National: The average margin of victory for 2014 House primary winners was 77 points | The Washington Post

There is one key way to increase the margin by which you win your primary: Be the incumbent. Granted, it’s hard to be the incumbent until you’ve already won a race (although not impossible!). But it’s still about the most sure-fire way to ensure you’ll win handily. That’s still very much true, but at least things are getting more competitive. With the 2014 primary season concluding Tuesday, we pulled data on the five most recent primary seasons to see how much that incumbent effect changed over time. The good news: Races are getting closer! The bad news: Only under a very particular subset of conditions. And they’re not getting very much closer. But, still! The average margin of victory for winners of House primaries in 2014 topped 77 percent; for the Senate, it was nearly 70.

National: Study finds transgender voters could lose big in the midterms | MSNBC

Approximately 24,000 transgender citizens do not have the proper identification to comply with certain states’ strict voter ID laws, leaving them vulnerable to significant barriers at the polls and possibly disenfranchisement this November, a new study from the Williams Institute has found. According to the report, the 10 states where transgender voters stand to face the toughest challenges this election cycle include Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Most of those states have passed photo ID requirements – the strictest kind of voter identification law – which call for citizens to present a specific type of government-issued photo ID before casting a ballot. For some with gender dysphoria, a condition in which there is a marked difference between a person’s expressed or experienced gender and the gender others would assign him or her, updating state-issued IDs can be prohibitively difficult and costly.

Editorials: America is a democracy. So why do we make it hard for certain people to vote? | Steven W Thrasher/The Guardian

Since I first registered to vote on my 18th birthday, I haven’t missed voting in a single election that I can remember. My feat has been nothing short of a pain in the ass, given that I have moved 14 times in the 19 years since. This week, I almost failed to vote for the first time: I had moved – again – in the gap between the board of elections deadline to change my address and the New York state primary election. I did try to update my voter registration online, but didn’t receive a confirmation. I was confused if I was eligible to vote where I now live, or at the last address where I had been registered. We don’t have same-day registration here in New York, so I steeled myself against the guilt and decided not to bother. But the guilt set in anyway: I saw on Facebook how many of my friends had voted; I felt the ghosts of my father, grandfather and great-grandfather prepare to raise up from the grave and beat my black behind for giving up so easily when they’d fought much harder challenges – like the Klan – to exercise their right to vote. So I went down to what should be my precinct (and will be, once the change of address takes effect). My name wasn’t on the rolls, but because I was already a registered voter, I was allowed to fill out a provisional ballot. It wasn’t an easy process to navigate, it took a lot of time, and my vote may not even be counted.

California: State Sen. Wright jail sentence could trigger special election | Los Angeles Times

The sentencing of Democratic state Sen. Roderick D. Wright to 90 days in jail and a lifetime ban from public office on voting fraud charges Friday could end up requiring a special election but is unlikely to have a significant impact on the ability of Democrats to regain a supermajority in the Senate, officials said. “Starting today, he’s barred from holding any future elective office,” said Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the District Attorney’s Office. If the state Senate wants to remove Wright from his current office, it would have to vote to expel him, she said. Wright has not said whether he will resign, but the Senate leadership warned him earlier this year that he would be expelled if he is sentenced to jail and does not step down.

Colorado: With a win on the line in Colorado, Democrats hope to mail it in | The Washington Post

Here in the Senate battleground of Colorado, the latest front in the voting wars is  the mailbox. In other states, that fight has generally centered on laws that opponents say restrict voter access – measures, largely passed by Republican legislatures, that require voter identification or reduce the number of days for early voting. But Colorado is  operating under a new system designed to do the opposite: For the first time this year, every registered voter will get a ballot delivered to them through the mail, weeks before Nov. 4. The 2014 midterm elections are the first statewide contests since the Democratic-controlled Colorado legislature, voted last year to make it easier to cast a ballot. The law allows residents who neglect to register in advance to sign up on Election Day itself. And it instituted all-mail elections, with ballots going out statewide 22 days before Election Day. So Election Day, in essence, has officially become Election Month – a development that has spurred strategists on both sides to craft the biggest midterm turnout operations in state history, a high-stakes race to find and identify every possible voter

