Connecticut: DMV, Merrill Agree On Streamlined, ‘Automatic’ Motor Voter Registration System | Hartford Courant

The Department of Motor Vehicles and secretary of the state have worked out previous differences and signed an agreement to implement a “streamlined motor voter system” that will automatically register eligible citizens to vote when they go to DMV for a driver’s license or state-issued identification card. The Department of Motor Vehicles and secretary of the state have worked out previous differences and signed an agreement to implement a “streamlined motor voter system” that will automatically register eligible citizens to vote when they go to DMV for a driver’s license or state-issued identification card. The “memorandum of agreement,” signed Monday by DMV Commissioner Michael Bzdyra and Deputy Secretary of the State James Spallone, says the new system, under which the DMV customer would be registered to vote unless he or she specifically declines by choosing to opt out, would begin operating by August 2018. Under the current program, the DMV customer is registered to vote only if he or she actively chooses that option.

Kansas: Judge rules Kobach must register 18,000 suspended Kansas voters | The Wichita Eagle

A federal judge on Tuesday ordered Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to register about 18,000 rejected voters who filed applications at Department of Motor Vehicles offices but didn’t provide the proof of citizenship Kansas law requires. Kobach said he’ll file an emergency appeal to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. Judge Julie Robinson ruled the Kansas proof-of-citizenship law conflicts with the federal motor-voter act, which was passed by Congress to make it easier to vote by requiring motor-vehicle offices to also offer voting registration. Robinson approved a preliminary injunction requiring Kobach to register prospective voters who were rejected since 2013 because they didn’t file documents proving their citizenship. They could vote in federal elections – U.S. House, Senate and the presidency – in this election cycle. The case centers on a Kansas law Kobach authored that requires applicants to provide documented citizenship proof. For most voters, that means either a passport or birth certificate – along with proof of marriage- and divorce-related name changes for women.

Maryland: State review finds ‘significant’ irregularities in Baltimore election | Baltimore Sun

About 1,000 more votes were cast during Baltimore’s primary election than there were voters who checked in at the polls, an ongoing state review has found. State elections officials said Thursday that workers examining Baltimore’s election have uncovered “significant” problems. They have found more than 450 provisional ballots that were not considered by election judges. And nearly 800 provisional ballots — given to voters whose eligibility is in question — were improperly counted before eligibility was verified, officials said. Most of the problems were caused by untrained judges scanning ballots into the system that they shouldn’t have, said Linda H. Lamone, Maryland’s elections administrator. The state might not get to the bottom of every problem, she told the State Board of Elections. “There will be precincts that cannot be explained,” Lamone said. “We don’t know what happened. The numbers simply don’t match.”

Montana: US judge strikes down Montana campaign contribution limits | Associated Press

For a second time in four years, a federal judge ruled Tuesday that Montana’s campaign contribution limits are unconstitutional — a decision that could open the way for a flood of money from political parties just three weeks before the June 7 state primary. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Charles Lovell was a clear setback for state Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl, who has defended the strict limits that voters enacted in 1994. Lovell said Montana officials did not prove that the limits “further the important state interest of combating quid pro quo corruption or its appearance.” Motl urged restraint by political parties that can now contribute unlimited amounts of cash to candidates. Lovell expressed no opinion on what contributions should be for individuals and political action committees and left the question to the Montana attorney general.

Virginia: U.S. judge upholds Virginia voter ID law | Richmond Times-Dispatch

A federal judge has upheld Virginia’s voter ID law challenged by the Democratic Party of Virginia and two voters alleging the Republican-controlled state legislature enacted it to curb the number of young and minority voters. “Mindful that the court’s mission is to judge not the wisdom of the Virginia voter ID law, but rather its constitutionality, this court cannot say that plaintiffs have met their burden of proof in showing by a preponderance of the evidence that the Virginia voter ID law … contravenes the Voting Rights Act, the First Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment, the Fifteenth Amendment, or the Twenty-Sixth Amendment,” U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson wrote Thursday. Hudson’s ruling concluded: “While the merits of this voter identification law, and indeed all aspects of Virginia’s voting regime, can be reasonably debated, it remains true that Virginia has created a scheme of laws to accommodate all people in their right to vote. From in-person voting, to an absentee option, to provisional ballots with the ability to cure, and the provision of free voter IDs, Virginia has provided all of its citizens with an equal opportunity to participate in the electoral process.”

