Press Release: Washington State Elections Division Certifies Innovative New Voting Technology | Hart InterCivic

Upon completion of an extensive system evaluation by the Washington Secretary of State Elections Division, the Verity Voting system by Hart InterCivic has been certified for use in all Washington elections.That means that all jurisdictions in the state can now use Verity Voting’s scalable central scan solution for vote-by-mail ballots, and they can now offer voters with disabilities improved accessibility with the Verity Touch Writer ballot marking device. The Verity Voting system offers a completely new choice for all jurisdictions in the State looking to replace their end of life voting systems. Verity uses advanced voting technology to easily address all of Washington’s election needs, including built-in flexibility that can evolve with the States changing election requirements.

National: Voting Rights Group Pushes Automatic Registration As 2016 Issue | Huffington Post

Automatic voter registration has become a zeitgeisty election reform for Democrats, since Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) signed the state’s first-in-the-nation measure into law and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton advocated for the method. Now, a voting rights group is making the proposal the centerpiece of its 2016 effort. The group, called iVote, will announce Monday that it will focus its efforts on creating campaigns to enact automatic voter registration laws in multiple states across the country, including swing states crucial to next year’s presidential election. The group plans to spend six to seven figures on the campaign. “We should be looking for ways to make it easier to vote and increase participation, not more burdensome to vote and suppress participation,” said Ellen Kurz, iVote’s founder and president. “Automatic voter registration will be a monumental step in guaranteeing more voters have their voices heard on Election Day.”

National: Here are the secret ways super PACs and campaigns can work together | The Washington Post

The 2016 presidential contenders are stretching the latitude they have to work with their independent allies more than candidates in recent elections ever dared, taking advantage of a narrowly drawn rule that separates campaigns from outside groups. For the first time, nearly every top presidential hopeful has a personalized super PAC that can raise unlimited sums and is run by close associates or former aides. Many also are being boosted by non­profits, which do not have to disclose their donors. The boldness of the candidates has elevated the importance of wealthy donors to even greater heights than in the last White House contest, when super PACs and nonprofits reported spending more than $1 billion on federal races. Although they are not supposed to coordinate directly with their independent allies, candidates are finding creative ways to work in concert with them.

Editorials: One for the people | The Economist

The biggest racket in American politics is the process by which legislative district lines are decided. In most states, the party that controls the legislature also draws the map. And in a process known as “gerrymandering”, that party typically rigs the districts to make sure its candidates prosper while rival candidates lose. Both Republicans and Democrats are guilty of producing congressional districts, like the one on the right in Massachusetts in 1812, so contorted that they have earned the names “Salamander”, “Hanging Claw” and “The Pinwheel of Death”.

Michigan: Democratic lawmaker to propose redistricting reform in Michigan | Michigan Radio

The Supreme Court’s decision to allow voters to take the authority to draw congressional district lines away from state legislatures and give it to independent commissions has many Democrats and progressives in Michigan very happy. There’s been lots of rejoicing among those who’ve hated gerrymandering – the drawing of district lines to benefit one party over the over. For the past fifteen years Michigan Republicans have dominated the redistricting process because they’ve been in control when the lines have been drawn. So, for Democrats, the Holy Grail is some kind of redistricting reform: taking the power of drawing district lines away lawmakers and giving it to an independent commission.

Texas: Despite Ruling, Redistricting Reformers Pessimistic | The Texas Tribune

Texas does not have an independent redistricting commission and is probably not going to get one. But the lawmakers who have been ignoring the idea for years lost one of their excuses: In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court turned back a challenge to Arizona’s commission, saying the voters had the right to take that power away from legislators. Other states have similar commissions. In some, like Texas, lawmakers draw the maps, and there are hybrids in others.

Utah: Mail-in votes becoming the rule in Salt Lake County | The Salt Lake Tribune

With two young kids, it’s hard for Holly Smith to go to a polling location on Election Day. If there’s a line, she’s often pulled between entertaining her 4- and 6-year-olds and being attentive to the issues and candidates. So for the past six years, the Holladay mom has opted to vote from home using a mail-in ballot. “It’s really convenient because I can take my time,” Smith said. She’ll soon be joined by most neighbors and many residents throughout Salt Lake County.

