Editorials: Ohio suffers from extreme gerrymandering | The Columbus Dispatch

Last Tuesday’s Dispatch editorial, “ Clinton off-base on Ohio voting rules,” and the Friday letter “ Clinton did not mention Ohio, Kasich” from Randall Morrison brought attention to the important issue of voter suppression. However, voter suppression is broader and more insidious than the length of early-voting rules. The real “elephant in the room” of representative democracy is gerrymandering, and Ohio represents one of the worst cases in the country. Rigged Ohio House and Senate and U.S. House district lines have resulted in Republicans controlling 12 out of 16 U.S. House seats and huge majorities in the Ohio House and Senate.

Tennessee: Council member’s spreadsheet appears to end Nashville’s early voting chaos | WKRN

The chaotic status concerning Nashville’s early voting less than two months out from a critical city election has stabilized after a compromise that seemed to start with a spreadsheet from a Metro Council member. Last week, the Davidson County Election Commission voted to shut down all but one early voting site without an additional $868,000 in additional funding from the Metro Council. It created an outcry that included Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell, Mayor Karl Dean and several of the seven candidates running for mayor. That’s when Bellevue-area Metro Council member Sheri Weiner stepped in late last week with her spreadsheet and some numbers that has satisfied both her fellow council members on the budget committee and the chair of the election commission.

Burundi: President swears in new electoral commission members | Xinhua

Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza Tuesday swore in two new members of the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI). Annonciate Niyonkuru and Alice Nijimbere replace Spes-Caritas Ndironkeye and Illuminata Ndabahagamye, who resigned earlier this month. The two new members took their oath before the Burundian president in the presence of both chambers of the parliament and diplomats accredited to Burundi.

Japan: Voting Age Lowered to 18 Amid ‘Silver’ Surge at the Polls | Bloomberg

Japan’s upper house approved a bill lowering the voting age to 18 from 20 on Wednesday, a move unlikely to lessen the dominance of the “silver” vote in one of Asia’s most-rapidly aging countries. The change will add about 2.4 million people to the almost 104 million who were eligible to vote in the December general election. The new law is likely to take effect in time for an upper house election scheduled for 2016. The views of younger Japanese are barely reflected in politics, as they are increasingly outnumbered by the swelling ranks of their elders and because they are less likely to vote. Nonetheless, both the main ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the biggest opposition group, the Democratic Party of Japan, backed today’s change in the hope of gaining more support from new voters.

National: Hack the vote: Cyber experts say ballot machines easy targets | Fox News

The recent cyber theft of millions of personnel records from the federal government was sophisticated and potentially crippling, but hackers with just rudimentary skills could easily do even more damage by targeting voting machines, according to security experts. Voter fraud is nearly as old as elections themselves, and different states and precincts use different voting systems and machines. But in many cases, even the electronic ballots could be manipulated remotely, according to a new report by the Commonwealth Security and Risk Management for the Virginia Information Technologies Agency. That report found that the AVS WINVote machines Virginia has used since 2002 have such flimsy security that an amateur hacker could change votes from outside a polling location.

Editorials: The election reforms that could heal American democracy | Sean McElwee/Salon

Since America’s founding, the franchise has been dramatically expanded in waves: first, universal suffrage for all men (first, through the abolition of property ownership requirements for white men, then the 15th Amendment) then the expansion of suffrage to women and finally the Voting Rights Act, which abolished poll taxes and literacy tests. Today, the franchise is still under fire, from racially biased voter ID laws and felon disenfranchisement, as well as our complex registration system. Automatic voter registration and the abolition of voter ID laws could be part of the next wave of the slow march to true democracy. Recently, Hillary Clinton called out Republicans for their strategy of suppressing the vote and then called for automatic voting registration. While many pundits quickly chalked this up to an attempt to revive “the Obama coalition,” in fact, Clinton has been pushing for democracy reforms since before “the Obama coalition” existed. In 2005 she and Senator Barbara Boxer put forward the “Count Every Vote Act.” The law would have made same-day registration the law of the land, expanded early voting and made election day a holiday. In addition, Clinton has been fighting against felon disenfranchisement, though Rand Paul, who has a penchant for receiving praise for things he hasn’t done, has recently been garnering credit for his talk on the subject.

