Maryland: State lawyer questions aspects of Hogan’s redistricting plan | The Washington Post

A lawyer for Maryland’s General Assembly has cast doubt on the legality of Gov. Larry Hogan’s proposal to take politics out of the redistricting process by shifting control from the governor and legislature to a nonpartisan commission. The idea of using an independent board to draw voting districts is broadly popular among Marylanders, regardless of demographics and political leanings, according to a recent Goucher College poll. But Assistant Attorney General Kathryn M. Rowe, responding to a request for advice from Sen. Joan Carter Conway (D-Baltimore), said in a letter this month that she has identified 10 legal problems with the proposal by Hogan (R), which would amend the state Constitution to require that a nonpartisan commission handle the redistricting process. The goal of the legislation is to end the practice of gerrymandering, or manipulating legislative and congressional boundaries in ways that give one party an advantage.

Full Article: State lawyer questions aspects of Hogan’s Md. redistricting plan - The Washington Post.

New Mexico: Secretary of State won’t say if 17-year olds will be able to vote in primaries | The NM Political Report

The New Mexico Secretary of State’s office is not saying much about whether some 17-year-olds will be able to vote in the upcoming New Mexico primary elections. During the 2016 legislative session, a bill passed that allows those who will turn 18 before the general election to participate in primary elections. Gov. Susana Martinez signed the bill into law following the session. Still, it is unclear whether the Secretary of State’s office will be ready to accept votes from that age group during the primary on June 7.

Full Article: SOS won’t say if 17-year olds will be able to vote in primaries | The NM Political Report.

Ohio: Now that lying isn’t against Ohio campaign laws, prepare for more ‘outrageous’ claims | The Columbus Dispatch

Did Sen. Larry Obhof really vote to fund Obamacare in Ohio? Did his Republican primary opponent, anti-abortion activist Janet Folger Porter, refuse to support personhood status for unborn crime victims? Each candidate accused the other of lying. But unlike in past elections, neither could take such complaints before the Ohio Elections Commission for a determination of whether the ads were false — a ruling that could have gained media attention and been used in subsequent advertising. The federal courts have struck down Ohio’s law prohibiting lying in campaigns. Now, Ohioans who were already accustomed to negative campaigning can brace themselves for what comes next, now that the reins are off. “Most of my clients want to tell the truth,” said attorney Donald Brey, who has represented Republicans in a multitude of cases before the Ohio Elections Commission. “But if a client says, ‘I want to lie through my teeth, and as long as I don’t defame anybody, can I get away with it?’ The answer is, unless you’re running for judge, yes.”

Full Article: Now that lying isn’t against Ohio campaign laws, prepare for more ‘outrageous’ claims | The Columbus Dispatch.

Rhode Island: General Assembly approves online voter registration | The Valley Breeze

Both chambers of the General Assembly on Tuesday gave their final approval to legislation sponsored by Sen. Gayle Goldin and Rep. Aaron Regunberg to allow Rhode Islanders to register to vote or update their voter information online. The bill is now headed to the governor’s desk. The legislation, which the two Providence legislators introduced in conjunction with Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, authorizes the secretary of state to establish a web portal to allow voters to register or update their existing registration information online. The bill would allow the Department of State to cross-reference application information with information in the databases of other state, municipal or quasi-public agencies to verify the information submitted by applicants. The sponsors said online voter registration is a convenience that citizens should be able to expect in an age when so much of their daily business can be conducted online.

Full Article: General Assembly approves online voter registration | The Valley Breeze.

Wyoming: Democrats move to larger caucus venues, expect high turnout | Caspar Star-Tribune

Democrats in six Wyoming counties, including Natrona, will move their April 9 presidential nominating caucuses to large venues, as leaders of the state’s minority party are now projecting higher-than-anticipated turnout. The Natrona County Democratic Party caucus will now be held at the Casper Events Center, said Brett Governanti, party chairman. The event was previously scheduled to be at Casper College. Other counties with venue changes include Laramie, Sweetwater and Albany, said Aimee Van Cleave, executive director of the Wyoming Democratic Party. “We changed because we are expecting huge turnout levels,” she said. “If you look at Utah and Idaho, you see the overwhelming number of Democrats running out to caucus in those states. In Wyoming, we’re expecting to have comparable to 2008 turnout, and we want to accommodate all of our voters. It’s really exciting.”

