National: Technology aims to improve the voting experience | The Washington Post

In an age where people can transfer money using their mobile device, it’s not hard to envision a future where citizens wake up on Election Day, pull out their phones and choose the next leader of the Free World on the way to work. Last week, a federal election agency took a small step toward that futuristic vision. … The updated guidelines will allow manufacturers to test machines against modern security and disability standards and get them certified for use by states ahead of the 2016 presidential election. … When it comes to Internet-based voting systems, many experts argue there’s no clear solution to address the issues of security and verifiability. A securely designed online system also needs to be easy to use, and so far that goal has eluded researchers, said Poorvi Vora, an associate professor of computer science at George Washington University who has researched Internet voting systems. Vora is part of a group of academics, computer scientists, election officials and activists working on a project led by the Overseas Vote Foundation, an Arlington, Va.-based nonprofit, to answer one question: Is it possible to design a system that lets people vote remotely in a secure, accessible, anonymous, convenient and verifiable manner? The answer so far is no, but the group says it is close to a possible solution and will present its design to the election research community and federal agencies this summer. As with health records or financial data, online security remains an obstacle.

California: Bill introduced to provide automatic voter registration | Santa Clarita Valley Signal

Proponents say the bill, dubbed the “California New Motor Voter” law by sponsors, could provide a big boost to voter participation in the Golden State — where there are nearly seven million residents who are eligible, but not registered, to vote. “Our democracy is stronger when more people in the community have a voice at the ballot box,” said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, the bill’s sponsor. “Even as some states are becoming more restrictive in guaranteeing the public a voice in our democracy, California should do everything it can to ensure people’s right to be a voter.” There are 1.2 million unregistered eligible voters in Los Angeles County, according to information from county election officials. The bill would allow information collected by the Department of Motor Vehicles to be sent to the Secretary of State to verify if residents are eligible to vote.

Connecticut: Judge Postpones Ruling As Hartford Council Moves Forward With Hearings To Remove Registrars | Hartford Courant

Council members looking to oust the city’s registrars of voters will hold a hearing Tuesday, but they won’t be able to hear testimony or consider evidence. A Superior Court judge on Monday postponed ruling on whether to grant an injunction that would stop the removal hearings. The court wanted to give the registrars’ attorneys an opportunity to respond to a brief filed Monday by lawyers for the council. The attorneys will file their response Thursday and a ruling on the injunctions, sought by the registrars’ lawyers, is expected early next week. In the meantime, the council can proceed with the first of the removal hearings, but they won’t be able to hear testimony from witnesses until the judge rules on the injunction.

Florida: Top elections official under fire on two fronts | Tampa Bay Times

Gov. Rick Scott’s chief elections official is in big trouble with two key groups: state legislators who write the voting laws and county supervisors who run elections. Secretary of State Ken Detzner can’t afford to alienate either constituency as Florida heads toward a presidential election in 2016, when the eyes of the nation will again be on the biggest battleground state. Lawmakers blasted Detzner Wednesday for fighting their plan to let people register to vote online by October 2017. Elections officials, meanwhile, were livid to learn that Detzner released private data on more than 45,000 voters — including judges and police officers — and didn’t alert them immediately.

Illinois: Marshall County sends Aaron Schock a bill for special election costs | Journal Star

The Marshall County Board wants former U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock to pay the $76,000 in unbudgeted county costs for special elections to fill the 18th Congressional District seat he abandoned. The board voted unanimously Thursday to send the Peoria Republican a letter requesting the reimbursement. Schock resigned last month following controversy over his use of taxpayer and campaign funds. The costs for the special primary and general election have been estimated at $38,000 each, officials said. In a vein somewhat similar to a collection letter, the board offers Schock options of sending either the full amount or an agreement stating that he will pay later.

National: In Accepting Bitcoin, Rand Paul Raises Money and Questions | New York Times

Presidential fund-raising, never known for its transparency, may have just become even more secretive. In announcing his candidacy for president this week, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky waded into new waters when he said he would accept campaign contributions in Bitcoins, a largely untraceable virtual currency, in amounts up to $100. Interested donors at were given three options for making a contribution: a credit card, PayPal or Bitcoins. While some state and federal candidates in California, Colorado, New Hampshire and elsewhere have started accepting Bitcoins, Mr. Paul, a Republican, is the first presidential candidate to do so.

