Editorials: Where Voting Is Now Easier | New York Times

At a time when many states are making it harder to vote, 16 states have provided some good news over the last year by deciding to go in the opposite direction. In various ways, they have expanded access to the polls, allowing more people to register or to vote more conveniently. The list, compiled by the Brennan Center for Justice, includes these states:
• Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, Virginia and West Virginia. They created online registration systems, a big improvement over unreliable and inconvenient paper systems.
• Colorado and Louisiana. They will allow 16- and 17-year-olds to preregister when they apply for a driver’s license. Colorado also added Election Day registration, and it is encouraging mail-in voting without an absentee excuse.
• Maryland. It will allow same-day registration during early voting, which was expanded from six to eight days.
• Delaware. It will allow most felons to vote immediately after completing their sentences.

Colorado: Town of Montezuma sues all of its voters over flawed election | The Denver Post

Voting is supposed be a right and a privilege. But in the pint-sized, high-mountain town of Montezuma it also has become grounds for a lawsuit. The town and its novice clerk have filed suit against every registered voter in the town, claiming that an election held last spring had numerous errors. The lawsuit filed in Summit County District Court last week lists errors that include numbers that don’t add up and mismatched ballots that had to be patched together with the clerk’s sewing machine. The lawsuit asks a judge to command all 61 registered voters in Montezuma to appear in court so the judge can sort out an election mess that the petition calls “fatally flawed.” “I have never heard of anything like this,” said Andrew Cole, a spokesman for the Colorado secretary of state’s office. “This is certainly an unusual step to take.”

Florida: Congressional map redistricting battle not over | News Service of Florida

The special redistricting session held by the Legislature lasted just five days, but the two-year battle over the boundaries of the state’s 27 congressional districts seems to be far from over. Voting-rights groups who sued to get the original map overturned say the new plan, approved Monday on nearly party-line votes in the House and Senate, isn’t enough of an improvement for Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis to sign off on it. And there’s still no clarity on whether an election that is already underway in some counties will be delayed. Deirdre Macnab, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida, said Tuesday that the map passed by the Legislature this week “looks suspiciously like” the blueprint that Lewis tossed in July.

Editorials: Floridians tried to stop gerrymandering, and Republicans gerrymandered anyways. We’re about to see who wins. | Aaron Blake/The Washington Post

In 2010, Florida’s voters passed two constitutional amendments aimed at reducing partisan gerrymandering. Amendments 5 and 6 held that districts must not be drawn to “favor or disfavor” a party or incumbent or dilute the influence of minority voters. Democrats and advocates for redistricting reform hailed the passage of the measures, arguing that they could kneecap the GOP’s ability to continue its domination of a congressional map in what is otherwise a swing state. We’re about to find out whether there’s any truth to that. Republicans held 19 of the state’s 25 districts following the 2010 election. With the amendments in effect and the state’s map expanded to 27 districts in 2012, Democrats added four seats, for a total of 10 of the state’s 27 districts. But that had as much or more to do with the GOP losing a few swing seats than with the new redistricting rules. Indeed, the rules weren’t really legally tested until this year, when a judge last month ruled that two of them needed to be redrawn because they were drawn for partisan purposes. The GOP-controlled state legislature approved a new new map this week, with very minimal changes.

Maryland: Federal judge rules lawsuit on online ballot access for the blind will go forward | Associated Press

A federal judge says he has heard enough evidence that disabled residents can’t take full advantage of absentee voting to press ahead with a lawsuit filed by the National Federation of the Blind against the state of Maryland. U.S. District Judge Richard Bennett denied a request by a state attorney to rule Thursday on the lawsuit over voting rights for people with disabilities. Bennett ruled that the case against the state of Maryland will go forward in an effort to determine whether the state should be required to implement an online ballot-marking system designed to protect the privacy of blind voters in November’s election. Lawyers for the National Federation of the Blind rested their case against the state Thursday. The organization contends Maryland is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, because it fails to safeguard the guaranteed right to privacy when voting.

National: Cantor’s Legacy on Voting Rights Act Marked by Failure to Deliver | Roll Call

Passing a new Voting Rights Act in the GOP-dominated House was never going to be easy, supporters acknowledge. But with a powerful Republican such as Eric Cantor as an ally, hope flickered for nearly a year. Then came June 10 and the shocking primary defeat that tanked Cantor’s congressional career — taking with it, in all likelihood, any prospect for an update of the landmark 1965 civil rights legislation that had been weakened by a 2013 Supreme Court ruling. Even with Cantor as majority leader, said a House aide close to the VRA negotiations, “I would have speculated that it was certainly a very steep climb. That it was unlikely, but there was still hope.” But with the Virginia Republican out of the mix, the aide said, “it doesn’t appear we’re going to see it this Congress.”