Wisconsin: Federal judge hears challenge to Wisconsin election laws | Associated Press

Wisconsin Republicans were “giddy” about a voter identification requirement enacted in 2011 that they saw as an opportunity to drive down Democratic turnout at the polls, a former chief of staff to a GOP state senator testified Monday in a federal trial targeting that law and others. The lawsuit targets more than a dozen changes to Wisconsin’s election law passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed by Gov. Scott Walker since 2011. Two liberal advocacy groups and affected voters argue the changes are a violation the federal Voting Rights Act, the First Amendment and the equal protection clause. Their attorney, Josh Kaul, said in opening statements that evidence will show the changes create a “torturous” process making it harder to vote for college students as well as blacks, Hispanics and other minorities who tend to support Democrats.

Kenya: Opposition vows to continue protests | Deutsche Welle

Images of police violence against demonstrators, viewed widely on social media, have caused international outrage. Protestors are calling for reform amid accusations that the Election Commission is biased. The political impasse in Kenya shows no signs of abetting as both sides of the political divide stand by their positions regarding the future of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC). Opposition politicians and protestors continue to demand the body’s disbandment, accusing it of bias towards President Uhuru Kenyatta. But the ruling Jubilee coalition has ruled out dissolving the IEBC. On Monday, protests against IEBC were brutally quashed by anti-riot police, injuring several people and prompting international condemnation.

Macedonia: Court halts early election in blow to ruling party | Financial Times

Western mediators welcomed a decision by a Macedonian court to strike down plans for early elections, in a blow to the ruling VMRO party which was the only major party registered to participate. The Balkan country’s constitutional court ruled on Wednesday that the dissolution of parliament had been unconstitutional, in effect halting preparations for the poll on June 5. The elections were planned as part of an EU-mediated agreement to resolve a year-long crisis. It began when the opposition alleged that Nikola Gruevski, former prime minister, and his counter-intelligence chief had arranged the wiretapping of thousands of people, enabling them to influence the media, courts and elections.

Arizona: Fewer voters in Arizona election, but latest cost $1M more | Associated Press

Fearing another botched election, Arizona’s most populous county opened twice as many polling spots for a special election this week than for the March presidential primary. This go-round cost about $1 million more, even though Maricopa County election officials knew far fewer voters would turn out to vote on education funding and pension overhaul plans. But those officials say the extra spending was necessary to rebuild lost confidence after some people waited as long as five hours to cast their vote for the Democratic and Republican nominees for president. The county cut the number of polling places from 200 in 2012 to just 60 in March to save money. Tuesday, there were 116 places to vote, county elections department spokeswoman Elizabeth Bartholomew said Thursday.

Colorado: Election officials admit mistakes, pledge changes after voter fraud controversy | The Denver Post

Colorado’s top elections chief acknowledged Thursday that state officials made mistakes in reviewing possibly fraudulent signatures on petitions for U.S. Senate candidate Jon Keyser and pledged to overhaul the process. The new policies will feature better public notice and escalate questions about signatures more quickly to top-level management, including Secretary of State Wayne Williams, who can refer the issue to investigators for review. The secretary of state’s office disclosed Tuesday that petition supervisors in his office knew about questionable voter signatures on Keyser’s petitions for the Republican primary — including one from a dead person — a month before the controversy erupted.

Connecticut: GOP Legislators: Merrill, DMV Circumvented General Assembly With New ‘Motor Voter’ System | Hartford Courant

Republican legislative leaders claimed Wednesday that Secretary of the State Denise Merrill and the Department of Motor Vehicles bypassed the General Assembly when they agreed this week to establish a “streamlined motor voter system” to automatically register citizens to vote when they go to DMV for a driver’s license or state-issued identification card. Senate GOP Leader Len Fasano of North Haven and Michael McLachlan of Danbury, the highest-ranking Republican senator on a legislative committee that oversees state elections, issued a statement blasting a “memorandum of agreement” signed Monday by the DMV and Merrill’s office.

Delaware: Bill gives felons voting privileges | Cape Gazette

A bill has passed the Senate that restores the voting rights of people with felony convictions who’ve completed their prison sentences but have not yet fully paid fines and fees. Senate Bill 242 passed 16-4 down party lines May 10. The bill does not call for the fees and fines to be forgiven. “This legislation affirms the state’s commitment to provide a second chance to those who’ve served their time in prison after breaking our laws,” said Claire Snyder-Hall, program director for Common Cause Delaware, in prepared statement. “We can’t reasonably expect them to become productive citizens unless we’re willing to extend to them all the rights that go with citizenship, including the right to vote.

