Democrats. If approved by voters this November, the proposal would add to the state’s constitution an affirmative right to register and vote. Illinois joins Ohio, Missouri, Montana, Nevada and California, all of which may ask voters to weigh in on the issue of access to the ballot in November. But while Illinoisans and Ohioans may be considering efforts to protect the franchise, voters in those other four states could be mulling whether to impose new restrictions.

Illinois: House passes Madigan amendment banning voter-suppression tactics | Chicago Sun Times

Buoyed by bipartisan support, House Speaker Michael Madigan’s plan to amend the Illinois Constitution to ban voter suppression overwhelmingly passed the Illinois House Tuesday. The measure, which needed 71 votes to pass, cleared the House on a 109-5 roll call and now moves to the Senate. “The intent of this constitutional amendment is to provide in Illinois, constitutionally, that voter-suppression laws would not be permitted,” said Madigan, D-Chicago. “Some might say, ‘Well, today in Illinois, you don’t need this. Voter suppression wouldn’t happen in Illinois.’ “We don’t know that,” Madigan continued. “We don’t know what the future holds. What we do know is we can constitutionalize the protection of the right to vote.”

Iowa: State Supreme Court hears key voting rights case | Associated Press

Justices of the Iowa Supreme Court on Wednesday peppered lawyers with questions as they waded into the difficult issue of determining whether someone convicted of an aggravated misdemeanor should be disqualified from voting and holding public office in Iowa. The court heard arguments in a case in which state senate primary rival Ned Chiodo is seeking to disqualify Tony Bisignano based on his conviction for second-offense drunken driving. Both men are seeking the Democratic nomination for Des Moines-area seat to be vacated by Jack Hatch, a Democratic candidate for governor. At issue is whether an aggravated misdemeanor falls under the Iowa Constitution’s definition of an infamous crime, which would mean Bisignano cannot vote or hold public office.

Kentucky: Ex-judge, three others sentenced in vote fraud | The Courier-Journal

A former judge and three other officials in Eastern Kentucky have been sentenced to time served after pleading guilty to charges alleging widespread vote fraud. A federal judge said during a sentencing hearing Tuesday that three of the defendants — former Clay County Circuit Judge R. Cletus Maricle, former school superintendent Doug Adams and former election officer William Stivers — must serve 100 days of home incarceration. The Lexington Herald-Leader reports they were also place on supervised release for two years, along with the fourth defendant, former county clerk Freddy W. Thompson.

North Carolina: Who’s driving North Carolina’s latest voter fraud hysteria? | Facing South

This week, officials at the North Carolina State Board of Elections announced they had discovered possible evidence of widespread voter fraud in the battleground state. By cross-checking North Carolina voter rolls with those in 28 other states, leaders of the board told state lawmakers they had found 35,750 records of people who voted in North Carolina and whose first name, last name and date of birth matched people who had voted in other states. More surprisingly, it also revealed 765 North Carolina voters in 2012 whose last four Social Security digits also matched those of people who voted in other states that year. The announcement fueled news headlines and outrage from North Carolina politicians, including legislators on an elections oversight committee who said the findings affirmed the need for voting restrictions passed by the General Assembly in 2013. House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate Leader Phil Berger issued a joint statement hailing the “newly discovered, alarming evidence of voter error, fraud.”

Ohio: Cuyahoga County Council gives final approval to Ed FitzGerald’s ‘voting rights law’ | Cleveland Plain Dealer

Cuyahoga County Council voted along party lines Tuesday night to assert the county’s right to mail unsolicited absentee ballot applications, despite a new state law that forbids the county from doing so. Identical to a preliminary committee vote last week, eight council Democrats voted to approve County Executive Ed FitzGerald’s “voting rights law,” with council’s three Republican members dissenting. The ordinance says the county will mail postage prepaid voting applications to county voters as necessary. FitzGerald, a Democrat who is running for governor, said the county would only do so if the state doesn’t. Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted has said he will mail the applications statewide before the upcoming November election, but any future mailings would require approval from the state legislature.

