National: Republicans Reject Effort to Alter Rules on Allowing New Candidate at Convention | The New York Times

A Republican National Committee panel on Thursday overwhelmingly rejected an effort to make preliminary changes to the rules governing the party’s convention this summer, batting away a move to make it more difficult for party leaders to draft a “white knight” candidate into the race. On a voice vote, the R.N.C.’s rules committee turned back a bid to switch the rules of the convention from those used by the House of Representatives to Robert’s Rules of Order. The committee member who proposed the change, Solomon Yue of Oregon, said in the days leading up to the party’s spring meeting here that he wanted to alter the rules to prevent the establishment-aligned Republicans running the convention from being able to place in nomination the name of a candidate not already in the race. The House Rules can be interpreted as allowing the chairman of the convention, Speaker Paul D. Ryan, to reopen presidential nominations, while Robert’s Rule would require a majority vote of the conservative-leaning delegates to do so.

Editorials: Are voter ID laws the next hanging chads? | Andrew Gumbel/Los Angeles Times

Molly McGrath is laser-focused on a job no advanced democratic society ought to require: Making sure properly registered voters do not lose their right to cast a ballot on election day because of new, stringent ID requirements they may not even know exist. McGrath is the national campaign coordinator for VoteRiders, a nonprofit founded by two Los Angeles attorneys that devotes itself to ensuring citizens are not tripped up by the voter ID laws, many of which are being introduced this year. Since last summer, McGrath and her team have been visiting food pantries, churches, university centers and high-end condo complexes in Wisconsin, one of the states with the strictest requirements. Some of the people the team helps are transient, poor or elderly; they not only may have no driver’s license or state-issued photo ID, but they also may have difficulty getting their hands on the underlying documentation required to get one.

Arizona: Supreme Court Upholds Arizona Voting Districts Drawn by Independent Panel | Wall Street Journal

The Supreme Court Wednesday upheld Arizona state legislative districts drawn by an independent commission, rejecting claims by Republican voters that slight population deviations favoring Democrats violated the Constitution. The Constitution “does not demand mathematical perfection” when states equalize population among legislative districts, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote for a unanimous court. Republican voters claimed that the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, created by a 2000 voter initiative to reduce partisan influence over political representation, overpopulated GOP-leaning districts and underpopulated Democrat-leaning ones, effectively increasing Democratic voting strength.

Florida: Court rejects bid to throw out Florida congressional map | Associated Press

Florida’s long, twisted legal drama over its congressional districts may finally be reaching its end after a panel on federal judges on Monday rejected a push by U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown to throw out the current district boundaries.n Brown, a veteran member of Congress, argued that the current map, which dramatically altered her Jacksonville district, violates federal voting laws because it diluted the voting rights of minorities. But the panel of three judges disagreed sharply and said that Brown and her attorneys had not produced evidence to prove her case. Brown, who had previously vowed to keep up the fight as long as she could, said in a brief statement that she was “extremely disappointed” and is reviewing the ruling with her attorneys. Any appeal, however, would go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court since a three-judge panel handled the initial decision. The decision could have immediate reverberations because the new map upends the state’s political landscape and could lead to the defeat of several incumbents. The current map was approved by the state Supreme Court in December after a lengthy battle.

New York: State Attorney Schneiderman’s office receives more than 1,000 primary day complaints | Times Union

State Attorney Eric Schneiderman said Wednesday that his office fielded more than 1,000 complaints from voters statewide during Tuesday’s presidential primaries. “By most accounts, voters cast their ballots smoothly and successfully,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “However, I am deeply troubled by the volume and consistency of voting irregularities, both in public reports and direct complaints to my office’s voter hotline, which received more than one thousand complaints in the course of the day yesterday.” Schneiderman said his office has opened an investigation into “alleged improprieties” in Tuesday’s voting by the New York City Board of Elections, which has been rebuked by officials after some 125,000 Democratic voters were purged from the rolls in Brooklyn.

New Zealand: Online voting trial canned | IT Brief NZ

The online voting trial for this year’s local body elections are not going ahead, the Government has announced. Associate Local Government Minister Louise Upston says there is more work to be done to ensure a trial of online voting meets public and government expectations. “Public confidence in local elections is fundamentally important. Given real concerns about security and vote integrity, it is too early for a trial,” says Upston. “Due to timing restrictions, preparations for the proposed trial have not yet met the legislative requirements and cannot guarantee public confidence in the election results,” she explains.

