National: The Price of Public Money: The Presidential Election Campaign Fund Has $300 Million and No One Wants It | The Atlantic

Matthew King of suburban Tacoma, Washington, is a Democrat who believes the average American should donate to presidential candidates to thwart big money’s influence. Though he is looking for work, he feels so strongly about the issues that he makes small monthly contributions to Democratic candidates and causes. “It’s democracy in action,” King says, describing his hopes for a president who will combine leftist ideals with strong Christian values. “Right now, money is our voice in politics.” Last fall, King, who is in his late 30s, was working at a local Taco Bell; he charged $20 to his credit card to support a presidential candidate, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. King did not know it at the time, but his donation would help O’Malley’s campaign qualify for more than $1 million in matching funds thanks to a cumbersome bureaucratic process: a relic known as the Presidential Election Campaign Fund. O’Malley was the only one of 23 initial primary contenders in 2016 to seek public funds for his campaign. Only three candidates are still in the race, but more than $300 million remains in the fund—and no one wants to touch it.

National: Native Americans move to frontlines in battle over voting rights | Reuters

Elvis Norquay, a member of the Chippewa Indian tribe, has lived most of his 58 years on North Dakota’s remote Turtle Mountain reservation and says he’s never had a problem voting. That was before 2014, when he hitched a ride with a friend to cast a ballot in local and congressional elections and was turned away. Embarrassed, he asked why he couldn’t vote. He was told he lacked proper ID under new state requirements. He has no phone, no current driver’s license and his tribal ID lacks a street address. “When we left, my friend said, ‘that’s not right’,” said Norquay, who has lived on disability since 2002 in a rural county near the Canadian border.

National: Republicans Fight to Regain Voter Data Parity with Democrats | Bloomberg

One of the records inside a massive and rapidly growing Republican National Committee database contains three predictive numbers about President Barack Obama’s political leanings. There’s a 95 percent likelihood Obama will vote in the 2016 general election, the database predicts, based on computer modeling. It also shows an 83 percent chance Obama will side with his party’s nominee, while suggesting a 10 percent shot he’ll back the Republican candidate. It’s an extreme example—Obama, a two-term Democratic president, has repeatedly said he plans to support his party’s nominee and has been highly critical of Donald Trump—but it illustrates how the RNC has attached a score to each of the 192 million registered voters in America as part of a massive push to regain parity with Democrats in using data to win elections. Democrats have used similar scoring for several election cycles, but this will be the first in which the RNC has used such a system in a presidential election.

California: California Can Show the Rest of of the U.S. How To Do Elections Right | CityLab

California’s June 7 primary election is fast approaching, and the state with the most registered voters in the U.S. is far from ready. For one, the list of candidates currently vying for retiring U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer’s seat is so mob-deep that it’s forcing counties to reconfigure their ballots to accommodate all the names. Meanwhile, confusion and resentment is festering among independent voters over a lack of rule uniformity and clarity regarding their right to vote in the primaries. All of this, combined with an expected voter-turnout surge, has led to lawsuits demanding that the state extend its voter registration period up to the primary election date. However, “The infrastructure’s not in place” for such an extension, Orange County voter registrar Neal Kelley told the L.A. Times.

California: Varied election filing practices reveal a system struggling to catch up | Los Angeles Times

More than half of California’s counties — most of them small and rural — don’t provide online access to campaign finance records, and they say they aren’t likely to change any time soon, an assessment of county-level contribution records shows. Only 28 of the state’s 58 counties provide campaign finance information online. And of those, just 17 make the data available in formats that make it easy to search and analyze the money influencing local elections. Some counties say shifting online would be too expensive given tight budgets. Others have implemented electronic filing systems, but have not made them mandatory for candidates and committees. That means it’s more difficult to determine whom local donors are, how much money they raised and for which campaigns. Counties operate independently because there is no state law requiring online filing. California accepted the first electronic filing of a campaign statement in U.S. history in 1998. Little has changed since then.

California: 1,400 ballots incorrectly mailed to San Francisco voters right before election | The San Francisco Examiner

More than 1,400 ballots of the wrong party affiliation were incorrectly mailed to San Francisco voters, the San Francisco Examiner has learned. The ballot snafu comes just a week before San Francisco voters hit the polls for the June primary election, and during the prime vote-by-mail period — critical for local races like the Democratic County Central Committee, the state Senate primary and a number of local ballot measures. The Examiner learned of the mistake from readers who sent in letters they obtained from the San Francisco Department of Elections. “A Nonpartisan ballot was mailed to you in error; this ballot did not accurately reflect your request for a Democratic Party ballot for this primary election,” reads the letter from the department, signed by John Arntz, its director.

