National: U.S. Court to Hear Case on Voting Restrictions as Arizona Prepares for Polls | New York Times

A decades-old effort by Congress to make voter registration simple and uniform across the country has run up against a new era’s anti-immigration politics. So on Tuesday, when Arizona’s polls open for primaries for governor, attorney general and a host of other state and local positions as well as for Congress, some voters will be permitted to vote only in the race for Congress. As voter registration drives intensify in the coming weeks, the list of voters on the “federal only” rolls for the November general elections could reach the thousands. These are voters who could not produce the paper proof of citizenship that Arizona demands for voting in state elections. The unusual division of voters into two tiers imposed by Arizona and Kansas, and being considered in Georgia, Alabama and elsewhere, is at the center of a constitutional showdown and, as Richard L. Hasen, an elections expert at the University of California, Irvine, put it, “part of a larger partisan struggle over the control of elections.”

National: Federal appeals court to hear Kansas, Arizona voting rights case | The Washington Post

A lawsuit filed by Kansas and Arizona will be argued before a federal appeals court panel this week as the states seek to force federal election officials to impose proof-of-citizenship requirements on national voter registration forms. At the crux of the closely watched case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver is whether the federal government or states have ultimate authority to regulate voter registration. Each side contends that the U.S. Constitution supports its position. Monday’s arguments come after the U.S. Election Assistance Commission filed an appeal seeking to overturn a federal judge’s order that the commission modify a federal form to include special instructions requiring Kansas and Arizona residents to provide citizenship documentation when they register to vote.

National: Democrats adopt 2016 presidential primary calendar | Associated Press

Leaders of the Democratic Party adopted their 2016 presidential nominating calendar on Saturday, setting the stage for a successor to President Barack Obama. The Democratic National Committee, or DNC, approved rules for its 2016 convention along with a primary schedule that will begin with the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1, 2016, followed by voting later that month in New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. The 2016 framework is in line with plans pushed by Republicans and gives states incentives to hold their primary contests between March and June, aiming to avoid a front-loaded calendar that encroaches on the Christmas holidays. Pointing to the 2016 national meeting, DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz predicted it will be the convention where “we will nominate the 45th president of the United States of America.” The plans were approved unanimously without any discussion.

Arizona: Dual-track election means only one race on ballot for some |

Tuesday’s primary election is a busy one for voters, with a six-way Republican contest for governor, a two-way race for the GOP nomination for attorney general and a bevy of other statewide, legislative and local races. But for up to 1,500 Arizona voters, the ballot will look surprisingly short: They will have just one race on which to vote. It marks a new chapter in Arizona elections, in which the state is distinguishing between voters who showed documents proving they are U.S. citizens and those who signed a sworn statement attesting to their citizenship.

Florida: Judge Deals a Blow to Democrats on Districting | New York Times

In a blow to Florida Democrats, a state judge on Friday approved a slightly modified congressional map drawn by the Republican-dominated Legislature and decided that the 2014 election could proceed under the old map, which he had ruled unconstitutional. Two days after a sharply partisan hearing on the new map, Terry P. Lewis, a state judge in Leon County, concluded that the rejiggered boundaries for seven districts, while not perfect, “sufficiently” addressed his constitutional concerns. A coalition of Democratic-leaning voter rights groups had asked Judge Lewis to reject the map because it did little to change the existing boundaries. They asked him to consider their alternative, which took an entirely different approach. But Judge Lewis disagreed. He ruled that the Legislature is not required “to produce a map that the plaintiffs, or I, or anyone else might prefer.” He continued: “The Legislature is only required to produce a map that meets the requirements of the constitution. My ‘duty’ is not to select the best plan, but rather to decide whether the one adopted by the Legislature is valid.”

Florida: Redistricting Map Favoring GOP Allowed One Time | Bloomberg

A Florida judge allowed the use of voting districts favoring Republicans in November while approving revised congressional boundaries for subsequent elections. Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis in Tallahassee ruled earlier that the election map was improperly drawn and ordered the state legislature to revise the districts to address “gerrymandering” in two of them. While voting-rights groups argued that a new map should go into effect in 2014, Lewis said in his ruling yesterday that holding special elections this year for the districts “is not an appropriate remedy under the circumstances.” The new map would instead be in place for 2016 elections.

