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Arizona: Consultant: Secretary of state trying to ‘deflect responsibility’ for pamphlet error | The Arizona Republic

A former consultant to the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office said he was wrongly portrayed as contributing to that office’s failure to distribute publicity pamphlets in advance of this month’s special election. An internal investigation by Secretary Michele Reagan’s office painted the former consultant, Craig Stender, as providing guidance on how to build a pamphlet mailing list for the May 17 election. That list omitted nearly 200,000 households, affecting more than 400,000 voters. Some critics have said failure to deliver pamphlets to all voters might have affected the outcome of the vote on Proposition 123, which won by 1.8 percentage points. The pamphlets included arguments for and against the ballot measure that will put $3.5 billion into public schools over the next 10 years.

Full Article: Consultant: Secretary of state trying to 'deflect responsibility' for pamphlet error.

Arizona: Judge delays ruling on signature election law | Arizona Daily Star

A federal judge has refused to block a 2015 Arizona law that its legislative proponents admit was designed to try to keep minor-party candidates off the ballot. U.S. District Judge David Campbell said Friday the Arizona Libertarian Party, in waiting until last month to challenge the statute, did not leave enough time for him to consider the merits of its claims or for Secretary of State Michele Reagan to defend the law. That’s because the deadline for candidates to file their nominating petitions is June 1. Campbell said there was no reason for challengers to wait as long as they did before asking him to void the law.

Full Article: Judge delays ruling on Arizona signature election law | Local news | tucson.com.

California: Gov. Brown to decide whether voters will sound off in November on money in politics | Los Angeles Times

Lawmakers gave final approval Friday to a November ballot measure asking voters about the growing role of undisclosed donors in political campaign. If Gov. Jerry Brown approves, the measure would ask voters on Nov. 8 whether California’s elected officials should work to overturn the controversial 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision in the controversial Citizens United case. “This is about trying to get the system under control,” said state Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), the author of the legislation. The Citizens United ruling in favor of a conservative nonprofit group opened the door to unlimited spending by corporations and unions in federal candidate campaigns. Much of that spending is done by nonprofit organizations that, under IRS rules, do not have to disclose their donors.

Full Article: Gov. Brown to decide whether California voters will sound off in November on money in politics - LA Times.

Maryland: Deadline to ask for recount in Baltimore’s primary election is Tuesday | Baltimore Sun

With unanswered questions at 71 Baltimore precincts, candidates must decide this week whether to mount a formal challenge to a primary election in which there was a series of irregularities. The campaign of former Mayor Sheila Dixon said she was considering whether to contest the vote before the deadline Tuesday to request a recount. Martha McKenna, a spokeswoman for Dixon, said campaign officials were investigating issues left unresolved following last week’s recertification of the primary. A review by the state Board of Elections left Dixon behind state Sen. Catherine E. Pugh in the mayor’s race by 2,400 votes. “We’re pressing for more information,” McKenna said. “We’re in the process of trying to determine how we want to proceed, and we’ve contacted the [state] Board of Elections with additional questions and we’re hoping to get answers.”

Full Article: Deadline to ask for recount in Baltimore's primary election is Tuesday - Baltimore Sun.

New Jersey: Bill Creating Automatic Voter Registration through MVC Gains Assembly Approval | Bergen Dispatch

By a vote of 52-21-1, the full Assembly on Thursday approved legislation (A-1944) sponsored by Assembly Democrats Craig Coughlin, Gary Schaer, Tim Eustace and Joann Downey that would require the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) to automatically register or update a person’s voter registration as part of the process of applying for or renewing a driver’s license. “This bill is designed to encourage participation in the democratic process by integrating voter registration with the process of driver registration,” said Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “This simple move will hopefully encourage more young people to register to vote and make it easier for residents to fulfill their civic duty.”

Full Article: Bill Creating Automatic Voter Registration through MVC Gains Assembly Approval - Bergen Dispatch.

Editorials: Texas’s voter ID chicanery | The Washington Post

Everyone is clear on the voter-ID games that have been played in Republican-controlled state legislatures in recent years. In the name of preventing ballot fraud — of which there is virtually no evidence — GOP lawmakers have enacted restrictive bills, whose purpose and effect are to disenfranchise a certain number of reliably Democratic-leaning citizens: African Americans, Latinos and low-income voters. The most over-the-top example of voter suppression is legislation adopted in 2011 by Texas, which three federal courts have struck down. Zombie-like, it refuses to die, owing to the unembarrassed determination of Gov. Greg Abbott and other Republicans in Austin intent on resurrecting Jim Crow-style obstacles to the ballot by any means they can finagle through the judiciary.

