Editorials: Voter data breach shows need for higher security thresholds | San Francisco Chronicle

It’s a sad feature of contemporary life that data breaches are as common as changes in the weather. Still, the news that a misconfigured database resulted in the exposure of about 191 million registered voters’ personal information is incredibly alarming. For years, skeptical political theorists have warned that, although new technology held great potential for voting, it came with many potential threats to voter privacy and security. Unfortunately, some of these valid concerns were hijacked by conspiracy theorists, especially after a notorious series of scandals were linked to Diebold voting machines in the 2004 presidential election. But given this week’s news, it’s time to return to the question of how technology can compromise voter security, with an eye to developing constructive solutions.

California: Businessman pushes ballot measure for NASCAR-style disclosure | Politico

Business executive John Cox, a Republican who ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. House and Senate in Illinois, has moved one step closer to placing an initiative on the ballot that would require state legislators to wear the emblems of their top donors. Cox is the sponsor of a landmark campaign finance initiative which would require all California state legislators to wear the logos of their biggest donors in a fashion that’s readily visible to voters — not unlike shirts worn by NASCAR drivers, which display their sponsors. In California, where big money and big lobbyists fuel political campaigns, “these politicians basically get put in office by donors, and they do what donors want,” he told POLITICO. “So let’s make them wear the logos to show where the real political power is.”

Florida: State embraces online voter signup, but fraud concerns linger | Tampa Bay Times

At the dawn of what promises to be a busy and potentially volatile election year in Florida, Gov. Rick Scott’s administration reports good progress in implementing a new system of online voter registration by 2017. The report raises familiar concerns that electronic voter registration could increase the possibility of fraud or identity theft and says the state will require “adequate and enhanced security protocols.” The Legislature last spring passed a bill allowing OVR by October of 2017, appropriated $1.8 million for the first stage, and ordered the Division of Elections to produce a progress report by Jan. 1. The 16-page report, sent to House and Senate leaders on New Year’s Eve, promises “timely and successful implementation” of the system by working in conjunction with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and all 67 county election supervisors.

Editorials: Republicans should accept redistricting defeat and drop talk of appeals | The Tampa Tribune

For a brief moment last week it appeared the Florida Legislature had come to its senses and was willing to accept a judge’s ruling on the boundaries for new state Senate districts. But that proved to be nothing more than wishful thinking. After indicating there would be no appeal, the Republicans behind the failed Senate redistricting maps say they are considering a number of avenues to appeal. That would surely add to the $8 million in legal fees the Legislature has wasted over several years trying to gain approval of the flawed maps it produced. For the sake of the taxpayers, if nothing else, legislative leaders should end the redistricting battle and begin implementing the Senate map Circuit Judge George Reynolds approved last week. Not only would it save tax dollars and end years of chaos, it would mean the state will finally have Senate districts that adhere to the Fair District amendments voters passed in 2010.

Hawaii: Native Hawaiians defend against contempt plea | SCOTUS Blog

A group of Hawaiians seeking to create a new tribal nation inside the state moved on Monday to head off a contempt order in the Supreme Court. They have done nothing to violate a Supreme Court order a month ago that blocked an election to select delegates to a convention to write a constitution, the group argued. They told the Court that they were going ahead with a convention, and contended that they had a First Amendment right to do so. That appeared to be an attempt to prevent a further attempt to interrupt the path toward a new nation. Their defense of their actions in recent weeks was siupported by the state government.Several Hawaii residents have formally asked the Supreme Court to hold in contempt the private group that ran, and then ended, the election for delegates.

Michigan: Snyder signs bill eliminating straight-ticket voting | Detroit Free Press

Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill that will eliminate single-party, straight-ticket voting in Michigan, but urged the state Senate to also pass a bill that will allow voters to cast absentee ballots without having to provide a reason. “Michigan joins 40 other states that require voters to select an individual for each elective office, rather than simply selecting a political party,” Snyder wrote in a letter explaining why he signed the bill. “As governor, I have strived to put people before politics and strongly encourage voters to do the same.” Straight-ticket voting allows voters to fill in one box on the ballot to support all Democrats or all Republicans all the way down the ballot. Local clerks have said the option has helped speed voting lines, which tend to get quite long, especially in urban areas during presidential election years.