Full Article: Democrats move to larger caucus venues, expect high turnout | Wyoming Politics |

Haiti: New elections body must decide whether to recount or move on | Miami Herald

More than two months after its contested presidential runoff was postponed amid escalating opposition protests, Haiti has taken a significant step toward resuming the process. Provisional President Jocelerme Privert issued a presidential order late Tuesday, naming nine new members to a re-established Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) charged with organizing a second round to elect a president and complete parliament. “It is still up to us to support this body, which will need to analyze the process before deciding how to revive it to the satisfaction of all the stakeholders,” Privert said the day before as he welcomed a new caretaker government and prime minister, and announced his intentions to officially name the council known as the CEP. The order was published after the newly-installed government ended its first council of ministers meeting. The entire government, including Privert and interim Prime Minister Enex Jean-Charles, signed the three-page document in hopes of boosting transparency, and giving the new CEP the needed political clout to embark on the difficult task of seating a democratically-elected president in Haiti after a disputed electoral process.

Full Article: New Haiti elections body must decide whether to recount or move on | Miami Herald.

Netherlands: The Dutch rooting for a No in the Ukraine referendum | EU Observer

What’s in a name? Last Monday, a provincial department of the Dutch Socialist Party (SP) announced that Crimea would vote No in next week’s Dutch referendum on an EU Association Agreement with Ukraine.
Of course, the party was not referring to actual Crimea. Rather, it had polled inhabitants of De Krim, an eastern Dutch village that shares its name with the Ukrainian peninsula that was annexed by Russia two years ago.
The SP said it had interviewed 168 people – around 10 percent of the village’s electorate. Of those who had already made up their mind, 76 percent would vote No. However, a week before the Dutch electorate could voice its opinion in its first-ever citizens-enforced referendum, a government-commissioned national poll suggested that only half of voters had made up their mind, and they were split equally between Yes and No. But while the Yes side is relatively uniform in its motivations and arguments (the EU-Ukraine is said to be good for trade for both sides and good for human rights), the No side consists of a more motley crew. Who are they?

Full Article: The Dutch rooting for a No in the Ukraine referendum.

Philippines: Comelec seeks NBI help vs hackers | The Philippine Star

The Commission on Elections yesterday asked the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to look into the hacking of the Comelec’s website last Sunday.Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said they have referred the case to the NBI’s cybercrime division as a group identifying itself as “LulzSec” has claimed uploading parts of the Comelec’s database to its Facebook account. “That matter has actually been referred to the NBI cybercrimes. So right now, the first step really is to validate whether or not the data they posted are authentic… At this point, I really don’t know if it’s the real deal and that’s the first thing that we want to find out,” Jimenez said. The NBI, however, said it has yet to receive the request from the Comelec. “None yet,” said Victor Lorenzo, executive officer of the NBI’s cybercrime division.

Full Article: Comelec seeks NBI help vs hackers | Headlines, News, The Philippine Star |

Russia: As elections loom, Kremlin applies ‘ethical standards’ to muzzle critics | CS Monitor

Since she was elected to the parliament of the Russian region of Kursk five years ago, Olga Li has been a major challenge to local authorities. Among other things, she has been instrumental in bringing charges of corruption against several leading local officials. She has publicly spoken out on dwindling economic opportunities in the important industrial region. The newspaper where she serves as editor, Narodni Zhurnalist, keeps up a steady drumbeat of criticism, and she seems able to bring hundreds of supporters onto the streets to support her political campaigning. Ms. Li even issued a widely viewed YouTube appeal to President Vladimir Putin, in which she claimed state institutions were being run like “criminal enterprises,” blamed the Kremlin for being “indifferent to the fate of millions” of increasingly impoverished citizens, and questioned the annexation of Crimea. 

Full Article: As elections loom, Kremlin applies 'ethical standards' to muzzle critics - Yahoo News.

South Korea: League of ex-convicts in Seoul politics | The Korea Herald

One of the many weird, yet unavoidable things in Korean politics is that many people with dubious pasts and low ethical standards are allowed to seek elected office. One need look no further than the candidates for the April 13 parliamentary election, in which 1,102 candidates are running — 944 for 253 constituency seats and 158 for 47 seats allotted for proportional representation. Of the total, 38 per cent have at least one count of criminal record. This ratio goes up to 41 per cent for those who are contesting constituency seats. The ratio is almost twice as high as that for the current 19th National Assembly, which attests to the fact that the qualification bar for parliamentary candidates has been lowered. 

