National: Top conservatives gather to plot third-party run against Trump | Politico

Three influential leaders of the conservative movement have summoned other top conservatives for a closed-door meeting Thursday in Washington, D.C., to talk about how to stop Donald Trump and, should he become the Republican nominee, how to run a third-party “true conservative” challenger in the fall. The organizers of the meeting include Bill Wichterman, who was President George W. Bush’s liaison to the conservative movement; Bob Fischer, a South Dakota businessman and longtime conservative convener; and Erick Erickson, the outspoken Trump opponent and conservative activist who founded RedState.com. “Please join other conservative leaders to strategize how to defeat Donald Trump for the Republican nomination,” the three wrote in an invitation obtained by POLITICO that recently went out to conservative leaders, “and if he is the Republican nominee for president, to offer a true conservative candidate in the general election.”

National: Native American Groups Defend Their Right to Vote| VoA News

When Americans go to the polls this November to elect the next U.S. president, Native American groups worry that many of their members will be turned away from the ballot box. Native Americans won U.S. citizenship more than 90 years ago. Even so, many states denied them — as they did African Americans — the right to vote, subjecting them to poll taxes, literacy tests, harassment and intimidation. In 1965, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act (VRA), banning such discriminatory practices and giving the federal government the authority to monitor elections to ensure they are fair. In 2013, however, the Supreme Court defeated a key provision in the VRA. As a result, certain states with a history of racial discrimination are no longer required to get pre-clearance from the Federal government before they can make changes to election systems.

National: Democrats push SEC nominees on corporate political spending | Reuters

Democrats in the Senate made a concerted push on Tuesday during a confirmation hearing for nominees to the Securities and Exchange Commission to require corporations to disclose political contributions. Senator Charles Schumer of New York threatened to vote against confirming the nominees, Lisa Fairfax and Hester Peirce, if they did not clearly state support for requiring corporations to make their political donations public. “The SEC is certainly not responsible for patching that hole in our campaign finance system, but you can help prevent that hole from being ripped any wider,” Schumer said. “Shareholders remain in the dark as executives of public corporations funnel money into our political system with no transparency or accountability.”

Alabama: GOP: Keep Democrats out of our primary elections | AL.com

Imagine if Alabama football coach Nick Saban chose the players for the Auburn football team. Or vice versa with Auburn coach Gus Malzahn choosing the Alabama football team. That’s the analogy Terri Lathan, chair of the Alabama Republican Party, made Monday in explaining why state GOP leaders want a closed primary in the future. A closed primary, of course, would allow only registered Republicans to vote in Republican primaries. In short, no Democrats allowed. And the same in the Democratic primary — no Republicans allowed.

Florida: Reports of voting problems surface in Florida primary | CBS

As voters in the key primary state of Florida head to the polls Tuesday, reports of voting problems in some towns and counties have begun to surface. In Apopka, Fla., outside of Orlando, voters reported being turned away at two polling places because they ran out of Republican ballots. And later Tuesday, WKMG News 6 reporter Amanda Castro tweeted that the same polling places had also run out of Democratic ballots, with Democratic voters being turned away as well. Other polling places in the area faced technical glitches Tuesday, per WKMG, causing a switch to paper ballots. But no voters were turned away, local officials said.

Missouri: Recounts possible in both of Missouri’s presidential primaries | St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Razor-thin vote margins in Missouri’s Republican and Democratic presidential primaries Tuesday raised the question of a recount. With all precincts reporting, Republican Donald Trump defeated Ted Cruz by less than one-half of 1 percent, or 1,726 votes, according to the Missouri secretary of state’s office. Democrat Hillary Clinton’s margin was even closer. Clinton also defeated Bernie Sanders by less than one-half of 1 percent, or 1,531 votes, the office reported. It’s possible that recounts could take place in both races, whoever is declared the unofficial winner. Under Missouri law, a candidate who loses by less than one-half of 1 percent of all votes cast can seek a recount. The close margins amount to little more than bragging rights, with the winners being able to say they won the state.

North Carolina: Confusing primary: why so many votes won’t count | CS Monitor

North Carolinians can vote however they want in their Super Tuesday primary election, but one thing’s fairly sure: Many of those Tar Heel votes aren’t going to count. Last month, a federal three-judge panel found that Republicans drew two of the state’s congressional districts illegally, packing more black voters into districts where they already had a plurality, thus boosting Republican odds by “bleaching” surrounding districts. The result is, pretty much everyone agrees, a mess. The congressional candidates are still on the ballot along with the presidential and local candidates. But all the congressional votes will not be counted, and a new congressional primary with the new districts is scheduled for June 7.

