National: Forget 2016: Democrats already have a plan for 2020 | MSNBC

As President Obama’s second term winds down and Hillary Clinton’s likely presidential campaign winds up, it feels like the 2016 election is drawing even more attention than the upcoming midterm races. But there’s another election increasingly on the minds of Democratic lawmakers, party operatives, big money donors, and progressive activists: 2020. That’s the year voters will elect state lawmakers who will redraw congressional and state legislative districts all over the country. Last week, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee announced it would commit at least $70 million to Advantage 2020, a program aimed at targeting legislative chambers in key states over the next four election cycles with the specific aim of influencing redistricting. The plan calls on Democrats to invest resources not just in state chambers the party has a shot at winning this November, but in legislatures where they might have a chance at slowly eroding a GOP majority over time thanks to demographic trends.

Mississippi: Despite election challenge, Mississippi ballot set with Thad Cochran as Senate nominee | Associated Press

Mississippi elections commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved a November ballot that lists Republican Thad Cochran, Democrat Travis Childers and the Reform Party’s Shawn O’Hara as nominees for U.S. Senate. Approval of the ballot came, as expected, while Chris McDaniel’s challenge of his Republican primary loss to Cochran is still awaiting trial. The judge overseeing McDaniel’s challenge said last week that he would not block preparations for the general election, including the setting of the ballot. State law says the ballot must be given to counties by Sept. 10, which is 55 days before the Nov. 4 general election. Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said Mississippi must make absentee ballots available to overseas military voters starting Sept. 20. “Unless we’re ordered to the contrary, we’re going to follow the process,” Hosemann said after Tuesday’s meeting.

Mississippi: McDaniel says he didn’t wait too late to file lawsuit | Clarion-Ledger

Chris McDaniel’s legal team has filed its response to Thad Cochran’s motion to dismiss McDaniel’s lawsuit to overturn his GOP runoff loss to Cochran. Cochran lawyers last week filed a motion to dismiss McDaniel’s lawsuit, saying it was filed too late. They say a 1959 state Supreme Court ruling requires a candidate contesting a statewide primary file its complaint with the state Republican Party within 20 days of the election. McDaniel filed his challenge of the June 24th primary on Aug. 4. McDaniel’s team in its motion filed today argues that there is no deadline to file a challenge in a statewide primary, and that the 1959 decision applied to old election laws, which have since been updated.

North Carolina: Attorneys for state NAACP file appeal of federal judge’s ruling on voting law | Winston-Salem Journal

Attorneys for the state NAACP and others filed a motion Monday asking the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to overrule a federal judge’s decision to deny a preliminary injunction blocking the state’s new voting law for the Nov. 4 general election. The state NAACP had announced last Thursday that it would appeal the ruling. The motion Monday comes two weeks after U.S. District Judge Thomas D. Schroeder denied the preliminary injunction that would have barred a state law that reduces days for early voting, eliminates same-day voter registration and prohibits county officials from counting ballots cast by voters in the correct county but wrong precinct. The law also gets rid of preregistration for 16- and 17-year-olds and increases the number of poll observers that each political party assigns during an election.

Oklahoma: ‘Bad voter’ website might shame Oklahomans into going to the polls | The Edmond Sun

Will access to public information, peer pressure and a bit of shame send more Oklahomans to the polls? David Glover, 51, a self-described political junkie, hopes so. Oklahoma has seen abysmal voter turnout — so bad that the state ranked third lowest in overall participation during the 2012 elections, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report. Glover says he wants to do everything within his power to change that and get voters to the ballot box for each election. (The next election, by the way, is today’s primary run-off with polls open until 7 p.m.) “I’m trying to figure out how to encourage more people to vote,” said Glover, a self-employed Oklahoma City resident. “There are not many good reasons to vote if you think your vote is not going to matter.”

Editorials: Top-two primary will not serve Oregonians well: Guest opinion | Blair Bobier/The Oregonian

There are three things Oregonians need to know about Measure 90, the top-two election proposal on the November ballot. First, top two will severely restrict voters’ rights to vote in all November elections. Second, top two is undemocratic. Third, there is absolutely no evidence that top two will improve our elections. The right to vote is the most precious right in our country; it is the right on which all other rights depend. Freedom of choice in the election process is what differentiates a democracy from, say, a dictatorship. Although the big business backers of top two focus on the effects their proposal will have on primary elections, the November election is where it will truly wreak havoc with the democratic process.

Texas: Houstonians Without Voter ID Are Mostly Black and Poor | Houston Press

Texas’ Voter ID law — which requires that voters show election officials an approved and up-to-date photo ID in order to cast a ballot — has long been a point of contention. Since the Lege passed a voter ID requirement in 2011, many of its opponents have questioned whether the law unfairly singles out minorities. While a legal challenge kept Texas’ law from taking effect in time for the 2012 election, the landmark US Supreme Court decision in Shelby v. Holder last year invalidated a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, paving the way for Texas to implement its brand new(ish) voter ID law in time for the November 2014 general election. Another lawsuit filed last year in federal court that challenges the law is set to go to trial in Corpus Christi next week. If the state prevails, November 2014 could be Texas’ first high-turnout election with a voter ID requirement. … The problem with this equation? Well, opponents of the law say that if you’re a poor minority, chances are you’re less likely to have an acceptable photo ID, which means you’re less likely to vote. Don’t believe us? Check out these handy maps assembled by Dr. Gerald Webster, a geography professor who filed the maps in court this summer.

