National: Obama marks ‘Bloody Sunday’ anniversary: ‘Our march is not yet finished’ | Los Angeles Times

Standing before the landmark Edmund Pettus Bridge to commemorate a historic moment in the civil rights movement, President Obama on Saturday called upon Americans to acknowledge progress the nation has made in easing racial tensions but remain vigilant for the hard work still ahead. “Fifty years from ‘Bloody Sunday,’ our march is not yet finished,” Obama told a crowd of several hundred black and white faces gathered on the 50th anniversary of the Selma march, when Alabama police brutally beat black protesters demanding access to the ballot. “But we are getting closer,” Obama said. “Our job’s easier because somebody already got us through that first mile. Somebody already got us over that bridge.”

National: Selma or none, tough road for Obama on voting rights update | The Hill

President Obama on Saturday used the 50th anniversary of the landmark civil rights march here to urge Republicans to move new voting rights protections. He probably shouldn’t hold his breath. GOP leaders have opposed new legislation updating the Voting Rights Act (VRA) in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling that gutted central provisions of the 1965 law. And the Republicans on hand in Selma this weekend showed no indication that the silver anniversary festivities had changed their minds. “They knocked out part of the Voting Rights Act … but the federal government still has the power to prosecute and investigate anyone who violates of the [law],” Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said Saturday just before the president’s speech. “So as we go forward, maybe there are some other things that need to be done, but I think fundamentally the Supreme Court was correct.”

Alabama: North of Selma, black leaders ‘fighting the same battle’ | The Washington Post

There will be no party here this weekend. While thousands are gathering just an hour or so south in Selma to remember one of the high marks of the civil rights movement, black leaders say there is nothing to celebrate. Political leaders, including President Obama, and foot soldiers of the movement are in Selma to observe the 50th anniversary of the “Bloody Sunday” march that helped to propel the passage of the Voting Rights Act. But this is Shelby County, a rural cluster of small towns, modest homes and farmland. It was here in 2013 that local officials won a major victory when the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the federal law that resulted from those historic marches in Selma, especially the first, on March 7, 1965, when peaceful protesters at the Edmund Pettus Bridge were beaten and tear-gassed.

Alabama: Bill would push back Alabama voter registration deadline | Montgomery Advertiser

A bill scheduled to appear in an Alabama House committee next Wednesday would move the registration cut-off date for an election from 14 days prior to the election to 30 days. The legislation follows a law passed last year that moved the cut-off date from 10 days before an election to 14 days. Supporters of that proposal said the state’s registrars needed the additional time to complete all the paperwork necessary for an election, but critics said the goal of the bill was to limit access to the ballot for poor and minority voters. Those arguments will return in the current debate.

California: Potential redistricting reset could tighten California Democrats’ grip | Los Angeles Times

U.S. Supreme Court case that could force California to redraw its congressional districts has stirred up fears of a return to partisan gerrymandering, a divisive process that has been criticized for both cementing and crushing political careers. While the potential impact remains uncertain, both Democratic and Republican leaders agree that the ruling could solidify the Democrats’ tight grip on California’s 53-member House delegation, the largest of any state. The issue stems from a lawsuit filed by Arizona’s Republican-led Legislature arguing that the Constitution gives state legislatures the exclusive responsibility for drawing congressional district boundaries. Arizona and California voters have passed measures removing that authority from lawmakers and handing it over to independent citizen commissions.

Connecticut: Registrar of voters revamp proposal pleases some | The Bulletin

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill’s proposal to revamp the registrars of voters office pleases at least one community. Despite the chilly reception Merrill’s proposed legislation has gotten throughout the state, Windham residents familiar with elections applaud the effort to get a conversation going, even if they don’t think this bill will get approved. “It’s an excellent bill to start dialogue,” said Bunny Lescoe, Democratic registrar in Windham. “But it’s not a bill that should be voted on and passed this year. There are good things in it, but not everything in that bill should happen.”

