National: Paul Diverges From His Party Over Voter ID | New York Times

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky broke Friday with fellow Republicans who have pushed for stricter voting laws as a way to crack down on fraud at the polls, saying that the focus on such measures alienates and insults African-Americans and hurts the party. “Everybody’s gone completely crazy on this voter ID thing,” Mr. Paul said in an interview. “I think it’s wrong for Republicans to go too crazy on this issue because it’s offending people.” Mr. Paul becomes the most prominent member of his party — and among the very few — to distance himself from the voting restrictions and the campaign for their passage in states under Republican control, including North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin, that can determine presidential elections. Civil rights groups call the laws a transparent effort to depress black turnout.

Florida: Lawsuit that could change Florida elections begins | Florida Times-Union

A court fight over Florida’s political landscape kicked off Friday, as attorneys for the Republican-controlled Legislature and groups suing them clashed over the question of whether legislators intended to thwart the will of voters when they drew new districts for congressional seats in 2012.
Lawsuits were first filed two years ago. The trial is scheduled to start this month in a dispute that could ultimately change the current makeup of the state’s congressional delegation, where Republicans hold a sizable majority. In an effort to speed up the 11-day, non-jury proceedings, both sides were allowed to give their opening statements Friday. David King, an attorney representing the League of Women Voters and other groups suing the state, told Judge Terry Lewis that legislators used a “shadow process,” which allowed them to circumvent a constitutional mandate prohibiting legislators from drawing districts intended to protect incumbents or members of a certain political party.

Editorials: Iowa Secretary of State Just Proved That Voter ID Laws Are Unnecessary | ThinkProgress

Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz (R), one of the nation’s most enthusiastic voter suppressors, released a report on Thursday outlining the results a two-year investigation into possible voter fraud, conducted by the Iowa Department of Public Safety’s Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) at his request. But while Schultz has frequently scared Iowa voters with allegations of thousands of possible non-citizens voting in the state and living people showing up at the polls to cast ballots in the name of dead voters, the investigation revealed found an infinitesimal number of illegal votes cast and zero cases of impersonation at the polls. … Nearly two years and $250,000 later, Schultz said that 238 total cases of suspected election misconduct were investigated. Investigators “found evidence of election misconduct in 117 cases that cancelled out the votes of legitimate Iowa voters,” he notes, and 17 more cases are still being investigated. One of those cases resulted in a not-guilty verdict and four cases were dismissed. Combined, that means at most 134 instances of fraudulent voting were found in Iowa over several elections, compared with 1,589,951 votes cast in the 2012 general elections alone. That means, at most, the investigation found a 0.008427933% rate of voter fraud.

Tennessee: MicroVote executive assumes blame for election gaffe | Johnson City Press

The person responsible for a human foible that turned the 6th Commission District results upside down during Tuesday’s Republican primary has claimed full responsibility and absolved the Washington County Election Commission from any wrongdoing. Indianapolis-based MicroVote General Corp. President Jim Ries confirmed in a news release Thursday that an employee error resulted in an inaccurate vote total posted on the Washington County Election Commission website. “Official voting tallies were unaffected by this website posting error, which was unrelated to the official counting of ballots,” Ries said. “We have identified the reason that the website posting error occurred and are putting into place steps to insure that such an error does not occur in the future.” The person directly responsible for the gaffe is Bill Whitehead, MicroVote’s Tennessee project manager. Whitehead emailed Washington County Administrator of Elections Maybell Stewart on Wednesday night to say an exact explanation of what happened was forthcoming. “Not to imply that your local media would misinterpret any information, but we are always cautiously guarded about what the press will receive, as in many cases they are spin doctors and we want to protect you and everyone involved in this process from a misinterpretation,” Whitehead told Stewart.

Wisconsin: ‘John Doe’ ruling may land in U.S. Supreme Court | Wisconsin State Journal

The federal court decision halting the John Doe investigation into coordination between Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign and conservative political groups raises unique questions that could very well end up before the U.S. Supreme Court, experts say. But that same decision also conflicts in some respects with recent Supreme Court decisions, raising questions about whether in the end, the decision by U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa would stand. Randa ruled last week that the type of issue advocacy done by Wisconsin Club for Growth is not subject to government control, even if it is done in coordination with a candidate’s campaign.

Australia: New South Wales Electoral Commission inks deal to use online voting technology in 2015 | ARN

NSW voters could soon be spared the trip to the polls on election day after a deal was struck to use online voting technology in the 2015 State Election. The NSW Electoral Commission has selected Syctl to provide online voting technology in the 2015 State Election to support its iVote Core voting Sytem. Scytl has developed election-specific cryptographic security technology, protected by more than 40 international patents. The online voting technology will be the cornerstone of the the iVote system, and will enable secure, accessible, transparent and auditable elections to eligible citizens across NSW. The technology will help the NSWEC realise its goal of using the iVote system to deliver a remote voting channel to eligible voters in NSW, and possibly to other jurisdictions in Australia and New Zealand.

