National: Republicans to charge media to cover 2016 convention | Associated Press

Representatives for news organizations who plan to cover next summer’s convention are protesting a move by the Republican National Committee to charge news media organizations a $150 access fee for seats on the press stand. Seats on risers constructed for newspapers, magazines, wire services and online print publications have been awarded without charge in the past. Representatives for daily and periodical press galleries in the Capitol protested Monday that the media “should not be charged to cover elected officials at an event of enormous interest to the public.” The four-day event will be held in Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena.

Voting Blogs: Preparing Today to Meet and Manage the Challenges of Elections in 2016 | Democracy Fund

It’s 2015, months away from the first presidential primary and more than a year away from the presidential election. Election officials often hear, “Must be easy right now between elections, with nothing to do.” Guess again. This “off year” of 2015 will instead be a busy time for the more than 8,000 election officials across the US. Experience shows election officials that the more they prepare, the fewer problems they will encounter in the presidential election year. What happens when there’s failure to adequately prepare? Imagine the chaotic scene in Hartford, Connecticut, where hundreds of voters were turned away because election officials didn’t have registration rolls at polling places in time. Planning ahead to plan and reduce the likelihood of these preventable mistakes must happen now.

Arizona: State looking to upgrade voting machines | Cronkite News

It’s a new age of machines. Voting machines. Arizona and 42 other states have election equipment that has exceeded or is close to passing its expected life span of 10 years, according to a study by the Brennan Center for Justice, a law and policy institute at New York University School of Law. “The equipment for the most part has been fairly durable,” said Eric Mariscal, election director of Gila County. Mariscal said that Gila County Dept. of Elections has used the Accuvote paper ballot scanner units since 2004. “We’ve had very few problems,” he added

Press Release: Matagorda County Updates Election Technology with Purchase of Hart InterCivic Solution | Hart InterCivic

Matagorda County, Texas has purchased a new voting system from Austin-based Hart InterCivic. With the addition of Matagorda County to its family of customers, Hart now provides state-of-the-art election solutions for 109 Texas counties as well as hundreds of additional jurisdictions across the U.S. “The Hart Voting System is the most secure, accurate and reliable system currently certified by the Texas Secretary of State,” said Phillip Braithwaite, President and CEO of Hart InterCivic.

Florida: Legislators open redistricting session, hit new wall | Miami Herald

Less than an hour after Florida legislators opened their fourth special session on redistricting Monday, they were roiling in a bitter dispute over how far they could go to protect half the Senate from facing voters in a tumultuous presidential election year. Just moments after the Legislature officially started its special session at noon, it became abundantly clear one major hurdle already exists as the chambers prepare to redraw Florida’s 40 state Senate seats: The two chambers, dominated by Republicans, are split over who will have to run for re-election in the Senate in 2016. The House, citing a 1982 court opinion and a ruling from the Florida Supreme Court in 2012, believes that when the Legislature redraws the district lines, every member whose district is revised will have to run for re-election in 2016. That would include as many as 14 state senators who were elected to four-year terms in 2014. “We’ve always understood it to be everyone has to go back and run again,” House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, told reporters. Not so, said State Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, chairman of the Senate Reapportionment Committee.

Georgia: State’s voting machines could be at risk from age | Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Thousands of voting machines used for elections across Georgia are at least 13 years old and dangerously close to becoming outdated, according to a recent national report documenting the age of machines used across the nation. State officials, however, say voters should have no doubts that they are maintained well and in good working order. They also don’t plan to replace them any time soon, despite concerns from both local election officials and voting advocates that Georgia needs to start planning for an overhaul that could cost millions of dollars. “We have done a very good job taking care of this equipment,” said Merle S. King, who leads the Center for Election Systems at Kennesaw State University. The center since 2002 has worked on behalf of the state to oversee the operation of the machines and make sure the intricate web of Georgia’s voting system performs smoothly for every federal, state and county election held across the state.

Illinois: Democrats want automatic voter registration in state | Associated Press

Illinois Senate Democrats have proposed a plan to automatically register qualified residents to vote when they apply for a drivers license or some other form of state ID unless they decline. The current law requires someone to opt in. Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, said his proposal would reduce red tape, save money and increase voter participation. “The current process creates an unnecessary barrier for citizens to exercise their fundamental right to vote,” Manar told a Senate subcommittee last week. “And it’s an inefficient use of taxpayer dollars.” Critics worry that it might lead to registering noncitizens, increasing voter fraud and expense, and lengthening lines at drivers license facilities.

Indiana: Judge bars Indiana from enforcing ‘ballot selfie law’ | Associated Press

A federal judge Monday barred Indiana from enforcing a new law that prohibits voters from taking photos of their election ballots and sharing the images on social media. U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker issued a preliminary injunction preventing the state from enforcing the “ballot selfies law” that made it a potential felony to post photos of a marked ballot on social media. In her 20-page ruling, Barker invoked U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis’ 1928 warning that “the greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.”

