Editorials: Presidential Election Year? Not For Millions of Ex-Felons | Yosha Gunasekera/Huffington Post

Incoming Kentucky Governor, Matt Bevin, set to work quickly. Through a series of executive orders, Bevin ensured that thousands of poor and minority individuals would not vote this year or potentially ever. Bevin reversed the work of his predecessor, former Governor Steven L. Beshear, who sought to ensure that Kentucky would no longer be one of only three states to permanently ban felons from voting. Bevin’s executive orders continue the long and repressive system of disenfranchising and alienating ex-felons. Almost six million Americans will not have the opportunity to exercise their democratic right to vote because they have been convicted of a felony. Ex-felons are released back into society with the expectation that they will lead full, law-abiding lives. However, denying felons fundamental freedoms that all other Americans enjoy make them second-class citizens. Out of the six million felons who have lost the right to vote, two-thirds have already completed their prison time. However, the punishment continues.

Voting Blogs: The Politician and the Gift | More Soft Money Hard Law

A number of political candidates over the years have recounted the experience of raising too much money, too much of the time, for their campaigns. They find it awkward and embarrassing to ask for the money, and the pace and intensity of this fundraising consume too much time that could be diverted to more productive uses. They understand the suspicions it raises in those looking on from the outside. Congressman Steve Israel is the most recent to write about experience, and he is a respected elected official whose contribution to this narrative will not be ignored. Israel is not talking about fundraising events to which tickets are sold, or about appeals on line or in the mail. It is about the person asked for money face to face, or ear to ear: the direct “ask”, which will be answered positively, negatively, or somewhere in between. It is a personal appeal, but one that is managed and strained: the candidate crammed in the cubicle with a phone, staff at his side, reading off notecards with bits of data about the fundraising target on the other end of the line.

Alaska: New online voter registration in place; PFD initiative backers want more | Alaska Dispatch News

With a ballot measure to simplify voter registration ready to move ahead, the Walker administration says its own online effort already is bringing results, signing up hundreds of new Alaska voters in less than two months. Alaska launched its online voter registration system at the end of November with the goal of increasing access to the ballot. Since then, 592 voter registrations have been completed, said Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott, who oversees the state Division of Elections. The division on Monday announced the new online voter registration system and the hiring of a new language assistant manager for Yup’ik and Gwich’in voters. Also new this year: a connection between voter registration and Permanent Fund dividend applications. Alaskans can click a link to register to vote after they finish their PFD application.

Massachusetts: Vote-scanners built with standard PC gear give elections an upgrade | BetaBoston

Boston-based Clear Ballot Group Inc. on Tuesday unveiled a new digital voting machine that could come in handy the next time election officials need to hold a recount. Unlike other machines that merely count the ink marks on paper ballots, the ClearCast voting machine scans and saves digital images of every ballot. These images can be inspected by officials to make sure votes were correctly counted. The system will also help election inspectors tally votes from improperly marked ballots. For example, a careless voter might circle a candidate’s name, instead of filling in the oval next to his name. With ClearCast, vote inspectors won’t have to physically inspect thousands of paper ballots to spot the blunder.

Missouri: House committee passes 2 voter ID measures | Associated Press

A Missouri House committee approved a pair of measures Tuesday aimed at requiring government-issued photo identification to vote. A similar ID law was struck down in 2006, with the Missouri Supreme Court saying it violated state residents’ constitutional right to vote. So, Republicans plan to turn the question to voters. One measure approved Tuesday would ask voters to amend the Missouri Constitution to allow photo ID requirements. The other bill would establish the legal framework for implementing such requirements. The bills, which both passed the Missouri House Committee on Elections by an 8-3 vote, are on a fast track, according to Rep. Sue Entlicher, a Republican from Bolivar who chairs the panel. She said House Speaker Todd Richardson wants a floor vote on the bills next week, though they still must be approved from the House Select Committee on State and Local Governments.

Nebraska: Senator eyes aging election technology challenge | Lincoln Journal Star

Nebraska needs to confront what may be a $20 million challenge in replacing its rapidly aging electronic election technology, Sen. Matt Hansen of Lincoln believes. Hansen introduced a legislative resolution (LR403) Tuesday to create an election technology commission to study the feasibility and cost of replacing election equipment throughout the state, including machines used by disabled voters and to count votes. “The machines may last another cycle or two, but it’s time to think about their replacements,” Hansen said. “We’re in uncharted waters,” he said. “The purpose of this resolution is to find a solution to the $20 million question: Who is going to purchase new machines?”