Florida: Online voter registration gains momentum in Florida | Miami Herald

Florida would become the 25th state to allow people to register to vote online under one of a series of voting proposals awaiting consideration by the Legislature. It’s an idea Democrats have pushed for years without success. Now Republicans are also supporting it — but only after the 2016 presidential election. Twenty states now allow online registration, including Georgia, South Carolina and Louisiana. Four more have passed laws to implement it, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Hawaii: Senate passes bill for chief elections officer evaluations | West Hawaii Today

The state’s chief elections officer would have to undergo a performance evaluation after each general election under a plan approved by the state Senate. The bill, SB 622, requires the Elections Commission to provide the written performance evaluation to the Legislature. It was introduced after problems during the 2014 elections that included 800 ballots that were missing in Maui and voters in storm-damaged parts of the Big Island who couldn’t get to the polls. The Senate approved the bill Thursday. It now goes to the House.

Editorials: Iowa caucuses are a poor proxy for America | Rick Ridder/The Denver Post

It will take place less than a year from now. It will attract more news coverage than any other news event in 2015 and 2016 except perhaps the Summer Olympics and the final two weeks of the presidential campaign. Yes, the Iowa caucuses are less than 11 months away. Americans are beginning a year-long examination of the voters of one state and its quirky electoral process. So get ready for the deluge of punditry on the implications of the presidential preferences of slightly more than 300,000 likely Iowa Caucus attendees. Much will be made of the likely results of the caucuses, and indeed about the actual results, but little written on the peculiar characteristics of what has become an American democratic institution — an institution that may not be that democratic at all.

Kentucky: At Rand Paul’s request, Republican committee gives green light to caucus | Lexington Herald-Leader

It looks increasingly like Kentucky Republicans will have a presidential caucus next year, when it seems just as likely that a Kentucky Republican will be running for president. While most of the state was focused on the Kentucky Wildcats’ quest for a perfect season Saturday, about 50 members of the Republican Party of Kentucky’s executive committee met behind closed doors for about two hours, listening to Paul and his staff make their case for a presidential caucus.

New York: Feds: Ex-Spring Valley mayor sought to ‘bury’ abstentee ballots | The Journal News

Former Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin did more than sell her political influence for kickbacks — she also tried to rig a village election, federal prosecutors said in court papers filed in her corruption case this week. Prosecutors allege in a 20-page motion filed in U.S. District Court in White Plains that Jasmin met with developer Moses “Mark” Stern, who was cooperating with the FBI, and asked him if he could help eliminate dozens of absentee ballots in that year’s village elections to ensure “favorable” candidates would win.

Oregon: Kate Brown finds a caretaker by appointing Jeanne Atkins as Oregon secretary of state | The Oregonian

Jeanne Atkins, a veteran Democratic aide and women’s rights advocate appointed by Gov. Kate Brown to be Oregon’s new secretary of state, said Friday that she won’t run in 2016 for a full four-year term in the office. Instead, Atkins, 65, will serve in a caretaker role in the state’s second highest office, leaving what could be a long list of candidates to battle over the position in next year’s election. Brown announced Friday that she would appoint Atkins to fill the remaining 22 months of her term as secretary of state. Brown ascended to the governor’s office last month after John Kitzhaber resigned amid an influence-buying scandal.

South Dakota: Election Review Committee completes recommended guidelines | KSFY

Long lines, wrong ballots, and missing names at the polls. Many voters haven’t forgotten those and other problems faced during the 2014 elections. The Minnehaha County Election Review Committee hopes to fix those issues with a list of guidelines they hope will prevent a repeat with future elections. The committee took a vote on several recommendations to prevent more problems at the polls. Voter Theresa Stehl said “we’ve had voting centers moved about with every election. We’ve had reports of absentee ballots being sent to the wrong person, people don’t know where they’re supposed to be voting, so i’m really glad we’re taking a look at this.”

