Editorials: Will Same-Day Voter Registration Law Fix Hawaii’s Poor Voter Turnout? | Honolulu Magazine

On June 30, Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed legislation into law that will eventually allow same-day voter registration, first at absentee polling places beginning in 2016, and at all precinct polling places on Election Day starting in 2018. Lawmakers hope the adoption of HB 2590 will improve Hawaii’s abysmal voter turnout. Allowing same-day registration in other states, including Connecticut and Colorado, has boosted voter turnout. Other studies have shown election-day registration can increase turnout between 7 and 14 percentage points. Hawaii has one of the lowest voter turnouts in the nation, with just 44 percent of eligible voters actually casting ballots in last year’s presidential election, even when local boy Barack Obama was on the ballot.

Illinois: State to allow same-day registration, expand early voting hours | The Washington Post

Illinois will dramatically expand access to the ballot box this year by allowing voters to register on Election Day, and by significantly extending the hours early-vote locations will be open. Gov. Pat Quinn (D) has said he will sign the measure, passed by the legislature late last month. The bill expands both the number of days during which early voting locations are open and the number of hours each day they remain open. Voters who cast a ballot early will not have to show a photo identification. “Democracy works best when everyone has the opportunity to participate,” Quinn said in a statement. “By removing barriers to vote, we can ensure a government of the people and for the people.”

North Dakota: Groups want adjustments to voter ID rules | Bismarck Tribune

Two national groups have sent letters to the North Dakota Secretary of State protesting the application of the state’s new voter identification laws. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Freedom Resources Center for Independent Living claim the new voter ID laws could disenfranchise voters. In its letter, sent on Friday, the ACLU recommends expanding the forms of ID permitted to be used to include items such as passports, game and fish licenses and utility bills. Secretary of State Al Jaeger said Monday his office will review the letters and craft a response. However, he said his office is limited by statute as to what it can do in adopting any recommendations made by the groups.

Texas: Young County takes voting equipment decision to the 12th hour | Graham Leader

For the fourth time, Young County Elections Administrator Lauren Sullivan pitched the purchase of new election equipment to county officials, and, for the fourth time, county officials tabled the item. The Young County Commissioners Court will discuss the new equipment one final time at its June 30 meeting; the last day the county can purchase the equipment at a drastically reduced price, according to representatives from its manufacturers, Hart Intercivic. The court’s last-minute approach has to do with the cost, more than $330,000 over 60 months, a deal that Sullivan said the county will not see again once the June 30 deadline for the discounted “cutting edge” Hart Intercivic Verity election equipment passes. Once the deadline passes, the new equipment, which Sullivan said will become a necessity one way or another, could raise in price as much as $150,000.

US Virgin Islands: Board of Elections misses key federal deadline | Virgin Islands Daily News

The St. Thomas-St. John Board of Elections is in violation of a federal consent order that mandated the board to send out absentee ballots to overseas military personnel by June 17. During an emergency meeting called for Friday afternoon at the board’s offices in Lockhart Gardens on St. Thomas, board members were irate with the V.I. Elections System for not better communicating the status of the ballots in the last two weeks. They said that during that time, they thought that the ballots were finalized and sent out to military members. “We have a crisis,” said Arturo Watlington Jr., chairman of the St. Thomas-St. John Board of Elections. The U.S. Attorney’s Office asked the V.I. Attorney General’s Office to check on the status of sending out ballots for the Aug. 2 primary election in the territory, at which point the territorial office discovered this week that the ballots had not yet been finalized.

Wisconsin: Voter fraud case targets Scott Walker backer | Capital Times

In one of the biggest cases of voter fraud ever in Wisconsin, a Milwaukee area health insurance executive has been charged with casting multiple votes for Republican candidates — including Gov. Scott Walker in the 2012 recall election. Robert Monroe of Shorewood was charged Friday with 13 felonies related to his voting a dozen times in five elections between 2011 and 2012, using his own name along with his son’s and his girlfriend’s son. The charges followed a WisPolitics.com review of records from the John Doe investigation that revealed the investigation into Monroe’s voting habits. “During 2011 and 2012, the defendant, Robert Monroe, became especially focused upon political issues and causes, including especially the recall elections,” says the criminal complaint against Monroe.

Australia: Voter ID push: opponents say laws would disenfranchise the disadvantaged | The Guardian

A Liberal party push to roll out voter identification laws across Australia has sparked warnings that the move would make it harder for disadvantaged groups to have their say at the ballot box. Party delegates at the Liberal federal council meeting in Melbourne at the weekend passed a motion calling on Coalition governments at all levels to change the law to ensure people must present identification containing a name and residential address when voting. The resolution, passed resoundingly after it was promoted as a “sensible” way to prevent electoral fraud, indicates a mood for such changes within the Liberal party but is not binding on the federal or state Coalition governments.

