Morris Reid did not expect any problems when he went to his local polling station outside Raleigh, N.C., to vote in the 2014 midterm. Yet the long-time voter, a 57-year-old Democrat, found he could not cast his ballot. A poll worker told the African American jail superintendent he was registered in another county. Reid was certain there had been a mistake – he’d instructed the Department of Motor Vehicles to update his voter registration when he moved three months before – but he drove five miles to another polling center, only to find he was not registered there either. After a third trip, he cast a provisional ballot, which ultimately did not count thanks to a new North Carolina law that eliminates out-of-precinct voting. “I couldn’t exercise my right to vote,” he said. “And that’s the way it was.”
Presidential candidates Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have both complained that voting and delegate selection rules in the various primary states are “rigged” or “corrupt” because they favor establishment candidates who know how to play by the complex rules. The two men are right in one regard: America operates under a crazy quilt of voting requirements, with each state making its own laws for different populations and with challenges to those laws whipping back and forth through the courts. But if the primaries have frustrated the candidates, try being a voter in November. In 17 states, voters will face restrictive new requirements for the first time on Election Day. Several states will now require various forms of identification. Georgia, Alabama, Arizona, and Kansas will even require proof of citizenship. Different forms of ID will be required in different states: Some will accept a bank statement or utility bill, others want to see a passport or birth certificate. Texas, notoriously, will accept a gun license but not a college ID card. If you don’t have the proper ID, different procedures apply. Some states require prospective voters to sign an affidavit attesting to their eligibility; others hold the ballot as provisional and only count it if the voter returns to the local election office with proof of eligibility. Then there are new rules for early voting, same-day registration, and mail-in ballots. Confused yet?
A Florida man has been slapped with felony criminal hacking charges after gaining unauthorized access to poorly secured computer systems belonging to a Florida county elections supervisor. David Michael Levin, 31, of Estero, Florida, was charged with three counts of unauthorized access to a computer, network, or electronic device and released on $15,000 bond, officials with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said. According to a court document filed last week in Florida’s Lee County and a video it cited as evidence, Levin logged in to the Lee County Elections Office website using the pilfered credentials of Sharon Harrington, the county’s supervisor of elections. Levin, who authorities said is the owner of a security firm called Vanguard Cybersecurity, also allegedly gained access to the website of Florida’s Office of Elections. Levin posted a YouTube video in late January that showed him entering the supervisor’s username and password to gain control of a content management system used to control leeelections.com, which at the time was the official website for the elections office. At no time did anyone from the county authorize Levin to access the site, officials said.
Maryland: State orders Baltimore’s election results decertified, begins precinct-level review of irregularities | Baltimore Sun
State election officials ordered the results of Baltimore’s primary election decertified Thursday and launched a precinct-level review of irregularities. State election administrator Linda H. Lamone said she became concerned when city officials — who on Monday certified their primary election results — later reported they had found 80 provisional ballots that had never been analyzed. Lamone said the state also is concerned about an unusually high discrepancy between the number of voters who checked in at polling places and the number of ballots cast. The number of ballots cast was higher than the number of check-ins, she said. “Baltimore City was not able to investigate and resolve these issues to our satisfaction,” Lamone said. “We are doing a precinct-level review. We are doing this in fairness to the candidates and the voters.”
Missouri House Republicans voted Thursday to put a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot later this year requiring photo ID at the polls, but not before Democrats bashed the proposal one last time. The plan has drawn some of the most heated debate of the legislative session. Opponents say the proposed requirement is a ploy to decrease turnout among Democratic-leaning voters. Supporters say it’s needed to ensure in-person voter impersonation fraud doesn’t take place. “The sad part of this is that people in this body think it’s a joke,” said state Rep. Brandon Ellington, D-Kansas City. “They think that when we push these buttons in front of us — the red and green buttons — it has no implications.
Voters who are seeking a photo ID card but not yet received it will be able to use a Division of Motor Vehicles receipt to vote in more cases, under a new rule Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker approved Wednesday just ahead of Monday’s federal trial on the state’s voting laws. The Republican governor didn’t say in his statement whether the rule change is aimed at making the law easier to defend in court. “This action ensures an individual is still able to vote while they work to obtain documentation needed for a free voter ID card,” Walker said in a statement. The DMV is changing the process used to issue receipts to residents who are seeking a photo ID to vote but can’t produce birth certificates or other documents needed to get one in time for an election.
