Press Release: Clear Ballot Brings Next Generation Voting System Technology to Multnomah and Josephine Counties, Oregon | Clear Ballot

Clear Ballot announced today that Multnomah and Josephine Counties have both chosen ClearVote for a next-generation voting system. Both counties are leaders in election innovation, adopting the newest voting technology in the industry. Oregon is the first state to adopt a software-based voting system, leading the rest of the country in the direction of efficient and modern elections. Clear Ballot software is designed to bring greater accuracy and transparency to elections with a new class of tools for election officials.

Florida: State Supreme Court orders new congressional map with eight districts to be redrawn | Tampa Bay Times

The Florida Supreme Court took a wrecking ball to Florida’s political landscape Thursday, throwing out the state’s carefully crafted congressional districts drawn by the GOP-led Legislature and ordering a new map within 100 days. In the historic 5-2 ruling, the court not only ruled the maps were the product of an unconstitutional political gerrymandering, it signaled its deep distrust of lawmakers and provided detailed instructions on how to repair the flawed map in time for the 2016 election. “This is a complete victory for the people of Florida who passed the Fair District amendment and sought fair representation where the Legislature didn’t pick their voters,” said David King, lead attorney for the League of Women Voters and the coalition of voter groups which brought the challenge. “The Supreme Court accepted every challenge we made and ordered the Legislature to do it over.” The new maps are likely to reconfigure nearly all of the state’s 27 congressional districts, open the door to new candidates, and threaten incumbents, who will now face a new set of boundary lines and constituents close to the 2016 election.

National: D.C. ranks high in ‘health of state democracies’ list. Virginia does not. | The Washington Post

The District government can lay claim to being the fourth-healthiest democracy in the country, according to a new report from the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a left-leaning policy institute and advocacy organization. Still, the report notes, while the city government has laudable laws encouraging participation and equality in local government, it’s impossible for it to have a truly healthy democracy without having representation in Congress and full control over its local budget. The study evaluated the District’s and each state’s government in three different categories: Accessibility in the ballot, representation in state government and influence in the political system.

Editorials: Can this Congress bolster the Voting Rights Act? | Los Angeles Times

Two years after the Supreme Court gutted a key portion of the Voting Rights Act, Democrats in Congress have proposed legislation that would restore many of the lost protections. At the same time, the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015 would address the court’s principal objection to the provision it struck down: that the formula used to decide which states must “pre-clear” changes in their election practices with the federal government was rooted in obsolete data about political participation by racial minorities. The Voting Rights Act, first enacted in 1965, outlawed racial discrimination in voting and, equally important, required federal approval of election procedures in states (mostly in the South) with a history of disenfranchising minorities, including through the use of literacy tests. The law transformed political participation by blacks and other minorities and dramatically diversified the ranks of elected officials. In 2006, Congress extended the law, including the coverage formula for pre-clearance, for 25 years.

Editorials: Gerrymandering won’t end with Supreme Court decision | Carl P. Leubsdorf/Dallas Morning News

The Supreme Court’s decision to allow a redistricting commission set up by Arizona voters holds the potential of reducing the rampant gerrymandering that has virtually guaranteed a Republican-controlled U.S. House until at least 2022. And that would be a good thing, since partisan redistricting in a half-dozen states has skewed the makeup of the House of Representatives, which James Madison said was supposed to display “fidelity and sympathy with the great mass of the people.” But it probably won’t happen. The reason: It’s almost impossible to take politics out of the process by which legislatures re-draw legislative and congressional district lines after every census to reflect population changes. Every unequal redistricting has essentially resulted from an election.

California: Fullerton agrees to voting districts in settling lawsuit | Los Angeles Times

Fullerton officials have settled a lawsuit alleging that the city’s at-large elections violate California’s Voting Rights Act, agreeing to create a district-based system that would then need voters’ approval. The suit, brought in March by Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles and the ACLU of Southern California on behalf of resident Jonathan Paik, argued that at-large voting prevented Fullerton’s minority populations from electing their preferred candidates. A city is stronger when residents feel heard through the democratic process. – Belinda Escobosa Helzer, ACLU Orange County and Inland Empire.

