National: FEC chairman warns book publishers at risk of regulation at heated meeting | Fox News

The Republican chairman of the Federal Election Commission warned Wednesday that his agency colleagues could try to regulate book publishers, during a heated session over a forthcoming book by GOP Rep. Paul Ryan. During the meeting, the FEC declined to definitively spare book publishers from the reach of campaign finance rules. This triggered a clash between Republican and Democratic members, with Chairman Lee Goodman warning that the deadlock could represent a “chill” for constitutional free-press rights. “That is a shame. … We have wounded the free-press clause of the First Amendment,” Goodman told after the tense meeting. Goodman previously has warned that the commission wants to start regulating media.

California: Former Councilman Richard Alarcon, wife guilty of voter fraud, perjury | Los Angeles Times

Former Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon and his wife were convicted Wednesday of some but not all voter-fraud and perjury charges brought in a case that accused them of lying about where they lived so he would be qualified to run for his council seat. A seven-woman, five-man jury delivered the split verdicts to Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge George G. Lomeli. The couple was accused of claiming to live in a Panorama City house that was under repair, when they actually lived in a larger, nicer home in Sun Valley, outside his 7th District. Former Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon and his wife are convicted of voter fraud and perjury for living outside the district the councilman was elected to represent. State and city election law requires candidates to live in the district they seek to represent. Alarcon, 60, was convicted of three voter-fraud charges and one perjury charge, but acquitted on 12 other counts. His wife, Flora Montes de Oca, was convicted of two voting charges and one perjury count.

Florida: Groups ask to move Florida election, draw new map | Miami Herald

A Florida judge is being asked to move this year’s election dates — including postponing next month’s primary — in order to draw up new congressional districts for the state. The request was filed Wednesday by a coalition of groups, including the League of Women Voters, who successfully challenged Florida’s current congressional map. Circuit Judge Terry Lewis ruled earlier this month that the state Legislature illegally drew the districts in 2012 to primarily benefit the Republican Party. Florida legislative leaders have said they will change the districts, but they want to wait until after the November elections to avoid disruption and problems at the polls. More than 1 million absentee ballots for the Aug. 26 primary went out this week.

Florida: Redistricting clash heats up as hearing approaches | Florida Today

The coalition, which includes organizations like the League of Women Voters of Florida, asked Lewis to either go ahead with the November elections after drawing a new map or delay the elections until December. If the November elections are held under the existing map, the state should hold a separate, special election as soon as March to choose members of Congress under new lines, the groups said. They also asked Lewis to draw a new map instead of allowing the Legislature to do it. “The citizens of Florida have already endured elections under gerrymandered districts after the Legislature blatantly disregarded their will,” the groups’ lawyers said in a filing. “Legislative defendants have expended considerable taxpayer money to resist public scrutiny and defend their unconstitutional conduct. Florida?s voters should not have to wait for two more years for constitutional elections, and they certainly should not have to sit by as legislative defendants risk additional elections under an invalid congressional plan.”

Mississippi: McDaniel case gets under way today in court | The Neshoba Democrat

A hearing was to get underway this morning at the courthouse in a suit filed by Sen. Chris McDaniel against Neshoba County Circuit Clerk Patti Duncan Lee, alleging she “withheld voter records” while his representative canvased ballots from the June 24 Republican runoff election in the race for U. S. Senate. In the suit, McDaniel claimed that Lee allegedly withheld voting records when two people representing his campaign went to canvass the ballots in the Neshoba County courthouse in early July. In response to the suit, Lee said she “properly followed the law” and gave McDaniel’s representatives more than what they wanted. Circuit Court Judge, Place 1 Marcus Gordon was to preside over the hearing beginning at 9 a.m. In the midst of McDaniel’s quest for voting irregularities, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled Thursday that circuit clerks must redact voters’ birth dates before poll books are open for public inspection.

New Hampshire: State faces lawsuit over new election law | New Hampshire Union Leader

The New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union is suing the state over a new law that it says will stack the deck against third parties trying to gain ballot access. The lawsuit, filed July 22 on behalf of the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire, challenges a requirement that nomination papers for a political organization “be signed and dated in the year of the election.” It compresses the time frame to collect these signatures and poses a hindrance for the Libertarian Party to compete, according to Gilles Bissonnette, staff attorney for the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union. “This law strips away voter choice,” he said in an interview.

