National: Federal Vote-By-Mail Act Gets New Push from Rep. Susan Davis | Times of San Diego

Rep. Susan Davis has re-introduced two of her election reform bills to “restore integrity to federal elections and end constraints placed on voters who want to vote by mail, known as absentee,” her office said Thursday. Rep. Susan Davis, who represents California’s 53rd District. The Universal Right to Vote by Mail Act would end restrictions many states impose on a person’s ability to vote absentee, such as requiring a doctor’s note, the details of a religious obligation, latest pregnancy status or details of a vacation destination.

Voting Blogs: We are Listening | Christy McCormick/EAC Blog

The Commissioners have had a very busy couple of weeks hosting and visiting important members of the election community and listening to ideas, priorities and the appropriate role of the EAC now that it is reconstituted. At our recent Next Steps roundtable, we solicited opinions from a range of stakeholders: local and state election administrators, officials, legislative representatives, vendors, technology advisors, the accessibility community, advocacy and interest groups, and commissioners from the Presidential Commission on Election Administration (PCEA). The Co-Chairs of the PCEA kicked off our event with some encouraging, and, frankly, sobering, words on how the EAC is now positioned to follow up on the PCEA’s work. Bob Bauer set a very high standard for the EAC by saying, “The newly invigorated Election Assistance Commission will provide for a new beginning here in the United States about how to improve the voting experience for millions of voters.” Ben Ginsburg told us that he believes “the work the EAC does is tremendously important; the EAC will play a major role in finding solutions to impending crises in voting technology” in addition to its clearinghouse and research functions. Both Co-Chairs stressed that a bipartisan approach to election administration is critical. All the EAC Commissioners agree and we are committed to operating in a friendly, bipartisan manner.

Alabama: Redistricting case may take years to resolve | Montgomery Advertiser

The Alabama Legislature will probably get another chance to draw the state’s House and Senate maps if a lower court rules against the current one, and special elections in at least a handful of districts are at least possible. But how many elections; when they will take place and what the final map will look like will largely depend on how the legal and political processes play out, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling Wednesday that reversed a lower court decision upholding the state’s 2012 redistricting plan. At least a handful of districts will likely need new boundaries. “It creates a domino effect, because you can’t change the boundaries of one district without changing boundaries of a another district,” said Michael Li, redistricting counsel for the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, in a phone interview Thursday. “The normal pattern would be to give the Legislature the chance to fix it themselves.”

California: Secretary of state proposes automatic voter registration | Los Angeles Times

Every eligible Californian with a driver’s license would be automatically registered to vote under a proposal Thursday by Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who estimated it would add millions of people to the voter rolls. Padilla and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) are modeling their legislation on a “motor voter” law signed last week by the governor of Oregon in an attempt to boost voter turnout. The California proposal is partly in response to the 42% record low turnout in California’s November election, as well as this month’s Los Angeles election, which saw about 10% of eligible voters go to the polls.

Guam: Only electors have a vote for the president | Pacific Daily News

Due to a recent episode of John Oliver’s political satire HBO series “Last Week Tonight,” there has been renewed discussion about how the American president is elected. The episode’s premise, a premise supported by many on Guam, is that U.S. territories are not equal to the U.S. mainland because U.S. citizens in the territories are denied the right to vote for president. That premise is completely wrong and needs to be corrected. When it comes to voting for president, Guam is very much equal to the U.S. mainland in that even citizens on the mainland do not have the right to vote for the president. The U.S. Constitution has never given the people at large the right to vote for president. The only people in the U.S. who possess the constitutional right to vote for president are the people chosen to be electors (see the U.S. Constitution, Article II, section 1, clause 2, and the 12th Amendment ratified in 1804).

Mississippi: Restoration of voting rights a piecemeal process | Jackson Clarion-Ledger

Marilyn Watkins of McComb was convicted of shoplifting in 1999 and sentenced to three years of probation. She never had been charged with a crime prior to the shoplifting conviction and hasn’t been accused of any criminal activity since. The one thing her shoplifting conviction cost her is the right to vote. Last week, restoring the right to vote to Watkins was one of four such bills the House Judiciary B Committee voted to send to the full House. “It will mean everything to me to be able to vote again,” Watkins said in a phone interview. “I drive people to the polls to vote, and it hurts that I can’t vote myself. It has been weighing on my shoulders for a long time.”

Montana: 12 ballot measures introduced by Montana legislators before deadline | The Missoulian

One last-minute ballot measure affecting utility rates was introduced Wednesday, while backers decided not to pursue another referendum for “top-two” primary elections that was drafted and ready to go. Wednesday was the deadline for legislators to introduce statutory referendums or constitutional initiatives. A dozen bills have been introduced to ask voters in 2016 to approve laws or constitutional amendments, and they remain alive at the Legislature. Rep. Tom Woods, D-Bozeman, introduced House Bill 638. It’s a statutory referendum to deny a electric utility automatic rate changes to cover costs of a plant outage. Senate Republicans decided not to proceed with a referendum drafted for Sen. Fred Thomas, R-Stevensville, which would have created the “top-two” primary election for certain offices.

Ohio: Counties moving toward electronic pollbooks for elections | The News-Herald

If county boards of elections are mandated by the state to use electronic pollbooks as part of future elections then most elections officials want the state to provide funding to purchase the equipment or provide reimbursement for previously purchased systems. The Ohio Association of Elections Officials District 8 met March 25 at Classic Park in Eastlake to discuss common concerns about issues, share best practices, meet with Ohio Secretary of State Office staff, and to network with their peers. District 8 consists of representatives from Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina and Summit counties were in attendance.

