Ahead of what’s likely to be the first presidential election since 1965 without the Voting Rights Act in full effect, 50 members of Congress have joined to form the Voting Rights Caucus. The caucus will work to educate the public about voting restrictions enacted since the Supreme Court struck down a key section of the Voting Rights Act in 2013. “The caucus is long overdue,” said Congressional Black Caucus Chairman G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina, speaking at a press conference outside the House of Representatives Tuesday to launch the caucus. Seventeen states will have voting rights restrictions in effect for the first time in a presidential election since the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.
Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have something in common (as strange as that sounds)—they both seem to be turning out first-time voters. But before those newly-minted participants in democracy can cast their ballots, there are a few boxes to be checked. Registration is often the first step for those voters towards casting their first-ever vote—it’s required in 49 states (North Dakota does not have voter registration). And when it comes to registering to vote, it’s all about residency. Residency requirements matter in elections. They are one of the basic requirements for voting, along with age, U.S. citizenship and other factors. While those requirements have clear yes or no answers (you either are or aren’t old enough to vote; you’re either a U.S. citizen or not) residency requirements are more complex.
Leaders of the Republican Party have begun internal deliberations over what would be fundamental changes to the way its presidential nominees are chosen, a recognition that the chaotic process that played out this year is seriously flawed and helped exacerbate tensions within the party. In a significant shift, Republican officials said it now seemed unlikely that the four states to vote first would all retain their cherished place on the electoral calendar, with Nevada as the most probable casualty. Party leaders are even going so far as to consider diluting the traditional status of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina as gatekeepers to the presidency. Under one proposal, those states would be paired with others that voted on the same day as a way to give more voters a meaningful role much sooner. But in a move that would sharply limit who could participate in presidential primaries, many party activists are also pushing to close Republican contests to independent voters, arguing that open primaries in some states allowed Donald J. Trump, whose conservative convictions they deeply mistrust, to become the presumptive nominee.
National: The race-infused history of why felons aren’t allowed to vote in a dozen states | The Washington Post
These things happen often enough these days that they can be easy to ignore. Lawmakers from one party vehemently disagree with the actions or policies of another and file suit. Sometimes the suits amount to a last-ditch effort to stop something they consider potentially disastrous. Sometimes they amount to little more than political grandstanding in court venues. And sometimes, they are really a combination of both, wrapped in highly principled talk about the separation of powers and abating tyranny. On Monday, the leaders of Virginia’s Republican-controlled state House and Senate filed suit against Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, in a bid to stop an executive order that would restore the voting rights of an estimated 20,000 Virginia residents who have been convicted of a felony. McAuliffe wants to restore voting rights to those who have completed their sentences and any ordered time on probation or parole. These, in short, are the people who have officially paid for their crimes but, under Virginia law, remain barred from the ballot box. And state Republicans insist that their favored list of vaunted Virginians — including Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, former Democratic Virginia governor Timother M. Kaine (now a senator) and former Republican governor Robert F. McDonnell — would agree.
Republicans and Democrats alike said they wanted Colorado to have a presidential primary after a messy caucus night in March. With no legislative solution this session, a handful of Republican senators have formed an unofficial organization, the Colorado Elections Study Group, to look at whether Colorado should bring back a presidential primary. The group includes Sens. Laura Woods of Arvada, Ray Scott of Grand Junction, Jerry Sonnenberg of Sterling, Kevin Grantham of Cañon City and Kevin Lundberg of Berthoud. The group will hold its first meeting at 1 p.m. on June 11 at the Capitol. “Our experience with the primary bills showed that finding consensus on this topic isn’t easy, given the wide array of opinions and interests involved, but we think more progress can be made,” Grantham said in a statement.
