National: Uniformity in Voting Systems: Looking at the Crazy Quilt of Election Technology | The Canvass

Since the late 1800s, the decision of whether to use voting machines to help tabulate votes, and which machine to use, has traditionally been left up to local jurisdictions. As different technology was introduced, legislatures passed requirements on what voting machines had to do. However, within those parameters it was still usually up to localities to choose (and purchase) the equipment itself. As a result, voting equipment used in the country looked like a crazy quilt. Then the year 2000 became the year of the “hanging chad” when a punch card voting system used in Florida came under scrutiny and the whole landscape began to change. Congress soon passed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 that required phasing out old lever and punch card voting machines and provided a big chunk of change ($3 billion) to states to do so. The money was funneled through the state election office, rather than directly to localities, and states had to submit plans detailing how the funds would be used. As a result, some states decided that it made sense to purchase the same type of voting equipment for every jurisdiction in the state. A patchwork is still the norm in the majority of states—counties are still the deciders of what voting equipment to use, as long as they meet state standards. But since HAVA passed, 18 states have adopted the same type of voting equipment for every jurisdiction in the state: Alabama, Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah and Vermont. Colorado is moving in that direction as well, having selected a voting system and vendor in 2015. Counties are providing the funds for the purchase of the new system and will be buying it in waves over the next several years.

Editorials: Drawing the Line | Elizabeth Kolbert/The New Yorker

Sometime around October 20, 1788, Patrick Henry rode from his seventeen-hundred-acre farm in Prince Edward, Virginia, to a session of the General Assembly in Richmond. Henry is now famous for having declared, on the eve of the Revolution, “Give me liberty, or give me death!”—a phrase it’s doubtful that he ever uttered—but in the late seventeen-eighties he was best known as a leader of the Anti-Federalists. He and his faction had tried to sink the Constitution, only to be outmaneuvered by the likes of Alexander Hamilton and James Madison. When Henry arrived in the state capital, his adversaries assumed he would seek revenge. They just weren’t sure how. “He appears to be involved in gloomy mystery,” one of them reported. The Constitution had left it to state lawmakers to determine how elections should be held, and in Virginia the Anti-Federalists controlled the legislature. Knowing that his enemy Madison was planning a run for the House of Representatives, Henry set to work. First, he and his confederates resolved that Virginia’s congressmen would be elected from districts. (Several other states had chosen to elect their representatives on a statewide basis, a practice that persisted until Congress intervened, in 1842.) Next, they stipulated that each representative from Virginia would have to run from the district where he resided. Finally, they stuck in the shiv. They drew the Fifth District, around Madison’s home in the town of Orange, to include as many Anti-Federalists as possible.

Kansas: Election officials still unsure who will be allowed to vote in which races | Lawrence Journal World

With advance balloting for the 2016 primaries to begin in less than a month, county election officials throughout Kansas are still unsure about which voters will be allowed to cast ballots in which races. “The counties have been all talking about this,” Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew said. “I’m ready for all scenarios. If on the day before the election we get an order that tells us one way or another, I can operate either way. I think most counties are preparing for that.” What is complicating the elections this year are three active lawsuits that challenge different aspects of state voting laws that require people to show proof of U.S. citizenship to register to vote. Since 2013, Kansas has required people to show documentary proof of citizenship. But because there are multiple ways people can register to vote, some voters have registered without being asked for those documents. Specifically, those include an estimated 18,000 people who registered at a motor vehicle office when they obtained or renewed their driver’s license under the federal “motor voter” law. Those people had their registrations placed “in suspense” and have not been allowed to vote unless they followed up by sending in the required citizenship proof.

Nebraska: Nearly half of Nebraska county election officials may be denying voting rights | Lincoln Journal Star

Only about half of Nebraska’s 93 counties accurately provide voting rights for ex-felons, according to a survey by the ACLU of Nebraska. Nearly half of the county election officials contacted by ACLU researchers provided inaccurate information related to voting rights for people with felony convictions, the organization said. State law allows a convicted felon to register to vote two years after completing all of the terms of a sentence, which include parole and probation. “Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy and the fundamental right upon which all our civil liberties rest,” ACLU of Nebraska Executive Director Danielle Conrad said in a news release Monday. “Nebraskans that have completed their sentences have a right to participate in our democracy.” The Legislature restored the voting rights for people with felony convictions more than 10 years ago, she said. “But sadly today a significant amount of confusion still exists. These survey results are a call to action.”