Editorials: Changing Residency Standards Attack Student Voters | Robert M. Brandon/Huffington Post

A new effort on voter suppression has been seen in recent months: attacks on student voting by making it harder to determine residency for voting purposes. Proposed legislation in Ohio, New Hampshire, and Indiana that would limit student voting rights through amended residency standards has met varied results. At the center of the issue is the definition of residency for voter registration purposes. It seems straightforward that a person who lives in a state and considers that place her residence should be able to register to vote there. The reality, however, can be more complicated. Most states have residency standards for voting that often differ from residency for other purposes within the state, such as paying taxes or registering a motor vehicle. Whatever residency standards exist for these latter obligations, most states allow students, people working in temporary jobs, and active duty military stationed in the state to vote if they have a physical presence in the state, a place they call home, in which they have a present intent to stay. Some states, however, in an effort to discourage young voters, are trying to change these generally accepted standards.

Editorials: Will Ted Cruz Super-PACs Usher in New Frontier of Donor Influence? | Bloomberg

The four super-PACs preparing to give a $31 million boost to the presidential hopes of Texas Senator Ted Cruz represent the latest twist in the infiltration of big money in politics—and a way for wealthy donors to have an even more direct say in how their money is spent. One of the constellation of committees first reported Wednesday by Bloomberg appears to be underwritten by Republican mega-donor Robert Mercer and his family. Campaign lawyers said the arrangement is unlike anything they’ve ever seen before. “It’s something to watch,” said Jason Abel of Steptoe & Johnson, who is not involved with the super-PACs. Abel and other lawyers speculated that multiple committees, all of which are named some form of “Keep the Promise,” were created to satisfy the whims of individual donors.

Arkansas: Proposed amendment could prevent wasteful elections | Harrison Daily

Early voting technically started Tuesday in the special election for the state Senate District 16 race even though there’s only one candidate on the ballot, but a proposed constitutional amendment on the 2016 ballot could negate the need for further such elections. Former Sen. Michael Lamoureux resigned late last year to become Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s chief of staff, which left the seat vacant. Then-Gov. Mike Beebe declared a special election to be held Tuesday, April 14, with one week of early voting to precede it. Greg Standridge defeated Stan Berry in the Republican Primary runoff election in February. No other party or Independent candidates filed for the seat, leaving Standridge unopposed in the April election in the district covering Newton and Pope counties and parts of Boone, Carroll and Van Buren counties.

Florida: Lawmakers blast Gov. Rick Scott’s top elections official | The Miami Herald

Gov. Rick Scott’s top elections official came under intense criticism Wednesday for fighting the Legislature’s plan to allow people in Florida to register to vote online by 2017. Secretary of State Ken Detzner, a Scott appointee, appeared before House and Senate committees to oppose the idea, calling online registration a “flashing yellow light” fraught with security risks. Twenty other states have already implemented online voter registration, four more are doing so and the idea has unanimous support from Florida’s 67 county election supervisors, who say it will save money and increase the pool of potential voters.

North Carolina: Proposed bill would delay voting machine upgrades | Morganton News Herald

A new bill filed in the state House of Representatives would delay some counties, including Burke, from having to buy new voting equipment. HB 373 would extend the time those counties would have to implement paper ballots. State Rep. Hugh Blackwell (R-86), who is a co-sponsor of the proposed bill, said there are 36 counties, including Burke, to which the bill would apply. Burke and the other 35 counties use direct record electronic voting machines, which create a paper receipt of a voter’s choices.

Kansas: New state law to bring voters better access to explanations of ballot questions | Topeka Capital-Journal

A Kansas law passed last year should give voters better access in the future to explanations of municipal ballot questions, deputy Topeka city attorney Mary Feighny indicated Thursday. Feighny responded after readers complained on The Topeka Capital-Journal’s website that a ballot question Topeka voters approved Tuesday wasn’t accompanied by an explanation of what the measure would do. Readers also were critical of the wording of the ballot question. … The ballot question specifically said: “Shall Charter Ordinance No. 114 changing the voting powers of the Mayor entitled: ‘A Charter Ordinance introduced by Deputy Mayor Denise Everhart, amending City of Topeka Code A2-24 concerning the duties of the mayor’ take effect?”