Idaho: Frustrations over learning curve with accessible voting machines | KTVB

For many, exercising their right to vote is more complicated than just filling in a box. Across the state there are voting machines for people with a variety of disabilities. But KTVB spoke with one voter who’s blind and says those expensive terminals weren’t any help. Boise resident Bill Morgan votes in every election he can. However, he says oftentimes it can be a struggle getting to the polls. In addition, if the machines to help people with disabilities are hard to navigate, some people may find voting discouraging. “I think it’s the most important thing I can do as a citizen,” Morgan said. “People died so that I could vote.” Being blind, he’s been using accessible voting machines in general elections for the past several years. “I will vote any way I can,” Morgan told KTVB. “But if I can make my own ‘X’ that just makes me feel proud. I like that.”

Illinois: Senate approves automatic voter registration bill | Chicago Tribune

Senate Democrats pushed through legislation Thursday that would automatically register drivers to vote when they get their licenses, a change supporters argued would eliminate red tape and get more people to the polls. Republicans were fiercely opposed, saying eligibility should be tightened by requiring voters to show photo identification before they could register. Doing so, they contended, would prevent voter fraud and keep illegal immigrants from voting — arguments Democrats said were solutions in search of a problem. “The notion that voter fraud is rampant in Illinois is just unproven and undocumented,” said Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, who has pushed bills supporting online and same-day voter registration and pointed out that Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner spoke in favor of the concept just hours earlier.

Editorials: At least courts are protecting voting rights in Kansas | The Wichita Eagle

The mess that Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has made of voter registration draws yawns at the Statehouse. At least the courts continue to look out for the thousands of Kansans who would have registered to vote since 2013 if not for the Kobach-pushed law requiring they produce U.S. citizenship documents. The most recent ruling came Tuesday from U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson in Kansas City, Kan. She ordered Kobach to register more than 18,000 prospective voters who’d filed applications at motor vehicle offices, as per the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, but whose registrations were stalled or canceled for lack of citizenship proof. (Though more than 32,000 registrations were in limbo at one point, before Kobach started purging them last fall after 90 days, Robinson’s ruling covers only those applications filed in the process of obtaining driver’s licenses.)

Missouri: Governor weighing voter photo ID: ‘It is a concept I disagree with.’ | MissouriNet

A proposal that would establish how voter photo ID would work in Missouri is in the hands of Governor Jay Nixon (D). The bill would set up the system for requiring voters to show a photo ID at the polls. It would allow those who lack one to sign a document swearing, under penalty of perjury, that they don’t have one at all – in which case they would be allowed to vote, and the state would pay the costs to get them one. Like any other bill Nixon could veto it, sign it into law, or allow it to become law without acting on it. He told reporters he doesn’t support requiring a photo ID to vote.

Montana: Attorney General seeks partial stay in campaign spending ruling | Helena Independent Record

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox’s office filed a motion for an immediate partial stay with U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals after a ruling by U.S. District Judge Charles Lovell struck down the state’s campaign contribution limits. The brief was filed late Thursday afternoon, and the attorney general’s office which represents Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl, argued that unless the Ninth Circuit grants the immediate request, suspending contribution limits “will cause confusion and undermine the integrity of Montana’s electoral process.” “Military and absentee voting has begun … and the primary election is less than 20 days away,” the brief said. “… there can be no doubt that unlimited donations from political parties would create mass chaos in Montana’s election.”

Utah: Democratic chief claims county clerks are running a GOP registration drive | The Salt Lake Tribune

Utah Democratic Party Chairman Peter Corroon is complaining that county clerks statewide are essentially running a taxpayer-funded drive to register new Republicans. But election officials say he is misconstruing their efforts, which are aimed at helping voters receive whichever by-mail party ballot they choose in time for the June 28 primary. The dispute comes, in part, because 20 of the state’s 29 counties are conducting elections mostly by mail this year. So clerks wrote letters to the 41 percent of Utahns who are not affiliated with any party, asking whether they want a Democratic or Republican ballot. Letters warn that if voters choose to receive a GOP ballot, they will then be registered as Republicans. That’s because the GOP allows only registered Republicans to vote in its closed primary, but Democrats allow anyone of any party to vote in its open primary.

Virginia: Virginia Democrats lose lawsuit over voter ID | The Washington Post

A federal judge on Thursday upheld Virginia’s voter- identification requirement, dealing a blow to a national push by Democrats to remove laws they say disenfranchise minority and poor voters. Republicans applauded the decision as “a victory for the integrity of Virginia’s elections,” while Democrats called it a disappointment and said they may appeal. If the lawsuit ultimately succeeds, it could give Democrats an edge in the presidential race in a swing state with a recent spate of close elections. In his 62-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson rejected the argument that a photo-ID requirement was “arbitrary and unfair” and severely burdened voters who tend to favor Democratic candidates.