Full Article: League of ex-convicts in Seoul politics: The Korea Herald, East Asia News & Top Stories - The Straits Times.

National: Presidential race surges past $1 billion mark | USA Today

Fundraising in the presidential contest has zoomed past the $1 billion mark, fueled by the dozens of super-wealthy Americans bankrolling super PACs that have acted as shadow campaigns for White House contenders. Presidential candidates and the super PACs closely aligned with them had raised a little more than $1 billion through the end of February, newly released campaign reports show. By comparison, the presidential fundraising by candidates and their super PACs had hit $402.7 million at this point in the 2012 election, according to data compiled by the non-partisan Campaign Finance Institute. The price tag of the White House contest puts it roughly on par with the value of Major League Baseball’s Chicago White Sox, which Forbes this week pegged as worth $1.05 billion, but it’s far less than the nearly $7 billion American consumers spent last year to celebrate Halloween. New figures show that super PACs and their super-wealthy patrons are footing more of the cost of running for the presidency. Super PACs now account for nearly 40% of all presidential fundraising, up from about 22% at this point four years ago.

Full Article: Presidential race surges past $1 billion mark.

Editorials: The Language Barrier in the Voting Booth | Terry Ao Minnis & Adam Ambrogi/Governing

During the Democratic presidential caucus in Nevada last month, the issue of language assistance in elections came up front and center — and it was not pretty. Fingers pointed in all directions about what actually happened and who was to blame, but what is clear is that there were caucus participants who needed assistance in Spanish to fully understand the process and their options and that they did not receive this essential help. This incident highlights how important language assistance in the political process is and why more must be done to ensure that language needs are being accommodated. Today in the United States, one in five people speak a language other than English at home, and of that population who are 15 or older 42 percent report having some difficulty with the English language. Despite the increases in the eligible voting populations of Latinos and Asian-Americans in recent decades, according to the Pew Research Center there continues to be a 15-20 percent gap in voting participation rates between those voters and whites. While a variety of factors can contribute to a voter’s inability to participate in the election process, in many communities language barriers are a huge obstacle.

Full Article: The Language Barrier in the Voting Booth.

Voting Blogs: Abysmal Voter Turnout and an Electoral Dinosaur: Indiana’s Meaningless Off-Year Municipal Elections | State of Elections

All politics is local. That truism (often wrongly attributed to former Rep. Tip O’Neill) has long encouraged politicians to remember the people back home because, ultimately, those people will vote based on the issues that matter to them. But politics is looking a lot less local now. Local concerns have taken a backseat to partisan politics, and local candidates are looking more and more like extensions of their national counterparts. Perhaps these changes can help explain why municipal election voter turnout is plunging across the United States. Indiana, the state with the lowest voter turnout in the country for the 2014 midterm elections, held its most recent off-year municipal elections on November 3.

Full Article: Abysmal Voter Turnout and an Electoral Dinosaur: Indiana’s Meaningless Off-Year Municipal Elections |.

Arizona: Voting Problems Are More Complicated Than They Look | TPM

Reports of Arizona voters waiting for as long as fives hours to cast their ballots is bringing intense scrutiny on local elections officials as well as renewed criticism of the 2013 Supreme Court decision that allowed them to make major changes to polling plans without the approval of the federal government. Most of the coverage since Tuesday’s voting problems has focused on two things: First, Maricopa County, Arizona’s most populated region, reduced polling places from 200 to 60 in an effort to save money; and second, that’s the kind of change in the voting regimen that federal officials would have blocked until the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder. But the picture is more complicated, voting rights experts and former Justice Department officials tell TPM. One key point that some early reports bashing Maricopa County failed to make was it did not simply reduce the number of polling places. Rather it was a transformation to a vote centers system, which if done correctly, brings some perks voting rights advocates generally favor.

Full Article: Arizona’s Voting Problems Are More Complicated Than They Look.

Arizona: Election Official Apologizes for Long Wait at Polls| The New York Times

A protester was led off in handcuffs from the visitors’ gallery of the Arizona Legislature on Monday amid a fractious debate over Primary Day last week, when a drastic cutback in polling locations left tens of thousands of Arizonans unable to vote, forced to cast provisional ballots or made to wait in long lines for hours in the high heat. As the anger bubbled over within a packed State Capitol, a sheepish election official blamed the chaos on poor planning and a misguided attempt to save money by closing poll locations. “I apologize profusely — I can’t go back and undo it,” said Helen Purcell, the Maricopa County recorder, during a hearing of the Arizona House Elections Committee on Monday as more than 100 voters listened. Maricopa County, which is Arizona’s most populous and includes the greater Phoenix area, had slashed the number of polling places by 70 percent from 2012.

