Editorials: Kobach gets assist on voter registration | The Wichita Eagle

After years of trying, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach just got the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to do what he wants. All it took was an edict from the EAC’s new executive director, Brian Newby – who just happens to be the former Kobach-backed elections commissioner of Johnson County. Kobach had been fighting with the EAC in and out of court over whether Kansans who use the federal voter registration form, which only asks applicants to swear they are U.S. citizens, should be compelled to prove U.S. citizenship, as state law has required since 2013 of those using the state form. He believed he could consider federally registered voters to be partially registered, and throw out their votes for local and state elections.

Alabama: Popularity of online voter registration a headache for some local officials | Decatur Daily

The state’s new online voter registration system appears well on its way to becoming the preferred option for Alabamians looking to register or update their voter information. But the influx of new applications this election season also has meant long hours for local officials who must process the documents. Announced last week by the Alabama Secretary of State, the system allows residents to register to vote or update their voter information online. According to the office of the secretary of state, the system is designed to increase the accuracy of voter rolls and provide a more convenient alternative to the existing paper forms.

Voting Blogs: Connecticut’s Current Battle over Campaign Contributions | State of Elections

In 2014, Republicans filed a complaint against Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy, alleging that he and the Democratic Party used state contractor funds in violation of state law for Malloy’s campaign. A legal battle has ensued, raising questions about the interplay between state and federal campaign finance laws, as well as the jurisdictional reach of the State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC) to conduct investigations. Connecticut law does not allow parties to use contributions from state contractors in state campaigns. Federal law, however, permits parties to use state contractor funds during federal election years for federal election activities, which includes “get-out-the-vote” efforts. Get-out-the-vote activities are those that promote voting in elections in general. For example, they include “encouraging or urging potential voters to vote,” providing information via mail about polling location hours, or communicating information about absentee voting. (11 C.F.R. § 100.24(a)(3)(1)).

Maine: Supporters say limits on videotaping at polling places are needed to avoid conflict | The Portland Press Herald

Supporters of a bill that would put some distance between voters and videographers monitoring referendum signature-gathering said Monday that the proposal is a modest step to address an activity that could one day escalate into fistfights or discourage election participation. The proposal by Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, is a response to several complaints last Election Day of gun rights activists videotaping – and in some cases confronting – voters signing a petition to stiffen background checks on gun sales. Diamond, a former Maine secretary of state, said he was disturbed by the reports and is worried that the issue could “mushroom,” leading to conflicts at the ballot box. “What we don’t need is to have fistfights at polling places or videotapers videotaping vidoetapers,” Diamond said.

Maryland: Some in GOP ask whether Zucker should vote on Senate override | The Washington Post

On the eve of what is expected to be a close vote in the Maryland Senate to expand felon voting rights, some Republicans are raising questions about whether a newly appointed Democratic senator should participate. Joe Cluster, executive director of the state GOP, said Sen. Craig Zucker (D-Montgomery) should recuse himself when the Senate votes on whether to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of a 2015 bill that would allow felons to vote while on parole or probation. Zucker voted in favor of the override as a member of the House of Delegates last month, before he was sworn in to fill a Senate seat vacated by former senator Karen Montgomery (D-Montgomery). Democratic leaders have said they will need his support to amass the 29 votes needed for the override to pass the Senate.

Missouri: Senate advances voter ID legislation | The Missouri Times

The Senate committee overseeing election-related bills approved legislation giving Missourians a say on photo identification requirements for voters Monday. The Senate Financial and Governmental Organizations and Elections committee passed House Joint Resolution 53, which would put a constitutional amendment on a statewide ballot allowing voter ID requirements. The committee also approved House Bill 1631, which would implement a photo ID requirement for voters should Missourians approve the House Joint Resolution 53 amendment.

New Hampshire: Sanders rules New Hampshire midnight voting | The Washington Post

In sweaters, knit hats, gloves and mittens, they came. They came in service of democracy and freedom; they came to boost tourism and media attention to worked-over New England towns that have seen better days. They came to exercise their God-given constitutional right to vote for a presidential candidate and, in theory, to be the “first” in the nation to do so. They came of a dark, inevitably frozen January evening. And they came at midnight, braving the beasts that roam the Northern wilderness to make their marks on ballots — and leave their mark on history. The results of New Hampshire midnight voting are in — and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) and Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) have won big, each taking two of three small Granite State districts that, combined, measured the opinions of 65 voters. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) each logged a victory as well. All told, Sanders won the support of 17 voters and Clinton, nine. On the Republican side, Cruz, Kasich and Donald Trump each had nine votes total. “We’re a pretty small town in an out of the way place in mountains, and live fairly quiet lives most of the time,” Mark Dindorf, a selectman from Hart’s Location, said in a telephone interview with The Washington Post shortly after midnight. “It’s interesting that we attract this degree of attention every four years.”

New Hampshire: Voters Try to Get Into the Picture | Al Jazeera

For those who hoped New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary would serve as a snapshot of the 2016 election cycle, Tuesday could prove a more literal reward than expected. The Granite State has a new voter ID law this year, and while those who arrive at the polls without the required forms of identification will still be allowed to cast a ballot, they must first sign an affidavit and also let a poll worker take their picture. Ballot-access advocates worry the process could lead to voter intimidation, as well as depress turnout due to longer lines at polling places. According to a Los Angeles Times column by Ari Berman, author of “Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America,” wait times “increased by 50 percent when the [New Hampshire] voter ID law was partially implemented, without the camera requirement, during the 2012 election.”

