National: Federal judge rejects bid to block proof of citizenship for new voters in three states | The Washington Post

A federal judge in Washington on Wednesday rejected a request that would have blocked Kansas, Alabama and Georgia from enforcing proof-of-citizenship requirements for people using a federal form to register to vote. The decision by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon came in a lawsuit brought by the League of Women Voters, the NAACP in Georgia and other civil rights groups that sought a preliminary injunction. The groups filed suit in February after Brian D. Newby, executive director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, notified the three states in a Jan. 29 letter that they could require documentary proof of citizenship on the federal voter registration form. The Justice Department did not defend Newby’s decision and instead sided with the plaintiffs. A department spokeswoman declined to comment Wednesday.

Editorials: Why elections are bad for democracy | David Van Reybrouck/The Guardian

Brexit is a turning point in the history of western democracy. Never before has such a drastic decision been taken through so primitive a procedure – a one-round referendum based on a simple majority. Never before has the fate of a country – of an entire continent, in fact – been changed by the single swing of such a blunt axe, wielded by disenchanted and poorly informed citizens. But this is just the latest in a series of worrying blows to the health of democracy. On the surface, everything still seems fine. A few years ago, the World Values Survey, a large-scale international research project, asked more than 73,000 people in 57 countries if they believed democracy was a good way to govern a country – and nearly 92% said yes. But that same survey found that in the past 10 years, around the world, there has been a considerable increase in calls for a strong leader “who does not have to bother with parliament and elections” – and that trust in governments and political parties has reached a historical low. It would appear that people like the idea of democracy but loathe the reality. Trust in the institutions of democracy is also visibly declining. In the past five years, the European Union’s official research bureau found that less than 30% of Europeans had faith in their national parliaments and governments – some of the lowest figures in years, and an indication that almost three-quarters of people distrust their countries’ most important political institutions. Everywhere in the west, political parties – the key players in our democracies – are among the least trusted institutions in society. Although a certain scepticism is an essential component of citizenship in a free society, we are justified in asking how widespread this distrust might be and at what point healthy scepticism tips over into outright aversion.

California: Yes, They’re Still Counting the Presidential Primary Votes | The New York Times

We like to think of California as the center of the tech universe. But, apparently, all that know-how has not helped us figure out how to run more efficient elections. Three weeks after the state’s Democratic presidential primary, half a million votes remain uncounted. The final tallies, whenever they come in, are not expected to change the result. Hillary Clinton declared victory the night of the June 7 primary, when she was up by more than 10 points. In videos, in blog posts and on social media, some supporters of Bernie Sanders are pointing to the uncounted ballots as evidence that Mr. Sanders was robbed. Long waits for final totals are not rare in California. Most of the 2.5 million votes that were not counted by June 7 were mail-in ballots that were not returned until Election Day, or even a few days after.

Iowa: State Supreme Court upholds ban on felons voting in Iowa | Des Moines Register

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled against a wide expansion of voting rights for convicted criminals on Thursday, finding that all felonies are “infamous crimes” resulting in disenfranchisement under the state constitution. The 4-3 decision upholds what critics have said is one of the harshest felon disenfranchisement laws in the nation. Iowa’s constitution bars persons from voting if they’ve committed an “infamous crime,” a term long understood to mean a felony under state or federal law. Only two other states — Florida and Kentucky — match Iowa by permanently barring convicted felons from voting unless they apply for a restoration of rights from the governor. The constitutional prohibition was seen as making it harder for ex-offenders to reintegrate into society and as having a disproportionate impact on African-Americans, who are incarcerated at higher rates in Iowa.

Ohio: Secretary of State Jon Husted wins election suit | The Columbus Dispatch

Secretary of State Jon Husted is not illegally removing voters from voter registration rolls, a federal judge ruled Wednesday. The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio filed suit in April arguing Husted was too aggressive in his efforts to clean-up voter rolls in an effort to keep the list updated. In recent years, Husted’s office has removed 465,000 deceased voters and 1.3 million duplicate registrations from Ohio’s voter rolls. The ACLU argued Husted violated the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 by canceling the registrations of those who do not update their registrations or vote over six years, including three federal general elections. Voters also are sent a confirmation notice. But U.S. District Judge George C. Smith said Ohio’s process is consistent with the Registration Act because voters are never removed from the rolls solely for failure to vote.