Australia: High court rejects Bob Day appeal and finds Senate voting changes are legal | The Guardian
The high court has unanimously rejected Senator Bob Day’s challenge of Senate voting changes, finding they do not infringe the constitution. The challenge was heard on 2 May and disposed of on Friday, clearing the way for the 2 July election using the new voting system. In a joint judgment, the justices noted that many of Day’s arguments challenged above the line and below the line voting, which had existed since 1983. They said the challenge did not show voters were disenfranchised and “was in truth an argument about the consequences of elector choice” in harming minor parties. The Senate voting changes require voters to vote one to six above the line, or number one to 12 preferences below the line. However, if a voter simply votes one above the line, the vote will still be valid. The vote will be exhausted if candidates in that column are eliminated from the count.
Former coup leader Azali Assoumani was elected as president of Comoros, according to provisional results released Thursday, after last month’s election was partially re-run due to violence and “irregularities”. In the re-run at 13 polling stations, Assoumani beat Vice President Mohamed Ali Soilihi by 2,271 votes to 1,308, the electoral commission said, confirming his narrow victory in April. Two percent of the electorate were able to vote again Wednesday on Anjouan, one of the three main islands of the archipelago nation set off the east coast of Africa. Hundreds of people waited in line during the day as armed security forces stood guard to ensure polling was smooth. Last month, voting on Anjouan was tarnished by broken ballot boxes, interruptions in voting, accusations of ballot stuffing and some incidents of violence.
Think you are seeing an election like never before? Well, the 2016 election will be a big change from the presidential election in 2012 in another way beside Donald Trump: Many more restrictive voting laws. This year will be the first presidential election held since the Supreme Court struck down anti-discrimination protections in the Voting Rights Act. Since then, a number of laws have gone into effect that are raising concerns about their effect on turnout of minority voters. The National Association of Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) said in a report released Wednesday that laws implemented since Election Day 2012 could make voting more difficult for at least 875,000 eligible Latino voters.
National: Trump’s candidacy sparking ‘a surge’ in citizenship, voter applications | The Washington Post
Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is spurring a record number of citizenship applications and increases in voter registration among Latinos upset by the candidate’s rhetoric and fearful of his plans to crack down on immigration. Activists, lawmakers and political consultants around the country say Hispanics are flooding into citizenship workshops and congressional offices and jamming hotlines on how to become U.S. citizens or register to vote. Many say they are primarily motivated by the rise of Trump, who has proposed deporting 11 million undocumented immigrants and building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. In California, the number of Hispanics registering to vote doubled in the first three months of this year compared with the same period in 2012, according to state data. In Texas, naturalization ceremonies in Houston have swelled to about 2,200 per month, compared with 1,200 before, according to an analysis by the Houston Chronicle. More than 80 percent of those naturalized then register to vote, compared with 60 percent previously.
This election year, more than a quarter of a million people previously prevented from casting a ballot will be able to join their neighbors at the polls thanks to the work of state legislatures and officials. Voting rights restoration for ex-felons has become one of the hot topics for the 2016 election cycle driven largely by the actions of elected officials in Maryland and Virginia. Currently 38 states and the District of Columbia allow ex-felons to regain their voting rights upon the completion of their incarceration. In other states ex-felons may have their rights restored following the completion of all the terms of their service. In eight states they must apply for the restoration of their rights and in two states — Maine and Vermont — felons are permitted to vote while incarcerated.
Arizona: Attorney general won’t try to postpone special election despite ‘fiasco’ | Arizona Daily Star
Attorney General Mark Brnovich refused Thursday to try to postpone Tuesday’s special election despite foul-ups by Secretary of State Michele Reagan, saying there’s nothing in state law to permit that. At a hastily called press conference, Brnovich unloaded on Reagan for failing to comply with state laws requiring voters to get ballot pamphlets explaining the two issues before they got their actual early ballots. And he said there needs to be an investigation of why Reagan hid that information from the public for weeks.