Connecticut: General Assembly Passes Law to Strengthen Voting Process | The Hartford Guardian

That’s because a new law will help enhance the voting process, state officials said on Wednesday after the General Assembly passed a Senate Bill: “An Act Strengthening Connecticut Elections.” Secretary of the State Denise Merrill joined the Registrars of Voters Association of Connecticut in praising Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s signing the bill into law. Officials said the law will establish qualification standards and certification for all Registrars of Voters. It will also establish qualification standards and certification for Registrars, require training and remove Registrars from office if they are found to be “in extreme cases of negligence or dereliction of duty,” according to a press release.

District of Columbia: Election Official Says Letting Non-Citizens Vote In D.C. Elections Would Face Hurdles | WAMU

D.C. legislators on Wednesday heard largely favorable testimony for a bill that would allow non-citizen legal residents to vote in local elections, but skeptics — including the head of the city’s election board — expressed concern over the logistics of expanding the franchise to Green Card-holders. Under the measure introduced by Council member David Grosso (I-At Large) earlier this year, D.C. would join Takoma Park, Maryland and a small number of other jurisdictions that allow legal permanent residents to vote in local elections. Grosso’s bill would only require that those residents live in the city for 30 days before being able to cast ballots.

Florida: Senate Redistricting Battle Looms | CBS Miami

As the battle over Florida’s political boundaries looms, the Florida Supreme Court is set to make a decision on the disputed congressional districts. A ruling could come as soon as Thursday. A trial on state Senate districts that lawmakers drew in 2012 is set to be heard by Circuit Judge George Reynolds beginning Sept. 25. But in a flurry of briefs and arguments filed in recent weeks, the Legislature and a coalition of voting-rights groups and citizens have laid out many of the arguments that Reynolds will hear in the high-stakes trial. The opponents of the Senate map, led by the League of Women Voters of Florida, have specifically challenged 28 of the 40 districts that lawmakers crafted during the once-a-decade redistricting process that follows every Census. The 2012 process, though, was the first to fall under the state’s anti-gerrymandering “Fair Districts” constitutional amendments, which were approved by voters two years earlier.

Kansas: Kansans may report suspected cases of voter fraud on secretary of state’s website | The Wichita Eagle

The Kansas Secretary of State’s Office has set up a website and phone hotline for Kansans to report suspected cases of voter fraud. Secretary of State Kris Kobach successfully pushed for the power to prosecute voter fraud this past legislative session. … Rep. John Carmichael, a Wichita Democrat who has sparred with Kobach on the issue, said the secretary of state’s office already had the power to take complaints about voter fraud before the law change this year.

Missouri: Ashcroft seeks 10,000 volunteers to get photo-ID proposal on the ballot | St. Louis Public Radio

Jay Ashcroft, a Republican running for secretary of state in 2016, is pleased that the Missouri Secretary of State’s office has authorized him to circulate his initiative petition proposal to allow a photo ID requirement for voters. Now, he just needs a bunch of volunteers to help out. “I want to try to get 10,000 volunteers across the state,” Ashcroft said Wednesday in a press conference at the Brentwood Library. “And if I do that, then everybody has to get 30 signatures: a couple of houses next to you in your neighborhood. A couple of people in your church, your synagogue, your mosque or wherever you worship. And then a couple of family members, and you’re done.” So far, Ashcroft estimates that he’s acquired about 1,000 helpers.

New Mexico: Elections Bureau working to modernize voting system | Associated Press

It won’t be until after the 2016 general election that a revamped, more modern election management and voter registration system is fully implemented in New Mexico, according to the state’s top election officials. The secretary of state’s office briefed lawmakers on its progress during a meeting this week in Albuquerque. The agency already has updated the candidate filing system and streamlined the reporting of election results, but work has yet to start on revamping voter registration. Kari Fresquez, head of the elections bureau and the agency’s chief technology officer, said creating a one-stop shop for voters and integrating the numerous separate systems used by county clerks across the state marks the biggest step in the modernization process.

