Editorials: Bribery and the Brokered Convention? | Brian Svoboda/In the Arena

In the industrial Midwest, after multiple ballots, the Republican convention finally chooses its nominee. Operatives for the frontrunner—a nationally known, polarizing figure who has infuriated Democrats with his abrasive rhetoric on the most divisive, racially-charged issue of the day—flood the city “with money to corrupt, with bullies to intimidate and with houries to seduce.” As for his principal opponent, rumors persist that the candidate’s coalition is forged on promises of cabinet appointments in exchange for votes. A journalist rails:

The lesson to the Nation … is the necessity for the abolition of the Caucus System, which, in whatever party organization operative, is a system of swindling, by which the people are defrauded out of the effective exercise of the right of suffrage. There is no honesty in caucuses … The revenues of King Caucus are corruption funds … If a Republican form of government is to be preserved … the people must make a bonfire of his throne.

Illinois: Uncontested elections underscore need for redistricting reform | Chicago Tribune

A local congressman sent an email four minutes after polls closed on Tuesday, and the message crystallizes the need for redistricting reform. U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski wasted no time celebrating victory on Election Day. The email to reporters at 7:04 p.m. from the representative for thousands of Southland residents seemed harmless on the surface. “I want to thank the people of the Third District for their support in the primary and their vote of confidence in my commonsense leadership,” Lipinski said. The six-term moderate Democrat scored 57,783 votes on Tuesday. The problem is that Lipinski faced no opponent in the Democratic primary, and he’s running uncontested in the November general election. Arthur Jones, the only Republican to file, was removed from ballots prior to the primary. Jones is a Holocaust denier who marched with Nazis in Chicago’s Marquette Park in 1978. Will County voters cast 631 write-in ballots for Republicans in the primary. This is the best candidate Republicans could find?

Kentucky: Bill to restore felon voting rights advances | Courier-Journal

A Senate committee on Wednesday approved a constitutional amendment that would give the General Assembly the power to restore voting rights to convicted felons without the need for a gubernatorial pardon. Senate Bill 299 wouldn’t automatically restore voting rights like House Bill 70 would, but instead it would allow the legislature to do it by statute. It passed the Senate State and Local Government Committee on a 10-0 vote. Under the Kentucky Constitution, only the governor has the authority to restore voting rights. Proponents have argued that once someone serves their sentence, they should have rights restored in an effort to assimilate them back into the community.

Minnesota: Presidential primary push gets underway at Capitol | Minnesota Public Radio

A Minnesota House committee began the debate Wednesday about switching Minnesota to a presidential primary. Lawmakers began calling for the move after many precinct caucus sites were overwhelmed by heavier-than-expected turnout on March 1. Primary supporters say now is the time to make the change. But there are still a lot of Interest in this year’s presidential contest is running high, and lots of Minnesotans showed up at precinct caucuses to vote for their preferred candidates. It was record turnout for state Republicans and nearly a record for Democrats. But unlike a typical election, everyone had to arrive at roughly the same time, and that caused problems.

Missouri: Democratic race in Missouri primary in limbo pending recount decision | The Washington Post

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton appeared to have won the Missouri primary by a slim margin, but that race remained in limbo Wednesday pending tallies of additional ballots and word on whether rival Bernie Sanders would seek a recount. The delay postponed a definitive answer to whether Clinton had made a clean sweep of five big primaries on Tuesday night. Regardless, her dominant performance pushed her closer to the Democratic presidential nomination even as both campaigns predicted that Sanders could go on something of a winning streak over the coming month. On Tuesday, Clinton won big in Florida, North Carolina and Ohio, while claiming a narrower victory in Illinois. In Missouri, with 100 percent of precincts reporting, Clinton was ahead 310,602 to 309,071. Those figures did not include an undetermined number of provisional, military and overseas ballots that could affect the outcome. With a difference of less than 1 percent, Sanders has the right to request a recount four weeks from now, once the results are certified, election officials said. That probably would mean a winner would not be declared until May.

