Illinois: Counties ask former Rep. Aaron Schock to pay special election costs | Associated Press

Another Illinois county voted to ask former U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock to pay for costs associated with electing his replacement in the 18th District. The McLean County Board approved sending a letter to the Peoria Republican asking him to pay $200,000 for the July 7 primary and Sept. 10 election, WJBC radio reported. Early voting has already started. The board noted that Schock’s congressional campaign committee had $3.3 million on hand when Schock resigned in March amid questions about his spending, including having his Washington office decorated in the style of the TV show “Downton Abbey.”

Michigan: With ‘stamp of security,’ no-reason absentee voting would require in-person ID |

More Michigan residents could vote by mail — but they’d have to apply in person — under a new no-reason absentee ballot bill backed by Secretary of State Ruth Johnson. Johnson, testifying before the House Elections Committee on Tuesday, said the state is ready to join 27 others that allow no-reason absentee voting, “but with Michigan’s stamp of security.” House Bill 4724 would allow a registered voter who doesn’t otherwise qualify for an absentee ballot to obtain one by visiting his or her local clerk, filling out an application and showing a state identification card. A potential amendment would allow voters without an ID to sign an affidavit of identity.

Editorials: Bernie Sanders’s primary problem | Charles F. Bass/The Washington Post

Addressing hundreds of supporters while campaigning in Keene, N.H., last month, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) declared: “Let me tell you a secret: We’re going to win New Hampshire!” He has some reason to feel confident, given that a new poll put him just 10 percentage points behind front-runner Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential primary in the Granite State. But before he pops the champagne corks, I have a secret of my own to share with the senator: He may not qualify for the New Hampshire ballot as a Democrat. To understand why, let’s step back a bit. The U.S. Constitution gives Congress the power to set the time of federal elections but not the manner in which political parties choose their nominees. That process is left to the states. The New Hampshire Constitution empowers the legislature to determine the qualifications for those being elected to office (something in which I was closely involved when I chaired the committee with jurisdiction over state election law while a member of the state Senate). Pursuant to that power, state law makes clear that candidates must be registered members of the party on whose ballot line they wish to appear.

Rhode Island: House approves electronic voter registration | Providence Journal

The laundry list of bills headed for final consideration on Smith Hill is mounting as lawmakers march toward a recess of the six-month legislative session as soon as next week. After swiftly passing the $8.7-billion budget unanimously Tuesday night, the House of Representatives turned its attention Wednesday to everything from electronic voter registration to powdered alcohol and chickens. That’s right, chickens. One bill that passed the House specifically requires that hens have at least 216 square inches of usable floor space in their cages. Meanwhile, the Senate Finance Committee Wednesday quickly approved the state’s spending plan for the year beginning July 1 with little discussion. It will head to the full Senate for a vote Tuesday.

Utah: Lawmakers may not agree on how to handle election plurality | Deseret News

Lawmakers may not be able to come up with a proposal during the legislative interim to prevent a candidate from winning a primary election without a majority vote, a co-chairman of a committee studying the issue said Wednesday. “This one is an interesting one because we could do nothing and just see how things shake out in 2016,” Rep. Jack Draxler, R-North Logan, said after the Government Operations Interim Committee’s first hearing on the possibly of plurality. Draxler, the committee’s House chairman, said he’d be surprised if members can come to a consensus on how to handle the issue created by SB54, the compromise reached to stop the Count My Vote initiative that sought a direct primary.

Burundi: President Swears In Electoral Officials Before Vote | Bloomberg

Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza swore in two new members of the National Independent Electoral Commission, a month before he seeks a third term. Annonciate Niyonkuru was appointed vice president of the electoral body, while Alice Nijimbere will become a commissioner for finance, according to a statement published on the president’s website. They replace Spes Caritas Ndironkeye and Illuminata Ndabahagamye, who resigned earlier this month, according to the statement.

China: Attitudes on Hong Kong’s electoral reform plan split in the city and on China’s mainland | South China Morning Post

As lawmakers kicked off the debate over the government’s reform package at the Legislative Council yesterday, both Hongkongers and mainlanders appeared split over whether the proposal should be passed. Local residents contacted in person, as well as people on the mainland speaking online or via telephone, expressed a broad range of opinions on the controversial package. While some opposed it as too rigid and undemocratic, others tentatively approved of it as a first step towards democracy. However, none offered full-throated support for Hong Kong’s first proposal to hold an election by “one man, one vote”.

Denmark: Center-Right-Led Opposition Wins Parliamentary Elections | Wall Street Journal

Denmark’s center-right-led opposition won parliamentary elections on Thursday, denying the Social Democrat Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt a second term in office after a campaign dominated by the immigration issue. The opposition Liberal Party leader Lars Lokke Rasmussen, who promised tighter immigration rules and tougher demands on new arrivals in the country, looked set to be the Nordic state’s new leader. With all of the results counted, the opposition bloc had won 52.3% of the vote or 90 seats in the 179 seat parliament. Ms. Thorning-Schmidt and her allies had secured 47.7% support or 85 seats.