Ohio: Redistricting reform campaign begins, preaching fairness for partisan process | Cleveland Plain Dealer

The campaign to change the way Ohio draws its Statehouse districts will spend the next four months persuading voters to say “yes” to Issue 1 on the November ballot. Fair Districts for Ohio, which kicked off its campaign Wednesday, will be chaired by the former state representatives who led the charge last year to revise the legislative redistricting process. Their plan, which passed the General Assembly with bipartisan support, requires voter approval and will appear on the November ballot as Issue 1. The plan does not change how congressional districts are drawn.

Virginia: GOP Delegate Jones defends 2011 House redistricting | Richmond Times-Dispatch

The chief architect of a Republican legislative redistricting plan said Wednesday that race was just one of many factors used to redraw boundaries in Virginia’s House of Delegates, disputing claims that the redistricting sought at all costs to pack black voters into a dozen districts. Del. S. Chris Jones, R-Suffolk, testified in front of a three-judge panel overseeing the redistricting trial in U.S. District Court in Alexandria. The GOP-controlled House of Delegates is defending itself against a civil lawsuit alleging that the 2011 redistricting unconstitutionally crowded black voters into 12 districts, limiting their influence in the rest of the state.

Washington: Yakima council drops bid to stay election, but OK’s limited appeal of $1.8M awarded to ACLU | Yakima Herald

The Yakima City Council on Tuesday formally abandoned its effort to stay this year’s elections under a new court-ordered system. However, the council did vote to file a limited appeal of the $1.8 million in legal costs awarded by the same court to the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, which sued to change city elections under the federal Voting Rights Act. The appeal only seeks to preserve Yakima’s right to challenge the award or seek its own costs if the city wins its appeal in the 9th Circuit Court. Both motions were passed unanimously.

Burundi: Opposition to Petition Regional Leaders Over Crisis | VoA News

A leading member of Burundi’s opposition FRODEBU Nyakuri Party says heads of state from the East African Community (EAC) have failed the people of Burundi following what he says was their failure to implement measures to resolve the political crisis. Hosted on Monday by Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, the regional leaders held a summit in a bid to help resolve the crisis in Burundi. The leaders called for a postponement of the presidential election scheduled to be held on July 15. But, Issa Ngendakumana, from the FRODEBU Nyakuri party, says the two-week postponement of the presidential vote and the selection of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to mediate an end to the political crisis are unlikely to resolve the ongoing political turmoil in Burundi.

France: Court annuls far-right’s mail-in vote to drive out National Front founder | The Globe and Mail

A French court on Wednesday annulled a special mail-in vote organized by far-right leader Marine Le Pen to try to end her father’s influence on their National Front party by stripping his title of honorary president. The court in the Paris suburb of Nanterre ruled that the vote by party members, currently under way, represents a breach in party statutes. The judge said that the mail-in consultation deprived Jean-Marie Le Pen of any means of expression. It was the second court victory in less than a week for Jean-Marie Le Pen, a co-founder of the National Front, and a setback for daughter Marine, the president.

Myanmar: Date set for election which could define scope of reforms | Reuters

Myanmar will hold a general election on Nov. 8, its election commission said on Wednesday, its first nationwide ballot since the end of direct military rule and a vote that could decide the scope of the country’s reforms. The election comes at a critical time for Myanmar, which has undergone major changes since shifting to a quasi-civilian system in 2011 but is now seeing tensions between rival forces vying for power after an unprecedented period of reform. The ballot would determine representatives of the bicameral parliament and regional chambers for five-year terms. The newly formed upper and lower houses would nominate and vote on who would be president later. The Nov. 8 date was confirmed by Nyunt Tin, a director of the Union Election Commission (UEC), when contacted by Reuters.

Russia: Elections Commission Lays Down New Rules for Bloggers | The Moscow Times

Russia’s Central Elections Commission approved a set of new rules Wednesday for popular bloggers during election campaigns, the Kommersant newspaper reported. Under the new rules, bloggers with web pages visited by more than 3,000 people a day must restrict any propaganda to the campaign period limits, and post “objective and verifiable information about candidates and parties that doesn’t infringe on candidates’ equality,” the report said.