Missouri: Recount process is long, complicated — and rarely pays off | St. Louis Public Radio

Tuesday’s results in Missouri’s presidential primary are so close that a few have raised the issue of potential recounts. But state law and party rules make clear that the recount process is complicated, and little may be gained. Under Missouri law, no recount can be requested until four weeks after the election, when local election authorities and the Secretary of State’s office have completed their work certifying the results. That kicks the starting point for a recount to at least April 15. Both state parties will have begun their delegate selection process before then. The Missouri Democrats’ selection sessions get underway April 7, with the GOP starting on April 9. The process will go on for weeks.

Montana: U.S. Supreme Court orders Montana to respond to GOP primary concerns | Associated Press

Worried that outsiders will force the election of Donald Trump in Montana’s open June 7 primary, groups within the Montana GOP want out and are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to prevent the state from stopping the party’s exit. On Wednesday, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy ordered Montana to respond to the GOP’s argument by Tuesday. “When you talk about a presidential election, the Supreme Court has said open primaries cannot be required,” said former Montana legislator Matthew Monforton, lawyer for 10 Montana County Republican committees involved in the lawsuit.

New York: Court dismisses lawsuit to close ‘LLC loophole’ | Times Union

In a ruling Wednesday, state Supreme Court Justice Lisa Fisher dismissed a lawsuit against the state Board of Elections seeking to do away with the so-called “LLC loophole,” which has allowed real estate developers and other interests to give huge campaign contributions in New York elections. The LLC loophole is the result of a 1996 state Board of Elections decision, which allows each limited liability company controlled by a developer to each give up to $150,000 annually in New York elections, the same amount an individual can give. In her ruling, Fisher, who heard arguments on the matter in Greene County Supreme Court in December, said that the statute of limitations had long run out to bring a case seeking to do away with the 1996 Board of Elections’ administrative decision.

Pennsylvania: Kasich’s ballot challenge withdrawn; clears way to primary | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

John Kasich will appear on April’s Republican primary ballot in Pennsylvania, next door to his home state of Ohio where he whipped front-runner Donald J. Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas on Tuesday. Kasich’s opportunity to continue the fight for the nomination here was in question after representatives of Marco Rubio’s campaign challenged Kasich’s petitions, claiming the Ohio governor did not submit enough valid signatures to appear on the ballot. On Wednesday, a day after the Florida senator suspended his campaign, Rubio student operative Nathaniel Rome dropped the Commonwealth Court filing he initiated, said Chris Bravacos, CEO of the Bravo Group and brother to the attorney representing Rome. Bravacos said Rome asked to withdraw his objection to the Kasich nominating petition. He did not elaborate.

Virginia: Augusta County goes back to voting basics with paper ballots | American City & County

A county in Virginia is taking their voting system back in time by replacing their high-tech machines with paper ballots. Augusta County officials decided to make the switch from direct-recording electronic voting machines (DREs) to paper ballots due to concerns about machine malfunctions, according to The News Leader. “It is the touch screens you are familiar with, they were designed for 10 year use and we have reached that point,” Augusta County Board of Elections Secretary Tom Long told the paper. “We have experienced some glitches in our voting machines. Screens going blank for no reason in the last election.”

Washington: Yakima City Council moves toward abandoning appeal of ACLU lawsuit over election districts | Yakima Herald

The Yakima City Council has scheduled an April vote in which it is expected to rescind its appeal of the American Civil Liberties Union voting rights lawsuit that changed elections last year. The council voted 5-1 to put the issue on the April 5 agenda, with Councilwoman Kathy Coffey opposed and Councilman Bill Lover absent. After a brief executive session following the vote, Coffey announced that her concerns about the proposal were answered and that she too would support it.

Editorials: Everything you don’t understand about Australian senate voting reform (and are afraid to admit) | Van Badham/The Guardian

Student politics is brutal but its lessons are thorough; by the age of 19, I’d learned how to pull knives out of my back without wincing, how to count a senate-style multi-candidate preferential ballot and that a true politician will do anything – anything – to be re-elected. I’ve been reminded of these last two valuable lessons in the context of the agreement the Greens and Nick Xenophon have made with the Coalition to change Australia’s senate voting system, and of an admission that Malcolm Turnbull made on radio last week that contained nothing short of a threat to the existence of the Australian senate cross-bench should they not give him his way on some union-busting legislation. One can imagine Canberra has had a most talkative long weekend.

