Editorials: The Mystery of Lower Voter Registration for Older Black Voters | Nate Cohn/New York Times

In December, I wrote an article titled “Evidence That the Jim Crow Era Endures for Older Black Voters in the South.” The article, based on voter registration and census data in Georgia, noted that older black voters who reached voting age before the passage of the Voting Rights Act were significantly less likely to be registered to vote compared with whites of similar age and black voters who reached voting age in the years afterward. The implication, I wrote, was that black registration and turnout rates were suppressed by the lingering effects of Jim Crow laws, which disenfranchised African-American voters. The evidence underlying that statement is research suggesting that voting is a habit. Therefore, someone with fewer opportunities to register and vote should be less likely to vote than a similar person who had more opportunities.

Illinois: Voters to be placed in nationwide database | The Southern

At a time when computer systems of major corporations have been under attack by hackers, Illinois is poised to join other states in a first-ever national database of voter registration information. But, despite concerns from scholars and others who monitor online security, state and national officials involved in the Electronic Registration Information Center program say every registered voter’s information will be safe. “We make a pretty good argument that we do more to protect the data than the states do themselves. We follow above normal security protocols,” said John Lindback the executive director of the Washington D.C.-based ERIC program. In one of his final acts as governor, former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation that put Illinois on track to join other states in the program. The law was just one piece of a larger overhaul of state election law that included changes to absentee voting and ballot counting.

Maryland: Redistricting reform is in spotlight in Maryland – and in bills | Baltimore Sun

Some state lawmakers are hopeful the stars are aligned for Maryland to change the way it draws its political districts — a process that has resulted in some of the most convoluted maps in America. Their hopes were bolstered recently when Republican Gov. Larry Hogan devoted part of his first State of the State address to a call for redistricting reform. “We have some of the most gerrymandered districts in the country. This is not a distinction that we should be proud of,” Hogan said. “Gerrymandering is a form of political gamesmanship that stifles real political debate and deprives citizens of meaningful choices.” Hogan said he would create a commission to study the state’s redistricting system, but some lawmakers are not waiting for its findings. They are proposing bills aimed at taking politics out of a process that has helped Democrats achieve lopsided majorities in the General Assembly and turn the congressional delegation from a 4-4 split in the 1990s to a 7-1 advantage over Republicans.

Maryland: Election Officials Blame Old Technology For Long Results Wait | BethesdaNow

Montgomery County election results were the last in the state to be posted after November’s election, about two hours after Larry Hogan proclaimed victory in the gubernatorial race. Though the delay may have been bothersome primarily to candidates, members of the media and hardcore political junkies, County Council members on Thursday had some stern questions for Board of Elections officials about their vote-recording process. The Board of Elections blamed old technology — analog modems — for the long wait. Of the county’s 227 polling places on Nov. 4, 192 had an analog telephone line and modem card with which to transmit results back to the Board of Education’s headquarters in Gaithersburg.

Missouri: Since 2004, St. Louis Has Purged 25 Percent Of Its Voters | St. Louis Public Radio

Over the past 10 years since it faced two federal lawsuits, the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners has quietly cut 75,000 people off of its voter rolls. That represents more than a quarter of the 281, 316 voters on the city’s rolls in 2004. St. Louis’ voter list now totals 206,349, according to state election records. The city’s Republican elections director, Gary Stoff, says none of the excised voters appears to have been an active voter. He suspects most were people who had moved or died and whose names had simply been languishing on the city’s voter rolls for years. But the reduction in St. Louis’ voter rolls appears to be by far the most dramatic action taken by the 29 Missouri counties – the city of St. Louis is its own county – that were sued 10 years ago by the federal government because they had more people on their voter rolls than their entire voting-age population.

New York: ‘The governor is a governor, not a king,’ argues attorney in hearing to force Cuomo to set special election | SILive.com

The plaintiffs suing to force a special congressional election told a federal judge that Gov. Andrew Cuomo is taking away the voice of Staten Island and part of Brooklyn on serious national issues. “We’re talking about the disenfranchisement of nearly 750,000 people who will never have a voice in the XL pipeline,” said Staten Island lawyer Ronald Castorina Jr. in a hearing in Brooklyn federal court Friday morning, referring to the national debate over the building of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. “The governor is a governor, not a king,” Castorina added. Castorina, also a city Board of Elections Republican commissioner, represents six Staten Islanders and two Brooklyn residents who argue that Cuomo is violating their constitutional rights by not setting a special election for former Rep. Michael Grimm’s vacant seat in the 11th Congressional District. Grimm resigned effective Jan. 5. U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein will decide the case.