Kentucky: Bills would allow voters to decide if felons can regain voting rights | Bowling Green Daily News

For Chris Page of Bowling Green, having his voting rights restored after serving prison time for a felony conviction was a way of reclaiming visibility and a voice in the electoral process. “I think it’s significant for me because it makes you feel like you’re part of the American dream,” he said. While many people think of the American dream as a home and a white picket fence, Page said that, for him, voting is part of that picture. Page said he will vote for the first time in November since his incarceration. He is trying to learn about candidates who will be on the ballot to prepare himself. “It’s kind of going to be a welcome-home party as far as a personal journey of mine,” he said.

Mississippi: Thad Cochran’s attorneys want election challenge dismissed, arguing suit filed too late |

Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran’s attorneys say a lawsuit that seeks to overturn his Republican primary victory should be dismissed because it was filed too late. They also argue Cochran should not have been sued because he didn’t conduct the election. Cochran defeated state Sen. Chris McDaniel in the June 24 runoff, and the state GOP certified the results July 7. In court papers filed Thursday, Cochran’s attorneys cited a 1959 Mississippi Supreme Court decision that a challenge to a statewide election must be filed within 20 days of when results are certified. They said that means McDaniel had a July 27 deadline. McDaniel filed suit Aug. 14 in his home of Jones County, asking a judge to either declare him the winner of the June 24 runoff or order a new election.

Editorials: Left and Right Agree: Increase Voter Turnout in Ferguson | John Fund/National Review

I’m always looking for areas where the Left and the Right can agree on a policy reform, even if it is for different reasons. One has emerged from the tragedy of Ferguson, Mo. In the aftermath of Michael Brown’s shooting, many blamed some portion of the tension there on the striking racial gap between the police force, which is 94 percent white, and Ferguson’s African-American population, which makes up two-thirds of the city. Not only the police force but also the rest of the local power structure in Ferguson is dominated by whites. Ferguson has seen enormous demographic change in the last 20 years, with the percentage of its black population growing from 25 percent to 67 percent. But five of its six city council members are still white, as is the mayor. The school board has six white members and one Hispanic.

New Mexico: County invites public to test new voting machines | The Santa Fe New Mexican

Santa Fe County voters will cast their ballots on new voting machines during the November general election.
But voters and any other member of the public can get a sneak peek and even test vote on the new machines starting this week. … The new voting machines replace equipment that Barraza said was becoming obsolete. “They’re not making parts for them anymore,” he said, referring to the older equipment. “We had them since 2006, but they had been around longer than that.”

Editorials: Modernized voting: If it can be secured, Utah is the place to discuss change | Jon Cox/Deseret News

I read with interest the recent columns by Jay Evensen regarding the future of Internet voting in Utah. Evensen seemed to draw two conclusions in his argument: (1) Utah should not be concerned about reducing barriers to vote, and (2) electronic voting has inherent security risks that make it a difficult proposition. I absolutely agree with his second point, but take issue with the first. Some believe that potential voters must first run a marathon or climb Mount Timpanogos to prove their civic worthiness. By winnowing the field of potential voters, they argue, we will be left with only those who are truly capable of self-government. Evensen seems to agree. “Civic duty should require some effort,” he said. “Voting shouldn’t be a whim.” Unfortunately, waiting in line to cast a ballot does not lead to a more informed citizenry any more than a two-hour trip to the DMV would somehow lead to safer drivers.

Washington: Federal judge rules against Yakima in voting rights case | Yakima Herald Republic

After two years of litigation, a federal judge has ruled in favor of the American Civil Liberties Union in its voting rights lawsuit against the city of Yakima, bringing potentially dramatic change to Yakima city politics. In a summary judgment issued Friday afternoon, the judge said the ACLU’s case was strong enough to vacate a trial and should move directly to the remediation phase, where both the ACLU and the city will present proposals for changing the way City Council members are elected. The ACLU already has proposed all-district voting for the seven council members. The ruling determined that Yakima’s current election system violates Section 2 of the federal Voting Rights Act by diluting the Latino community vote.

Afghanistan: Decision making on election audit result begins | Khaama Press

The Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan (IEC) said Monday that the election commissioners are set to meet today to commence decision‐making on the audit of all ballots cast in the Presidential run‐off election of 14 June. “Occurring daily at the National Tally Center, from 25 August until all audit findings have been reviewed, today’s inaugural session is scheduled to begin at 2pm. Candidate agents, national and international observers, United Nations advisors, and media will be present,” IEC said following a statement. The statement furhter added that the commissioners will make their decisions after having reviewed audit findings, as recorded on checklist forms.