Full Article: Arizona Election Official Apologizes for Long Wait at Polls - The New York Times.

Florida: Election officials want fixes for ‘historically flawed’ voting system | Tampa Bay Times

Another Florida election is over, but another Florida election controversy is just beginning. In the aftermath of the passionate outpouring of support for Donald Trump, some voters complained that when they went to the polls on March 15, they were given ballots without Trump’s name. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that hundreds of Palm Beach County voters received ballots for unaffiliated no-party or “NPA” voters, which means those voters could not vote for president in either party because Florida is a “closed primary” state. Palm Beach County Commissioner Steven Abrams identified about 2,000 people who updated their drivers’ license information at a local tax collector’s office did not realize that they were required to again choose their political party affiliation. Voters who don’t check that box are automatically classified as NPA voters — and the problem wasn’t discovered until those voters showed up to vote.

Full Article: Election officials want fixes for 'historically flawed' voting system | Tampa Bay Times.

Hawaii: Amid delays, the Internet turned to a Google doc for caucus results | USA Today

Saturday marked the first time Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders swept a full round of caucuses, defeating front-runner Hillary Clinton in all three of the day’s presidential contests. But when the mainstream media was nearly silent on his victory, voters took the electoral process into their own hands. Overnight, a Google document built by a handful of strangers became the go-to source for the caucus results. Its creators were the first to project Sanders’ victory, as the mainstream media waited on stalling, overwhelmed caucus organizers. As organizers in Hawaii scrambled to gather results, Alec Salisbury compiled his own set of stats from his computer in his Ithaca College dorm. With a group of three to 10 strangers, the 20-year-old college student broke the story of Sanders’ landslide victory.

Full Article: Amid Hawaii delays, the Internet turned to a Google doc for caucus results.

Illinois: Budget mess could mean long lines, headaches on Election Day | The State Journal-Register

A sweeping new election law that was intended to increase voter turnout in time for the presidential contest and a critical U.S. Senate race may instead cause greater frustration among voters due to Illinois lawmakers’ inability to agree on a budget, with officials warning of possible long lines, fewer safeguards against voter fraud and other costly headaches come November. The bill, pushed through the Legislature in the final weeks of Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn’s term, required several changes that traditionally benefit Democrats, such as same-day voter registration and expanded early voting. While those pieces of the law will be in place come Nov. 8, some local election officials say they’ve stuck with the bill for additional equipment and staffing. And the nearly $4 million that state election officials said they’d need in the first two years for other changes wasn’t approved by the Legislature. The standoff between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and majority

Full Article: Budget mess could mean long lines, headaches on Election Day - News - The State Journal-Register - Springfield, IL.

Kentucky: Early voting bill still in Senate committee | Commonwealth Journal

A bill that would allow a minimum of 12 days of early, no-excuse voting before Election Day by all registered voters in Kentucky, is currently in the Senate’s Veterans, Military Affairs & Public Protection Committee, and apparently at this point has not been scheduled for a hearing. Numbered HB 290, the measure passed the House last week by a vote of 57-37. If the bill is approved by the Senate and signed into law by Gov. Matt Bevin, it would allow early voting by all registered voters ahead of the November 8 general election. It is uncertain at the moment if the bill, sponsored by Rep. Reginald Meeks, D-Louisville, has been placed on the Senate committee’s agenda for a hearing. 

Full Article: Early voting bill still in Senate committee | News |

Vermont: Senate approves changes to the state’s public campaign financing law | Vermont Press Bureau

The Senate has given its approval to a bill intended to make publicly financed political campaigns more viable. By a vote of 19 to 6, Senate lawmakers Friday approved S.220, a bill that moves up the date a candidate seeking public financing can start a campaign, which supporters say will allow these candidates to better compete with those who are privately financed. “My feeling is, we shouldn’t privilege publicly financed candidates, but we shouldn’t punish them, either,” said Sen. Philip Baruth, D-Chittenden, the lead sponsor of the bill. The punishment Baruth is referring to is the amount of lead time a privately financed candidate has over one seeking public financing.

Full Article: Senate approves changes to the state’s public campaign financing law | Vermont Press Bureau.