National: Election year brings new focus to voter rights in courts, legislatures | The Kansas City Star

Eric and Ivanka Trump learned this week they won’t be able to vote for their dad, Donald, in New York’s primary Tuesday. They didn’t register as Republicans in time. Trump was philosophical. “They were, you know, unaware of the rules,” he ruefully told Fox News. The story prompted chuckles in some political and media circles. But it also helped illustrate an ongoing truth: In 2016, America’s state-based election laws can confuse even the most interested voters. From a federal courthouse in Kansas City, Kan., Thursday, to Arizona and beyond, lawyers are arguing over how and when we vote. Voting rules are a confusing, contradictory hodgepodge from state to state and sometimes county to county, many experts say, often based more on perceived political advantage than fair exercise of the franchise. Consider: You can cast an early ballot in Kansas, but not in Missouri. You need a picture ID to vote in Texas, but not in California. In Colorado you can register on Election Day; in Arkansas, you must be on the registrar’s books 30 days before going to the polls.

National: Why Thousands of Americans Are Lining Up to Get Arrested in D.C. | Rolling Stone

Chanting, “Money ain’t speech, corporations aren’t people!” and “We are the 99 percent!” around 425 protesters were arrested Monday in a mass sit-in on the steps of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., and more have returned to face arrest Tuesday. The demonstration, called Democracy Spring, is advocating a set of reforms the organizers have dubbed the “democracy movement,” demanding Congress amend campaign finance laws and restore the Voting Rights Act, among other actions. For about five hours under the windy shadow of the looming Rotunda, at least eight police buses roll across the sandstone Capitol plaza to haul away the last of the peaceful protesters, where participants — some costumed in green dollar-bill suits and Lady Liberty garb — have overwhelmed a Capitol Police processing center, sending protesters to a nearby overflow facility. Police records suggest Monday was the largest spate of mass arrests in at least a decade at the U.S. Capitol, and close observers of Washington activism say it may have been the largest since the Vietnam War.

Editorials: Is Trump right about ‘rigged’ nomination? | Richard Hasen/ CNN

Each year on April Fools’ Day I intersperse some false but plausible news stories among the real ones on my Election Law Blog. Last year, I got a number of prominent election-law attorneys and activists to believe a false report that a federal court, relying on the Supreme Court’s controversial campaign finance decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, held that the First Amendment protects the right to literally bribe candidates. This year, among false posts, was one in which I had Donald Trump declaring that he would not abide by the results of the Electoral College vote if he was the popular vote winner. The made-up story had him plotting with his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to seize power in the event of a popular vote/electoral vote conflict. Many people believed the post, and it even made aWashington Post list of debunked April Fools’ stories that people fell for. It’s not a surprise. Trump railed against what he perceived as the unfairness of the Electoral College when President Obama won re-election in 2012. And he has consistently whined about what he perceives as unfairness in the electoral process. Combine that with his inflammatory rhetoric, and the idea of a Trump coup is not so crazy.

Arizona: Democratic Party, Clinton and Sanders campaigns to sue Arizona over voting rights | The Washington Post

The Democratic Party and the presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will sue the state of Arizona over voter access to the polls after the state’s presidential primary last month left thousands of residents waiting as long as five hours to vote. The lawsuit, which will be filed on Friday, focuses on Maricopa County, the state’s most populous county, where voters faced the longest lines on March 22 during the Democratic and Republican primaries after the county cut the number of polling places by 85 percent since 2008. Arizona’s “alarmingly inadequate number of voting centers resulted in severe, inexcusable burdens on voters county-wide, as well as the ultimate disenfranchisement of untold numbers of voters who were unable or unwilling to wait in intolerably long lines,” the lawsuit says. The lack of voting places was “particularly burdensome” on Maricopa County’s black, Hispanic and Native American communities, which had fewer polling locations than white communities and in some cases no places to vote at all, the lawsuit alleges.