Voting Blogs: Virginia Election Data Project | electionlineWeekly

This week, the Virginia Department of Elections released the Virginia Election Data Project, a cooperative effort between the department and local registrars with assistance from The Pew Charitable Trusts Election Initiatives. The project analyzes election and voter data provided to the Department by local election offices and presents the data visualized in a user-friendly online format. “Like most election offices, we house a huge amount of data,” explained Edgardo Cortes, commissioner of elections. “While much of it is personal information that needs to be kept securely, there are ways we can be transparent about the data related to election processes to help the public understand election administration better. This is a way for us to use objective data to improve how we administer elections by figuring out best practices and sharing them across the state.”

Wisconsin: 34 Republicans ask budget committee to fund voter ID education campaign | Wisconsin State Journal

More than two dozen Assembly Republicans have asked the Legislature’s budget-writing committee to consider approving money to educate the public on the state’s law requiring voters to show photo identification. The names of 34 Assembly Republicans appeared on a letter dated Thursday and addressed to Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, and Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, who head the state’s Joint Finance Committee. Twenty-eight of the lawmakers whose names appear on the letter attached their signatures. The letter asks the two lawmakers to schedule a meeting to consider a May 10 request made by the Government Accountability Board to spend $250,000 to re-start a public information campaign authorized in 2011 when the law was passed but was stopped in 2012 after a lawsuit blocked implementation of the law until this year.

Bulgaria: President Hits back at MPs over Rejection of Veto on Election Rules | Novinite

Bulgaria’s President Rosen Plevneliev will refer to the Constitutional Court the Parliament’s “hugely regrettable” decision to override his veto on changes to election rules that could hamper voting by Bulgarian citizens residing abroad. By rejecting the veto the lawmakers “bet on a policy of confrontation even at the expense of the Constitution and basic democratic rights of citizens,” Plevneliev said in a statement on Wednesday after Parliament refused to rescind recently adopted controversial changes to the Electoral Code. The changes must be revoked as they curb the opening of polling stations abroad and will infringe on the voting rights of Bulgarian expats, according to Plevneliev.

Malta: Passport buyers still given the right to vote despite red flags raised by Electoral Commission | The Malta Independent

Desk officers at the Electoral Commission sent e-mails to a number of IIP citizenship holders to inform them that they did not meet the necessary criteria, as laid out by Malta’s Constitution, to be placed on the Electoral Register. Despite this, these same individuals were still given a right to vote in Malta. In one particular e-mail exchange, an Electoral Commission desk officer sent an e-mail to an IIP citizenship holder about how according to her application, she did not meet the criteria to be able to vote. This e-mail was forwarded by the applicant to an IIP agent asking him/her to “sort this out.” The IIP agent then e-mailed the Electoral Commission (photo above) to halt the processing of the application. Again, despite the desk officer doing their job, the person was still placed on the Electoral Register.

United Kingdom: EU referendum: The non-Britons planning to vote | BBC

It might seem peculiar that a young Australian here in Britain on a two-year working holiday is allowed to have a say on whether the UK should leave the European Union. But Michael Ingle, a 27-year-old physiotherapist living in Surrey, defends his right to participate in the 23 June referendum. He says that as a taxpayer, and a citizen of the Commonwealth, what happens to Britain is important to him and will have ramifications for the wider world well beyond the cliffs of Dover. “It’s not just about Britain for me, which is why I’ve taken an interest in it,” Mr Ingle, from Sydney, says. “It’s about the West and the stability of this continent.”

United Kingdom: Expats likely to make up only 1% of eligible Brexit voters | Financial Times

Just under 200,000 British expats have registered to vote in the EU referendum, a small fraction of the several million eligible. British expats in Europe could have been a key constituency, on the assumption that they would be concerned at losing their right of residence. British embassies across Europe were asked to launch campaigns to persuade voters to register, with the embassy in Paris offering afternoon tea at the residence in a competition. But according to the Electoral Commission, only about 196,000 online applications have been received and a recommended cut-off point to apply for a postal vote passed this week. It said estimates showed the number of British citizens overseas might be as high as 5.5m.

Zambia: Opposition Groups Unhappy With Ballot Printer Choice | VoA News

Zambian opposition parties denounced the choice of a Dubai-based company to print election ballots, and suggested that corruption and plans for vote-rigging played a role. The parties reacted after Zambia’s electoral commission announced Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing had won the contract to print the ballots that will be used in the August 11 general election. Jack Mwiimbu, head of legal affairs for the United Party for National Development (UPND), accused the electoral commission of trying to rig the polls for the governing Patriotic Front. He says the party has proof of some Zambians celebrating after the electoral commission announced the contract. He also questioned the cost of the contract — $3.5 million, a figure he says is $2 million higher than what the government paid previously.