National: Congressional Black Caucus balks at two political reforms being pitched by Bernie Sanders | The Washington Post

The Congressional Black Caucus is voicing strong opposition to two key political reforms being sought by presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in the run-up to the Democratic National Convention: abolishing superdelegates and opening up Democratic primaries and caucuses to independent voters. Sanders is seeking to leverage his unexpectedly strong showing against Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential race this year to secure a series of policy and political objectives. Although none of the political reforms Sanders is seeking would affect his standing now, they are rooted in his frustrations with the contest against Clinton. As of Sunday night, 587 superdelegates had announced their support for Clinton compared with 48 for Sanders, who sought to make a virtue of running against the “political establishment.” As a rule, the senator from Vermont also performed better against Clinton in primaries and caucuses where independent voters could participate. In a letter sent to Sanders and Clinton on Saturday, the Democratic members of the Congressional Black Caucus said they oppose changes in both areas.

National: Anti-Trump delegates raising money for staff and a legal defense fund | The Washington Post

Supporters of a growing anti-Donald Trump movement announced plans Sunday to raise money for staff and a possible legal defense fund as they asked recruits to help spread the word with less than a month until the Republican National Convention. Having started with just a few dozen delegates, organizers also said Sunday that they now count several hundred delegates and alternates as part of their campaign. “As we carefully consider not only the presidential nominee but the rules of the convention, the platform of the Republican Party and the vice presidential nominee, remember that this is true reality TV — it is not entertainment,” Regina Thomson, co-founder of the group now calling itself “Free the Delegates,” said Sunday night.

National: Why Open Primaries Won’t Change Our Politics Much | Pacific Standard

One of the reforms Senator Bernie Sanders and his supporters have been pushing in recent months is open primaries. Many argue that more open primaries, allowing independents to participate, can produce more moderate nominees that are more representative of the electorate as a whole. Evidence suggests, however, that this doesn’t really happen. Here’s why. The logic of the open primary is pretty straightforward. Under a closed primary, only people who are registered party members (usually for some time) are permitted to vote. Those party registrants tend to be die-hard partisans, and the candidates they pick will tend to be from the ideological extremes. Independent voters, who might legitimately want a more moderate set of nominees, are forbidden from participating. Allow them in, and you end up not only with more moderate nominees, but nominees who recognize it’s in their interests to keep moderate independent voters happy while they serve in office. Eric McGhee, Boris Shor, Nolan McCarty, Steve Rogers, and I tested this assumption in a large-scale study a few years ago. We looked at two decades of voting behavior by state legislators across all 50 states, and we compared legislators based on the type of primary system that nominated them. Quite a few state parties have changed their primary rules one way or another over this time period, allowing us a good deal of leverage on the question.
People unaffiliated with a party tend, on average, to be less interested in politics and less likely to vote.

California: How insufficient election funding can hold back voter turnout | California Forward

A recent post-election panel held by The Future of California Elections (FoCE) to assess the state’s recent primary election revealed a number of issues. FoCE is a collaborative statewide group funded by the James Irvine Foundation and dedicated to modernizing elections and increasing voter participation. As one might expect, the voter experience varied widely across the state but a number of problems related to potential disenfranchisement were called out including some confusion among poll workers and voters. Voters who registered as No Party Preference should have had the option to vote using a cross-over ballot in the Democratic primary. But, not all poll workers offered the alternative ballot and many voters didn’t know to ask for it. In other cases, voters also had mistakenly registered for the American Independent Party – thinking they were independent of any party – rather than registering with no party affiliation. Those voters couldn’t vote for any of the major party candidates.

Illinois: Redistricting reform heads to court as Madigan forces try to block it from ballot | Chicago Tribune

Now that the Illinois State Board of Elections says a proposed constitutional amendment to change the way legislative districts are drawn has gained enough signatures to be eligible for the fall ballot, the fate of the proposal is with the courts. Oral arguments in a challenge to the Independent Map Amendment proposal, aimed at removing some of the politics from the redrawing of House and Senate districts, are scheduled for 2 p.m. June 30 before Cook County Circuit Court Judge Diane Larsen. In preparing for the case, the Independent Map group filed a response to the legal challenge from the People’s Map opposition, whose lead attorney is Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan’s top legal ally, Mike Kasper.