Canada: Conservative Senators to support amended elections overhaul bill | Hill Times

Conservative Senators plan to support the government’s recent amendments to the Fair Elections Act when it reaches the Senate later this week for what is likely to be a swift passage of the controversial electoral reform legislation. Conservative Senate Whip Elizabeth Marshall told The Hill Times that there were concerns within the Conservative Senate caucus before the bill was amended by the Procedure and House Affairs Committee earlier this month, but she’s hearing a lot less dissent over the legislation now that it’s headed for the Upper Chamber. “The Senators were talking before the hearings, but compared to what I heard before the report, and what I heard after… it’s subsided now with the [Senate] report, but I would expect that when the bill comes if there are any other issues or concerns they’ll be raised, because the Senators do tend to speak quite freely amongst ourselves if we have concerns,” Sen. Marshall said in an interview.

Lithuania: Grybauskaite leads pack in Lithuania presidential election | Deutsche Welle

Incumbent President Dalia Grybauskaite emerged as the candidate with the largest share of the vote in Lithuania’s presidential elections on Sunday. However, it appeared unlikely she would win an overall majority, having garnered about 45 percent of votes. Results with 97.7 percent of votes counted on Monday showed Grybauskaite scored 45.8 percent, while her nearest rival, Social Democrat MEP Zigmantas Balcytis, took 13.7 percent. Should the figures stand, the two would face each other in a runoff poll to be held on May 25. In order to secure victory in the first round of voting, Grybauskaite or one of her rivals would have to win at least 50 percent of the votes – but this would also require an overall turnout of 50 percent. Voter turnout of less than half would therefore prompt the run-off election, coinciding with European Parliament polls.

Solomon Islands: Electoral Commission says no complaints made over voter fraud | Radio Australia

Solomon Islands’ Electoral Commission says a formal complaint must be made before there is any investigation into voter rigging. Solomon Islands’ Electoral Commission says a formal complaint must be made before there is any investigation into allegations of electoral fraud. Chief electoral officer, Polycarp Haununu, says the commission has not received a single report of vote rigging, despite widespread rumours voters are selling their identification cards in exchange for political support. “Since the beginning of the registration, my office hasn’t received any formal complaints about buying of ID cards,” Mr Haununu told Pacific Beat.

Ukraine: Pro-Russian Separatists Declare Victory in East Ukraine Vote | Wall Street Journal

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine declared victory in a secession referendum Sunday, ratcheting up tensions between the West and Moscow, which by recognizing the results could push the country toward a breakup. Ukraine called the vote illegal and riddled with irregularities, and part of a wider campaign by Moscow to punish Kiev for pursuing closer relations with Europe. But Sunday’s vote saw long lines at some polling places and was immediately hailed as a triumph by separatist leaders and Russian state media. Kiev’s fledgling government is scrambling to mount presidential elections May 25, which it hopes will shore up its legitimacy, and faces growing hurdles after losing control of provinces in the east to pro-Russian rebels. Local police in the region are of dubious loyalty, and army units have stalled in their offensive against rebel strongholds.

Ukraine: Pro-Russians run vote, count vote, win vote in Ukraine’s east | The Australian

Pro-Russian insurgents in eastern Ukraine say preliminary results of a contentious referendum show nearly 90 per cent of voters have supported sovereignty for their region. Roman Lyagin, election chief of the self-styled Donetsk People’s Republic, said around 75 per cent of the region’s 3 million voters cast ballots Sunday. With no independent observers monitoring the vote, however, verifying the figures will prove problematic. Although the voting in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions appeared mostly peaceful, armed men identified as members of the Ukrainian national guard opened fire on a crowd outside a town hall in Krasnoarmeisk, and an official with the region’s insurgents said people were killed. It was not clear how many. The bloodshed took place hours after dozens of armed men shut down the voting in the town, and it starkly showed the hair-trigger tensions in the east, where pro-Russian separatists have seized government buildings and clashed with Ukrainian forces over the past month.

Ukraine: Vote for Sovereignty in Eastern Ukraine Brings Voter Fraud Concerns | VoA News

Eastern Ukrainians began voting early Sunday in a referendum on secession, but claims quickly mounted of multiple voting. Pro-unity activists posted a video showing how easy it was to vote more than once. The head of the separatists’ election commission, Roman Lyagin, told VOA multiple voting was impossible because people had to queue for about a half-hour to vote – therefore no other precautions were necessary. Additional details of the election process, provided by Lyagin, could be cause to question the integrity of the vote.

United Kingdom: Yes or No? Scotland is teetering on a knife-edge | Telegraph

Don’t worry, Scotland is not going to vote for independence. That is what people opposed to the idea have tended to think until now. But the Yes campaign has gained ground lately, winning hearts and minds. How is it doing that? What will happen next? And will it be enough to deliver a victory that breaks up the union? Hope Street is a neat address for a campaign that was dismissed in the beginning as a lost cause, and it is where the people running Yes Scotland have their Glasgow headquarters. They are good at symbolism. The date of the referendum was chosen to take advantage of an anticipated swelling of national pride this summer, with the Commonwealth Games to follow the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, in which Robert the Bruce gave the English a kicking.