The Republican bid for Colorado’s U.S. Senate seat is getting more convoluted. Denver’s 7News reported this week that reporter Marshall Zelinger found 10 likely forged signatures on petitions to put Jon Keyser on the June primary ballot. When confronted about the suspect signatures at a candidate event Thursday, Keyser refused to address the issue. Instead, Keyser repeatedly asserted, “I’m on the ballot. It’s done.” The former state representative from Morrison was placed on the ballot after collecting 1,500 signatures from each of Colorado’s seven congressional districts. Yet the Secretary of State’s Office ruled he fell 86 signatures short in one district. Keyser petitioned the court to consider evidence that many signatures were incorrectly invalidated. Denver District Court Judge Elizabeth Starrs agreed that a petition gatherer was indeed a registered Republican, as required by law, and that the signatures he collected should be counted. The ruling put Keyser on the ballot.
Illinois: Madigan’s Democratic lawyer sues to block redistricting reform referendum | Chicago Tribune
An attorney who’s long been a close ally of Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan has filed a lawsuit trying to block voters from considering a proposed constitutional amendment that seeks to remove some of the influence of partisan politics from how state House and Senate district boundaries are drawn. The suit was brought by the People’s Map, the same group of prominent racial and ethnic minorities that sued two years ago to keep a similar referendum question off the 2014 ballot. Their attorney is Michael Kasper, general counsel for Madigan’s Illinois Democratic Party. The legal move comes less than a week after the Independent Maps coalition filed more than 570,000 petition signatures with the State Board of Elections in the first step toward putting the proposed amendment on the Nov. 8 ballot — almost double the minimum required.
Brian Newby’s once-sterling reputation as the leader of the Johnson County Election Office has lost most of its shine in recent months. The latest blow: District Attorney Stephen Howe’s office reportedly is investigating allegations that Newby misused public funds during his time at the office, which is financed with county taxpayer dollars. An audit released earlier this year identified about $36,000 in costs it considered questionably related to Newby’s duties. The county said it would ask that he reimburse $5,478 in travel expenses. Newby has denied doing anything wrong. However, controversy also has dogged the former Johnson County official in his new role as executive director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission in Washington, D.C. The nonpartisan office is supposed to help make voting more accessible and promote good election practices.
Maryland: State elections officials decertify Baltimore election results, investigate irregularities | The Washington Post
Maryland state elections officials have ordered that the results of Baltimore’s recent primary election be decertified after watchdogs and candidates complained that the process was flawed. State Elections Administrator Linda H. Lamone said the number of ballots cast in the April 26 contest was hundreds more than the number of voters who checked in at polling places. The state also identified 80 provisional ballots that hadn’t been considered. “It’s important every ballot is counted,” Lamone said. It doesn’t appear likely that the investigation will change the results of Baltimore’s Democratic mayoral primary, where Senate Majority Leader Catherine Pugh finished more than 2,000 votes ahead of Sheila Dixon, a former mayor of the city. Statewide election results in the U.S. Senate and presidential primary cannot be certified until the problems in Baltimore are resolved.
Missouri is poised to become the latest state in the nation to move towards requiring a photo ID at the polls. On Wednesday night, the state Senate voted 24-8 to approve a measure that will effectively let voters determine whether to require voter ID at the polls. It’s expected to pass the House today. Should it do so, Republican lawmakers say they have enough votes to override a veto by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon. Missouri lawmakers have tried to pass a voter ID law for 10 years, arguing that it is necessary to prevent voter fraud. In 2006, the state’s Supreme Court declared a previous voter ID law unconstitutional. The bill is paired with a separate measure that, if approved by voters this fall, would amend the state constitution to allow for a photo ID requirement at the polls. Missouri’s initiative comes as voters in 10 other states will face stricter ID requirements for the first time in a presidential election. In April, a federal court upheld a law in North Carolina requiring voter ID at the polls, although civil-rights groups said they will appeal the ruling. A few days later, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed a similar law in Texas to remain in place while the case is argued before a federal appeals court.
Missouri: Kander submits proposals to avoid repeat of flawed St. Louis County election | St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander on Wednesday submitted a list of recommendations his office believes will help St. Louis County avoid the pitfalls that blemished April 5 voting. The proposals duplicate several of the reforms that election officials have promised to put in place in response to the ballot shortages last month at over 60 county precincts. Democratic Elections Director Eric Fey has stressed in media interviews as well as during testimony at County Council and legislative hearings that the agency is overhauling its certification process to ensure that each polling precinct in the future receives the correct number of ballots.