District of Columbia: D.C. statehood bill unlikely to advance beyond Senate panel’s hearing | The Washington Post

For the first time in two decades, Congress will hold a hearing on whether to allow the District to become a state. And that is where the exercise will end. In a bill that will come before a U.S. Senate committee Monday, the District would become “New Columbia,” the 51st state. The District’s mayor would become a governor and the D.C. Council a state legislature. For the first time since its founding more than two centuries ago, District residents would also be free to elect voting members to Congress. By all accounts, the measure still has no chance on Capitol Hill. Making a full-fledged state out of the nation’s capital, where 76 percent of voters are registered Democrats, would hand the party two seats in the Senate and one in the House, a prospect that Republicans unapologetically oppose. Even a majority of Senate Democrats have remained cool to the idea, with some in swing states fearing it could be viewed back home as a partisan power grab.

Kansas: Kobach at center of Kansas Senate drama | Associated Press

Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s position as chief Kansas elections officer is allowing him to play a marquee role in the political drama surrounding Democrat Chad Taylor’s attempt to get off the ballot in the U.S. Senate race. Taylor ended his campaign last week, nudged out of the race against three-term Republican Sen. Pat Roberts by Democrats who viewed independent candidate Greg Orman as the stronger rival and wanted to consolidate most of the anti-Roberts vote behind Orman. The stakes are high: The GOP hopes to recapture control of the Senate, and those efforts would be hindered by a Roberts loss. Kobach, a conservative Republican and a member of Roberts’ honorary campaign committee, has faced a torrent of negative reviews for refusing to remove Taylor’s name from the ballot and for concluding the Democrat didn’t comply with a state law limiting when candidates can withdraw. The decision has Kobach’s political opponents adding new chapters to their existing narratives about how, in their view, he’s mishandled his official duties. But those official duties made Kobach — or any secretary of state — an administrative gatekeeper for Taylor or any other nominee seeking to get off the ballot. He couldn’t avoid coming on stage.

Kentucky: Felons getting closer to voting | Cincinnati Inquirer

Felons won’t let up on state lawmakers in Kentucky until they get the right to vote. After getting a powerful ally in U.S. Sen. Rand Paul this year, the supporters of the automatic restoration of voting rights for most felons hope the next session of the Kentucky General Assembly in January will give felons the same rights they have in most other states. Already, three bills, two by Democrats and one by a Republican, have been filed that would automatically restore upon completion of the sentence and probation the voting rights for felons not convicted of sex offenses, homicide, treason and bribery. All three are Constitutional amendments that require the support of 60 percent of legislators and ratification by voters.

Wyoming: Felon voting rights bill advances in committee | Associated Press

A bill to make it easier for nonviolent felons to regain their voting rights was approved Friday by a legislative committee in Wyoming. The Joint Judiciary Committee unanimously passed the measure that would ultimately create an automatic process to restore the rights. The full Legislature will consider the bill when it convenes early next year. Under current law, people convicted of a single nonviolent felony or a number of nonviolent felonies stemming from the same event, must wait five years before applying to the state parole board for restoration of their voting rights.

Editorials: The voting rights threat on November ballots | Billings Gazette

In the November 2012 election, 329 Yellowstone County residents who had moved since they last registered to vote were able to cast ballots thanks to Montana’s Election Day registration law. Additionally, 471 eligible Yellowstone County voters registered for the first time in Montana and voted because state law provides for Election Day registration. That’s 800 voters in one county at one election using Election Day registration. Many of these folks mistakenly thought they had already registered, just forgot to change their address or understood that they had registered when they renewed their driver’s licenses. This year’s November ballot includes a legislative referendum that would end Election Day voter registration. This referendum would infringe Montanans’ right to vote. If Legislative Referendum 126 had been the law in November 2012, 800 Yellowstone County residents would have been denied their vote.