Voting Blogs: Ohio’s Confusing Republican Ballot | Dan Tokaji/Election Law Blog

Lots of Republicans voting in today’s Ohio primary are confused, and understandably so. The Republican presidential candidates’ names are listed twice on the ballot, once under the heading “For Delegates-at-Large and Alternates-at-Large” and again under “For District Delegates and District Alternates.” If this weren’t enough, different candidates’ names appear under the first and second contests on some Ohio ballots. Mike Huckabee and/or Rick Santorum, both of whom have withdrawn, will appear on the “District Delegates” contest in some congressional districts but not others (see p. 7 of this directive). What makes this a real head-scratcher is that the state’s Republican primary is winner-take-all, with the highest vote-getter getting all of Ohio’s 66 delegates. The Secretary of State’s office will reportedly release vote totals for both the “Delegates-at-Large” and “District Delegates” contests, but the state party says that it plans to consider only the at-large delegate vote in determining who gets Ohio’s delegates. And the “District Delegates” contest will appear at the top of page on at least some ballots (like this one), with the “Delegates-at-Large” contest – the one that matters – further down on the left side. This problem is reminiscent of problematic ballot formats in past elections, like Florida’s 2006 election for the 13th Congressional District, California’s 2003 recall election, and even the infamous butterfly ballot in Florida’s 2000 presidential election. It’s possible that some voters will inadvertently fail to cast a vote that counts.

Ohio: Traffic accident leads to voting snarl | Cincinnati Enquirer

Ohio’s primary went smoothly most of the day Tuesday, but a late wrinkle in southwest Ohio caused some last-minute chaos. A federal judge ordered polls in four southwest Ohio counties to stay open an extra hour because of a major traffic accident on I-275, which shut down the highway and stranded thousands of motorists for much of the early evening. The problem, elections officials say, is that the order came after polls already had closed at 7:30 p.m. U,S. District Judge Susan Dlott called Secretary of State Jon Husted about her concerns shortly after 7:30 and then issued her written order to keep the polls open at 8:13 p.m., Husted’s spokesman said. “A judicial order … after the polls closed makes it hard to keep the polls open,” said Alex Triantafilou, Hamilton County’s GOP chairman and a member of the county’s board of elections.

Wisconsin: Senate OKs online voter registration | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

In a final marathon of voting, the Senate adjourned Tuesday by sending Gov. Scott Walker a bill to allow people to register to vote online and by blocking a proposal to make it easier for parents to get a drug to treat child seizures. … On a voice vote, senators signed off on SB 295, which would let people register to vote online but eliminate special deputies who help people sign up to vote. The Assembly approved the bill last month on a vote of 56-38, with three Republicans joining all Democrats in opposing the proposal. Walker plans to sign the bill on Wednesday, according to a memo from the Government Accountability Board, which runs elections.

Benin: Election Run-Off on Sunday | allAfrica.com

On Sunday 20 March, Benin’s citizens will choose their president in the second round of an open ballot. This election will consolidate the country’s democratic gains and mark the fourth democratic changeover in the country since the advent of multiparty politics in 1990. If the outcome of the first round were difficult to predict, expectations for the second round are even more uncertain. Given the results of the first round and the emergence of two candidates – Prime Minister Lionel Zinsou, who is also the candidate of the ruling coalition, and the businessman Patrice Talon – four key observations can be drawn. The first relates to the organisation of the first round by the Autonomous National Electoral Commission (Commission électorale nationale autonome, or CENA). The commission, which became permanent in 2013, seems to have taken on board lessons learnt in last year’s two elections.

Japan: Opposition party’s new name seen as risk ahead of election | Japan Today

A new name unveiled by Japan’s main opposition party and a smaller group with which it is set to merge has come under fire, as analysts warn the the rebranding could more harm than good just months away from a national election. Leaders of the two parties announced the new name, Minshinto – provisionally translated as Democratic Innovation Party (DIP) – on Monday based on surveys asking voters to choose between two options. The bigger Democratic Party of Japan will thus abandon a label under which it has battled Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party for two decades, but which for many voters is associated with a 2009-2012 DPJ reign marked by policy flipflops and missteps.

Nauru: Election monitors ‘would need to be invited’ | The Guardian

The Pacific Islands Forum is “in consultation” with the government of Nauru over its forthcoming election but would need to be invited to send electoral monitors. This week the two former presidents, Marcus Stephen and Sprent Dabwido, accused the government of trying to manipulate the election. Among their grievances were new laws that require a candidate to pay $2,000 – a 20-fold increase in the entry fee – and to resign their public service job three months before polling day. This meant “the current government will be the only one who can afford to run an election campaign”, Dabwido told Guardian Australia.

Uganda: Judges to Mbabazi – Prove Voter Bribery, Intimidation | allAfrica.com

In closing arguments yesterday in the Supreme court, lawyers for Amama Mbabazi, the main challenger to President Museveni’s re-election victory, worked harder than ever to prove the charges of voter bribery, intimidation and disenfranchisement of voters against the president. But without supporting evidence, the lawyers came for tough questioning from Chief Justice Katureebe. They also couldn’t prove that discarding the old voters’ register by the Electoral Commission affected the outcome of the presidential and parliamentary elections. The Mbabazi lawyers however, did a good job poking holes into the Electoral Commission’s handling of polling on election day and the final declaration of results. In his robust presentation, Mbabazi’s lead counsel, Mohmed Mbabazi, told court that President Museveni’s victory should be nullified because the Electoral Commission did not rely on hard copies of the declaration of results forms and tally sheets from districts when declaring the winner.