United Kingdom: High Court hears expat challenge to Brexit vote | Financial Times

A legal challenge aimed at giving “substantial” numbers of Britons living in Europe the right to vote in the forthcoming EU referendum could throw into doubt the June 23 date of the vote if it succeeds, a court heard. The High Court in London is hearing a legal challenge against the government brought by several Britons living in Europe who claim they have been wrongly disenfranchised in the planned EU vote because they have lived outside Britain for 15 years, meaning they are ineligible to vote. The case is significant because there are between 1m to 2m Britons living in Europe — some of whom cannot vote as they have lived outside the UK for more than 15 years. The government claimed in written arguments on Wednesday that if the legal challenge succeeded, it could call into question the date of the referendum on June 23 as the case has been brought “late”.

National: Is Electronic Voting Coming to the GOP Convention? | Roll Call

Recognizing the possibility of a contested convention in Cleveland this summer, Republicans are considering an electronic system to capture votes on what could be a contentious set of procedural motions leading up to nominating a presidential candidate. The Republican National Committee agreed Thursday not to change the rules of the convention at this point, but is exploring changes to the way that delegate votes are recorded. The idea of electronic voting is gaining steam now because in a disputed floor fight, voice votes may not cut it. “With advancements in technology, we are taking steps to see if electronic voting can be successfully implemented for procedural votes at the convention,” a spokeswoman, Kirsten Kukowski, said in a statement provided to CQ Roll Call on Thursday. “If we can answer several questions ranging from the technology itself to security and be sure application will be successful, we will consider using electronic voting for procedural votes.”

Arizona: Supreme Court Upholds Arizona’s Redrawn Legislative Map | The New York Times

The Supreme Court on Wednesday unanimously upheld an Arizona state legislative map drawn by an independent redistricting commission, rejecting a challenge from Republicans who said the map was too favorable to Democrats. The court last year upheld the commission’s role in drawing congressional maps, ruling that Arizona’s voters were entitled to try to make the process of drawing district lines less partisan by creating an independent redistricting commission. Wednesday’s decision in Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, No 14-232, concerned a challenge from voters who said the state map the commission drew after the 2010 census violated the principle of “one person one vote” and was infected by unconstitutional partisanship.

California: State’s voter registration forms don’t make sense — it’s time for the state to change them | Los Angeles Times

About 400,000 Californians who might be planning to vote in the state’s pivotal Democratic presidential primary June 7 could be in for a shock. They’ll be told, “Sorry, your vote’s no good here.” They’re getting rooked, although they primarily rooked themselves. The state also is to blame, however. It sat back, not giving a hoot, and allowed this to happen. It should have been protecting the voters. These are the Californians who carelessly signed up with the late George Wallace’s obsolete, inconsequential, far-right American Independent Party, apparently believing they were registering as an independent — small “i” — nonpartisan voter. They’ll find that the only so-called presidential candidates they can vote for in the primary are some obscure AIP members who probably couldn’t be elected local crossing guard captain

California: San Francisco examines lowering voting age and other methods to boost turnout | The Examiner

The Board of Supervisors will hold its first ever joint meeting with the Youth Commission next month to decide whether to seek voter support for lowering San Francisco’s voting age to 16 in local elections. Such a change would require an amendment to The City’s charter, which must be approved by voters. The May 3 meeting is significant for several reasons. Not only are the supervisors expected to have youth commission members sitting next to them during the meeting, but the proposal is part of a broader discussion in San Francisco about new methods to boost voter turnout, and support of the Vote16SF measure could signal a willingness to try other ideas. The City is already exploring switching to an open-source voting system, and a new city report examines other methods.

Colorado: Groups may take aim at Denver campaign finance, ethics rules | The Denver Post

Colorado Common Cause and several other local groups say they soon may unveil a proposed ballot initiative aimed at reining in big-donor campaign contributions and creating a public financing system for Denver city elections. “We’re at a historic point now in terms of both low faith in government and its accessibility to regular people,” says Peg Perl, senior counsel to Colorado Ethics Watch, which is among the groups working on the potential measure for city voters in November. Add to that the flood of money in last year’s municipal elections, when Mayor Michael Hancock raised more than $1.3 million and total contributions to city candidates surpassed $4 million, and Perl says the result for many voters is disillusionment.