China: Hundreds vote in Macau unofficial referendum on electoral reform despite objection from Beijing | ABC

Activists in the Chinese casino centre Macau have began voting in an unofficial referendum on electoral reform despite strong objections from Beijing. The referendum will run for a week to end on August 30, one day before the Special Administrative Region’s new leader is named by a 400-member committee. The former Portuguese colony returned to Chinese rule in 1999 and has a separate legal system from the mainland. Like Hong Kong, Macau’s leader is known as its chief executive and is chosen by a pro-Beijing electoral committee. “Our goal is to fight for a democratic electoral system and the first stage is to get the citizens informed of the election system,” poll organiser Jason Chao said in the leadup to the event. “We hope that the referendum will be able to serve as a foundation for our fight for democracy in the future.”

China: Macau unofficial democracy poll halted as police detain five activists | South China Morning Post

Two leaders of an unofficial “referendum” on Macau’s chief executive election and three other activists were detained yesterday as police shut down polling stations. Officers raided all five referendum polling stations within hours of the launch of the seven-day ballot, which asked locals if they had confidence in Chief Executive Dr Fernando Chui Sai-on and wanted universal suffrage at the next election. The detained included Scott Chiang Meng-hin, a key member of the New Macau Association, the most prominent democratic group in the former Portuguese enclave. Also detained was Jason Chao Teng-hei – leader of Open Macau Society, co-organisers of the poll with Macau Conscience and Macau Youth Dynamics.

Georgia (Sakartvelo): Opposition candidate wins in Abkhazia early presidential poll | RT News

Abkhaz opposition leader Raul Hajimba has won in the country’s early presidential election with about 50 percent of votes, preliminary results say. The poll was held in Abkhazia after the previous head of state resigned following anti-government protests. According to preliminary data announced by Abkhazia’s Central Election Commission, Hajimba is winning with 50.57 percent of votes and is followed by Aslan Bzhania, who garnered just under 36 percent of votes.

Georgia (Sakartvelo): Abkhazia′s dilemma: no future without Russia | Deutsche Welle

Abkhazia didn’t feature much in the headlines in recent years. The small territory on the eastern coast of the Black Sea separated from Georgia in a bloody conflict in the early 1990s. In 2008, it declared itself an independent state following the five-day Russo-Georgian War. Since then, there has been speculation about whether (or when) Russia, which supports Abkhazia financially and has troops stationed there, will take over the territory – especially since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March. The protests in May of this year led to the resignation of President Alexander Ankvab and the scheduling of an election for August 24, 2014, adding further complexity to the existing situation. But how likely is Abkhazia to strive for closer ties or even unity with Russia following the vote? According to various observers, Abkhazia, unlike Crimea, is not a target of Russia’s expansionist ambitions.

India: Chief Election Commissioner Says Secrecy in Online Vote Not Possible | The New Indian Express

Chief Election Commissioner, V S Sampath, said secrecy cannot be maintained in the online voting system. He was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the south zone symposium on ‘Best Electoral Practices’, organised by the ECI, here on Friday. Sampath said the government of India has now extended the voting rights to NRIs and a committee has been formed to examine the feasibility of using online voting and postal ballot for them to register their votes. Sounding a caution about online voting, he said, it should be approached carefully. “In the present system, each polling booth is sanitised so that the voters can vote in an atmosphere without fear. But it is possible that the voters using the online voting system may be threatened.”

Uganda: Plans to use Braille ballot papers in 2016 polls | New Vision

The Electoral Commission says it is working on printing Braille ballot papers for the blind to be used in the 2016 general elections. It will be the first time the Braille system is applied in the country’s elections. Previously, visually impaired voters have been helped by guides to cast their ballot. But there have been concerns that some guides can take advantage of the voter’s inability to see what they are doing, and go on to manipulate their choice. And one such concerned person is John Nataba, a visually impaired youth who hails from Ntungamo district. During the launch of a report titled: “Youth Participation Road Map to Uganda’s 2016 Elections and Beyond,” in Kampala recently, he told the Electoral Commission chairman Eng. Badru Kiggundu that he was worried about the legitimacy of the intentions of the person helping him to vote.

United Kingdom: Scotland’s Independence Vote Dominates Edinburgh Festival Fringe | NBC

The world’s largest arts festival attracts audiences and performers from around the globe each August, but the political future of the host nation is taking center stage this year. Dozens of performances at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe focus on a Sept. 18 referendum that will determine whether Scotland remains part of the United Kingdom or becomes independent for the first time in 307 years. An intense public battle to persuade voters means that writers, comedians and actors in Scotland’s capital have not had to search far for satirical inspiration. The Fringe’s reputation for political comedy and satire have meant that the prominent figures from both sides of the campaign have come under fire, often in the same show.