National: Presidential Race Just Started? Not According to the Spending | The New York Times

Since late last year, presidential hopefuls have been romancing donors, hiring staff and haunting the diners and senior centers of Manchester and Dubuque. But on paper, most of the candidates spent virtually no money exploring a presidential bid until very recently. According to campaign disclosures filed with the Federal Election Commission last week, the much-promoted campaign staff they hired had other jobs. And their many, many trips to New Hampshire and Iowa had nothing to do with running for president. Such accounting — which the campaigns defended as perfectly appropriate but some election lawyers said violated the law — has allowed would-be candidates to spend months testing the presidential waters while saving cash to use later in the primaries.

National: Where Candidates Stash Their Cash | Bloomberg

Chain Bridge Bank’s single ­location is next to a wine store and a café on the ground floor of a luxury condo building in suburban McLean, Va., about a half-hour outside downtown Washington. It looks like any small-town bank. Tellers keep bowls of candy at their windows, and staff members talk to customers about no-fee checking accounts. But right now, Chain Bridge, which has about 40 employees, is responsible for more of the hundreds of millions of dollars flooding into the 2016 presidential race than any other bank in the country. According to the most recent Federal Election Commission filings, Chain Bridge is the sole bank serving Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign, which reported raising $11.4 million as of June 30, and his allied super-PAC, Right to Rise, which says it’s raised $103 million so far. Donald Trump’s campaign banks at Chain Bridge, and it’s listed as the primary financial institution for the campaigns of Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and former Texas Governor Rick Perry. It’s also the only bank used by super-PACs supporting neurosurgeon and author Ben Carson, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, former technology executive Carly Fiorina, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, all Republicans.

Editorials: The Millions of Marginalized Americans | Frank Bruni/The New York Times

Not long ago I had separate chats with two political insiders who offered to fill me in on Jeb Bush’s strategy, if he prevails in the primaries, for winning the general election. In each instance I braced for a lengthy exegesis but got only one sentence: He picks John Kasich as his running mate. That was the playbook. It presumed that Bush would collect Florida’s electoral votes, having once governed the state. It presumed that Ohio could be delivered by Kasich, its current governor, who announced his own presidential bid on Tuesday. And it presumed that tandem victories in Florida and Ohio would seal the deal, because so much of the rest of America was dependably Republican — or Democratic. Just a handful of states decide the country’s fate. Shortly after my chats with those two insiders, a third described Hillary Clinton’s supposed plan for victory. “Cuyahoga County,” this operative said.

Arizona: Tucson election with no races to cost $540,000 | Arizona Daily Star

It’s already clear who will win in the city’s Primary Election next month. Every candidate is unopposed. But the election must go on — and it will cost taxpayers about $540,000. In the Aug. 25 election, members of each political party, and independent voters who opted to choose a party ballot, will select candidates for mayor and City Council member in Wards 1, 2 and 4. The winners advance to the Nov. 3 General Election.

Florida: State Senate races likely to face fallout of redistricting | Miami Herald

Like the aftershocks of an earthquake, Florida legislators are feeling the tremors of the Florida Supreme Court’s redistricting ruling on their own districts — particularly in the state Senate. Senators who thought they had comfortable re-election bids are now facing uncertainty as questions loom about whether the same factors that led the court to invalidate the congressional map will provoke judges to reject the Senate political boundaries, too. That would force the Legislature into another special session to redraw the Senate map and potentially make politically safe districts for many incumbents more competitive. Legislative leaders are privately discussing whether to proactively redraw the Senate map before it is thrown out by a court or — in their worst-case scenario — redrawn by the court.

Illinois: Voter registration on election day may cost local counties big money | Chicago Tribune

A new state law allowing election-day voter registration at polling places has those who run elections in the Fox Valley area reeling. Kane County Clerk John Cunningham said complying with the new law, which mandates registering voters at every polling place, would cost both Kane and DuPage counties about $1.9 million each, and Will County about $1.2 million. He said he knows this because of a meeting he hosted that included eight county clerks, including those in Will and Kendall, and the DuPage Election Commission. The meeting topic was what to do about the new law. Statewide, election officials have estimated it will cost between $10 million and $11 million to comply with the law.

Editorials: Kobach gains power to intimidate voters | Michael A. Smith/The Hutchison News

I am a white male, but most Americans are not. For many, even everyday encounters with public authority, law enforcement for example, can be terrifying. This makes me especially alarmed about a new law giving Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach the power to prosecute voter fraud, passed by the Kansas Legislature last month in the frenzy of last-minute legislation. The law is strange. First, because prosecution power is typically vested in federal authorities, state attorneys general, and local county prosecutors and district attorneys, not secretaries of state. Second, even Kobach himself cannot find voter fraud in Kansas. For example, his office publicly named a Wichita voter who they claimed was deceased. Wichita Eagle reporters found the man raking leaves in his yard. … Kobach’s new law may have chilling effects on voting.

North Carolina: Greensboro redistricting: One battle down, war to come | Greensboro News & Record

Last week, the City Council won a first victory in a federal lawsuit, halting a controversial redistricting law that would have fundamentally changed the council’s structure and how its members are elected. But council members said they realize that U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles’ decision late last week was the end of a battle, not the war. “It’s a step in the right direction,” Councilman Jamal Fox said. “It’s a big win for the people of Greensboro, but we know it’s not over.”