Wisconsin: Federal judge questions impact of Wisconsin voter ID law | Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

A federal judge said Thursday there are few clear guidelines for how to rule on parts of a challenge to Wisconsin’s voting rules and questioned how much of an effect the state’s voter ID law has had on elections. “Both the Republican side and the Democratic side probably overstated or over-predicted the impact the voter ID law would have on elections,” said U.S. District Judge James Peterson. “I just don’t see anything really powerful either way.” Peterson said people don’t expect voter qualification rules to have a partisan element, but noted there is no clear line of cases addressing that point. “Why aren’t there cases that really guide me in this way?” he asked an attorney for the challengers. “There’s no easy template for me to follow.”

Australia: Leadership in Doubt as Election Too Close to Call | The New York Times

Australians awoke Sunday to a government plagued in uncertainty after a stunningly close national election failed to deliver a clear victor, raising the prospect of a hung parliament. The gamble by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to call a rare early election may have failed, with his conservative Liberal Party-led coalition on track to lose a swathe of seats in the House of Representatives — and potentially control of the country. One day after the election, the race remained too close to call, with mail-in ballots and early votes yet to be counted. Still, Turnbull sounded a confident tone during a speech to supporters early Sunday morning. “Based on the advice I have from the party officials, we can have every confidence that we will form a coalition majority government in the next parliament,” Turnbull said.

Austria: Presidential election result overturned and must be held again | The Guardian

Austria’s Freedom party will get another go at providing the first far-right president in the European Union, after the country’s constitutional court annulled the result of May’s presidential election. The court president, Gerhart Holzinger, announced on Friday that the run-off vote, in which Norbert Hofer of the Freedom party (FPÖ) narrowly lost to Green-backed Alexander Van…

Louisiana: Lawsuit seeks to restore voting rights for some 70,000 residents on probation or parole | Associated Press

A lawsuit filed Friday in state court seeks to restore voting rights for some 70,000 Louisiana residents who are on probation or parole for felonies. The suit was filed in Baton Rouge by the group Voice of the Ex-Offender and several convicted felons who have been denied voting rights. The suit says state laws blocking people who are on parole or probation from voting violate the Louisiana Constitution. The 1974 constitution allows suspension of voting rights for people judicially declared mentally incompetent or those who are “under an order of imprisonment” for a felony. The lawsuit contends that the denial of voting rights does not extend to felons who have been released on parole or probation.

National: League Of Women Voters To Appeal Judge’s Decision On Proof Of Citizenship | KCUR

Kansans who register to vote using a federal form at the Department of Motor Vehicles will have to provide proof of citizenship as a lawsuit plays out, a judge ruled Wednesday. The League of Women Voters and other civil rights groups had sought a preliminary injunction to block such rules in Kansas, Alabama and Georgia. “Because it’s a barrier to voting,” says Dolores Furtado, the immediate past president of the League of Women Voters of Kansas. “The percentage of eligible registered people that vote is sometimes terrible.”

National: Federal Election Commission splits, closes Fox News debate case | Politico

The Federal Election Commission, in a split decision, will not punish Fox News for expanding their criteria by adding the second ‘undercard’ debate for the first Republican primary debate in August, 2015. But while the decision, made in May but only published on Thursday, leads to no action, it’s exposing fraught political fault lines within the FEC. The decision stems from a complaint filed by Mark Everson, a former IRS commissioner and relatively unknown Republican candidate for president, who alleged that when Fox News dropped the requirement that candidates must poll at least 1 percent in national polls, it violated FEC rules on debates that say debate hosts must use “pre-established objective criteria to determine which candidates may participate in a debate.” Because of the split decision on party lines (three commissioners voted against a violation, two voted for, and one voted to dismiss), no action will be taken against Fox News. But one of the Republican commissioners, Lee Goodman, began publicizing the ruling before it was published on Friday because he said he was alarmed by the way the three Democratic commissioners voted.

National: Adverse Court Rulings Could Threaten Voting Rights This Fall | NBC

Three separate court rulings issued Wednesday and Thursday to uphold voting restrictions are likely to increase the number of voters disenfranchised this fall. In Ohio, likely the nation’s most important swing state, a federal judge on Wednesday upheld a controversial method for purging the voter rolls, which is likely to lead to eligible voters being removed. Around the same time, a federal judge based in Washington, D.C., approved — for now — a change to the federal voter registration form that will allow some red states to require proof of citizenship from people registering to vote. Then Thursday morning, Iowa’s Supreme Court ruled to maintain the state’s strict ban on voting by ex-felons.

