Voters in Johnson County, get your index fingers ready. You’ll be signing your name on an iPad when you show up at the polls for the primary and general elections this year. The voting process will go further into the digital age this year with new hardware and software to replace the big poll books the election commission has used for decades. Poll books hold a list of voters for each precinct. One of the first tasks of voting involves telling a poll worker your name to be sure you’re in the right place, then signing under the ruler in the poll book to record that you’ve voted. That will change this year because the county elections commission is updating its equipment, moving more of it into an electronic system. The Johnson County Commission on Thursday approved a measure to budget $936,000 to replace of administrative software and buy iPad Air 2 tablets so they can be in place by July for advance voting in the August primary. The county already had about $836,000 in an account reserved for new equipment. The action adds $100,000 to that.
A burst of giving by liberal donors and a last-ditch effort to fend off GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump helped super PACs pick up nearly $100 million in new donations by the end of March, pushing the total raised by such groups this cycle to more than $700 million, according to a Washington Post analysis of Federal Election Commission reports. At this pace, super PACs will raise $1 billion by the end of June. In the entire 2012 cycle, such groups brought in $853 million, according to FEC filings. The Post is keeping a running tally of the largest contributors of the 2016 cycle, whose six- and seven-figure checks have allowed super PACs to spend $278 million so far on ads and voter outreach.
It’s been one week since Donald Trump assumed the mantle of presumptive Republican nominee. Over the last seven days, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus has called for unity in the party, and has even convinced a number of prominent Republicans who’d voiced reservations about Trump to fall in line behind the party’s nominee. Still, there are some Trump supporters who fear shadowy party bosses are plotting to steal the nomination out from under him at the convention in July. On Tuesday, Trump operative Roger Stone warned the stealth effort is already underway. “A motion to unbind all delegates, along with many other underhanded strategies, is being discussed by the elite of the Republican legal establishment, with the permission (if under not the instruction) of Speaker Paul Ryan,” Stone wrote. And while there may be an appetite among the surviving #NeverTrump-ers on Twitter and in other corners of the Internet to block Trump’s nomination, there isn’t much evidence of the kind of vast conspiracy to which Stone refers. There’s really only one prominent member of the RNC publicly advocating for a change to the party’s rules: a pool-supply salesman from North Dakota named Curly Haugland.
Arizona: Secretary Of State: No Authority To Cancel Special Election Over Missed Pamphlets | Capitol Media
The Arizona Secretary of State’s office says there’s no authority to cancel next week’s election despite a foul-up over sending publicity pamphlets to voters. Attorney Tom Ryan filed a formal complaint this week asking Attorney General Mark Brnovich to void the May 17 vote. Ryan said Arizona law required the pamphlets describing Propositions 123 and 124 and giving pro and con arguments be sent out by April 10. “That did not happen for substantial numbers of voters,” Ryan said. “And by our estimate could be as many as 400,000 voters that did not get this in a timely fashion.”
Arizona’s new law that criminalizes the collection of voters’ early ballots by volunteers could impact the ability of the elderly and Latinos to cast their votes, according to local voter outreach groups. For the staff and volunteers who work with Latino-focused voter advocacy groups, ballot collecting is a means of outreach that accompanies voter registration, translating ballots and going door-to-door to remind people to vote. Although there is no available data on the number of ballots collected from people on the early voting list, the advocacy organizations’ staff and volunteers interviewed by Cronkite News said the new law will hinder their work and add another hurdle for voters to jump.
Bipartisan efforts to revive presidential primaries in Colorado have failed — for now. A long debate over presidential primaries in Colorado ended in failure Tuesday at the state Legislature. Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature could not agree on how to revive a statewide primary instead of precinct caucuses in 2020. With a deadline looming Tuesday, talks broke down on two separate plans to bring back primaries. The legislative stalemate means that Coloradans could see a ballot measure this fall asking about bringing back the primaries, at a cost of about $5 million. Colorado held presidential primaries from 1992 to 2000. But the state switched back to caucuses in 2004 to save money. Political parties pay the tab for caucuses, though taxpayers would be responsible for running an election.
Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton called for making the nation’s capital the country’s 51st state on Wednesday, promising to be a “vocal champion” for D.C. statehood. She blasted presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump for failing to say whether D.C. residents should have the same voting rights as other Americans. “In the case of our nation’s capital, we have an entire populace that is routinely denied a voice in its own democracy. . . . Washingtonians serve in the military, serve on juries, and pay taxes just like everyone else. And yet, they don’t even have a vote in Congress,” Clinton wrote in an op-ed published in the Washington Informer, an African American weekly newspaper.
Missouri: Change afoot as troubled St. Louis County election headquarters heads toward November | St. Louis Post-Dispatch
With a change in leadership on the horizon, the St. Louis County Election Commission is taking preliminary steps toward resolving a pattern of missteps that has marred countywide voting twice in under 18 months. At separate meetings Tuesday afternoon, the commission and the County Council gave voice to the sense of urgency for change at the beleaguered agency as it prepares for the most important date on the electoral calendar: the Nov. 8 presidential balloting. One key figure, Republican Election Director Gary Fuhr, will be absent as the election office enters the fall election season and, prior to that, the August primary to pick the local candidates who will appear on November general election tickets.