Ohio: Appeals panel won’t halt judge’s early-voting order | The Columbus Dispatch

Ohio officials asked a federal judge yesterday to hold off from immediately forcing the state to comply with his ruling last week that expands early voting this fall. U.S. District Judge Peter C. Economus temporarily blocked an Ohio law that trims early voting, and he ordered the state’s elections chief to set an expanded voting schedule. Early voting would start on Sept. 30 instead of Oct. 7. Economus also barred Secretary of State Jon Husted from preventing local election boards from adopting early-voting hours beyond his order.

Ohio: Husted: Eliminating ‘Golden Week’ would protect elections | Telegraph-Forum

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted says eliminating “Golden Week” is necessary to ensure only Ohioans are voting in state elections. While speaking with editors for Gannett Ohio on Friday, the Republican incumbent said eliminating days when people can register to vote and cast a ballot on the same day is critical to deterring people from other states from coming to Ohio and participating in its elections. Previously, Ohio allowed early voting 35 days before an election — giving people a five-day Golden Week in which they could register and cast a ballot on the same day. The Ohio Legislature reduced early voting to 28 days before an election, eliminating this time. However, this past week U.S. District Judge Peter Economus blocked that law and restored the 35-day voting schedule. State officials, including Husted, are appealing that decision.

Editorials: Photo voter ID bill should stay marooned in limbo: editorial | Cleveland Plain Dealer

Ohio House Republicans should shun a bid to require voters to provide a photo ID to cast a ballot, a “solution” in search of an imaginary “problem.” The real aim is to hold down voting by the urban poor, typically Democratic. At issue is House Bill 269, sponsored by Rep. John Becker, a suburban Cincinnati Republican. Speaker William Batchelder, a Medina Republican — and, be it remembered, indisputably conservative — has kept the Becker bill in limbo. So a “discharge petition,” to force a House vote on HB 269, is floating around the Statehouse. If 50 of the House’s 99 members sign it, Batchelder would have to call a vote on Becker’s bill.

Wisconsin: Federal Appeals Court Permits Wisconsin Voter ID Law | New York Times

A federal appeals court on Friday permitted Wisconsin to restore a requirement that voters provide photo identification before casting their ballots, allowing the long-debated state law to take effect in time for a hard-fought election on Nov. 4. The order, which came surprisingly swiftly, on the same day that lawyers made their arguments before a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, was seen as a significant victory for advocates of such voting requirements. Opponents of the laws had viewed the Wisconsin case as opening a novel legal basis for their efforts in federal courtrooms. In their order, the panel of three judges described Wisconsin’s requirement as “materially identical” to a statute in Indiana, which was upheld in 2008 by the Supreme Court. The panel also noted that Wisconsin had introduced new procedures to make it easier to obtain photo identification cards, reducing concerns raised months ago by a federal court judge who had blocked Wisconsin’s law, saying that it disproportionately affected blacks and Latinos.

Wisconsin: Scott Walker’s Favorite Judge Rescues Voter ID | The Progressive

At a Federalist Society event in Washington D.C. last November, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker called 7th Circuit Judge Diane Sykes “one of our favorite jurists,” and joked about appointing her to the U.S. Supreme Court if elected president. During Friday’s hearing on Wisconsin’s blocked voter ID law, Sykes didn’t disappoint. “We are on the eve of an election,” Sykes said, indicating that she would like to immediately put one of Walker’s signature pieces of legislation in place for November’s vote. “No court has ever allowed voter ID to got into effect this close to an election,” replied NAACP attorney Dale Ho, “even courts that have ultimately upheld” voter ID.  Hours after argument wrapped, Sykes and the two other Republican judges on the panel made history, and ordered Wisconsin’s restrictive voter ID law to take effect immediately. The case came to the 7th Circuit from an appeal of district court Judge Lynn Adelman’s decision in April striking down Wisconsin’s voter ID law as violative of the U.S. Constitution and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

