National: Foreign-connected PACs spent $10 million on the US election so far | Deutsche Welle

A DW analysis of campaign finance data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics finds that US subsidiaries of international companies have so far spent almost ten million dollars (9.8 million euros) supporting candidates in this election cycle with most of the contributions coming from European-based firms ($8.6 million). The only other foreign, but non-European-based, companies that have spent money on the US election so far hail from five countries: Japan ($597,000), Israel ($159,000), Canada ($108,000), Mexico ($61,000) and Australia ($32,000). While foreign nationals without permanent US residence status and foreign entities are prohibited from contributing to US elections, American subsidiaries of foreign companies are not. Just like their US counterparts, they can legally establish so-called Political Action Committees (PACs) to collect contributions for political candidates from their US employees and families. All PACs are registered with the Federal Election Commission. “It doesn’t surprise me,” said James Davis, dean of the School of Economics and Political Science at St. Gallen University in Switzerland, when asked about the fact that PACs set up by European-based companies have so far contributed more than eight million dollars to the US election campaign.

Arizona: Secretary of state quietly fixes mistakes, but delay could prove costly | The Arizona Republic

Secretary of State Michele Reagan’s office issued incorrect instructions to candidates seeking to get on the primary ballot, and only notified them of the problems in the final weeks of signature-gathering. With the deadline for candidate filings arriving on Wednesday, the lag in correcting the mistakes could cause some candidates to be disqualified. State Elections Director Eric Spencer downplayed that likelihood, saying the changes were minimal. Still, the issue arises as the Secretary of State’s Office is embroiled in controversy over its failure to send publicity pamphlets to nearly 200,000 households in advance of the May 17 special election, and only acknowledging it two weeks later after a media report. That is the subject of an ongoing inquiry by state Attorney General Mark Brnovich.

Illinois: Illinois could become the fifth state with automatic voter registration | Daily Herald

Illinoisans moved one step closer to being able to automatically register to vote when they renew their driver’s licenses. The measure, which was approved by both the Illinois House and Senate Tuesday in the final hours of the spring session, will go to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner for approval. Rauner has indicated in the past that he’d support simplifying the voting process but hasn’t specifically said whether he’d sign the plan into law. If the bill is approved, Illinois would become the fifth state to enact automatic voter registration, joining California, Oregon, Vermont and West Virginia. In addition the Secretary of State’s office, four other state agencies would be able to add eligible people to voter rolls. These include the Department on Aging and the departments of Human Services, Healthcare and Family Services, and Employment Security. State officials and local elections boards would have until Jan. 1, 2018, to fully implement the plan.

Editorials: Kentucky Should Eliminate Its Recanvass Process for Close Elections | Joshua A. Douglas/Courier-Journal

Last week, Kentucky witnessed its second statewide recanvass of an election in the past two years. Bernie Sanders asked the state to review the totals in the Democratic primary, which Hillary Clinton won by 1,911 votes. Just as in the Republican gubernatorial primary of 2015, the recanvass yielded no change to the vote totals, confirming Clinton won as announced on Election Night. The state and counties spent money conducting a recanvass that had absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election. It is time to do away with this process. Kentucky law contains three possible procedures to contest the results of a close election. The first is a recanvass, in which the counties “recheck and recanvass” the vote totals from the machines, along with any absentee ballots. During a recanvass, counties do not recount individual votes; they instead verify, or retabulate, the count from the machines – in essence, it is like pushing the button again to re-tally the totals. The counties themselves pay for this process, meaning that any candidate who is down by a close margin has virtually nothing to lose by requesting this procedure.

Maryland: Sheila Dixon won’t file lawsuit challenging Baltimore primary election | Baltimore Sun

Former Mayor Sheila Dixon will not file a lawsuit to challenge the April primary election for mayor, her spokeswoman said Wednesday, ending a month of uncertainty following the close contest. Spokeswoman Martha McKenna said the former mayor continued to call on concerned voters to seek information to explain the irregularities that led officials to decertify the election and investigate the results. The deadline to file a lawsuit challenging the mayoral and City Council elections was Wednesday — seven days after the city recertified the election. “We took a tack of working with the [state] Board of Elections and getting as much information as we could about the ballots, the certification, the recertification and the reconciliation process,” McKenna said.

North Carolina: Some Durham County voters will receive new primary ballot | News & Observer

In light of finding Durham County elections workers had counted dozens more votes than had actually been cast, the State Board of Elections has decided to scratch 892 provisional ballots and mail out new ballots to those voters more than two months later. In a meeting to finalize the results of the March 15 primary, the board voted unanimously to approve only 147 provisional ballots that could be checked for eligibility and moved to send out new ballots to voters whose ballots could not be verified. The decision came out of a state investigation into discrepancies in the Durham County election primaries that found the state only had physical copies for 980 provisional ballots, despite having approved or partially approved 1,039 provisional ballots to count toward final election totals.

