Alabama: Black groups tell Supreme Court Alabama districts biased | Montgomery Advertiser

The Alabama Legislature will be further racially polarized by new district boundaries that pack more black voters into certain districts than the law requires, state black political groups told the Supreme Court last week. The justices agreed in June to hear the complaint from Alabama that the Republican majority went too far in using race to redistrict itself in 2012. The result, according to black Democratic legislators, is unusually high black majorities in districts surrounded by districts that are even more white. “The Constitution does not permit states to stumble into such excessively segregated election districts, whether through good faith or bad,” wrote lawyers for the Alabama Democratic Conference, one of the groups involved in the case.

California: Vote-by-mail election trial coming to San Mateo County | The Almanac

Voters in San Mateo County will soon be part of a trial that could help the state decide if it wants to adopt a system of primarily voting by mail, with a greatly reduced number of physical polling places. The trial, authorized by a law signed Aug. 15 by Gov. Jerry Brown, will study how mail-in voting affects election turnout and cost. A similar trial is underway in rural Yolo County. As is done in Colorado, which changed to primarily mail-in voting in 2013, the trial will have at least one polling place open in each city, where voters can drop off a ballot or vote in person.

Colorado: Montezuma sues itself over controversial municipal election | Summit Daily

This week, the town of Montezuma filed a lawsuit in Summit County District Court … against itself. Newly elected Mayor Lesley Davis said the lawsuit was filed Tuesday in hopes of bringing a resolution to its controversial municipal electionlast April. The suit was filed by interim town attorney Kendra Carberry, of Denver, on behalf of town clerk Helen Moorman and the town of Montezuma. The respondents listed in the suit include all of the town’s 61 registered voters. “The town is definitely not suing its residents,” Davis said. “We’re just seeking the court’s assistance to help us with a controversial election and to let us know what we should be doing.” According to the complaint, the town alleges that ballots from April’s election contained inaccurate verbiage and did not feature numbered stubs and duplicate stubs to be recorded in the poll books and that the final tally for at least one board of trustees candidate was inaccurate, among other claims. As town clerk and the election official, Moorman was responsible for overseeing all facets of the election.

Florida: Detzner: No Special Congressional Elections Until 2015 | CBS Miami

Proposed special elections in the seven congressional districts redrawn by the Legislature earlier this week would have to wait until at least spring of next year, Secretary of State Ken Detzner’s office said in a court filing Friday. The special elections could not take place until after the regular November vote was certified and some other post-election reports were finished — a process that will last into December, according to the filing. Accounting for all the things that would then have to be done to prepare for the special elections, Detzner’s brief says that the earliest possible Tuesday for a primary election would be March 17. A general election could then be held May 26.

Florida: Sarasota County elections supervisor excited about new sign-in system | Herald Tribune

Faster, cheaper and more accurate. That’s how Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent describes the new electronic sign-in system that county voters will encounter today — many for the first time — during early voting this week and the Aug. 26 primary election. In fact, Dent says voting “will be fundamentally transformed” in Sarasota County. Supervisor of Elections voter services coordinator Tracy Smith calls the system “a game changer.” Those may sound like lofty descriptions for a bunch of tablet computers and some software, but Dent and her team insist the benefits are significant. Kathy Dent, Supervisor of Elections in Sarasota County, with one of the more than 300 mini iPads that will be used to sign people in to vote during the upcoming election in Sarasota County.

Hawaii: The scene from a storm-battered special election | The Washington Post

Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s arrival on the Big Island on Wednesday to address the fallout from Tropical Storm Iselle added a layer of normalcy to what so far has been surreal political theater. Many roads in the rural Puna district on the east side of the island are still closed due to fallen trees and powerlines, and thousands of people are without basic necessities, such as food, ice and running water. The governor has broad executive power to mobilize resources and spend money to help recovery efforts in some of the hardest hit communities here, a few of which could be without power for several weeks. But Abercrombie has no control over a controversial decision to hold a special election here on Friday that will decide the Senate Democratic primary race between Sen. Brian Schatz and Rep. Colleen Hanabusa.

Kansas: Kobach, Justice Dept. prep for Denver showdown over voting rights | The Wichita Eagle

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and lawyers for the U.S. Justice Department will soon face one another in a Denver appeals court, arguing a landmark federal case over proof of citizenship and voting rights. While the case will directly affect only a couple of hundred Kansas voters – those who registered using a federal form instead of the far more common state form – it has broad national implications and has attracted input from interests ranging from the state of Alabama to U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. It’s already affected Wichita in a major way. If federally registered voters weren’t disqualified from state and local elections as they are now, Wichitans would probably be voting this November on an initiative to decriminalize marijuana.

Montana: McCulloch supports same-day voter registration | Ravalli Republic

Montana Secretary of State Linda McCulloch was in Hamilton Thursday, talking about the state’s controversial same-day voter registration, what she sees as the biggest challenges facing Montana election officials and the Democratic Party’s selection of a new candidate for U.S. Senate. If it passes in November, initiative LR126 will eliminate same-day voter registration, a move McCulloch opposes as the state’s top elections administrator. “Since 2006, 29,000 Montana voters have used same-day voter registration,” said McCulloch. “Most of those are people who moved across the state or moved across the city and they are getting their kids in school, they are getting their house set up and they are getting into new jobs and the last thing they think about – because they don’t have to – is registering to vote in their new place. They can do that on Election Day.

