National: How campaigns are courting 16-year-olds | Politico

Coming soon to a battleground state near you: White House campaigns combining census reports with Instagram and Twitter posts to target teenagers who aren’t yet 18 but will be by Election Day 2016. It’s an aggressive strategy with an obvious reward. More than eight million people will become legal adults eligible to vote for the first time by the next general election. Campaigns are eager to find ways to get through to these 16- and 17-year-olds who are still minors and, in most cases, more likely to be concerned with making it to class on time than who should be elected president. “It’s got to be the right candidate with the right message to excite and motivate that age demographic, with so many distractions in their life, to register, and then turn out,” said Vincent Harris, digital director for Rand Paul’s political operation.

Illinois: Cook County Clerk Lauds Signing Of Voter Rights Bill | Journal & Topics

About a year ago, Cook County Clerk David Orr penned an op-ed calling for a “voter registration renaissance” in Illinois. Many of the components of Orr’s “All In” plan, most notably Election Day registration and increased government agency registration, will become reality when signed into law Saturday (Jan. 10) by Gov. Pat Quinn. “It’s fitting that Gov. Quinn, a longtime champion of democracy, will sign a voting rights bill as one of his final acts,” Orr said. “We fought hard for a comprehensive package that will address year-round voter registration issues, which ultimately will enhance the accuracy of the voter rolls, increase participation and improve efficiency.” Orr commends SB 172 sponsors Speaker Michael Madigan, Leader Barbara Flynn Currie and Sen. Don Harmon, as well as President John Cullerton, for moving swiftly to adopt changes to modernize the state’s voter registration system. Orr also applauds the many voting rights groups who advocated for the changes.

Illinois: Quinn signs election bills into law | Associated Press

Gov. Pat Quinn has signed two bills making changes to Illinois election law. One allows a 2016 special election to replace late Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, and the other makes permanent several changes voters saw in November’s election. Topinka died last month after winning a second term. There’s been disagreement about succession plans. Republican Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner says his appointee should stay in office for four years. He plans to name Republican businesswoman Leslie Munger. But lawmakers in the Democratic-controlled House and Senate approved the special election plan Thursday, which cuts Munger’s term to two years. Munger has said she’ll run in 2016.

Indiana: Lawmakers rethinking redistricting | Journal Gazette

Halfway through the decade, lawmakers are getting serious about changing how state and federal legislative districts are drawn. “We need to move on this discussion and I think this is the year to do that,” Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said. Under current law, the Indiana House and Senate draw new congressional and legislative maps every 10 years after the census. But a handful of states have moved to independent or bipartisan commissions to eliminate many of the political considerations in drawing maps that favor one party over another. Technology today allows maps to be easily manipulated to constantly gauge the political leanings of voters in specific areas. They also can be drawn specifically to avoid two incumbents facing off in the same new district.

Montana: GOP votes to join lawsuit closing primaries | Associated Press

After nearly three hours of comment and debate, Montana Republicans voted overwhelmingly Saturday to join a lawsuit seeking to limit their primary elections to those registered with the GOP. The Republican State Central Committee approved the motion by an 83-43 vote in Helena. They will join a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court against the state and its open primaries. Filed by attorney and Rep. Matthew Monforton of Bozeman in September, the suit includes 10 Republican county central committees. It asks a federal judge to strike down as unconstitutional Montana laws allowing any registered voter to participate in any party primary.

Nebraska: Group threatens litigation if lawmakers pass voter ID bill | Lincoln Journal Star

Opponents of requiring photo identification to vote in Nebraska warn that court action is possible if lawmakers pass a bill this year that erodes or threatens voting rights. Two state senators introduced voter ID-related bills last week: Sen. Tyson Larson of O’Neill and Sen. Paul Schumacher of Columbus. Larson’s bill — cosigned by Sens. Lydia Brasch of Bancroft, Laura Ebke of Crete, Bill Kintner of Papillion, and Ken Schilz of Ogallala — would require voters to show a driver’s license or state ID card before voting at a polling place. Voters wouldn’t need an ID to request a mail-in ballot except when registering for the first time. “When we have to show an ID to write a check or buy alcohol (but not to vote), I find that to be wrong,” Larson said.

Nevada: Shift to GOP control in Carson City could boost voter ID law | Las Vegas Review-Journal

The last couple of times Barbara Cegavske backed bills in the Nevada Legislature to require voters to show photo identification to cast ballots, the proposed legislation didn’t make it out of committee. Democrats blocked voter ID legislation in 2007 and in 2009, when Cegavske supported such bills, and beyond. Even when Republicans ran the state Senate in the past, the idea was rejected because of the potential cost of providing photo IDs to people who might not already have a driver’s license or some other form of identification. With Cegavske’s 2014 election as Nevada’s secretary of state and with Republicans in the majority in both houses of the Legislature for the first time in decades, Cegavske said she’s optimistic she finally will see a voter ID requirement become law. The Republican mentioned voter ID on the day of her swearing-in, making it a top priority. “Cegavske is a proponent of showing identification at polling places and will continue efforts to maintain the integrity of Nevada’s elections,” her office said Jan. 5 as she became Nevada’s 17th top election official. GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval also has expressed support for voter ID, making it likely he would sign a bill into law.