Ohio: Secretary of State Jon Husted sees ‘no reason’ for lawmakers to punish Cuyahoga County for ballot mailers | Cleveland Plain Dealer

Secretary of State Jon Husted on Tuesday criticized his Republican colleagues in the legislature for threatening to slash state funding to Cuyahoga County if the county proceeds with plans to mail absentee ballot applications to voters. At the same time, Husted said that there’s no reason for Cuyahoga County to mail absentee ballot applications to all county voters, as his office is already planning to do that statewide this fall. “It’s time for everybody to take a deep breath and act like reasonable adults,” Husted said in an interview Tuesday.

Ohio: Voting rights battle heating up | MSNBC

Ohio Republicans have backed down on an effort to penalize the state’s largest county for sending out absentee ballots. But the escalating battle over voting rights in the nation’s most pivotal swing state shows no sign of subsiding—with one top Democrat calling for a federal probe of GOP voter suppression. A spokesman for House Republicans said Tuesday afternoon that the GOP would drop a measure that would have cut funding by 10% for any county that doesn’t follow state law regarding absentee ballots. The proposal, inserted Monday into a larger budget bill, was a direct shot at the state’s largest county, Cuyahoga, which has asserted the right to mail absentee ballots to all registered voters—in defiance of a recently passed state law barring counties from doing so. Hours later, the Cuyahoga council voted to assert its “home rule” power, giving it the authority to send absentee ballots to all registered voters in the county.

Ohio: Could absentee ballot controversy lead to Ohio voting probe? | The Columbus Dispatch

State Auditor Dave Yost’s comments about the possibility of getting into Cuyahoga County officials’ pocketbooks should increase the odds of a federal probe of voting in Ohio, the county’s law director says. “Going after the personal finances of public officials for trying to promote voter participation is unprecedented,” said Majeed G. Makhlouf. “I think we expect the Department of Justice to take the threat to voting rights pretty seriously.” At issue is a new law passed by the GOP-controlled state legislature and signed by Republican Gov. John Kasich saying that the secretary of state’s office is the only government agency that can send out absentee ballot applications.

South Carolina: State lawmakers discuss changes to voter registration, election boards |

As state legislators struggle to unweave a tapestry of unconstitutional county voter registration and election boards, two-board systems in Spartanburg, Cherokee, Greenville and other counties could also be dissolved. Many of the boards most effected by legislation working its way through the state Senate have operated the same way since 1976 and carry out their duties and responsibilities well, said Sen. Shane Martin, R-Spartanburg. Martin objected to a bill that would create a statewide unified one-board per county system, but he and seven other senators were overruled, and the bill was placed on the Senate’s special order calendar. “I talked to the folks in Spartanburg, and they don’t want to change. And I talked to the folks in Greenville, and they don’t really want to change either,” Martin said. “I don’t want to subject my counties to making them jump through hoops to correct things other counties have done wrong.”

South Dakota: Sioux Falls City Clerk Talks Election Night Challenges | Keloland

From long lines, to near ballot shortages – Tuesday’s election left behind some questions. The last minute rush, absentee voting, and the ballot size itself are just a few of the challenges city officials faced.  About 32,000 votes were cast. “We still seem to have a bit of energy,” Lorie Hogstad, Sioux Falls City Clerk, said. Hogstad’s office is a bit quieter the day after the big city vote.  While she and her team work on post-election details, she touched on the previous night. Election night started like a sprint, but slowed to marathon pace down later in the evening.  The polls were set to close at 7 pm, but the first voting center did not submit ballots until 8 pm.

Tennessee: Senate Wants to Ban the U.N. From Monitoring Its Elections | National Journa

When you think of the type of countries the United Nations might want to keep an eye on, you probably think of, say, Libya, whose citizens voted for the first time in over 40 years in 2012. But newly democratized countries aren’t the only subjects of U.N. election oversight. In 2012, civil-rights groups voiced their concern to the U.N. that state voter-ID laws would lead to voter suppression. The U.N. sent 44 of its election monitors to states—including Tennessee—and drew much ire from conservative groups in the process. Now, the Republican-controlled Legislature in Tennessee is fighting back against the international governing body. On Tuesday, the state Senate passed a bill banning U.N. elections monitors from overseeing state elections—unless they have express permission from the U.S. Senate to be there. The legislation now sits on Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s desk, waiting to be signed.

