Arkansas: High court tosses judge’s voter ID ruling but doesn’t address law’s constitutionality | Associated Press

The Arkansas Supreme Court tossed out a judge’s ruling striking down the state’s voter ID law on Wednesday, but stopped short of ruling on the constitutionality of the measure. In a 5-2 ruling, justices vacated a Pulaski County judge’s decision that the law violates Arkansas’ constitution. Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox had struck down the law in a case that had focused on how absentee ballots are handled under the law, but justices stayed his ruling while they considered an appeal. Fox also has ruled the law unconstitutional in a separate case but said he wouldn’t block its enforcement during this month’s primary. That ruling is being appealed to the high court. Justices said Fox didn’t have the authority to strike down the law in the case focusing on absentee ballots. They noted that there was no request before Fox in the case to strike down the law.

Michigan: Conyers files federal lawsuit in fight to stay on primary ballot | Detroit Free Press

U.S. Rep. John Conyers is waging a legal war in federal court over his right to run in the primary, challenging the constitutionality of a state election law that is keeping his name off the ballot. The law that’s got Conyers riled up is a statute that says if you want to gather signatures on a petition to get a candidate on a ballot, you must be registered to vote. Three Conyers supporters filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court Monday, arguing that law is unconstitutional because it violates their political speech and political association rights. Conyers, who turns 85 on Friday, joined the lawsuit today, two days after Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett cited that law in announcing that the longtime congressman won’t appear on the Aug. 5 primary ballot after a majority of signatures turned in to certify him for a 26th term were invalidated. Garrett invalidated more than 700 signatures because five petition circulators were not properly registered to vote. Those signatures should have stayed put, argues Conyers, the second-longest serving member of Congress who has represented parts of metro Detroit since 1965.

Editorials: The misinformed case for voter ID | Steve Chapman/Chicago Tribune

The logic behind laws requiring voters to provide a government-issued photo identification card is simple and seductive: If you need to show an ID to board a plane, open a bank account, get public aid or do any number of other things, it only makes sense to do the same before casting a ballot. That was what Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, said in 2011 as he signed a law imposing this new mandate. “There really is no barrier for people,” he asserted. “Particularly in a society where people need photo identification for just about everything else, including checking out a book from the library … it’s a reasonable requirement.” Many of the advocates can’t imagine anyone functioning in modern America without valid proof of identity. So they are skeptical that requiring it could possibly be an obstacle to voting. They also tend to believe that anyone who lacks something so basic deserves no accommodation. These attitudes reflect a failure to understand the lives of many Americans. In the suit challenging the Wisconsin law, which recently was overturned by a federal court, a parade of people attested that they lacked the required ID and, in many cases, couldn’t easily get it.

Alaska: Trial scheduled in voting rights case | Associated Press

Trial is scheduled for next month in a case alleging failure by the state to provide accurate, complete translations of voting materials into Alaska Native languages. The lawsuit was brought by several Native villages and elders last year against Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and members of the Divisions of Elections, which Treadwell oversees. The Yup’ik, Cup’ik and Gwich’in speakers in the lawsuit allege the state is violating language provisions of the federal Voting Rights Act by not providing election materials in their Native languages. The state, in court filings, defends its Native languages program as robust, involving outreach to villages, bilingual poll workers and translated ballots. While the program may not be perfect, the law doesn’t demand perfection, only that “all reasonable steps” be taken to assure voters who speak limited English are “effectively informed of, and participate effectively in, voting-connected activities,” the state contends.

Editorials: Arizona’s costly effort to solve non-existent problem | EJ Montini/AZ Central

On behalf of Gov. Jan Brewer, Attorney General Tom Horne and Secretary of State Ken Bennett (none of whom actually asked for my help) I called Sam Wercinski, Executive Director of Arizona Advocacy Network, and demanded that he stop trying prevent these three fine elected officials from wasting ungodly amounts of taxpayer money on a problem that does not exist. By which I mean – voter fraud. Last week, a two-judge panel from the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the implementation of voter suppression laws in Arizona and Kansas. The laws essentially go beyond the federal voter registration form, requiring those who register to provide proof of citizenship. Wercinski’s organization, along with the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, LULAC and State Senator Steve Gallardo has been fighting the law, which led to the state’s plan to create and implement a completely unnecessary and wildly expensive two-track voting system. All for the few and far between cases of voter fraud. “The 10th circuit did a good thing,” Wercinski told me. “But the state seems intent on fighting this ridiculous fight anyway.” Arizona already has spent a ton of money on what top officials pretend to be a voter-fraud problem. They know the problem doesn’t exist. But claiming that it does plays really, really well with some voters.