Voting Blogs: Alphabetically ordered ballots make elections less fair and distort the composition of legislatures : Democratic Audit UK

Conventional political wisdom suggests the candidate listed first on a ballot enjoys a slight windfall of votes cast by those who don’t know or care enough to consider all their options. By focusing on particular elections, researchers have neglected to consider the broad consequences of arbitrary ballot ordering rules on legislative representation. To evaluate the substantive significance of ballot order rules, I compare the legislators of states that alphabetically order ballots to legislators elected by states that randomize or rotate ballot order. My research suggests that the seemingly innocuous choice of some states to alphabetize ballots has significantly altered the composition of state legislatures and even Congress. Scholarly interest in how ballots are designed and organized predates the explosion of interest in the subject generated by the 2000 Presidential Election. Most studies suggest the first candidate listed on a ballot enjoys an above average number of votes in certain elections. The less that voters know or care about the election, the greater the windfall of votes to the first listed candidate. Think how often you click the first link in Google search results and don’t bother to consider all your options. However, when the stakes are relatively high, as in partisan legislative elections, scholars suggest ballot order has little or no influence on voters. Accordingly, some have concluded that the distortions induced by ballot order are confined to low-level elections and do not affect the general political landscape. I was sceptical of this sanguine assessment of ballot order effects and looked at the impact of alphabetically ordering ballots on high-level legislative offices. I found that the practice of alphabetically ordering ballots, used in a number of states, significantly distorts the composition of their state legislatures and congressional delegations in favour of representatives with early-alphabet names.

Arkansas: Martin Picks Provider New State Voting Gear | Arkansas Online

Secretary of State Mark Martin has decided to purchase a statewide, integrated voting system, including new voting equipment, through a Nebraska-based company although its proposal costs millions more than systems offered by two other companies. The company, Elections Systems & Software (ES&S), submitted a proposal costing $29,928,868; California-based Unisyn Voting Solutions submitted $24,407,805; and Austin, Texas-based Hart InterCivic proposed $18,789,997, Martin spokesman Chris Powell said Monday. When it requested proposals from companies, Martin’s office said they couldn’t exceed $30 million. “The primary factor in the selection of ES&S was capabilities,” Powell said.

Voting Blogs: Arkansas Chooses New Statewide Voting System | Election Academy

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how county clerks in Arkansas were looking forward to a new voting system but worried about plans to upgrade the system before the state’s March 2016 presidential primary.

While much of that uncertainty remains, at least they now know what machines they’re going to get after an announcement by the Secretary of State yesterday – though even that decision is raising some question about costs. … Of course, just identifying the vendor and a potential cost still leaves some very key variables – namely, delivery schedule and cost – though the Secretary’s spokesman suggested that fast-tracking the implementation is no longer on the table as the state continues to work on funding the purchase.

Editorials: In voting, will California finally enter the 21st century? | LA Times

The era of the neighborhood polling place with its paper voter rolls and rickety booths isn’t quite over, but it is well on its way out in California. No tears will be shed here: It’s high time the state entered the 21st century. That’s the opinion of new Secretary of State Alex Padilla as well. Last week he unveiled his second proposal to encourage voter participation in California: a plan to send mail-in ballots to every registered voter and to encourage counties to set up voting centers for their voters to use, regardless of precinct, up to 10 days before election day.

Texas: In Voting Rights, Who’s a Person? | The Texas Tribune

When most people hear the phrase “one person, one vote,” they don’t stop to think about who counts as a person. The U.S. Supreme Court gets to answer that in a case — Evenwel v. Abbott — that started here in Texas. The plaintiffs contend their votes don’t count as much as those of voters in other state Senate districts because the districts are designed to have the same number of humans in them, not the same number of voters. It’s a simple idea, but changing who’s counted — the voters, instead of the humans — would wreck the country’s political maps, particularly in states like Texas where large numbers of people are not eligible to vote.