Editorials: There’s No Good Argument For Voting Restrictions | Seth Michaels/TPM

In last week’s Kansas primaries, officials turned away a 97-year-old woman named Beth Hiller at the polling place. The reason? She didn’t have an ID with her. Thanks to a recent state law, Hiller had to get back on the shuttle and head back to her nursing home without getting to exercise her most basic right. In theory, conservatives are supposed to oppose laws that don’t solve a problem and have unintended consequences. But voter ID is the clearest example we have of a law that helps nobody and hurts lots of people — yet these laws have been a major priority for Republican legislators across the country. A report from the Brennan Center identifies 22 states, including Kansas, that have implemented new voting restrictions since the Republican wave of 2010. Take North Carolina, where unified Republican control was followed almost immediately by a sweeping set of changes restricting access to the polls. For no good reason, North Carolina cut out a week worth of early-voting days, ended same-day registration, and put a strict voter ID requirement in place, among other changes.

California: Panel wants L.A. to look at using prizes to boost voter turnout | Los Angeles Times

Alarmed that fewer than one-fourth of voters are showing up for municipal elections, the Los Angeles Ethics Commission voted Thursday to recommend that the City Council look at using cash prizes to lure a greater number of people to the polls. On a 3-0 vote, the panel said it wanted City Council President Herb Wesson’s Rules, Elections and Intergovernmental Relations Committee to seriously consider the use of financial incentives and a random drawing during its elections, possibly as soon as next year. Depending on the source of city funds, the idea could require a ballot measure. Commissioners said they were unsure how big the prizes should be or how many should be offered, saying a pilot program should first be used to test the concept. “Maybe it’s $25,000 maybe it’s $50,000,” said Commission President Nathan Hochman. “That’s where the pilot program comes in — to figure out what … number and amount of prizes would actually get people to the voting box.”

California: Senate Bill Strengthening California Voting Rights Act Headed to Gov. Brown | California Newswire

A bill that would strengthen the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) is on its way to the desk of Calif. Governor Jerry Brown for consideration. The bill won final legislative approval today in the State Senate. SB 1365 by Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) would expand the CVRA by explicitly prohibiting school boards, cities, and counties from gerrymandering district boundaries in a manner that would weaken the ability of a racial or language minority to influence the outcome of an election. “With today’s vote, we are one step closer to strengthening voting rights in Californian,” said Senator Alex Padilla. “As our state becomes increasingly diverse we must ensure that the rights of all voters are protected,” added Padilla.

California: Suit says at-large elections in Fullerton violate rights | The Orange County Register

A former Fullerton City Council candidate is suing the city, alleging its at-large system of electing council members violates the California Voting Rights Act of 2001. The law is designed to make it easier for ethnic minorities to elect their preferred candidates by encouraging district elections to replace at-large elections. The suit filed by Vivian Jaramillo, 60, alleges that Fullerton’s at-large voting “impairs the ability of certain races to elect candidates of their choice or influence the outcome of elections conducted in the city of Fullerton.” Jaramillo, a retired code-enforcement officer, was unsuccessful in bids for the City Council in 2010 and 2006. Jaramillo’s attorney was not available for comment Wednesday.

Colorado: Citizens United suing Colorado over “Rocky Mountain Heist” funders | The Denver Post

Citizens United filed a lawsuit against Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler in federal court in Denver Thursday, the first step in a legal fight that could rewrite the ways states handle election disclosures. The Virginia-based conservative group is finishing a movie called “Rocky Mountain Heist,” about those who have influenced Colorado’s political swing to the left over the past decade, calling out advocacy groups and politicians, likely including Gov. John Hickenlooper and Sen. Mark Udall, who are in tough races this fall. In June, Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert ruled that the group would need to disclose the movie’s financiers under state campaign laws. The organization contended it deserved the same free-speech protections as traditional media and liberal documentary filmmaker Michael Moore.

Connecticut: Partisan Clash Over Easing Connecticut’s Voting Rules | Hartford Courant

How and when people should be allowed to vote has become a highly partisan issue around the United States in recent years, and Connecticut’s turn is now arriving smack in the middle of a heated political campaign season. Democratic and Republican state lawmakers squared off Wednesday at a legislative meeting over the seemingly innocuous issue of how to explain to voters a proposed state constitutional amendment that’s on the ballot this November. The real debate wasn’t about the wording, but about the proposed amendment itself, one that would remove current restrictions on the General Assembly’s ability to allow things like early voting and “no excuse” absentee ballots. Republicans insist the change could lead to more voter fraud, but Democrats say all they want to do is make it easier for people to vote.