Full Article: Texas’s voter ID chicanery - The Washington Post.

Virginia: Herring defends McAuliffe’s voting rights order in face of GOP lawsuit | The Washington Post

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said Friday that Gov. Terry McAuliffe acted within his constitutional authority when he restored voting rights to more than 200,000 felons. Herring (D), acting as the state’s attorney, defended the governor’s action in a court filing in which he also objected to Republicans’ request for the Virginia Supreme Court to accelerate the timetable for a lawsuit they filed this week to stop the restoration of rights. The legal battle is the latest showdown between the Democratic governor and his allies and the Republican-controlled General Assembly over voting rights. Republican leaders have accused McAuliffe (D) of trying to add potential voters to the rolls to bolster the presidential bid of his friend, Hillary Clinton. McAuliffe denied any political motives and framed the order as a removal of the last vestige of laws such as poll taxes and literacy tests that disproportionately affected the voting rights of African Americans. One in 4 African Americans in Virginia had been banned from voting because of laws restricting the rights of those with convictions.

Full Article: Herring defends McAuliffe’s voting rights order in face of GOP lawsuit - The Washington Post.

Wisconsin: Arguments conclude in redistricting case in federal court | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Wisconsin Assembly district boundaries that Republicans drew up five years ago have robbed Democratic-leaning voters of their voices, attorneys argued Friday as they wrapped up a federal trial over whether the lines are constitutional. Gerald Hebert, an attorney for a group of voters who sued over the boundaries, told the panel that the boundaries represent the worst example of gerrymandering in modern history and punish Democrats and their supporters by diluting their voting strength. “Their right to vote is fundamental,” Hebert said during closing arguments. “It’s our voice in the government. It’s the only voice many of us have. It’s not right to target people and harm them because of their voting history. What did they do? They had the nerve to participate in the political process and go to the polls.”

Full Article: Arguments conclude in redistricting case in federal court.

Wisconsin: At vanguard of national legal fight on voter ID | Wisconsin State Journal

The legal fight over Wisconsin’s photo ID voting requirement put it back in the political spotlight this month, with the state a key front in the national battle surrounding such laws. Here and elsewhere, the courtroom struggle stems from photo ID and other voting changes enacted by Republican legislators and governors in the last five years. Many, including Wisconsin’s, take effect in a presidential election for the first time this November. A nine-day court trial of the Wisconsin legal challenge concluded Thursday in federal court in Madison, and a forthcoming ruling in that case could decide how voter ID affects the state’s 2016 general election. The outcome of that and another lawsuit also could influence the national back-and-forth on voter ID. For now, how those challenges will be resolved is a big unknown for an election with high stakes.

Full Article: Wisconsin at vanguard of national legal fight on voter ID | Politics and Elections | host.madison.com.

India: Election Commission cancels polls to two Tamil Nadu seats | Free Press Journal

In an unprecedented move in the history of Tamil Nadu”s electoral politics, the Election Commission of India (EC) on Saturday decided to rescind its poll notification in two constituencies following conclusive evidence of bribery of voters on a large scale. Quite shockingly, the EC has noted that bribing of voters continued in one of the constituencies after the postponement of polls in Aravakurichi constituency in Karur district and Thanjavur constituency, both in central Tamil Nadu, on charges of irregularities. Tamil Nadu went to polls on May 16 but polling in the two constituencies was deferred at the eleventh hour – first in Aravakurichi and then in Thanjavur. Originally the deferred polls were to take place on May 23 but the EC withheld its decision after the PMK and BJP”s candidates moved the Madras High Court seeking postponing of the elections.

Full Article: Election Commission cancels polls to two Tamil Nadu seats - Free Press Journal.

Serbia: Opposition Takes to Streets Claiming Election Fraud | Balkan Insight

Serbian opposition groups alleged electoral fraud at weekend polls after the latest results showed a far-right DSS-Dveri coalition has been excluded from parliament. The leaders of the coalition, supported by other three opposition parties, called a protest for Saturday to be held in front of the Electoral Commission in Belgrade. With 99.45 percent of ballots counted, Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic’s Serbian Progressive Party, SNS, has won nearly 50 percent of the vote, giving it at least 138 seats in the 250-member parliament.

Full Article: Serbia Opposition Takes to Streets Claiming Election Fraud :: Balkan Insight.