New York: Nick Di Iorio, longshot GOP candidate for Congress, signed to star in reality show about ‘unwinnable’ races | NY Daily News

A longshot congressional candidate in Manhattan apparently makes for a sure-fire winner on reality television. Nick Di Iorio, a Republican challenging veteran Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney, has been signed to star in a proposed reality show about candidates running in “unwinnable” races. In a draft opinion released Monday, the Federal Election Commission said Di Iorio can appear on the series — as long as he doesn’t get paid. Di Iorio and his campaign manager, Joseph Shippeee, have a production deal to do the show if the project is picked up by the Esquire network, a new channel that is set to debut this fall, Shippee told the commission.

Texas: Democrats look to get in front of voter ID issue | Houston Chronicle

Texas Democrats are renewing their opposition to the state’s voter-identification law, rolling out a program to educate voters ahead of a decisive few months that could see the controversial statute become a top issue in the governor’s race. The law is considered one of the toughest of its kind in the country, requiring voters to show one of a few types of identification cards at the polls. Those whose actual names do not match the names on their IDs must sign an affidavit attesting to their identities. The gubernatorial campaign of state Sen. Wendy Davis, Battleground Texas and the Texas Democratic Party on Wednesday announced a “voter protection” program to tackle the issue by dispatching more than 8,000 volunteers to help with voter registration and making sure voters know what the law requires.

Utah: Committee to investigate electronic voting options in Utah | Daily Herald

A new committee created by Utah’s lieutenant governor will look at what it will take to move the state to the point where it can hold elections online.  Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox’s office announced the formation of the committee Tuesday. The group, which is officially named the iVote Advisory Committee, is made up of state legislators, election officials in the state and individuals who have a strong background in Internet security.  “This is the beginning of just trying to understand electronic voting,” said Mark Thomas, director of elections for the state of Utah.  … Cox and Thomas both explained there are a number of hurdles that need to be crossed before Utah could host an online election. First would be how to create a process that allows for a ballot to be cast and kept confidential but provide a way for the election to be audited. Another hurdle would be how to protect the integrity of the vote count from hackers.

Afghanistan: In Kabul, vote recount delayed in dispute over what constitutes a fraudulent ballot | The Washington Post

Election authorities on Wednesday halted the inspection of about 8 million ballots cast in last month’s presidential runoff in Afghanistan, heightening concerns that an already chaotic process to choose the country’s new leader could take months to complete. The effort to reexamine the votes was paused for a full day to hammer out differences between the two candidates over what criteria to use to scrap suspicious ballots, a spokesman for the Independent Election Commission (IEC) said. The audit, which began last week, was expected to resume Thursday. Tensions have been high since the June 15 election, in which former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah faced off against former World Bank executive Ashraf Ghani after a first round of voting in April in which neither secured the majority needed to win the presidency.

Indonesia: Subianto Set to Challenge Indonesia Election Results | Wall Street Journal

Presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto will challenge results from the July 9 election at Indonesia’s Constitutional Court, focusing a final bid for leadership of the world’s fourth most-populous nation on what his team suspects are irregularities involving 21 million votes. Jakarta Gov. Joko Widodo was declared president-elect of the Southeast Asian nation Tuesday with 53.15% of the vote, defeating Mr. Subianto by a margin of 8.4 million votes. More than 133 million ballots were cast in what was a tightly-contested two-man race to the end. Mr. Subianto’s campaign team on Wednesday raised questions about voting at about 52,000 of the country’s 479,000 polling stations and demanded a revote at those stations. They said that ballots cast at those stations far exceeded their total number of eligible voters. “We will prove improper conduct,” said team lawyer Mahendra Datta.

Editorials: Indonesia’s democracy: A new kind of president | The Economist

The wait is over. After taking two weeks to count 135m ballots from 480,000-odd polling stations across the vast archipelago, Indonesia’s Election Commission (the KPU) has at last confirmed that Joko Widodo has been elected president. The commission said that Mr Joko, the governor of Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, and his vice-presidential running mate, Jusuf Kalla, won 71m votes at the election on July 9th. That represents 53.2% of the valid votes. The losers, Prabowo Subianto and Hatta Rajasa, won 62.6m votes, or 46.9%. Mr Joko was victorious in 23 of the country’s 33 provinces. His winning margin of 8.4m votes, or 6.3 percentage points, was even wider than had been predicted by most of the respected pollsters on the night of the election.

