Editorials: Internet voting: A really bad idea whose time has come | Larry Seltzer/ZDNet

The area on the Jersey shore where I grew up was hit very hard by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. It was many weeks before some of the people could even go home. Life was a mess. And then, a little over a week later, was the 2012 election day. The state made it clear that they would make whatever accommodations it could to help people vote if they were displaced by the storm. So far, so good, but my ears perked up when I heard about “email voting.” Yes, the state announced that voters could email in a vote. This was part of an effort to make all non-traditional forms of voting, including mail-in and fax, easier. In fact, voters were instructed to ignore the part of the relevant web page where it says “The County Clerk cannot accept faxed or emailed copies of a Application for Vote by Mail Ballot, unless you are a Military or Overseas Voter, since an original signature is required.” But certainly such circumstances were sui generis, and no sane state authority would contemplate Internet voting in the normal course of things, right? Wrong.

Alabama: Supreme Court to Hear Alabama Redistricting Challenge | Associated Press

The Supreme Court said Monday it will consider a challenge from Alabama Democrats who say a Republican-drawn legislative map intentionally packs black Democrats into a few voting districts, giving them too little influence in the Legislature. The justices agreed to hear a pair of appeals from the Alabama Legislative Black Caucus and other Democratic lawmakers who contend the new map created in 2012 illegally limits black voting strength and makes it harder to elect Democrats outside the majority-black districts.

Florida: State may be forced to redraw political districts before midterms | Washington Post

A redistricting battle that has gripped Florida for more than a year could force Republican leaders to redraw the state’s political boundaries just months ahead of the midterm elections. Several of the state’s Republican-drawn congressional districts – which one political scientist described as the most skewed he has ever studied – have come under attack by voting rights groups that allege the maps unfairly favor GOP candidates. That coalition, led by the League of Women’s Voters, has argued that Republican legislators and staffers collaborated with political consultants to create the maps, which were approved by Gov. Rick Scott in 2011. The case is being heard now in Leon County Circuit Court after the League filed a lawsuit alleging that the districts violate Florida’s “Fair Districts” law, which was approved by more than 60 percent of voters in 2010. If the lawsuit succeeds, the borders will have to be redrawn before the midterm elections this fall.

Mississippi: State to Use Its Voter ID Law Tuesday | Associated Press

Mississippi on Tuesday will use its new voter ID law for the first time, culminating a long political fight in a state with a troubled past of voting-rights suppression. People will be required to show a driver’s license or other government-issued photo identification at the polls during the Republican and Democratic primaries for U.S. House and Senate. Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, the state’s top elections official, said about 1,000 people who lacked an acceptable form of photo ID have received a free one from local election clerks. “Mississippi is one big small town,” Hosemann said last week. “When we cast our ballot on Election Day, there is a high probability of knowing the poll workers in the precinct. However, voter ID is not discretionary.”

New York: NYC Board of Elections wants to raise poll worker pay, already among nation’s highest | NY Daily News

The city’s embattled Board of Elections is lobbying City Hall for $7.4 million to boost the salaries of its 36,000 temporary pollworkers — many of them party insiders — by $100. The request, made to the City Council for the budget year that begins July 1, would raise the pay for the average pollworker to $300, and hike the pay for supervisors to $400. Pollworkers and supervisors receive an additional $100 for six hours of training. The board has been excoriated for running sometimes-chaotic elections that have left voters frazzled, frustrated, and, at times, disenfranchised. Board officials say raising the pay will help to attract more capable workers to staff elections.

Voting Blogs: Ohio SoS Channels PCEA and EAC, Directs Counties to Prepare Election Administration Plans | Election Academy

The position of Secretary of State in Ohio gets lots of attention because it is the chief election official in one of (if not the most) politically competitive states in the nation. But one aspect of the job that many people outside the state don’t realize is the sweeping authority the Secretary possesses to issue directives to county election offices on matters not explicitly covered by state law. The latest example of that power came recently when Secretary Jon Husted issued Directive 2014-16 which requires counties to produce election administration plans (EAPs) in advance of each election, starting with the 2014 general election. Husted’s directive stems in part from the settlement in LWV v. Brunner, which requires the state to produce EAPs.