New Hampshire: Supreme Court declines to weigh in on voter eligibility legislation | Concord Monitor

The New Hampshire Supreme Court is declining to weigh in on the constitutionality of a bill that would tie a person’s voting domicile to motor vehicle law – for now, at least. In March, the New Hampshire House asked the state Supreme Court to weigh in on the constitutionality of House Bill 118, one of several bills introduced this session that attempts to change voting eligibility requirements. This change in particular would link voting registration with motor vehicle law, stating: “A person who declares an address in a New Hampshire town or ward as his or her domicile for voting purposes shall be deemed to have established his or her residence for motor vehicle law purposes at that address.”

Virginia: Study Examines Problems with Virginia’s Voting Machines | WVTF

n interim study by the Virginia Department of Elections indicates that numerous localities have voting machines that are wearing out—and some have potential security problems. The investigation was prompted by reports of irregularities during last November’s election. The result could be a new and costly requirement to replace some widely used touch-screen voting machines. Last fall, a few voters recorded videos to prove that when they touched one candidate’s name, their machines marked a different name. Elections Commissioner Edgardo Cortés says those machines were properly maintained. “And most of it does appear to be related to old equipment. It’s just past the end of its useful life, so they’re having issues with calibration, battery life—just all sorts of things that you see in older technology.”

Cambodia: MPs charge election commission fraud | Bangkok Post

Cambodia’s parliament Thursday appointed a new election committee in a bid to clean-up polls routinely tainted by allegations of fraud and as part of an agreement between the ruling and opposition parties. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen signs his attendance for the National Assembly meeting in Phnom Penh on April 9, 2015. A year-long political stalemate followed polls in 2013 after the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party refused to join parliament alleging they had been cheated out of winning.

Malta: Will the ‘day of silence’ be enforced on the internet? | Times of Malta

The bombardment of Facebook appeals for a Yes or No vote in the spring hunting referendum should in theory cease tomorrow as voters ‘reflect’ on the choice they face. The cessation of electoral activity 24 hours before voting day is not a custom but the law. However, it remains to be seen whether practicality will hinder the police from taking action against anybody who breaches the legal provisions on silent day, as it is known.

Nigeria: Nigeria Opposition Predicts Gubernatorial Election Victory | VoA News

A spokesman for Nigeria’s All Progressives Congress (APC) says the party has momentum on its side ahead of Saturday’s gubernatorial election. Shehu Garba says the success of the party and its presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, in the March 28 presidential election, is drawing nationwide support from other opposition parties to the APC in the run-up to the vote. He says the APC expects the security agencies to be neutral but ensure the protection of unarmed civilians. Garba says the party is ready to capitalize on its success in the recent presidential vote to defeat the People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) gubernatorial candidates across the country.

Sudan: EU says Sudan elections cannot produce ‘credible’ result | AFP

The EU said Thursday that next week’s Sudan elections, widely expected to see President Omar al-Bashir extend his 25-year rule, cannot produce a “credible” result. Bashir faces 15 little-known challengers while the main opposition parties are boycotting the vote in an impoverished country riven by deep political, religious and tribal divisions. EU foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini said Bashir’s failure to establish a genuine national dialogue, which he announced early last year, was a real setback and effectively undercut the polls.

Voting Blogs: Virginia DOE releases report critical of WinVote system | electionlineWeekly

On April 1, the Virginia Department of Elections released an interim report citing critical, potential security concerns with the WinVote DREs, in particular with the wireless capability of the system. Despite the date, this was no joke. Following scattered reports of problems with voting systems in the state during the November 2014 election, Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) called for an investigation into the irregularities. The State Board of Elections began its review in late 2014, but it wasn’t until early 2015 that the extent of the problem became obvious. “We really didn’t know until early February that there was a potential security issue with the WinVotes,” said Edgardo Cortes, commissioner of elections for the Commonwealth. “At that point we moved quickly to conduct additional testing, but it wasn’t until the preliminary test results were provided on March 26 that we knew how serious a vulnerability we were facing.”  Twenty-nine localities — about 20 percent of the precincts in the Commonwealth — use the WinVote DREs and of those, 10 are facing June primaries.