North Carolina: Appellate judges skeptical about North Carolina’s voter ID law | Associated Press

Members of a federal appeals court expressed skepticism Tuesday that North Carolina’s 2013 major rewrite to voting laws, requiring photo identification to cast in-person ballots, doesn’t discriminate against minorities. The three-judge panel met Tuesday to hear arguments over whether to overturn an April trial court ruling upholding the law. Judge Henry F. Floyd questioned the timing of the changes — done after Republicans took control of state government for the first time in a century and after the U.S. Supreme Court undid key provisions of the Voting Rights Act — and whether they weren’t done to suppress minority votes for political gain. “It looks pretty bad to me,” Floyd said. But the law’s authors said they were aiming to prevent voter fraud and increase public confidence in elections. “It was not a nefarious thing,” said Thomas A. Farr, an attorney representing the state.

Texas: State’s Tab Defending Voter ID $3.5 Million So Far | The Texas Tribune

More than five years after Republicans fast-tracked legislation limiting the forms of ID accepted to vote in Texas elections, state taxpayers are still picking up the tab for defending the nation’s strictest voter identification law in court. The state has spent more than $3.5 million defending the law in the five separate lawsuits it has spawned, records obtained from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office show. Whether that spending is a “shameful waste” or the cost of fending off the federal government depends on whom you ask. Paxton’s legal team is battling the U.S. Department of Justice, minority groups and other opponents who argue — thus far successfully — that Senate Bill 14, passed in 2011, discriminates against minorities, elderly and poor Texans most likely to lack acceptable government-issued IDs.

Spain: Brexit could play a last-minute role as Spain tries again to elect a government | The Washington Post

Spaniards go to the polls on Sunday to end months of political gridlock, and Britain’s historic vote to sever ties with the European Union could play an important, last-minute role. The election is an unprecedented repeat. The four main parties — the conservative Popular Party, the Socialist Party and two newcomers — were unable to form a coalition government after an inconclusive election in December. The Popular Party has acted as a caretaker government since then. Polls have indicated that the voting might again end in stalemate, prolonging the paralysis. But analysts say Brexit could further empower the anti-establishment, giving those most critical of European unity a boost. That might tip the scale in favor of the radical-leftist party, which had already looked set to oust the Socialists as the main voice on the left.

Editorials: Brexit: a journey into the unknown for a country never before so divided | Andrew Rawnsley/The Guardian

In the speech announcing his resignation, David Cameron included a list of the things he was proud to have done as prime minister. I suspect you glazed over at that point. So will future biographers of his premiership. He has just become one of those leaders who will be remembered for a single enormous mistake. Neville Chamberlain had achievements to his name before appeasement. There was more to Anthony Eden than the Suez debacle. Lord North had a career before he lost America. But each of those premiers is defined by their one towering disaster. So it will be with David Cameron, the prime minister who accidentally ruptured more than four decades of his country’s economic, security and foreign policy by losing the referendum on Europe. That will be the inscription etched deep on his tombstone. He staked his reputation and gambled his country’s place in the world on a referendum for which his party ached but the public hardly clamoured. He timed the vote and chose a moment that has proved to be a calamity for the cause to which he became a belated, and thus not very convincing, champion. He destroyed his premiership because he misjudged the politics and mishandled his enemies. The man who arrived as leader of his party pledging to purge its obsession with “banging on about Europe” has blown himself up over Europe. And potentially much else besides. With Nicola Sturgeon seizing on the perfect rationale for another attempt to gain independence for Scotland, he may also be remembered as the man who unravelled the United Kingdom, achieving the double whammy of expelling his country from one union and breaking an even older one.

Spain: After Brexit shock, Spain prepares for second general election in six months | AFP

Just days after a shock Brexit, Spaniards vote in repeat elections Sunday to decide if they too want a radical change as promised by a far-left coalition led by on-the-rise Podemos. The polls, which open at 0700 GMT, are pitting voters hungry for change in a country with sky-high unemployment against those who fear this change would worsen the situation for Spain, which was on the brink of collapse just a few years ago. Britain’s surprise vote to leave the European Union has further exacerbated this cleavage, with the outgoing conservative Popular Party (PP) insisting on the need for “stability” in the face of “radicalism” and “populism”, in a thinly-veiled dig at the Unidos Podemos coalition. “If you want a united country and not a radical Spain, think about it, go for what is safe… vote for the Popular Party,” acting prime minister Mariano Rajoy said in one of his last tweets before the obligatory day of campaign silence.

National: 2016: First Presidential Election Since Voting Rights Act Gutted | Ari Berman/Rolling Stone

As a young civil rights activist, Congressman John Lewis was brutally beaten marching for the right to vote in Selma, Alabama. Lewis’s heroism spurred the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the country’s most important civil rights law. But three years ago this week, in Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court invalidated the centerpiece of the law, ruling that states with the longest histories of voting discrimination no longer needed to approve their voting changes with the federal government. “The Supreme Court stuck a dagger into the heart of the Voting Rights Act,” Lewis said after the decision. That means the 2016 election is the first presidential contest in 50 years without the full protections of the VRA — and the country is witnessing the greatest rollback of voting rights since the act was passed five decades ago. This year, 17 states have new voting restrictions in place for the first time in a presidential election cycle, including laws that make it harder to register to vote, cut back early voting and require strict forms of government-issued IDs to cast a ballot that millions of Americans don’t have.

