National: Voting form downloads decrease from 2010 | Marine Corps Times

The number of military and overseas voters who have downloaded Federal Post Card Applications from the DoD website is down by more than half compared the 2010 midterm elections, Defense Department officials said. But that’s not necessarily an indication that voter turnout among the military and overseas absentee voter population will be low, officials said. For one thing, the number of troops deployed has decreased, which reduces the number of absentee voters. Other factors are in play as well. In the past, the rate of military voter registration and election participation has been higher than in the general population, noted Matt Boehmer, director of the Federal Voting Assistance Program.

Arizona: Just 21 Arizona voters used new two-tier system | Arizona Daily Sun

Fears that thousands of voters would be denied the right to vote for state officials this year were proven wrong in the state’s first use of a two-tier voting system. Just 21 voters statewide who registered using a federal form for Arizona elections were forced to only vote for federal candidates in the Aug. 26 primary, Secretary of State Ken Bennett said Monday. Bennett created the system last year after the U.S. Supreme Court said Arizona can’t require additional identification from voters using the federal “motor-voter” form. Attorney General Tom Horne said that conflicted with state law requiring proof of citizenship. So Arizona let people who didn’t provide ID vote just for federal races, meaning they couldn’t vote for statewide officers such as the governor or state legislators. Instead, those who registered using only the federal form were given ballots with only U.S. House of Representatives races on them.

California: Vote for one candidate – several times: It could become legal in Santa Clarita elections | KPCC

Santa Clarita voters may become the first in California to elect city and community college officials by cumulative voting. The little-used system would allow voters to cast multiple votes for the same candidate. For example, in a City Council election to fill three seats, a Santa Clarita voter could cast three votes for just one candidate, or distribute votes to two or three candidates. After hearing arguments on Monday, Superior Court Judge Terry Green approved cumulative voting in Santa Clarita city and the Santa Clarita Community College District. The ruling could help resolve lawsuits claiming violations of the California Voting Rights Act, according to attorney Kevin Shenkman.  With cumulative voting, individuals who are part of a minority bloc of the population could amass their votes behind a single candidate and win a seat, Shenkman said. He represents two plaintiffs who had sued to eliminate the traditional at-large voting system used in Santa Clarita elections.

Colorado: Two down, two to go in SOS Scott Gessler’s voter fraud manhunt | The Colorado Independent

Half the voter fraud cases prosecuted in Colorado have now been dropped before trial. Eighteenth Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler’s office has dismissed its case against Tadesse G. Degefa, 73, of Aurora, who allegedly registered for a mail-in ballot in 2012, despite the fact that he wasn’t a U.S. Citizen. Brauchler said he couldn’t win the case beyond a reasonable doubt. Dismissal of Degefa’s case comes two and a half months after Brauchler dropped charges, also citing a lack of evidence, in another voter fraud case against canvasser Michael Michaelis. Statistically, the dismissals are significant because the two voter fraud cases were among only four being prosecuted statewide after Secretary of State Scott Gessler claimed there was an epidemic of voters cheating Colorado’s election system.

Louisiana: Jam-packed election causing new snags | Associated Press

When the doors closed on the candidate sign-up period for the fall elections, Secretary of State Tom Schedler said it seemed “crazier” than usual. A few days later, when he received the data, he understood why the three-day qualifying felt so slammed. Louisiana has more offices up for election and more candidates on the November ballot than for any election over the last 23 years, according to a tally provided by Schedler’s office. To make it even more complicated, the secretary of state is seeing significantly more objections filed to candidacies winding their way through the courts and more candidates dropping out of races after paying their filing fees. The history-making election cycle is causing Schedler to consider recommending changes to the timeline for candidate sign-ups — and is certain to have names on the ballot in the Nov. 4 election of people who were deemed unqualified to run or have dropped out of the race. “At some point we’ve got to pull the trigger and let that ballot go to print, and that’s it,” he said. “We already know that it won’t be cleared up by the time for ballots to be printed.”