Florida: Broward elections supervisor says write-in candidacy laws need changing | Sun Sentinel

The race to fill a single Broward County Commission seat has been so chaotic, the elections supervisor says laws need to change. Uncertainty and litigation have characterized the race to fill the District 2 seat in northern Broward, simply because a write-in candidate joined the contest. The signals voters are getting are crossed: The race was moved to November, but it’s still on the ballot in August. In November, voters from all parties will participate. In August, it’s on the ballot only for Democrats. And the case is on appeal, so no one’s positive when the race will be, or who’ll get to vote in it.

Hawaii: Puna election will go forward Friday | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

A state Circuit Court judge on Thursday ruled that the state Office of Elections can proceed with a vote Friday for two precincts in Puna that could not open for Saturday’s primary in the wake of Tropical Storm Iselle. U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, who trails U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz by 1,635 votes in the Democratic primary for Senate, had asked for a temporary restraining order to delay the vote until residents in Puna have had more time to recover from the storm. Circuit Court Judge Greg Nakamura said that if a popular poll were taken right now, the poll would indicate that “there’s some lack of common sense to hold the election tomorrow in light of the natural disaster caused by Iselle and people are trying to recover from the property damage caused by storm conditions, the lack of ability to freely move about, the lack of electrical power, and difficulties in regard to obtaining food and water.

Kentucky: The Obscure Kentucky Contests That Could Alter Rand Paul’s 2016 Plans | National Journal

There are few contests for state Legislature in America that could affect the 2016 presidential race. This one, in far western Kentucky, is one of them. The incumbent Democrat, Rep. Will Coursey, has been hampered by a lawsuit alleging sexually inappropriate behavior. He denies the allegations and blames Republicans for engaging in tactics that are “feces of the species of poultry.” His GOP opponent, Keith Travis, says he’s trying to turn Marshall County red at the statehouse for the first time since the mid-1800s. “I just felt like, after 172 years, we ought to at least make that opportunity available,” he said. It’s small-town American politics with big-time national consequences for a top 2016 prospect: Rand Paul. This race, along with a handful of others across Kentucky, could determine whether or not Paul is allowed to run for president and for Senate at the same time, something he’s indicated he’s determined to do.

Mississippi: McDaniel filing challenge in Jones County today | Clarion-Ledger

A spokesman says Chris McDaniel will file his legal challenge of the June 24 GOP primary he lost to incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran today in Jones County Circuit Court. Today is the deadline to file. McDaniel on Tuesday said his legal team has told him he has a “rock-solid” case to overturn the primary. His case includes affidavits from many volunteers listing what they claim are thousands of illegal or irregular votes. But Cochran lawyers and some election officials dispute these claims. They say McDaniel volunteers have found irregularities where none exist and that the election, which Cochran won by 7,667 votes, was fair and had no more problems than the human error involved in all elections. McDaniel’s first step was to file his challenge with the state Republican Party. But the party refused to hear the challenge, saying it’s too big a case for it to sort and that it should go straight to the courts.

Mississippi: McDaniel sues to be declared winner | Clarion-Ledger

Chris McDaniel wants a court to exclude 25,000 Hinds County votes — plus those from several other counties — from the June 24 runoff results and declare him the winner of the U.S. Senate GOP primary.McDaniel filed a lawsuit against incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran in Jones County Circuit Court on Thursday, the legal deadline to file.If he’s not declared the winner, tea party-backed McDaniel asks the court to order the state Republican Party to hold a new statewide primary and require it to prevent “party raiding” by Democrats.In a written statement Thursday, McDaniel said his legal challenge details “rampant election integrity problems” including maintenance of ballot boxes, fraudulent votes, insecure ballot boxes and election records, wrongly accepted absentees, loosely documented security of voting machines and other problems.

North Dakota: Results stand in Foster County election | Jamestown Sun

The results of the June 10 election in Foster County will stand after the county canvassing board re-canvassed the results following last week’s recount that falsely showed 300 ballots were missing. “We re-fed all the official ballots that we had in our possession back through the election machine, and those counts matched with what the recount board hand counted last week, which is 1,153 (ballots),” County Auditor Teresa Risovi said. “Taking the official ballot count looking at how many ballots I had ordered, how many official ballots that were left that were never used based off of how many I sent out, how many were received and the difference, we ended up being short six ballots and in the (North Dakota) secretary of state’s mind that is dead on. The company I ordered the official ballots from, ES&S, they have a disclaimer that says their packets could be over or under five ballots each, so as far as the state is concerned, we’re golden.”

