National: Why the GOP is holding its convention early | Politico

Republicans will hold their 2016 national convention more than a month earlier than their 2012 event for one simple reason: money. Two years ago, Mitt Romney raised $1 billion but found himself out of cash that August due to campaign finance laws that essentially force candidates to divide their spending between pre-and-post convention accounts. Moving the convention up, the GOP reasons, will help make those rules a non-issue. The Republican National Committee announced Tuesday that Cleveland would host its 2016 convention — and that the party was aiming for a late June or early July event. The early summer timing is a sharp break with recent history — when both parties have traditionally held their conventions in late August or early September. The GOP hasn’t held a July convention since 1980 and it hasn’t held a June convention since 1948.

Editorials: 7 papers, 4 government inquiries, 2 news investigations and 1 court ruling proving voter fraud is mostly a myth | Christopher Ingraham/The Washington Post

Voter ID laws are back in the news this week after a group of college students joined a lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s new restrictive rules. And as Catherine Rampell pointed out earlier this week, it’s not just ID laws – Republican state legislatures have been busy devising all manner of creative ways to make voting more difficult for traditionally Democratic-leaning groups. All of these restrictive measures take their justification from a perceived need to prevent “voter fraud.” But there is overwhelming scholarly and legal consensus that voter fraud is vanishingly rare, and in fact non-existent at the levels imagined by voter ID proponents. That hasn’t stopped many Republican lawmakers from crying “fraud” every time they’re faced with an unfavorable election outcome (see also: McDaniel, Chris).

Alabama: Ballots and bullets: Counties cannot issue blanket ban of firearms at polling places |

Counties do not have the authority to prohibit voters from carrying firearms at all polling place, Attorney General Luther Strange said in an opinion issued Monday. The issue was raised during primary elections in June as voters carrying holstered guns were stopped by law enforcement officers at the doors of some polling places across the state. Shelby County officials reported three such encounters, and though no arrests were made, deputies did not allow voters visibly carrying weapons to take them into polling places.

Arkansas: Secretary of state asks judge to keep voter ID law in effect | Arkansas News

A judge’s stay of his ruling that Arkansas’ voter ID law is unconstitutional should remain in place, Secretary of State Mark Martin’s office argued in a filing Wednesday in Pulaski County Circuit Court. Pulaski Circuit Judge Tim Fox ruled May 2 that Act 595 of 2013, which requires voters to show photo identification at the polls, is unconstitutional because it imposes qualifications for voting in Arkansas that go beyond the qualifications set out in the state constitution. Fox stayed his ruling, however, so Act 595 remained in effect in the May 20 primary election and the June 10 runoff election.

California: Thousands with disabilities denied right to vote in California, group says | Associated Press

At a time when election officials are struggling to convince more Americans to vote, advocates for the disabled say thousands of people with autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy and other intellectual or developmental disabilities have been systematically denied that basic right in the nation’s largest county. A Voting Rights Act complaint to be filed Thursday with the U.S. Justice Department goes to a politically delicate subject that states have grappled with over the years: Where is the line to disqualify someone from the voting booth because of a cognitive or developmental impairment? The complaint by the Disability and Abuse Project argues that intellectual and developmental disabilities, including conditions such as Down syndrome, are not automatic barriers to participating in elections. It seeks a sweeping review of voting eligibility in Los Angeles County in such cases, arguing that thousands of people with those disabilities have lost the right to vote during the last decade. “We want these past injustices to be corrected, and we want the judges and court-appointed attorneys to protect, not violate, the rights of people with developmental disabilities,” Thomas F. Coleman, the group’s legal director, said in a statement.

District of Columbia: The Little-Known Election That’s About to Cost the District $300,000 | Washington City Paper

Are you pumped for election day this Tuesday? LL’s not talking about the mayoral primary—that was in April. Or the general election, which is still four months from now. Instead, District voters will go to the polls next week to cast ballots for a special election for Ward 8’s seat on the State Board of Education. A special election to fill a position on the toothless State Board of Education isn’t anyone’s idea of a hot race. But even if District residents aren’t paying attention to it, they are paying for it. Holding the election will cost roughly $300,000, according to D.C. Board of Elections spokeswoman Tamara Watkins. That might seem steep, but according to a draft budget prepared by the DCBOE, even running a small election costs a lot of money. Printing fees are expected to cost around $38,500, while voting systems cost $37,000. $43,730 will go to payments to poll staff, including $28,200 just for election day work.

North Carolina: New voting law will hurt minority voting, witness says | Greensboro News-Record

North Carolina has a long and established history of voter discrimination against blacks and that history would continue under a new state voting law, an expert testified this afternoon in U.S. District Court in Winston-Salem. Poll taxes were on the books until the 1920s, said Barry Burden, a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. And literacy tests, in which blacks were sometimes forced to read the preamble of the U.S. Constitution, remain on the books, even though they aren’t enforced, Burden said. Burden was testifying in a hearing on a preliminary injunction to block provisions of North Carolina’s voting law that was passed in 2013. Those provisions include reducing the number of days for early voting from 17 to 10, eliminating same-day voter registration and prohibiting county elections officials from counting ballots cast by voters in the correct county but wrong precinct.

Texas: Travis County Forges New Territory in Voting Machines | The Texas Tribune

With the nation facing what a January government report described as an “impending crisis” in voting technology, officials in Travis County are taking matters into their own hands by seeking to create a unique, next-generation system of voting machines. The efforts put Travis County, along with Los Angeles County in California, at the cutting edge of a race against time to create an alternative voting technology system. The new machines would have voters use off-the-shelf electronic equipment like tablets, but also provide them with receipts and printed ballots to allow for easier auditing. The development and implementation process won’t be finished in time for the 2016 elections, though officials hope to have the system ready by the 2018 gubernatorial race. … Some election administrators have said the status quo will likely fall apart within a few years. Across the country, “it’s all just a guessing game at this point: How long can we last?” said Dana DeBeauvoir, the Travis County clerk.

Wyoming: Lawmakers consider allowing nonviolent felons to regain the right to vote | Associated Press

Wyoming lawmakers are considering setting up an automatic process to allow some felons to regain their voting rights after they serve their time. The bill would to set up a process to restore voting rights for nonviolent, first-time offenders once they finish serving their sentences, including any probation or parole. Currently, offenders must apply to the state parole board for restoration of voting rights. The Legislature’s Joint Judiciary Committee is set to consider the issue next week in Newcastle. Bob Lampert, director of the Wyoming Department of Corrections, is set to testify to the committee next week. He said Wednesday he’ll be prepared to answer questions without taking a position on what lawmakers should do.

Afghanistan: Election Crisis Risks Splitting Country | Wall Street Journal

Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah claimed victory in defiance of preliminary vote results showing he lost and considered forming his own government, despite U.S. warnings that the country risked losing financial and security aid. “There is no doubt we are the winners of this election,” Mr. Abdullah told supporters during a boisterous rally in Kabul. “We will not allow a fraudulent government for a day.” Before the rally, President Barack Obama called Mr. Abdullah and urged him to await a probe of ballot-stuffing allegations, telling him that “there is no justification for resorting to violent or extra-constitutional measures,” said White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden. “We’ve been clear that any such move would cost Afghanistan the financial and security assistance of the United States,” she added. Mr. Abdullah said he would decide within a few days whether to form his own administration, a statement his supporters jeered because they wanted him to say he was taking power immediately.

China: Macau Activists Plan Hong Kong-Style Poll on Greater Democracy | New York Times

Activists in the Chinese territory of Macau say they plan to hold an informal referendum on direct elections after a similar effort in Hong Kong attracted a large turnout and helped publicize residents’ aspirations for democratic change. Like Hong Kong, Macau’s top official is chosen by a largely pro-establishment body of electors who are unlikely to challenge China’s central government. The chief executive of Macau, Fernando Chui, is expected to be granted a second five-year term by the 400-member election commission when he faces re-election on Aug. 31.

Slovenia: Snap polls unlikely to end turmoil | Daily Times

Slovenians head to the polls on Sunday faced with a choice between a political novice and a former prime minister serving time for corruption and with little hope of returning their troubled country to stability. The vote will be the second early elections in three years for Slovenia, a once model member of the European Union that has been on a downward spiral since the 2008 financial crisis. Miro Cerar, a prestigious law professor, is favoured to win despite his lack of political experience, and analysts predict that any new government will not last long, spelling further instability for the small nation of two million. The Miro Cerar Party, which he founded only in June, is expected to win between 29 and 37 percent of the vote, according to the latest polls. The main opposition centre-right Slovenian Democratic Party, whose leader, former prime minister Janez Jansa, began serving a two-year prison sentence just last month, is meanwhile polling at 15 to 24 percent.