National: G.O.P. Chief Discourages Rule Changes That Seem to Block Donald Trump | The New York Times

The chairman of the Republican National Committee has privately urged members of the party’s rules committee not to make changes to the guidelines governing the presidential nominating process, an effort to avoid the appearance that the party is seeking to block Donald J. Trump from becoming its nominee. The chairman, Reince Priebus, whom associates describe as increasingly frustrated by Mr. Trump’s criticism of the delegate-selection process, sent a text message last week to multiple rules committee members strongly suggesting that they not alter the convention rules when the party convenes next week for its spring meeting in Florida, according to two who received the message. Separately, a group of influential rules committee members held a conference call Thursday to prepare for the meeting and reached a consensus that they would derail any attempt at the gathering to make changes to the how the convention is conducted, according to a committee member on the call. “We’re not going to do anything with the rules next week,” said Rob Gleason, chairman of the Pennsylvania Republican Party and a longtime member of the rules committee. “There’s no point because new rules will be written at the convention.”

Editorials: Why Americans Can’t Vote | The New York Times

The state of the nation’s underfunded, patchwork election system and obsolete balloting machinery may not arouse voters the way candidates can with charges of rigged elections. But voters in Arizona who lined up for the state’s presidential primaries last month learned just how difficult and unfair voting can be even without criminal malfeasance. Maricopa County, the state’s most populous, had slashed the number of polling places to 60, from 200 in 2012, claiming a need for budget savings and leaving thousands of voters waiting long hours into the night, with some giving up in despair. The Justice Department is investigating this electoral disaster, including charges that minority voters were particularly harmed. Critics blame the Supreme Court for weakening the Voting Rights Act, which used to subject regions with a history of discrimination, Maricopa County among them, to prescreening by the Justice Department before they could make major changes in voting procedures. Had that provision remained operational, the Maricopa fiasco might have been averted.

Alabama: Runoffs consume time, money for low turnout | Times Daily

Rep. Mike Ball, R-Madison, said the simple fact is people aren’t interested runoff elections. “People don’t take them seriously,” said Ball. “Look at the participation — that tells you what people think of runoffs.” He referred to the lack of interest in the state’s April 12 runoff elections. According to the Alabama Secretary of State’s website, there are 1.35 million registered voters, but during Tuesday’s runoff elections just over 65,000 people voted. “It’s sad that this happens, but people forget about runoff elections,” said political science expert Bill Stewart, professor emeritus at the University of Alabama. Stewart said most states don’t have runoff elections anymore because they draw a small percentage of voters. That was evident in the Shoals. Out of 108,168 registered voters in Colbert, Franklin and Lauderdale counties, only 5,711 people voted in Tuesday’s runoff election.

California: Are you an independent voter? You aren’t if you checked this box | Los Angeles Times

With nearly half a million registered members, the American Independent Party is bigger than all of California’s other minor parties combined. The ultraconservative party’s platform opposes abortion rights and same sex marriage, and calls for building a fence along the entire United States border. Based in the Solano County home of one of its leaders, the AIP bills itself as “The Fastest Growing Political Party in California.” But a Times investigation has found that a majority of its members have registered with the party in error. Nearly three in four people did not realize they had joined the party, a survey of registered AIP voters conducted for The Times found. That mistake could prevent people from casting votes in the June 7 presidential primary, California’s most competitive in decades. Voters from all walks of life were confused by the use of the word “independent” in the party’s name, according to The Times analysis. Residents of rural and urban communities, students and business owners and top Hollywood celebrities with known Democratic leanings — including Sugar Ray Leonard, Demi Moore and Emma Stone — were among those who believed they were declaring that they preferred no party affiliation when they checked the box for the American Independent Party.

Florida: New law sets study of online voting for overseas military | Palm Beach Post

Florida Gov. Rick Scott finished off his duties from the 2016 legislative session on Friday by vetoing perhaps the most controversial bill of the year — the proposed overhaul of the state’s alimony and child-custody laws — and signing two others bills. With those moves, the Republican governor finished acting on all 272 bills — including the state budget — approved by the Legislature this year. He signed all but three. One of the last two signed by Scott could lead to an online voting system for overseas military personnel from Florida, and the other is expected to help people get mental-health or substance-abuse treatment.

Illinois: House Democrats propose redistricting amendment | Bloomington Pantagraph

Illinois House Democrats are proposing their own plan for changing the way the state’s legislative districts are drawn. Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has made redistricting reform a key component of his “turnaround agenda,” but Democrats say a Republican proposal and one being pushed by a group called Independent Maps wouldn’t adequately take into account minority populations when drawing boundaries, a claim supporters dispute. Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, said he filed the new proposal because he doesn’t believe the other plan would pass constitutional muster due to its lack of protection for minority voters.

Editorials: Brian Newby and Kris Kobach are tangled in a web of voter restrictions | Steve Rose/The Kansas City Star

The Brian Newby I knew in the 11 years he served as Johnson County election commissioner thought the big deal about voter fraud was blown way out of proportion. We discussed this on several occasions. I knew he had to be careful what he said because his boss — the one who appointed him — was none other than Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Kobach has a national reputation as one of the most virulent crusaders for restrictive voting because, Kobach claims, he wants to stamp out voter fraud. There has been no indication in Kansas or anywhere else that voter fraud is a major issue. Kobach pushed for laws that require Kansans who want to register to vote to come up with documents like a passport or birth certificate, which tens of thousands of Kansans — mostly poor — don’t have, and therefore they cannot vote. (Note: This is not about showing a driver’s license at the time you vote, which is a reasonable request.) Newby told me that over his entire term he came across only a couple of instances of double-voting that could technically be defined as fraud. However, Newby was clear that he thought these were mistakes, not intentional fraud.