Kansas: ACLU asks federal court to block Kansas voter ID law | The Fiscal Times

The American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday will seek to block a Kansas state law that requires people to prove American citizenship if they want to register to vote while applying for a driver’s license. The civil rights group will ask a federal judge in Kansas City, Kansas, to issue a preliminary injunction pending the outcome of a lawsuit the group filed in February. The ACLU claims Kansas is making illegal demands for additional proof of citizenship, violating the so-called Motor-Voter Law that Congress passed in 1993 to boost voter registration for federal elections by allowing voters to register at motor vehicle departments. The Kansas law requiring documents like a birth certificate or U.S. passport for voter registration, which took effect Jan. 1, 2013, is one of numerous voter ID laws passed by Republican-led state legislatures in recent years. The ACLU alleges that Kansas goes beyond what is required by federal law.

Nebraska: Winner-take-all electoral vote fails | Lincoln Journal Star

A proposal to dump Nebraska’s distinctive presidential electoral system and establish a statewide winner-take-all vote was trapped Tuesday by a filibuster and buried by the Legislature. A motion to invoke cloture and bring an end to legislative debate fell one senator short of the 33 votes required to proceed with the bill, failing on a 32-17 count. Sens. Tommy Garrett of Bellevue and Bob Krist of Omaha switched from their support for a cloture motion a week ago that had allowed the bill (LB10) to proceed to a final vote this week. The result is that Nebraska will continue to allocate its five electoral votes by awarding one to the winner in each of the three congressional districts and two to the statewide victor.

New York: The Effects of New York’s Restrictive Voting Laws | The Atlantic

When Donald Trump confirmed to the hosts on Fox & Friends on Monday that two of his adult children, Ivanka and Eric, would not be able to vote for him in the New York primary, it seemed like one more head-smacking blunder by a disorganized campaign. How could Trump’s own kids forget to register in a state that has become crucial to his bid for the Republican nomination? Their lapse may be easy fodder for Trump’s rivals, but Ivanka and Eric’s plight is engendering far more sympathy from election reformers who are much more familiar with New York’s notoriously restrictive voting laws. “They’re just like a lot of people whom we’re hearing from on a regular basis,” Susan Lerner, the executive director of the state’s Common Cause affiliate, told me. Voting in New York is for early planners, not procrastinators. And that’s especially true for primaries.

Texas: Photo ID law stands despite challenges since Supreme Court ruling weakened Voting Rights Act | Los Angeles Times

Hours after the Supreme Court in 2013 struck down a core part of the Voting Rights Act, Texas put into effect a law that threatened to disenfranchise more than 600,000 registered voters. The Justice Department had blocked the law two years earlier as discriminatory, and a three-judge panel in Washington agreed that it put “unforgiving burdens on the poor.” Texans who lacked driver’s licenses had to take certified copies of their birth certificates to motor-vehicle offices to obtain new photo ID cards, sometimes a trip of more than 100 miles. Even though the high court’s ruling ended the department’s ability to prevent the law from taking effect, a federal district court judge in 2014 struck it down for discriminating against minorities. Last year, a U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals panel upheld that decision in a 3-0 opinion, written by a judge appointed by President George W. Bush. Yet the Texas law still stands.

Wisconsin: Court ruling opens way for those without ID to vote | Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

A panel of three federal judges opened up the possibility Tuesday that Wisconsin voters who have great difficulty getting photo IDs could cast ballots without them. The unanimous decision by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals panel keeps the voter ID law in place, but provides a potential way for those who can’t get IDs to vote. For now, such people can’t vote, and the case now returns to U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman in Milwaukee for further proceedings. The opponents of the voter ID law hope to move quickly. Primaries for Congress and the Legislature are Aug. 9 and the fall election is Nov. 8. Tuesday’s ruling is targeted at those who have severe challenges getting photo IDs, such as people whose birth certificates contain errors or are no longer available. “The right to vote is personal and is not defeated by the fact that 99% of other people can secure the necessary credentials easily,” Appeals Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote for the panel.