Texas: Barack Obama pushes voting rights in Texas | Politico

President Barack Obama on Wednesday joined the larger Democratic effort to spotlight voting rights ahead of this year’s midterms, blasting “active efforts to deter people from voting. Apparently it’s fairly active here in Texas,” he told supporters at a Houston fundraiser. “The idea that you’d purposely try to prevent people from voting? Un-American. How is it that we’re putting up with that? We don’t have to.” Attorney General Eric Holder delivered his own address to the group Wednesday in New York, recounting the Justice Department’s efforts on the issue since the Supreme Court struck down part of the Voting Rights Act last year.

India: Why Facebook Is So Interested In India’s Elections | Buzzfeed

India’s general election this year will be the largest democratic election that has ever been conducted in the world — and also one of Facebook’s most ambitious pushes into electoral politics. As Indians head to the polls over the next month to elect a new ruling party and prime minister, Facebook has launched a multifaceted campaign in the country, exploring what people want from Facebook on a political level and introducing new features, as likes have surged for candidates. The scale of the elections, estimated to cost $600 million, is staggering. Ballots will be cast at 930,000 polling booths and 1.4 million electronic voting machines, with 11 million people — both civilians and government officials — helping facilitate. More than 100 million Indians are newly eligible to vote, bringing the total Indian electorate up to 815 million people. Half of India’s total population is younger than 24, and about 150 million people in India’s total electoral pool are first-time voters. According to some estimates, more than 40% of India’s eligible voters are between 18 and 35 years old.

Indonesia: Vote Colored by Corruption Fatigue and a Fresh Face | The Irriwaddy

Tens of millions of Indonesians nationwide went to the polls on Wednesday to cast their ballots in parliamentary elections, with the vote coming ahead of a July presidential election in which the yet-to-be-chosen lawmakers will play a crucial role. With some 186 million eligible voters nationwide, the electorate of the world’s third-largest democracy has indicated in opinion polls leading up to Wednesday’s election that voters are looking for a departure from past governments that have appeared unwilling, or unable, to curb the corruption for which Indonesia is notorious. After speaking to more than a dozen Indonesian citizens this week in the capital Jakarta, this reporter found that the pre-poll surveying appeared to be borne out in attitudes on the street. “At first, I hesitated over whether to vote or not. But finally, I made up my mind—that I have to exercise my right to vote because it may be a good chance to push for change somehow,” said Arri Palapa, a 37-year-old resident of Jakarta who runs a small online business selling cosmetics. “I look at Indonesia and I’m sick of seeing Indonesia moving forward to nowhere.

Afghanistan: A gesture of defiance | The Economist

It is not true to say that Afghanistan lacks good-news stories. It’s just that they are not the kind to generate headlines: 8m children at school, two-fifths of them girls, compared with 1m when the Taliban were in power; a tenfold increase in those Afghans with access to basic health care; some 20m who own mobile phones; and proliferating television channels, radio stations and newspapers. By contrast, the good-news story of the presidential election on April 5th was generating both headlines and surprise—and that is even before a result has been announced. The expectation was for another flawed election like the one in 2009. Jeremiahs predicted that a combination of fraud, intimidation and violence would produce only a tainted, illegitimate government. That would give weary donors of international aid all the excuse they needed to stop signing the cheques keeping the country afloat. The only real winners would be the Taliban. Yet in this election Afghans of all kinds rejected that account of their country. Despite the threat of Taliban reprisals (and rotten weather), over 7m Afghans, about 60% of those eligible, appear to have voted, half as many again as in 2009. Around 35% of those who cast a ballot were women. Burka-clad voters raising an ink-stained finger as they left the polling booths became a symbol of defiance.