National: Legacy voting machines ripe for tampering, breakdowns | GCN

As America preps for the next presidential election, its voting machines are in need of a serious update. Almost every state is using electronic touchscreen and optical-scan voting machines that are at least 10 years old, according a recent Wired article, with Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Texas and Virginia are all using voting machines that are at least 15 years old. When these machines were introduced, dial-up Internet was used by most of the country, and the voting technology was equally primitive. These outdated machines have a litany of problems including degrading touchscreens, worn-out modems and failing memory cards. And this is before one considers the cybersecurity issues.

Voting Blogs: Working Group Offers Meaningful Ways to Make Military Voting Easier | Democracy Fund

One of the many strengths of our military is that our service members come from all across the country, from rural counties to densely packed cities and everything in between. However, the geographic diversity of our military can also present unique challenges to service members’ ability to understand and quickly navigate voting rules. Most people are unaware of the confusing system our service members and overseas voters face when trying to request and cast their absentee ballot. A patchwork of state rules means that there isn’t one standardized process for this group. Yet many of these voters compare voting information with one another, often close to election deadlines when they have very little room for error. Unfortunately, well-meaning fellow voters from different parts of the country might assume requirements are the same for all and pass along bad information.

Colorado: Redistricting reform effort splits Democrats | The Durango Herald

A proposed ballot question that would change congressional redistricting in Colorado is being rewritten to address concerns raised by black and Latino voters. The bipartisan proposal has caused a bit of a rift within the Colorado Democratic Party, with black and Latino Democrats at odds with certain white Democrats over the effort. “There were, I’m sorry, a bunch of white guys sitting around the table deciding our politics on redistricting moving forward,” said state Rep. Angela Williams, D-Denver, chairwoman of the Colorado Black Caucus.

New Mexico: State Struggles With Campaign Finance Enforcement | Associated Press

Former New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna Duran was able to funnel thousands of dollars in campaign donations to her private bank accounts during a gambling binge without any regulatory agency noticing that she was breaking the law. Duran’s own agency was in charge of regulating campaign finance, but it was a confidential tip about numerous cash deposits that led to her getting caught. In the wake of the violations by Duran, more lawmakers were accused of sidestepping campaign finance laws by spending political donations on satellite TV service, clothing from outlet stores and other personal expenses.

North Carolina: Elections officials notifying voters who have no valid IDs | Greensboro News & Record

State election leaders sent letters last week to 825 registered voters in North Carolina, warning that they “may not possess an acceptable form of photo ID” for voting next year. State law will require all North Carolina voters to show a picture ID to vote. Ted Fitzgerald, the state’s lead voter outreach specialist, said Monday the letter went to a narrow slice of voters: those who signed a form at the polls this year saying they don’t have the acceptable ID required to vote in 2016. The letter asks people to fill out a form about whether they plan to get an acceptable ID, or if they need help getting one. The ID requirement is part of legislation state Republican legislators passed in 2013. The Voter Information Verification Act also reduced the early voting period from 17 to 10 days, eliminated same-day voter registration and abandoned out-of-precinct provisional voting.

Tennessee: Judge dismisses students’ voting rights case | The Tennessean

A federal judge in Nashville has upheld Tennessee’s voter ID law prohibiting the use of student identification cards at the polls. U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger on Monday granted the state’s request to dismiss the case and upheld the law as constitutional. The students who brought the case in March wanted to use their school identification cards to vote and said the state denying them the ability to do that was age discrimination. Her ruling comes after four years of debate over Tennessee’s law but does not necessarily end discussion because the ruling could be appealed.

Central African Republic: Referendum clears way for elections | AFP

Electoral officials said Monday that 93 percent voted in favour of the reforms limiting the president’s tenure to two terms, fighting institutional corruption and reining in armed militias. The referendum was seen as a test run for the much-delayed elections set for Sunday aimed at ending more than two years of sectarian conflict. The new basic law will usher in the sixth republic since independence from France in 1960 and mark the 13th political regime in a country notorious for its chronic instability. The poor former French colony is trying to get back on its feet since being plunged into conflict after a mainly Muslim rebellion overthrew longtime Christian leader Francois Bozize in 2013.

Congo: Presidential election advanced to early 2016 | Reuters

Congo Republic’s President Denis Sassou Nguesso said on Tuesday that he would call an election sometime in the first quarter of next year, several months ahead of schedule. Sassou Nguesso, who has ruled Congo for 31 of the last 36 years, is widely expected to seek a third consecutive mandate in 2016 after winning an October referendum on changes to the constitution that legalise his candidacy. He did not mention his intentions in the Tuesday speech before parliament. “The council of ministers will call on the electoral body earlier than expected so that the presidential election can take place during the first quarter of 2016,” President Sassou Nguesso told lawmakers.

Spain: Socialists Will Block Rajoy’s First Bid for New Term | Bloomberg

Spain’s Socialists said they’ll vote against Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy if he seeks parliamentary approval for a second term, signaling drawn out negotiations over the shape of the next government. With anti-austerity party Podemos making clear they’ll vote against Rajoy’s People’s Party in all circumstances, the Socialists’ opposition means it’s almost impossible for the prime minister to renew his mandate at the first attempt. The Socialists’ deputy leader, Cesar Luena, declined to comment on what his party might do in a second round of voting, when an abstention from the group’s 90 lawmakers could be enough for Rajoy to get through. The Socialists and Podemos set out their positions in Madrid Monday after meetings of their respective party leaderships to chart a way forward following an inconclusive election that saw Rajoy’s PP lose its majority. With Sunday’s vote resulting in four main parties in parliament without any clear government constellation, jockeying has begun as the parties seek to adapt to the new political landscape.

Sri Lanka: Government Set To Abolish Executive Presidential System | NDTV

The Sri Lankan Government is set to move a resolution in Parliament next month to convert the House into a Constitutional Assembly which will initiate the process of drafting a new Constitution and abolishing the executive presidential system. The government has noticed the Parliament of the motion to convert the House into a Constitutional Assembly and it has been placed in the parliamentary order book as upcoming business in the New Year, officials said. The officials said that the Parliament will be transformed into the Constitutional Assembly on January 9 when President Maithripala Sirisena is due to address the House to mark the beginning of his second year in office.