Florida: Judge’s ruling nullifies landslide vote for nonpartisan elections | Orlando Sentinel

Orange County candidates for sheriff, tax collector and the four other constitutional offices would be identified on this year’s ballot as Democrat, Republican or another party affiliation if a judge’s ruling holds. A 2014 ballot measure that earned 71 percent of the vote had changed those contests to nonpartisan races in which a candidate’s party affiliation is not provided on the ballot. But Circuit Judge Keith White, in an oral ruling on Thursday, said the county had no authority to determine how its constitutional officers are elected. That power is preempted by state election code. His decision was viewed as a win by Orange County Property Appraiser Rick Singh, Sheriff Jerry Demings, and Tax Collector Scott Randolph, who had sued to nullify the ballot measure, saying it had misled and confused voters and was motivated by Republican politicians.

Illinois: Automatic voter registration goes to Rauner; he likes idea | Associated Press

Visitors to one of a handful of Illinois state agencies would be automatically registered to vote under legislation lawmakers sent to Gov. Bruce Rauner on Tuesday. The House approved the idea 86-30 on the final day of the General Assembly’s spring session, after days of tweaking to make it palatable to state officials who must carry it out. With the Republican governor’s approval, the Prairie State would join just four other states that have or are planning automatic registration programs. In Illinois, people who do business with one of five state agencies — the Department on Aging and the departments of Human Services, Healthcare and Family Services, Employment Security and the Secretary of State — would have information automatically filed with election authorities to allow them to enter voting booths.

Maryland: Analysis: Improperly scanned ballots too few to affect outcomes of Baltimore City Council primary races | Baltimore Sun

Were the irregularities in Baltimore’s primary election numerous enough to affect the outcome of City Council races? It’s a question on a lot of people’s minds. The State Board of Elections reported last week there were 1,188 provisional ballots improperly scanned into the results of Baltimore’s primary election in April — without verification that the voters were registered. That’s too few votes to affect the outcome of the Democratic primary for mayor, where state Sen. Catherine E. Pugh defeated former Mayor Sheila Dixon by more than 2,400 votes. But was it enough to affect a council race, where only hundreds of votes separate competitors? An analysis of election data by The Baltimore Sun shows that — much like the mayor’s race — the potentially invalid votes were too few to affect the outcomes of even down-ballot contests.

Montana: 10 Republicans call for special session on campaign finance | The Billings Gazette

Ten Republicans filed paperwork on Tuesday seeking a special session to fix flawed campaign finance laws, but Democrats say the move is unnecessary. For a session to convene, at least 76 of the 150 members of the House and Senate must approve. Republicans say the emergency measure — which is also expensive — is necessary to fix what they call “defects” in Montana law governing campaign contributions and close a “loophole” that allows for cash from political action committees to flow to candidates without limit.

North Carolina: With retention idea blocked, Supreme Court primary goes on | Associated Press

There will be one race on every ballot in North Carolina’s previously unscheduled June 7 primary because the state Supreme Court couldn’t agree whether a law that led a colleague to seek re-election through a new method complied with the state constitution. Justices deadlocked 3-3 this month on a lower court ruling that struck down the law giving Associate Justice Robert Edmunds of Greensboro the option to run alone for a new term in November and try to keep his job based on an up-or-down vote of support. That kept February’s decision of three trial judges intact, thus returning the election to a traditional head-to-head race. Edmunds and three challengers — Sabra Jean Faires of Cary, Michael Morgan of Raleigh and Daniel Robertson of Advance — are candidates on the primary ballot that also will include delayed congressional primaries in most parts of the state. The top two vote-getters advance to the general election.

Ohio: State asks federal judge to delay reinstating ‘Golden Week’ allowing registration, voting | Cleveland Plain Dealer

Ohio has asked a federal judge in Columbus to hold off enforcing an order requiring the state to allow voting during Golden Week, when voters can both register to vote and cast an in-person absentee ballot. U.S. District Judge Michael Watson last week struck down a state law that eliminated Golden Week, ruling that the 2014 law violates both the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. That law shortened early voting from 35 days before an election to 28. Husted said then that the state would appeal the ruling.

West Virginia: Fayette County will stick with paper ballots | Fayette Tribune

Fayette County’s General Election results in November should come in more quickly than they did in this month’s primary, but for the county commission, moving away from paper ballots completely is not a viable option. County Clerk Kelvin Holliday said all three early voting locations will offer only electronic voting in November. Earlier this month it took county employees more than three hours just to run early voting and absentee ballots through the paper ballot machine. Final results were not released until after 3 a.m. The county expects to have six iVotronic voting machines in Fayetteville for early voting, which is the busiest of the three early voting locations. By switching to electronic early voting, they hope ballot counting time will be cut down, but making the entire election electronic voting only isn’t possible.

