National: Mega-donors extend ‘shelf life’ of struggling 2016 hopefuls | AFP

Chris Christie and Rick Perry may have stalled in the US presidential race but they could struggle on to the first primary votes, thanks to the mega-donors keeping their campaigns afloat. But in American politics a few generous donors can keep a sputtering campaign alive, even when the political winds fail to fill a candidate’s sails. “This is the bring-your-own-billionaire election,” Chris Gates, president of the Sunlight Foundation, a non-partisan, pro-transparency group that is tracking 2016 campaign finance, told AFP on Monday. “It does allow them to hang on,” he said of the largesse. “It extends the shelf life of candidates who may not be creating any buzz or fire in the electorate.”

National: ‘Deez Nuts’ puts Federal Election Commission on bozo patrol | Center for Public Integrity

Thanks a lot, “Deez Nuts.” Since a poll propelled the fake U.S. presidential candidate into national headlines Wednesday, 249 copycats, clowns and pranksters have inundated the Federal Election Commission with paperwork launching “official” White House campaigns. Some possess leadership bona fides, if not proper constitutional qualifications: Star Trek Capt. Jean-Luc Picard, Queen Elsa from Disney’s “Frozen,” former Cuban President Fidel Castro, Jedi knight Obi-Wan Kenobi and Captain Crunch. And imagine a presidential debate that includes Frank Underwood from “House of Cards,” Ronald Reagan’s Ghost, a Bill Clinton imposter and three fraudulent Joe Bidens.

Alabama: Budget Cuts Risk Making It Much Harder To Get Required Voter ID | Huffington Post

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency said Monday that proposed budget cuts would force it to close all but four driver’s license offices, even though the state requires government-issued photo identification, like a driver’s license, to vote in elections. The 45 other locations would be closed in phases, the agency said, if the Republican-controlled state legislature were to pass the kind of “drastic” budget cuts it’s now considering. Lawmakers have proposed $40 million for the agency next year, which would be a $15 million cut from what it received in state funding this year. “We want citizens to know that their state law enforcement services are facing severe cuts which will result in a drastic reduction of public safety in Alabama,” a public information officer for the agency said in a statement emailed to The Huffington Post. “We encourage them to contact their state representatives and voice their concerns.”

Arkansas: New gear on hold for all but 4 counties | Arkansas Online

Only four Arkansas counties will have the state’s new voting equipment in time for the primary elections, Rob Hammons, elections division director for the secretary of state’s office, told the Arkansas County Election Commissions Association on Tuesday. Hammons spoke as a part of the association’s meeting at the Holiday Inn in Little Rock near Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport/Adams Field. About 200 election officials from across the state attended. Although the Arkansas Legislature passed Act 151 of 2015, allowing the secretary of state’s office to replace election commission equipment for up to $30 million, no money was set aside to pay for the equipment. “So we had the funding as far as the appropriation, but we never got the check,” Hammons said, adding that unfunded acts are common and occur when lawmakers must prioritize the state budget. “And that’s fine,” he said. “That happens all the time.”

Florida: Legislative friction sends redistricting case back to Supreme Court | Orlando Sentinel

The Florida Supreme Court ordered lawmakers to redraw the state’s congressional districts. They didn’t do it. Now, the state’s highest court will decide whether to give them more time or to let the courts draw the districts themselves. With the Republican-led House and Senate at odds over redistricting, Leon County Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis decided Tuesday to forward the unprecedented disagreement to the Florida Supreme Court. “I’m just going to ask them what they want me to do,” Lewis said. “I just don’t feel that I have any authority to do anything other than to report the situation.” In a two-week special session that ended Friday, the House and Senate couldn’t agree to new congressional districts after the court ruled in July that GOP operatives had stealthily submitted maps through proxies favoring the Republican Party, in violation of a constitutional prohibition against drawing new districts favoring political parties.

Kansas: Lawsuit over voting records could move forward | KSN

“I don’t think we have safety in our elections right now,” says Dr. Beth Clarkson. “As long as we are using these machines that are vulnerable, and have no verification, how can we claim we have secure elections?” Clarkson is suing Secretary of State Kris Kobach. She sued in 2014, but this time, she says it is different. “Last time, I asked for records for my precinct,” says Clarkson. “This time, I’m asking for a completely anonymous sample. Anonymous. I can pull a sample in a way that will preserve anonymity by making sure that we only sample voting stations that have multiple machines.” continues Dr. Clarkson. “Because they don’t track which machine goes where. The machines that we use are considered vulnerable, shall we say, to hacking. There’s nothing done after the election to ensure that the machine results that are reported are accurate.”

Louisiana: In Louisiana parish, a fight for black voting rights | MSNBC

Louisiana’s Terrebonne Parish has never elected a black judge, even though one in five parish residents is African-American. In fact, it re-elected a white parish judge who had been suspended for wearing black-face as part of a racist parody Halloween costume. Lawyers for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund say the problem is the discriminatory voting system the parish uses, and last year they sued Gov. Bobby Jindal under the Voting Rights Act to force a change. On Friday, they filed papers asking a federal judge for a summary judgment in their favor. The lawsuit demonstrates how the Voting Rights Act, which was badly weakened by the Supreme Court in 2013, remains a key tool for stopping not only high-profile statewide laws like voter ID, but also a range of local election rules that often fly under the radar.