The state’s first bloc of 17-year-olds who are qualified to vote numbers 1,267. They can cast ballots in the June 7 primary elections, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s Office said this week. A new state law allows 17-year-olds to register and vote in the June primaries if they will turn 18 before the general election on Nov. 8. State legislators approved the measure this year and Gov. Susana Martinez signed it. Of the New Mexico 17-year-olds who registered to vote in the primaries, 874 are Democrats and 393 are Republicans. Another 316 17-year-olds also registered, but they cannot cast a ballot in a primary because they did not align themselves with either major political party. New Mexico’s primaries are open only to those voters registered as Democrats or Republicans.
Virginia: Planning to cast a write-in for president? Don’t expect it to count in Virginia | Richmond Times-Dispatch
If you can’t bring yourself to vote for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump in November, you can always write in your presidential candidate of choice. Just don’t expect it to count. Write-in votes for president aren’t counted in Virginia unless the candidate has declared the candidacy and filed a slate of electors with state elections officials. “There is a write-in space on the ballot, but unless the candidate has adhered to proper procedures” as set forth in Section 24.2-644 of the Code of Virginia, “those write-ins don’t count,” said Martin Mash, confidential policy adviser to the Virginia Department of Elections. Under section 24.2-644 (C) of the Code of Virginia, “Write-in votes for president and vice president shall be counted only for candidates who have filed a joint declaration of intent to be write-in candidates for the offices with the secretary of the State Board (of Elections) not less than ten days before the date of the presidential election.”
Canada: Trudeau government creating committee to study electoral reform and replace first-past-the-post system | National Post
The Trudeau government is creating a long-awaited special parliamentary committee on electoral reform and proposing to hold town halls in every riding to discuss the issue. “We deserve broad, representative politics, a stable government and an opportunity to shape our democracy,” Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef said in announcing the plan. “That’s why our government is determined to meet our commitment that 2015 was the last election to use a first-past-the-post system.” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised during last fall’s election campaign to create a committee to examine electoral alternatives and report back with recommendations within 18 months.
The Caribbean tourist haven of the Dominican Republic votes for a president on Sunday, with incumbent Danilo Medina tipped to win despite crime, poverty and corruption accusations against his party. His centrist PLD party has been in power for 12 years in the Spanish-speaking state, which shares the island of Hispaniola with its troubled neighbor, Haiti. The Dominican Republic’s economy is booming thanks to the millions of dollars foreigners spend visiting its luxury hotels and beaches. Output grew seven per cent last year. But 40 per cent of the island’s 10 million residents are estimated to live in poverty and the unemployment rate is about 14 per cent, according to the government.
United Kingdom: Nine police forces now investigating claims Tories breached spending rules | The Guardian
Nine police forces have now launched inquiries into whether the Conservative party breached spending rules during the 2015 general election campaign. Lincolnshire police became the latest force to confirm on Thursday that they were investigating the claims as the Tories handed over evidence regarding the controversy to the Electoral Commission. The allegations regarding breaches of spending rules centre on claims that the party listed the costs of bussing activists into key marginal seats under national spending accounts, rather than as local spending. Lincolnshire appears to be the ninth police force examining the allegations, which were first broadcast by Channel 4 News. The others are Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Gloucestershire, Northamptonshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and West Mercia, and Devon and Cornwall. Any candidate found guilty of an election offence could face up to one year in prison and being barred from office for three years.
An Arizona special election will go forward despite the secretary of state’s office illegally failing to mail publicity pamphlets to more than 200,000 households, state Attorney General Mark Brnovich said Thursday. The attorney general did not pull any punches and said his office was launching an inquiry into the latest voting debacle in Arizona. “We do believe the secretary of state did violate Arizona law,” he told media. “Unfortunately, there is nothing in the statutes to provide an adequate remedy.” Brnovich said Secretary of State Michele Reagan’s office has admitted it violated the law by not mailing pamphlets to more than 200,000 households with multiple voters, but a state law gave his office little recourse to correct the error with just one week to the election.