National: US elections: Facebook clout under lens | ETtech

As the U.S. presidential campaign heats up, Facebook is going out of its way to show its neutrality – an increasingly urgent matter for the social network as evidence of its power continues to emerge. Recent studies have shown the site has extraordinary influence. According to research scheduled to be published in August in the Journal of Communication, when people tagged their friends on Facebook in voting reminders, turnout increased by 15 to 24%. During U.S. presidential primary elections this year, a Facebook reminder that informed people when their state’s voter registration deadline was approaching and provided a link helped produce a surge of nearly 650,000 new voter registrations in California alone, according to Secretary of State Alex Padilla.

California: Los Angeles County unveils new voting system prototype | SCV Signal

A new voting system prototype for Los Angeles County, which will replace a system based on technology from the 1960s, was unveiled Thursday in the city of Los Angeles. “Today’s event was received with great excitement,” said Brenda Duran, a spokeswoman with the Los Angeles County Voting Systems Assessment Project, established in 2009 to create the new voting system. “L.A. County’s core system that is used today has been in existence for almost 60 years. People are excited for a new system.” The new voting system will replace the current one known as “InkaVote Plus.” One of the main drawbacks of the current system: It does not allow for any technical upgrades. “Because of the technology, we knew it was time to replace it,” Project Manager Monica Flores said. She added that with limited voting system options, the county decided to design a whole new system.

District of Columbia: District To Become 51st State? Washington, DC, Could Be Named ‘New Columbia’ If It Gets Statehood | IBT

A commission working out the logistics of Washington, D.C.’s bid for statehood decided this week if they’re successful in becoming the 51st state, it should be called “New Columbia,” the Washington Post reported. New Columbia beat out suggestions like “the State of Washington, D.C.,” “Anacostia,” “Douglass Commonwealth” and “Potomac,” according to WAMU, American University radio in Washington. It emerged as the victor in part because voters have technically already approved it once — in 1982, another time Washingtonians pushed to become a state. “It’s the only name that’s even been voted on by the people of the District of Columbia,” shadow Sen. Michael Brown told WAMU. “For 34 years, people have used this name to push this movement forward.”

Illinois: Judge to issue ruling on Rauner-backed redistricting referendum by July 21 | Chicago Tribune

A Cook County judge said Thursday she will rule by July 21 on whether a petition-driven proposed constitutional amendment aimed at taking much of the politics out of the redrawing of legislative districts will appear on the fall ballot. Regardless of Judge Diane Larsen’s decision, attorneys on both sides of the case ultimately expect it to end up before the Illinois Supreme Court. The Independent Map proposal, which has gained enough signatures to qualify for a spot on the Nov. 8 ballot, would create a multistep process in which an 11-member board, including representatives of the four legislative leaders, would be charged with drawing new boundaries for Illinois’ 118 House and 59 Senate seats after the once-a-decade federal census.

Editorials: Iowa Supreme Court fails voters | Quad City Times

The Iowa Supreme Court issued the mother of all cop-outs Thursday. And, in so doing, reinforced Gov. Terry Branstad’s draconian voter disenfranchisement of more than 50,000 Iowans. In a 4-3 decision, rendered along partisan lines, Chief Justice Mark Cady strains to avoid upsetting the apple cart, a problem created by the vagueness of “infamy” as the state Constitution’s standard for disenfranchisement. Yes, words change, Cady admits. Victorian psuedo-scientific voting bans on “idiots” and the “insane,” appearing in the original state Constitution, are long gone, he notes. And, yes, Iowa’s excessively harsh approach to voting rights disproportionately affects black communities thanks to flaws in the application of justice, Cady concedes. But, he concludes, the courts — the body designed to interpret words written by long-dead men — shouldn’t get involved in a provision that cedes access to the most important democratic right to the whims of a governor. It’s the very court that, just two years ago, redefined the outdated term, “infamy,” to exclude misdemeanor convictions that included jail time. And it’s the very court that, in its landmark 2009 ruling legalizing gay marriage, recognized the Constitution’s living, breathing status. Astonishing.

North Carolina: Bill would force attorney general to defend redistricting, other local acts | Greensboro News & Record

A bill fast-tracked through the N.C. House on Thursday would require the state Attorney General’s Office to defend local acts passed by the General Assembly that are challenged in court. The move comes in the wake of the state’s redistricting of the Greensboro City Council and Wake County Board of Education, which are both being challenged in court. In both cases Attorney General Roy Cooper, the Democratic challenger to Gov. Pat McCrory this November, chose not to defend redistricting laws passed by the legislature’s Republican majority. In the Greensboro council lawsuit, the Guilford County Board of Elections was left to defend the law and initially took no position on its constitutionality.