Philippines: Electoral records breached in ‘largest ever’ government hack | The Guardian

The personal information of more than 50 million Filipinos has been exposed in a breach of the Philippine electoral commission. According to security researchers at Trend Micro, the hack contains a huge amount of very sensitive personal data, including the fingerprints of 15.8 million individuals and passport numbers and expiry dates of 1.3 million overseas voters. The website of the Commission on Elections, Comelec, was initially hacked on March 27, by a group identifying itself as Anonymous Philippines, the local fork of the wider hacker collective. The homepage was defaced with a message accusing Comelec of not doing enough to ensure the security of voting machines used in the country’s upcoming election.

Canada: Supreme Court will hear appeal on voting rights for long-term expats | The Globe and Mail

Long-term expats denied the right to vote in federal elections expressed delight Thursday after the Supreme Court of Canada said it would take on their case. At issue is part of the Canada Elections Act that disenfranchises citizens who have lived abroad for longer than five years. “The time has come to restore expats’ right to vote from abroad,” said Jamie Duong, one of the plaintiffs in the case. Duong and Gillian Frank, both of whom live in the United States, challenged the constitutionality of the legislation, enforced only under the previous Conservative government of Stephen Harper.

South Korea: Ruling conservative party loses majority | The Guardian

South Korea’s ruling conservative party suffered an unexpected defeat in a parliamentary election on Wednesday, local media said early on Thursday, based on election commission data, in a stinging blow to president Park Geun-hye. The loss by Park’s Saenuri party, which had been expected to regain a majority, will mean her government will face more deadlock in the national assembly as she tries to push through her legislative agenda to boost a sluggish economy. The defeat is also likely to dent prospects for the party to field a winning candidate in the presidential vote scheduled late next year to succeed Park for a single five-year term.

Editorials: GOP nomination process 101: Candidates’ remedial edition | Derek T. Muller/Reuters

Donald Trump has complained that the Republican primary process is a “rigged, disgusting, dirty system” that deprives people of the chance to vote for their preferred presidential candidate. He accuses the Republican Party of stealing delegates from him. If he thinks this system is complex, Trump should look to the GOP’s past primary elections. Now, those were complicated! As recently as 2012, for example, some states used a three-step voting process that often yielded two opposing outcomes. But the Republican National Committee worked with state parties to streamline and standardize the 2016 election to minimize confusing results. Some complexity remains because each of the 50 states can set its own rules. As the founding fathers devised, U.S. presidential elections are not national races. Rather, they occur state by state, which inevitably creates some complexity. But there are clear and now simpler rules. Candidates just need to read them.

Alabama: DOJ asked to investigate for possible voting rights violations | Alabama Today

The Washington, D.C.-based Voting Rights Institute (VRI) has called on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate Daphne, Alabama’s City Council’s March 21 decision to reduce the number of polling places in the city from five to two. VRI, a project of the American Constitution Society, Campaign Legal Center and Georgetown University Law Center, sent a letter Wednesday to the DOJ after receiving a complaint from African American leader and voter in Daphne, Willie Williams.

Maine: Legislature approves bill to create presidential primaries in Maine | Sun Journal

The Legislature has sent Gov. Paul LePage a bill that would move Maine back to a statewide presidential primary in 2020. It’s a move LePage has said he supports, but at least a handful of state lawmakers are questioning whether all taxpayers should have to foot the $1 million to $2 million bill for a March election that only benefits the state’s major parties. LePage, who had yet to act on the bill, said Wednesday he favors a system that would allow all registered voters to participate. “If you’re an American citizen, you should have the right to vote,” LePage said. It’s a sentiment shared by some lawmakers who opposed the switch to a primary system geared only toward registered Republicans and Democrats.

Montana: State Republican Party to drop out of closed primary suit | Associated Press

The Montana Republican Party will drop out of a lawsuit that seeks to allow only GOP-registered voters to participate in its primary elections, but Republican committees in 10 counties plan to press forward with the case. The likelihood of ending Montana’s open-primary system through the lawsuit is low, based on previous court rulings against the party in the case, according to a statement attributed to the state party chairman, Billings Rep. Jeff Essmann. So the party’s executive board voted to seek to dismiss the case. “We hope that all parties to the matter will agree that there is no need for the expense of a trial to be incurred at this point,” Essmann said in the statement. The state party’s attorney will file a motion to dismiss the case, GOP spokesman Shane Scanlon said.