Ohio: Lawsuit, Boehner delaying Ohio redistricting reforms | The Columbus Dispatch

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling anticipated this spring in an Arizona case probably will not provide Republicans a legal reason to delay efforts to overhaul Ohio’s heavily criticized system for designing congressional districts, legal analysts say. Although the Ohio House and Senate cleared the way last month for a November vote on changing the way state legislative districts are drawn, Republican lawmakers in Columbus deferred sending voters a similar reform plan that would have created a more bipartisan way to draw up Ohio’s 16 congressional districts. While critics have complained that GOP lawmakers dropped congressional redistricting because the current U.S. House districts are so favorable to their candidates and changes are opposed by U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, Michael Braden, a Washington attorney who has advised Republicans on the Arizona case, said “that’s just not true.”

US Virgin Islands: EAC sees ‘no reason for concern’ about Elections System’s corrective action plan progress | Virgin Islands Daily News

Elections officials said they got good news after a teleconference with the U.S. Election Assistance Commission on Thursday. The commission representatives were calling to check in with the boards and the V.I. Elections System and provide a status update on the corrective action plan the Elections System implemented following a scathing 2013 audit. In November 2013, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission released an audit that looked at the Elections System’s compliance with the Help America Vote Act of 2002. In the audit report, completed by the Office of the Interior’s Office of the Inspector General, Inspector General Curtis Crider said his office found that the V.I. Elections System’s lax posture on internal controls put $3.3 million in Help America Vote Act funds and other funding at risk of fraud, waste or mismanagement.

Editorials: Wisconsin Government Accountability Board works; it keeps felons from voting | Thomas H. Barland/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

The Legislative Audit Bureau’s report on the Government Accountability Board has generated a great deal of discussion, but out of that discourse has come some misinformation that needs to be cleared up. I want to assure the Legislature and the public that the GAB takes illegal voting seriously, and that strong protections are in place to prevent felons from voting in Wisconsin. In the relatively few cases in which felons have voted in recent years, they will not escape prosecution due to delayed felon voting audits by the GAB. Prior to every election, the GAB provided Wisconsin’s 1,852 municipal clerks with a list from the Department of Corrections of felons ineligible to vote. The clerks inactivated the felons’ listings on the Statewide Voter Registration System so that they could not receive an absentee ballot, register to vote late in the clerk’s office or register and vote if they showed up on election day. The GAB routinely followed up to ensure clerks were inactivating those felons.

Croatia: Croatians Elect Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic as Their First Female President | New York Times

In an unexpectedly tight runoff, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, a conservative challenger, won Croatia’s election on Sunday and is set to become the country’s first female president. With more than 99 percent of the ballots counted, Ms. Grabar-Kitarovic, 46, won 50.4 percent of the votes, compared with 49.6 percent for President Ivo Josipovic, the center-left incumbent, the electoral commission said. The election took place in a climate of deep pessimism about Croatia’s economy. The newest member of the European Union, Croatia has one of the weakest economies in the bloc, with an unemployment rate of nearly 20 percent and youth unemployment running at 41.5 percent. “Let’s go together,” Ms. Grabar-Kitarovic of the opposition Croatian Democratic Union said late Sunday in a speech laced with patriotic wording and interrupted by nationalist soccer chants. “A difficult job awaits us. Let’s unite. Let’s unite our patriotism, love and faith in our Croatian homeland.”

India: Non Resident Indians Must be Allowed to e-Vote Within 8 Weeks, Orders Supreme Court | NDTV

Non Resident Indians or NRIs will soon be able to cast their vote from abroad through electronic ballot, without having to make a trip during elections. The Supreme Court today directed the central government to allow e-voting by NRIs within eight weeks. This comes days after the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas at Gandhinagar in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state Gujarat, where the government reached out to the Indian diaspora and promised them more rights and opportunities. The government told the court today that it has accepted an Election Commission report recommending e-ballot voting for Indian passport holders abroad and it would have the process in place after amending laws. The court said e-voting should be allowed at the earliest.

Nigeria: Electoral Commission races to get voter cards out for presidential election | Worldbulletin News

Five weeks before a presidential election, Nigeria’s electoral commission said on Friday it has not yet finished printing the cards that voters will need to present at polling stations. Of the cards that are ready, about 15 million have not yet been collected by voters, sometimes because of apathy or geographical remoteness, said electoral commission spokesman Kayode Idowu, while insisting everything would be ready on time. Commission data showed no voter cards at all had been delivered to Borno state, the region worst hit by Boko Haram militants. More than 10,000 people died last year in the violence. The Feb. 14 election in Africa’s biggest economy and leading energy producer is expected to be a close contest between President Goodluck Jonathan and his leading challenger, Muhammadu Buhari. Its conduct will be closely watched, since past polls have been marred by widespread ballot-stuffing, violence and in some cases outright fabrication of results.

Editorials: Sri Lanka’s surprise political transition | The Washington Post

Sri Lanka went to the polls on Thursday in a historic election. For the first time since the island became independent in 1948, an incumbent president was voted out of office. Early Friday, bleary-eyed from a night spent flipping between news networks or frantically refreshing Twitter, Sri Lankans struggled to assimilate the news that President Mahinda Rajapaksa had conceded the race. As stunned as everyone else in the capital city of Colombo, my own reaction was to pull up Timur Kuran’s 1991 article on the unpredictability of dramatic political shifts: “Now out of Never.” Neither a defeat nor a concession seemed likely, or even possible, in late November, when Rajapaksa called snap polls two full years ahead of schedule. The move was calculated to renew his mandate before a worsening economy began to eat into his electoral majority. With the main opposition United National Party (UNP) unable to produce a candidate more exciting than their unpopular longtime leader, Ranil Wickremasinghe, Rajapaksa expected to coast to an easy victory. His campaign strategy, as always, rested on reminding ethnic Sinhalese voters of his 2009 defeat of the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).