Ohio: Voting rights activists say election lawsuit claiming Jon Husted illegally purged voters is not over | Cleveland Plain Dealer

A day after Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted scored a win in federal court, voting rights activists say the case is not over. The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, the Ohio A. Philip Randolph Institute and the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless sued Husted in April, arguing the practice of removing voters who are inactive over six years violated the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, also called the “Motor Voter” law. U.S. District Judge George C. Smith disagreed, saying Ohio’s method Ohio’s process is consistent with federal laws because voters are not removed solely for not voting. “The court finds that the public interest is being served by Ohio’s voter maintenance procedures and will continue to be served as long as Ohio continues to operate in compliance with the NVRA,” Smith wrote.

Wisconsin: Judge: ‘Decent case’ political role in Wisconsin voting laws | Associated Press

A federal judge said Thursday that opponents of more than a dozen new Wisconsin election laws had made a “pretty decent case” that Republicans approved them to secure a partisan advantage, but added he isn’t convinced the measures actually had a dramatic effect. U.S. District Judge James Peterson’s comments came in closing arguments of a lawsuit challenging the laws passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed by Gov. Scott Walker since 2011. Peterson promised to rule by the end of July but has said that will be too late to affect the Aug. 9 primary for the field of candidates running for dozens of state and federal races will be narrowed before the Nov. 8 general election. An attorney for two liberal groups challenging the laws, including the requirement that voters show photo identification at the polls, argued that they should be found unconstitutional and stopped from being enforced. But a state Department of Justice attorney said there was no evidence to support a wholesale undoing of the laws. “They’re going for the home run,” Assistant Attorney General Clay Kawski said. “They just haven’t shown that.”

Austria: Top Austrian court annuls presidential election result | Deutsche Welle

Austria’s constitutional court annulled May’s president election on Friday, upholding a legal challenge by the anti-immigation Freedom party (FPÖ) and opening the way for a repeat poll in September or October. “The challenge brought by Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache against the May 22 election… has been upheld,” said constitutional court head Gerhard Holzinger. The court said it was using its strict standard on the application of election rules. Final results on May’s election – after a count of absentee ballots – had put former Green party politician Alexander Van der Bellen ahead by little more than 30,000 votes. The margin of presumed victory was less than one percentage point – out of the 4.6 million ballots cast. Norbert Hofer of the FPÖ had come top in a first round in April.

Australia: From Outback to Antarctica, Australian votes roll in | AFP

From the harsh desert Outback to the frozen reaches of Antarctica, Australians at remote locations have been casting their votes ahead of tomorrow’s national election. Close to 2.2 million ballot papers had been handed in at pre-polling centres by mid-week, with small teams travelling across the vast country to ensure everyone eligible can vote. On Antarctica, expeditioners at Australia’s Davis Station voted on the sea ice in front of the research station, where temperatures are around minus 20 degrees Celsius. “I am glad that I can still have my say whilst being so far away from it all,” said Aaron Stanley, who works for the bureau of meteorology at Davis but was tasked with helping oversee the vote. “I’ve voted while on holiday in Malta before, but this is totally going to top the best voting location.”

Japan: Political parties target internet generation with innovative campaign videos | Japan Today

As Japan’s newly enfranchised teen voters make up their minds ahead of the July 10 House of Councillors election, the country’s political parties are taking their online campaign videos beyond the mundane to appeal to the youth vote. Since internet campaigning was legalized in 2013, parties’ online election campaign videos have tended to be limited to footage of leaders’ public speeches or press conferences. But with approximately 2.4 million new voters aged 18 and 19 joining the electorate in time for the upper house race after the voting age was lowered from 20, the parties are exploring new territory as they vie to become a familiar presence on young people’s smartphones.

Spain: Revolution cancelled | The Economist

The idea of re-running a vote when the first result is unsatisfactory has been getting a bad press recently. But Spain’s second general election in six months, on June 26th, showed that if the goal is to break a political deadlock, do-overs can be useful. The big winners were Mariano Rajoy, the prime minister, and his centre-right People’s Party (PP). Though they failed to get an absolute majority, they took 33% of the vote, up from 29% in the December election, which was so splintered that no party could form a government. Now, with 137 seats in the 350-member Cortes (parliament), Mr Rajoy is set to remain prime minister, albeit at the head of a coalition or minority administration. The election’s big surprise was that Podemos, a new far-left party dedicated to reversing austerity and defenestrating the traditional political class, stalled. Contrary to all poll forecasts, it failed to overtake the more moderate Socialist Party to become the largest force on the left. Podemos had merged with the old Communists of the United Left party for this election, but the merged force won 1m fewer votes than its constituent parts did last time.