Kansas: Lawsuit over possible voting machine “anomalies” in Sedgwick County moves forward | KSN

There is now a trial date set to get voting results tested in Sedgwick County. Local Certified Quality Engineer Beth Clarkson is suing Sedgwick County Elections Commissioner, Tabitha Lehman. Clarkson wants to find out if there could be election fraud in Sedgwick County. Or, possible problems with the electronic voting machines. “I’m really concerned that our voting system has been undermined by these voting machines,” says Clarkson. “And I think we’ve got to do something about it if that’s the case.” Clarkson wants an anonymous sample of the paper tapes that tabulate elections results. She says there are statistical anomalies with the electronic voting machines. Secretary of State Kris Kobach was part of the lawsuit. But at a hearing before a judge on Monday, Kobach was dropped from the lawsuit.

Editorials: Kansas Voting Volley | Lawrence Journal World

After years of hearing Secretary of State Kris Kobach complain about the state’s lack of prosecutions for voter fraud, most Kansans probably were expecting a more dramatic start to the secretary’s own prosecution efforts. Having obtained the authority earlier this year to prosecute such cases on his own, Kobach kicked off his anti-fraud campaign last week by filing charges against three people who allegedly voted both in Kansas and another state during the same election cycle. All three people apparently are U.S. citizens, so the prosecution has nothing to do with the state’s new proof-of citizenship law. It’s a matter of people either mistakenly or intentionally voting in two different states in a single election. Either way, according to the law, they have committed a crime, and Kansas is now seeking to hold them accountable.

Maine: Ranked Choice Voting Advocates Deliver Signatures | Maine Public Broadcasting

Supporters of instant-runoff voting, sometimes called ranked-choice voting, have submitted nearly 70,000 signatures to initiate legislation in Maine that would require the process in electing members of Congress, the Legislature and the governor’s office. Let’s say you are choosing between six candidates for governor in a primary election. Under the proposal, you, the voter, could rank your favorites in order, without being required to rank every candidate. The candidate with the lowest vote total would have to drop out, and all of their votes would be redistributed. Then, if none of candidates has a clear majority of the votes, the candidate with the fifth largest total is dropped from the count, and his or her voters’ 2nd choice is added to the remaining candidates’ tabulations. Sound complicated? Supporters say it isn’t, really.

Montana: McCulloch orders counties establish satellite voting offices | Great Falls Tribune

Secretary of State Linda McCulloch has directed counties that include reservations to establish satellite election offices, but tribal activists say she’s left a big loophole. McCulloch said she connected with tribal leaders and county election officials during the past three weeks and incorporated their feedback into her directive. She asked them to describe the needs of Indian voters and logistics of establishing the satellite offices. “The success of these election offices on reservations will depend upon cooperation between the counties and tribes, and from my conversations with both tribal leaders and election administrators, I am confident that the collaboration will be successful and that voting access will be increased where it is needed,” she said.

Montana: Group suing over election laws must reveal donors, spending | Associated Press

The U.S. Supreme Court is refusing to take up the case of a Montana group that doesn’t want to disclose its donors and spending as it seeks to overturn the state’s campaign finance laws. U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen had ruled that Montanans for Community Development must answer questions about the group’s formation, operation and communications with candidates and other groups. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Christensen’s ruling.

Wisconsin: Judge declines to expand acceptable forms of voter ID | Associated Press

A federal judge on Monday denied a civil rights group’s request that voters be allowed to use more forms of photo identification at Wisconsin’s polls, marking another chapter in a string of legal decisions surrounding the politically-charged voter ID requirement. The American Civil Liberties Union asked U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman in March to declare that people can use technical college IDs, out-of-state driver licenses and veteran photo IDs to vote. The ACLU argued that the voter ID law allows four-year college IDs at the polls but it is unclear whether technical college IDs are acceptable. The group also argued that Wisconsin voters with out-of-state driver licenses must surrender the licenses, forfeiting the ability to drive, so they can get Wisconsin IDs, amounting to an unconstitutional poll tax. Finally, the group contended the law arbitrarily excludes the use of Veterans Administration IDs even though U.S. military IDs are acceptable. Adelman rejected all three arguments.

Editorials: Dismantling the Government Accountability Board weakens government | Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

It appears the state Assembly will take up this week the bill aimed at wreaking Republican revenge on the Government Accountability Board, replacing it with a system that doesn’t work particularly well on the federal level and hasn’t worked well in Wisconsin in the past. This attack on the nonpartisan watchdog agency that supervises state elections and conducts investigations into ethics violations reeks of payback partisanship. Under it, and other measures, legislators would like to set themselves up as the sole arbiters of transparency and accountability. That’s not how our system of government is supposed to work. It is similar to the underhanded attempt to gut the state’s open records law on the Fourth of July weekend by this same crew of legislators led by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald. And it deserves the same kind of fate: an overwhelming demand from angry citizens to kill the bill.

