Missouri: Stenger donor gets $2.1 million St. Louis County elections contract | St. Louis Post-Dispatch

On March 4, St. Louis County invited companies to bid on selling the Board of Elections 1,200 computerized tablets to check in voters at polling precincts. One well-connected vendor provided more than the 52-page bid documents had spelled out. On March 11, Scott Leiendecker donated $10,000 to the campaign treasury of County Executive Steve Stenger, according to documents filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission. Two months later, the County Board of Elections awarded Leiendecker’s company a contract worth up to $2.1 million to supply the county with the company’s “first of its kind, tablet-based electronic poll book.” It’s not the only time Stenger campaign donors have recently benefited from the county’s business. As the Post-Dispatch previously reported, Stenger just last month announced that the county planned to move the Elections Board from its longtime headquarters in Maplewood to renovated offices at the former Northwest Plaza shopping center in St. Ann. The development is owned by David and Bob Glarner, who donated $75,000 to Stenger last year through a holding company. The 20-year lease is worth up to $50 million in rent from the Elections Board and two other county agencies relocating there.

National: Seen and not heard: homeless people absent from election even as ranks grow | The Guardian

It is no mean feat to cast a ballot when home is a doorway or a tent beneath a freeway underpass. When your mailing address is General Delivery, or the Prison Legal Services office, or someone else’s room at an SRO hotel. When the hunt for a voting precinct vies with the search for food and shelter. Even so, the presidential contest has been front of mind at the St Anthony Foundation dining room in San Francisco’s gritty Tenderloin district. The first seating at St Anthony is for families and the elderly. Lunch starts at 10am and is often the only meal of the day for people such as Tom Orrell, who is picking at his turkey dish and talking politics. His home is a patch of sidewalk at the corner of Jones Street and Golden Gate Avenue. His party, the Democrats. His candidate, Bernie Sanders – but he plans to vote for Hillary Clinton in November, even though he’s not sure America is ready for a female president. His issue is healthcare, with a dash of education. “The way I look at it, we’ve got to have healthy kids,” says the 62-year-old former construction worker, who votes whether he has a roof or not. For two years, he has not. “To get them healthy, we need to have education. We’re falling down in both. To have a bright future, we need better healthcare.”

National: Voter registration goes digital | Washington Examiner

The days of filling out a form and using snail mail to register to vote are just about over. Voters now can register to vote online in 31 states. Another seven have passed legislation to do so and are establishing their systems. More are expected to follow. States have done it for economic reasons — going paperless is that much cheaper — as well as to keep up with the digital world. It may have an additional benefit: reducing the tension around voter access issues, such as voter ID laws. Online databases make it vastly easier for states to ensure the accuracy of their voter rolls. “Online registration has been a real boon in terms of keeping the voter roles clean,” said Wendy Underhill, program director for the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures.

Arizona: Investigators find no evidence of voter database hack; system back online | KPHO

After more than a week of forensic analysis, cybersecurity investigators found no signs of hacker infiltration into the state’s voter registration database and have brought the system back online, the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office announced. The system was taken offline for nine days after the FBI found a “credible and serious” threat to the database, which contains personal information about the more than 3 million registered voters in the state. The system was restored Thursday. “We have not found any evidence of malware or command and control software in the voter registration system and have restored its use,” Secretary of State Michele Reagan said in a statement.

California: It only took a month to count California’s votes. Here’s why, and why it may get better | Los Angeles Times

Well, that’s a relief. For the last four weeks, Californians have ceased to be those goofy people on the left coast. For the last four weeks, we have been the people who can’t count. And now the votes from the June 7 primary, more than 8.5 million of them, have been counted; they are due to be certified by Secretary of State Alex Padilla on Friday. The lingering question isn’t who won the presidential primaries or the Senate race; the margins in those races, and most other regional and local contests across the state, were big enough that the winners have been known almost since primary day. No, this was the question: What took you so long? The answer: It’s complicated. More than voters know. But it may be about to get faster. For voters, the most time-intensive part of balloting is deciding which candidate to like. The act of filling in the answers at a polling place or mailing it in from home doesn’t take long. But this year, several factors combined to give elections officials a giant counting headache.

California: ‘Confusing’ California primary ends on sour note | Los Angeles Times

State officials will write the June 7 primary’s final chapter this week by certifying that more than 8.5 million ballots were cast, though it’s unlikely to assuage voters or local elections officials who complained that overlapping and confusing rules left them with a lingering political hangover. “It’s disheartening because people’s expectations were so high,” said Kim Alexander, president of the nonpartisan California Voter Foundation. “There were a lot of unhappy voters.” The primary’s sour ending note seems largely due to the asymmetric rules governing the presidential and statewide elections. Unlike the primary for state races – where anyone could vote for any candidate – the presidential contests were governed by a patchwork of rules that differed by political party. “The presidential primary is always the most difficult to conduct,” said Michael Vu, San Diego County’s registrar of voters. Independent voters, known in California as having “no party preference,” were allowed to vote in the Democratic primary between Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. But they were banned from voting in the Republican presidential primary.