New York: Voters file lawsuit over alleged election fraud | New York Daily News

More than 200 outraged New York voters have joined a lawsuit claiming the party affiliation on their voter registration changed without their consent. The voters say they are unfairly being shut out of Tuesday’s primary. The suit, to be filed Monday in Brooklyn, calls for New York to be an open primary state, allowing anyone to vote in primaries regardless of party affiliation. “For many of our complainants, to have the electoral process deprived of them, it’s devastating,” Shyla Nelson, an activist and spokeswoman for Election Justice U.S.A., told the Daily News.

North Carolina: Legislative redistricting trial concludes | Associated Press

A federal trial scrutinizing nearly 30 North Carolina legislative districts concluded Friday after attorneys presented conflicting arguments over whether increasing the number of majority-black districts reinforces outdated race-based political divisions or is a sensible legal strategy. The three-judge panel gave no timeframe on when it would rule at the close of the weeklong trial spurred by a voters’ lawsuit, but any decision is at least several weeks away and could be appealed. The timing of the ruling could determine whether Republican lawmakers have to scramble to redraw boundaries in time for the November general elections. The state’s lawyers, who are defending the current boundaries as legal, have said that if any adjustments are ordered, they should be delayed until the 2018 elections. Some of North Carolina’s congressional boundaries were struck down as illegal racial gerrymanders by a different federal judicial panel in February, based in part on arguments similar to what the plaintiffs used in this week’s case. The legislature, forced to redraw the congressional districts right away, delayed the primary for the seats until June 7. Legislative primaries under the current maps were held last month.

Ohio: GOP: Require cash for longer vote hours | Cincinnati Enquirer

Republican lawmakers want anyone who goes to court to keep polls open longer on Election Day to hand over enough cash to cover the cost. Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz is proposing a change in state law that would require a cash bond, potentially worth thousands of dollars, before a judge could order polls to stay open past the scheduled closing time. Seitz, who already has nine Republican co-sponsors for his bill, said the goal is to prevent what he considers frivolous, last-minute court challenges that keep polls open late and create additional costs for taxpayers. The law also would set a higher standard for proving the need for longer hours and would allow for the immediate appeal of any ruling that extends poll hours. “There will always be some excuse that some activist judge can seize upon,” said Seitz, of Green Township. “Is this intended to retard these last-minute interventions? Yes, it is.”

Australia: Double dissolution election likely as Parliament set to examine two key bills, Brandis says | ABC

Federal Attorney-General George Brandis has indicated it is highly likely Australia will head to a double dissolution election on July 2, saying he does not expect the Senate to pass two key pieces of Government legislation. Senator Xenophon, along with other crossbenchers, want a number of amendments to the ABCC Bill Parliament has been recalled early for an extraordinary sitting to debate the Coalition’s bill to reintroduce the construction watchdog, the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC), and the Registered Organisations bill, which aims to treat union leaders like company directors.

Chad: Opposition Poised For Possible Election Run-off | VoA News

Official results have yet to be released from Chad’s April 10 presidential election. But opposition candidates say their vote count indicates the country is headed to a run-off, and they will not accept any other results. It is the latest sign of tension as President Idris Deby seeks a fifth term in office. Mahamat Ahmad Alhabo, president of the opposition Party for Liberty and Development (PLD) and spokesperson of opposition presidential candidates, says the political opposition is poised for a run-off after result sheets from their representatives in all poling stations indicated no candidate had won an absolute majority in the first round of polling Sunday.

Ghana: US to support Ghana’s elections with $4.5 million | Ghana Web

The United States government has pledged an amount of 4.5 million dollars to support Ghana’s election which comes off on November 7, 2016. The EC will be getting one third of the money for voter education and to support other activities relating to the elections. This pledge from the United States comes barely two months after the British government also announced a 4 million pound support to the Electoral Commission to help run an effective election. The Electoral Commission in December 2015 submitted a budget of 1.8 billion Ghana cedi to parliament for approval to effectively run the 2016 elections. Parliament approved 1.2 billion of the said amount but this was further slashed to 826.8 million cedis by the Finance Ministry on grounds that there is a ceiling on the total amount it can release for elections.

Serbia: Ultra-nationalist resurgence could complicate Serbia’s EU path | Reuters

Ultra-nationalists are set to return to Serbia’s parliament in an April 24 election after an absence of several years, boosted by growing discontent with Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic’s pro-European Union stance and austerity policies. They include firebrand Radical Party leader Vojislav Seselj, whose popularity in Serbia was boosted by his acquittal last month of crimes against humanity by the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague. Polls indicate Seselj’s Radicals and the right-wing Dveri grouping, which hold pro-Russian and anti-NATO views and demand an end to integration with the EU, will both get over the threshold needed to get into parliament and together could win about 25-30 seats in the 250-seat assembly.

United Kingdom: EU referendum vote could be overseen by ‘international monitors’ | Daily Express

It means this nation, which has just celebrated the 700th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta, could be faced with the humiliating prospect of joining the ranks of Russia and Azerbaijan in having independent experts ensure fairness. Concerns will be raised at a meeting of the Council of Europe, a human rights organisation of 47 member nations which predates the EU, when it convenes on Monday. The call, by Tory MP Nigel Evans, was partly prompted by the Government’s decision to spend £9m of taxpayers’ money on pro-EU leaflets. Speaking to the Sunday Express, the MP for Ribble Valley said: “The Council has great expertise in monitoring elections – in a week’s time, I will be monitoring elections in Serbia.