Montana: GOP committee sues to close Montana primaries | Billings Gazette

Ravalli County Republicans sued the state Monday in an attempt to require voters to register with the GOP in order to participate in the party’s primary elections. The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court seeks to close Montana’s open primaries to prevent crossover voting by Democrats and independents. It asks a federal judge to strike down as unconstitutional Montana laws allowing any registered voter to participate in any party primary. Attorney Matthew Monforton of Bozeman filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Ravalli County Republican Central Committee. Monforton is a state House candidate who successfully pushed the state Republican Party this spring to add support of a closed-primary system to its platform. “What we’re seeking are the kinds of primaries that most other states have in which Republicans select their own nominees,” he said.

Editorials: Blaming Gerrymandering Has Its Limits, as Pennsylvania Shows | Nate Cohn/New York Times

There is no question that Republicans have a huge advantage in the House. But there is a big debate about whether it’s because of partisan gerrymandering or because Democrats are gerrymandering themselves into urban, heavily Democratic districts. One reason the debate continues, despite a near consensus among political scientists, is because the “wasted votes” phenomenon is abstract and hard to illustrate. In a Sunday Review article in The Times, I argued that the Democratic problem was mainly because of the distribution of their voters, not because of partisan gerrymandering, but I didn’t have a chance to include one of my favorite illustrations of the Democratic problem: Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania is a state where Mr. Obama won by a clear margin but lost a majority of the state’s congressional districts. The state was heavily gerrymandered by Republicans, which lets them squeeze out a few extra districts. But the Republicans probably would have still had an advantage on a neutral map.

Ohio: Early voting ruling can be appealed by state lawmakers, federal judge says | Cleveland Plain Dealer

Ohio lawmakers on Monday joined Secretary of State Jon Husted in appealing a federal court order that nullified legislation enacted earlier this year and restored cuts to early voting in Ohio. U.S. Southern District Court Judge Peter C. Economus on Thursday ordered Husted to set early voting hours during evenings and on six early voting days cut by Republican-backed legislation earlier this year, and allow county boards of election to set hours in addition to the statewide, uniform hours for the November general election. Under the Sept. 4 court order, early, in-person voting would begin in Ohio on Sept. 30 instead of Oct. 7. Husted and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on Monday jointly filed a motion to expedite their appeal in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Economus also instructed legislators to rewrite state law in accordance with his order.

Texas: Voter ID law’s fate could hang on details | MSNBC

Democracy. Equality. Racial justice. The struggle for voting rights has long been about concepts that go to the heart of the American ideal. But in a sleepy federal courtroom here on the Gulf Coast, access to the ballot for hundreds of thousands of Texans could turn on some far less high-blown concepts: bus schedules, identification cards – and dollars and cents. As the challengers to Texas’s strict voter ID law prepared to rest their case, they presented more evidence Monday in support of the key claims they laid out last week: that a massive number of Texans lack an ID that complies with the law; that blacks and Hispanics are more likely than whites to lack ID; and that getting an ID can be onerous, especially for the poor. The plaintiffs – represented by a team of over a dozen lawyers from the U.S. Justice Department, civil and voting rights groups, and private law firms – will wrap up Tuesday. The case is one of several currently underway that could have major implications both for access to the ballot this fall, and for the the ongoing state of the law protecting the right to vote. Wisconsin’s and Arkansas’s voter ID laws, Ohio’s cuts to early voting, and North Carolina’s sweeping voting law are all being challenged in court.

Wisconsin: Judge orders state not to enforce PAC limits law | Wisconsin Law Journal

A federal judge just two months before Election Day has ordered that Wisconsin election officials not enforce the law limiting how much money candidates can collect from political action committees. U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa on Friday issued the ruling in a lawsuit brought by the CRG Network, a political action committee that works to elect conservative candidates. The group argued that the limits were a violation of its free speech rights. Randa, in granting a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the law, said the group was likely to succeed on that claim. Dana Brueck, spokeswoman for the Department of Justice, which was representing the Government Accountability Board in defending the law, had no comment.

Afghanistan: Back to the Brink | Wall Street Journal

Afghanistan faces its most serious crisis in a decade. This time, however, it is not caused by an emboldened Taliban but by growing friction between the two contenders for president. Only a determined effort by the United States and other NATO allies can prevent an escalation into violence. Many Westerners and Afghans embraced this year’s presidential election as an opportunity to move on from President Hamid Karzai, whose relationship with Western leaders dramatically deteriorated in recent years. But the election results have been contentious. The first round of voting was in April. No candidate secured 50% of the vote, though former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah led with 45%. The two candidates with the largest shares, Mr. Abdullah and former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani, went to a run-off on June 14. The preliminary results showed Mr. Ghani ahead with roughly 56% of the vote, yet allegations of fraud mounted.