Africa: More African countries are blocking Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp during elections | Quartz

Last week, Ghana, widely acknowledged as one of Africa’s role models for best democratic practice, caught democracy watchdogs off guard when the country’s police chief announced the government intends to shut down social media on voting day in November. The shutdown is to take place from 5 am to 7 pm “to ensure social media are not used to send misleading information that could destabilize the country.” While it is a surprise Ghana is making this move, it has become more common for several other African countries who haven’t been as courteous as to give voters notice before curtailing the use of social media and the right to free speech around elections. Deji Olukotun of Internet freedom advocacy group Access Now, notes Ghana “was clearly looking to what other countries have done.” Citizens in Ethiopia, Congo, Chad, Uganda, and elsewhere have found elections are a particularly popular time to crack down on social media.

France: Civic Tech Platform La Primaire Wants To Help French Voters Bypass Traditional Parties | Forbes

French people, like the citizens of many other countries, have little confidence in their government or in their members of parliament. A recent study by the Center for Political Research of the University of Science-Po (CEVIPOF) in Paris, shows that while residents still trust, in part, their local officials, only 37% of them on average feel the same for those belonging to the National Assembly, the Senate or the executive. Three years before, when asked in another poll about of what sprung to mind first when thinking of politics, their first answer was “disgust”. With this sort of background, it is perhaps unsurprising that a number of activists have decided to try and find new ways to boost political participation, using crowdsourcing, smartphone applications and online platforms to look for candidates outside of the usual circles.

Haiti: Council starts deliberating on possible election redo | Associated Press

Haiti’s electoral authorities begin deliberating Tuesday whether they should annul results of the disputed presidential election’s first round, as recommended by a special commission that reported finding significant fraud. Electoral council chief Leopold Berlanger declined to comment on the verification commission’s findings Monday night, saying his panel would need until June 6 to examine the report and announce a new election calendar for this troubled country. The Provisional Electoral Council has the final say on election matters. The leader of the verification commission, Pierre Francois Benoit, told The Associated Press that members of his panel were so troubled by their month-long review that they had no choice but to recommend starting over and scrapping a presidential run-off vote that has been postponed three times. The panel examined 25 per cent of the roughly 13,000 tally sheets from polling stations.

India: PMK to seek audit of voter paper trail | Business Standard

The PMK will seek an audit or cross-checking of May 16 polling as recorded by the electronic voting machines and on the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system, said party leader Anbumani Ramadoss. The party will also seek an amendment to the Representation of the People Act giving the Election Commission sufficient powers to conduct the polls in a free and fair manner like the powers to disqualify a party or a candidate for bribing voters and other acts. “We will soon petition the Election Commission to audit the paper trail system (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail) that was installed in 17 assembly constituencies during the May 16 assembly polls in Tamil Nadu,” former union minister and PMK leader Ramadoss told IANS. “We demand reverting to paper ballot system. The voting machines can be tampered with in couple of minutes. The system can be programmed in such a way that every fifth vote will be in favour of a particular party,” Ramadoss said.

Malta: Buy a passport, get your vote free | Times of Malta

The government calls it an individual investment programme intended to attract to Malta people with talent and money to invest. The more down to earth deem it a sale of Maltese/European passports and information tabled in Parliament indicates that is just what the IIP actually is: a sale. Over 80 per cent of the 143 successful applicants so far have signed five-year rent contracts rather than opting to buy a property in Malta. The implication is that they have no intention of settling here permanently, if at all. Chris Kalin, president of Henley & Partners, which runs the programme, was more succinct when he said that many of his clients were only interested in getting a Maltese passport rather than living here. In other words, they want a passport to Europe. The IIP scheme, which had not been included in the Labour Party electoral programme, was controversial from the start and amended several times along the way until a settlement was reached with the European Union.

Seychelles: Court rejects presidential election petitions, validates President Michel’s win | Seychelles News Agancy

In an eagerly awaited verdict, the Seychelles Constitutional Court on Tuesday upheld President James Michel’s election win, rejecting an opposition party’s petitions to overturn the results of the December poll. The case against Michel’s election win was filed after a historical run-off contested by President Michel, also leader of the ruling Parti Lepep, and the leader of the Seychelles National Party, Wavel Ramkalawan. A difference of 193 votes separated the two candidates. Michel was declared the winner with 50.15 percent of the vote, while Ramkalawan won 49.85 percent of the vote, according to the Electoral Commission. Ramkalawan had petitioned the court to rule that none of the two candidates had obtained the absolute majority of the votes cast, and to nullify the results on the basis of irregularities committed and non-compliance to the electoral laws. Both petitions were directed at the Electoral Commission, President James Michel and the Attorney General. The Constitutional Court ruling comes two months after the parties in the case had made their final statements to the court.