New Hampshire: ‘Voter-Shaming’ Mailer That Made Noise in Iowa Shows Up in New Hampshire | The New York Times

A controversial voter-turnout tactic employed by Senator Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign in Iowa is cropping up in New Hampshire, this time by way of a mysterious organization about which few public details are available. Voters in New Hampshire received envelopes in the mail this week claiming to contain “important taxpayer information,” according to Christopher Crawford, who received one of the mailers and posted pictures of it on Twitter. Mr. Crawford, who recently moved to Washington, was visiting his parents at their home in Nashua, N.H., this week when he opened an envelope addressed to him only to find a chart showing the names and voting history of several of his parents’ neighbors.

Editorials: New Hampshire Voter-ID Law Could Lead to Longer Lines, Voter Intimidation | Ari Berman/The Nation

O’Brien is now the New Hampshire co-chair for Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign. He failed to block election-day registration and student voting, but New Hampshire Republicans did succeed in passing a new voter ID law—which will be fully implemented for the first time in Tuesday’s primary. New Hampshire is one of 16 states with new voting restrictions in place for the first presidential election cycle in 2016, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, accounting for 178 electoral votes. New Hampshire voters will be asked to show government-issued ID when they cast a ballot. Those without the required ID can still cast a regular ballot by signing an affidavit, but they will have to let poll workers take their pictures, which is raising alarms among voting-rights activists. “This is meant to intimidate people, there’s no question about that,” says Joan Flood Ashwell of the New Hampshire League of Women Voters. “It’s saying to voters, ‘We suspect you of being a criminal. It may seem to some like a mug shot,” says Devon Chaffee of the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union.

North Carolina: Lawmakers file appeal of congressional districts ruling | News & Observer

North Carolina leaders filed an emergency appeal Monday to overturn a federal court order that threw out the boundaries of two congressional districts and injected major uncertainty into the state’s March 15 primary. The motion was filed with the same three federal judges who found portions of the state voting map unconstitutional on Friday. State Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Matthews, who helped draw the district lines, said voting is already underway and should not be undermined by the courts. The state called for a response from the court on Monday. “We trust the federal trial court was not aware an election was already underway and surely did not intend to throw our state into chaos by nullifying ballots that have already been sent out and votes that have already been cast,” Rucho said in a statement. Later Monday, the judges gave the plaintiffs in the case, including two from Mecklenburg County, until noon Tuesday to respond.

Costa Rica: How Costa Rica’s Local Elections have Improved | Latin One

The municipal elections in Costa Rica were held on Sunday, February 7th. And already, the Electoral Observation Mission of the Organization of Americans States headed by former Uruguay Deputy Minister Edgardo Ortuno are getting ready for the event. The agreement between the Chief of Mission and the President of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal guarantees access to all information related to the organization and supervision of the electoral’s process. While local elections are important to pick out leaders in the municipality, for Costa Rica, the municipal elections have taken precedence over the refugees, as they have been displaced in the name of the government that has mandated the use of educational buildings, halls, and churches as polling sites. This has effectively displaced the influx of Cuban immigrants that have been stranded in Costa Rica for several weeks now, per Diplomatic Courier.

Haiti: Prime Minister calls for peace on Haiti’s first day with no president | Reuters

Protesting Haitians should end weeks of sometimes violent street marches and join a dialogue to create a transitional government, Prime Minister Evans Paul said on Monday, during his first day as the temporary head of the troubled Caribbean nation. Paul was prime minister under former President Michel Martelly, who left office on Sunday without an elected successor after a botched election saw a second round of voting cancelled due to the protests. Under an 11th-hour agreement at the weekend, Paul will stay in office until parliament chooses an interim president. “We should demand peace and dialogue. That is the only weapon that we should use, it is dialogue,” Paul told Reuters.

Editorials: Haiti avoids crisis at the last minute, but what happens next? | The Washington Post

In Haiti, it has too often been the case that what can go wrong does go wrong. That’s why it’s such a relief that Haitian leaders, with a critical assist from the Organization of American States, were able to agree on an 11th-hour deal, just before President Michel Martelly was to leave office Sunday with no successor in place, to avert a power vacuum. It’s also why there remains cause for concern, and the pressing need for international vigilance, as the impoverished Caribbean nation embarks on what is likely to be a volatile interregnum under the auspices of a caretaker government. Under the agreement struck Saturday, on the eve of the expiration of Mr. Martelly’s term, Prime Minister Evans Paul will remain in office until Haiti’s parliament selects a new president. That’s expected to take place in the next few days. Once it does, the accord calls for a new prime minister to be chosen by consensus and for a verification commission to review October’s botched elections. It was those elections that yielded weeks of escalating protests and violence, culminating in the cancellation of a scheduled presidential runoff vote last month.

Uganda: Police buy anti-riot gear ahead of Museveni’s re-election bid | Reuters

Uganda has bought anti-riot gear ahead of a Feb. 18 election in a move which police say will bolster security during voting but which critics say aims to intimidate opponents of President Yoweri Museveni, who is seeking to extend his 30-year rule. Museveni’s two major rivals, Kizza Besigye and Amama Mbabazi, a former prime minister and secretary general of the ruling party, have both attracted large crowds and analysts say Museveni faces his toughest challenge yet. Critics have accused him of using violence by security personnel to intimidate opposition supporters, while police have drawn public ire for frequently blocking opposition gatherings or using teargas and sometimes live ammunition to disperse them.