National: New Survey Highlights the 2014 Voting Experience | Pew Charitable Trusts

A nationwide study of voters’ experiences during November’s midterm federal election found that approximately 40 percent of respondents cast their ballots early or by mail. The 2014 Survey of the Performance of American Elections (SPAE)—conducted by Charles Stewart III, the Kenan Sahin distinguished professor of political science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts—surveyed more than 10,000 registered voters nationwide. Among the findings:

41 percent of voters cast ballots before Election Day.
o 16 percent voted early in person or in-person absentee.
o 25 percent voted by mail.
o 59 percent voted in person on Election Day.

Editorials: 5 Ways To Fix America’s Dismal Voter Turnout Problem | ThinkProgress

Voter turnout in the U.S. during the last midterm election hit the lowest point since the 1940s. The number of Americans heading to the polls each election has been declining for the last fifty years and lawmakers have recently been pushing efforts to keep even more people away from the polls. People do not exercise their right to vote for various reasons, some of which are easier to solve than others. According to a U.S. … Voters can already use their smartphones in some cities to simplify daily tasks like tracking how long they have to wait for a bus or train. So why shouldn’t information about polling places be available online? Joe Kiniry, the principal investigator with computer science company Galois, said that while he was working in Denmark, he helped to build a system voters could use to figure out the length of lines at polling places. “Of course it’s doing that by watching people’s cell phones as they walk into the polling place and figuring out how long it took you to get to the front of the line, how long it took you to leave,” he said. “So in the adoption of this cheap, easy technology… we’ve now traded off the cost and efficiency of an election with the privacy of voters.”

Arizona: Bill would require daily early ballot reports from rural counties | Cronkite News

Currently, Pima and Maricopa counties must maintain daily updated lists of those who have turned in early ballots if requested by state or county party chairpersons. Rep. Brenda Barton, R-Payson, wants to expand that requirement to all counties, saying it can be difficult to obtain early ballot information in a timely manner from election officials in rural Arizona. Her bill, HB 2427, won a unanimous endorsement Monday from the House Elections Committee, despite a representative for counties saying the change would be burdensome. It was heading to the House floor by way of the Rules Committee.

Verified Voting Blog: Just Ducky

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.  It is not a seagull.  People will, understandably, refer to it as a duck.  Deciding to call it a seagull does not cause it to cease being a duck and does not transform it into a seagull.  With me so far?  An election held by a California city is an “advisory election” if its purpose is to enable only the city’s registered voters to voice their opinions on substantive issues in a non-binding manner.  City advisory elections are subject to the California Election Code’s general requirements and prohibitions.

Now consider the following scenario.  A small California city’s leaders, and the elections system vendor they hire, plan an election that in all respects is described by California Elections Code section 9603.  The city leaders and vendor publicly and consistently refer to the planned activity as an “advisory vote” and “advisory election.”  The city is notified that the election will be illegal, both because it will use an Internet voting system, prohibited by the Elections Code, and because the system is not state-certified, as required by the Elections Code.   With just two weeks to go, the city’s leaders and vendor respond by re-labeling the planned activity a “poll” or “community poll” but make no other changes.

District of Columbia: Audit: No-show poll workers, outdated equipment marred D.C. election | The Washington Post

The District’s Nov. 4 general election was marred by absent poll workers, outdated equipment and uneven access for disabled voters, the D.C. auditor’s office concludes in a new report that recommends replacing voting machines and improving worker training. At one polling place in November, people were asked to show identification to vote — which is not required by D.C. law — and some voters were turned away, according to the report. The audit came after a series of lapses from the D.C. Board of Elections in recent years — most recently, a technical breakdown that delayed the counting of votes for hours during the April 1 primary last year and the printing of a voter guide bearing an upside-down D.C. flag ahead of the general election. D.C. Council member Kenyan R. McDuffie (D-Ward 5) ordered the audit, which involved visits to a majority of the city’s 143 polling places on Election Day. McDuffie has been sharply critical of management at the elections board. … The auditors documented equipment problems at 57 of the 89 precincts they visited, affecting a wide range of the District’s Election Day technology — including paper ballot readers, electronic poll books and touch-screen voting machines.

Florida: Students set to gather to address online voter registration | USA Today

Over 100 of the best public policy students from around the state of Florida will be gathering at the end of February to discuss and plan for the modernization of the state’s voter registration system. The Florida Future of Political Action Summit will take place Feb. 20-22 and is the second of its kind. Held at the Bob Graham Center for Public Service at the University of Florida, participants will study Florida’s electronic voting registration methods, as well as how other states have modernized registration. Katie Burnett, University of Florida senior and member of the event steering committee, says they will also be equipped with the tools to organize volunteer-run committees for their own public service efforts.