A plan to make Illinois the next state to allow automatic voter registration is moving through the Legislature despite the state’s leading election authority having serious doubts that it has the ability and money to roll it out, especially with one deadline before November’s election. After the Senate easily approved it, the House is poised to take up a proposal this week making the State Board of Elections the clearinghouse for automatically registering voters. By Sept. 1, the board would have to conduct a voter file update with state agencies’ data going back a year. The whole plan would be in place by 2018. Similar to laws in Oregon, California, West Virginia and Vermont, the Illinois plan would allow voters to opt out of automatic registration. Democrats, including those in the House where a committee could vote as early as Tuesday, say it’ll increase civic participation and modernize systems. They point to President Barack Obama’s call to make automatic voter registration “the new norm” nationwide during a February visit to Springfield.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) has requested a state-run recanvass of last week’s Kentucky Democratic primary, hoping to earn at least one more delegate out of one of the year’s closest races. The decision, first reported by the Associated Press, came just hours before the deadline to request a new look at the Kentucky vote. On election night, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton led Sanders by 1,924 votes out of 454,573 cast. That prompted her campaign to declare victory, and for Kentucky’s election chief Alison Lundergan Grimes, a Clinton supporter, to tell news outlets that Clinton was the “apparent winner” of an upset. But Sanders never quite conceded the election. At rallies since the May 17 vote, he has referred to Kentucky as a delegate tie — it was, awarding 27 delegates to each candidate — and talked about dramatically cutting Clinton’s margin from the 2008 Democratic primary. On election night, after CNN reported that Sanders would not request a recount or recanvass, his spokesman Michael Briggs told The Washington Post that the decision was still to be made.
A recanvass is essentially a review of the vote totals in each county. County clerks will review the absentee votes and check the printouts to make sure the numbers were correct when they were transmitted to the State Board of Elections. State law allows for recanvassing only if a county clerk or a county board of elections notices a discrepancy or if a candidate makes a written request to the secretary of state.
Maryland: About 1,650 ballots handled improperly in Baltimore election, state review finds | Baltimore Sun
About 1,650 ballots cast in Baltimore’s primary election were handled improperly, a state review has found — prompting some to question the validity of the election results. The State Board of Elections concluded that 1,188 provisional ballots were inappropriately scanned into the vote tally on Election Day — without judges verifying that the voters were eligible — and 465 other provisional ballots were not considered. The board’s findings were released Monday. “In many ways, this is worse than what anybody thought,” said the Rev. Cortly “C.D.” Witherspoon, an activist with Voters Organized for the Integrity of City Elections, or VOICE. “Although we knew there was a problem, we did not know it was to this magnitude. The citizens deserve better.”
Eliminating straight-ticket voting is a violation of the U.S. Constitution, the Voting Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit Tuesday. “Voters are going to be forced to vote the entire ballot, which will cause tremendous congestion and lines, which means people aren’t going to be able to wait to vote,” said Mark Brewer, one of the lead lawyers in the case and the former chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party. “Voters will be disenfranchised, and this is going to be particularly bad in African-American voting precincts.” Straight-ticket voting allows voters to fill in one box on the ballot to support all Democrats or all Republicans all the way down the ballot. Local clerks have said the option has helped speed voting lines, which tend to get quite long, especially in urban areas during presidential election years. In 2008, voters in Detroit reported lines that lasted more than two hours.
It’s been a rough few week for voting-rights advocates, who have seen a judge reject a challenge to North Carolina’s strict voting law and seen Missouri legislators successfully place a ballot referendum that would amend the state constitution to require photo ID. But they got a win in Ohio today, where a judge in Columbus ruled that a recent law that eliminated a week in which citizens could both register and vote early was unconstitutional. Judge Michael Watson found that the change would disparately impact minority voters, and that the law violated both the 14th Amendment and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
Texas’ five-year-old voter identification law — among the nation’s strictest — will face a fresh round of probing Tuesday in a long-winding lawsuit that may ultimately end up at the U.S. Supreme Court. The 15-judge U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans will hear arguments from both Texas Solicitor General Scott Keller and attorneys for opponents of the law, which include minority and voting rights groups. The case asks whether the state discriminated against Hispanics, African-Americans and low-income Texans in passing the law, which stipulates which types of photo identification election officials can and cannot accept at the polls.
Texas: Federal court questions whether Texas voter-ID law can offer accommodations | The Washington Post
With a U.S. Supreme Court deadline looming, judges on a federal appeals court here Tuesday questioned whether accommodations could be made to protect minority voters and save Texas’s strictest-in-the-nation voter-ID law. Among the 15 judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit who heard oral arguments Tuesday morning, there did not seem to be much support for striking down the law or blocking its use in November’s presidential election. But several questioned why Texas did not have more fallback provisions — as other states do — for voters who lack the kinds of identification that the state requires. Three other courts have said the Texas law discriminates against African American, Hispanic and poor voters, who are less likely to have the specified ID documents.
