Georgia: Fayette County legal fees in voting rights dispute: more than $434,000 and counting | Atlanta Journal Constitution

Taking a stand can be quite an expensive proposition. In the case of Fayette County, it totals more than $434,000 and counting. That’s the latest figure on legal fees the county has spent on its three and a half-year battle with the NAACP over its nearly two-century-old at-large voting system. No blacks had ever served on the county school board or county commission under that system. U.S. District Judge Timothy Batten scrapped the at-large system and told the county to adopt a district voting system to enable blacks to finally have a chance to win county-level seats.

Illinois: State law expanding same-day voter registration will cost Will County $1 million | The Herald-News

A new state law making permanent same-day voter registration – first piloted in the November election – is sure to be a $1-million headache for the county, Will County Clerk Nancy Schultz Voots told members of the county board’s Finance Committee on Tuesday. That’s about how much it’s going to cost to comply with Senate Bill 172, passed last month, that requires Illinois counties with a population of at least 100,000 to offer same-day voter registration at every polling place beginning with the March 2016 election. In the county’s case, that’s 303 polling places – a substantial increase from the five locations that offered same-day registration in the Nov. 4 election.

Mississippi: NAACP filed federal complaint against Hinds election commission | Clarion-Ledger

After officials admitted to breaking state election law during the Nov. 4 general election, the Hinds County Election Commission is now on the radar of federal, state and local agencies. In late November, the Jackson chapter of the NAACP quietly filed a complaint with the U.S. Justice Department after numerous voters reported being disenfranchised because of ballot shortages at multiple precincts during the election. When questioned by The Clarion-Ledger about the shortages in November, Hinds County Election Commission Chairwoman Connie Cochran admitted that the commission broke state election laws by failing to order the required number of ballots “to save the county some money.” “We took a look at all the options and decided to file the complaint,” said Wayne McDaniels, president of the Jackson NAACP chapter. “We’re also waiting to hear back from the (Hinds County) district attorney’s office.” Mississippi state law requires election commissioners to order enough ballots for 75 percent of registered voters to cast votes.

South Dakota: Legislature to consider tightening election laws | Rapid City Journal

The Legislature will be asked to strengthen South Dakota’s election laws regarding candidate-petition signatures, which made headlines several times last year. One major change calls for signatures to be spot-checked on candidate petitions for statewide offices, similar to the process already used for statewide ballot measures. On Monday, the state Board of Elections and Secretary of State Shantel Krebs endorsed the proposal. They plan to submit legislation for consideration in the 2015 session that opens Jan. 13. Their proposal calls for checking the validity of a random sample of 5 percent of the signatures on a petition. A would-be candidate found to have insufficient valid signatures after the spot check could appeal that adverse finding to circuit court.

Texas: New $1.78M voting machines arrive in Jefferson County | Beaumont Enterprise

Jefferson County voters received new voting machines Monday to replace an outdated and worn-out system that caused consternation for vote-counters and poll-watchers alike, especially in the past election cycle. The new machines, which cost $1,782,900, were delivered to the county’s counting station on Viterbo Road in Nederland two weeks after Commissioners Court approved the purchase from Hart Intercivic of Austin.

Texas: Three Elections, No Winners Yet | The Texas Tribune

Texas voters will still be sifting through candidates to fill out the legislative roster after the Legislature convenes next week. All three of Tuesday’s special legislative elections are headed for runoffs, according to unofficial numbers from the secretary of state’s website. While a clear leader emerged in each race, no one broke the required 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff in three crowded elections — Senate District 26, House District 17 and House District 123.

Vermont: Burlington Officials Present Plan for Smoother Election in March | Seven Days

Elections in the Queen City have been plagued by several glitches of late, but city officials are hoping for smoother sailing this Town Meeting Day. In October, the clerk/treasurer’s office, which is charged with overseeing the city’s elections, temporarily stopped early voting after accidentally leaving five of 15 Republican candidates for justice of the peace off the ballot. It had to reprint ballots — a $10,000 mistake. Then, roughly two weeks before the election, the office discovered that 87 voters in a New North End housing development had been listed in the wrong district. In 2012, the office misprinted a tax rate on ballots. There have been other snafus, too. The upcoming election on March 3 is a big one — due to redistricting, all the city councilors and school commissioners, in addition to the mayor, are up for reelection. After the ballot misprints, Mayor Miro Weinberger declared, “These avoidable and costly errors must end,” and he asked his chief administrative officer, Bob Rusten, to draft a plan to make that happen. Rusten presented it to the city council on Tuesday.

Wisconsin: League of Women Voters recommends lawmakers make it less difficult to register |Wisconsin Gazette

The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, in a report released on Jan. 6, recommends the state Legislature make voter registration less difficult and allocate increased funding for the training of local election officials. The league, working with organizations such as the Wisconsin Election Protection coalition, recruited, trained and placed 250 volunteer election observers to monitor 493 polling places in cities, towns and villages across the state in the November 2014 midterm elections. The league’s report says the observers noted significant improvements in election administration and polling place management since the league began monitoring elections in 2010. The league attributes the improvements to: enhanced training of local officials by the state Government Accountability Board.

Canada: Federal riding boundary changes add to 2015 election intrigue | CBC News

The redrawing of Canada’s electoral boundaries and the addition of 30 new ridings for 2015 through redistribution means the election map has changed a lot since the Conservatives won their majority in 2011. The changes add another layer of unpredictability for an election year. The purpose of redistribution is to try to ensure each riding represents roughly the same number of people, taking into account political and constitutional requirements. Prince Edward Island keeps its four seats, despite its small population, while Ontario adds 15 new ridings for 2015, B.C. and Alberta each get six more and Quebec gets three. But there is more to it than that. The boundaries in 70 per cent of the remaining ridings in the country have changed. Many of the riding names have changed, too. (You can find maps of all of them on Elections Canada’s website.)

Zambia: Britain,US give Zambia K24.3 million for elections | UKZambians

British and United States Governments have provided a combined K24.3 million towards the January 20, 2015 presidential election. Britain has provided approximately K13 million while the United States through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has provided 11.3 million Kwacha about $1.8 million. British High Commissioner to Zambia James Thornton in a statement to QFM says the UK is also supporting election observation by civil society and the conduct of a parallel vote tabulation exercise. Mr Thornton says the 20th January presidential elections are an opportunity to further build on Zambia’s growing reputation in Africa as a democratic country. Mr Thornton however, says reports of electoral violence in some parts of the country are a source of concern.

Sri Lanka: Monitor accuses ruling party of violating election rules | Reuters

Supporters of Sri Lanka’s ruling party has repeatedly violated election laws in the run-up to Thursday’s presidential vote and has largely got away with it because police have turned a blind eye, a local polling monitor said on Tuesday. The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) said there had been “unparalleled misuse of state resources and media” by the party of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, whose bid for a third term could be upset by an unexpected challenger from within his own ranks, Mithripala Sirisena. “There was impunity. No action was taken against the perpetrators or actions were mild,” Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, a convener of the CMEV, told reporters. He said police inaction had allowed election-related violence to mount, adding that most of those responsible were local councillors from Rajapaksa’s party.