Connecticut: U.S. Justice Department Investigating Connecticut Motor Voter Program | Hartford Courant

The U.S. Department of Justice has informed state officials that it is investigating Connecticut’s “motor voter” program — under which citizens can sign up to vote at the Department of Motor Vehicles — and has found “widespread noncompliance” with federal laws. “This is to notify you that I have authorized a lawsuit against the state of Connecticut and appropriate state officials to enforce compliance with Section 5 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993,” which applies to local ‘motor voter’ programs in the states,” Vanita Gupta, a deputy assistant U.S. attorney general, wrote April 15 to Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen.

District of Columbia: Kasich on D.C. voting rights: ‘That’s just more votes in the Democratic Party.’ | The Washington Post

When asked his position on D.C. voting rights, Republican presidential contender John Kasich didn’t pretend to draw on any constitutional clause or existing law to explain his stance against it. Instead, the Ohio governor stated the political reason that many already perceive as the biggest obstacle standing between D.C. and congressional voting representation: Giving D.C. voting representatives in Congress would mean more Democrats in Congress. “What it really gets down to if you want to be honest is because they know that’s just more votes in the Democratic Party,” Kasich said Wednesday during an interview with The Washington Post editorial board.

Illinois: Senate approves redistricting amendment | Quad City Times

The Illinois Senate has approved a proposed amendment to the state Constitution that would change the way legislative and congressional districts are drawn but rejected one that would have eliminated the lieutenant governor’s office. Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, sponsored the redistricting amendment, which is similar to one the Senate approved in 2010 that failed to win approval in the House. Unlike a current proposal from House Democrats and another backed by the group Independent Maps, Raoul’s measure would leave the task of redrawing boundaries largely in the hands of state lawmakers. “Here in the state of Illinois, we are fortunate to have a state with a diverse population,” Raoul said, arguing that his measure would do the most to protect influence of minority voters.

Mississippi: House turns back limit on taking campaign cash | Associated Press

With longtime members rebelling against changes, the Mississippi House voted down a bill that would have restricted personal use of campaign money. The unrecorded voice vote on House Bill 797 came Tuesday after several House members complained about proposed restrictions, including ending the ability to take money for personal use to repay undocumented campaign expenses. The campaign finance changes had been attached to a broader rewrite of state election law, and could return in modified form in the closing days of the Legislature. The proposal came after The Associated Press and The Clarion-Ledger questioned campaign spending. Some officials took leftover money from accounts when they retired, or spent it on things like cars, clothing and personal travel. Experts say the practice makes campaign contributions perilously close to bribes. Mississippi is one of only five states that still allow elected officials to pocket campaign money for personal use during or after their careers.

New Mexico: Duran case ruling could cost taxpayers $90K | Albuquerque Journal

Taxpayers are on the hook for nearly $90,000 – and more – in legal fees and costs owed to the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico in its successful public records fight to compel then-Secretary of State Dianna Duran to provide the proof behind her claims of voter fraud by foreign nationals, the state Court of Appeals has ruled. An appeals panel found the legal tab was “reasonable” after a lawsuit filed by ACLU turned up public documents that Duran’s office had improperly withheld after the group filed requests under the state Inspection of Public Records Act. In the end, no actual “voter fraud” list was produced.

New York: Brooklyn election official ousted for error that purged Brooklyn voters | New York Daily News

The massive purge of over 100,000 Brooklyn voters from the rolls — which caused huge problems at polling sites this past Tuesday — was the result of an epic screw-up by a long-time official expected to be forced out over the debacle, sources said. Diane Haslett-Rudiano, the Board of Election’s chief clerk, was suspended without pay on Thursday, two days after the city’s botched presidential primary prompted criticism from both the winners and losers on the Democratic side.