Georgia: Election Chief Probes Voter Fraud Amid Tight Senate Race | Bloomberg

Georgia’s top elections official gave a nonprofit group that has registered more than 85,000 minority voters until tomorrow to produce every record it has, in what critics say is an effort to suppress minority voting in November’s tight race for the U.S. Senate. Secretary of State Brian Kemp, a Republican, is accusing the New Georgia Project of fraud in its drive to reach the more than 800,000 minority Georgians not on the rolls. Kemp served a subpoena on organizers a day after first lady Michelle Obama urged on the effort at an Atlanta appearance. Kemp spokesman Jared Thomas said the office received fraud reports from several county elections offices. “We had clear evidence,” he said. “We need to know the totality of it.”

Wisconsin: Appeals Court Reinstates Wisconsin’s Voter ID Law | Associated Press

In a stunningly fast decision, a federal appeals court in Chicago reinstated Wisconsin’s voter photo identification law on Friday – just hours after three Republican-appointed judges heard arguments on reactivating the hotly debated law in time for the November election. In a brief order, a three-judge panel of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago said, “The State of Wisconsin may, if it wishes … enforce the photo ID requirement in this November’s elections.” Wisconsin officials wasted no time in saying they would do just that. “We are taking every step to fully implement the voter photo ID law for the November general election,” said Kevin Kennedy, the state’s top election official. “We are now focused on communicating with local election officials and voters, and will have more information about the details next week.”

Fiji: Fiji Heads to Polls, But Will Democracy Be the Victor? | Wall Street Journal

Fiji’s election this week won’t just determine who will rule the picturesque cluster of islands in the South Pacific, but also whether a promise to return to democracy will be fulfilled. About 600,000 Fijians are set to head to the polls Wednesday in what is being touted as the island nation’s first free and fair election. Critics, however, say the vote is little more than a charade held to legitimize the current regime, which gained power in a 2006 coup. The nation’s politics are far removed from the popular image of Fiji: most people who come here are vacationers from Australia or the U.S., seeking sunshine and a getaway on the island’s palm-lined sandy beaches. But the past eight years of military rule have been littered with accusations of human- rights abuses and the quashing of opponents. “All I’ve known growing up is coups, to be honest,” said 27-year-old Monica Waqanisau, who was born in 1987, the year two coups took place. Since then, there have been two more in the former British colony.

Fiji: Draconian media blackout imposed ahead of this week’s poll | The Australian

Fiji has imposed a strict media blackout on coverage of its first elections since the 2006 coup, warning that journalists face up to five years in jail if they do not comply. The blackout applies to political campaigning, interviews with candidates and election material such as posters or banners. It also prohibits discussion of this week’s vote on public forums including social media sites. Fiji’s elections supervisor Mohammed Saneem claimed the measure was intended to give the electorate a chance to reflect on how to vote in Wednesday’s poll without being bombarded by partisan messages intended to influence their decision. “The blackout is there to protect the voter from incessant campaigning before polling so that the voter can decide without any influence or undue pressure,” he told reporters. Campaign workers in Suva were today busy removing promotional material before the start of the blackout, which runs from 7.30am today (1930 GMT Sunday) to the close of polling at 6pm on Wednesday.

Indonesia: Direct Elections Are OK, Says Indonesian President | Wall Street Journal

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono signaled his support for maintaining direct local elections in an interview published on YouTube Sunday, with debate heating up over a bill aimed at giving local assemblies the power to select mayors, governors and district heads. In the video posted on Suara Demokrat or Democratic Voices, a YouTube channel dedicated to Mr. Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party, he said people have grown accustomed to direct elections — a system that was first implemented in the young democracy in 2005. If people considered the current system a product of democratic reform, he said, “[certainly] we have to keep and maintain direct local elections, as well as the direct presidential election.”