Kansas: Voting rules confusing for upcoming elections; here are some answers | Lawrence Journal World

Thousands of wanna-be Kansas voters who thought they might not be able to cast ballots for president and other federal officials this year are now eligible to vote in them — but not in state or local races. It’s part of the latest fallout from lawsuits surrounding the state law that requires prospective voters to provide proof of U.S. citizenship — such as a birth certificate, passport or naturalization papers — when they register. Republican Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is defending the law against multiple legal challenges. Supporters of the law say it’s important to make sure those who aren’t U.S. citizens don’t vote. Opponents say non-citizens aren’t voting in significant numbers and the real result is making it harder for the poor, the young and the elderly — those who might have trouble getting documents — to vote. There are so many legal challenges in play that it’s hard to keep track of who can vote and under what circumstances.

Louisiana: State increases private and independent voting options for voters with disabilities | American Press

People with disabilities will now find it easier to vote. On Thursday, Governor John Bel Edwards signed HB 614 into law. This legislation, authored by Rep. Helena Moreno, D-New Orleans, will provide voters with disabilities the opportunity to vote privately and independently via absentee ballot for the first time. “I was honored to author this necessary legislation so that individuals with disabilities will finally gain the independence of filling out their own ballots. This not only enhances voting rights, but also helps reduce fraud,” said Moreno said in a news release. With the signing of this legislation, Louisiana will become one of the first states in the country to make its absentee ballot by mail process accessible to people with disabilities.

Massachusetts: Towns prepare for first-ever early voting | The Boston Globe

For the first time ever, Massachusetts will hold an early-voting period ahead of the general election in November, giving residents more time to get to the polls — but worrying town clerks who must administer the new program. The early-voting law, signed in 2014 by then-Governor Deval Patrick, requires communities to let residents vote during a 10-day window immediately preceding Election Day during biennial statewide elections. This is the first year Massachusetts will try it out. Now, communities across the state must determine how to best undertake early voting — a task that is more complicated than it seems.

Ohio: Online voter registration won’t make boards of election obsolete | Journal-News

When online voter registration goes into effect in January, it will save tax dollars and make it easier for Ohioans to register to vote. But local election officials say there likely won’t be a huge decrease in the amount of work for their offices — at least in the beginning. Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed Senate Bill 63 on Monday establishing an online voter registration system in Ohio. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, who’s been pushing this initiative since his days in the Ohio General Assembly, said this “moves Ohio forward into the 21st Century.”

Ohio: Pets, kids and dead people getting voter registration forms from outside group | The Columbus Dispatch

An effort to encourage voter registration by a Washington D.C. group seems to unwittingly be sending letters to pets, children and deceased Ohioans, according to a news release from Secretary of State Jon Husted’s office. The Voter Participation Center, which mails voter registration forms to those who are unregistered, has been the subject of an increasing number of complaints at boards of elections throughout the state and the secretary of state’s office, according to the release. Josh Eck, spokesman for the office, said he didn’t have an exact figure for how many complaints have been fielded, but nearly every county has reported issues with the group.

Virginia: Prosecutors argue against McAuliffe’s order on rights | Associated Press

A bipartisan group of 43 commonwealth’s attorneys are fighting Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s restoration of voting and other rights for more than 200,000 ex-felons. In a brief filed Friday with the Virginia Supreme Court, the prosecutors said each ex-felon’s rights restoration should be handled individually, rather than en masse, in order to avoid allowing unfit ex-felons the right to own a gun or sit on a jury. “The governor’s blanket restoration order makes no distinction among felons, treating the nonviolent felon the same as the cold-blooded killer, and the one-time offender the same as the career criminal,” the brief said. “The governor’s order thus hinders commonwealth’s attorneys’ ability to discharge their duties.”