Virginia: Registrars, state working to verify felons’ rights restored for June primary | Richmond Times-Dispatch
The deadline to register to vote in primary elections June 14 passed at midnight, but time hasn’t run out for felons who have applied but await verification that their civil rights were restored under the order signed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe on April 22. State Elections Commissioner Edgardo Cortes advised local registrars on Monday that, if someone filed a complete registration application by the deadline but doesn’t have their rights verified until later, “that applicant has met the applicable close-of-books deadline and should be processed for participation in the June 14 primary election.” Almost 4,000 people had registered to vote successfully by May 17 under the governor’s restoration order, which General Assembly Republicans sued on Monday to overturn.
A federal trial begins on Tuesday in a lawsuit against Wisconsin’s Republican-drawn legislative map, and while it’s not the first such challenge, this one is unique. In some ways, Wisconsin has been here before. Republican legislators drew this map in 2011. Democrats sued, and in 2012, a federal judicial panel left most of the map intact. Under normal circumstances that would be the end of the story. But the case going to trial on Tuesday isn’t normal, and the coalition of groups seeking to overturn the map say Wisconsin’s redistricting experience was anything but typical. “Wisconsin is the most extreme partisan gerrymander in the United States in the post-2010 cycle,” said attorney Gerry Hebert, who’s the executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Campaign Legal Center. “It’s about as far out from what you would consider to be fair as you can imagine.” Legislatures get a chance to redraw their political districts every decade after the U.S. Census. When state government is divided between Republicans and Democrats, they usually don’t agree on a map and the job falls to a court. When one party runs everything in state government, it can draw the map it wants, which is what happened in 2011.
The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) is hoping a large proportion of the 955,000 eligible people not enrolled to vote by April 30 got on the electoral roll before it closed last night. A large proportion of those not enrolled were are aged between 18 and 24. According to AEC estimates, 347,264 young people were missing from the…
Nairobi police used tear gas and water cannons to prevent demonstrators from assembling to protest the electoral commission, known as the IEBC. Demonstrations went ahead Monday in several other Kenyan cities, and three people died under unclear circumstances in and around the western city of Kisumu. Raila Odinga, Kenya’s former prime minister and current opposition leader, says the ruling party has “no choice” but to discuss the opposition’s demand for changes to the electoral commission. Odinga visited VOA’s Nairobi studio Tuesday, a day after the deaths in Kisumu.
Malta: Electoral Commissioner was ‘unaware’ of voting rights granted to IIP applicants | Malta Today
As the opposition is fighting the voting rights granted to some 91 IIP citizens, Chief Electoral Commissioner Joseph Church said that the Electoral Commission had been “unaware” of the constitutional breaches that took place until it was flagged by the PN. Contacted by MaltaToday, Church also confirmed that the commission has held an informal meeting with Identity Malta – the authority responsible from the processing of IIP applicants – to investigate the allegations being made. “The commission is currently carrying out a fact-finding exercise to determine what action to take,” Church added. Insisting that the investigation was still a work-in-progress, Church would not say what sort of action, if any, could be taken in the near future. “We are leaving all options open, The Commission will be meeting tomorrow to discuss further the issue.”
The personal information of more than 2 million Mexicans was found online last week by the same man who recently discovered a previous data breach exposing the voting registration records of 93.4 million Mexicans. Chris Vickery, an internet data-breach researcher for MacKeeper, told Fusion he found a new database with over 2 million entries through the search engine Shodan.io. He said he found the database through a “random search,” similar to the one that previously lead to his March discovery of an open Amazon server hosting addresses, names and other personal information for more than 70% of Mexico’s population. Vickery said the new database was hosted on a server owned by U.S. company Digital Ocean, which offers online storage and transfer solutions to clients. Vickery says he again alerted Mexico’s electoral authority, INE, which launched an inquiry and confirmed that the voting registry for the northern state of Sinaloa had been exposed online. The database was taken down by Digital Ocean last Friday. The company did not immediately respond to Fusion’s request for comment. Mexican officials have launched an investigation into how the breach happened.
Blowing horns and chanting slogans, protesters gather outside a Caracas subway station. They plan to march to the National Electoral Council to demand that authorities hold a recall election. But it’s a sparse crowd. Shortly before the protest began, officials loyal to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro shut down subway stations in this part of the city. University student Daniel Barrios insists this was done to disrupt the march. “The government is always trying to make us look small,” he says. “You can see here the subway, and you can see the station’s closed. And that’s a predicament, because they need to take the subway to come to these types of demonstrations.”