North Carolina: Court Rules Voting Rights Rollback to Stay In Place Until After Midterm Elections | The Atlantic

A federal judge has temporarily authorized North Carolina to implement a sweeping new law that threatens to reduce access to the polls, particularly for African-American, Latino, and young voters. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder, a George W. Bush appointee, is an early test of the Supreme Court’s Shelby County v. Holder decision, which overturned key parts of the Voting Rights Act. In 2000, North Carolina started rolling out efforts to make it easier to register and vote, only to yank those efforts back thirteen years later. When the state legislature was controlled by Democrats, it authorized counties to conduct up to seventeen days of early voting, including Sunday voting, which enabled black churches to transport parishioners to the polls. It also allowed citizens to register and vote on the same day. Sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds could preregister, often at their high schools, ensuring they’d be on the rolls when they turned eighteen. And voters who showed up at the wrong precinct could still cast ballots in certain races. From 1996 to 2012, the state’s ranking in turnout among voter-eligible adults shot up from 43rd to 11th, according to the United States Elections Project at George Mason University. African-American participation pulled even with white participation.

Afghanistan: Karzai says Afghanistan should have new president by August | Global Post

As the recounting of votes cast in June 14 Afghan presidential runoff is continuing, President Hamid Karzai has said that this militancy-plagued country should have new president and new government by the end of August. Addressing a press conference here on Sunday, spokesman for Afghan election commission Noor Mohammad Noor said that 45 percent of the votes cast in the second round of presidential election held on June 14 had been completed. “So far 10,231 ballot boxes or 45 percent of the whole ballot boxes have been recounted,” Noor said at a press conference here. The total number of ballot boxes used in Afghan presidential runoff is 22,828, he said, adding the recounting process is going on and the election commission would do its best to complete the auditing and recounting process of the votes in its earliest.

Ghana: Political parties propose electoral reforms | GNA

Political parties under the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) Ghana Political Parties Programme (GPPP) have proposed electoral reforms in order to enhance the electoral system. The political parties comprised those with representations in parliament such as the National Democratic Congress, New Patriotic Party, People’s National Convention and the Convention People’s Party, as well those with no parliamentary representations. Speaking at the IEA National Stakeholder Workshop on electoral reforms in Accra Dr Ransford Gyampo, a Senior Research Fellow at IEA and Coordinator of GPPP, said two workshops were held for the political parties by the IEA as part of its commitment to deepen Ghana’s democracy.

India: Election Commission wants to use new machine to enhance vote secrecy | Zee News

The Election Commission wants to use a new machine to enhance secrecy of votes during counting which prevents disclosure of voting pattern. The Election Commission has moved the Law Ministry with a proposal for introduction of ‘Totaliser’ machine for counting of votes. The poll panel is of the view that by use of ‘Totaliser’, a further level of secrecy in voting and the mixing of votes at the time of counting will be achieved, which will prevent the disclosure of pattern of voting at a particular polling station. The Law Ministry is the administrative ministry for the poll body. But the government has not taken a considered view on introduction of the machine.

South Dakota: Judge orders Gant to add Lora Hubbel to Lieutenant Governor ballot | Argus Leader

Voters will see gubernatorial candidate Mike Myers’ pick for lieutenant governor on their ballot this fall, not his original choice who later withdrew. A federal judge on Monday ordered Secretary of State Jason Gant to print ballots listing Lora Hubbel’s name as Myers’ running mate. Gant had refused to do so, saying there’s no state law allowing an independent candidate to be replaced. But Judge Lawrence Piersol said that was likely an “oversight” and that not letting Myers replace his running mate would infringe on his rights and impose an “unequal burden” on non-party candidates. Gant said he wouldn’t appeal Piersol’s order and would immediately add Hubbel to the official candidate list. Ballots will be printed in early September. “I’m very glad the court has decided this is how they want to do it, and we’re happy to do it,” Gant said after the ruling.

Japan: Electronic voting hindered by breakdowns, cost | The Japan News

Electronic voting has failed to be widely adopted by municipalities in Japan, reflecting concern over voting device breakdowns and high costs for system development and maintenance. Only three municipalities—Kyoto; Niimi, Okayama Prefecture; and Rokunohe, Aomori Prefecture—are carrying out electronic voting based on ordinances. There is little momentum for expanding the use of electronic voting to national elections. The law for electronic voting was put into force in February 2002 with the aim of speeding up vote counting. Voters cast ballots by operating touch screens and other electronic devices at polling stations.

New Zealand: Electoral Commission threatens musician with prosecution over ‘Planet Key’ | NZ Herald News

A musician who wrote a satirical song about Prime Minister John Key has been threatened with prosecution if he sells the track on iTunes. But soul and blues man Darren Watson is fighting back and threatening legal action of his own. The Electoral Commission has written to Watson instructing him to stop selling or promoting Planet Key. The music video satirises the Prime Minister and members of the National Government. It features Mr Key playing a stinging blues guitar solo on an endangered Maui’s dolphin while an oil rig explodes in the background. It also depicts Finance Minister Bill English carrying Mr Key’s golf clubs and the Prime Minister playing golf with US President Barack Obama.