United Kingdom: Council withdraws EU referendum leaflet over ‘unfair’ remain graphic | The Guardian

An EU referendum voting guidance leaflet has been withdrawn after complaints it could influence voters’ decisions on 23 June. Graphic instructions on how to vote included in material sent out with postal votes in Bristol showed a pen hovering over the remain box. It was attacked as unfair by Brexit campaigners – who said similar pictures had been reported in other parts of the country as ballot papers begin to arrive. The Electoral Commission said while the graphic was unlikely to sway voters, it “clearly shouldn’t have been used” in that form. A spokeswoman said the commission had acted to ensure the leaflet was replaced by Bristol city council and was investigating whether the issue was more widespread.

Full Article: Council withdraws EU referendum leaflet over 'unfair' remain graphic | Politics | The Guardian.

The Voting News Weekly: The Voting Rights Weekly for May 23-29 2016

blood_260The Washington Post examined the challenges many Americans face in obtaining the specific forms of identification required for voting in some states. The Economist notes that while “today’s voting-rights disputes are less clear-cut than those of the civil-rights era, but they are inflammatory all the same.” While giving him two more weeks to comply, a federal judge let Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach know that she would brook no further delays in carrying out her order to restore 18,000 Kansas residents to the voter rolls. Hillary Clinton remains the winner of Kentucky’s Democratic presidential primary after a recanvass of votes requested by her opponent Sen. Bernie Sanders. Baltimore’s elections board recertified the results of the April primary election Wednesday after an unusual intervention by state officials. A federal judge struck down an Ohio state law that eliminated “Golden Week,” several days at the beginning of the state’s early voting period when Ohio voters could both register to vote and cast a ballot. The Supreme Court left in place a court-imposed congressional redistricting map in Virginia, dismissing a challenge from three Republican congressmen. Witnesses in the federal court challenge to Wisconsin’s voter id requirement provided insight into real motives for enactment of the law. The failed far-right contender in Austria’s presidential election has dismissed claims by some of his supporters alleging fraud while the UK high court upheld an earlier ruling that Britons who have lived abroad for more than 15 years will not be allowed to vote in the EU referendum.

National: Getting a photo ID so you can vote is easy. Unless you’re poor, black, Latino or elderly. | The Washington Post

In his wallet, Anthony Settles carries an expired Texas identification card, his Social Security card and an old student ID from the University of Houston, where he studied math and physics decades ago. What he does not have is the one thing that he needs to vote this presidential election: a current Texas photo ID. For Settles to get one of those, his name has to match his birth certificate — and it doesn’t. In 1964, when he was 14, his mother married and changed his last name. After Texas passed a new voter-ID law, officials told Settles he had to show them his name-change certificate from 1964 to qualify for a new identification card to vote. So with the help of several lawyers, Settles tried to find it, searching records in courthouses in the D.C. area, where he grew up. But they could not find it. To obtain a new document changing his name to the one he has used for 51 years, Settles has to go to court, a process that would cost him more than $250 — more than he is willing to pay. “It has been a bureaucratic nightmare,” said Settles, 65, a retired engineer. “The intent of this law is to suppress the vote. I feel like I am not wanted in this state.”

Full Article: Getting a photo ID so you can vote is easy. Unless you’re poor, black, Latino or elderly. - The Washington Post.

Editorials: The fire next time | The Economist

The 45-mile drive from Union Springs, seat of Bullock County, Alabama, to Montgomery, the state capital, might not seem very arduous. But for some locals, the distance itself is not the main obstacle. Going to Montgomery, as some now must to get a driver’s licence, means the best part of a day off work for two people, the test-sitter and his chauffeur (there is no public transport). That is a stretch for employees in inflexible, minimum-wage jobs—and there are lots of them in Union Springs, a tidy town in which the missing letters on the shuttered department store’s façade betray a quiet decline, surrounded by the sort of spacious but dilapidated poverty characteristic of Alabama’s Black Belt. To some, this trek is not just an inconvenience but a scandal. The state’s voters must now show one of several eligible photo-IDs to cast a ballot, of which driving licences are the most common kind. Last year, supposedly to save money, the issuing office in Union Springs, formerly open for a day each week, was closed, along with others in mostly black, Democratic-leaning counties. After an outcry, the service was reinstated for a day per month; at other times, applicants head to Montgomery. For James Poe, a funeral-home director and head of the NAACP in Bullock County, the combination of a new voter-ID law and reduced hours is “insanity”. Such impediments may not be as flagrant as when, as a young man in Union Springs, he had to interpret the constitution in order to vote, but, he thinks, they are obnoxious all the same.