Editorials: Early Election Would Benefit Putin, Not Russia | Leonid Bershidsky/Bloomberg

Russia’s former finance minister, Alexei Kudrin, came up with an interesting idea for turning Russia’s recent economic woes to the country’s advantage: moving up the scheduled 2017 presidential election. The problem with this suggestion — which may have been floated as a trial balloon with the Kremlin’s approval — is that President Vladimir Putin could use it to take Russia further into the past. Kudrin, who built up the international reserves that are now helping Russia ride out a second economic crisis, lost the finance minister’s job in 2011 and has since made liberal statements that went against Putin’s line. The president, however, still counts him among his loyalists. During a carefully choreographed call-in session with voters in April, Kudrin asked the president about creating a new growth model for Russia. In response, Putin called their relationship “very good, practically a friendship,” and said he would stick to the policies Kudrin helped formulate during his tenure: “If you and I failed to envision something, that is probably our fault, and yours, too.”

China: Hong Kong lawmakers reject Beijing-backed election plan | Associated Press

The Hong Kong government’s controversial Beijing-backed election reforms were defeated in the legislature Thursday but the crucial vote came to a confusing anticlimax as pro-establishment lawmakers accidentally failed to vote for it. After a lengthy debate, 28 lawmakers voted against the proposals, which sparked huge street protests in the southern Chinese city last year. Eight others voted in favor. However, in a bizarre scene moments before the vote took place, most of the pro-establishment lawmakers walked out of the legislature chamber and ended up not casting their votes.

United Kingdom: Electoral reform campaigners urge UK-wide voting for 16- and 17-year-olds | The Guardian

Electoral reform campaigners are to step up demands for 16- and 17-year-olds to be given full voting rights across the UK, after parties at Holyrood backed the measure for Scottish parliament and council elections. The Scottish parliament voted unanimously in favour of allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in local elections late on Thursday, barely 4o minutes after the Commons rejected cross-party moves to do so for the European Union referendum. Katie Ghose, chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said those contradictory votes by the two parliaments would increase the democratic deficit for younger voters within the UK, particularly for English and Northern Irish teenagers.

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.”

National: The fight to strengthen Voting Rights Act is not over yet | Zachary Roth/MSNBC

Legislation to strengthen the Voting Rights Act (VRA) remains stalled in the Republican-controlled Congress. But as the two-year anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that gutted the landmark civil rights law approaches, supporters of the measure aren’t giving up the fight, despite long odds. A coalition of civil rights, voting rights, labor, and other progressive groups plan to mark the June 25 anniversary by rallying in the Virginia district of Rep. Bob Goodlatte, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee where the legislation has been bottled up. “In this 50th anniversary year of the Voting Rights Act, voters are more vulnerable to discrimination than at any time since the law was first passed in 1965,” Wade Henderson, the president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said in a statement. “Congressional leadership has yet to act on restoring the law.”

National: As Hillary Clinton Pitches Voting Rights On The Trail, Her Counsel Looks To Fight For Them In Court | Huffington Post

The general counsel for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign is heading up three high-profile lawsuits against Republican-backed voting restrictions in what is shaping up to be a perfect political and legal storm leading up to the 2016 election. The attorney, Marc Elias, is involved in lawsuits challenging measures passed in Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin, arguing that laws cutting back early voting, restricting registration and requiring photo identification to vote, among other measures, disproportionately impact racial minorities.

Editorials: Bruce Schneier movie-plot threat contest: Winning entry imagines online voting gone wrong. | Slate

Imagine this: It’s the morning of Election Day, 2020. Americans across the country cast secure, encrypted votes from their smartphones and laptops, electronically choosing their president for the first time in history. Turnout reaches record highs. Live results online show that it’s a close race between the two leading candidates. But by early afternoon, an independent candidate—a sketchy figure with ties to multiple terrorist organizations and no public support whatsoever—mysteriously takes the lead. At 4 p.m., he officially wins the election. The American people rise up in protest: Clearly, hacking, bribery, or other nefarious activity has taken place. However, because the voting software is designed with end-to-end encryption to ensure anonymity, no audit or recount is possible. America’s next president is a terrorist. This is the hypothetical scenario that won Bruce Schneier’s annual online “movie-plot threat” contest by popular vote this past weekend.

Maine: Support erodes in Legislature to change how questions get on ballot | Portland Press Herald

A bill that will make it more difficult for citizens to initiate new ballot questions advanced in the Legislature on Monday, but it’s losing support amid warnings from opponents that the proposal will dramatically change the state’s referendum process. The bill, advanced by a 93-54 vote in the House of Representatives, would amend the Maine Constitution to require sponsors of ballot campaigns to obtain a percentage of voter signatures from each of Maine’s two congressional districts. Maine voters, who are the final arbiters in all changes to the Constitution, could vote on the change in November if the bill passes.

Editorials: Thousands of Voters Are Disenfranchised by North Carolina’s Voting Restrictions | Ari Berman/The Nation

A month after the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, North Carolina passed the country’s most sweeping voting restrictions. The Supreme Court refused to block key parts of the law—cuts to early voting, the elimination of same-day registration, a prohibition on voting in the wrong precinct—just weeks before the 2014 Election. As a result of the new restrictions, there were lengthy lines and confusion at many polling places, and longtime voters were turned away from the polls. Democracy North Carolina has estimated that “the new voting limitations and polling place problems reduced turnout by at least 30,000 voters in the 2014 election.” In a new report, the group analyzed provisional ballots cast during the 2014 election and concluded that 2,344 rejected ballots would have been counted if the new restrictions were not in place.