North Carolina: No one comes to defense of Greensboro redistricting |

A federal court ruling halting the redrawing of Greensboro City Council districts has prompted plenty of finger-pointing in Raleigh, but the blame game is because of what happened at the defense table Thursday not the decision from the bench. No one showed up at the federal courthouse in Greensboro to defend the law creating the new districts, which was rammed through the General Assembly three weeks ago after hours of debate and plenty of political arm-twisting. “I was surprised that no one from the legislature filed anything,” Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughn said. “They put so much time and effort into it, I thought that they would file a brief or be here in some capacity.”

Ohio: State redistricting lands back on the ballot | The Akron Legal News

The Ohio electorate will have the opportunity to pass a proposed amendment to the Ohio Constitution that would create a new format for redistricting state elections following the 2020 census. The effect of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent redistricting decision on Ohio law, however, is not yet clear, according to experts in the field. Ohio’s proposed amendment, which will appear on the November ballot as Issue 1, was passed by a bipartisan Ohio legislature in December 2014 as HJR 12, led by two outgoing legislators– Democrat Vernon Sykes and Republican Matthew Huffman.

Puerto Rico: Exodus from Puerto Rico could upend Florida vote in 2016 presidential race | The Washington Post

Puerto Rico’s economic crisis meant Jeffrey Rondon, 25, struggled to find even part-time work, so he recently joined the growing exodus from his Caribbean island to Florida. Now he holds a full-time restaurant job and something that could upend the 2016 presidential election — the right to vote in Florida, the biggest of all swing states. “It’s important to vote and be heard — it’s a privilege,” said Rondon, who is one of thousands of Puerto Ricans who have moved to Florida in the past year. As U.S. citizens, Puerto Ricans are relatively easy to register to vote, and they are attracting unprecedented attention because they could change the political calculus in a state that President Obama won by the thinnest of margins in 2012: 50 percent to 49.1 percent.

Texas: Attorney General’s Office Probing Valley Election Fraud Claims | The Texas Tribune

The Texas attorney general’s office has opened an investigation into a contested election in the Rio Grande Valley won by a client of Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa two years ago, according to a lawyer for the losing candidate. Houston attorney Jerad Najvar said Thursday that Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office is acting on a criminal complaint filed by his client, Letty Lopez. She lost to Lupe Rivera, Hinojosa’s client, by 16 votes in a November 2013 election for a spot on the Weslaco City Commission. More than a year ago, a visiting judge ruled that some of the votes for Rivera were illegally cast and ordered a new election held as soon as possible, according to local media. Legal wrangling has kept the new election from taking place, and Rivera has remained in office while Hinojosa has defended him in court.

Burundi: U.S. calls Burundi vote ‘deeply flawed’, urges dialogue | Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called Burundi’s election this week “deeply flawed” and urged President Pierre Nkurunziza to hold a “meaningful, serious” dialogue with the African country’s opposition, the State Department said. Nkurunziza won a third term in Tuesday’s election, which was boycotted by the opposition. Rivals accused him of violating the constitution by running for another five years in office. The election commission said on Friday that the president, who cited a court ruling saying he could run again, had secured 73 percent of the vote. Nkurunziza’s re-election bid has plunged Burundi into its biggest crisis since an ethnically charged civil war ended in 2005. Dozens of people have been killed in weeks of protests and more than 170,000 have fled to refugee camps in neighboring states.

New Zealand: Prison vote law breaches human rights – judge | Radio New Zealand

The ruling is a victory for career criminal Arthur Taylor, who has been fighting to give prisoners the right to vote since a 2010 law took it away from all inmates, no matter how long their sentence. At the time the legislation was being considered, the Attorney-General warned Parliament that a blanket ban contravened the Bill of Rights, but the law was passed anyway. Now Justice Heath has made a formal declaration that the law is inconsistent with the Bill of Rights and is unjustified. Under New Zealand law, Parliament can pass legislation that is inconsistent with the Bill of Rights if there are justifiable grounds for doing so. However, Justice Heath found that the law was full of inconsistencies and would lead to arbitrary outcomes.

Philippines: 3.8m registered Pinoys may lose voting rights | The Standard

Around 3.8 million registered voters may be disenfranchised in the national and local elections in 2016 if they fail to have their biometrics taken, a Commission on Elections official said on Friday. In his personal Twitter account, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said the 3.8-million registered voters without biometrics would not be able to vote if they would fail to come to a Comelec registration satellite booth within three months. Since the Comelec started the satellite registrations in all shopping malls nationwide, it has been able to take the biometrics of 500,000 registered voters.

Russia: Murder, Poisoning, Raids: It’s Election Season in Russia | Bloomberg

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the only billionaire jailed by Vladimir Putin, is assembling an army of volunteers to challenge the electoral system that supports his nemesis. Accusations of murder and poisoning are already flying. Khodorkovsky, freed 18 months ago, has said he hopes to spark a palace coup from self-imposed exile in Switzerland, exploiting what he predicts will be rising discontent with a contracting economy. He’s starting with a project to hunt for violations in the first major elections Putin and his ruling United Russia party will face since the president returned to the Kremlin in 2012 after a four-year stint as prime minister.

Spain: King Takes Swipe at Catalonia Independence Leaders | teleSUR

As Catalonia rushes towards a de facto vote on independence, tensions are growing with Madrid. Spain’s King Felipe VI lashed out at Catalonia independence advocates Thursday, amid allegations Madrid is trying to block a vote on separation. In some of his sharpest comments on Catalonia yet, Felipe warned, “Public authorities are subject to the rule of law.” “Respect for the law is the source of legitimacy and an unavoidable requirement for living together democratically in peace and freedom,” he said during a speech in Barcelona. Although the address did not specifically mention Catalonian independence, the monarch’s remarks appeared to be directly aimed at separatist leaders.