New Hampshire: Expert says electronic pollbooks for voters need more testing | New Hampshire Union Leader
An expert on the use of electronics for elections said to date, no electronic voter registration and checklist system “is ready for prime time.” Legislation allowing Manchester, Hooksett and Durham to use “electronic poll books” during the September primary and November general elections will be decided Thursday by the Senate. Tuesday Andrew Schwarzmann, head of the Computer Science and Engineering Department at the University of Connecticut and director of the Center for voting Technology Research said every poll book system his center has tested has faults that need to be addressed and are not ready for implementation.
Ohio: Judge says blind denied voting access but don’t expect changes for November | The Columbus Dispatch
A federal judge ruled Wednesday that blind Ohioans have been denied “meaningful access” to the state’s absentee voting system. However, U.S. District Judge George C. Smith said changes can’t be made prior to the fall election without having to “fundamentally alter Ohio’s voting system as a whole.” Disability Rights Ohio filed a lawsuit in December in federal court alleging Secretary of State Jon Husted discriminated against blind voters by denying them access to a suitable, private absentee voting system, and to his state website. The agency represents three blind residents of Columbus, Cincinnati and Oberlin, Ohio, and the National Federation of the Blind. The suit is based on claimed violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The final invoices are in, the ACLU has been awarded costs and fees, and Yakima is out $3 million as the book closes on its long-running voting rights battle in federal court. From 2012 through April of this year, the city spent $1,167,552 on attorney fees and expert witness costs, according to records obtained from the city. With $1,846,014 paid to the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union under a court order, Yakima’s final costs in the case are at $3,013,566. City legal staff said they do not anticipate more costs, although population changes in the years to come could lead to redistricting adjustments that may require legal services.
The co-heads of the nationalist Patriotic Front coalition, which backs Bulgaria’s minority government, have said they are inclined to understand the President’s veto on a key text in electoral legislation. The development comes as a meeting is being held on Tuesday of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and the leaders of several parties. MPs passed in April amendments to the Electoral Code introducing restrictions to the number of polling stations for Bulgarians outside the country. The changes were tabled (albeit in a much more restrictive version) by the Patriotic Front, which said the move would reduce the impact of ill-regulated mass voting by Bulgarian expats in Turkey.
The Liberals have set aside less than seven months to consult Canadians on a brand new voting system. A notice posted online late Tuesday proposes striking a special electoral reform committee — where the Liberals would hold a majority — to hold consultations over the next several months. The committee would have to report back to the House of Commons no later than Dec. 1. The Liberals promised to recommend new legislation by May 2017, but Elections Canada has warned the clock is ticking to have a new system in place by 2019. “(The committee will) identify and conduct a study of viable alternative voting systems, such as preferential ballots and proportional representation, to replace the first-past-the-post system, as well as to examine mandatory voting and online voting,” a notice posted online Tuesday reads.
Several thousand voters in Comoros, the archipelago nation off the east coast of Africa, went to the polls Wednesday in a partial re-run of the presidential election with the result hanging in the balance. Former coup leader Azali Assoumani won last month’s run-off vote by just 2,100 votes, according to provisional results, but a court ordered 13 polling stations on Anjouan island to vote again due to “irregularities”. Polls closed at 1500 GMT and voting passed off without any major incidents, according to an AFP journalist. Just 6,305 voters were called to vote on Wednesday, two percent of the Comoros electorate.
Editorials: Beirut’s election was surprisingly competitive. Could it shake up Lebanese politics? | Amanda Rizkallah/The Washington Post
On May 8, Lebanon held the first of four rounds of municipal elections. The only elections since 2010, this round of voting represents Lebanese citizens’ first opportunity to exercise their political voice since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, ensuing influx of refugees and popular protests against a paralyzing trash crisis. Lebanon’s politicians have repeatedly postponed the parliamentary elections originally scheduled for June 2013 and the country has been without a president since May 2014. Amid this political impasse at the national level, municipal elections have become the last remaining institutional mechanism for generating a modicum of political accountability. Beyond activists’ efforts to ensure the funding of these elections, protesters and members of civil society have called for greater decentralization and fiscal resources for municipal councils.
United Kingdom: Electoral Commission strikes 11 pro-Brexit campaign groups from official register | Telegraph
The Electoral Commission has struck off 11 pro-Brexit campaign groups from their official registered of EU Referendum campaigners after a Telegraph analysis raised concerns about how the Grassroots Out Movement intended to spend millions in campaign donations. In a statement, the Commission said that the 11 Grassroots Out or “GO” groups had been removed from the official register of campaign groups after “they were found not to meet the registration requirements” following a review. The move came a week after The Telegraph had reported misgivings among ‘Remain’ campaigners that the multiple ‘GO’ groups might be used to circumvent spending caps imposed on non-official campaigners.
The Electoral Commission of Zambia has issued a directive banning the use of cellphones inside polling stations during the August 11 presidential, legislative and local elections. But some opposition groups have questioned the rationale behind the directive. Parliament member Request Muntanga, of the main opposition United Party for National Development, called it disturbing. Local media quoted Muntanga as saying, “I want to see where there is a regulation that says no cellphone [in polling stations]. … The [electoral commission] is already creating uneasiness among players.”