Colorado: Proposed campaign finance initiative faces legal challenge | The Denver Post

A proposed Denver ballot initiative aimed at reining in big-donor campaign contributions and setting up a public financing system for city elections now faces a challenge in court. While backers that include Colorado Common Cause and the Colorado Public Interest Research Group (CoPIRG) are working to collect nearly 5,000 signatures to get the measure on the November ballot, David Kenney — a political consultant and lobbyist who is active in the business community — recently filed a challenge in Denver District Court. His request for court intervention, filed June 27, alleges that the initiative is so wide-ranging that it violates a single-subject rule for ordinances. The challenge also says the ballot title approved by the Denver Elections Division inadequately summarizes the measure and includes words intended to sway voters, including that the initiative “increases transparency in political campaigns.”

Florida: Leon: A county divided by redistricting | Tallahassee Democrat

Leon County is divided. Neighbors in at least seven distinct Tallahassee neighborhoods are split between two Congressional Districts with the lines running straight down the middle of a road, separating neighbors, partitioning some into a Jacksonville-based district and sending others to one anchored by Panama City. It’s part of the fallout from the Fair Districts amendment and a game that politicos have played since before the founding of the republic. The Leon County Supervisor of Elections Office has sent letters and new voter identification cards to more than 115,000 registered voters informing them that they are now part of Congressional District 5, which runs from Gadsden County to Jacksonville — 89,000 voters remain in CD 2. Since March 15, the Leon County Supervisor of Elections Office had to come up with 615 different ballot designs for the Aug 30 primary and move 7,000 voters to different polling locations from the ones they used in the March presidential primary.

Hawaii: State hopeful online registration will boost voter turnout | Hawaii News Now

The deadline to register for the primary election on Aug. 13 is next Thursday. And to get more people signed up, the state will be hosting registration events statewide. “We’ll be having them statewide — three on the Big Island, one on Maui, one on Kauai and one here on O’ahu,” said Scott Nago, the state’s chief election officer. The drive, which will include new TV ads, is aimed at changing Hawaii’s last-in-the-nation ranking for voter turnout. And voting officials say they’re hopeful this year, not least of which because a new online registration system has already resulted in more residents signed up.

Louisiana: Attorney General reviewing lawsuit over voting rights for ex-offenders | Louisiana Record

In the wake of a lawsuit filed against the state to restore voting rights to ex-offenders, the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office said voting restrictions on those on parole or probation is constitutional. Voice of the Offender (VOTE) filed a lawsuit against the state, the governor, and the secretary of state on July 1 requesting that individuals on probation and parole be granted the right to vote. “Although we are not a named defendant in the case, our office is reviewing the case,” Ruth Wisher, spokeswoman with the AG’s office told the Louisiana Record. “We do believe that restrictions on voting rights are constitutional.”

Oregon: State expects to automatically register more than 200,000 new voters ahead of November election | The Oregonian

Oregon is on track to sign up more than 200,000 new voters in the first seven months of the state’s automatic voter registration system, the Secretary of State announced Friday. Most of those voters — approximately 120,000 — will be registered through the second phase of the program, in which the Secretary of State’s office identified eligible voters who visited the DMV in 2014 and 2015. County clerks are now registering those people to vote. Under the first phase of the law, the Secretary of State’s office and county clerks were already registering people who visited the DMV this year on a rolling basis.

Australia: Cyber sector adamant e-voting is too costly and complex | Financial Review

Start-up entrepreneurs, tech industry leaders and politicians are at loggerheads with the cyber security sector, which remains adamant that electronic voting is too costly and complex. The debate has erupted in response to the recent election saga, where it has taken the Australian Electoral Commission more than a week to finish counting the votes. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition leader Bill Shorten joined the debate on Sunday, both mentioning the need to find an e-voting solution in their victory and concession speeches, respectively. Senior security analyst at cyber security firm Checkpoint, Raymond Schippers, told The Australian Financial Review it would be too difficult to adequately secure an e-voting system. “The amount of attacks over the internet is insane. In an instant someone could compromise 10,000 computers. And without the voter ever knowing, someone could change their vote and no one would ever be able to confirm it was changed,” he said.