Afghanistan: Afghan Candidate Threatens to Quit the Presidential Race | New York Times

Threatening to derail a tenuous Afghan political deal again, a top aide to the presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah said Tuesday that the campaign would pull out of an internationally monitored vote audit unless changes to the process were made by Wednesday. The United Nations and the Afghan election commission said the audit, which was initiated under a deal brokered by Secretary of State John Kerry and salvaged this month only after another personal intervention by him, would continue with or without Mr. Abdullah’s observers. But after a month and a half of frenetic activity by the international community to conduct what the United Nations has described as the most exhaustive election review in its history, some 6,000 out of 23,000 ballot boxes still need to be audited, according to Afghan and international officials. The stalled audit and new brinkmanship by Mr. Abdullah cast grave doubt on plans to hold a presidential inauguration by Sept. 2. And the crisis now seems likely to bog down the NATO summit meeting set for Sept. 4 that was scheduled to discuss Afghanistan’s future.

Afghanistan: U.S.-brokered accord to salvage Afghan presidential election faces new problems | The Washington Post

Afghanistan’s election crisis continued to deepen Tuesday as the campaign of second-place candidate Abdullah Abdullah warned that it will abandon a U.S.-brokered deal to end a political stalemate unless major changes are made in how millions of votes are being reexamined. Abdullah adviser Fazal Ahmad Manawi said the candidate has serious concerns that an ongoing audit of more than 8 million votes cast in a June runoff is not stringent enough to catch fraudulent ballots. He called the audit a “joke” and said new procedures must be implemented by Wednesday or Abdullah could walk away from the recount. “If by tomorrow morning our demands . . . are not accepted, our patience has ultimately run out,” said Manawi, who has been who was tasked by Abdullah with monitoring the recount. “We will consider this process a finished one, will not continue in it and not accept it, and the results will have no value to us.”

Austria: 400 gnomes disappeared in Austria, and it’s causing a political scandal | The Washington Post

Last weekend in the mountainous Austrian state of Vorarlberg, 400 gnomes disappeared. Nobody knows where they have gone. But everyone knows it’s down to politics. With regional elections set for Sept. 21, the left-wing Social Democratic Party ordered 20,000 gnomes called “Coolmen” earlier this year. The gnomes, toting sunglasses and campaign signs, were the party’s last-ditch effort to prevent an electoral defeat in Vorarlberg. About 400 of the gnomes were attached to lampposts on Saturday as alternatives to traditional posters, but their mass disappearance by Sunday morning was conspicuous. “I suspect our rival party OeVP [the Austrian People’s Party] to have removed the gnomes,” local Social Democratic Party leader Michael Ritsch told The Washington Post on Tuesday. Ritsch has filed a complaint, and the state’s police forces have launched an investigation.

China: No ‘international norms’ for electoral system mentioned in Basic Law, says CY Leung | South China Morning Post

The Basic Law does not stipulate that the city’s electoral system must meet international norms, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said yesterday, in remarks some scholars saw as a tactic to justify a possible crackdown on Occupy Central. Speaking as the National People’s Congress Standing Committee met in Beijing to discuss a framework for reform ahead of the city’s first democratic chief executive election in 2017, Leung said: “The Basic Law simply does not state the term ‘international standards’.” He made the remarks in reference to the demands of the Occupy movement, which has threatened to rally volunteers to block streets in the heart of the city if Beijing fails to allow a model for universal suffrage that conforms with accepted international standards.

Ethiopia: Electoral manoeuvres in Ethiopia | openDemocracy

Since the overthrow of the communist regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam in May 1991, Ethiopia has organised regular elections in which an increasing number of international actors, especially election observers, have been involved.  During this period, one political organization, the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), has been dominant. When in control, the prime minister, Meles Zenawi, served continuously as head of government until his death in August 2012. He was succeeded by Hailemariam Desalegn. The tensions and contradictions between external democracy-promoters and the practices and ideals of the Ethiopian leadership were brought into sharp focus after the 2005 and 2010 elections. Both elections led to a diplomatic crisis, especially between the regime and EU observers. However, this conflict did not substantially affect the levels of external aid or the continued dominance of the EPRDF.

New Zealand: Electoral commission releases election information | NZ Herald News

Candidate information, party lists and voting booth information for the election on September 20 has landed – and the Expat Party has missed out. The Electoral Commission this afternoon released the official nominations for the election, including 15 registered political parties and 554 candidates to contest the 64 general seats and seven Maori seats. And New Zealand First leader Winston Peters will not be standing in an electorate this election. A notable omission from the list of registered parties is the Expat Party, which wanted to advocate for New Zealanders’ rights, especially in Australia, but failed to register in time.

Ukraine: Election commission: Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk to vote in parliamentary elections | Kyiv Post

Mykhaylo Okhendovsky, head of Ukraine’s Central Election Commission, says it’s important to provide an opportunity to vote for Ukrainian citizens living in Crimea, as well as in war-torn Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, during the Oct. 26 parliamentary election. These troubled regions are home to 20 percent of Ukraine’s 45 million people. “These elections are the first of its kind in our history,” Okhendovsky said during an Aug. 26 news briefing. “Previous early elections happened in 2007 under a proportional system, whereas currently we have a mixed system whereby 225 lawmakers will be elected according to the party lists and another 213 MPs – from their constituencies. Once the president signs a decree that officially dissolves the parliament, there will be 60 days for the election campaign.”  Ukraine used to have 225 deputies from the constituencies, but since Crimea and Sevastopol had as many as 12, the figure has been changed. However, this year’s elections will not happen there due to the peculiar status of the region outlined in the law “on the temporarily occupied territories” that came into effect on May 14.