National: How Technology Is Shaping Voter Registration and the Election Process for States and Localities | StateTech Magazine

As Hennepin County, Minn., prepares to implement its new electronic poll book system in August, one of election officials’ main concerns has been how to train poll workers. The workers are wonderful, says Hennepin County Elections Manager Ginny Gelms, but many are older and not very comfortable using technology. Those worries proved unfounded when the poll workers in a neighboring county’s pilot project said they would return only if they could use the electronic poll books again. “That was a real eye-opener for me,” Gelms says. “It just makes their jobs so much easier that they love it.” This year’s presidential race has been unprecedented in many regards, but it’s not just the candidates who are making history. From registering voters online and nominating candidates during the conventions to casting ballots at the polls, new advances in technology continue to transform the election process. Jurisdictions throughout the country are hard at work modernizing outdated election systems, with new technologies that cut the time and cost of inputting registration data, reduce data entry errors, ensure citizens can’t vote more than once and make voting faster, easier and more convenient.

National: GOP platform calls for tough voter ID laws | The Hill

The Republican Party’s platform formally endorses laws requiring voters to show identification when they cast ballots. The new provision inserts the national party into a contentious debate over voter access at a time when several states are tightening identification requirements.The party platform, adopted unanimously by delegates in Cleveland on Monday, goes farther than language that had been included in earlier years. The party “support[s] legislation to require proof of citizenship when registering to vote and secure photo ID when voting,” the document reads. Four years ago, the GOP platform “applaud[ed] legislation to require photo identification for voting and to prevent election fraud.” The stronger language comes ahead of a presidential election in which 12 states — including swing states like Wisconsin, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Virginia — will enforce voter identification laws for the first time.

National: Voting challenges head toward the Supreme Court: 4 cases to watch | CNN

The looming election and the Supreme Court will converge in the coming months as voting rights challenges on issues such as Voter ID, early vote cutbacks and same-day registration make their way to the high court. Challenges during an election year are always fraught, but this cycle things could grow even more complicated because the court only has eight members to review the cases, and there’s a good chance that it could split 4-4. In the recent past, the Supreme Court has signaled that it does not like courts to disrupt rules and regulations too close to an election out of the fear that it could cause confusion to voters. As such, there might be a sentiment on the court — when it rules on one of the emergency motions it is certain to get — to vote to preserve the status quo until after the election and then agree to take up one or two cases and settle the big issues concerning the meaning of the Voting Rights Act and how the Constitution applies to current laws regulating the voting process.

National: There Won’t Be Any Election Monitors in the Most Vulnerable States This Election: What Could Go Wrong?

In a contentious election year with voter suppression on the rise, the list of possible catastrophes is pretty long. The Department of Justice has just dealt a major blow to voting rights in the United States with the news that it won’t be dispatching election monitors to some of the most vulnerable states in November. In a contentious election year where voter suppression is likely to be a recurring theme across the country, this is extremely bad news — because instead of relying on federal observers, we’re going to be forced to count on voters themselves enforcing their rights. If election monitors sound like something the UN dispatches to developing democracies, it’s not just nations like Iraq that need monitoring to ensure that everyone has a fair chance at the vote. Systemic inequality and a repeated pattern of voter suppression in the United States demonstrates that we can’t get it together when it comes to protecting the “one person, one vote” principle that’s supposed to be a cornerstone of American life. We can blame 2013’s Shelby County v Holder for this particular DOJ decision. The agency believes that the Supreme Court’s move, which invalidated a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, limits the amount of oversight it can conduct during elections. Historically, the agency could send federal election observers to any states that it felt merited closer monitoring as a result of concerns about restrictions on voting rights. Now, it can only dispatch them in the event of a federal court ruling, and just five states have such rulings outstanding: California, Alabama, Louisiana, Alaska, and New York.

Alaska: Alaska Prompts Convention Hiccup By Requesting A Vote Recount | TPM

The Republican officials trying to keep the drama-filled GOP convention on track just can’t catch a break. After powering through the delegate vote count that made Donald Trump the official GOP nominee with relatively little disruption from the Never Trump crowd, the proceedings of Tuesday evening’s convention programming were briefly interrupted because the Alaska delegation request a recount of its votes. “We were never told that you were going to miscount our votes tonight,” a representative from the delegation said from the stage’s microphone, according to The Atlantic. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), the chair of the convention, asked the delegate if he was requesting a recount, which the delegate confirmed he was.

Hawaii: Court Rules Against Elections Office In Ballot Shortage Case | Civil Beat News

The Hawaii Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the the method the state Elections Office used to order an insufficient number of ballots in the 2012 general election should have undergone an official rule-making process instead of just being an internal management decision. The Green Party of Hawaii sued Chief Elections Officer Scott Nago and the state in December 2012, asking the courts to stop him from conducting another election until there were new rules in place to prevent the type of voter disenfranchisement that occurred that November. In all, 24 precincts ran out of ballots on Election Day, leading to long lines and some voters abandoning the effort. The lawsuit says 57 voters were denied the right to vote, and ballots had to be rushed to dozens of other precincts that ran low.