Utah: GOP votes to hold presidential caucus, despite plea from Mitt Romney | Deseret News

If Utah Republicans want to vote to select the party’s presidential nominee next year, they won’t be able to do it at the traditional ballot box. By a overwhelming majority, members of the Utah Republican Party Central Committee on Saturday approved a resolution to conduct next year’s GOP presidential primary during neighborhood caucus meetings. After about 30 minutes of spirited debate and discussion, members were finally able to come to a consensus that allows the party to consider its presidential nomination at the same time it chooses its delegates to county and state political conventions.

Editorials: Cubans Demand a Direct and Secret Ballot to Elect Their President | Yoani Sanchez/Huffington Post

A few years ago, I asked a friend why he had voted for a candidate he barely knew during the election of delegates to the municipal assemblies. His response at the time was simple and full of wisdom. “I don’t want to get into trouble, it’s not that the ballots are marked,” he warned me slyly. With my face showing how embarrassed I was for him, he immediately declared, “Fine, in the end, voting or not voting, it isn’t going to change anything.” My friend’s comments highlighted two of the most serious limitations of the current mechanisms for electing the people’s representatives. On the one hand, the little confidence that Cuban voters have in the secrecy of the process, and on the other hand, the inability of the candidates elected to influence the direction of the nation. Two of the aspects most mentioned in a forum about the electoral system just held on the digital site of the government newspaper Juventud Rebelde (Rebel Youth).

Editorials: A voice for 18-year-olds | The Japan Times

It is hoped that lowering Japan’s minimum voting age for elections from 20 to 18 — as the Diet now seems certain to approve so that it takes effect for the Upper House election next year — will encourage political participation by more youths just as Japan faces a host of long-term policy challenges that will directly affect their future. But it is ultimately up to the young voters themselves to decide whether to exercise their newly granted right to vote and have their voices heard in politics. The revision to the Public Offices Election Law, submitted to the Diet jointly by the ruling coalition and much of the opposition camp on Thursday, is set to be enacted during the current Diet session, paving the way for the first change in the voting age in 70 years since it was lowered from 25 to 20 in 1945. Japan has been the only Group of Seven industrialized economy to keep the minimum voting age at 20. All of other G-7 countries lowered the age to 18 during the period from the late 1960s to the mid-1970s.

Lithuania: Rerun elections to be held in Trakai due to bribing | The Baltic Course

The VRK held a hearing and announced the decision on Sunday, 8 March. “Election results cannot be trusted, hence the VRK declared them invalid. We decided that a rerun election should be held on 7 June of this year. Candidates will be registered and constituency electoral committee formed anew,” the VRK Chairman Zenonas Vaigauskas told the journalists. According to him, there are no plans to ask for additional funds to organise elections. “Voters helped us save a considerable amount of money by electing 19 mayors already in the first round. Therefore we are not planning yet to ask for additional funds from the state budget,” said Vaigauskas. According to the chairman, on 7 June elections to the Seimas will most probably take place in those single-member constituencies where members of parliament were elected as mayors.

United Kingdom: Women are at risk of falling off the electoral register – and out of the political debate | The New Statesman

As we take the time to recognise and celebrate the achievements of women today, it’s important to recognise the low turnout of women at the last general election. A study carried out by the ‘House of Commons Library at the request of Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman, showed that 9.1 million women didn’t turn out to vote in the 2010 general election’. The number of women turning up to vote has declined over the years. In 2005 and 2010 there were more male voters than female. Furthermore, 64 per cent of women voted in the last general election, compared to 67 per cent of men. The difference is even wider amongst younger voters with only 39 per cent of young women voting compared to 50 per cent of young men. The general election on 7 May is going to be crucial and the number of women that turn up to vote will certainly make an impact on which political party gains power. It’s therefore really important that women turn out to vote. It is alarming to read that in 2015 that the turnout gap between sexes is getting wider, with women falling further behind when it comes to voting.