Maryland: Shalleck to head Montgomery County Board of Elections | Gazette.Net

Former county executive candidate Jim Shalleck will lead the Montgomery County Board of Elections as the board majority shifts from Democratic to Republican. Shalleck, a Republican, was appointed to the elections board in February by Gov. Larry Hogan and confirmed by the Senate. Shalleck was unanimously elected to serve as president of the seven-member board on Tuesday. “I’m very honored by this and grateful to the governor,” he said. For the next four years, local boards of election across the state will be led by Republicans. State law dictates that the majority party — the party of the sitting governor — have a majority on local elections boards.

New Hampshire: Ballot law pits freedom of speech vs. potential voter fraud | Associated Press

A federal judge on Monday sounded dubious that a New Hampshire ban on posting photos of voter ballots online was a necessary safeguard against fraud in the information age. U.S. District Court Judge Paul Barbadoro heard arguments in a lawsuit brought by three people who are under investigation after they posted pictures of their ballots online, including one man who voted for his dead dog because he didn’t like any of the candidates. The American Civil Liberties Union took up their cause, saying the ban was an overreaching restriction on free speech. “I think there is a serious problem with a law that bans the dissemination of truthful, public speech related to a matter of public concern,” said Gilles Bissonnette, the legal director for the ACLU’s New Hampshire chapter. “This is actually a blanket ban on a certain kind of speech.”

US Virgin Islands: Voting rights group seeks V.I. plaintiffs Appeals court: No birthright citizenship for American Samoa | Virgin Islands Daily News

The attorneys behind a series of lawsuits that will seek federal election voting rights for the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and Guam are continuing their efforts to find plaintiffs and are now developing their legal strategy, according to Neil Weare, founder of the voting rights group We the People Project. Weare would not give a specific date when his group would file the suits but said they would take place “in the next few months.” Semaj Johnson, a St. Croix attorney who is working with Weare on the cases, said that the group is taking its cues from the African-American civil rights movement, using legal action as a spark for wider social change. “With litigation, oftentimes it’s setting just a piece of precedent to move forward, and for our cause, it really is essentially about the incremental movement,” Johnson said. “We believe that it won’t only happen through the courts, most likely. It will happen through a combination of the courts, legislation, and of course public support.”

Virginia: Why the fate of Virginia’s congressional map matters | MSNBC

When voters in Virginia went to the polls in 2012, a narrow majority backed President Obama’s re-election bid, just as they’d done four years earlier. In a closely watched U.S. Senate race, the commonwealth’s voters also elected Sen. Tim Kaine (D) over former Sen. George Allen (R) by about six points. But just a little further down on the ballot is where things get tricky. If you add up all the votes case in each of Virginia’s U.S. House races, roughly 49% of Virginians voted for Democratic candidates, while about 51% supported Republican candidates. The state has 11 congressional districts, so if there was some kind of parallel between voter preferences and partisan results, we might expect to see five Democrats head to Congress from the state, along with six Republicans.

Burundi: Opposition Rejects New Election Timetable | VoA News

A spokesman for Burundi’s independent opposition coalition said the proposal by the electoral commission to change the dates for national elections has no standing because Burundi has no legally constituted electoral commission. Francois Bizimana, spokesman for Mizero Y’Barundi, or “Hope for All Burundians,” said the commission lacks a quorum because three of its five members have fled the country. Burundi’s constitution stipulates that the commission must make decisions by consensus which requires that four out of its five members be present.

Denmark: Danes Face Cliffhanger Vote as Ex-Colonies Become Kingmakers | Bloomberg

It’s a little bit like the Falkland Islands getting to decide who leads the government in the U.K. Danes may have to spend the final hours of June 18 — election night — watching their former colonies Greenland and the Faroe Islands decide their fate. After almost two weeks of campaigning, polls show it’s now too close to predict a winner in Denmark’s election. That means four parliamentary seats reserved for the two Atlantic islands that form part of the Kingdom of Denmark may determine who becomes the country’s next prime minister. “The likelihood that North Atlantic votes will be decisive is rising,” said Peter Kurrild-Klitgaard, a professor of political science at the University of Copenhagen. Should voting among Danes prove inconclusive, it “would be an unfortunate development for democracy,” he said.