Myanmar: Myanmar Cancels By-Elections in Move Welcomed by Suu Kyi’s NLD | Radio Free Asia

Myanmar’s election commission has scrapped by-elections scheduled for November to enable political parties to concentrate on the crucial 2015 general elections — a move welcomed by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD). Tin Aye, chairman of the Union Election Commission, told representatives from more than 30 political parties at a meeting in Yangon on Sunday that it was cancelling the by-elections to fill 35 vacant seats, citing logistical and other reasons. He said that the move would not only allow political parties to concentrate on the general elections next year but also avoid a clash of events as Myanmar, which is currently chairing the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), is scheduled to host a high-profile regional meeting around the same time.

Fiji: Final number: 700,000 | Fiji Times

Yestrerday, the Fijian Elections Office officially printed the 700,000th ballot paper – the final paper for Fiji’s big day – the September 17 national election. The papers have been bound into 14,000 books and have been transported in a total of 467 boxes, the Supervisor of Elections, Mohammed Saneem, confirmed yesterday morning at a press conference at Star Printery in Suva. “The Fijian Elections Office wishes to advise that as of now, we have finished the printing and compilation of the ballot papers. The last batch was just dispatched to a secure facility,” Mr Saneem said. “We have printed 700,000 ballot papers and they are bound into 14,000 books and we have transported them across in 467 boxes. We used a total of 8770kg of paper for printing the ballot papers.”

Editorials: Pakistan’s democracy on the rocks | openDemocracy

Just when many thought Pakistan was finally on the trajectory towards a functioning democratic system, unrest broke out in a number of cities and provided a stark reminder just how fragile the country’s politics remain. This whole situation not only threatens democracy in South Asia’s second most populous country but also draws attention and resources from sustainable development and humanitarian challenges. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Imran Khan accuses the current Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, ofrigging the May 2013 elections and robbing him of victory, and is calling for him to stand down. All sorts ofallegations and rumours are being thrown into the mix – has Khan been plotting this for months in collaboration with the disgruntled army? Is the army using Khan as a pawn to oust a government that is diminishing the role of the army in politics? Who knows? Khan’s actions make one thing clear: that he is willing to jeopardise Pakistan’s burgeoning political stability.

Sweden: Election Hinges on 135,000 Voters as Race Tightens | Bloomberg

Swedish voters are now less likely to oust the government of Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt on Sept. 14 than they were just a week ago. The Social Democrat-led opposition’s lead has narrowed to 4.5 points in the latest poll by Sifo — the smallest difference since May last year — from 7.3 points a week earlier and 9.8 a month earlier. The shift toward the government follows presentations by the main parties revealing their policy goals for the next four years. “We’re talking about 135,000 voters for things to become completely even, and that’s of course not a huge number,” said Toivo Sjoeren, head of opinion research at TNS Sifo in Stockholm, by phone. He says history indicates that even after narrowing, the margin remains too wide for Reinfeldt to be re-elected. “On the other hand, you actually never know.”

United Kingdom: As Scotland vote looms, Britain could be on the verge of breakup | The Washington Post

The once-unthinkable prospect that Britain could be ripped apart this month with a vote for Scottish independence became bracingly real Monday after the campaign to keep the three-century-old union together was accused of panicking amid polls showing the referendum in a dead heat. Just 10 days before the vote, the new surveys depicted a dramatically tightening race after months in which the “no” side appeared to hold a comfortable lead. Although both sides have questioned the accuracy of the Internet-based polls, the pro-independence camp immediately claimed the momentum. Unionists, meanwhile, scrambled to agree on a plan for shifting power away from London and giving it to the Scottish government if the Scots choose to stay, with former prime minister Gordon Brown saying his Labor party would move aggressively to do just that. But it was unclear whether the other major parties agreed with Labor’s plan, and the unionists were forced to spend Monday fending off accusations that they were desperate to stop a slide toward “yes.”