National: As Voter ID Laws Expand, Fewer People Are Getting Drivers Licenses | CityLab

A North Carolina law requiring people to have certain kinds of photo identification in order to vote is on trial this week, in a federal courthouse in Winston-Salem. The state passed a voting law in 2013 that even some conservatives have called one of the most restrictive in the nation in terms of the potential burdening effect it could have on women and people of color. The voter ID provision is one part of a broader set of measures included in that law that, among other things, shortens the early voting period and eliminates Election Day voter registration. Those other measures were taken up in a separate federal trial last summer, with a decision currently pending. This week, the voter ID provision is on trial, with the North Carolina state chapter of the NAACP arguing that it will make it harder for African Americans and Latinos to vote, especially when combined with the law’s other restrictions. African-American registered voters are far less likely to have driver’s licenses than white voters.

Alaska: Democrats want to allow independents in party primary | Associated Press

Alaska Democratic party leaders have approved allowing candidates not affiliated with a political party to run in the Democratic primary. In a letter to state election officials provided by the party late Tuesday afternoon, party chair Casey Steinau said that Democrats believe a state law requiring a candidate seeking a party’s nomination to be a registered voter of that party to be unconstitutional and unenforceable. A memo prepared for the party by an attorney with a Washington, D.C., firm concluded that a political party’s freedom of association is likely to be found to include the right to allow non-affiliated candidates to seek that party’s nomination and that state law prohibiting that is likely to be held unconstitutional.

California: Here’s why California’s new DMV voter registration law won’t raise turnout rates anytime soon | KPCC

The Motor Voter Act took effect Jan. 1 and made headlines as California became one of the first states to automate voter registration when people visit the Department of Motor Vehicles. Though sold as one way to help boost the state’s dismally low voter turnout rates, improvement in the numbers may not materialize, at least not immediately. As more people join the state’s voter rolls, they won’t necessarily show up to vote, and that could drive the rates down even lower. California’s Secretary of State Alex Padilla says he heard that possible outcome used as an argument against the new law when pushing for its passage, but in his view, it’s an argument that doesn’t hold up.

Florida: Secret-voter data bill, on shaky ground, is tabled a second time | Tampa Bay Times

Facing likely defeat, a Republican senator tabled his own bill Tuesday to make most public information on Florida voters secret. It was the second time that Sen. Thad Altman’s bill was pulled from consideration before a vote in the Senate Ethics & Elections Committee. Altman’s bill (SB 702), a priority of county election supervisors, would make all 12 million Florida voters’ home addresses, dates of birth, phone numbers and email addresses secret. The information has been public for decades, but supervisors say that because of the Internet, voters are shocked to find that the data is all over the web, making them potential targets of identity theft. The voter data is also used by Tom Alciere, a former New Hampshire legislator, who has for-profit websites that display states’ voter databases.

Indiana: Straight ticket voting could be eliminated as committee moves bill forward | WLFI

A bill passed through a House committee that would eliminate the option to vote straight ticket for your party, and would require an individual to cast a vote for each candidate. The bill called, “Voting Matters” barely passed with a 5-4 vote Monday morning. State Sen. Randy Head said he voted yes because some clerks have testified the straight ticket option can lead to voter error. City or county races often have multiple people on the ballot representing the same party. So Head said when clerks try to count the votes cast, they don’t know which candidates the voter meant to choose.

Kansas: Statistician’s lawyer says votes audit is vital, each 1 counts | Associated Press

A Wichita mathematician who found statistical anomalies in 2014 election counts will dispute efforts by election officials to block her request to audit voting machine results because all voters should be sure that their votes will count, her lawyer said Wednesday. Wichita State University statistician Beth Clarkson filed an open records lawsuit in February 2015 in her personal quest to find the answer to an unexplained pattern that transcends elections and states. She wants the voting machine tapes so she can establish a statistical model by checking the error rate on electronic voting machines used at a Sedgwick County voting station during the November 2014 general election. Sedgwick County officials filed a motion earlier this month asking Sedgwick County District Court to summarily dismiss her lawsuit. Judge William Woolley will hear arguments Feb. 18. The case is set for trial on March 22.

Nebraska: Legislature weighs future of state’s election technology | StateScoop

With most of Nebraska’s election technology now roughly a decade old, its Legislature is considering a pair of bills that would help chart the future of voting in the state. Secretary of State John Gale coordinated with state Sen. Tommy Garrett to introduce a bill last week that would convene a task force to spend 2017 studying the state’s voting technology, and investigate whether a move to all-mail or online voting would be feasible in the next few years. Meanwhile, state Sen. Matt Hansen introduced a measure earlier this month to convene a legislative committee to conduct a similar study over the next few months. Neither of the measures would result in immediate changes, but Gale told StateScoop that both bills represent meaningful first steps for the state. “We really don’t have a crisis at this point, but it’s timely to start thinking ahead,” Gale said.