South Dakota: High-speed ballot-counting machines to Minnehaha coming for fall election | Argus Leader

Minnehaha County election workers will be able to count ballots faster this fall. Commissioners approved the purchase of two high-speed ballot-counting machines Tuesday, using $217,625 from the Help America Vote Act. The new machines can count 300 ballots a minute, more than twice as many as the four old machines that are being replaced. The new tabulators will used for this fall’s general election. Auditor Bob Litz said that will make results available more quickly on election night. Even as the county population grows, he said they’ll be able to keep up with ballot counting “and still not break a sweat.”

US Virgin Islands: Elections lags, fails to certify primary elections | Virgin Islands Daily News

Despite claims that the territory’s primary elections in both districts would be certified Tuesday, they were not. While both districts continued counting late into Tuesday night, V.I. Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes said that it was unlikely that the final results would be certified until today, or possibly later in the week. They also were not revealing numbers of all the walk-in, mail-in and provisional ballots at stake, nor were they revealing results, including those of several Senate candidates whose fates hang in the balance. The boards have until Aug. 17 to certify the elections. Last week, internal strife between St. Thomas-St. John Deputy Supervisor Nefredieza Barbel and district board Chairman Arturo Watlington Jr. marked the counting process in the St. Thomas-St. John office.

Canada: Conservative staffer Michael Sona guilty of robocalls voter obstruction | Toronto Star

Former Conservative party staffer Michael Sona has been convicted of trying to prevent voters from casting ballots during the 2011 federal election. Sona, 25, was the only person charged in what has come to be known as the robocalls scandal, in which automated calls were set up to target voters in Guelph — most of them Liberal supporters — with misleading instructions on where to vote. After a long recounting of the trial’s testimony, Superior Court Justice Gary Hearn said he was convinced “well beyond a reasonable doubt” that Sona was guilty. Sona hung his head and family members fought back tears as Hearn explained his decision.

Indonesia: Prabowo’s court move backfires | The Jakarta Post

The presidential election dispute hearing at the Constitutional Court took an unexpected turn on Thursday as one of the witnesses testified on the alleged involvement of local government heads in mobilizing votes for losing presidential ticket Prabowo Subianto-Hatta Rajasa in Papua. Nabire Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Tagor Hutapea testified via video link that Dogiyai Regent Thomas Tigi had attempted to interfere with vote tabulation by persuading members of the District Election Committee (PPD) to rig the vote in favor of the Prabowo-Hatta ticket. “During that time, the Dogiyai General Elections Commission [KPUD] chairman, Didimus, told them [the PPD] that if they wanted money, then they could get it from the regent. But the votes must be diverted toward the Prabowo-Hatta ticket,” he said.

Philippines: Reuse of Precinct Count Optical Scan machines recommended for 2016 polls | Rappler

The Comelec Advisory Council (CAC) is recommending the reuse of existing precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines and the use of one or more voting technologies for the 2016 national elections. CAC Chairman Louie Casambre announced the body’s recommendations during the joint congressional oversight committee (JCOC) hearing on the automated election system at the Senate on Thursday, August 14. The recommendations were submitted to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday. The CAC recommended the optical mark reader (OMR) technology used by the PCOS machines to be the primary voting technology in 2016. “The electorate and the election officials are used to it already,” explained Casambre.

Russia: ‘Most Diverse’ Elections Offer No Real Choice | The Moscow Times

An all-time record 63 parties will compete in the upcoming regional elections next month, but pundits and opposition candidates say undesirables have been purged from the lists. “The intrigue is mostly about the turnout and runners-up in the gubernatorial polls,” regional analyst Alexei Titkov of the Higher School of Economics said Thursday. “If less than 30 percent of voters turn out, it may finally trigger the long-awaited public discussion about there being something not quite right about our elections,” Titkov said by telephone. On Wednesday, candidate registration closed for the more than 5,800 local elections that will take place across 84 of 85 Russian provinces on Sept. 14, according to the Central Election Commission. Thirty governor seats are up for grabs, from St. Petersburg to the far eastern Primorye region, and 14 regional legislatures will be re-elected, including in Moscow. But not a single incumbent, Kremlin-endorsed governor risks defeat, Titkov said — mostly because electoral authorities have banned all dangerous rivals from the race.