Editorials: Texas’s Voter-Registration Laws Are Straight Out of the Jim Crow Playbook | Ari Berman/The Nation

At 10 am on a Tuesday morning in September, Babatunde Adeleye, a 33-year-old naturalized US citizen from Nigeria, arrived at the Bexar County Elections Department in San Antonio. It’s a brand-new building in an otherwise unappealing industrial park along the interstate, 10 minutes south of downtown. There were inspirational posters on the wall featuring American flags and sunsets, highlighting words like “success” and “momentum.” Tunde, as everyone calls him, stood up, raised his right hand, and took an oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States and of this State.” He was being deputized not as a cop, but instead to register voters. The parallels, however, were impossible to ignore: Texas treats voter registration like a criminal offense and makes it as difficult as possible to do. Tunde grew up in Lagos and studied petroleum engineering at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He got a job in the oil fields of Oklahoma but was laid off when the industry went bust. He became a citizen last year, so 2016 marks the first presidential election he can vote in. After moving to San Antonio three months ago, he began working with MOVE San Antonio, a progressive nonprofit that registers young voters. “I come from a background where poverty was the order of the day,” Tunde says. “The first step to empowering people to have a say in their community is to register them to vote. If you don’t vote, you don’t have a say.” Before he could register anyone, however, Tunde had to navigate Texas’s draconian voter-registration laws, beginning with this course. The state has no online registration, and anyone who registers voters must be deputized by the county at a training session that typically occurs once a month, sometimes less. The volunteer deputy registrars (VDRs), as they’re known, must be deputized on a county-by-county basis, and they can only be deputized in counties adjacent to their own, which makes statewide drives practically impossible in a massive state like Texas, with its 254 counties.

Wisconsin: Democratic lawmakers request federal investigation of voter ID implementation | The Cap Times

Democratic lawmakers in Wisconsin are asking the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate reports that Division of Motor Vehicles employees gave inaccurate information to would-be voters seeking identification cards. “With less than 35 days until the election, we are requesting that your department immediately investigate these claims and, if merited, take appropriate legal action to ensure Wisconsin electors hoping to vote in the upcoming election are able to do so,” reads a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch signed by 28 Assembly Democrats. The letter comes one day before the due date for a DMV investigation into the reports, first detailed last week in The Nation and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Because eligible voters may have been turned away, we feel that federal oversight may be warranted,” the Democratic lawmakers wrote.

Canada: U.S. stays with with controversial e-voting, but Canada still shy | IT World Canada News

At the best of times U.S. elections are heated, and these aren’t necessarily the best of times. We’ve already seen the discovery of data breaches at the Democratic party and candidate Hillary Clinton. This week one technology writer warned that the November U.S. presidential election “can be rigged and sabotaged, and we might never even know it happened.” He was referring to the use in 10 U.S. states of touch screen voting machines that don’t have paper backups, which some experts worry are vulnerable to malware.Even if cyber attackers do nothing more than play with electronic voter registration systems it could cause backups at voting stations, causing voters to leave and potentially affecting outcomes. For these and other reasons Canadian electoral officials are still cautious about adopting electronic voting here. Some municipalities are using machine-readable paper voting systems, but touch screen or online voting in federal and provincial elections is still taboo. “I have no plans to introduce online voting for 2019,” Marc Mayrand, Canada’s chief electoral officer told Parliament’s special committee on electoral reform in July. “I think there’s still a lot of research to be done, and there are many considerations. That’s what I would like to see the committee doing in its work, addressing some of the key considerations and giving us some direction on where we should go and how should we proceed to explore and test online voting at some point.

Georgia (Sakartvelo): Election in Ex-Soviet Georgia Seen as Test of Stability After Violence | VoA News

A close parliamentary election in Georgia on Saturday is being seen as a test of stability in the ex-Soviet state after a car bombing and a shooting marred the runup to the vote. Crisscrossed by strategically important oil and gas pipelines and traditionally buffeted between Russia and the West, a fifth of Georgian territory remains under the control of pro-Russian separatists and the economy is emerging from a deep slowdown, which has crimped living standards. Opinion polls suggest the ruling Georgian Dream party, which is funded and controlled by the country’s richest man, is likely to win. But they also show strong support for the opposition United National Movement (UNM) and suggest many voters are undecided. “No one can be sure who the winner will be, but the vote is expected to be free and fair,” said Thomas de Waal, a Caucasus expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Haiti: Hurricane damage forces Haiti to delay voting yet again | AFP

Haitian authorities have postponed presidential and legislative elections originally set for Sunday because of the havoc caused by Hurricane Matthew, election officials said Wednesday. The impoverished Caribbean nation’s last elections, in 2015, were canceled amid violence and massive fraud, leaving the country stranded in political limbo ever since. The president of Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council, Leopold Berlanger, said a new date for elections would be announced by next Wednesday at the latest, after talks between the various interested parties. The authorities must first assess the damage caused by Matthew, which struck Haiti on Tuesday as a Category Four hurricane with 230-kilometer (145-mile) an hour winds, he said.

