California: This new law could dramatically change the demographics of its electorate | The Washington Post

California recently passed the New Motor Voter Act, a law designed to register eligible residents to vote by default when they use the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), unless they decline. Other states have or are considering similar laws. But because of California’s diversity and size — the 2016 population was 39.2 million and climbing — the Golden State’s law garnered special interest when it passed last fall. In a new report, we look at the law’s likely effect on the demographics of California’s electorate, and at the number of new potential voters it might register in its first year. We find that supporters are right to see great promise in the law, but how the law is implemented will be far more important than many have suggested. The new law could dramatically change California’s electorate. Emphasis on “could.”

Iowa: Branstad: Voting is a privilege, not a right | Des Moines Register

Gov. Terry Branstad on Monday praised the Iowa Supreme Court for a ruling that will continue to deny voting rights to thousands of people who have completed sentences for felonies. Meanwhile, he said his office is working to make it slightly simpler for nonviolent former felons to get back their right to own firearms. It’s still going to be easier for people to get their voting rights back than to get their guns, as one might expect. Firearms restoration involves a full DCI investigation and culminates with a personal interview with the governor. Few will make it that far. No one who committed a violent crime will even be considered, Branstad said. So why has Branstad chosen to celebrate the denial of automatic voting restoration for thousands while promoting a firearms restoration process that will ultimately be successful for relatively few? … Rita Bettis, legal director for ACLU Iowa, said the process worsens inequities in voting. “Voting is supposed to be the great equalizer. But the governor’s system only strengthens the race and income disparities in our society. Right now, the process skews the ability to vote toward those people with money and eliminates those who are impoverished,” Bettis said in a statement.

Kansas: Little public notice given on rule to throw out Kansas votes | Associated Press

Kansas officials plan to take up on Tuesday a proposed temporary rule that will allow election officials to throw out votes in local and state races cast by tens of thousands of people who register at motor vehicle offices without proving U.S. citizenship. The State Rules and Regulations Board gave the public just a day’s notice that it will consider the temporary rule sought by Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Those voters affected by the rule — which the state has estimated could number about 50,000 — would be given a provisional ballot. “It just stinks. This is not how democracy works, and something as important as voting should not be taken care of in this backroom manner,” said state Rep. Jim Ward, a Wichita Democrat.

North Carolina: Voter ID case goes to state court in September | News & Observer

The question of whether North Carolina’s voter ID requirement violates the state Constitution will go to trial in late September, adding more uncertainty to the election process in a presidential year that has left many voters confused about schedules and their districts. Wake County Judge Mike Morgan on Monday signed an order rejecting a request by lawmakers to set the case in front of a three-judge panel or dismiss it altogether. The trial is set to start Sept. 26. Anita Earls, director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, a law firm representing challengers of the state’s 2013 voter ID law, said she expected the trial to last about a week. Before Morgan set the schedule, Phil Strach, a Raleigh lawyer representing the legislators and the husband of the state elections director, argued that it would be better to wait until after November.

Oregon: Voter Registration surges | The Chronicle

The June data report for the Oregon Motor Voter program shows over 200,000 new records sent to Oregon’s counties for processing since the program took effect on January 1, 2016. Release of the June report coincides with the completion of Phase II, a separate phase of the Oregon Motor Program, in which 145,000 eligible, unregistered Oregonians received OMV cards in the mail giving them the opportunity to become automatically registered voters. Of those, over 120,000 Oregonians will be sent to Oregon’s 36 counties to be processed for voter registration. “It is clear that Oregon Motor Voter is changing the nature of voter registration in Oregon as we know it,” Oregon Secretary of State Jeanne P. Atkins said. “With completion of the second and final phase of implementation for the program, I’m looking forward to Oregon Motor Voter becoming the norm for Oregonians.”

Australia: Computer experts remain sceptical about e-voting | The New Daily

Any voter who thinks that online voting and digital counting of elections are fireproof should take note of the results of the 2012 local council elections in NSW. Following tightly-fought contests for local government positions in the NSW municipality of Griffith, researchers at the computer science departments of Australian National University and Melbourne University identified a flaw in the program code for counting the election that probably cost one candidate a seat on the local council. The flaw, which was later confirmed by the NSW Electoral Commissioner, was discovered more than three months after the council vote was declared. According to ANU’s Professor Rajeev Gore, scientific testing of the Griffith election data found that there was a 91 per cent chance that the losing candidate, Rina Mercuri, would have won if the computer error had not occurred. The likely counting errors cast serious doubt on the legitimacy of the Griffith election.

