National: These States Are Actually Considering Ways To Make Voting More Convenient | Huffington Post

November’s midterm election meant grappling with new voter identification requirements, cutbacks to early voting and the elimination of same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting in several states, but advocates are cautiously optimistic that 2015 could be an improvement for voting rights. Last cycle’s voter turnout, about 36 percent, was estimated to be the lowest since 1940, but changes that could make voting more convenient — like online registration — might help mitigate some of the barriers from laws that restrict access. Twenty states of varying political inclinations offered online registration as of December, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. “This is a time where we should be reaching across the aisle looking for commonsense solutions,” said Myrna Pérez, the deputy director of the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program, which tracks voting legislation. “A lot of those involving technology and leveraging technology are very appealing — and it’s exciting because [electronic and online registration] both have the habit of making it simpler and easier to run elections correctly. They make the rolls cleaner and are cheaper, and we saw some bipartisan support for this last year.”

Florida: Redistricted maps product of Democratic meddling, Legislature tells Court | SaintPetersBlog

Attorneys for the Florida Legislature are calling on the Florida Supreme Court to reject proposed redistricting maps submitted by voting-rights groups. Their argument: the maps are a product of influence by Democratic “partisan operatives and political consultants.” In a court filing on Monday, lawyers representing the House and Senate are asking to discard the maps weeks before the court hears arguments on the constitutionality of redistricting approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature. The Florida League of Women Voters is among the groups that brought suit, saying the districts violate Florida’s Fair District anti-gerrymandering constitutional amendment voters put in place in 2010.

Montana: Secretary of State drops vote-by-mail bill | Montana Standard

Because of the lack of support, Secretary of State Linda McCulloch is dropping her bill to require nearly all Montana elections to be conducted by mail. McCulloch said Monday she asked Rep. Geraldine Custer, R-Forsyth, to pull the bill, which had been scheduled for a hearing on Wednesday before the House State Administration Committee. As secretary of state, McCulloch is the state’s chief election official. “In polling Democrats and Republicans, I couldn’t see that there was enough support for the bill,” McCulloch said. “I’m a real believer that you shouldn’t waste a Legislature’s time and money if a bill is not going anywhere.”

Nevada: Were All Of MIneral County’s Votes Counted? | KOLO

The votes were cast and counted almost three months ago. Winning candidates were sworn in and are now serving in office, but in Mineral County a nagging question has emerged. Were all the votes counted? If not, why? And, if a true count changes the outcome in a race, what next? At the moment there are no good answers, just plenty of troubling questions. Stewart Handte went to bed election night believing he’d just lost his job as Mineral County Sheriff, losing by just 75 votes. His opponent was duly certified by local election officials and now holds the office. But now the question he and others here are asking is: did he really lose? “I just want the truth,” he says. “Regardless if it changes the results the people need to have the complete facts.”

Ohio: Voting Centers Not Likely To Happen In Ohio Anytime Soon | WCBE

When Ohioans go to vote in person on Election Day, they go to their local precinct polling stations. But in some states, voters go to larger centers that are designated by the counties. That idea was recently floated at a meeting of Ohio elections officials. Those centers are not likely to be a reality in the near future. Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles reports. Ohio’s elections officials have long said they want to reduce the number of provisional ballots cast in Ohio elections. Many times those are cast because voters go to the wrong precinct. But Aaron Ockerman with the Ohio Association of Election Officials says one way to eliminate that problem is by going to large voting centers instead of neighborhood precincts.

Puerto Rico: Governer Proposes Voting Rights for All, Regardless of Immigration Status | Good Magazine

Puerto Rico governer Alejandro Garcia Padilla has announced plans for legislation that would grant the right to vote to all of its estimated 200,000-400,000 undocumented immigrants. The statements came at a recent public meeting with the president of the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina, during which the two politicians signed various agreements to tackle economics, education, security, and environmental issues together. “Today, we would like to break down the barriers that prevent immigrants from contributing all that they truly can to economic recovery and social progress in Puerto Rico,” said Padilla earlier this month.

Wisconsin: New Voting Machines To Debut In Kenosha This Spring Section | Kenosha News

When the Salem Town Hall surprisingly ran out of ballots during the busy November 2014 election, voting officials were forced to make hundreds of photocopies and tediously hand count the ballots after the polls closed. Thanks to modern technology, this should never happen again. Voting is now easier, cheaper, safer and more efficient with the recent arrival of the DS200 Precinct scanner and tabulator and the ExpressVote universal voting system, according to Kenosha County Clerk Mary Schuch-Krebs. Schuch-Krebs said she’s requested a hardware upgrade since being elected in 2008. “It’s been a long time coming,” Schuch-Krebs said. “I think the voters are going to be really happy with the change.”

Italy: Renzi wins key battle as Senate approves election reform bill | Europe Online

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi won a key political battle on Tuesday after the Senate approved an election reform bill that had been bitterly resisted by dissenters within his ruling Democratic Party (PD). The so-called Italicum law is designed to put an end to political instability in Italy, a country that has had 63 governments in 69 years of republican history. Senators backed it in a 184-66 vote, with 2 abstentions, the chamber said on its website. Renzi celebrated the vote on Twitter. “Courage pays, reforms are going ahead,” he wrote on the micro-blogging website.

Israel: Court rules in favor of Likud recount | Jerusalem Post

A three-justice panel of the Supreme Court late Tuesday ruled in favor of former public security minister Avi Dichter and against Deputy Transportation Minister Tzipi Hotovely to continue a recount of votes cast in the December 31 Likud primary. The ruling overturned a decision of the Tel Aviv District Court to freeze the recount in the ongoing saga over who will get the Likud’s 20th slot in the March 17 general election. Justices Elyakim Rubinstein, newly appointed deputy president of the court, Hanan Melcer and Yoram Danziger held that the key consideration was the will of the voters, which could best be realized by recounting votes even if there were other considerations pushing in the opposite direction. The court noted the odd circumstances of the dispute, including that both Dichter and Hotovely, at different times and depending on who was ahead in the latest results, had insisted on a full recount or on stopping the recount.

Nigeria: Elections will not be delay: commission | Reuters

The head of Nigeria’s electoral commission said on Tuesday the country will hold a presidential election as scheduled on Feb. 14, rejecting a call from one of the president’s advisors to delay them. “We remain committed to implementing the timetable,” commission head Attahiru Jega told a news conference. President Goodluck Jonathan’s National Security Advisor Sambo Dasuki said last week that Nigeria should delay the election to allow more time for permanent voter cards (PVCs) to be distributed. Some 30 million have yet to be handed out. “We do not believe that the challenges of PVC distribution are such that it warrants rescheduling the election,” Jega said.

Zambia: Zambia’s Losing Candidate Wants Electoral Reform | VoA News

The man who came second in last week’s Zambian special presidential election has called for a new constitution that will ensure a truly independent electoral commission. Hakainde Hichilema of the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) said the current commission serves the interest of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) party because its members are appointed by the president. The election commission said PF candidate Edgar Lungu won 48.3 percent of the vote, while Hichilema finished second with 46.7 percent. … Asked if he will run again in the next presidential election, Hichilema said he would leave that decision up to his party’s central committee to decide. He said Zambia needs electoral reform.