Alaska: Judge tosses Alaska Democrats’ lawsuit | Juneau Empire

A Juneau Superior Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by the Alaska Democratic Party against the state of Alaska for its refusal to allow independents to appear on the party’s fall primary ballot. In his decision, Judge Louis James Menendez wrote that the state’s motion to dismiss the case was appropriate because the Alaska Democratic Party has itself not yet approved rules allowing independents onto the party ballot. That decision will not be made until the party’s statewide convention in May, when delegates will be asked to change the party’s rules.

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

A Maricopa County judge is set to hold a hearing on a lawsuit seeking to have the results of Arizona’s presidential primary thrown out. The hearing set for Tuesday before Judge David Gass comes as the Arizona attorney general’s office want the case dismissed. It argues state law doesn’t allow the March 22 election results to be contested. The attorney general, representing Secretary of State Michele Reagan, said in a court filing that there were problems with the election and Reagan wants to see them fixed, but state law doesn’t allow the legal challenge to proceed. “The contest statutes only apply to specific categories of elections, and the presidential preference election does not fall within the scope” of those laws, the filing by Assistant Attorney General James Driscoll-MacEachron said.

Florida: Court rejects Corrine Brown’s bid to throw out congressional map | Florida Politics

A panel of federal judges Monday shot down U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown‘s challenge of Florida’s congressional redistricting. In a 26-page order, the three judges said Brown had “not proven (her) case and that defendants are entitled to judgment in their favor.” The defendants include the League of Women Voters of Florida, Common Cause and others who last year forced a redrawing of Florida’s congressional district map. Brown had asked the court to set aside her redrawn seat, the 5th Congressional District. The Jacksonville Democrat has said her new district violates federal voting laws by cutting down the influence of minority voters. Instead, the judges rejected her request for a preliminary injunction prohibiting the state from enforcing the new district. But because their order “resolved the merits of this case,” the case is essentially over.

Maryland: State goes back to paper ballots for primary election | Associated Press

Maryland is going back to basics — an ink pen and paper ballot — for this month’s presidential primary. Like every new voting system, this one has some quirks that likely will become more apparent when the November general election brings more than 2 million Maryland voters to the polls. The system requires most voters to mark their ballots by filling in ovals, similar to those on standardized tests, with pens provided by election judges. Voters feed their marked ballots into scanning machines that tabulate the results. The new system largely replaces touch-screen terminals, which eliminated the “hanging chads” and other difficulties in discerning voter intent on paper punch-card ballots highlighted by the 2000 presidential election. Maryland implemented electronic voting in 2002 but glitches and security concerns prompted the General Assembly to vote in 2007 for a return to paper balloting.

Mississippi: House, Senate negotiators reach campaign finance deal | The Clarion-Ledger

Senate and House negotiators, minutes before a Monday night deadline, reached agreement on campaign finance reform, including restrictions on personal use of campaign money. A strict ban on personal spending the Senate had passed was slightly relaxed in the compromise version, lawmakers said, and the reforms wouldn’t kick in until Jan. 1. The measure will go before the full House and Senate as early as Tuesday. “We all wanted to do the right thing,” said Senate Election Chairwoman Sally Doty, R-Brookhaven. “But we didn’t want to penalize colleagues who have been operating under different rules for 20 years or more.” Experts and politicians have called Mississippi’s campaign finance setup “a recipe for ethical disaster” and “legalized bribery.”

Nebraska: ‘Unconstitutional, unelected and unaccountable’: Ricketts vetoes bill to revamp how political maps are drawn | Omaha World-Herald

Gov. Pete Ricketts on Monday vetoed a bill that would create an independent commission of citizens to redraw the state’s political maps. In a letter to lawmakers, Ricketts called Legislative Bill 580 a major policy shift that’s unconstitutional because elected lawmakers, not members of a commission, are required to redistrict every 10 years. He argued that the commission could amount to a “hyper-partisan” body composed of former political party activists and elected officials. “At stake are the voting rights of all Nebraskans,” Ricketts said.

New York: After More Than 100,000 Voters Dropped In Brooklyn, City Officials Call For Action | NPR

Following widespread irregularities at polls in Brooklyn Tuesday, New York City officials are calling for major reforms at the Board of Elections. The problem was first identified in a an analysis of state voter enrollment statistics by WNYC’s Brigid Bergin. The Board of Elections then confirmed that more than 120,000 voters have been dropped from the rolls in Brooklyn alone since November. “No other borough in New York City nor county in the rest of the state saw such a significant decline in active registered Democrats. In fact, only 7 of the state’s 62 counties saw a drop in the number of Democrats. Everywhere else saw the numbers increase,” WNYC found. The more than 120,000 dropped includes 12,000 people who moved out of the borough, 44,000 people who were moved from active to inactive voter status, and 70,000 voters removed from the inactive voter list, according to the station.

