National: DOJ Backs Injunction Against Citizenship Proof On Federal ‘Motor Voter’ Forms | International Business Times

The League of Women Voters, a national voting rights advocacy group, has sued a federal commission charged with standardizing voter registration. But instead of defending its voting commission, the Obama administration appears to agree with the basis of the lawsuit seeking injunction against a proof of citizenship requirement on voter registration forms in three states. According to papers filed Monday in U.S. District Court, the Department of Justice has urged Judge Richard Leon to block a decision by the director of the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) allowing registration forms in Kansas, Alabama and Georgia to insist that voters provide documentation of citizenship. The federal National Voter Registration Act requires states to allow voter registration when residents apply for or renew a state government-issued ID or driver’s license, but does not sanction proof of citizenship requirements on so-called “motor voter” forms.

National: Department of Justice disowns EAC director’s move on proof of citizenship for voters | MSNBC

Even the federal government says the director of a federal election agency erred when he allowed a group of red states to require proof of citizenship for those looking to vote. In a court filing Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice wrote that it supported a motion by voting groups to immediately halt the controversial move made last month by Brian Newby, the executive director of the Election Assistance Commission (EAC). DoJ lawyers wrote that because the proof of citizenship requirement violates federal voting law, Newby’s decision was “not consistent with the statute” and “contrary to governing law.” The filing means that Newby’s position that the change was appropriate is in effect being disowned by his own legal team. Despite the DoJ’s stance, at a hearing Monday afternoon, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon declined to grant the voting rights groups’ request for a temporary restraining order against the move. Leon indicated that he wanted to wait until the full facts of the case are presented. A hearing is scheduled for March 9.

National: Judge seems skeptical of call to block voter proof-of-citizenship requirement | Politico

A federal judge sounded skeptical Monday about a request from voting and civil rights’ groups to block a federal official’s decision to embrace requirements in three states that new voters submit proof that they’re U.S. citizens. During a 90-minute hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon repeatedly asked about past and upcoming registration deadlines in Alabama, Georgia and Kansas, suggested that the parties who brought suit earlier this month may have acted too slowly and seemed focused on the fact that only a small percentage of voters register in any given year. While the judge said he would not rule until Tuesday on the temporary restraining order requested by the League of Women Voters, the NAACP, and voter registration organization Project Vote, the thrust of his questions to several lawyers hinted that he was inclined against granting the order.

Alabama: You can vote without ID in Alabama if you know some election officials | Times Free Press

It helps to know someone at the polls for Alabama voters with no photo identification. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange announced Friday that a ruling last week in a lawsuit against the state challenging voter ID provisions will still allow anyone without a valid photo ID to cast a ballot as long as at least two election officials can positively identify them as a qualified voter. The suit, filed by Greater Birmingham Ministries and the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, alleges Alabama violated the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in enacting the photo ID requirement to vote. The group calls Alabama’s photo ID law suppressive and contends it “imposes significant and disproportionate burdens on African-American and Latino voters in the state,” states a case update posted in December on the NAACP website.

Indiana: Black Caucus says judge selection bill would lead to less diversity | WISH-TV

Marion County needs a new method for choosing judges. A federal court found the old method to be unconstitutional, and the effort to replace it has sparked controversy. Members of the Black Legislative Caucus in the General Assembly object to a bill that passed the state Senate. It would create a new commission that would choose Marion County judges who would then face a retention vote after six years on the bench. The Black Legislative Caucus says that the old system created a diverse bench in Marion County and members believe that a commission appointed by the General Assembly would lead to less diversity.

Missouri: Bill moves forward to expand Secretary of State’s authority in voter fraud cases | MDAF

A bill expanding the Secretary of State’s legal authority in prosecuting cases of voter fraud was advanced by a Senate committee vote on Monday. Senate Bill 786 would allow the Missouri Secretary of State to investigate and prosecute cases of alleged voting fraud. … Currently, the Secretary of State’s office is limited in its ability to prosecute voter fraud cases. Potential cases under current law are referred to the local agencies in which they occur. … That office is currently one Kraus himself is actively seeking. Kraus (R-Lee’s Summit), currently serving as a state senator, announced his candidacy for Secretary of State in July 2014.

Voting Blogs: Trying to Stop Drive-By-Voting in New Hampshire | State of Elections

Round two of the “drive-by voting” battle in New Hampshire ended on September 16th, 2015 when the New Hampshire Senate failed to override Governor Maggie Hassan’s veto of Senate Bill 179. That proposal would have required potential voters to be domiciled in the state for at least thirty days prior to an election. This was the second initiative purportedly aimed at combatting this type of fraud, which can be illustrated by the actions of Vice-President Joe Biden’s niece. While “she didn’t break the letter of the law… many people think she violated the spirit of it” by voting in the 2012 elections in New Hampshire after only working on the campaign there for a short time.