Mexico: Soldiers guard polling stations as protesters burn ballot boxes | The Guardian

Protesters burned ballot boxes in several restive states of southern Mexico on Sunday, in an attempt to disrupt elections seen as a litmus test for President Enrique Peña Nieto’s government. Officials said the vote was proceeding satisfactorily despite “isolated incidents”. Thousands of soldiers and federal police were guarding polling stations where violence and calls for boycotts threatened to mar elections for 500 seats in the lower house of Congress, nine of 31 governorships and hundreds of mayors and local officials. Midterm Mexican elections usually draw a light turnout, but attention was unusually high this time as a loose coalition of radical teachers’ unions and activists vowed to block the vote. They attacked the offices of political parties in Chiapas and Guerrero states and burned ballots in Oaxaca ahead of the vote.

National: Citizens United is making local TV rich. Here’s why. | Slate

Remember the outrage over Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission? The 2010 Supreme Court decision allowed corporations and other entities to expend unlimited funds on electoral influence, inspiring feverish protests and calls for constitutional reform. Jeremiads about the devolution of political discourse from an active citizenry engaged in public debate to a Machiavellian nightmare of corporate manipulation proliferated. Coupled with the growing awareness of economic inequality, Citizens United helped incite the Occupy movement and has already become a byword for corruption in the American political process. Like plenty of Americans, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg detests the ruling. “If there was one decision I would overrule, it would be Citizens United,” she told Jeffrey Rosen of the New Republic. “I think the notion that we have all the democracy that money can buy strays so far from what our democracy is supposed to be.” While it’s easy to locate those who defend Citizens United on constitutional grounds, finding support for the decision’s real-world effects on public discourse, debate, and democratic participation is a tougher task. But there’s one party that ought to be cheering the ruling’s positive impact on its livelihood: local TV.

Editorials: Hillary Sides With Democracy | Jonathan Bernstein/Bloomberg View

Hillary Clinton’s call for universal automatic voter registration is a major positive development in the voting wars. She puts the national Democratic Party squarely behind Oregon’s recent innovative registration law. As Cass Sunstein says at View, Americans don’t need to register with the government to be entitled to other rights; voting shouldn’t be any different. It’s pretty simple: If we want everyone to participate, then voting should be easy. Voter registration in the U.S. is a real, and unnecessary, hurdle. That’s no coincidence: Registration was originally set up around the turn of the previous century in part by those concerned that the wrong kinds of people (mostly recent immigrants from southern and eastern Europe) would vote. There are plenty of ideas to make voting easier, but removing registration as a hurdle is the big one, on both a practical and theoretical level.

American Samoa: U.S. court rejects American Samoans’ bid for full citizenship rights | Reuters

A U.S. appeals court on Friday ruled against a group of American Samoans who had argued that those born in the U.S. territory in the South Pacific should be eligible for U.S. citizenship at birth. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, noting that both the U.S. government and the government in American Samoa opposed the campaign, rejected the legal challenge made by named plaintiff Leneuoti Fiafia Tuaua and seven others. Writing on behalf of a three-judge panel, Judge Janice Rogers Brown said the court was sympathetic to the claim, but reluctant to “impose citizenship by judicial fiat – where doing so requires us to override the democratic prerogatives of the American Samoan people themselves.”

Arizona: Redistricting plan begins ahead of court decision | Arizona Republic

The meter’s running … Work has already begun on drawing new congressional maps at the Legislature, even as the political world awaits a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court on whether that would even be needed. The House and Senate leaders inked a $65,000 contract with National Demographics Corp. in late May. The Glendale, Calif.-based firm is no stranger to Arizona: It did the redistricting duties for the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission in 2001. Back then, the Legislature had no quarrel with the IRC, unlike this decade, when it took the commission to court, challenging its authority to draw congressional boundaries.

Editorials: Kris Kobach’s pursuit of ‘double voters’ in Kansas is hollow | Steve Rose/Kansas City Star

While all eyes were focused last week on the Kansas budget, without fanfare a new law was passed and sent to the governor to sign that turns Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office into the voter fraud police, as well as the state’s attorney general. Lawmakers and the governor took away the power from county district attorneys. This is important because, alas, Kobach got what he wanted and can now go after “criminals” who vote twice and throw the book at them. There’s just one little hitch. To pull off his grandstand play, Kobach will only be able to rustle up a tiny number of offenders. Kobach claims he will go after 100 or so double-voting offenders from the 2014 election. The truth is, it is too soon to know much about the 2014 race. It takes a while for another state to match its voting database with that of Kansas to see whether someone did, indeed, vote in one state and then another. For example, Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe does not yet have that 2014 election information and doesn’t expect it for quite some time.