Argentina: Santa Fe Begins Recount After Vote Split Three Ways | Bloomberg

Argentina’s fourth biggest voting district will carry out a recount after the election for state governor was evenly split three ways on Sunday.Electoral authorities for Santa Fe province, which represents about 8 percent of the electorate, should complete the recount within 10 days, Cabinet Chief Anibal Fernandez said on Monday. With 95 percent of votes counted, Miguel Lifschitz of the Socialist Party alliance that currently holds the governorship had 30.69 percent of the total, against 30.58 percent for Miguel Del Sel of Mauricio Macri’s PRO alliance. Omar Perotti of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s Victory Front alliance had 29.5 percent of the votes.“There are many strange things,” Del Sel said in a press conference Monday. “The people and us want to know what the final result was because if not we will begin to lose our trust in democracy.”

Bangladesh: Election Commission weighs no holiday on vote days | bdnews24

The Election Commission (EC) is weighing doing away with the general holiday on election days, arguing it affects voter turnout. But former chief election commissioner ATM Shamsul Huda has scoffed at the idea, dubbing it as “unrealistic”. Voting days are public holidays in Bangladesh to facilitate balloting. The country enjoys holiday during general elections, but in local polls, only areas where balloting takes place enjoy the facility.

Canada: Trudeau wants to do away with first past the post | Macleans

Justin Trudeau wants this fall’s national vote to be the last federal election conducted under the first-past-the-post electoral system. And, if the Liberal leader becomes prime minister, it may also be the last election in which Canadians can choose not to vote and the last in which they can only vote by marking an X on a paper ballot. Changing the way Canadians vote is just one element of a sweeping, 32-point plan to “restore democracy in Canada” that Trudeau is poised to announce today.

China: Hong Kong Election Plan Appears Unlikely to Win Lawmakers’ Approval | New York Times

Six months after the protests that paralyzed parts of Hong Kong for weeks, lawmakers here are set to reject the proposal that triggered the demonstrations, intending to vote down a plan vetted in Beijing that would change the way this former British colony selects its top official. Barring last-minute changes of heart by a handful of representatives, backers and opponents alike say the local government lacks the votes to secure passage of the proposal, which would allow all of Hong Kong’s registered voters to pick the chief executive from a slate of up to three candidates chosen by a panel dominated by Beijing loyalists. If the measure is defeated, Hong Kong will keep its current system, in which a small, elite group of about 1,200 selects the chief executive. Any future efforts to expand the franchise would be put in limbo.

China: Hong Kong Democracy Protesters Take to the Streets Ahead of a Crucial Reform Bill | TIME

Nine months after the Umbrella Revolution began, pro-democracy protesters again took to the streets of Hong Kong to demand a say in the way the city’s leader is elected in polls slated for 2017. A crowd of 2,000 to 3,000 people — workers and families as well as students and democracy activists — marched on Sunday afternoon from Victoria Park, a traditional gathering place for protests, to the legislature buildings downtown. Many carried yellow umbrellas — adopted as the symbol of Hong Kong’s democracy movement after protesters took to carrying them during last year’s unrest to protect themselves from police pepper spray.

Japan: Government scrambles to help young voters-to-be navigate elections law minefield | The Mainichi

Eighteen-year-olds will likely soon be able to vote and participate in political activities in Japan, but this may have some young people wondering: If it’s legal for an 18-year-old to go out campaigning, is it legal for that person’s 17-year-old friend to join them? Amendments to the Public Offices Election Act lowering the voting age to 18 are expected to pass the Diet on June 17, in time to allow some high school students to vote in next summer’s House of Councillors election. As such, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports Science and Technology are scrambling to develop educational materials for these soon-to-be voters. The materials won’t cover just the basics of the electoral process and casting ballots, but also provide concrete examples of and warnings against elections law violations.