New York: Republican ‘rotten boroughs’ could clinch nomination due to delegate quirk | The Guardian

Like British parliamentary elections in the 18th century, the Republican presidential primary in 2016 may be decided in rotten boroughs. While the rotten boroughs in Georgian England were the long since abandoned sites of medieval towns where aristocratic landowners could handpick members of parliament, the Republican rotten boroughs are vibrant, heavily populated urban areas in places like New York and Los Angeles. They just don’t have very many registered Republicans. The result of gerrymandered redistricting processes and the deep alienation of minority communities from the Republican party is that there are many congressional districts where registered Republicans are almost as rare as unicorns. Republican delegate apportionment rules in many states, however, mean that every congressional district receives three delegates to the convention, regardless of how many GOP voters live there. In contrast, the Democratic party’s formula for delegates is influenced by the number of votes cast for their presidential nominee in the past few elections in each district. Instead of seeking to represent every voter equally, this gives more weight to committed Democratic voters. And it means the ratio of voters to delegates is less unbalanced than it might be otherwise.

New York: Judge Rejects Move To Open Primary To Purged Voters & Independents | Gothamist

A New York Federal District Court judge held a short-notice hearing on Tuesday afternoon in relation to a lawsuit filed yesterday against the state by dozens of New York voters, alleging that their registrations in the Democratic party had been purged or altered, preventing them from voting in today’s presidential primary. The lawsuit, which claims that voters inexplicably dropped from the voter rolls are being denied their constitutional rights, called on the judge to instate a hearing process by which New Yorkers who believe their registration has been wrongfully purged might defend themselves. “Usually what happens is the Board of Elections takes your provisional ballot, and checks it against the voter rolls. If it it doesn’t match they throw it out,” said attorney Jonathan Clarke outside the courtroom this afternoon. “What we’re asking is that your vote stay counted until the Board of Elections can actually [prove you’re not registered].”

North Carolina: Experts: Shifting demographics make case for redistricting reform | WRAL

North Carolina’s growing populations mean gerrymandered districts drawn for partisan advantage could backfire on their sponsors, a pair of University of North Carolina professors said Tuesday. Rebecca Tippett, director of Carolina Demography at the Carolina Population Center at UNC-Chapel Hill, and Mark Nance, a political science professor at North Carolina State University, spoke at a news conference sponsored by Rep. Duane Hall, D-Wake, and the NC Coalition for Lobbying and Government Reform. The coalition has been pushing lawmakers to create an independent commission to draw the geographic districts in which members of the U.S. House, the state House and the state Senators run. North Carolina has faced frequent lawsuits over its voting districts, including one in which the federal courts ruled this spring that two of the state’s 13 congressional districts were so gerrymandered as to be unconstitutional.

Tennessee: Legislature passes online voter registration bill | Associated Press

The General Assembly passed legislation Tuesday that would allow Tennesseans to register to vote online. The House unanimously passed a bill that the Senate had earlier approved. The measure allows Tennesseans to go online to register to vote or update their registration records. Applicants would be directed to apply on paper if their name, date of birth or other identifying information could not be confirmed with the Department of Safety. Rep. Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, who sponsored the House bill, said there would be safeguards to discourage voter fraud.

Bulgaria: MPs Adopt Set of Amendments to Electoral Code | Novinite

After sitting for more than fourteen hours on Tuesday, members of Bulgaria’s parliamentary legal affairs committee adopted at second reading a set of amendments to the Electoral Code. The amendments, which were discussed at three extraordinary sittings of the committee that lasted for over 28 hours in total, will be subject to final vote in the plenary chamber on Thursday, daily Dnevnik informs. Among the main amendments adopted by MPs is the classification of voting as a civil duty and the introduction of compulsory voting. Voters might be entitled to rewards, which will be determined by the Council of Ministers, while those not casting their ballot will be subject to penalty by being deregistered from the electoral rolls for participation in the next elections. Those deregistered will be able to be signed back on the electoral register by submitting a request to the competent authorities.

Russia: Election Watchdog Fined as Part of ‘Intimidation Campaign’ | The Moscow Times

A Moscow city court has fined election monitoring group Golos 1.2 million rubles ($18,000) for failing to identify itself as a “foreign agent” on its website. Rights activists said the verdict was part of an intimidation campaign ahead of parliamentary elections, the RBC news website reported Monday. Under a Russian law signed by President Vladimir Putin in 2012, non-governmental organizations that receive funding from abroad and are engaged in any perceived ‘political’ activities must register as “foreign agents” and identify themselves as such in all publications.

Serbia: Ultranationalism and Russia colour Serbia’s election | The Irish Times

When Serbian ultranationalist Vojislav Seselj was controversially cleared of war crimes last month, cheers were heard far to the east of Belgrade. “I congratulate my friend on victory!” Russia’s deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin tweeted soon after the UN court in The Hague acquitted Seselj. “But who will restore his health, ruined by prison and public humiliation?” asked Rogozin of a man who spent almost 12 years in jail in the Netherlands before being allowed home on health grounds in 2014 to await the court’s decision. A verdict that outraged many in the Balkans and which faces an appeal by the prosecution freed Seselj to contest parliamentary elections this Sunday, in which Serbia’s resurgent nationalism and the country’s old ally Russia are to the fore.