National: Bipartisan Group Urges Overhaul of General Election Debates | New York Times

A presidential debate season that begins in mid-September. A television studio backdrop without a live studio audience. And a “chess clock” model, where each candidate is allotted 45 minutes of speaking time, which begins ticking down when they start talking. On Wednesday, a bipartisan panel released recommendations aimed at overhauling the general election presidential debates, with the goal of halting declining viewership, especially among younger voters and Hispanics, and allowing voters to emerge with a better understanding of the candidates and their positions.

Voting Blogs: Writing Campaign Finance Rules: Between “Thorough” Regulation or None at All | More Soft Money Hard Law

George Will looks at Super PACs and sees the consequences of “reform”: it’s a mess, he writes, the result of pressures for a “thoroughly regulated politics” that drives political actors to evade foolish rules. The Constitution requires “unregulated politics”: recent reform experience shows that any other course is sure to end in a bad place. The choice he sees is between thoroughly regulated campaign finance, which is untenable, or none at all. An alternative account of unsatisfactory reform experience would focus on the type of regulatory program that has dominated the policy debate. The FEC is somehow expected to regulate campaign finance as other agencies regulate food or drugs, or fair commercial practice, and the FEC best equipped for the job would be re-structured to take the politics out of its composition and operation. Underlying all of this is a belief that the right rules enforced by the right people, and repeatedly revised in the light of experience, will bring errant political behavior under control and end cheating. By this definition the “right” rule is one that attacks a questionable practice at its source, however complicated the rule and however challenging it will be to enforce it.

Arkansas: Voting machine plan scaled back to 4 counties | Associated Press

Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin is scaling back plans to replace the state’s voting machines for next year’s primary and says the new equipment will instead be deployed in just four counties. Martin on Wednesday said Boone, Columbia, Garland and Sebastian counties will be part of a pilot program to replace voting equipment ahead of the March 1 primary. Martin last week selected Nebraska-based Election Systems & Software to replace the state’s voting equipment.

Massachusetts: MassHealth settles lawsuit with voting rights organizations |

A coalition of voting rights organizations has reached a settlement with the state, in which public assistance organizations including MassHealth will provide voter registration forms to their clients. The settlements with Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders, Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin and Director of the Office of Medicaid Daniel Tsai, signed on Tuesday, mark the conclusion of a lawsuit that was partially settled with the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance in March.

Ohio: Senate panel weighs online voter registration bill | Associated Press

Backers of a bill that would let Ohioans register to vote online are telling a legislative panel that it would allow for more accurate voter rolls in the swing state. The bill would direct Ohio’s elections chief to create a secure, online registration process for voters. Applicants would need to provide an Ohio driver’s license or state ID card number. Currently, Ohio voters can update their addresses online.

Pennsylvania: Bill calls for redistricting reform | WHTM

A Pennsylvania lawmaker is proposing legislation to set new rules for mapping the state’s congressional and legislative districts. Under House Bill 1344, Pennsylvania citizens – not politicians – would be responsible for drawing the boundaries that equally divide the state’s population during the apportionment that follows each 10-year census.

South Dakota: ACLU files federal suit challenging election law change | Associated Press

Two small political parties in South Dakota filed a federal lawsuit Monday challenging part of a law that they say would make it harder to get their candidates on the ballot. The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit on behalf of the state’s Libertarian and Constitution parties, among other individuals. South Dakota activists are also gathering signatures to refer the law to voters in the 2016 election for a possible repeal. The measure in question, part of a new bundle of election law changes passed during the 2015 legislative session, shifted the deadline back by about a month for new parties to turn in signatures allowing them to participate in a primary election.

Washington: Despite pleas, Yakima council stands by appeal of ACLU case | Yakima Herald

More than 100 people filed into the Yakima City Council chambers Tuesday, calling for an end to the city’s appeal of a voting rights case that changed Yakima’s elections system to give Latinos a greater voice. But none of the four council members who supported both the appeal and a request to stay this year’s elections offered a motion to reconsider the issue. The protest was in response to the council’s surprise vote June 2 to seek an emergency stay more than a month and a half after the city said it would allow elections to proceed, despite appealing the judge’s ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court.

Burundi: African Union Calls for Further Postponement of Burundi Election | Gbooza

The African Union has called for a postponement of Burundi’s July 15 presidential election, saying a new date should be decided through negotiations between the government and opposition. Erastus Mwencha, deputy chairperson of the African Union commission, said the proposed date is based on information the AU gathered through consultation with all stakeholders, including a report from leaders of the East African community. The election date, originally June 26, was changed by presidential decree following an electoral commission proposal. Violent protests in Burundi have taken place since President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term, a move the president’s critics say would violate a two-term limit in the constitution. Nkurunziza’s supporters argue he is eligible to run again because he was appointed by lawmakers to his first term in office, and not elected by a popular vote.

Denmark: Denmark to vote in close election | BBC

Denmark goes to the polls on Thursday in a general election which opinion polls suggest is on a knife edge. The centre-left coalition of PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt, and the centre-right opposition led by ex-PM Lars Lokke Rasmussen, appear to be neck and neck. But the pollsters have only canvassed the Danish mainland – and voters in Greenland and the Faroe Islands may decide the vote. Minor issues like a Faroes fishing dispute could influence the result. The islands’ fishing community is still angry at Ms Thorning-Schmidt for barring its boats from Danish ports in a 2013 dispute over alleged overfishing.

Editorials: Why Russia Has Early Elections | The Moscow Times

In what has become a common political tactic in modern Russia, the next round of State Duma elections may be moved up to an earlier date than originally planned. On Monday, a bill proposing that the elections to Russia’s lower house of parliament scheduled for December 2016 be pushed forward to September was submitted for consideration. Russian parliamentary elections have been held in December since 1993. However, Duma speaker Sergei Naryshkin recently said that lawmakers should now be elected before budgets are passed later in the fall. Some commentators have noted that the new timing would place campaigning in the middle of the Russian vacation season. Others have suggested that incumbent legislators may favor earlier elections to stay ahead of rising discontent over the recent economic downturn in Russia.

Uganda: Electoral Body Warns Against Early Campaigning | VoA News

Uganda’s Electoral Commission is warning all political parties and civil society groups that they would be flouting the country’s laws if they engage in early political campaigns before an official declaration. “We released a road map clearly ahead of the elections, [and] we indicated activities and their time frame,” said Jotham Taremwa, commission spokesman. Because nominations have not yet been made, “whoever is posing as a candidate is out of order.”