Editorials: E-voting is still the wrong answer to the wrong question | Stilgherrian/ZDNet

Here we go again. There’s been an election in Australia, so once more, with all the regularity of a cuckoo clock, politicians and pundits alike are proposing that electronic voting is the answer. So, here we go again, explaining why it’s a bad idea. First, if e-voting is the answer, what is the actual question? Here’s what troubles people this time. … Broadly speaking, there’s two kinds of e-voting: voting over the internet, and voting in person at polling stations where votes are recorded on computers rather than paper ballots. Whichever kind of e-voting we’re talking about, it has to solve a conundrum. How do we provide the complete transparency of process needed to eliminate fraud, while still maintaining the secrecy of individuals’ votes? As I wrote in 2011, transparency is the tricky bit. “Our paper voting system is easy to understand. Anyone with working eyesight and who can read and count can scrutineer the process. No special skills are required,” I wrote.

Japan: Ruling coalition on course to win parliamentary election | The Guardian

Japan’s ruling coalition secured a resounding victory in upper house elections on Sunday, with some exit polls predicting that prime minister Shinzo Abe’s party and its allies would achieve the legislative firepower they need to rewrite the country’s pacifist constitution. According to the exit polls, Abe’s Liberal Democratic party (LDP) was on course to win 57 to 59 seats of the 121 seats that were contested. Its junior coalition partner, the Buddhist-backed Komeito, was expected to win 14 seats. Combined with other minor conservative parties, the coalition was within reach of the number of seats it needs in the upper house to set in motion plans to change the US-authored constitution for the first time since it was introduced in 1947.

Japan: Teenagers in Japan Can Finally Vote. But Will They? | The New York Times

Mena Hakamada, an 18-year-old college freshman, knows how important it is to vote. “To reflect our opinions, the only way is to vote,” said Ms. Hakamada, a physical education major at the University of Tsukuba. But Ms. Hakamada will not cast a ballot on Sunday, in the first national election in which Japanese 18- and 19-year-olds are allowed to vote. “I am busy tomorrow,” she said with a shake of her head. Ms. Hakamada is going on a field trip to the ocean, and she never got around to voting by absentee ballot in her hometown, Shizuoka, near Mount Fuji. When Japan goes to the polls to elect members to its upper house of Parliament on Sunday, the nation’s newly enfranchised teenagers are expected to make a lackluster showing.

Nauru: Tiny Pacific island of Nauru goes to the polls | Reuters

Voting to elect a new government on the tiny Pacific island of Nauru began on Saturday, with international observers invited to monitor the polls for the first time in more than a decade after criticism over human rights in the world’s smallest republic. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights last year urged Nauru to take action to improve its standing in a range of areas including freedom of expression, the independence of the judiciary and crackdowns on media access. Nauru’s government rejected the majority of the U.N criticism.

Editorials: Russia Has the Most Boring Election of 2016 | Leonid Bershidsky/Bloomberg

The thrilling spectacles offered by the U.S. presidential election, the U.K. referendum on leaving the European Union and even Austria’s cliffhanger presidential vote have overshadowed an election campaign in Russia, which will get a new parliament on Sept. 18. That’s because, even though they have all the the trappings of democracy, the Russian elections are mostly theater, whose actors are shadows from the country’s brief experiment with competitive politics. In theory, the elections shouldn’t be boring. The previous ones, in 2011, gave rise to the most meaningful and vigorous protests against Vladimir Putin’s corrupt system of his more than 15 years in power. Then, tens of thousands of Muscovites took to the streets to protest what they saw as the falsification of vote results: Statistical analysis suggested that United Russia, the pro-Putin party, owed its majority to widespread ballot-stuffing. It even appeared briefly that the Kremlin — occupied then by Putin’s stand-in, Dmitri Medvedev — was unsettled enough to change a few things. Gubernatorial elections, which had been abolished, were allowed again, and the authorities took care to make voting more transparent for the 2012 presidential election, organizing a live video feed from every polling station and making sure not to obstruct observers’ work. Putin, however, saw the protests as a U.S.-inspired threat of a revolution like the one would shake Ukraine in 2013-2014. As soon as his third presidential term began — after he pulled off an undeniable electoral triumph — he started tightening the screws, using the parliament — the State Duma — to pass legislation that sharply limited the freedoms of assembly and expression. The chamber came to be known as an “amok printer” because of the speed at which it spewed out repressive laws.

Zambia: Electoral Commission suspends election campaigning over violence | Al Jazeera

Political campaigning in Zambia’s capital Lusaka has been suspended for 10 days because of violent clashes before next month’s national elections, the electoral commission said. The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) announced on Sunday that it was suspending campaigns in Lusaka and Namwala, south of the capital, until July 18 when the situation would be reviewed. “The electoral commission of Zambia has observed with dismay the rise in political violence in some districts which has regrettably resulted in injury, loss of life and property,” commission spokesman Chris Akufuna said in a statement. No public rallies, meetings, processions or door-to-door campaigning would be allowed, Akufuna said.