National: States Await Court Ruling on Arizona Voting-District Maps | Wall Street Journal

The Supreme Court is expected to rule this month on an Arizona tool designed to strip politics from the drawing of congressional voting districts, in a decision that could end or expand attempts in several states to address partisan gerrymandering. Arizona voters chose in 2000 to set up a bipartisan independent commission that would draw voting districts. California voters in 2008 approved a similar commission, and several other states have given nonelected bodies some level of control over district boundaries. The goal is to curb the ability of a state’s majority political party to carve out voting districts that make their seats safer. Arizona’s commission draws both state legislative and U.S. congressional boundaries and is made up of five members—two Republicans, two Democrats and an independent chairman.

Voting Blogs: Candidates & Super PACs: The New Model in 2016 | Brennan Center for Justice

As voters begin to assess presidential candidates ahead of the 2016 election, they’ll face a new world in which ostensibly outside groups — which often have extremely close ties to the candidates, but are theoretically separate from them because they aren’t “controlled” by the candidate and don’t give their money directly to her campaign — could dominate political spending. That’s because super PACs and other groups conceived after the 2010 Citizens United decision may raise money without limits, while candidates cannot. While many have understood that super PACs would make a significant impact on American elections, few could have predicted the speed with which they have evolved and moved to the center of our political system. Download the Report

Alaska: Fairbanks Borough Assembly says ‘no’ to mail-in ballots, raises mill rate slightly | Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

The Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly shot down a proposal to change voting in local elections from the ballot box to the mailbox, but it was clear something needs to be done to boost voter turnout. The assembly voted down an ordinance authored by Assemblyman Lance Roberts to implement vote-by-mail elections in the Fairbanks borough during its meeting Thursday night, with Roberts casting the lone “yes” vote for the measure. The move was, in part, an effort to make voting in municipal elections more convenient in the hopes of boosting voter turnout. Turnout in the last two municipal elections has been historically low at 16.7 percent last year and 14.4 percent in 2013.

California: Los Angeles County voting to shift from inkblots to open source | Ars Technica

Los Angeles County is home to a burgeoning technology industry. It boasts a roster of high-profile companies including Hulu, Snapchat, and Tinder. As of 2013, it offered more high-tech jobs than other major markets in the country, including Silicon Valley and New York City. Come election time, however, its residents cast their votes by marking inkblots on ballots that resemble Scantron forms. This discrepancy hasn’t gone unnoticed. In fact, thanks to recent efforts, it’s gradually narrowing. LA County is finally in the process of developing an open source voting system, purported to be a flexible, intuitive replacement of the incumbent method. Under the new system, slated for public use in 2020, voters will indicate their choices on a touchscreen-operated tablet, after which a machine at the voting booth will print and process their paper ballots to be tallied. This is a leap from the ink-based system, which has remained unchanged since its adoption in 2003. The project, which began in 2009, stems from a combination of misfortune and luck. After the 2000 presidential election, many jurisdictions adopted paperless voting systems in compliance with new federal legislation. LA County couldn’t make the shift; the electronic systems on the market lacked the capacity to process its high volume of votes, and the county was forced to develop its own software. Eventually, some of the other jurisdictions’ machines began to fail and lost their certification. Though spared, Los Angeles County recognized this volatility, and it started drafting plans for a more sustainable solution.

Editorials: A California plan to boost voter turnout | Fresno Bee

Voter turnout is so abysmal in California that something has to change. So while it may not be the ultimate or perfect solution, legislators ought to seriously consider Secretary of State Alex Padilla’s proposal to overhaul how Californians vote. Padilla does not envision a statewide edict. Instead under Senate Bill 450, counties would be allowed to use a new election system starting in 2018. If all goes well, it could be expanded.