Oregon: Who will take Kate Brown’s place as Oregon secretary of state? | The Oregonian

Speculation is brewing over who will succeed Kate Brown as Oregon’s next secretary of state when she becomes governor next week, replacing John Kitzhaber. Under the state constitution, Brown has the power to appoint her successor. It’s unknown whom she’ll choose — Brown addressed the media for less than 30 seconds Friday afternoon — but privately, lawmakers are discussing whom they’d like to see fill the post. Three Democrats, like Brown, are considered to be the leading contenders at the Capitol: House Majority Leader Val Hoyle of Eugene, Senate Majority Leader Diane Rosenbaum of Portland, and House Speaker Tina Kotek of Portland.

Vermont: Vermont looks at timing primary to New Hampshire’s, but would have fight on its hands | Daily Journal

Vermont is coveting its neighbor’s primary and New Hampshire is not amused. A Green Mountain State lawmaker is pushing to have Vermont tag along with early-voting New Hampshire, which is traditionally home to the nation’s first primary. The 2016 election will mark a century of New Hampshire running presidential primaries, though it’s really been a feature on the political landscape, bringing the Granite State a quadrennial burst of media attention, hotel and restaurant business and clout in presidential politics since 1952. New Hampshire state law calls for its primary to be held at least seven days before any similar election — caucuses like the ones in Iowa don’t count, since they aren’t primaries. That could be difficult to accomplish in the future if Vermont passes Senate Bill 76.

Editorials: Lawmakers guard their privilege | The Virginian-Pilot

State lawmakers draw the boundaries that define the communities they represent in the House of Delegates and Senate, and those of their counterparts in the U.S. Congress. It’s an arrangement enshrined in Virginia’s constitution, a document adopted in 1971 and reflective of the technical limitations of that era. But as each decade has passed, lawmakers have managed to precisely draw boundaries in a way that tilts elections before they are held. A combination of voting records, population data and sophisticated software has permitted lawmakers and their partisan surrogates to identify and assign voters to districts in proportions that protect incumbents and political power. That explains how eight of Virginia’s 11 congressional races last fall were won by a margin of at least 20 percentage points. Or how, in 2013, barely half of the House of Delegates seats were contested. Or how, in 2011, just six of 40 seats in the state Senate were decided by 10 points or fewer. The winner of most races is determined long before Election Day. The electorally corrupt current system serves solely to preserve political power. It is designed to dilute voters’ voices.

Germany: AfD hopes to hold back SPD absolute majority in Hamburg state election | Deutsche Welle

Lead by Hamburg mayor Olaf Scholz, the city-state’s Social Democrats, the SPD, hope to defend their 2011 election win. With its bustling port and cluster of media and aerospace companies, the port city state has long been a stronghold for the SPD. According to recent polls, however, repeating their absolute majority success of four years ago will be no easy victory, even if they defeat the conservative CDU. Threatening the absolute majority ruling of the SPD are the smaller parties such as the liberal FDP and right-leaning AfD. Taking advantage of renewed fears over the eurozone and Greece’s new anti-austerity government, euroskeptic AfD could now be in with a chance of winning its first seats in a western German state. The party’s success has thus far been limited to eastern Germany where it currently holds seats in three states.

Indonesia: Voters with disabilities want greater access | The Jakarta Post

Boy Tonggor Siahaan has cast his vote in every election since he was in high school. The 46-year-old has not missed a single legislative, presidential or regional election. … Boy was born with deformities to both of his arms. “I was forced to use my feet. I punch a hole by holding the nail with my feet,” he said. Boy, however, considered himself lucky with his still-functioning arms. “What about those who don’t have limbs at all?” he said. Cases like Boy’s were documented in a study conducted by the General Election Network for Disability Access (AGENDA), a consortium of civil society organizations and disabled people’s organizations across Southeast Asia. The study was aimed at improving access for disabled people to meet their political rights.

Nigeria: Election Delay Brings Disappointment, Criticism | VoA News

There is mixed reaction to the six-week postponement of Nigeria’s presidential and parliamentary elections. The vote was delayed by the nation’s Independent National Electoral Commission, primarily because of security concerns in northeastern Nigeria. INEC Chairman Atthiru Jega announced the change a week ago, saying the elections would be held March 28. President Goodluck Jonathan appeared on television to express his disappointment about the postponement but noted that the war against Boko Haram in the northeast was intensifying. Adebowale Adefuye, Nigeria’s ambassador to the United States, said Wednesday on VOA’s “Straight Talk Africa” that he was confident the election would be aboveboard and honest.

Philippines: Comelec set to open bidding for additional voting machines late February | InterAksyon

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is set to open later this month the second stage of the public bidding for additional voting machines for the 2016 national and local elections. Based on the notice issued by the Comelec-Bids and Awards Committee (BAC), the remaining eligible bidders both for the Optical Mark Reader (OMR) and Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) projects may submit their final technical proposals and their financial proposals on Feb. 25 at 9 a.m. Both Smartmatic-TIM and Indra Sistemas S.A. are still in the running for the OMR project after the first stage of the bidding while Venezuela-based firm is the lone eligible bidder for the DRE contract.