Russia: Crimean critics call foul as region votes in first Russian election | Reuters

Six months after Russia annexed Crimea, residents of the Black Sea peninsula cast their first votes in a Russian election – an election many of them are calling unfair and undemocratic. Campaigning before Sunday’s local and regional elections was characterised by favoritism towards the ruling party loyal to Russian President Vladimir Putin and repression of its opponents, according to residents in Crimea who spoke to Reuters by telephone. Crimean politics has come to resemble the Soviet political landscape since Russia annexed Crimea in March, said Andrei Brezhnev, who leads new Communist Party of Social Justice, and is the grandson of the Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. “Now we have no political competition either,” he said. His party is competing in the regional parliamentary race and in a poll for one of the main cities, Sevastopol. People had been forced to sign up for membership in the pro-Putin United Russia Party before the vote, he said. “About two months ago everybody, wholesale, was forced to ‘voluntarily’ sign up for membership in United Russia here – officials, heads of local administrations, shops directors, medical workers,” he said. “Suddenly, in three months everything became United Russia here.”

Russia: Moscow city elections leave little room for Russian opposition | The Washington Post

A year ago, Russia’s opposition thought the elections taking place Sunday could be a game changer. After opposition candidate Alexey Navalny’s strong second-place finish in the 2013 Moscow mayoral race, Sunday’s city council elections seemed to present a rare opportunity to grasp a place in Russia’s political firmament. Winning a few seats could legitimatize the opposition as a real alternative to President Vladimir Putin and his allies. But that was before Navalny was put under house arrest on embezzlement charges, before Russia locked horns with the West over Ukraine, before new election laws took effect, and before the opposition fully fathomed the challenges of running local campaigns, in which anti-Putin messages hardly mattered.

Sweden: Social Democrat Leader Stefan Lofven Defeats Incumbent Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt | Wall Street Journal

Sweden’s Social Democrat Leader Stefan Lofven defeated incumbent Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt in parliamentary elections on Sunday, signaling the return of a left-leaning government after eight years in opposition. The shift reflected concerns among the Swedish electorate that Mr. Reinfeldt’s pro-market policies have chipped away at the country’s cherished welfare state. Mr. Reinfeldt said he would resign as prime minister on Monday and as leader of his party by spring. Mr. Lofven, though, still faces tough negotiations with left-leaning allies over forming a coalition government after failing to secure an absolute majority. With nearly all votes counted, results from Sweden’s election authority showed the Social Democrats won 31.1% of the vote, largely unchanged from the last election in 2010, while Mr. Reinfeldt’s Moderate Party slumped to 23.2%, from 30.1% at the last election. Though the two parties won nearly the same amount of votes four years ago, Mr. Reinfeldt’s Moderates were then able to cobble together a larger center-right alliance of parties.

United Kingdom: Cameron Under Pressure as Scotland Vote Nears | New York Times

With opinion polls on Thursday’s Scottish independence vote too close to call, Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain faces the risk this week of becoming the leader who presided over the breakup of the United Kingdom. And that is only one of his immediate problems. After the release on Saturday of a video showing the beheading by Islamic radicals of a British hostage, David Cawthorne Haines, Mr. Cameron led a meeting on Sunday of his emergency response committee, including his top military and security officials. Another British hostage, Alan Henning, has been named by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria as the next to die. Mr. Henning, believed to be in his 40s, is an aid worker from Manchester who was kidnapped last December near Idlib, Syria, with other aid workers, some of whom were Muslim and were interrogated and released, according to Tam Hussein, a freelance journalist working with Channel 4 television.

United Kingdom: 97% of Scots sign up to vote in Scottish independence referendum | Daily Mail

Nearly 4.3million people have registered to vote in next week’s Scottish independence referendum – 97 per cent of those eligible. The referendum is set to be the biggest poll in Scotland’s history, with more people registered to vote than ever before. Registration figures were released today as a new opinion poll gave the ‘No’ campaign a slim lead, following a barrage of bad news for First Minister Alex Salmond. The latest poll suggested that 53 per cent of Scots opposed independence with 47 per cent in favour, excluding those who have yet to make up their minds. The total number of people who have registered for next Thursday’s referendum is 4,285,323, more than for any previous election or referendum in Scotland, according to the vote’s ‘chief counting officer’.