Ohio: Battle rages over access to voting | MSNBC

With Ohio set to once again be a pivotal swing state this fall, the state’s Republicans are looking to restrict access to the voting booth—extending a sprawling battle over voting in the Buckeye State that has raged for more than a decade. A recent court ruling foiled the GOP’s bid to end same-day voter registration—for now. But a controversial new Republican-backed bill would make it harder to keep polls open late if unforeseen problems arise, as they have in the past. Meanwhile, the state’s top election official is being sued over a controversial purge of the voter rolls. And even a measure to let voters register online that has won GOP support is nonetheless causing controversy. The stakes in Ohio could hardly be higher. The state is shaping up to reprise its status as a crucial battleground in the presidential election this November. It also hosts a tight U.S. Senate race between incumbent GOP Sen. Rob Portman and Democratic former Gov. Ted Strickland that could help determine control of the chamber.

Wisconsin: Sanders’ backers want to end superdelegates | Associated Press

Backers of Bernie Sanders are pushing for a vote at the Wisconsin Democratic Party convention this weekend that they hope will pressure the state’s superdelegates to switch their allegiance from Hillary Clinton to the Vermont senator. The vote on the nonbinding resolution, set for Saturday afternoon, will come on the second day of the convention. On Friday, party leaders and those running for office, most notably Senate candidate Russ Feingold, will speak to delegates at the meeting in Green Bay. The party convention is designed as a way to rally Democrats heading into the election season. Feingold’s rematch against Republican Sen. Ron Johnson is the biggest race on the ballot, but Democrats are also eyeing the open 8th Congressional District seat in northeast Wisconsin and hoping to make gains in the state Legislature, where Republicans control both the Senate and Assembly. The keynote speaker at the convention on Friday night is U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez.

Australia: Why do we have pencils and not pens at polling booths? | ABC

You wouldn’t use a pencil to fill in a passport application form. You almost certainly wouldn’t sign a contract with one. So why do we still use pencils for the most important civic duty, voting? That question has inspired one curious Australian, who submitted it to Curious Campaign. Australians have been using pencils to vote since well before Hungarian László Bíró popularised the ballpoint pen in the 1930s. As early as 1902, the Electoral Act required the provision of pencils in voting booths. “Polling booths shall have separate voting compartments, constructed so as to screen the voters from observation while they are marking their ballot papers, and each voting compartment shall be furnished with a pencil for the use of voters.” That precise wording remains in the law to this day. But while the act instructs the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) to provide pencils, it doesn’t instruct voters to use them. “People can bring and use a pen if they wish to do so,” Electoral Commission spokesman Evan Ekin-Smith said.

Haiti: Haiti awaits elections-council decision | Miami Herald

The No. 2 finisher in Haiti’s presidential elections, who this year boycotted the runoff until sweeping changes were made to the electoral machinery, said that an audit of the balloting confirmed his declarations that the vote was tainted by “massive fraud.” Now the country’s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) needs to “sanction the person who committed the fraud, the people who helped defraud,” Jude Célestin said in an exclusive interview with Radio Kiskeya in Port-au-Prince. Asked who that was, Célestin replied: “Everyone knows, the entire population knows the candidate who was the fraudster, for whom the fraud was done on behalf of.” Célestin qualified for the second round against Jovenel Moïse, the choice of former President Michel Martelly. Moïse has denied the fraud allegations and accused opponents of using them to try to kick him out of the race. His PHTK party has refused to recognize the report. A PHTK operative told the Miami Herald that Célestin has to be referring to another one of the top finishers.

Kenya: Government urges end to protests, opposition defiant | Reuters

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy urged the opposition on Wednesday to end unrest over alleged bias in the electoral commission, but opposition leaders said protests would continue if their demands for dialogue were not met. To help defuse tensions, Kenyatta on Tuesday had talks with his political rival, the leader of the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy Raila Odinga, but the rare meeting between the two appeared to have little impact. The president’s office said Tuesday’s meeting yielded no deal between Kenyatta and Odinga on how to revamp the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

Peru: Thousands Protest Over Keiko Fujimori’s Presidential Candidacy | International Business Times

Thousands took to the streets of Peru Tuesday to protest the presidential candidacy of Keiko Fujimori, daughter of former President Alberto Fujimori. The former president is currently in prison for authorizing death squads and corruption during his decade in power between 1990 and 2000. Incumbent President Ollanta Humala is ineligible for elections this year due to constitutional term limitations. This leaves the candidacy to Fujimori, 41, and pro-business conservative and former World Bank economist, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski. Kuczynski was expected to join the protests but canceled the plan in a last-minute decision. Reuters reported Kuczynski as stating that it would be “undemocratic” for him to join calls to stop Fujimori.

United Kingdom: Thousands of British expats excluded from voting in the EU referendum | The Conversation UK

A decision by judges in the Supreme Court has finally put an end to the legal challenge of two British citizens claiming to have been unfairly excluded from voting in the EU referendum. They were campaigning against the law which disenfranchises people who have lived outside the UK for 15 years or more. Lawyers for Harry Shindler MBE, a war veteran living in Italy, and Jaquelyn MacLennan, a lawyer resident in Belgium, pursued their claim that the EU Referendum Act (Section 2) is incompatible with EU law. They argued that it “restricts their directly effective EU law rights of freedom of movement” and acts as a penalty for exercising this right. Following hearings in the High Court and the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court, the UK’s final court of appeal, endorsed the lower courts’ rejection of the claim. It ruled that, even if EU law did apply (and there was disagreement between the courts over this point), there had not been any “interference” with the claimants’ right of free movement – which was the basis of the case.