Voting Blogs: Fourth Circuit Upholds Virginia’s Discriminatory Ballot Listing for Candidates | Ballot Access News

On June 20, the Fourth Circuit agreed with the U.S. District Court that Virginia’s discriminatory listing of candidates on the general election ballot is constitutional. Libertarian Party of Virginia v Alcorn, 15-1162. The decision is by Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson, a Reagan appointee. It is co-signed by Judge G. Stephen Agee, a Bush Jr. appointee, and Andre M. Davis, a Clinton appointee. The Virginia law says the nominees of the qualified parties are always listed first on the ballot, followed by the nominees of the unqualified parties, and then by independent candidates. Ironically, Virginia does require random placement of each candidate within each category, so a random order procedure is used in every election to determine whether the Republican or the Democratic Party nominees are listed first or second. The decision does not mention any of the court decisions that say the U.S. Constitution requires an equal chance for all candidates to be listed first on the ballot, except for a U.S. District Court decision from Oklahoma that struck down a law saying the Democratic Party should always be listed first (the law mentioned the Democratic Party by name). The Fourth Circuit decision ignores contrary decisions of the Seventh and Eighth Circuits, a U.S. District Court in New Mexico, and the California and New Hampshire Supreme Courts.

Austria: High Court Hears Challenge to Presidential Vote | Bloomberg

Austria’s Constitutional Court began questioning 90 election officials and assessors Monday in Vienna at an unprecedented hearing that will determine whether Alexander Van der Bellen was rightfully elected president. The populist Freedom Party challenged the election, in which its candidate Norbert Hofer lost by just over 30,000 votes out of more than 4.5 million cast, by alleging some ballots were opened too early and others were counted by people not authorized to do so. Witnesses from the Innsbruck region confirmed some of the allegations but said they were a long-standing practice needed to count the votes in time and didn’t compromise the results. Along with 13 other justices on the bench, the court’s top judge, Gerhart Holzinger, 69, posed questions to a rural electoral official from the western province of Tirol. At issue was whether the court case was necessary in order to address an Austrian vote-counting system whose complex rules may have rendered it practically unmanageable.

Croatia: Early vote looms in Croatia as lawmakers dissolve Parliament | Associated Press

Croatian lawmakers voted Monday to dissolve Parliament, paving the way for early elections after the government fell in a no-confidence vote last week. The vote was 137 in favor of dissolving Parliament, two against and one abstention. Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic and his government fell on Thursday after weeks of political deadlock that has stalled much-needed economic reform in the newest European Union member state. Croatia joined the EU in 2013 after fighting a war for independence from Yugoslavia in the 1990s. The ruling right-wing Croatian Democratic Union, which brought Oreskovic to power in January but later turned against him, wanted to form a new government with a new prime minister. Opposition parties, however, collected enough votes in the parliament for the dissolution and the holding of early elections.

Italy: Virginia Raggi of Five Star Movement Sweeps Election for Rome’s Mayor | The New York Times

Angry voters have swept anti-establishment candidates to power in Rome and Turin, dealing a severe blow to Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s political standing — and highlighting his vulnerability as he moves forward with a plan to revise Italy’s Constitution. Mr. Renzi became prime minister two years ago pledging to change Italy’s sclerotic political system, but judging by the results from Sunday, voters have become tired of waiting. Channeling fury over corruption scandals and ineptitude, Virginia Raggi of the Five Star Movement, a party co-founded by the comedian Beppe Grillo, crushed her opponent from Mr. Renzi’s governing Democratic Party to become the first female mayor of Rome. “A new era begins with us,” Ms. Raggi, a 37-year-old lawyer, told reporters early Monday, as polls showed her winning by a ratio of two to one. “I will work to bring legality and transparency.”

Russia: Chechnya Schedules Preterm Parliamentary Elections | RFE/RL

At the proposal of parliamentary speaker Magomed Daudov, Chechnya’s 41 lawmakers voted unanimously on June 16 to dissolve the legislature and schedule preterm parliamentary elections for September 18, concurrently with elections for the new Russian State Duma and for the post of Chechen Republic head. Both Daudov and acting Chechen Republic head Ramzan Kadyrov adduced as the rationale for that decision the need to avoid the additional expenditure a separate parliamentary ballot would entail. The money saved could, Daudov suggested, be invested in economic development or resolving social problems. Russian commentators have cast doubt on that argument, however. Aleksei Makarkin of the Center for Political Technologies pointed out that since the outgoing parliament was elected in September 2013 for a five-year term, it would have been equally feasible to save money by scheduling a parliamentary ballot concurrently with the Russian presidential election due no later than March 2018, i.e. just six months early.