Wisconsin: Democrats Call For Statewide Voter ID Education Campaign | Wisconsin Public Radio

Some Wisconsin Democrats are calling for the GOP-controlled state Legislature to fund a statewide campaign to educate voters about Wisconsin’s newly enacted voter ID law. State Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, was joined at a Capitol news conference on Thursday by the Wisconsin League of Women Voters and poll workers from across the state, who shared challenges some voters faced during the presidential primary earlier this month. The primary was the first real test of the law, which went into effect earlier this year after a series of legal challenges. Though Republicans have said high turnout proves the voter ID law is working just fine, opponents to the law point to long lines at polling places and obstacles some voters faced while trying to cast a ballot.

Africa: Switch Off the Lights, We’re Voting |

Cameroonian journalist Richard Onanena’s recent trip to neighbouring Chad to cover the first round of elections on 10 April was a harrowing experience. Due to the restrictions on communications imposed by the government, he was unable to send messages or reach his colleagues at the BBC Africa service’s headquarters in Dakar. ‘On the morning of the election, I was supposed to send my report live from N’Djamena, but I couldn’t because of the blackout’. What’s more, Onanena says he was unable to reach his contacts in Chad to check what was happening at the various voting stations. ‘We moved blindly from one polling station to another without knowing what to expect,’ he told ISS Today. The shutting down of social media, messaging and mobile phone communications around the elections in Chad came in the wake of similar incidents in the Republic of Congo and Uganda, where governments also severely restricted access to communication networks during the recent elections. Election monitors and civil society organisations are increasingly concerned about this phenomenon, which signals a return to Cold War-era censorship and an attempt by governments to control the flow of information.

Australia: Compulsory preferential voting returns to Queensland as Parliament passes bill for more MPs | ABC

Major voting changes have been passed in Queensland, with Parliament approving four more MPs and a return to compulsory preferential voting. It will now be compulsory to number every square on the ballot box, a move which would have given Labor an extra eight seats and a majority government in last year’s election. In what was a see-saw battle for control of the legislative agenda, Labor managed to force through an amendment to a Liberal National Party (LNP) bill. The LNP’s Electoral (Improving Representation) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill to increase the number of seats from 89 to 93 was set to pass with crossbench support. But in a surprise move, Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath proposed an amendment to also include the reintroduction of compulsory preferential voting. Katter’s Australian Party and independent MPs supported the bill to number all boxes.

Bulgaria: Six-Point Referendum on Electoral System to be Held in Bulgaria in Summer | Novinite

A referendum featuring six questions on the political system will be held in Bulgaria in the summer. This became clear after the parliament adopted amendments to the Electoral Code on Thursday, which revoked a previous provision that had stipulated that if a referendum and elections are scheduled to take place within the same year, these should be held simultaneously. A total of 115 MPs voted in favour of the amendment, eleven lawmakers were against, while twelve abstained. … Thus, the referendum will not be held together with the forthcoming presidential elections in the autumn, but instead will take place between the middle of July and the middle of August.

Chad: President Deby wins fifth term, opposition cry foul | AFP

Chad’s veteran leader Idriss Deby has won a fifth term in office, the national electoral commission announced, extending his 26 years in power, as the opposition alleged widespread fraud. Taking more than 60 percent of the vote in the first round of presidential polls, Deby came far ahead of main opposition leader Saleh Kebzabo, who won just over 12 percent but said the vote was rigged. We “don’t recognise the outcome of this electoral stick-up”, a group of opposition politicians including Kebzabo said, alleging ballot-stuffing and the buying-up of voter cards. “Hundreds of ballot boxes have disappeared,” the group said, adding that soldiers who had intended to vote against Deby had also “disappeared”, alleging they had likely been “arrested and imprisoned”. African Union observers last week declared the elections free and fair. The organisation’s rotating presidency is currently held by Deby.

Russia: Kerelia Cancels Elections, Ousts Mayor, Reinstates Elections | The Moscow Times

Regional deputies in Russia’s republic of Karelia have passed the first reading of a bill to reinstate mayoral elections in the region’s cities after they were canceled last year, the Kommersant newspaper reported Thursday. City council deputies in Petrozavodsk, the region’s capital, ousted Mayor Galina Shirshina from office after canceling mayoral elections in the republic. Petrozavodsk was one of the few Russian cities with an elected mayor not from the ruling United Russia party. The small, industrial city, built on the shores of Lake Onezhskoye, had hosted a battle between its opposition mayor and its legislative assembly.