Virginia: Now comes the fight to make Virginia’s primary ballot | Richmond Times-Dispatch

Now that Virginia is set for a March 1 presidential primary, a new scramble starts — to qualify for the ballot in this vital swing state. Newly official presidential candidates Jim Webb and Chris Christie and the 20 other 2016 hopefuls will have to amass 5,000 valid signatures — at least 200 in each of the state’s 11 congressional districts — to make the Virginia ballot. State lawmakers cut the signature requirement in half after the 2012 debacle in which only former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas qualified for Virginia’s Republican primary.

Wisconsin: Walker office already acts as if records exemption is law | Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Gov. Scott Walker announced over the weekend that Republicans were abandoning their plan to create new exceptions to the state’s open records law, but for months the all-but-certain presidential candidate has been operating as if one exemption already was in place. Two months ago, Walker declined to release records related to his proposal to rewrite the University of Wisconsin System’s mission statement and erase the Wisconsin Idea from state law. He argued he didn’t have to provide those records to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and others because they were part of his office’s internal deliberations. The Progressive magazine and the liberal Center for Media and Democracy sued Walker over those denials. The cases have been combined, and the litigation is pending in Dane County Circuit Court.

Burundi: Ruling Party Considers Delay of Presidential Vote | VoA News

Burundi’s ruling CNDD-FDD party has indicated it will conditionally accept the call by East African leaders to delay the July 15 presidential election two weeks to July 30. Party chairman Pascal Nyabenda said any decision to delay the vote must ensure that the constitution, which mandates that presidential elections cannot go beyond July 26, is not violated. The constitution also states that the president-elect must be sworn in by August 26. Leaders of the East African Community, who met Monday in Tanzania, also named Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to mediate a dialogue between the Burundian government and the opposition.

Canada: Harper vs. Canada case a precedent to protect Fair Elections Act, lawyer argues | CBC News

A lawyer for the Attorney General of Canada is citing an old court challenge Stephen Harper launched as a private citizen as precedent for stopping an injunction seeking to stay some sections of the Fair Elections Act before this fall’s federal election. Government lawyer Christine Mohr cited the 2004 case in which Harper, then president of the National Citizens Coalition, attempted to get an injunction on the restrictions against third-party spending in elections. The attorney general is fighting an attempt by the Canadian Federation of Students and the Council of Canadians to get an injunction against key provisions of the new Fair Elections Act.

Canada: Canada braced for US-style attack ads | Financial Times

Derek Demers is not looking forward to more attack ads before Canada’s federal election this autumn. “I find them unbelievable down in the states, what they throw at each other,” says the retired software salesman in Calgary, who has mostly voted Conservative but for this election is considering other parties. “It’s pretty tiring. They can be creative, but they can be demeaning.” Canada’s election is four months away, yet voters are already getting their share of such US-style ads through third-party campaigns by political action committees that show a similar US influence.

Greece: EU dismisses Greek referendum as ‘not legally correct’ | Telegraph

Greece’s referendum was not “legally correct”, the European Commission has declared. Valdis Dombrovskis, the Latvian-born EU vice president responsible for the euro, said the vote had “complicated” the work of the creditors and had left the Greek government in a weaker, not stronger, negotiating position. … The Commission made clear before the referendum that the question as it was posed in the referendum was neither factually nor legally correct,” Mr Dombrovskis, a fiscal hawk, told reporters in Brussels.

Haiti: OAS pleased with preparations for elections in Haiti | Jamaica Observer

Outgoing Assistant Secretary General of the Organisation of American States (OAS), Albert Ramdin says he has been assured by Haitian authorities that elections will be held in the French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country as schedule. Ramdin, who visited Port au Prince last week, said the three rounds of elections will begin on August 9 for a new parliament with more than 2,000 candidates. “The issue with the candidates who are not approved to take part in the presidential elections that is a domestic issue that is on the basis on rules and regulations which Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) has insisted on and we have no say in that,” he told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC). Among those barred from the polls is former prime minister Laurent Lamothe, who had hoped to succeed President Michel Martelly.