Arizona: Groups to form commission on Arizona election accountability | KTAR

Several community groups will come together Thursday to try to improve Arizona elections. They’ll be trying to correct some problems they say were created by a U.S. Supreme Court decision that weakened the Voting Rights Act in 2013. Samantha Pstross of the Arizona Advocacy Network and Foundation said things were different back then. “The county recorders would have to ask permission from the Department of Justice before they could change polling places,” she said. Pstross referred to that as “pre-clearance.”

California: Stanislaus County supervisor expects CEO’s office will look into ballot blunder | The Modesto Bee

Ron Hurst of Modesto was as confused as other voters who participated in the June 7 primary election. Arriving at his polling place, Hurst was told by an election worker that he was an inactive voter and had to vote with a provisional ballot, which would not be counted with the election day returns. An inactive voter? Hurst, 29, said he has voted in every election since turning 18, and certainly voted for himself when he ran for a Modesto City Council seat last November. “I am disturbed by how much was wrong with this year’s election,” Hurst said. “I know some people who were registered as Democrats and were sent the Republican primary forms.” Plenty of voters from across California were confused by the primary election. The nonpartisan Election Protection voter hotline, a nationwide service, received more than 1,300 calls from voters June 7, with the complaints ranging from polls that opened late to failed voting equipment, issues with mail ballots and election workers providing inaccurate information. More than half the complaints were from California.

Massachusetts: New England states are roadblock for Libertarians | The Boston Globe

Bolstered by a unique political environment, the national Libertarian Party believes it could get on the ballot in all 50 states for the first time in two decades. But New England’s onerous ballot access rules stand in the way. National polls show both the Democratic and Republican nominees to be unpopular among voters — a situation that some political experts say is an opening for the Libertarians. While it’s extremely unlikely the Libertarians could win the presidential race, they could influence the final results — and make an unprecedented mark on political history. Currently Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson, a former Republican governor of New Mexico, and his running mate, former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld, also a Republican, are on the ballot in 33 states. Of the remaining states where they are trying to get on the ballot, five are in New England. The only state in the region where they have made the ballot is Vermont.

Nevada: Voter registration letters concern local and state election officials | KRNV

If you’ve received an “official looking” letter from the “Voter Participation Center” informing you that you are not registered to vote, you are not alone. Washoe County’s Voter Registrar Luanne Cutler said letters from this group surface around the time of General Elections, particularly in Presidential election years. But she said, “It is of great concern to us because it alarms voters who think maybe someone stole their identity or we are not doing our jobs.” A website for the “Voter Participation Center” describes the organization as non-partisan and not for profit. CLICK HERE to learn more about the VPC. The organization is a voter registration advocacy group. The letters encourage you to fill out their voter registration form and the envelope provided goes to the Secretary of State’s Office.

New York: Latino Voters Hit Hardest By Brooklyn Voter Purge | NPR

Ever since New York state’s presidential primary in April, officials from the city Board of Elections have been trying to explain what led to two illegal voter purges that removed more than 120,000 voters from the rolls. Executive Director Michael Ryan has apologized publicly, but he has also tried to debunk claims that any specific group of voters was unduly affected by the purge. Testifying under oath at a City Council hearing last month, Ryan said that “a broad cross-section of voters [was] removed from the voter rolls.” But a WNYC analysis found something very different.

Ohio: Federal judge overturns Cleveland’s restrictions on RNC protests | Cleveland Plain Dealer

A federal judge on Thursday scrapped the city of Cleveland’s plans for a heightened-security zone that would have encompassed most of downtown during the Republican National Convention, saying that the restrictions are burdensome to people who want to express their free-speech rights. U.S. District Judge James Gwin’s ruling comes 25 days before Republican delegates and leaders will descend upon Cleveland and forces the city to redraw the boundaries to the so-called “event zone,” which would have encompassed a 3.5-square-mile area at the heart of the city.

Ohio: Husted warns election officials of error-laden voter registration drive | The Clermont Sun

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted today contacted the Voter Participation Center in Washington D.C. to make them aware of a number of recurring errors surrounding the group’s voter registration drive. Both the Secretary of State’s Office and Boards of Election across Ohio have reported an unusually high number of voter complaints regarding the effort, which is attempting to contact unregistered individuals via U.S. Mail with a voter registration form. Ohioans have reported the registration mailing being addressed to family pets as well as to those who will not yet be 18 before the November 2016 General Election. The Voter Participation Center’s mailing has also commonly been ad- dressed to people who do not live in Ohio as well as citizens who are deceased.

