National: How the U.S. Ended Up With Today’s Paper Ballots | TIME

We send emails instead of hand-written letters, we buy Kindles instead of books, we use iPads instead of pen and paper—and yet, voting is still mostly left to good old-fashioned paper. Voting technology has essentially remained at a standstill for decades. Still, some things have stayed the same even longer: the same concerns for security and secrecy that have kept paper dominant were also the driving forces behind voting policy in the early years of the United States. … Most states use a combination of electronic and paper technology. Only five states (Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, New Jersey, South Carolina) have paper-free voting and some states (Colorado, Oregon, and Washington) send all constituents a paper ballot in the mail. Even more states use a combination of electronic and paper at polling places. Given how much technology has advanced in recent years, it’s fair to wonder why we continue to vote with paper. However, there are good reasons why the U.S. is hanging on to paper ballots. Read More

Arizona: Judge dismisses challenge to Arizona presidential primary | Associated Press

A judge on Tuesday threw out a challenge to the results of Arizona’s problematic presidential primary despite evidence that there were glitches in the election. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge David Gass ruled that a Tucson man challenging the results hadn’t proven fraud and hadn’t shown long lines in Maricopa County or registration problems statewide with the election would have changed the results. “I’m going to find that as a matter of law…plaintiff just hasn’t met their burden,” Gass said. “To prove fraud, it’s clear and convincing evidence. It’s an incredibly high burden. And it’s a burden that’s very difficult to prove.” The ruling came at the close of two days of testimony. Gass noted that while there were problems with the election, throwing out the results would mean that more than 1 million people who voted in the March 22 primary would be disenfranchised. “I can’t find that one, there were illegal votes and two…I can’t find it would have made a difference in the outcome of the election,” he said. “The election would have been the same.” Read More

Kansas: ACLU: Two-Thirds of New Kansas Voter Registrations on Hold | Associated Press

Voting rolls in Kansas are in “chaos” because of the state’s proof-of-citizenship requirements, the American Civil Liberties Union has argued in a court document, noting that about two-thirds of new voter registration applications submitted during a three-week period in February are on hold. Kansas is fending off multiple legal challenges from voting rights activists, and just months before the state’s August primary, the status of the “dual registration” system remains unclear. Federal judges in separate voter-registration lawsuits unfolding in Kansas and Washington, D.C., could rule at any time. There’s also greater urgency because registrations typically surge during an election year. Kansas is one of four states, along with Georgia, Alabama and Arizona, to require documentary proof of citizenship — such as a birth certificate, passport or naturalization papers — to register to vote. Under Kansas’ challenged system, voters who registered using a federal form, which hadn’t required proof of U.S. citizenship, could only vote in federal races and not in state or local races. Kansas says it will keep the dual voting system in place for upcoming elections if the courts allow its residents to register to vote either with a federal form or at motor vehicle offices without providing proof of citizenship. Read More

Missouri: The Voter-ID Fight in Missouri | The Atlantic

There is a variety of origin stories for why Missouri is known as “the Show-Me State.” But if Republicans in the state legislature get their way, it could take on new meaning for voters headed to the polls—as in, “Show me your photo ID.” The state senate, which is overwhelmingly Republican, is considering a double-barreled proposal. One part is a joint resolution that would place a ballot measure before voters to create a constitutional amendment requiring voters to show photo identification to vote. The other part governs how the requirement would be enforced if approved; in particular, it would require the legislature to fund programs to help get voters who don’t have some form of ID a card. If there’s no money, the requirement wouldn’t go into effect. The House already passed both halves in January. Senate Republicans brought the issue up Wednesday, but Democrats filibustered until 2 a.m., and the issue was temporarily set aside. Democrats have repeatedly obstructed attempts to pass the measures. Republicans are expected to bring it up again before the end of the session on May 13, and may use procedural measures to try to end the Democratic filibuster. If they succeed, Governor Jay Nixon, a Democrat, could veto the the bill, but his veto would likely be overridden. He can’t veto the joint resolution. Read More

North Carolina: Federal Judge Upholds North Carolina Voter Rules | The New York Times