North Carolina: NAACP calls for redrawn Congressional district map to be thrown out | WNCN

Chaos over a redistricting case has only increased after a court-mandated redraw of Congressional Districts in North Carolina is causing confusion and anger. State Republicans redrew the boundaries after a federal court found two districts were gerrymandered on racial lines. But the NAACP says the new map isn’t a fair solution. “(It’s) an invalid way, an unconstitutional way, of stacking and packing black voters, and then you undermine the power of the black vote,” said Rev. William Barber, head of the North Carolina NAACP. Rev. Barber said his group is calling for judges considering the case to throw out the new map and create one themselves.

Utah: Bill striking two-week wait on vote counts already on governor’s desk | Deseret News

Utahns will likely no longer have to wait two weeks to find out election results in tight races. HB21, a bill requiring clerks to update vote counts between Election Day and the official canvass, has already sailed through both the House and the Senate with overwhelming approval. It now awaits Gov. Gary Herbert’s signature. The proposed law change comes after voters waited anxiously to know the winner of two high-profile, neck-and-neck races last year: the Salt Lake City mayor’s race and Proposition 1 in Salt Lake County. Elections officials deemed both races too close to call on Election Day, with thousands of lingering vote-by-mail ballots still making their way to clerks.

Bolivia: Tensions rise as Evo Morales’s bid to extend presidency hangs in balance | The Guardian

Tensions rose in Bolivia on Sunday night after a closely fought referendum on whether to allow left-wing Bolivian president Evo Morales to stand for a fourth term went down to the wire. Following the national vote, surveys suggested Morales may have suffered his biggest election setback in 10 years, but as of midnight the final count was still too narrow to call. Exit polls by Mori indicated the proposal to revise the constitution was defeated by 51% to 49% while an Ipsos poll had a slightly wider gap of 52.3% to 47.7%. With the difference close to the margin of error, neither side was willing to concede defeat, but unease rose along with the uncertainty.

Comoros: Crowded field competes for Comoros president | AFP

Voters in the Indian Ocean archipelago of the Comoros cast their ballots in an election for a new president Sunday from a crowded field of 25 candidates, with a struggling economy and poor infrastructure high on the agenda. Officials started counting the ballots after polling stations closed, using candlelight and camping lamps in a country that suffers from endemic electricity shortages that paralyse the economy, said an AFP journalist in Moroni. Polling in the country of less than one million people took place without any major incidents, although some were delayed by the late arrival of voting materials. Voting in areas affected by delays continued after the official closing time at 6:00 pm.

Editorials: Irish electoral system not fit for a globalised world | Sean Phelan/The Irish Times

At the heart of the question of whether Irish emigrants should be given the right to vote is recognising that we live in a time where people and things circulate globally. Can the Irish State finally recognise that the movement of people to and from countries is something that needs to be integrated into the design of the electoral system, rather than ignored and permanently long-fingered? Can it embrace an idea of citizenship and democratic participation that is not bound to a particular place, and flexible enough to allow for different forms of national and cultural belonging? I live in a country that, on this issue at least, offers a stark contrast to the Irish case. Overseas voting rights were first introduced in New Zealand in 1890 to make special provision for absentee voting by seamen. They have since been extended to a range of people either living or working overseas at election time.

Syria: Assad sets April 13 parliamentary elections | AFP

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad announced Monday that parliamentary elections are to be held on April 13, state news agency SANA reported, shortly after Washington and Moscow announced a ceasefire plan. Assad issued a decree which included seat allocations for each of the provinces in Syria, which last held parliamentary elections in May 2012. That was the first time that multiple parties — not just the ruling Baath party — were allowed to stand. Still, most of the 250 members of parliament that were elected for four-year terms were Baath members.

Uganda: Opposition leader arrested as election outcry grows | Reuters

Police arrested Uganda’s main opposition leader, Kizza Besigye, for the fourth time in eight days on Monday, after an election that the United States and European Union have criticised and the opposition reject as fraudulent. Police also stormed Besigye’s Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party headquarters and arrested eight people, one member said, two days after President Yoweri Museveni, 71 and in power for 30 years, was declared the winner of the Feb. 18 vote. The EU observer mission said the vote had been conducted in an “intimidating” atmosphere and United States has voiced concerns about the frequent arrests of Besigye. Police said they detained Besigye as he was preparing to lead supporters to the Electoral Commission headquarters in the capital Kampala to collect the official results, and that he had not obtained government consent. “We have arrested people who are planning to cause violence in Kampala city centre,” police spokesman, Patrick Onyango, said.