France: Far-Right Party in France Also Dreams of an Exit | New York Times

If Marine Le Pen is elected in France’s presidential elections next year, would she organize a “Frexit”? The leader of the far-right National Front party has used the term before, and she has made it abundantly clear that she thinks the European Union has been a “complete disaster,” as she put it in a speech in Vienna last week. The European Union is one of the most frequent targets of her scorn, depicted as a faceless bureaucracy bent on erasing the French nation in all of its individuality. “France has perhaps a thousand more reasons to leave the E.U. than the English,” she was quoted as saying during a gathering in the Austrian capital of representatives of far-right parties.

Russia: Opposition descends into infighting before elections | The Guardian

Russia’s liberal opposition has been subjected to all kinds of pressure in the last few months, from leaked clandestine sex tapes to dubious court cases and physical violence. As parliamentary elections approach in September, the authorities appear to be throwing every dirty trick in the book at them. But the opposition is also engaged in a fight with enemies who are proving even more destructive than the Kremlin: each other. Parliamentary elections on 18 September will set the tone for a presidential election in 2018, in which Vladimir Putin is expected to stand and win another six-year term in office. Currently, the Russian Duma is made up of just four parties: the pro-Kremlin behemoth United Russia, and three smaller parties known as the “systemic opposition”, which provide a semblance of competition but do not oppose the Kremlin on any substantive issues. Lying outside the system are the other opposition parties, ranging in spectrum from liberals to nationalists. They are not given airtime on television and are often struck off the ballot in elections. With the political system carefully controlled and state television only ever covering the opposition in negative terms, there is little public support for rocking the boat. However, when the anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny was allowed to stand for mayor of Moscow in 2013, he won 27% of the vote, showing there is appetite for new faces among a certain section of urban Russians.

United Kingdom: David Cameron to Resign After Losing His Big ‘Brexit’ Gamble in EU Referendum | Wall Street Journal

Scarcely a year after a triumphant general-election victory, British Prime Minister David Cameron is already on his way out of office following an epic miscalculation that on Thursday resulted in U.K. voters opting to leave the European Union. Mr. Cameron said Friday morning that he would step down as prime minister within a few months, a consequence of the U.K.’s historic referendum on whether to remain in the EU. Mr. Cameron in effect became collateral damage in a battle he himself launched by promising he would offer the public a vote on the Europe issue if his Conservative Party won the 2015 general election. The referendum’s outcome—nearly 52% of voters cast ballots to leave the EU—instantly reverses the legacy of a man who first became prime minister in 2010 as the leader of a coalition government.

United Kingdom: World stocks in freefall as UK votes for EU exit | Reuters

World stocks headed for one the biggest slumps on record on Friday as a decision by Britain to leave the European Union triggered 8 percent falls for Europe’s biggest bourses and a record plunge for sterling. Such a body blow to global confidence could well prevent the Federal Reserve from raising interest rates as planned this year, and might even provoke a new round of emergency policy easing from all the major central banks. Risk assets were scorched as investors fled to the traditional safe-harbors of top-rated government debt, Japanese yen and gold. Billions were wiped from share values as Europe saw London’s FTSE .FTSE drop 6 percent in early deals, Germany’s .DAX and France’s CAC 40 .FCHI slump 7.5 and 9 percent and Italian and Spanish markets plunge more than 11 percent.

Editorials: Brexit earthquake has happened, and the rubble will take years to clear | Rafael Behr/The Guardian

There is a difference between measuring the height of a drop and the sensation of falling; between the sight of a wave and hearing it crash on to the shore; between the knowledge of what fire can do and feeling the heat as the flames catch. The theoretical possibility that Britain might leave the European Union, nominally the only question under consideration on the ballot paper, turns out to prefigure nothing of the shock when the country actually votes to do it. Politics as practised for a generation is upended; traditional party allegiances are shredded; the prime minister’s authority is bust – and that is just the parochial domestic fallout. A whole continent looks on in trepidation. It was meant to be unthinkable, now the thought has become action. Europe cannot be the same again. The signs were always there, even if the opinion polls nudged Remainers towards false optimism at the very end of the campaign. Brexit had taken the lead at times and always hovered in the margin of error. But the statistical probability of an earthquake doesn’t describe the disorienting feeling of the ground lurching violently beneath your feet.

Zimbabwe: Opposition Parties Slam Electoral Commission For Voter Registration Dereliction | VoA News

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission revealed earlier this week that it was failing to honor its mandate of registering voters around the year in line with the law due to financial limitations. But opposition parties are firing back, accusing the ruling Zanu PF of deliberately compromising the electoral body for its own benefit. ZEC has always come under attack from the opposition for colluding with the ruling Zanu PF to disenfranchise voters to boost the party’s numbers. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) was brought into existence on February 1, 2005, in conformity with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Act after a constitutional amendment was passed which, among other things, abolished the Electoral Supervisory Commission and reestablished the ZEC.