North Carolina: Voter ID law on trial | MSNBC

Does North Carolina’s voter ID law illegally discriminate against African-Americans and Latinos? That question is at the center of a trial over the law held this week in a federal courtroom in Winston-Salem. If the law is upheld, it could make voting harder this fall in the Tar Heel State, which figures to be pivotal in the presidential race. And it could give a green light to other states considering similarly restrictive voting laws. During the first two days of the trial Monday and Tuesday, the law’s challengers aimed to show that racial minorities are more likely than whites to lack acceptable ID; that there’s no significant voter fraud of the kind that could stopped by the ID requirement; and that the state hasn’t done enough to educate voters about the law.

North Carolina: Witness: Cultural differences cause voter ID headaches | Winston-Salem Journal

In 2007, Maria del Carmen Sanchez was told she couldn’t renew her driver’s license because the name didn’t match the one on her U.S. passport. Then state officials offered this solution: Get a divorce, she said in a videotaped deposition played Wednesday during the federal trial on North Carolina’s photo ID requirement. It took a week before Sanchez was finally told she could simply fill out a name change form to get her driver’s license. But based on that experience, Sanchez said she thinks many Hispanics will face similar problems when they try to obtain a photo ID to vote in this year’s election. The photo ID requirement, which became law in 2013, didn’t take effect until this year.

Utah: GOP to hold presidential primary poll online | KUTV

Utah will make history during the upcoming presidential primary season with an online vote. State Republicans will hold the first ever caucus where registered voters can cast their ballot in person or online. Utah’s caucus day is set for March 22, a move putting Utah in the middle of the early voting, instead of the end where the primary was originally scheduled for June. Utah Democrats and Republicans will hold what is being called a “presidential preference poll.” Democrats will have to show up at their neighborhood caucus for that poll, Republicans will have options.

Virginia: Senate panel backs bills to ease absentee voting | Richmond Times-Dispatch

The Virginia Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections passed legislation Tuesday that would allow registered voters to cast absentee ballots in person without providing an excuse for not voting on Election Day. Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel, R-Fauquier, the committee chair, joined six Democrats on the committee to advance Senate Bill 106, sponsored by Sen. Rosalyn R. Dance, D-Petersburg. The measure now heads to the full Senate for consideration. “In today’s society, many people are not able to get to their home polling location on Election Day and so the option to vote absentee is crucial to ensuring that we do not disenfranchise these voters,” Dance said in a statement.

Wisconsin: Madison Hearing on Legislation Banning Local IDs Draws Tons of Opposition | WUWM

Several local governments in Wisconsin are interested in issuing local identification cards to residents. One is Milwaukee County. But some state lawmakers believe the locals are overstepping their authority – so legislators are considering a bill that would prohibit municipalities from issuing local ID cards. More than 50 people showed up to testify at a public hearing in Madison on Tuesday; most oppose the ban. Guadalupe Gallardo has a lot to say about any legislation she feels would restrict immigrants. She’s originally from Mexico but has lived in the U.S. for decades. “We’re going to raise our voice you know to fight for immigrants. They want to be free, they want to work. They are afraid. They’re afraid to go out, they’re afraid to go to doctors or schools because the police are going to stop them,” Gallardo says.

Haiti: Leadership is in limbo as political crisis looms | Los Angeles Times

With Haiti’s presidential elections postponed again and just over a week left until the current leader’s term expires, various political factions are negotiating to avert a constitutional crisis that could leave the Western hemisphere’s poorest nation with nobody clearly in charge. The vote was supposed to occur last Sunday, but election authorities last week postponed it indefinitely due to security concerns, including attacks that had occurred on election offices. It was the third time the vote — a runoff originally scheduled for Dec. 27 — has been delayed. President Michel Martelly must leave office by Feb. 7. The crisis threatens to throw the poor and troubled Caribbean country back into the instability and political morass that it has long struggled against.

Macedonia: Election Commission Starts Cleaning up Electoral Roll | Balkan Insight

Following the decision of the ruling parties to push on with elections in April 24, and amid concern that the opposition may boycott the polls, three separate teams comprised of IT experts are to cross-check the data to determine who is alive and in the country and so eligible to vote. “Two teams are to be engaged of competent local IT companies, and one of international companies,” the head of the election commission, the DIK, Aleksandar Cicakovski, said. The data on voters will be taken from various institutional registers, starting from the Central Bank, the Health Fund, the Employment Agency, the Cadastre Agency, the Public Revenue office and others.

Uganda: Biometric technology to be introduced in February elections | Citizen Digital

The Ugandan Electoral Commission (EC) has announced that it will use electronic systems in the forthcoming General Elections slated for February 18th, 2016. The commission will use a Biometric Voter Verification Kit (BVVK) during the voter verification process and use the Electronic Results Transmission and Dissemination System (ERTDS) to transmit presidential and parliamentary results. Also Read: Don’t feel like doing your laundry? In Kampala, there’s an app for that BVVK is set to authenticate voters’ identify using fingerprints to match the details in the systems in order to improve the management and conduct of the elections, according to a statement by the EC.