Saudi Arabia: Nod for Saudi women to contest, vote in municipal council polls | Al Arabiya

The Saudi Council of Ministers approved late Monday the Law of Municipal Councils that grants women equal rights with men to vote and contest municipal elections. In a statement to the Saudi Press Agency following the session, Minister of Culture and Information Dr. Abdulaziz Khoja said that the Cabinet took the decision after reviewing a report presented by Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs and a Shoura Council decision. The councils will have not more than 30 members, including two-third of elected members and one-third nominated by the minister.

Turkey: Voters in Europe | Today’s Zaman

For the first time in Turkey’s history, Turkish citizens who live in a foreign country will be able to vote in the elections. Turkey’s envoy to Berlin says that the number of voters is 3 million. This is a significant number given that it corresponds with 7 percent of the total number of voters, and the winner is determined by a small margin in the second round of the presidential elections. Unfortunately, we are not well prepared for these elections, which will take place abroad for the first time. I believe that there will be many problems in how the election is handled and carried out. Half of the voters in Europe live in Germany (1.4 million). Five hundred ballot boxes are reserved for these voters. It appears that there will be 3,000 voters for each box, the voters will have to sign up for a time to vote and the boxes will be stationed in predominantly Turkish areas.

Afghanistan: Election Result Hinges on a Squabble-Prone Audit | New York Times

Seemingly endless squabbles are interrupted by full-scale shouting matches. Campaign aides mutter suspiciously about what foreign visitors might be up to. And ballot boxes are piling up, waiting to be cracked open and examined for signs of fraud. In two spartan, stifling warehouses on the edge of Kabul, hundreds of Afghans, Americans and Europeans are engaged in a last-ditch attempt to salvage an acceptably democratic result from an election dispute that has been tumbling toward a street fight, or worse. They are auditing all of the roughly eight million ballots cast in last month’s presidential runoff, trying to separate fraud from fact. But a week into the process, the audit has engendered little confidence, and is already desperately behind schedule.Only 4.5 percent of the roughly 22,000 ballot boxes had been examined by Wednesday. Each day has seemed to yield some new dispute or confusion that has put on the brakes. Does writing “insh’allah” — God willing — next to the name of a candidate on a ballot constitute a legitimate vote? Is it proper for campaign representatives to move between tables, urging colleagues to argue harder? And who was that tall, bearded foreigner with no badge?

Canada: Toronto cancels plan to allow online, phone voting for disabled citizens in 2014 | Toronto Star

Toronto’s government has cancelled a plan to allow disabled residents to vote online and by phone in the 2014 election, saying there is not enough time to build and test the system. Council only approved the online and phone voting in February, a month into the campaign period. The city clerk said she had the authority to call off the project “to protect the integrity of the election” if key deadlines were not met. She did so this month. “The clerk engaged independent third-party experts, including an accessibility and usability expert, two security and cryptographic experts, an external auditing firm and a testing firm,” city officials wrote in a report to council. “There is insufficient time for the third-party experts to conduct a full assessment of the security and accessibility of the (system) before the start of Internet and telephone voting registration on September 8, 2014.”

Ukraine: Bitter election faced in midst of conflict with Russia | Reuters

Ukraine’s prime minister has launched what promises to be a bitter election campaign that could divide pro-Western parties and complicate their efforts to fight pro-Russian rebels in the country’s east. Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk, a key interlocutor of the West during months of turmoil, announced on Thursday he would quit, saying parliament was betraying Ukraine’s army and people by blocking reforms supported by Western backers. His move, following the exit of two parties from the ruling coalition, amounted to the start of a campaign for seats in a legislature still packed with former allies of pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovich, ousted by protests in February. “History will not forgive us,” Yatseniuk told parliament on Thursday, in what analysts said was the first campaign speech for the party led by Yulia Tymoshenko, a rival of President Petro Poroshenko, who was elected to replace Yanukovich in May. Pro-Western political forces in Ukraine have been bitterly divided almost continuously since the country won independence with the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.