Michigan: Governor signs bill to fix Flint election, opening up ballot for mayoral candidates |

Candidates for mayor of Flint can start focusing on the campaign and forget about whether they’ll be on the primary election ballot. Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation today, June 5, to authorize extension of the filing deadline for the August primary election, a move that will allow for a standard showdown for the city’s top job. Incumbent Dayne Walling, businesswoman Karen Weaver, and two city councilmen — Wantwaz Davis and Eric Mays — are in line for spots on the ballot, city officials have said.

Tennessee: Nashville early voting sites axed unless more funding added; mayor’s office blasts decision | Associated Press

Davidson County Election Commission has outraged officials at the Nashville mayor’s office after the panel voted that it is prepared to cut the number of early voting sites in metro Nashville’s general election from 11 to one, unless more funding is acquired. Media outlets report that the election commission voted 3-2 on Wednesday to operate only one early voting site — the state’s legal minimum — if the Metro Council approves Mayor Karl Dean’s proposed budget without changes. Dean’s proposed operating budget is $868,000 lower than what the commission sought.

Virginia: District Court Strikes Down Virginia Congressional Maps | National Journal

A federal court ruled Friday that Virginia legislators will have to redraw the state’s congressional lines after misinterpreting Voting Rights Act requirements, but an attorney for the defendants said it’s likely that they’ll appeal to the Supreme Court. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ruled for the second time that legislators unnecessarily “packed” African-American voters into certain congressional districts, ostensibly to follow a requirement that minority voters maintain their control of certain districts—but also limiting their ability to affect other districts’ elections. The three-judge panel ruled 2-1 that the Republican-controlled legislature had packed an excessive number of minorities into a single district, represented by Democratic Rep. Bobby Scott, when it drew the congressional map in 2012.

Washington: State AG’s opinion on ACLU case could have wide reach | Yakima Herald

Reverberations from Yakima’s voting rights lawsuit with the American Civil Liberties Union are being felt across the state and in Olympia, where the state Attorney General’s Office is expected to release an opinion related to the issue. The opinion won’t have much, if any, impact in Yakima’s case. But it’s likely to be studied carefully in many other cities, especially Pasco. When Pasco officials saw how poorly Yakima fared in the ACLU lawsuit, they began drafting plans earlier this year to revamp their city’s election process in order to avoid a similar fate. Yakima has been ordered to change its election process by a federal judge who said its old election system violated federal election law by routinely suppressing Latino interests. Under the judge’s order, which is under appeal, Yakima City Council members would be elected by voters in their districts and would no longer be subject to citywide voting.

Burundi: Opposition leader says elections must be held by August | Reuters

Burundi opposition leader Agathon Rwasa said a presidential election must be held by August at the latest, but a fair vote was unlikely without security and a free media. A planned June 26 poll looks increasingly untenable after more than a month of protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term. Parliamentary and local elections have already been postponed due to the unrest in which more than 30 people have been killed, according to activists. Burundi emerged from an ethnically fuelled civil war in 2005, and the crisis has stirred fears of a new bout of violent instability in Africa’s Great Lakes region. The country has a similar ethnic make-up to neighbouring Rwanda, where 800,000 people died in a 1994 genocide.

Canada: Changes to Ontario elections include new ridings, spring fixed date | CBC

The Ontario Liberal government is tabling legislation this afternoon to create 15 new ridings that would be up for grabs in the provincial election in 2018. The government is also planning to switch the fixed date of the provincial election from the fall to the spring and to “strengthen the rules” surrounding election campaign advertising by third-party special-interest groups such as unions. The proposed new ridings would match constituency boundary changes recently made at the federal level. Most of the new seats are in the Greater Toronto Area. The bill, if passed, would bring the number of seats at the Ontario Legislature to 122. It currently stands at 107.

Luxembourg: Luxembourg votes not to give foreigners national voting rights | Reuters

Luxemburgers have resoundingly rejected a proposal to let foreign residents vote in national elections, a move that would have been a first in Europe and could have expanded the electorate of the tiny but cosmopolitan Grand Duchy by as much as 50 percent. In Sunday’s consultative referendum, only about 22 percent supported the proposal, part of a modernizing agenda backed by liberal Prime Minister Xavier Bettel. There were also clear majorities against lowering the voting age to 16 from 18 and introducing 10-year term limits for ministers, following the 19-year rule of Bettel’s conservative predecessor Jean-Claude Juncker, now the EU’s chief executive.

