Alabama: Supreme Court Rules Against Alabama in Redistricting Case | New York Times

The Supreme Court on Wednesday sided with black and Democratic lawmakers in Alabama who said the State Legislature had relied too heavily on race in its 2012 state redistricting by maintaining high concentrations of black voters in some districts. The vote was 5 to 4, with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy joining the court’s four more liberal members to form a majority. Justice Stephen G. Breyer, writing for the majority, said a lower court had erred in considering the case on a statewide basis rather than district by district. He added that the lower court had placed too much emphasis on making sure that districts had equal populations and had been “too mechanical” in maintaining existing percentages of black voters.

Editorials: A Rare Victory for Black Voting Rights in the South | Ari Berman/The Nation

In 2010, Republicans gained control of the Alabama legislature for the first time in 136 years. The redistricting maps drawn by Republicans following the 2010 election preserved the thirty-five majority-minority districts in the Alabama legislature—represented overwhelmingly by black Democrats—and in some cases actually increased the number of minority voters in those districts. For example, State Senator Quinton Ross, a black Democrat elected in 2002, represented a district in Montgomery that was 72 percent African-American before the redistricting process. His district was under-populated by 16,000 people, so the Alabama legislature moved 14,806 African-Americans and thirty-six whites into his seat. The new district was now over 75 percent black and excluded white neighborhoods that were previously in Ross’s district.

California: Secretary of State Alex Padilla wants to adopt Oregon’s ‘motor voter’ law | Statesman Journal

Gov. Kate Brown’s “Motor Voter” law received significant national attention when it passed this month, and it has already found its first adopter in California, whose secretary of state said this week he plans to push for the same law. California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said he believes the law could register millions of people to vote in his state, where about 7 million eligible voters have not signed up. “While many states are making it more difficult for citizens to vote, our neighbor to the north offers a better path,” Padilla said in a Tuesday press release. “I believe the Oregon model makes sense for California,”

Kansas: Lawmakers move to end state’s presidential primaries | Associated Press

Kansas has not held a presidential primary since 1992, and lawmakers are advancing a bill to stop the state from scheduling such a contest every four years. The state Senate gave first-round approval Tuesday to a bill that repeals the law setting the primary on the first Tuesday in April in each presidential election year. A final vote is expected Wednesday. The special election in 2016 would cost an estimated $1.8 million.

Kansas: Senate passes bill restricting candidates from leaving ballot | The Wichita Eagle

Candidates wouldn’t have to die — but they would have to suffer medical hardship or live outside Kansas — in order to be removed from the ballot after winning a primary race under a bill approved Wednesday by the Kansas Senate. House Bill 2104 was drafted by Secretary of State Kris Kobach in response to Democrat Chad Taylor’s withdrawal from the race for U.S. Senate last fall. It originally would have allowed candidates off the ballot only if they died. Democrats pointed out this would mean a candidate who fell into a coma would be forced to remain on the ballot.

Minnesota: Backers of measure to restore voting rights to felons push for House hearings | Star Tribune

A widely-supported bipartisan measure to restore voting rights to Minnesota felons once they have been freed from prison has failed to gain traction in the House, leading to protest from supporters and lawmakers who want to know why. The bill, which has cleared committees and made it to the Senate floor, has yet to receive its first hearing in the House Public Safety and Crime Prevention Committee, despite the fact that committee chair Rep. Tony Cornish is chief author of the bill. The bill has until a Friday deadline to receive a hearing. Cornish, R-Vernon Center, said last week only that he hoped the bill would receive a hearing.

Ohio: Voter suppression likely result of auto registration provision in transportation budget, legislator says | Cleveland Plain Dealer

A Democratic state representative and advocate for voting rights says a last-minute addition to the state transportation budget would effectively suppress voting by students at Ohio’s colleges and universities. But a spokesman for Senate Republicans, who inserted the provision into the budget bill, defended it as merely regulating vehicle registration laws. The provision would require people who come into Ohio and register to vote to re-register their vehicles with Ohio after 30 days. If they fail to register the car with Ohio, then their driving privileges under their out-of-state license for any vehicle would be suspended and they would have to obtain an Ohio license to drive.

Ohio: GOP defends tying driver’s license to voting | The Columbus Dispatch

Dismissing Democrats’ cries of voter suppression, majority legislative Republicans are poised to require those who register to vote in Ohio to also obtain state driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations. The measure is part of the state transportation budget approved Tuesday by a House-Senate conference committee and headed to possible floor votes in each chamber Wednesday. Democrats tried to remove the provision, saying it constitutes a “poll tax” on out-of-state college students, who would have to spend $75 or more on license and registration fees within 30 days of registering to vote. Rep. Alicia Reece, D-Cincinnati, voted against the transportation budget on Tuesday, she said, because her caucus had a host of concerns about the provision.