Nebraska: Citizens, not legislators, will redraw lines under redistricting bill heading to governor | Nebraska Radio Network

A special citizens’ commission will draw political boundaries after the census under a bill passing the Unicameral. LB 580 had to overcome a filibuster before passing on final reading on a 29-to-15 vote with four senators abstaining. Opponents say the change is not needed, that the Unicameral is charged with redrawing lines after the U.S. Census takes its official count every 10 years. They further claim efforts to rid the process of politics are futile.

Ohio: Once again, panel takes no action on redistricting | The Columbus Dispatch

A panel of the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission met again Thursday to consider recommending how to alter the congressional redistricting process, which in its current form allows for rampant partisan gerrymandering. But, in what has become a familiar scene for redistricting reform supporters, the panel again decided not to take action on recommending changes to the process for the legislature to consider. The committee meets again on May 12. Fred Mills, chairman of the panel, said redistricting will be on the agenda and a vote will be scheduled. “Whether or not we’ll actually take a vote is another thing,” he said. The redistricting issue was pulled from the Legislative Branch and Executive Branch Committee in February and placed into a four-person subcommittee, which was supposed to have a recommendation ready within six weeks. That was 10 weeks ago.

Australia: High court challenge to Senate voting reforms set for budget week | The Guardian

Family First senator Bob Day has cleared the first hurdle in his challenge to Senate voting reforms after the chief justice of the high court referred the case to the full bench, for hearing during the budget week. Speaking outside the court on Friday, Day said the orders were issued by chief justice Robert French for the full bench to hear the case on 2 and 3 May – as Malcolm Turnbull brings down his first budget and his last before the next election. Day immediately claimed the development as a win for voters’ rights although constitutional lawyers have been sceptical about the merits of the case. “I have always believed there’s merit but clearly the chief justice believes those also otherwise we wouldn’t be on this trajectory,” Day said. “I think today was a really important win in the battle for voters’ rights and let’s be clear what happened last month in the parliament, that voters’ rights were taken away.”

New Zealand: Time is running out for go-ahead for online voting trials | Manuwatu Standard

Online voting trials are looking increasingly unlikely to take place at October’s local body elections in Palmerston North, Whanganui and six other centres. The Department of Internal Affairs will only say a decision is expected to be announced “shortly”. But at least one Palmerston North City councillor is concerned that with six months to go, time is running out. The council has set aside $100,000 in the budget included in its proposed Annual Plan that is out for consultation. Cr Aleisha Rutherford, who pushed for Palmerston North to sign up for the online trial, said councillors were telling residents who asked in discussions about the Annual Plan that it was “highly unlikely” the money would be spent.

Philippines: Smartmatic donates thermal paper for vote receipts | The Philippine Star

Voting 6-1, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) yesterday decided to accept the 1.1 million rolls of thermal paper donated by Smartmatic International to be used as voter receipts. The poll body said it has also opted to accept the two million marking pens donated by the Netherlands-based company. The pens will be used by voters to mark their ballots. “We discussed in our en banc meeting the offer of Smartmatic to donate marking pens and thermal paper. The law department made a recommendation that we would not be violating a law if we accept (the donations),” Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista told reporters.

Switzerland: Swiss vote again on genetic screening | SWI

One year after the Swiss electorate accepted a constitutional amendment allowing preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), the question is again being put to the vote. Pro-life groups are attacking the law implementing the amendment via a referendum, but they are not the only ones going into battle – parliamentarians across the political spectrum also believe the new text goes too far. As soon as the constitutional article was accepted (by 61.9% of voters), conservative Christian circles called for a referendum against changing the law on medically assisted reproduction. In December 2015, over 58,000 valid signatures were handed to the Federal Chancellery – some 8,000 more than the required minimum.