South Carolina: State poised to end ban on Election Day liquor sales | USAToday

Win or lose, South Carolina candidates running for office this year may be able to do something that their brethren in most other states are  already able to do: Buy an alcoholic beverage on Election Day. South Carolina is poised to repeal its ban on liquor sales on statewide election days following the state Senate’s approval Wednesday.  The Palmetto State is the last with a statewide Election Day ban on liquor sales, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.

Wisconsin: Voting rights groups worry that Republican bills will deter youth voting | Cap Times

Shortly after reading an article that discussed young voter turnout in midterm elections, Scot Ross, executive director of One Wisconsin Now, pointed to a key method used by Republicans to check the enthusiasm of young voters, who overwhelmingly lean Democratic. “If you want to talk about the GOP agenda for youth it’s simple: suppress their vote,” he wrote. “That’s what a ton of the voting bills have been about.” Ross isn’t the only one to complain about the effects of Republican voting legislation on young people. Andrea Kaminski, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, said that a series of laws passed since Gov. Scott Walker took office in 2011 have made it much harder for organizations such as her own to register college students to vote.

Egypt: Elections commission rejects Sabahi’s appeal | Ahram Online

Egypt’s  Presidential Election Commission (PEC) rejected an appeal by the presidential campaign of candidate Hamdeen Sabahi, who suffered a crushing loss in the poll according to preliminary results of the vote, against violations claimed by it during the poll. The PEC said, according to Al-Ahram’s Arabic news website, the complaints submitted on Friday were investigated and no evidence was found to support them. The complaints haven’t influenced the results of the poll, the commission added.

Georgia (Sakartvelo): Abkhazia’s parliament votes for early presidential elections | Reuters

The parliament of Georgia’s breakaway region of Abkhazia has voted to hold early presidential elections in August, a deputy said on Saturday, in a move denounced by the prime minister as “revolutionary” after the opposition seized control. On Tuesday protesters broke into the capital’s presidential headquarters and opposition leaders formed a Provisional National Council in the Russian-backed province, which they say is now under their control since President Alexander Ankvab fled the capital.

Malawi: New President Sworn in After Disputed Elections | Naharnet

Peter Mutharika was sworn in Saturday as Malawi’s new president after his arch-rival and predecessor Joyce Banda congratulated him and urged the country to move on from the disputed vote. Mutharika, the brother of president Bingu wa Mutharika who died in office in 2012, appealed to the 11 other presidential candidates to “join me in rebuilding the country” after some — including Banda — contested the results. Joining Vice President Saulos Chilima in taking the oath of office before a chief justice, Mutharika said he felt “very humbled” to stand as the fifth president of the impoverished southern African nation.

Syria: The choice in Syria’s election: vote for Assad or else … | The Guardian

What an irony. Fear of the Syrian government and its many-tentacled security apparatus is even greater now than it was before the revolution began. Why should that be? The government is generously offering “reconciliation” deals across the country, with gracious amnesties like the one that enabled several hundred rebel fighters to leave the exhausted city of Homs with light weapons in early May. Yet anyone who knows Syria from the inside knows full well that the Assad regime’s generosity and grace is to be feared above all else.

Editorials: Ukraine’s presidential poll: A two-tone election | The Economist

“AS I set off on a spring journey into the world, my mother embroidered my shirt with two colours: red for love and black for sorrow,” goes a popular Ukrainian song. On May 25th, as Ukrainians went to the polls to elect Petro Poroshenko as their new president, many sported the traditional shirts embroidered with red and black threads. Held in the middle of a war stoked by Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and three months after a revolution in Kiev’s Maidan that led to more than 100 deaths—and cost the country Crimea, which Mr Putin annexed—Ukraine’s presidential election was an act of defiance as much as an expression of political preferences.