Guam: Voter registration bills to be heard | Pacific Daily News

Sen. Mary Camacho Torres, R-Santa Rita, is leading a charge to increase voter turnout among island residents with multiple pieces of legislation aimed at amending voter registration laws. Last month, Torres introduced Bills 23-32, 24-32 and 25-32 to the Legislature with a public hearing scheduled for tomorrow morning. “What I’m trying to do is essentially facilitate the registration process,” Torres said.

Ohio: 100 Hamilton County poll workers fired for not voting | Cincinnati Enquirer

More than 100 Hamilton County poll workers got fired Tuesday for failing to do the one thing that matters most on Election Day. They didn’t vote. The board of elections said goodbye to the 104 workers after learning they had not voted in either the 2013 or 2014 elections, despite spending most of those Election Days in a polling place, surrounded by voters and ballots. “I’m frankly kind of shocked by the number of people on that list,” said Tim Burke, chairman of the board and leader of Hamilton County’s Democratic Party. “We want everyone to vote. If we have poll workers who don’t vote, we’re not encouraging that.”

New Mexico: Judge hears arguments in New Mexico primary system lawsuit | Associated Press

After hearing arguments Tuesday, a state judge said she would mull over a case that could transform New Mexico’s two-party primary system. State District Judge Denise Barela-Shepherd said she would soon issue an opinion in a lawsuit filed by Albuquerque resident David Crum on behalf of the state’s 250,000 independent voters. Crum is seeking to allow people the right to pick a party on the day of the primary so they can vote. Currently, only Republicans and Democrats can vote in primary elections — something critics say contributes to low voter turnout.

North Dakota: House passes voter ID bill | Grand Forks Herald

The North Dakota House voted Tuesday to allow voters to use a bill or bank statement to verify their residency at the polls. House Bill 1333, sponsored by Rep. Randy Boehning, R-Fargo, would allow those without an updated identification to use a bill, bank statement or U.S. Postal Service change of address form dated 30 days before the election to vote. The bill also does away with the student identification certificates that were used in the most recent election. The bill passed the House by a vote of 66-24.

Utah: Cedar Hills goes to an all-by-mail voting system | Herald Extra

Elected officials of Cedar Hills voted unanimously Feb. 3 to go with an all-by-mail voting system for the 2015 primary and general municipal elections. Cedar Hills will be the first city in Utah County to try out, being the guinea pig to test the latest trending vote process. “We are excited to lead the way with a vote-by-mail election,” said Jenney Rees, Cedar Hills councilwoman. “With other cities and counties already having successful outcomes, we anticipate seeing more Utah cities use this approach for the convenience of voters,” Rees said. Last year, 10 counties in Utah conducted their elections entirely by mail. These counties increased the percentage of their voters who cast a ballot before Election Day by 49 percent, according to a Utah Lieutenant Governor’s Office press release.

Lesotho: Elections will go ahead, despite tensions | AFP

Lesotho will go ahead with early elections as planned at the end of this month despite recent renewed tensions, South Africa’s presidency announced at the end of crisis talks with the kingdom’s premier on Monday. “The meeting expressed its confidence that the climate for the holding of elections on 28 February remains on course,” President Jacob Zuma’s office said in a statement. Zuma hosted the Monday talks in his capacity as chairperson of the peace and security section of the regional bloc Southern African Development Community (SADC). The talks were attended by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and top officials from his troubled coalition government.

Nigeria: Democracy, Deferred: On Nigeria’s Dysfunctional Election | The Atlantic

Last week, Victor, a carpenter, came to my Lagos home to fix a broken chair. I asked him whom he preferred as Nigeria’s next president: the incumbent, Goodluck Jonathan, or his challenger, Muhammadu Buhari. “I don’t have a voter’s card, but if I did, I would vote for somebody I don’t like,” he said. “I don’t like Buhari. But Jonathan is not performing.” Victor sounded like many people I know: utterly unenthusiastic about the two major candidates in our upcoming election. Were Nigerians to vote on likeability alone, Jonathan would win. He is mild-mannered and genially unsophisticated, with a conventional sense of humor. Buhari has a severe, ascetic air about him, a rigid uprightness; it is easy to imagine him in 1984, leading a military government whose soldiers routinely beat up civil servants. Neither candidate is articulate. Jonathan is given to rambling; his unscripted speeches leave listeners vaguely confused. Buhari is thick-tongued, his words difficult to decipher. In public appearances, he seems uncomfortable not only with the melodrama of campaigning but also with the very idea of it. To be a democratic candidate is to implore and persuade, and his demeanor suggests a man who is not at ease with amiable consensus. Still, he is no stranger to campaigns. This is his third run as a presidential candidate; the last time, in 2011, he lost to Jonathan.