A federal judge on Monday upheld sweeping Republican-backed changes to election rules, including a voter identification provision, that civil rights groups say unfairly targeted African-Americans and other minorities. The ruling could have serious political repercussions in a state that is closely contested in presidential elections. The opinion, by Judge Thomas D. Schroeder of Federal District Court in Winston-Salem, upheld the repeal of a provision that allowed people to register and vote on the same day. It also upheld a seven-day reduction in the early-voting period; the end of preregistration, which allowed some people to sign up before their 18th birthdays; and the repeal of a provision that allowed for the counting of ballots cast outside voters’ home precinct. It also left intact North Carolina’s voter identification requirement, which legislators softened last year to permit residents to cast ballots, even if they lack the required documentation, if they submit affidavits. The ruling could have significant repercussions in North Carolina, a state that Barack Obama barely won in 2008, and that the Republican Mitt Romney barely won four years later. Read More

Texas: U.S. Supreme Court Lets Texas Voter ID Law Stand During Appeal | Wall Street Journal

The Supreme Court on Friday allowed Texas to continue to enforce a law requiring voters to show identification at the polls, a setback for civil rights challengers who said the law could make it difficult for a sizable number of minorities to cast a ballot in November. The court, in a brief written order, declined to disturb a lower-court action that has allowed Texas to use its voter-ID law while litigation over the measure continues, including during its recent primary election in March. The court’s order, which didn’t note any dissents, said the parties could renew their request if lower courts haven’t acted by late July. An appeals court is slated to hear arguments in the case in late May. Read More

Vermont: Automatic Voter Registration Comes to Vermont | The Atlantic

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin signed legislation Thursday to automatically register eligible voters who apply for a driver’s license or state ID, making the Green Mountain State fourth in the nation to enact an automatic voter-registration law. “While states across the country are making it harder for voters to get to the polls, Vermont is making it easier by moving forward with commonsense policies that remove unnecessary barriers and increase participation in our democracy,” Shumlin said in a statement.  Read More

Virginia: McAuliffe restores voting rights for 206K ex-felons; GOP calls it move to boost Clinton | Richmond Times-Dispatch

Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed an executive order Friday restoring the voting rights of 206,000 ex-felons, a sweeping action the governor said was aimed largely at rectifying Virginia’s “long and sad history” of suppressing African-American voting power. The move, coming in a presidential election year, outraged Republicans who accused McAuliffe of abusing his power to help longtime ally Hillary Clinton win a battleground state by putting more likely Democratic voters on the books. The governor’s order applies to all violent and nonviolent felons who had finished their sentence and supervised release as of Friday, even those who have not applied for a restoration of rights. Previous Virginia governors have restored rights on an individual basis, but none has done it for an entire category of offenders with one pen stroke. The order stops short of creating automatic restoration of rights for all ex-offenders, because McAuliffe will have to sign similar orders on a monthly basis moving forward. Still, the order is a historic shift away from Virginia’s policy of lifetime disenfranchisement for those convicted of serious crimes. Read More

Serbia: Opposition rallies in Belgrade demanding election recount | Reuters

Hundreds of Serbian opposition supporters rallied in Belgrade on Saturday demanding a nationwide recount of last weekend’s election ballots, the resignation of the election commission or a re-run of the vote, claiming fraud and irregularities. Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, who wants to take Serbia into the European Union, won Sunday’s election with 48.24 percent of the vote, roughly unchanged from 2014. But his Progressive Party’s majority in parliament was reduced as more parties attained the five percent vote threshold needed for seats. Left-wing and ultra-nationalist opposition parties teamed up on Saturday to protest in front of the election commission office, chanting “We want our votes” and “This is fraud”. Read More

United Kingdom: British expats lose legal battle for right to vote in EU referendum | The Guardian

The high court has rejected an attempt to force the government to grant millions of UK citizens living abroad a vote in this June’ s EU referendum. The legal challenge brought by two disenfranchised expats on behalf of those living overseas for more than 15 years was dismissed by Lord Justice Lloyd Jones and Mr Justice Blake. The government, the judges said, was entitled to adopt a cut-off period “at which extended residence abroad might indicate a weakening of ties with the United Kingdom”. The ruling also noted that there would be “significant practical difficulties about adopting, especially for this referendum, a new electoral register which includes non-resident British citizens whose last residence in the UK was more than 15 years ago”. The judges added: “Electoral registration officers currently retain records of previous electoral registers for a period of 15 years. They have no straightforward means of checking the previous residence status of British citizens who have been resident overseas for longer than 15 years. Read More