Ohio: Legislature might OK online voter registration soon | The Columbus Dispatch

After years of inaction, lawmakers are getting closer to having Ohio join most other states in allowing people to register to vote online, saving government money. “Online registration can boost participation while improving efficiency, ensuring accuracy and preventing fraud at the same time. It’s a classic win-win,” Sen. Frank LaRose, R-Copley, told a House committee on Tuesday. The bill, which the Senate passed 31-1 in June, expands the current system that allows voters to update their home addresses online — a system that Ohioans have used 295,000 times since August 2012. Secretary of State Jon Husted has argued for years that online voter registration would be more secure, convenient and accurate in addition to being less expensive than current paper registrations. The bill is backed by county elections officials, county commissioners and veterans groups.

Ohio: Elections experiment in Norton could strengthen voting process for all | Akron Beacon Journal

While there’s still no solution for what happened in November, when 861 voters were silenced after the post office failed to postmark absentee ballots, county elections officials are looking to a relatively tiny race in Norton to ensure they play no part in future screw-ups.
Summit County Board of Elections officials have devised a plan to determine, as quickly as possible, if votes are misplaced between the poll workers who collect them and the staff who count them. The plan, to be tested in Norton on Tuesday, involves comparing the number of ballots sent to each polling location with the number that return as either voted, voided or set aside as provisional ballots, which are counted after workers check voter eligibility.

Bangladesh: Election Commission moves to change poll symbols for female candidates | bdnews24

After coming under fire in the City Corporation and municipal polls, the Election Commission is changing symbols for female candidates. It had come under strong criticism for allotting household items to women during the city polls in April and the recent polls to 234 municipalities in December last year. An EC meeting on Tuesday proposed 10 new symbols dropping previous symbols like frying pan, ornaments and vegetables. Election Commissioner Md Shahnewaz said that they are now discussing over the proposed electoral rules and code of conducts for the upcoming Union Parishad (UP) polls. It will be finalised in a few days and forwarded to the law ministry for vetting, he added.

Ireland: For Dublin’s Homeless, a Precarious Right to Vote | Dublin Inquirer

In 2009, Benny Donnelly was homeless on the streets of Dublin. Mostly he slept rough, though occasionally he managed to spend the night in a hostel. But he was determined to have his say in the Treaty of Lisbon referendum. Donnelly was unsure of what procedure to follow, since he didn’t have an address. But, sure of his right to vote, he headed to Bridewell Garda Station – the closest one to Merchants Quay hostel – to register. “There was no one willing to help,” he recalls. Despite his efforts, he never learned how to register to vote without a permanent address, and he’s unclear on the matter to this day. “If there was a referendum on abortion tomorrow, I’d want to vote,” he says. But he wouldn’t know how. Article 16 of the Constitution guarantees the right to vote in Dáil elections to all citizens over the age of 18. But for some it is much more difficult to vote than for others.

Tanzania: Zanzibar president says regional vote re-run to go ahead | Reuters

The president of Zanzibar said on Tuesday that a re-run of the vote for a new leader of the islands, a semi-autonomous region of Tanzania, would go ahead despite calls by the opposition to scrap the plan. Zanzibar’s leader Ali Mohammed Shein did not announce a date, which will be set by the election commission. It is expected to take place in February. Tanzania has been one of Africa’s most politically stable nations but Zanzibar has been a hotbed of opposition to central government, with strong secessionist and Islamist voices. Votes on the islands are usually closely fought and often disputed.

United Kingdom: Expats fear time is running out to get voting rights restored before poll | Telegraph

Campaigners have responded with concern to a statement which reiterated a government pledge to restore voting rights for all British expats – without indicating whether this will happen in time for the EU referendum. One pensioner in France speculated that “Eurosceptics are holding this up in the Cabinet Office” amid fears that Britons who live in Europe would be most likely to vote against a Brexit. In a statement issued to Telegraph Expat, John Penrose, Minister for Constitutional Reform, said: “The 15-year rule has got to go. It’s why we said in our manifesto that we would scrap this outdated law and allow Britons a vote for life wherever they are.” But he did not say when that will happen. He went on to urge those who currently have the right to vote to join the electoral register as soon as possible.

Vanuatu: Candidate confusion kicks off snap poll campaigning | ABC News

Campaigning is officially underway in Vanuatu’s snap election set for January 22 amid confusion over the number of candidates taking part. Parliament was dissolved and elections announced late last year after 14 of the Government’s MPs were jailed in October to serve three-to-four-year jail terms, thus losing their seats in accordance with the constitution. More than 250 potential candidates applied to contest the election’s 52 seats, but many are yet to be approved — prevented from taking part until they repay government debts. Parties and candidates should have settled any outstanding monies owed to the Government, or its agencies, and receipts of payment provided to the Electoral Office earlier this week.