North Dakota: Voter registration discussion focuses on verifying residency | Grand Forks Herald

Concerns about verifying where voters live dominated the discussion Tuesday as state lawmakers continue to study whether North Dakota should become the 50th state to adopt voter registration. The Legislature voted last March to study a system of voter registration, including what it would take to allow same-day voter registration like Minnesota has. Some contend the state already has a de facto voter registration system through its central voter file, which is maintained by the Secretary of State’s Office and receives address information from the North Dakota Department of Transportation.

Utah: Lawmaker’s bill would let 17-year-olds vote in Utah primaries | The Salt Lake Tribune

A proposal that Utah lawmakers will consider later this month could see the state join 20 others to allow 17-year-olds to vote in June primary elections if they’ll turn 18 by the general election in November. Salt Lake City Democratic state Rep. Joel Briscoe, a former high school civics teacher, said he hopes his proposal will help boost voter participation and get more young people engaged. Briscoe said if someone will be 18 and eligible to vote in November, “Why not get them involved in the primary election? Why not get them involved even earlier that year and get them more pumped for what’s going to happen in November?”

Wisconsin: Outgoing State Elections Director Outlines Next Steps in Transition to New Agencies | WUWM

Two new groups will begin administering Wisconsin’s elections and ethics laws this new year. Gov. Walker recently signed a bill that will dismantle the nonpartisan Government Accountability Board and replace it with two panels of partisan appointees, an elections commission and an ethics panel, by June 30, 2016. Republican leaders insist the Board was not responsive to their concerns. Outgoing GAB Director Kevin Kennedy says he will assist in the transition “The legislation specifically requires that I facilitate the transition to work with the secretary of administration and to be on call to the legislative oversight committees to provide reports on that process,” he says.

Central African Republic: Candidates call for halt in Central African Republic vote count | Reuters

Two thirds of the 30 candidates standing for president of Central African Republic on Monday demanded the authorities halt the vote count because of what they said were irregularities in the ballot. Many voters hope the Dec. 30 poll will restore peace after three years of conflict between Muslim rebels and Christian militias in which thousands of people have died and around 1 million have fled their homes. The protest by the candidates could mean the final result is contested, but it may be seen by some voters as a last cry by people who see their chances of winning the election slipping away.

Haiti: Election chief says runoff can’t be held by Jan. 17 | Associated Press

Haiti’s outgoing leader met with election authorities Tuesday in search of a solution to the country’s deepening electoral impasse, after an official said it would be impossible to hold a presidential runoff in time for a transfer of power by the constitutional deadline. President Michel Martelly announced last week that Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council was warning that the runoff must be held by Jan. 17 to fulfill the constitutional mandate of inaugurating a new president Feb. 7.

Niger: Report: Niger Voter Register Fit for Election if Changes Made | VoA News

Niger’s electoral register is good enough to enable the country to go ahead with an election on Feb. 21 as long as certain changes are made, the International Organization of the Francophonie (OIF) said in a report on Monday. The changes include getting rid of around 300 ‘ghost’ polling stations and 25,000 voters who have been counted twice, said the organization. President Mahamadou Issoufou is running for a second term and is favorite to win but critics say he has become increasingly authoritarian and has unleashed a campaign of repression before the p

South Korea: General elections mired in uncertainty without constituencies | The Korea Herald

With just 100 days to go before voters cast their ballots, the general elections in April remain mired in uncertainty due to the absence of local constituencies. Rival parties have failed to fully agree on redrawing the electoral constituency map for the elections on April 13. The current electoral map became invalid by the end of 2015. For the first time in history, candidates seeking parliamentary seats in the 20th National Assembly are jockeying for position ahead of elections without exactly knowing the constituencies. The rival parties are required to redraw electoral districts as the Constitutional Court ruled in October 2014 that the electoral map was unconstitutional, citing unequal representation.

Spain: Prime Minister sees new elections in Catalonia as inevitable | Reuters

Spain’s acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said on Tuesday that a new regional election in Catalonia was inevitable after its pro-independence bloc fractured over who would be the new government’s leader. Catalonia has been unable to form a government since an election in September due to disagreements between the pro-independence parties who together gained a majority. If a new candidate is not chosen before Jan. 11, new regional elections will be called automatically, acting regional head Artur Mas told a news conference on Tuesday. The most likely date would be March 6, he said. The failure to form a Catalan government mirrors a political stalemate gripping all of Spain following an inconclusive national election on Dec. 20, and increases the likelihood all Spaniards will return to the ballot box this year.