Nevada: Pahrump woman arrested for falsifying party affiliations on voter registrations | Las Vegas Review-Journal

A Pahrump woman was arrested Wednesday on 11 felony charges involving allegations she falsified party affiliations while registering voters before the June 14 Nevada primary, the secretary of state’s office said. An arrest warrant issued for Tina Marie Parks listed bail at $50,000 cash or $100,000 bond. The arrest follows an investigation conducted by the state’s Election Integrity Task Force after it received complaints from voters who said Parks, while working for the conservative outreach group Engage Nevada, filled out their applications and listed the wrong party affiliation. In two instances, voters said Parks marked their party as Republican. Another was marked as nonpartisan. All three told investigators they wanted to register as Democrats.

Ohio: As the GOP Convention Begins, Ohio Is Purging Tens of Thousands of Democratic Voters | The Nation

Larry Harmon, a 59-year-old software engineer and Navy vet, went the polls in 2015 in his hometown of Kent, Ohio, to vote on a state ballot initiative. But poll workers told him he was no longer registered and could not vote. “I felt embarrassed and stupid at the time,” Harmon told Reuters. “The more I think about it, the madder I am,” he said. Harmon voted for Barack Obama in 2008 but had not returned to vote until 2015. He later learned that he was purged from the rolls in Ohio for “infrequent voting” because he had not voted in a six-year period, even though he hadn’t moved or done anything to change his registration status. The same thing is now happening to tens of thousands of voters across the state. The fear is that voters who cast ballots in 2008 but have not participated since, particularly first-time voters for Obama, will show up in 2016 to find that they are no longer registered. Ohio has purged more voters over a 5-year period than any other state.

Virginia: High court hears Republican voting-rights lawsuit | Reuters

In a case that could have an impact on the November presidential election, the Virginia Supreme Court heard arguments on Tuesday over a Republican lawsuit challenging the blanket restoration of voting rights for 206,000 felons by Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe. If upheld, McAuliffe’s order could help tip Virginia, a swing state where the vote is traditionally close in presidential elections, in favor of presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Lawyers for leaders in the Republican-controlled state legislature argued that McAuliffe exceeded his authority by restoring voting rights en masse, rather than on a case-by-case basis. “Never in Virginia’s 240-year history has a governor exercised clemency power en masse,” Charles Cooper, an attorney for the plaintiffs, told the court.

Virginia: Will Virginia Supreme Court restore felon voting rights? | CSMonitor

The Supreme Court of Virginia heard arguments Tuesday in a lawsuit filed by Assembly Republicans who are seeking to block an executive order from Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe that restored voting rights to more than 206,000 Virginians who had previously been convicted of felonies. State Republicans say Mr. McAuliffe exceeded his authority with the order and the state’s constitution only allows governors to restore rights, including voting rights, on a case-by-case basis. The executive order granted voting rights to those who had served their time and completed any parole or probation requirements by the date of his order. The executive order revised the state’s previous policy, which required all citizens with felony convictions to apply for voting rights restoration before being permitted to vote. With the order, Virginia joins 39 other states and the District of Columbia in allowing citizens with past criminal convictions to vote, and more than 11,000 felons in Virginia have since registered.

China: Hong Kong election candidates must issue China pledge by law – electoral commission | Reuters

Candidates in Hong Kong’s September elections must by law pledge that the city is an “inalienable” part of China and advocating independence could end their candidacy, the head of the Electoral Affairs Commission (EAC) said. The comments come after the EAC and the Hong Kong government sparked anger by saying candidates for the legislative council, which includes pro-democracy and independence activists, are required to declare in a new Confirmation Form that the city falls directly under the central government in Beijing. The Hong Kong government also said that advocating and promoting independence was “contrary” to that declaration and could render a candidate ineligible. The EAC said anyone making a false declaration was “liable to criminal sanction.”

Sao Tome and Principe: Incumbent president loses election | AFP

A failed presidential candidate in Sao Tome and Principe, Africa’s second smallest nation, has challenged the outcome of a weekend vote which produced a surprise winner and strengthened the hand of the prime minister. The ruling party candidate and former prime minister Evaristo Carvalho won Sunday’s first round, scraping just past the required 50-percent mark needed for an outright win. The 78-year-old incumbent President Manuel Pinto da Costa, who was seeking a third term as an independent, polled 24 percent.

Thailand: The Trouble With Thailand’s Upcoming Referendum | The Diplomat

Less than one month before Thailand’s highly anticipated August 7 constitutional referendum, a widening clampdown on “vote no” activities has galvanized further dissent and upped the risk of post-poll instability. Hard curbs on free expression, imposed in a draconian Referendum Act that carries potential 10-year prison penalties for misrepresenting the draft constitution, criticizing its content, or disrupting the vote, have simultaneously raised doubts about the credibility and integrity of the military-steered democratic process. If passed, the constitution will bestow the military broad powers over future elected governments, including fast-track means to remove elected politicians deemed as corrupt or wayward. The country’s top two sidelined political parties, the Democrats and Peua Thai, have both condemned provisions in the draft, including articles that would hamstring their ability to implement policies that run counter to coup-installed Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha’s 20-year economic development plan.