Minnesota: Ballot selfies are debated but still legal | Pioneer Press

It’s a distinctly 21st-century spin on an age-old practice: Excited voters mark up their ballot on Election Day — then pull out a smartphone to take a picture of their exercise in democracy and post it to social media. These so-called “ballot selfies” are also at the nexus of a legal debate as some states try to curtail the practice while a federal judge defends it. “It’s a fascinating debate,” said Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon, the state’s election supervisor. “You really better have a good reason before you clamp down on political speech.”

Missouri: College student would be sole voter in Community Improvement District sales tax decision | Columbia Daily Tribune

A mistake by representatives of the Business Loop 70 Community Improvement District means a sales tax increase the district needs to thrive will require approval by a single University of Missouri student. On Feb. 28, Jen Henderson, 23, became the sole registered voter living within the community improvement district, or CID, meaning she is the only person who would vote on a half-cent sales tax increase for the district. The Columbia City Council established the district on a 5-2 vote in April in response to a petition from a group of property owners in the CID boundaries. The “qualified voters” in a CID are capable of levying various taxes or assessments within the boundaries of the district to fund improvement projects. Under state law, decisions to impose sales taxes in a CID are to be made by registered voters living in the district boundaries. If no such registered voters are present, property owners vote. Many homes surrounding the university-owned property where Henderson resides were not included in the district when it was drawn because district organizers wanted a district free of residents.

Pennsylvania: Wolf to announce online voter registration for Pennsylvania | Associated Press

Pennsylvanians will be able to register online to vote. Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration plans to launch the system Thursday, making Pennsylvania the 23rd state to offer Internet-based registration, officials told The Associated Press. The National Conference of State legislatures says five other states have approved online systems but not yet implemented them. Wolf and Secretary of State Pedro Cortes, the state’s top election official, plan to discuss the details at a news conference at the Harrisburg headquarters of the Pennsylvania County Commissioners Association. Doug Hill, the group’s director, said Wednesday that county officials strongly support the new system. nOnline registration was among the voting reforms the Democratic governor promised when he ran for office last year. Supporters say it’s cheaper, more accurate and more convenient than registering on paper.Online registration was among the voting reforms the Democratic governor promised when he ran for office last year. Supporters say it’s cheaper, more accurate and more convenient than registering on paper.

Editorials: Government Accountability Board – Elections, ethics watchdog just trying to do its job | Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

As we suspected, a state audit released last week found no major problems with Wisconsin’s nonpartisan Government Accountability Board, which handles ethics complaints and supervises state elections. Of course, you wouldn’t know that from the rhetoric coming from Republicans in the Legislature, some of whom want to gut this government watchdog. Citizens of this state need to send them a strong message: No. The Legislative Audit Bureau, also a nonpartisan agency, looked at nearly 1,900 complaints filed with the board from 2010 to 2013. The audit bureau recommended that the GAB consistently resolve such complaints in a timely manner and that staff provide the board with the names of people who can work as special investigators if needed, The Associated Press reported.

Argentina: Riot police suppress protests calling for new elections in Tucumán | El País

Tucumán has become the center of the Argentinean election campaign after thousands of protestors gathered outside government headquarters in the provincial capital of Miguel de Tucumán to call for new elections amid reports of widespread fraud during Sunday’s gubernatorial vote. After several hours, Governor José Alperovich, who has been ruling the region with an iron fist for 12 years, decided to break up the growing crowd in Plaza de la Independencia. People ran, police on foot and on horseback charged against the crowd, tear gas and rubber bullets were fired and several injuries were reported.

Canada: More than 22,000 federal inmates eligible to vote | CBC News

When Canadians vote in the federal election in October, thousands will cast their ballot from behind bars. Inmates in federal prisons and provincial jails are eligible to vote for a candidate in the riding where they lived before they were incarcerated. In the last federal election in 2011, voter turnout was 54 per cent in penitentiaries, not far below the 61 per cent who exercised their democratic right in the general population. “They are part of the polity and they want to be part of the democratic process,” Catherine Latimer, executive director of The John Howard Society of Canada, told CBC News.

Myanmar: Muslim parties fear exclusion from election | Myanmar Times

At least half-a-dozen independent and opposition party candidates have so far been disqualified, mainly after the citizenship of their parents was called into question. The ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party, meanwhile, said as of yesterday evening it had not dropped a single contestant. In the 2010 election, the government was accused by election monitors of skewing the scrutinising process in favour of eliminating opposition candidates in areas anticipated to be hotly contested. Muslim parties in restive Rakhine State are especially worried about this year’s process, after a sitting Muslim MP was cut from the candidate list last week. U Shwe Maung was rejected from the ruling party after serving as a Pyithu Hluttaw representative for Buthidaung for five years.

Nigeria: Voting Right for Nigerians in Diaspora Soon – Osinbajo |

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says voting right will soon be extended to Nigerians in Diaspora. Osinbajo stated this while declaring open a two-day 2015 Diaspora Day Conference organised by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of Federation yesterday in Abuja. “Our electoral process is evolving and as greater confidence is built in the institutions and processes associated with it, we may then create voting opportunities for our citizens abroad in the not too distant future”, he said.