Illinois: A winner in every election cycle: Confusion over registration | Chicago Sun Times

Do voters have a firm grasp of registration rules? Maybe not. In the 2012 election, provisional ballots cast by 30,000 Illinoisans were rejected. That’s a pretty good indication that many people who think they are properly registered really aren’t. Two common reasons for those rejections: 1) The voter thought he or she was registered, but really wasn’t, and 2) The voter was registered, but not in the precinct where she or he tried to cast a ballot. Another indication not everyone understands their registration status: People who circulate petitions find that up to 50 percent of the people who scrawl their names on them are not registered, according to Cook County Clerk David Orr.

Massachusetts: Bill to allow early voting, online registration passes state House of Representatives | The Boston Globe

It’s tradition. Millions of Massachusetts voters tromping to the polls the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November every two years. But under a bill that passed the state House of Representatives today, that ritual is set to go the way of horse and buggy and the typewriter. The legislation would allow voters to cast their ballots up to 11 business days before a general election, as well as to register to vote online, measures supporters say will boost turnout and makes democracy more accessible to everyone. The bill, which is expected to soon pass the Senate and be signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick, would also let 16- and 17-year-olds pre-register to vote. “Massachusetts has a rich history of civic involvement and I believe this legislation will foster a more vigorous, inclusive and just elections process,” Speaker Robert A. DeLeo said in a statement. “This bill improves voting efficiency and helps give citizens across the Commonwealth a voice.”

Nevada: Voter ID initiative revised, refiled | Las Vegas Sun

An initiative petition requiring voter identification, declared invalid by a district judge last week, has been corrected and was refiled with the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office on Wednesday. Former U.S. Senate candidate and Nevada Assemblywoman Sharron Angle said the language in the description of the petition has been reworked in line with the suggestions of District Judge Todd Russell. Angle of Reno said she will have 7,000 volunteers ready Saturday to start gathering the required 101,667 signatures of registered voters to put the issue on the November ballot to amend the Nevada Constitution.

Wyoming: Lawmakers weigh giving nonviolent felons right to vote | Star-Tribune

The Wyoming Joint Judiciary Interim Committee wants to consider automatically restoring voting rights to nonviolent felons after their incarceration or probation ends. The committee of state lawmakers ordered legislative staff Tuesday to draft a bill that would automatically restore voting rights, as part of a discussion about relieving the Wyoming Parole Board of the decade-old duty of restoring voting rights. The committee ordered a separate bill to relieve the Parole Board of restoring voting rights. Both bills will be discussed before the 2015 legislative session. Currently, the governor and Parole Board restore voting rights in Wyoming. The duty was given to the Parole Board in 2003. Board member Doug Chamberlain said restoring voting rights is time-consuming. This year, the board has already had 300 parole board hearings. If the board denies voting rights to someone who thinks he has the right, an appeal can take time, Chamberlain said.

Afghanistan: Election result delayed till Thursday by over 900 serious complaints | Reuters

The final result of the presidential election held in Afghanistan over a month ago will be announced on Thursday, a day later than planned because of a high number of voter complaints, the election authorities said. Preliminary results late last month indicated no candidate would emerge with an absolute majority. If final results confirm the initial count, a run-off will be held between the two leading contenders, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah and ex-World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani. The final result would be announced on Thursday at 11 am (0630 GMT), IEC spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor said. Failure of the complaints commission to submit its final report on time was the reason for the delay. A spokesman for the commission said this was because it had been flooded with an unexpectedly high number of complaints, including over 900 classed serious enough to affect the outcome of the vote. “That’s why it took longer,” said Nader Mohseni said.

