National: How Google Could Give 2016 Hopefuls an Edge | Wall Street Journal

Iowans can expect to see a lot more of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker popping up in their Google browsers, if he decides to run for president later this year. That’s because the Walker team advertised aggressively on the popular search engine during his 2014 re-election and will likely do so again, should he pursue a White House bid. They spent heavily on Google ads to raise money and target voters. The Walker campaign was so aggressive in 2014 that Google highlighted its efforts in a just-released case study about the midterm campaigns. Among the findings: Mr. Walker’s re-election team raised more money from ads pegged to Google searches than it spent to buy space above those search results, an unusually high return-on-investment for political campaigns; his team also worked with the company to reach more than 5 million targeted voters in key ZIP codes through YouTube ads in the weeks leading up to Election Day.

Alabama: Divisive absentee voter legislation set to come before Alabama House | AL.com

The Alabama Secretary of State’s Office is attempting to take its contentious voter ID law – enacted in 2011 – one step further by requiring a photo ID when requesting an absentee ballot. Why? Republicans, by and large, say it’s an extra measure to prevent voter fraud – something that is hard to track and very hard to prove. Democrats, however, aren’t convinced. Rep. Darrio Melton, D-Selma, said continuing to file bills to combat voter fraud is “playing to the politics of fear.” He filed a bill to let any registered voter cast an absentee ballot for any reason.

Arizona: Cochise County plans overhaul for elections system | The Sierra Vista Herald

Recounts, inefficient or outdated voting equipment, and efforts to keep up with the changing times have put Cochise County in the market for all-new electoral infrastructure. Staff from the county’s procurement, geographic information system, elections and special districts, and the county attorney’s office, met with the board of supervisors at a work session on Tuesday. … Elections staff saw a demonstration of Yavapai County’s Unisyn Voting Systems Inc. equipment, an ES&S demo in Graham County, and demonstrations of Pinal County’s central count approach. Unisyn also provided a local demo, as did ES&S. In February, the Arizona Secretary of State conducted a joint training session for county elections and recorder’s office staff.

Arkansas: Secretary of state extends deadline, changes terms on voting machine bid | Arkansas Times

Secretary of State Mark Martin’s office has extended the deadline for companies to submit proposals to sell the state new voting machines and has also changed a part of the specifications. The state Board of Election Commissoners Wednesday approved some voting machines sold by Election Systems and Software and by Unisyn voting Solutions, with a deadline of Monday for other companies hoping to qualify to sell machines for 75 counties. It could be a $30 million deal. Vendors had complained that the specifications favored ES&S, which supplied the machines the state currently uses. This became more of an issue because Doug Matayo, a former Republican legislator who’d been Mark Martin’s chief of staff, runs a consulting firm recently hired by ES and S, though he’s said not to be working on this specific deal.

Editorials: Photo ID is unnecessary | The Columbus Dispatch

Apparently it was too much to hope that Ohio House Republicans would stop grandstanding on “ voter fraud” long enough to allow Ohioans to enjoy at least one election without needless noise from the Statehouse and partisan interest groups. Less than a week after a settlement between Secretary of State Jon Husted and groups that sued over the state’s early-voting schedule, state Rep. Andrew Brenner, R-Powell, promises yet another bill to require anyone who wants to vote in Ohio to produce an identification card with a photo. Such measures in the past would have limited the acceptable ID types to state ID cards, driver’s licenses, U.S. military cards and U.S. passports. They have failed, for good reason: They aren’t necessary, and likely would do more harm than good.

Burundi: Protests against president’s election plan paused | Reuters

Burundi protest organizers on Saturday called a two-day pause in demonstrations against the president’s move to seek a third term, which they says violates the constitution and endangers the peace deal that ended civil war in 2005. After six straight days of protests in the capital Bujumbura, which the President Pierre Nkurunziza’s office called “insurrection”, the rallies have lost some momentum, with fewer people taking to the streets and clashes with police easing. The United Nations has voiced concerns that live rounds were fired against protesters. Civil rights groups say at least six people have been killed and dozens injured.

Uganda: Opposition Groups Demand Electoral Reforms | VoA News

Opposition and civil society groups in Uganda have launched a “citizens for reforms now” campaign to pressure parliament to institute electoral reforms ahead of next year’s general election. Parliamentarian Mathias Mpuga, a leading opposition member, says opponents of President Yoweri Museveni have dismissed electoral reform proposals presented to parliament by the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM). Among the proposals is a call to change the name of the electoral commission.

United Kingdom: With campaign spending limited, UK politicians vie to be ‘liked’ and ‘retweeted’ | New York Times

There is no political advertising on television or radio in Britain. Fund-raising and spending are strictly limited. Tight elections can turn on a relative handful of votes in a small number of competitive parliamentary constituencies. So as Britain’s political parties head into a tight, unpredictable election on Thursday, they are even more reliant than their American counterparts on social media as a way to mobilize supporters for a last push and disseminate their messages directly to voters. Social media makes up for “that small difference of being that tiny bit marginally better than the other party,” said Anthony Wells, director of political and social opinion polling at YouGov, a prominent polling company here. Digital technology also helps parties winnow undecided voters from the rest of the electorate, he said.