Mexico: Independent Wins Mexican Governorship | Wall Street Journal

A maverick former mayor became Mexico’s first independent candidate to win a governor’s seat, riding a wave of voter anger against the country’s traditional political parties. The news from Sunday’s midterm elections wasn’t all bad for President Enrique Peña Nieto, however: His ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, and its allies appeared likely to keep a slim majority in the lower house of Congress, according to early official results. The runaway victory of Jaime “El Bronco” Rodriguez in Nuevo León state, an industrial powerhouse and home to some of Mexico’s biggest corporations, could spark a wave of independent candidacies nationwide for the 2018 presidential vote, a development analysts said might threaten traditional political parties’ grip on power.

Turkey: Ruling Party Loses Parliamentary Majority | New York Times

Turkish voters delivered a rebuke on Sunday to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as his party lost its majority in Parliament in a historic election that thwarted his ambition to rewrite Turkey’s Constitution and further bolster his clout. The results represented a significant setback for Mr. Erdogan, an Islamist who has steadily increased his power since being elected last year as president, a partly but not solely ceremonial post. The prime minister for more than a decade before that, Mr. Erdogan has pushed for more control of the judiciary and cracked down on any form of criticism, including prosecuting those who insult him on social media, but his efforts appeared to have run aground on Sunday. The vote was also a significant victory to the cadre of Kurds, liberals and secular Turks who found their voice of opposition to Mr. Erdogan during sweeping anti-government protests two years ago. For the first time, the Kurdish slate crossed a 10 percent threshold required to enter Parliament.

The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for June 1-7 2015

Members of a teachers union holding banners with images of some of 43 missing rural teachers college students are reflected in the sunglasses of a policeman wearing riot gear, outside the offices of the National Electoral Institute, in Chilpancingo, Guerrero State, Mexico, Friday, June 5, 2015. The confrontation between the teachers and scores of police surrounding the electoral offices ended peacefully. Radical groups and unionized teachers have vowed to block Sunday's voting for the lower house of congress, nine governorships and hundreds of mayorships. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) In an address in Texas, Hillary Clinton called for sweeping changes to elections and voting laws, arguing that measures including universal voter registration and national early voting are necessary to counteract a tide of laws aimed at making it more difficult for some people to vote. Nathaniel Persilly notes that as they consider a major redistricting case, the justices of the US Supreme Court, like most of us, might be surprised to learn that the most basic information as to who is an American citizen cannot actually be found in any publicly available government data set — anywhere. Nevada is keeping its caucuses for selecting presidential nominees, disappointing supporters of several Republican presidential contenders who had hoped to shift the early-voting state to a system of primaries. Vermont became the 14th state to allow same-day voter registration. A federal court concluded for the second time that Virginia’s congressional boundaries are unconstitutional because state lawmakers packed black voters into one district in order to make adjacent districts safer for Republican incumbents. One Wisconsin Institute, Inc., and Citizen Action of Wisconsin Education Fund along with a half-dozen voters have filed a federal lawsuit challenging a host of changes Republicans have made to Wisconsin’s election laws, alleging the provisions burden black people, Latinos and Democratic-leaning voters. Burundi’s opposition parties and civil society groups welcomed a decision to postpone Friday’s parliamentary election, while Mexico has experience experienced severe violence and demonstrations ahead of this weekend’s parliamentary elections.

National: U.S. authorities unlikely to stop 2016 election fundraising free-for-all | Reuters

White House hopefuls raking in record amounts of money in the 2016 U.S. presidential race are already being accused by watchdog groups of breaking campaign fundraising laws. But the U.S. Department of Justice is unlikely to prosecute possible violations and halt the funding free-for-all, say current and former department officials. With deadlock in the campaign finance regulator, the Federal Election Commission, watchdog groups are calling on the Justice Department to investigate contenders such as Republican Jeb Bush, who they say has conducted a charade of “non candidacy” to skirt federal election fundraising laws. Bush’s campaign said on Thursday he would announce his White House bid on June 15. Interviews with 11 current and former Justice Department officials indicate the department is unlikely to enforce rules before the November 2016 election, or even after. That means the election could unfold with record money – predictions are for overall campaign chests of more than $5 billion, double the cost of the 2012 election – but little regulation, they said.

National: Hillary Clinton Says G.O.P. Rivals Try to Stop Young and Minority Voters | New York Times

Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday accused Republicans including her potential rivals Jeb Bush, Scott Walker and Rick Perry of “deliberately trying to stop” young people and minorities — both vital Democratic constituencies — from exercising their right to vote, as she presented an ambitious agenda to make it easier for those groups and other Americans to participate in elections. Speaking at Texas Southern University here in front of her largest crowd yet as a candidate for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, Mrs. Clinton accused Republicans generally of enacting state voting laws based on what she called “a phantom epidemic of election fraud” because they are “scared of letting citizens have their say.”