Afghanistan: Amid Claims of Fraud, Presidential Candidate Vows More Deadlock | New York Times

After a potential opening last week to ease Afghanistan’s political crisis, the presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah signaled on Sunday that more deadlock was ahead, promising again that he would not accept any decisions made by the country’s election commission after the panel rejected a list of his demands. “From today onward, we reject all the decisions and activities of the Independent Election Commission, which will not have any legal value anyway,” said Baryalai Arsalai, Mr. Abdullah’s campaign manager. “They have no intention to assess the fraudulent votes and separate the dirty votes from the clean votes.” In the two weeks since the presidential runoff vote, the election process has been shadowed by accusations of fraud and conspiracy, with the Abdullah campaign accusing a range of officials all the way to the presidential palace of rigging the vote against him. There have been dramatic protests flooding the streets of Kabul, and secretly captured phone calls that allegedly show election officials conspiring to rig the race.

Editorials: Canadian expatriates should never lose the right to vote | Semra Sevi/The Globe and Mail

Canada, a nation of immigrants, is quickly becoming a nation of emigrants. According to a study by the Asia Pacific Foundation, 2.9 million Canadian citizens – equivalent to 9 per cent of Canada’s population – study, live and work abroad. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms grants every Canadian citizen the right to vote and to be a candidate in an election. Until 1993, Canadian citizens living abroad were not allowed to vote at all except for civil servants and military personnel. The subsequent Bill C-114 introduced voting rights for Canadians living abroad for fewer than five-years. But why five years? Expatriate voting rights are now common in many countries. In the English-speaking world, the United States has the most generous provision for expatriate voters. Americans living overseas have the right to vote no matter how long they have been abroad.

China: Hong Kong wraps up unofficial democracy poll in defiance of Beijing | Asharq al-Awsat

More than 780,000 votes were cast by Sunday, the final day of an unofficial referendum on democratic reforms in Hong Kong, part of a civil campaign that has been branded illegal by local and mainland Chinese authorities. Hong Kong, a freewheeling, capitalist hub of more than 7 million people, returned to Chinese rule in 1997 with wide-ranging autonomy under a “one country, two systems” formula, along with an undated promise of universal suffrage. While Beijing says Hong Kong can go ahead with a vote in 2017 for the city’s top leader, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law, specifies that only a nominating committee can pick leadership candidates. Democracy activists want the nomination process to be open to everyone, in line with international standards, and have threatened to lock down the Central area of Hong Kong, home to some of Asia’s biggest companies and banks, if the city fails to adopt a strong democratic method for electing its next leader.

Norway: Internet voting experiment fails | ZDNet

The Norwegian Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation has put an end to a pilot project allowing voting on the internet. The main reasons cited are a lack of increase in turnout amid concern that the program could damage confidence in the electoral process. A study performed by the Ministry of the test programs run in their 2011 and 2013 elections shows many conflicting results but, at bottom, the benefits were too slight and the problems too great. Only a summary of the Ministry’s study is available in English. The full study is in Norwegian (PDF). One interesting result was evidence that a small number of voters, 0.75% of all voters, voted twice in 2013. They voted once online and once by conventional paper ballot at a polling station. At the same time, convinced that it is necessary in order to increase disappointing voter participation rates, officials in the US and UK still are pushing for internet voting. As I explained several weeks ago, in the US voting over the internet is creeping in from the bottom up with no real thought being put into the process.

Editorials: Turkey’s Last Chance? | Michael Rubin/Commentary Magazine

Turks will go to the polls on August 10 to elect a new president, the first time that office will be filled by direct election. This weekend, incumbent Abdullah Gül, a Justice and Development Party (AKP) acolyte, has announced he will step down and the AKP will determine its nominee on July 1. The party’s nominee will likely be Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey’s Islamist, corrupt, and increasingly authoritarian prime minister. Rather than roll over and accept Turkey’s slide into autocracy or kleptocracy without a fight, the center-left Republican Peoples Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) have nominated a joint candidate, Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, the former head of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

Indonesia: Knife’s edge: Indonesia’s presidential race tightens as election day approaches | The Economist

In late June the two candidates in Indonesia’s presidential race both held rallies in Jakarta, the capital. Supporters of Joko Widodo, known to all as Jokowi (pictured right), walked and cycled through the central business district. From a stage set up at a roundabout, Jokowi thanked his supporters in a brief, rather flat speech. Prabowo Subianto held his rally at Bung Karno stadium, which seats more than 80,000. Trumpeters and drummers heralded his arrival in a white convertible. He was flanked by his running mate, Hatta Rajasa, and by leaders of the parties in his coalition—all wearing identical white shirts. The rally did not quite reach the theatrical heights of an event back in March, where he arrived by helicopter and pranced astride a bay charger. But he delivered a fiery speech, and was carried off on the shoulders of cheering supporters. Vulgar showmanship, no doubt. But Mr Prabowo has run a devastating campaign against Jokowi, clawing his way back in opinion polls from a 39-point deficit. The election, which will be held on July 9th, is too close to call. On June 30th Jokowi was polling at 46% of the votes and Mr Prabowo at 42.6%.