Texas: Proposed Change to Election of Judges Gets Cool Reception | The Texas Tribune

Legislation that would remove Texas judges from the straight-ticket voting process garnered a mostly cool reception Tuesday at a Texas House committee hearing, as both Democrats and Republicans said that tinkering with the ballot turns off voters. House Bill 25, authored by state Rep. Kenneth Sheets, R-Dallas, would only impact partisan elections in judicial races. Sheets, an attorney, told his fellow House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee members that good judges are being unfairly ousted when a Republican or Democratic wave occurs during a general election. “We’re not eliminating straight-ticketing voting,” Sheets said Tuesday. “We’re just making it so voters would have to manually select, and the thought process is that more people would select the judicial candidate [based] on the individual.”

Australia: There’s a huge design flaw in the NSW online voting system which Labor wouldn’t be happy about | Business Insider

New South Wales goes to the polls today and despite incumbent Liberal Premier Mike Baird being the clear favourite there’s a huge design flaw on the online voting platform which could cost the Labor government votes. It’s all got to do with the user experience of the NSW Electoral Commission’s online iVote system which is clunky to start with. After registering to use the platform and figuring out how to commence the voting process the ballot paper for the lower house appears on the screen, all candidates can be viewed, you can scroll up and down, fine. The problem becomes apparent when voting above or below the line. Even when the paper is enlarged on a 24 inch monitor, it doesn’t render to fit so this is what voters see. However, to the right of that are all the other options (including the Labor party). And while there are big red arrows at the top, that’s not where a user usually focusses their attention, a user experience designer, who wished to not be named, told Business Insider.

El Salvador: Still Counting Votes One Month after Polls | PanAm Post

One month after polls took place, El Salvador’s rival parties are still disputing the results of the Central American country’s national elections. On Wednesday, March 25, the Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) began opening more than 200 ballot boxes in the San Salvador department to determine which party obtained the final seat. The Democratic Change (CD) party challenged an initial vote count after the results in the race for congress in the department were published on Sunday, March 22, almost one month after the election date. “The review in San Salvador could impact” the results, TSE Judge Fernando Argüello Téllez told press.

Nigeria: Voting extended after tech problem hits polling stations | Financial Times

Tensions were building in Nigeria on Sunday as partial results from presidential elections, posted unofficially on the internet, raised expectations of an unprecedented opposition victory for former military ruler, Muhammadu Buhari. Aides to President Goodluck Jonathan insisted the incumbent was still on course to secure the result and cautioned against numbers that had yet to be given a final stamp of approval by the Independent National Electoral Commission. “There is lots of hype and both sides are selectively putting up things on line. But we have been collecting results from units across the country,” said Deameari Von Kemedi, a lead campaigner for Mr Jonathan. “According to our own internal projections, although we do not have the complete picture yet, we project a Jonathan victory.”

Nigeria: The Independent Nigerian Electoral Commission’s Website Has Been Hijacked | TechCabal

The Nigerian presidential elections are in full swing. And as if the Independent Nigerian Electoral Commission doesn’t have enough things to worry about, their website just got hacked by some people calling themselves the Nigerian Cyber Army. As is customary, there is a rambling signature left by the hackers, in place of the usual website. It’s not like the website is essential to the elections or anything. Their software and servers are likely not pointed to that url. This, as far as I can tell, has absolutely no bearing on the outcome of the election, which is more physical than digital. It’s more of egg on their face. We are reaching out to INEC for comment. “Sorry x0 Your Site has been STAMPED by TeaM Nigerian Cyber Army. FEEL SOME SHAME ADMIN!!”, the hackers said on the defaced site.

Philippines: Comelec eyes CCOS technology to have automated polls in 2016 | Inquirer

There’s still hope for automated elections in 2016. The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said that if it pushed through with the bidding for the lease of 23,000 optical mark reader (OMR) machines, the 2016 balloting could still be automated even if the Supreme Court junked with finality its deal with longtime technology partner Smartmatic to repair the 80,000 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) units. “If we push through with the bidding now, we will have 23,000 (OMR) machines. So we can do it. It can be done. It’s really just a question of how you’re going to marshal your resources,” said Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez in an interview with reporters on Friday. The Comelec is currently conducting a public bidding for the lease of the 23,000 OMR units set to be used to supplement the 81,000 PCOS machines, whose repair by Smartmatic under a P268.8-million contract with the election body has been stopped by the Supreme Court last week.

Uzbekistan: Polls Open In Uzbekistan’s Heavily Criticized Presidential Election | RFE/RL

Polls have opened in Uzbekistan for a presidential election that appears certain to bring incumbent President Islam Karimov to a fourth term in office. Voting began at 6 a.m. (local time) on March 29 across the former Soviet republic in Central Asia, where Karimov has eliminated almost all opposition during more than two decades in power. Karimov is being castigated by critics who descirbe the election as a sham in which his hand-picked rivals are effectively campaigning for him. Karimov faces three other candidates — Khotamjon Ketmonov of the People’s Democratic Party, Nariman Umarov of the Social Democratic Party Adolat (Justice), and Akmal Saidov of the Milli Tiklanish (National Revival) Party. All three are from pro-government parties and have spent their campaigns praising Karimov’s policies.