California: Appeals court says Palmdale must do away with at-large elections | Los Angeles Times

An appeals court on Wednesday dealt Palmdale a double blow in a long-running battle over the way its city officials are elected. The court rejected Palmdale’s contention that, as a charter city, it is not subject to the California Voting Rights Act — a ruling with implications for Whittier and other cities being sued over alleged voting-rights violations. The three-member panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal also upheld a trial court’s ban on certifying the results of the city’s Nov. 5, 2013, municipal election. Attorneys for the city and the plaintiffs disagreed over the effect the ban would have on city operations. Kevin I. Shenkman, the lead plaintiff’s attorney, said that unless the election is certified, the city will not have a functioning City Council after July 9. That was a deadline set by the trial judge last year when he ordered a new election that conformed with the Voting Rights Act.

Florida: Scientists: Florida’s congressional map is ‘partisan gerrymander’ | Orlando Sentinel

The coalition of groups trying to prove Florida’s congressional map was intentionally gerrymandered to help Republicans turned to experts Tuesday who testified it was “virtually impossible” to have drawn the maps without political bias. The trial over Florida’s congressional maps drawn by the Republican-controlled Legislature and challenged by the League of Women Voters and other plaintiffs began its second week Tuesday with GOP operative Frank Terraferma testifying again about maps he had drawn and passed along to another GOP consultant, Rich Heffley. Similar versions of the maps were later publicly submitted to the Legislature by an engineering student at Florida State University. Terraferma has said repeatedly last Friday and Tuesday he didn’t know how the maps he drew ended up being submitted by the student.

Florida: GOP Consultant Asks U.S. Supreme Court To Block Records Release | CBS Miami

A Republican consultant trying to keep hundreds of pages of redistricting-related documents secret is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to halt the release of the records in the latest twist in a legal battle over Florida’s congressional districts. Pat Bainter on Wednesday asked U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to issue an emergency stay blocking an order by the Florida Supreme Court less than 24 hours earlier that granted permission for the documents to be used in an ongoing trial challenging the constitutionality of the congressional map approved by the Legislature in 2012. Bainter argues that the 538 pages of “confidential material” contain “protected political speech — internal deliberations and strategy, and the names and contact information for like-minded individuals who wish to remain anonymous,” according to documents filed with the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of Bainter, his Gainesville-based consulting company, Data Targeting, Inc., and several employees.

Kansas: Decision on Kansas voting law could come in time for general election | Wichita Eagle

A decision on whether the federal government must follow Kansas’ rules requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote could come by the end of September, in time for the Nov. 4 general election, according to a federal agency’s filing in a Denver appeals court. A federal lawyer has suggested that oral arguments in the case could be held as early as July 21 or as late as Sept. 8 and still leave the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals enough time to decide the case by Sept. 30, “in time to inform registration in the run-up to the general election.” The deadline to register for the general election is Oct. 14. The court conflict is over a federal registration form authorized by the national Help America Vote Act. That form requires prospective voters to swear they are citizens, under penalty of law.

Mississippi: Observers prepare for primary under new voter ID law | WAPT

The primary election is less than a week away, and it will be the first election under Mississippi’s new voter ID law. Poll observers went through a last-minute training session Wednesday at Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann’s office. The rules for Tuesday’s election include the highly-debated new law, and the attorney general issued a legal opinion earlier this week. He said that if a poll worker doesn’t ask a voter for an ID, the poll worker could face a misdemeanor charge. “Even if it is your mother, they have to ask,” Hosemann said “They have to ask, and whatever excuse you have got, it won’t work.”

Missouri: Lawmakers endorse early voting measure amendment | Houston Herald

An early voting measure Missouri lawmakers endorsed could wind up competing on the ballot with a more expansive version proposed through a petition drive. The constitutional amendment passed by the Legislature would allow ballots to be cast on six business days ending the Wednesday before an election. In-person ballots would be cast during the regular business hours of local election officials, who would be barred from activities or incurring expenses for early voting unless funding is included in the state budget. The measure states its provisions could not be repealed or invalidated by another constitutional amendment unless that measure specifically references them.

South Carolina: Elections oversight begins in fall, as reform passes | The State

Starting this fall, state elections officials will check vote totals in all 46 counties as part of the biggest election reform measure passed in a decade. Disagreements are brewing, meanwhile, among Richland County legislators about whether to retain two long-time election board members when the offices join once again as a result of the new measure. The bill – awaiting the governor’s signature after unanimous approval this week by the House and Senate – requires counties to merge election and voter registration functions. The measure averted possible chaos during upcoming elections in June and November: A lawsuit in Richland County foreshadowed problems with the patchwork of local laws that set up election boards statewide. The General Assembly had to agree on a uniform method to run county election offices.