Full Article: The fire next time | The Economist.

Kansas: Judge Rejects Kobach’s Request For Delay In Voting Rights Case | KCUR

While giving him two more weeks to comply, a federal judge let Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach know that she would brook no further delays in carrying out her order to restore 18,000 Kansas residents to the voter rolls. In a harshly worded order Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson rejected Kobach’s claim that compliance with the court’s May 17 order would cause voter confusion and lead to “irreparable harm.” Kobach did not return a call seeking comment. Robinson’s latest ruling came in a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and the League of Women Voters of Kansas on behalf of several individual plaintiffs challenging Kansas’ policy of requiring people who register to vote at DMV offices to provide proof of citizenship.

Full Article: Judge Rejects Kobach’s Request For Delay In Voting Rights Case | KCUR.

Kentucky: Recanvass of Democratic Primary votes confirms Hillary Clinton wins Kentucky | Louisville Courier-Journal

Hillary Clinton remains the winner of Kentucky’s Democratic presidential primary after Thursday’s recanvass of votes. “The recanvass results that we received today are the same as those certified totals that my office received on Friday. The difference between Hillary Clinton and Sen. (Bernie) Sanders: 1,911 votes,” Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes announced Thursday afternoon at the State Capitol. Unofficial vote totals reported by the state Board of Elections on the night of the May 17 primary gave Clinton a 1,924-vote lead over Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont. But those totals changed slightly on Friday – reducing the margin to 1,911 votes – after each county reported its certified results to Grimes’ office later in the week. Grimes said the recanvass resulted in no change from those certified results she had in hand as of Friday: 212,534 votes for Clinton, and 210,623 votes for Sanders. “The recanvass vote totals, which were submitted to my office today will become the official vote totals that the State Board of Elections will certify on May 31,” Grimes said.

Full Article: Recanvass of Kentucky Democratic Primary votes confirms Hillary Clinton wins Kentucky.

Maryland: Baltimore to begin final review of election results | Baltimore Sun

Baltimore’s elections board recertified the results of the April primary election Wednesday after an unusual intervention by state officials. The updated vote totals didn’t change the outcome of any race. Any candidate who wants a recount now has three days to make a request. Anyone who wants to challenge the outcome of the race in court has seven days to file papers. State officials ordered Baltimore’s election results decertified this month after city officials said they found 80 provisional ballots that had not been analyzed. The state review, which lasted more than a week, turned up other problems: Officials concluded that roughly 1,650 ballots were not handled properly. The last step before finalizing the figures was analyzing 555 uncounted provisional ballots that state officials said had not been analyzed or counted. Officials had previously said they thought 465 provisional ballots had been overlooked.

Full Article: Baltimore to begin final review of election results - Baltimore Sun.

Ohio: Federal judge blocks Ohio law that eliminated ‘Golden Week’ voting | Cleveland Plain Dealer

A federal judge on Tuesday struck down a state law that eliminated “Golden Week,” several days when Ohio voters could both register to vote and cast a ballot. The 2014 law violates both the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Watson wrote in his opinion siding with Democrats who challenged the law. The state will appeal the ruling, a state attorney general spokesman said. If the ruling stands, Ohio voters will have 35 days to cast a ballot this November instead of 28 and will be able to register to vote and cast a ballot at the same time. In 2014, the American Civil Liberties Union challenged the law on behalf of the Ohio chapters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and League of Women Voters and several African-American churches. A federal district court judge struck down the law, but the state was granted a stay. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and Statehouse Republicans argued that Ohio provides 28 days of absentee voting by mail and in-person, making it one of the most expansive voting systems in the country.

Full Article: Federal judge blocks Ohio law that eliminated 'Golden Week' voting | cleveland.com.

Virginia: Justices Let Court-Imposed Redistricting Stand in Virginia | The New York Times

The Supreme Court on Monday left in place a court-imposed congressional redistricting map in Virginia, dismissing a challenge from three Republican congressmen. The court’s brief, unanimous decision said the members of Congress had not shown that they had suffered the sort of direct and concrete injury that gave them standing to sue. The court, therefore, did not rule on the larger issues in the case, Wittman v. Personhuballah, No. 14-1504, which concerned the role race may play in drawing legislative maps. “We cannot decide the merits of this case unless the intervenor members of Congress challenging the district court’s racial-gerrymandering decision have standing,” Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote for the court. “We conclude that the intervenors now lack standing. We must therefore dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.”

Full Article: Justices Let Court-Imposed Redistricting Stand in Virginia - The New York Times.