Australia: Electronic voting has advantages but remains vulnerable to security, software problems | ABC

They may be political rivals but Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten can agree on one issue: electronic voting. “I’ve been an advocate for electronic voting for a long time. This is something we must look at,” Mr Turnbull said. Mr Shorten agreed, saying: “It’s long overdue to look at electronic voting in this county”. … But introducing e-voting would not as easy as it sounds. Dr Vanessa Teague from Melbourne University said there were two main ways to conduct electronic voting: over the internet via a voter’s device at home, or via a computer at the polling station. She said neither system was foolproof and both were vulnerable to security and software problems. “[These could] affect the election results in a way that we wouldn’t necessarily know,” Dr Teague said.

Editorials: Why the rush? In defence of Australia’s slow election count | Ben Raue/The Guardian

Bill Shorten has expressed interest in moving to electronic voting to prevent delays in future Australian election results. Malcolm Turnbull agrees with this sentiment. Electronic voting would not actually speed up a very close result, and it carries the risk of undermining trust in our electoral system. Electronic voting in most cases is unnecessary, expensive and impractical. It also has numerous problems that shouldn’t be underestimated. Firstly, any voting system needs to be anonymous, secure and transparent – and this is difficult to do using an electronic system. There are numerous objections to the anonymity, security and transparency of electronic voting (in particular, voting over the internet) on technical grounds that I won’t go into here. The majority of voters cast a vote at a local polling place on election day. This system works pretty well – votes are counted quickly and the system is well understood. It would come at a tremendous cost to set up electronic voting facilities in every school and church hall across the country for a single day of voting. It would be more practical to introduce electronic pre-poll voting at booths in capital cities, as currently happens for Australian Capital Territory elections and New Zealand elections, but these votes are already counted on election night, so this wouldn’t do much to speed up a result.

Voting Blogs: Austrian Court’s Call for Second Presidential Election is a Victory for Election Integrity | BradBlog

Erik Kirschbaum of the Los Angeles Times appears to be deeply troubled. According to last May’s official count, Austria Green Party presidential candidate Alexander van der Bellen defeated Norbert Hofer of Austria’s far-right “Freedom Party” by 30,863 votes. Now, as the result of what Kirschbaum describes as “irregularities in the counting of absentee ballots,” Austria’s Constitutional Court has ordered a second, nationwide election for the largely ceremonial post. From a political perspective, Kirshbaum’s concerns are understandable. After all, we are talking about providing a second opportunity for a presidential candidate whose “Freedom Party” was founded by former Nazis. But, as Brad Friedman has so frequently urged, election integrity is not about Left or Right. It’s about right and wrong.

Japan: Connecting with Japan’s teen voters looms as hurdle amid low turnout | Nikkei Asian Review

Sunday marked the first Japanese national election in which the minimum voting age was lowered to 18 from 20. But the lackluster participation of the teens highlights the challenges political parties face in reaching out to youth. The turnout ratio for teenagers in the upper house election was 45.4%, compared with 54.7% for all age groups, according to the internal affairs ministry. A closer look at the teen voters shows that 18-year-olds had a much higher participation rate of 51.17% compared with the 39.66% for 19-year-olds. The former are often still in high school and thus have more opportunities to learn about voting rights in school, while the latter are often in college or working. The rate for 18-year-olds was higher than expected, said Kazunori Kawamura, associate professor at Tohoku University, while stressing a need for a mechanism to help keep them involved.

Montenegro: President calls October vote, key to EU-NATO hopes | Reuters

Montenegrin President Filip Vujanovic on Monday set Oct. 16 for parliamentary elections regarded as crucial for his country’s aspirations to join the European Union and NATO. The smallest of the former Yugoslav republics, Montenegro opened accession talks with the European Union in 2011 and was invited to join NATO in December. But to progress on both fronts, it needs to step up the fight against corruption and show its electoral process is transparent and fair.

District of Columbia: Statehood measure approved for November ballot | The Washington Post

A ballot referendum to split the nation’s capital into a new state for its residents and a smaller, federal district for government buildings and monuments is headed to D.C. voters in November. The D.C. Council unanimously approved the referendum proposed by Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) on Tuesday, saying that, if approved, it could help pressure Congress to hold the first vote in more than two decades to allow D.C. residents to form the 51st state. In backing the plan, however, the council brushed aside criticism from statehood advocates who felt that D.C. residents should have more say in drafting a constitution for the would-be state. A final vote on the founding document, which voters would be asked to “approve,” would not be taken by the D.C. Council until after the November election.