Wisconsin: Walker in talks to end campaign probe | Associated Press

A person close to an investigation of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign and other conservative groups said Wednesday that Walker’s attorney is talking with the lead investigator about a possible settlement that would end the probe. The person who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity said he could not do so publicly because of a secrecy order covering the investigation. The person said he had spoken with several people with direct knowledge of the discussions between prosecutors and Walker’s attorney. The secret investigation, known as a John Doe, began in August 2012 shortly after the Republican governor won a recall election. It focused on alleged illegal campaign fundraising, spending and coordination between conservative groups, Walker’s campaign and others during recall elections in both 2011 and 20

International: Twitter to take India election innovations global | Business Insider

U.S. social networking company Twitter is planning to replicate parts of its India election strategy across countries that go to polls this year, after it emerged as a key tool for politicians and media companies during the world’s largest democratic exercise. In India, Twitter Inc worked closely with politicians including the victor Narendra Modi who used the platform for election campaigning, and also partnered with mobile and media firms to distribute tweets online and offline. Now, with polling due in countries such as Brazil, Indonesia and the United States later this year, the San Francisco-based company plans to take its India lessons abroad to expand its foothold in the political arena and increase its user base.

Egypt: Final voting day ends in Egypt’s presidential election | Ahram Online

Polling stations have finally closed their doors on the last day of Egypt’s 2014 presidential election. The cabinet will hold a meeting on Thursday to discuss the steps to follow the election. Several monitoring bodies will also be announcing their initial findings including the European Union’s commission, which said it will be holding a press conference on Thursday. Despite claims of low turnout, judicial sources told Al-Ahram’s Arabic news website that voter turnout by Wednesday – the third day of voting – had reached around 21 million – or about 40 percent of the country’s 54 million registered voters. The estimate puts the turnout higher than this January’s constitutional referendum, which saw around 20.6 million voters (38.6 percent), Judge Tarek Shebl, a member of the general secretariat of the Presidential Elections Commission (PEC), the judicial body supervising the poll, told Al-Ahram. Shebl believes turnout for the presidential election will surpass 40 percent.

Egypt: Candidate Condemns Presidential Vote | Wall Street Journal

Former army chief Abdel Fattah Al Sisi’s sole rival in the presidential election raised questions over the vote’s legitimacy and said he was withdrawing his monitors from polling places after they were arrested and abused. Hamdeen Sabahi, a left-leaning candidate, also criticized the military-backed government’s extraordinary decision to extend the vote a third day into Wednesday after turnout was low. The move, which it said was a response to large segments of the public calling for more time after a heat wave depressed participation, didn’t appear to have the desired effect, as polls remained quiet on Wednesday. Mr. Sabahi, however, vowed to stay in the race despite calls from his supporters to pull out after they said the government took measures to boost the turnout to enhance Mr. Sisi’s mandate.

Ireland: Minister calls for e-voting return despite €54m fiasco |

A Cabinet minister wants e-voting back on the table – two years after the Government sold off the machines. Electronic voting was mothballed a decade ago amid concerns about the verification process and after €54m was spent on the equipment. As the counting of votes from the European elections enters a sixth day, Childrens Minister Charlie Flanagan has complained about the length of time results are taking. “Counting is taking far too long. Electronic voting must be returned to the political agenda,” he said. The machines were sold off by the Government after being in storage for eight ye

Malawi: Vote result blocked as court battle rumbles on | AFP

The results of Malawi’s controversial presidential elections could be announced on Friday if the courts rule out a recount, the country’s electoral commission said Wednesday. The outcome of the election was thrown into chaos last week when President Joyce Banda called the vote “null and void”, saying it was marred by “serious irregularities”. In some places the number of votes cast is reportedly greater than the number of voters. Court orders and injunctions have flown back and forth ever since, as supporters of Banda’s main rival Peter Mutharika urged the release of results as partial counts showed Banda to be a clear loser.

Syria: As Presidential Election Begins, Survivors of Chemical Attack Shun Vote In Disgust | International Business Times

The sounds Qusai Zakarya heard the morning of Aug. 21, 2013, in Moadimiyeh, Syria, near Damascus, were not what he was used to. The bombs, he said, sounded different — they didn’t buzz and crash in the same way they had in the slew of previous regime bombardments, and the people running for cover were holding their eyes, falling and vomiting. Those were signs that the international community and human rights organizations said were indicative of a chemical attack. Now, nearly a year later, the man behind the attack, President Bashar Assad, is standing for re-election in what’s widely seen as a sham. And Zakarya is in the U.S., working to prove to Western leaders that what he saw that day was real, and that Assad needs to be removed from power. Wednesday marked the first day Syrians living outside of the country could cast their ballot in the presidential election that no one expects Assad to lose. Tens of thousands voted, many of them at the Syrian Embassy in Beirut. According to Reuters, refugees said that pro-Assad Lebanese groups had mobilized them to go vote. Syrian state television said voting took place in 43 embassies.

Ukraine: UN Welcomes Ukraine Election; Calls for Calm; Dialogue | VoA News

U.N. Security Council members have overwhelmingly praised Sunday’s election in Ukraine, and urged an end to violence and the restoration of calm and national dialogue. Nearly all 15 Council members welcomed President-elect Petro Poroshenko’s election victory and his pledge to reach out to all regions as well as Moscow to restore calm.  But Russia’s ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, was more reserved, saying the election was not a “panacea.” U.N. political chief Jeffrey Feltman told the Council that about 60 percent of eligible voters participated in the election. He said international monitors concluded the vote was credible, despite hostilities in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions of the country. Elections were not held at all in the Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula.