National: NAACP worries that low November turnout could lead to voter ID expansion | Associated Press

Civil rights leaders at the NAACP annual convention in Las Vegas on Tuesday worried that dwindling African-American turnout in November could lead to the expansion of voter-identification laws that makes it harder for that community to vote in subsequent contests. In 2012, blacks turned out at a higher rate than whites for what is believed to be the first time in American history and helped re-elect President Obama. But in the prior midterm election, in 2010, blacks turned out at a much lower rate, and Republicans won control of the House of Representatives and many state and local offices.

National: Cardin, Paul seek voting rights for former felons | Baltimore Sun

Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin teamed up with an unlikely political ally on Tuesday — Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky — in pushing for federal legislation to allow millions of Americans with felony convictions to regain their right to vote. Paul, a conservative Republican who many believe is eying a presidential run in 2016, joined Cardin, a Democrat, at a forum on Capitol Hill to call attention to the issue. Despite different political ideologies, the two have introduced similar bills to restore voting rights for felons who have served their sentences. “We’ve had some differences over the years, but we have joined forces in recognizing that there’s an important policy that we can advance in helping people reenter into our society,” Cardin said. “This is one of the Jim Crow laws of our time.” If either measure is approved it would replace a patchwork of state laws that vary widely on when a felon may vote.

Florida: Election Issue Likely Headed To Florida Supreme Court | Daily Business Review

Ronald Bray submitted all the required paperwork to qualify as a write-in candidate on the Nov. 4 general election for the seat of state House District 96. Two candidates from the Democratic Party qualified to have their names printed on the ballot. Article VI, §5(b) of the Florida Constitution provides that primaries are open to all voters regardless of party affiliation where the winner of the primary “will have no opposition in the general election.” In the Fourth District Court of Appeal, any opposition, even write-in candidates, precludes the application of the clause, and keeps the primary closed. Telli v. Snipes, 98 So.3d 1284 (Fla. 4th DCA 2012). Bray, as a write-in candidate, is the only opposition candidate for the general election for House District 96. Because Bray is an opposition candidate, the Democratic primary in the district was going to be held as a closed primary.

Georgia: Justice Department suspends most poll watching | CNN

For the first time in decades, voters in Georgia are going to the polls Tuesday without the chance of having Justice Department observers inside their polling places. CNN has learned that’s because Justice Department lawyers in recent months have determined they no longer have legal authority to unilaterally assign poll observers after the Supreme Court ruling invalidating key sections of the Voting Rights Act. The department has suspended posting observers inside polling stations except for in nine jurisdictions in seven states covered by separate court orders, government officials tell CNN. The internal legal finding hadn’t been made public before. Observers had the authority to be inside polling places, and the department may still send monitors who keep an eye outside polling precincts. A spokeswoman for the Justice Department’s civil rights division declined to comment.

Michigan: Federal judge: Votes on defective 3rd Ward ballots in Ann Arbor won’t count |

A federal judge has ordered the city of Ann Arbor not to count any votes for 3rd Ward City Council candidates Julie Grand and Sam McMullen on defective ballots that left off Bob Dascola’s name. Dascola, a candidate in the three-way race for the open seat, was left off a batch of absentee ballots that went out to voters this past month due to what the Washtenaw County clerk’s office has described as a series of unfortunate events, including an error by a third-party ballot programmer. U.S. District Judge Lawrence Zatkoff ruled on Tuesday that should any absentee voters turn in the defective ballots without following up and turning in replacement ballots, then any votes in the 3rd Ward race on those defective ballots should not be counted.

Editorials: Early-voting cuts in Ohio rightfully draw Justice Department ire: editorial | Cleveland Plain Dealer

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has signaled that the Justice Department will back pending Ohio litigation aimed at providing more early voting days for Ohioans and restoring Ohio’s voting “golden week.” Holder and his department are more than justified in doing so. At stake is one of the most precious of constitutional rights, the right to vote. That is a fundamental right Americans have died for, as, for example, three patriots – two white, one black – did 50 years ago in Neshoba County, Mississippi. In February, Ohio General Assembly Republicans passed, and Gov. John Kasich signed, Senate Bill 238. The bill, passed along party lines (Republicans for, Democrats against), abolished Ohio’s so-called golden week. This was the week right before Ohio’s voter registration deadline when an Ohioan simultaneously could register to vote, apply for and then cast an in-person, early-voting ballot at his or her county board of elections.