Azerbaijan: Election preparations in full swing | New Europe

Preparations for the upcoming Parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan are in full swing. Campaigning kicked off on October 9 and will last until 8:00 a.m. October 31. During this parliamentary election, some 1,246 candidates are competing for seats in the 125-seat Azerbaijani Parliament, the supreme legislative body of the country, Central Election Commission Chairman Mazahir Panahov has said. Candidates for members of Azerbaijan’s Parliament at the upcoming elections scheduled for November 1 have received a number of campaigning recommendations from the Central Election Commission.

Bulgaria: Referendum held on electronic voting | EU Observer

Bulgarians will vote on Sunday (October 25) in a referendum on whether to introduce electronic voting, which the country’s reformist leaders hope can change its political landscape and advance their agenda. If the Yes camp wins, electoral law would be amended to give voters the choice of going to the ballot box or staying at home and voting on their computer or tablet. Some 77 percent of voters are likely to vote Yes, according to a poll conducted earlier this month by the Sofia-based Alpha Research agency. It said the referendum turnout is expected to be 49 percent – which would be enough to validate it – compared to 58 percent forecast for the local elections also held on Sunday.

Canada: Fair Elections Act blamed for confusion at polls | The Globe and Mail

Voters in ridings across Canada reported confusion at the ballot box on Monday, with many attributing the issues to the Fair Elections Act, a controversial bill that ushered in many changes to the electoral process, from campaign finance to voter identification. “Canadians shouldn’t have to be experts in electoral law to cast a ballot,” said Josh Paterson, the executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association. The group intervened in an ongoing case against the bill that sought to have its provisions suspended for this election. That argument was turned down in July, but a full court challenge will be heard after the voting. “We’re stuck with it for today, and hoping to get changes for next time around,” said Mr. Paterson, who himself was asked for unnecessary ID when he voted at the advance polls.

Canada: Stunning Rout by Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party | The New York Times

Starting with a sweep of the Atlantic provinces, the Liberals capitalized on what many Canadians saw as Mr. Harper’s heavy-handed style, and the party went on to capture 184 of the 338 seats in the next House of Commons. The unexpected rout occurred 47 years after Mr. Trudeau’s father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, first swept to power. Justin Trudeau, who will be 44 on Christmas Day, will become Canada’s second-youngest prime minister and the first to follow a parent into office. While the Liberal Party had emerged on top in several polls over the past week, its lead was short of conclusive and Mr. Trudeau was an untested figure. There was no ambiguity, however, in Monday’s results. The Conservatives were reduced to 99 seats from 159 in the last Parliament, according to preliminary results. The New Democratic Party, which had held second place and formed the official opposition, held on to only 44 seats after suffering substantial losses in Quebec to the Liberals.

Egypt: Second day of ‘election without voters’ | Reuters

The lack of interest, particularly from the young people who comprise the majority of Egypt’s population, contrasted with the long queues and youthful enthusiasm of the 2011-12 polls that followed the overthrow of veteran autocrat Hosni Mubarak. “I’m not going to give my vote to someone who doesn’t deserve it,” said Michael Bassili, 19, from Alexandria. “As young people, we’re trying to fix the country and we’ll work to do this … but these guys are just interested in money and themselves.” President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi had personally urged Egyptians to use their vote, and the low turnout suggested the former general, who once enjoyed cult-like adulation, was losing some of his appeal.

Myanmar: Early Voting Problems in Myanmar Election | VoA News

Myanmar Embassy officials in Singapore have extended early voting there through at least Wednesday amid criticism of alleged voting manipulation at Myanmar embassies in various countries. Officials on Sunday had told potential voters in Singapore – some camping overnight on sidewalks – that only the first 3,000 in line would be able to cast ballots. Some 20,000 Myanmar nationals in Singapore had requested to vote in advance of their country’s November 8 general election. Myanmar embassies in various countries, including Singapore and Thailand, have faced a backlash of angry voters complaining about delays and being denied the right to cast ballots. Thailand is home to an estimated several million Myanmar citizens but less than 700 were deemed eligible to cast ballots – and a number of those faced difficulties when they actually went to the embassy in Bangkok to vote.

Switzerland: Nationalist party on track to win, projections say | Associated Press

A nationalist party riding fears about mass migration to Europe appeared set Sunday to become the big winner in Swiss legislative elections, projections showed, capping a shift to the political right in the small Alpine nation. The anti-immigration Swiss People’s Party appeared set to gain 11 seats and the pro-business Free Democratic Party another three in the lower house of parliament, the National Council, according to the latest figures from state-backed broadcaster RTS. Together, the two leading parties of the right were set to hold 99 seats — just one short of half control of the 200-seat assembly. The result marks a shift from the success of moderate parties in the last election four years ago: The biggest parties of the left and center all lost ground, in particular two Green parties, or held even. The outcome giving the People’s Party nearly 30 percent surpassed poll predictions, while the Social Democrats — the country’s second-largest party — unexpectedly lost support. Final results for the National Council were expected by Monday. The makeup of the upper house, the 46-member Council of States, will be known in three weeks.