Kenya: Controversial election commission quits | AFP

The election commission that oversaw Kenya’s flawed 2013 polls and was tarnished by a corruption scandal will receive a $2 million pay-off in return for agreeing to leave office early, local media reported Thursday. The nine commissioners will share the pot of cash, according to local newspaper reports. Statements issued by both the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and the government said they had “agreed on the terms for a dignified vacation from office for current IEBC commissioners”. The government said it had sought to “strike a balance between public interest, legal and constitutional demands, the contract of appointment to office of each Commissioner and the guidelines of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission,” but did not state publicly what the exit package was worth.

Lithuania: Lithuanians to vote amid scandals, economic concerns | Associated Press

Lithuania is just emerging from one of Europe’s worst recessions, has a shrinking population and one of the world’s highest suicide rates. Politicians, however, appear to be ignoring many of those issues as the Baltic nation prepares to vote Sunday in the first round of choosing a new Parliament. Political scandals and vows to raise living standards are dominating the election campaign. “This time it’s not about programs or ideas, but promises and scandals,” said analyst Lauras Bielinis from the Vilnius International Relations Institute. “People are concerned about rising prices, low wages and everyday living, so parties are competing who will promise more and who will dig up more dirt on each other.”

Malaysia: How to run elections: Rights group points EC to India, New Zealand | Malay Mail

The Election Commission (EC) could be remodelled after its counterparts in India and New Zealand for greater checks and balances in the way it runs elections, the Society of the Promotion of Human Rights Malaysia (Proham) suggests. Proham chairman Datuk Kuthubul Zaman highlighted the public’s perception that the EC lacked independence, noting among other things that the voting regulator is parked under the Prime Minister’s Department and have its members appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the prime minister’s advice. “So I think we need to learn lessons from different democracies,” he said at a roundtable discussion last night. Kuthubul gave the example of New Zealand’s division of election-related responsibilities, listing various features such as its chief electoral officer is a staff under the minister of justice instead of the prime minister, while electoral enrolment centres tasked with handling voter registration and voter list maintenance.

Montenegro: An election tug-of-war between Russia and the West | Reuters

Alexander Khrgian quit Moscow for Montenegro in 2008 and immediately felt at home, setting up a law firm that helps the tiny country’s outsized Russian diaspora do business, profiting from close ties between the two countries. “We liked the climate, the people and conditions for doing business,” said the lawyer. “So we stayed.” But a parliamentary election due on October 16 could test those ties. The vote, its outcome very much in the balance, could be Montenegro’s last before joining the Western NATO alliance, an expansion dubbed “irresponsible” by Russia. Attracted by the mountainous country’s majestic coastline, some 15,000 Russians flooded into the country after its 2006 split from Serbia, bringing money and Russian influence to the former Yugoslav republic of just 650,000 people. Ushering Montenegro into NATO is a priority for the West, wary of Russian influence in a strategic region that is on the frontlines of the migration crisis facing Europe.

Morocco: Neither main party will really win as Moroccans vote | The Washington Post

On Friday, Morocco will hold its second parliamentary elections since the constitutional changes that followed the Arab Spring protests led by the Feb. 20 movement in 2011. The Party of Justice and Development (PJD), a moderate Islamist-oriented party which has led a coalition government since then, seeks to defend its lead against its chief rival, the Party of Authenticity and Modernity (PAM), founded by Fouad Ali El Himma, a close friend and adviser to King Mohammed VI. What’s at stake in this battle? The short answer: not much. There are good reasons to be skeptical that the outcome of the election will alter the political landscape in a meaningful way. Political science wisdom on democratic institutions sheds light on the limitations that confront all political parties in Morocco, whether they gain or lose seats in this week’s elections. Approximately 30 parties compete for the parliament’s 395 seats, 90 of which are reserved for women and candidates under 40. The number of parties complicates alliance formation: To create a coalition, the leading party must bring together parties with differing priorities and constituencies, which is no easy task. Competition weakens parties’ ability to present unified policies.

Palestine: Local polls delayed for up to four months | Al Jazeera

The Palestinian government has delayed municipal elections for up to four months with Fatah and Hamas so far unable to overcome divisions to organise their first competitive polls in a decade. The postponement came on Tuesday, a day after the Palestinian high court ruled that the elections, initially scheduled for October 8, should be held only in the West Bank and not in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. A new date for the vote was not set by the government based in the West Bank, the Palestinian territory run by President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party. The Palestinian Central Elections Commission and the United Nations special representative welcomed the postponement, saying they were hopeful that Gaza would now be included in the eventual vote. The Palestinians have not held an election in which both Hamas and Fatah took part since 2006. They have also not held a vote in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip at the same time since then.