National: Hillary Clinton Pushes for Voter Registration Overhaul | Bloomberg

Hillary Clinton called Thursday for sweeping changes to elections and voting laws, arguing that measures including universal voter registration and national early voting are necessary to counteract a tide of laws aimed at making it more difficult for some people to vote. Speaking at Houston’s Texas State University, at a ceremony honoring the late civil rights leader and Democratic Representative Barbara Jordan, Clinton set her sights squarely on some of her potential Republican opponents, who she said are “systematically and deliberately trying to stop millions of American citizens from voting.” In one of her most powerful and passionate appearances of her campaign thus far, the former secretary of state singled out four current and former governors, whose actions “have undercut [the] fundamental American principle” of the right to vote in their “crusade against voting rights.” Instead of continuing along the same path, she said, “they should stop fear-mongering about a phantom epidemic of election fraud” and work to make it easier for Americans who want to vote to go to the polls.

National: How Jeb Bush’s Presidential Announcement Will Change His Money Game | National Journal

The former Florida governor and scion of the modern Republican Party’s most prominent political family revealed on Thursday that he will formally announce his long-expected presidential candidacy on June 15 in Miami. The event comes almost six months to the day after Bush said last December that he was “actively exploring” a campaign and months after it has become clear Bush would, in fact, run. His dodging of that reality had begun to wear thin in recent weeks. On Sunday, pressured about his candidacy by CBS’s Bob Schieffer on his final day hosting Face the Nation, Bush offered up a tepid: “I hope so. I hope, I hope I’m a candidate in the near future.”

Editorials: Hillary Clinton, Voting Rights and the 2016 Election | New York Times

A basic fact often gets lost in the propaganda that swirls around voting laws in this country: between one-quarter and one-third of all eligible voters — more than 50 million Americans — are not registered. That alarming statistic is the backdrop to efforts by Republicans in recent years to pass state laws that restrict ballot access, a recent Democratic campaign to push back against those laws, and a bold set of proposals that Hillary Rodham Clinton laid out Thursday afternoon in a speech at Texas Southern University, a historically black college in Houston. In addition to pushing needed and long-overdue reforms, the speech highlighted the yawning gulf on voting rights between Mrs. Clinton and the Republican candidates for the White House, many of whom have been cynically committed to making voting harder for the most vulnerable citizens. “What part of democracy are they afraid of?” Mrs. Clinton asked.

Florida: New election equipment upgrade not compatible with purchased iPads | NBC-2

More than $700,000 of taxpayer money was spent on iPads the Lee County Election Supervisor can’t even use. It turns out they’re not compatible with computers in the elections office. Supervisor Sharon Harrington is asking for hundreds of thousands of dollars more to replace them. The snafu has a lot of taxpayers upset. The big question now is what to do with them. “What are they simply going to do with more than $700,000 in iPads that have already been purchased? I’m not sure if there is a return-to-sender package on that,” said Patrick Nadel of Fort Myers. Nadel is also a financial advisor and calls the purchase of 2,000 non-compatible iPads a poor business decision. “That type of situation can be alleviated with a simple call to an IT department with the question of ‘will this work with what we have,'” said Nadel.

Illinois: New unfunded mandate adds $1.9M to Kane County Clerk’s budget | Chicago Tribune

Kane County Clerk John A. Cunningham is rallying colleagues and county officials to amend a newly enacted bill requiring clerks extend the grace period for voter registration to early registration and Election Day at all precincts, which would cost taxpayers $1.9 million. “It puts us in a bind,” Cunningham said Wednesday. “We have been working quite diligently and doing everything in our power to reduce the cost. We are trying to come in the back door and get an amendment,” the clerk said.

Illinois: Expansion of same-day voter registration hits snag? |

A change in Illinois law forcing large counties to provide same-day voter registration at polling places is drawing opposition from those charged with implementing it. The law requires same-day registration at all polling places in counties and municipalities with populations of more than 100,000. Illinois had tried same-day voter registration at a few polling places in each county during the November 2014 election. A month later, state legislators passed the law, which became effective June 1. With the exception of the special election to replace congressman Aaron Schock, county clerks are eyeing the change for 2016 elections. But early cost estimates of seven figures have several suburban officials — Democrats and Republicans alike — balking. Kane County Clerk Jack Cunningham estimates the cost of same-day registration at $1.8 million. That’s for $16,000 worth of equipment per polling place, plus training two people to register the voter. Kane County had same-day registration at five sites in November 2014; the new law requires same-day registration at 96 more sites in the county. “It’s a real burden,” Cunningham said.