Iowa: Republicans scrap the Iowa Straw Poll ending election-season tradition | Associated Press

The Iowa Republican straw poll, once a staple campaign event for GOP presidential candidates, is vanishing because of waning interest from 2016 hopefuls. The governing board for the Republican Party of Iowa voted unanimously during a private conference call Friday to drop the event, said state GOP Chairman Jeff Kaufmann. It was scheduled to be held in the central Iowa city of Boone on Aug. 8. Republican officials wanted to make sure negativity surrounding the straw poll didn’t hurt Iowa’s traditional place in holding the first votes of the presidential nomination contest, with its leadoff caucuses.

Kansas: Dodge City USD ballot leaves ‘0’ off bond cost | Hutchinson News

Numerical figures are the same in English and Spanish – except on the ballots prepared for the Dodge City USD 443 bond issue. In the English version of the ballot question, the proposed bond amount is not to exceed “$85,600,000.” In the Spanish translation on the ballot, the number – “$85,600,00” – has the correct commas but is missing the last zero. Ballots for the mail election began arriving in voters’ mailboxes last week. They are due back in the Ford County Clerk’s office June 25, and some ballots already have been returned. “The typo in and of itself does not invalidate an election,” said Bryan Caskey, state director of elections in Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office.

New Hampshire: Gov. Hassan Likely To Veto Change In Voting Requirement | NHPR

Gov. Maggie Hassan says she is likely to veto a bill that would require a person to live in the state for at least 30 days before being able to vote. In a statement on Thursday, Hassan’s press secretary says the governor has “serious concerns” that this bill could violate the constitutional rights of New Hampshire citizens. This comes after activists and numerous lawmakers have put pressure on the governor this week to kill it.

New Jersey: Democrats pushing major changes to voting laws, an issue riling Christie & Clinton | NJ.com

Democratic legislative leaders plan to introduce and fast-track legislation that would make sweeping changes to New Jersey voting laws in an attempt to bring more voters to the polls in a state where turnout and registration rates are in decline, NJ Advance Media has learned. The “Democracy Act” will include about a dozen measures to expand voter access, according to representatives of left-leaning groups that are backing the plan. It will be introduced just a month after Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton sharply criticized Republicans for attempting to squelch voter participation, prompting a sharp rebuke from Gov. Chris Christie, a likely GOP White House contender.

North Carolina: Tick Tock: Will North Carolina Be Ready for 2016 Presidential Election | Public News Service

North Carolina is projected to be a “swing state” by analysts for the 2016 presidential election, yet its election law changes and redistricting still are being challenged in court. If the 2014 election is any indication, there is cause for concern, according to a Democracy North Carolina report released today that estimates that at least 30,000 voters did not vote in that election because of new voting limitations and polling-place problems. Report co-author Isela Gutierrez, Democracy North Carolina’s research director, said the state needs to take time to make sure the 2016 elections go smoothly. “We don’t want to become a national joke,” she said. “We have time now to take the right, proactive action to make sure voting goes smoothly in North Carolina, even if these restrictive new laws are not overturned by the courts.”

North Carolina: Judges get option on how to keep seat | Associated Press

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory has signed a bill offering a new way for voters to decide whether to keep a state Supreme Court justice on the bench. The “retention election” option was among 12 bills McCrory’s office said Thursday he had signed into law. It gives most sitting justices the option to be re-elected to additional terms in an up-or-down statewide vote, without a challenger. The option begins with Justice Bob Edmunds for 2016.

Tennessee: Nashville early voting sites appear saved by compromise | The Tennessean

All 11 Nashville early voting sites are likely to be reinstated and cleared to operate next month after an apparent compromise between the Metro Council and Davidson County Election Commission has eased election officials’ concerns. A budget spat with the mayor’s office that could have resulted in the elimination of all but one early voting site appears resolved. Renewed optimism from election commission chairman Ron Buchanan comes after Metro Council Budget and Finance Committee Chairman Bill Pridemore has committed to an additional $283,500 in funding for the election commission as part of a substitute budget to Mayor Karl Dean’s original proposal.