Congo: Entrenched Sassou Nguesso seeks to extend presidency in poll | Reuters

Congo Republic President Denis Sassou Nguesso will seek to extend his long years of rule in polls on Sunday, falling back on his stranglehold over national institutions and his image as a stabilizing force to fend off festering discontent. His re-election, which analysts say is all but assured, would mark a setback for efforts to foster democratic transition in African countries with long-ruling leaders. Sassou Nguesso pushed through changes to the constitution in a referendum last September, altering the term and age limits that would have barred the 72-year-old from standing for another five-year mandate.

Kazakhstan: Parliamentary Election Campaign Limps to Finish Line | EurasiaNet

Many in Kazakhstan are not even sure what parties are contesting the March 20 parliamentary elections, other than President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s ruling Nur Otan. A flat and barely visible campaign season has done little to raise awareness or enthusiasm for a vote whose outcome — the renewal of Nur Otan’s ostensibly democratic mandate — is a given. Not that there is any shortage of things for politicians to talk and complain about. The government has not succeeded in reducing the economy’s reliance on the export of raw natural resources, nor has it been able to curb rampant corruption, which stifles individual enterprise. Accordingly, Kazakhstan has been laid low by the slump in oil prices, which has led to job losses, hit living standards and sent the currency plunging and inflation rocketing.

Tanzania: Zanzibar Opposition’s Election Boycott Could Deepen Political Crisis | VoA News

Zanzibar is preparing for an election rerun Sunday, after polls were nullified in the region last year. But the main opposition party is urging a boycott, and problems with ballot papers are causing many to wonder how a rerun will result in a better electoral process. Three days after Tanzanians cast their ballots in national elections last October, Zanzibar Electoral Commission Chairman Jecha Salim Jecha announced he would be annulling the island’s elections and holding new ones due to “violations of electoral law.” The opposition has dismissed these claims.

North Carolina: Long lines, confusion over voter ID reported in primary | News & Observer

Long lines forced some voters in Wake and Durham counties to wait three or four hours to vote Tuesday night in the North Carolina primaries. At a precinct in Raleigh at Pullen Park, where many N.C. State students vote, the university bused students in every 15 minutes, and more than 1,700 people voted there on Tuesday. By 7 p.m., a line of hundreds of people stretched into the parking lot. Polls had been scheduled to close at 7:30 p.m. “We were voting there until around 11 o’clock last night,” said Nicole Shumaker, Wake County’s deputy elections director. “And the reason for that was the early voting period for this primary coincided exactly with North Carolina State University’s spring break. So all those students were out of town during early voting.” Democracy NC, a group that advocates for more voter participation, blamed many of the delays statewide on confusion surrounding the state’s new voter ID laws.

Texas: State Sued Over Voter Registration Policies | NBC

Thousands of Texans are being denied the chance to register to vote, violating federal voting laws, a new lawsuit alleges. “Texas voters will continue to be shut out of the democratic process unless and until Defendants reform their registration practices,” alleges the complaint, filed Monday in a federal court in San Antonio by the Texas Civil Rights Project. Plaintiffs in the suit say they tried to update their drivers license and voter registration records through the website of the state Department of Public Safety, and believed they had done so. But when they went to vote, they were found to be unregistered, and forced to cast provisional ballots, which likely won’t count. “I felt that my voice was taken away from me when my vote wasn’t counted,” said Totysa Watkins, an African-American woman from Irving, Texas, who works for a health insurer. “Voting has always been something I value and is a right I have instilled in my children. Texas should not be able to take that away.”

Utah: Republicans Open Caucuses to Online Voters | Wall Street Journal

In what is expected to be one of the biggest online votes conducted so far in the U.S., Utah residents will have the option of casting ballots in the Republican presidential contest using computers, tablets and smartphones next week. In-person caucuses and absentee voting also will remain options for GOP voters in the March 22 contest. Democrats aren’t offering an online option. It is the largest experiment with online presidential voting since 2004, when Michigan allowed Democrats to vote in a party caucus via the Internet. Estonia has had online voting in national elections since 2005, while Norway, France, Canada and Australia have experimented with it. … Although trials, pilots and experiments in online voting have been conducted over the past 20 years, it has been slow to be adopted—in part over security concerns about election integrity. “It’s the internet. It was not built for security when it was built. It was built for open communications,” said Pamela Smith, president of the nonpartisan nonprofit Verified Voting, which advocates for secure, verifiable elections and voting standards.