Tennessee: Complex ballot has voters stumped | Paris Post-Inteligencer

With the county into its fourth day of early voting for the Aug. 7 election, it’s become apparent to local election official Darrin Thompson that a large percentage of voters so far are very confused by the ballot. Thompson, Henry County’s administrator of elections, said Monday there seems to be general bewilderment about this particular election. Many voters apparently aren’t grasping the fact that there are really two elections in one — a general election in the county and primaries to decide state and federal offices. “The state primaries seem to be throwing them quite a bit,” Thompson said. “A lot of them don’t seem to be aware that it’s two elections happening at the same time — and that it’s only in the primaries that they have to choose a particular party in which to vote.” … It appears some of the confusion is stemming from the judicial races that are on the ballot. Thompson reminded voters Monday that those judicial races — for Circuit Court judgeships, chancellor, and district attorney general, among others — are part of the general election.

Cambodia: Parties Agree to End Year-Long Deadlock | Radio Free Asia

Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen and opposition leader Sam Rainsy forged a landmark agreement Tuesday that will see the opposition end a one-year boycott of parliament and the ruling party adopt key reforms to the country’s electoral body. The agreement broke a year-long political impasse following disputed July 2013 general elections in which Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) was declared the victor by the government-appointed National Election Committee (NEC) despite allegations of widespread irregularities. The pact was announced in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh after a five-hour meeting between the CPP and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) led by Hun Sen and Sam Rainsy. The agreement led to the immediate release of seven CNRP lawmakers and another opposition politician from jail following their arrest last week on charges of waging an “insurrection” which could see them being imprisoned for up to 30 years if convicted.  … In a key compromise that led to the end of the CNRP boycott of parliament, the CPP and CNRP agreed Tuesday that each party could appoint four members to the NEC, with the ninth member to be jointly picked.

Cook Islands: Cook Islands Democratic Party leader to challenge election result on corruption allegations | ABC

Cook Islands Democratic Party (DP) leader Wilkie Rasmussen says his party will be challenging the result of the national election, saying the process was mishandled. Official results returned Prime Minister Henry Puna’s Cook Islands Party (CIP) to government with a majority of 13 seats in the 24-member parliament. Mr Rasmussen, who lost his seat at the July 9 election, says questions have been raised about many aspects of the process, including concerns that the prime minister’s son accompanied ballot papers back from New Zealand. The initial count pointed toward a win for the DP but a huge surge of last minute declaration and postal votes turned the result, raising questions of corruption.

Indonesia: Prabowo Subianto ‘withdraws’ from Indonesian presidential election on day vote was to be declared | Sydney Morning Herald

Former army strongman Prabowo Subianto claims to have ‘‘withdrawn’’ from the presidential race on the day it was to be announced that he had lost. In an extraordinary statement in his campaign headquarters on Tuesday afternoon, Mr Prabowo said he entirely rejected the judgment delivered by 133 million Indonesians at the ballot box on July 9, because it was the result of ‘‘massive cheating that is structured and systematic’’. He said the country’s Electoral Commission had failed in its duty to democracy, so he withdrew his participation from the process. He also suggested, though not explicitly, that he would not take his appeal to Indonesia’s constitutional court. Later, his legal representative, Mahendradatta, confirmed to that, “only those with legal standing can go to the Constitutional Court – that is those who are registered as presidential candidates … By withdrawing we … no longer have legal standing”.

Editorials: Living Dangerously in Indonesia | Wall Street Journal

Instead of representing a triumph of democracy, Indonesia’s presidential election threatens to spark a crisis. On Tuesday afternoon officials were poised to announce that Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo won the July 9 election with 53% of the vote. But losing candidate and self-styled strongman Prabowo Subianto denounced the result, leveled charges of widespread fraud and withdrew from the race. “We are rejecting this presidential election, which is legally flawed,” Mr. Subianto said from his campaign headquarters, insisting that the vote was “riddled with problems” and “undemocratic.” As confusion spread, his brother and campaign advisor Hashim Djojohadikusumo clarified that “Prabowo Subianto is no longer a presidential candidate.” Though he has complained of irregularities since the vote, Mr. Subianto has marshaled little evidence that the result is illegitimate. Indonesia has some unusual voting practices across its 900 inhabited islands and 190 million eligible voters, but observers and officials generally judged the balloting peaceful, free and fair.

United Kingdom: Online voting registration – what’s the verdict? | Public Technology

The UK’s democracy has many problems. Important among these is the fact that swathes of the population don’t exercise their right to vote – something that’s both a consequence and, less directly, a cause of the growing public disenchantment with our political leaders. In the last general election, for example, turnout was just 65%; in May’s European elections, it was a paltry 34%. There are many reasons behind these low figures – and some of them, at least, have their roots in our electoral system. As the Coalition Agreement was being drawn up in 2010, the Liberal Democrats inserted a referendum on the Alternative Vote system of PR. This was soundly lost: they had accepted a timetable which ensured the referendum would coincide with both continued recession, and expanding austerity. But another electoral reform has survived: the shift from household to individual voter registration. …  It is, therefore, essential that the new system makes joining the roll as easy as possible, creating the lowest possible barriers consistent with security against fraud. A key part of this accessibility is the ERTP’s online registration service, and this has now gone live.