Voting Blogs: Reading the tea leaves – what do recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions bode for Texas elections? | Texas Election Law Blog

Within the past week, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to grant certiori to hear an appeal of a decision upholding Wisconsin’s appalling voter i.d. law, (Frank v. Walker) and just remanded two Alabama redistricting cases (Alabama Black Legislative Caucus et al. v. Alabama et al., linked with Alabama Democratic Conference et al., v. Alabama et al.) back to the lower courts on a 5-4 decision holding that the state legislature could not justify “packing” African-American voters into fewer districts on the basis that it was compelled to do so in order to comply with Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Superficially, this seemed to be a bit of give-and-take when it came to voting rights, although the cases weren’t directly comparable on the facts or issues. So, what do these decisions mean for (1) the Texas voter i.d. case (Veasey et al. v. Perry et al.), or (2) the Texas redistricting case (Perez et al. v. Texas)?

Utah: GOP, Dems plan online Presidential Primary in 2016 | Fox13

Utah’s two major parties are poised to try something that could set an example for the rest of the country. One of them chose to do it, the other would rather focus on other things. Utah Democrats wanted Utah Legislators to pay $3 million to hold a statewide presidential primary during the 2016 election. Utah’s June primary for other races is too late for ballots to count in a party nomination.

Vermont: Amendment Would Push Same-Day Voter Registration to 2017 | Seven Days

Picture this: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) runs for president in the 2016 Democratic primary. Vermonters, newly awakened to the desire to vote for the hometown boy, rush to the polls for the March election. Should they be able to register on the spot? A bill pending in the Senate would have allowed them to, by enacting same-day voter registration in 2016. But faced with opposition from some town clerks, key senators decided Tuesday to push that date to 2017. “Town clerks earn a fair amount of deference because they run the world at home,” said Sen. Chris Bray (D-Addison), a member of the Senate Government Operations Committee. Clerks have raised concerns about potential voter fraud and an increased election-day workload, particularly in a heavy-turnout, presidential-election year.

Virginia: Supreme Court Alabama decision may affect Virginia election maps | Daily Press

A divided U.S. Supreme Court handed down a victory Wednesday for black legislative leaders in Alabama, and the decision may signal a coming win for Virginia Democrats fighting Republican-drawn election maps here. The court’s 5-4 decision sends Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama back to the federal district court there with an admonition that the case be re-argued. Plaintiffs there argued that Alabama legislators unfairly packed minority voters into districts to dilute black voting strength elsewhere. A federal judicial panel in the state disagreed, but the U.S. Supreme Court vacated that decision Wednesday. A three-judge panel in Virginia decided just the opposite in a case challenging the state’s 3rd Congressional District, which is held by U.S. Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, D-Newport News. Federal judges here decided last year that race was the predominant factor in drawing district lines and ordered the map redrawn.

Malta: No subsidised flights for early voters in coming election | The Malta Independent

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has said that there will not be any subsidized flights for early voters. The Prime Minister was responding to questions asked by PN Secretary General Chris Said in Parliament. The Prime Minister said that the dates for early voting coincide with the Easter break, and that such arrangements cannot be applies that early as they could have a negative impact on tourism during a time considered to be a ‘peak period’ for the industry. In his question, the PN Secretary General highlighted that such subsidized flights have always accommodated early voters, who would be unable to cast their vote on voting day.

Nigeria: Elections in the Season of Fear |

On Saturday (March 28, 2015), Nigerians will once again troop to the polls to choose who among the several contestants vigorously campaigning and scheming out there would be their president and members of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next four years. In several other countries, including even some of our smaller and leanly-endowed neighbours here, election periods usually provide the populace pleasant opportunities to savour the excitement of democracy. People go to the polls with beaming faces exchanging pleasantries and banters while waiting to cast their votes. They are not gripped by any benumbing fear that some daredevil thugs might swoop on the voting centres to shoot into the air, snatch away ballot boxes, and, possibly, wound or even kill some people in the process. Even the contestants would just come to the voting centres with little or no security and without any fanfare, unobtrusively cast their votes like every other person. And as they return to their homes, they are not looking over their shoulders to see if some killers hired by their opponents are trailing them to eliminate them.

Somalia: Somalia To Recruit National Independent Electoral Commission for the 2016 election | Somali Current

As required by the Provisional Federal Constitution of Somalia and in line with the recently passed laws on the National Independent Electoral Commission and the Boundaries and Federation Commission, Somalia is now urging qualified citizens to apply for the 18 vacant seats of the National Independent Election Commission (NIEC) and the Boundaries and Federal Commission (BFC); the deadline for applications to the two Commissions has now been extended to 30th March 2015. The Minister of State from Interior and Federalism, H.E. Abdirashid Hidig, said the Federal Government is committed to ensuring that the selection process is free, fair and transparent, with a strict process involving approvals by several committees, the Federal Parliament and finally the President of the Federal Republic of Somalia.

Uzbekistan: All set for Uzbek presidential polls | Arab News

All arrangements have been made to hold presidential elections in Uzbekistan on March 29, Uzbek Consul General Ulugbek Maksudov said at a press briefing in Jeddah. An OIC delegation that will monitor the election process attended the press conference. The Central Election Commission will carry out all activities related to the preparation and conduct of elections in an open and transparent manner in accordance with the constitution of Uzbekistan, the consul general said.