Estonia: How Secure is E-Voting in the Nation Where 20 Percent of Citizens Vote Online? | Motherboard

Days before voting opens for Estonia’s European elections, a group of researchers came out with a summary of a report that questioned the security of the country’s innovative online voting system. They said that they had found “such serious security vulnerabilities” that, by their recommendation, e-voting should be discontinued. That happened on Monday, and e-voting for the country’s European elections opens on Thursday morning. Estonia’s Electoral Committee seemed as surprised at the news as anyone, and since then the findings have spurred rebuttals (and rebuttals of rebuttals), ignited political debate, and thrown the whole idea of e-voting into disarray. It seems rather quaint that, when we can do everything else on our iPhones, most of the world still votes by trudging along to polling stations to drop cards in boxes or sending paper ballots by snail mail. Estonia, the small country with the big technological reputation, introduced e-voting as an option in 2005, and over 20 percent of voters have used it in recent elections, with voters using the chip in their national ID card and a PIN to prove their identity. The National Electoral Committee notes that it’s particularly useful for voters who live remotely or travel a lot, and said that in the last two elections e-votes were collected from 105 different countries.

Thailand: Meeting to set Thailand election date delayed | Al Jazeera

A meeting between Thailand’s interim prime minister and the Election Commission to fix a date for polls has been postponed due to security concern over the venue for the discussions. “The government has asked to delay the meeting due to security concerns over the venue location,” Election Commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn told reporters on Wednesday. “We will meet with the government tomorrow at a different venue.” Somchai did not elaborate but the talks were planned at a government complex in north Bangkok near an anti-government protest site occupied by demonstrators. Government spokesmen were not available for comment. Fixing the date for the polls is the latest round in a six-month political crisis punctuated with sporadic violence in the streets of Bangkok, leaving 25 people dead and threatening to tip the economy into recession, even raising fears of civil war. While the government sees the polls as the best way out of the country’s protracted crisis, the option has been met with staunch rejection by opponents. Protesters, who have set up base inside a wing of the largely abandoned government headquarters, are holding a news conferences for the international media from there, in a sign of defiance to the wounded administration, the AFP news agency reported.

Ukraine: Cautious start at OSCE-sponsored Ukraine talks | Deutsche Welle

Kyiv’s acting President Oleksandr Turchynov has chaired Ukraine’s first round of talks as part of a Western-backed plan to avert the country’s disintegration. The EU says it hopes eastern Ukraine will be the next venue. OSCE-appointed mediator Wolfgang Ischinger of Germany said Wednesday’s talks were intended as an “inclusive” consultative process aimed at calming down the situation ahead of Ukraine’s presidential election due on May 25. Absent at Wednesday’s talks were pro-Russian gunmen who in recent weeks seized buildings and fought Kyiv government troops across eastern Ukraine, leading up to disputed independence referenda last Sunday.

North Carolina: Judge says lawmakers can’t ignore subpoenas | News Observer

A federal trial judge declined Thursday to side with North Carolina lawmakers who believe they are not required to provide documents to groups seeking answers about how a disputed elections-overhaul law was passed. In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder upheld the March decision of a magistrate judge who told General Assembly members they didn’t have absolute immunity from responding to subpoenas seeking such information. Schroeder’s decision provides another incremental court victory to the U.S. government, several advocacy groups, and voters who filed lawsuits to block provisions of the 2013 law. The plaintiffs argue that a reduction in the number of early voting days, the elimination of same-day registration during early voting, and a requirement for photo identification that will go into effect in 2016 are discriminatory and erode voting rights.

Wisconsin: State seeks stay as it appeals voter ID case | Bloomberg News

Wisconsin has told a U.S. judge that it will appeal his ruling barring the state from enforcing a voter-identification law as litigation over ballot access intensifies in the run-up to November’s elections. Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen on Monday filed court papers asking U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman in Milwaukee to delay his April ruling blocking the law until the decision is reviewed by an appeals court in Chicago. The measure, signed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker in 2011, would require Wisconsin voters to produce a government-issued ID before casting a ballot. Adelman permanently blocked the measure on April 29, concluding it burdens minorities’ right to vote. Dozens of courtroom battles were fought ahead of the 2012 presidential election over voter-identification requirements passed by Republican-dominated legislatures since President Barack Obama’s 2008 victory. Supporters of the laws say they’re needed to prevent voter fraud. Opponents contend the measures are aimed at suppressing the votes of low-income people and the elderly who may be more inclined to vote for Democrats.