National: Without evidence, Trump tells lawmakers 3 million to 5 million illegal ballots cost him the popular vote | The Washington Post

Days after being sworn in, President Trump insisted to congressional leaders invited to a reception at the White House that he would have won the popular vote had it not been for millions of illegal votes, according to people familiar with the meeting. Trump has repeatedly claimed, without evidence, that widespread voter fraud caused him to lose the popular vote to Hillary Clinton, even while he clinched the presidency with an electoral college victory. Two people familiar with the meeting said Trump spent about 10 minutes at the start of the bipartisan gathering rehashing the campaign. He also told them that between 3 million and 5 million illegal votes caused him to lose the popular vote. The discussion about Trump’s election victory and his claim that he would have won the popular vote was confirmed by a third person familiar with the meeting.

National: Trump Repeats Lie About Popular Vote in Meeting With Lawmakers | The New York Times

President Trump used his first official meeting with congressional leaders on Monday to falsely claim that millions of unauthorized immigrants had robbed him of a popular vote majority, a return to his obsession with the election’s results even as he seeks support for his legislative agenda. The claim, which he has made before on Twitter, has been judged untrue by numerous fact-checkers. The new president’s willingness to bring it up at a White House reception in the State Dining Room is an indication that he continues to dwell on the implications of his popular vote loss even after assuming power. Mr. Trump appears to remain concerned that the public will view his victory — and his entire presidency — as illegitimate if he does not repeatedly challenge the idea that Americans were deeply divided about sending him to the White House to succeed President Barack Obama. Mr. Trump received 304 electoral votes to capture the White House, but he fell almost three million votes short of Hillary Clinton in the popular vote. That reality appears to have bothered him since Election Day, prompting him to repeatedly complain that adversaries were trying to undermine him. Moving into the White House appears not to have tempered that anxiety. Several people familiar with the closed-door meeting Monday night, who asked to remain anonymous in discussing a private conversation, said Mr. Trump used the opportunity to brag about his victory.

National: The new president can stop all executive investigations. Will he halt ones about himself? | The Guardian

President Donald Trump takes office in circumstances unlike any in US history. He assumes executive authority, and his nuclear launch codes are being activated at a time when there is reported to be a broad, multi-agency investigation into possible collusion between the Kremlin and officials on his campaign. US intelligence agencies have already concluded that Vladimir Putin interfered in the presidential election in Trump’s favour. The night before his inauguration, the New York Times quoted current and former senior US officials as saying that law enforcement and intelligence agencies were examining intercepted communications and financial transactions as part of their inquiries. On Wednesday, the McClatchy news agency reported that the FBI and five other agencies had been collaborating for months in an investigation into the extent of Russian attempts to skew the election. The report said that investigators were examining how money may have been transferred by the Kremlin in its covert bid to help Trump win. One possibility was that a system used to pay Russian-American pensioners was used to pay email hackers in the US. Once Trump takes the reins of power, however, he has the authority to stop all executive branch investigations.

Voting Blogs: Kansas 0-3 in Voter ID Lawsuits | State of Elections

Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach, narrowly avoided contempt charges in September 2016 which would have been the cherry on top for those in opposition to Kansas’s proof-of-citizenship requirement. The requirement, which requires anyone registering to vote in Kansas provide proof of citizenship via one of thirteen documents, was enacted under the Secure and Fair Elections Act of 2011, and was enforced beginning in 2013. The law became the center of a national controversy in January 2016, when Brian Newby, executive director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, granted Kansas, Georgia, and Alabama the ability to alter the federal registration form to satisfy the state identification requirements (Georgia and Alabama have passed similar proof-of-citizenship requirements but have not yet enforced them).

Mississippi: Bills would ease early voting and online voter registration | Associated Press

Proposals to expand access to early voting and to create online registration for first-time voters are advancing at the Mississippi Capitol. So is a plan that could eventually simplify the process of restoring voting rights for people who served time for nonviolent felonies. All three bills passed the House Elections Committee on Monday and move to the full House for more debate. House Bill 228 would allow no-excuses in-person early voting, starting 14 days before an election. Current law only lets people vote early if they will be out of town Election Day.

Montana: Bill for ‘permanent’ absentee ballot list goes to committee | Billings Gazette

A Yellowstone County-led bill to make permanent the absentee voter roster has been referred to a state House committee. Bret Rutherford, the county’s election administrator, said on Monday that the proposed legislation, House Bill 287, was referred to the House’s State Administration Committee last Friday. A hearing date has not been set. Rutherford, who wrote the proposed legislation, said he intends to testify for the bill. “Enough is enough. Let’s get this thing done,” he said.

New Mexico: Legislature mulls move to open primaries | Associated Press

New Mexico lawmakers will consider electoral reforms to make it easier for independents to vote in primary elections and to run for state office, amid a steady shift away from major party registration in the state. Republican and Democratic lawmakers filed proposed legislation and constitutional changes on Monday that would upend New Mexico’s closed primary system that excludes independent voters from major party primaries. One new bill would allow unaffiliated voters to participate in primary elections for a major party of their choice. The two bill sponsors — Republican Rep. Jim Dines of Albuquerque and Democratic Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard of Los Alamos — said younger voters in particular are being shut out of the electoral process because they do not identify closely with major parties. “For me, the issue is access,” Garcia Richard said. “This is a way, I believe, of taking down barriers to access to the ballot.”

South Dakota: Lawmakers vote to gut ethics and campaign finance law, call on voters to ‘give us a chance’ | Argus Leader

The committee room felt like a courtroom Monday as lawmakers got an opportunity to cross-examine and strike back at supporters of an ethics law that campaigned on a message that South Dakota legislators are corrupt. In a joint meeting of the Senate and House State Affairs Committees lawmakers for more than two hours considered a bill that would repeal the extensive ethics and campaign finance law narrowly approved by South Dakota voters as Initiated Measure 22. Republican lawmakers grilled supporters of the law and asked them to substantiate claims set forth in their campaign. The House committee approved the repeal on a 10-3 vote then asked that South Dakota voters give them a chance to win back their trust.

Texas: Supreme Court Won’t Hear Appeal From Texas on Voter ID Case | The New York Times

The Supreme Court rejected on Monday an appeal from Texas officials seeking to restore the state’s strict voter ID law. As is the court’s custom, its brief order in the case, Abbott v. Veasey, No. 16-393, gave no reasons for turning down the appeal. But Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. issued an unusual statement explaining that the Supreme Court remains free to consider the case after further proceedings in the lower courts. The Texas law, enacted in 2011, requires voters seeking to cast their ballots at the polls to present photo identification, like a Texas driver’s or gun license, a military ID or a passport. Federal courts have repeatedly ruled that the law is racially discriminatory. The Texas law was at first blocked under Section 5 of the federal Voting Rights Act, which required some states and localities with a history of discrimination to obtain federal permission before changing voting procedures. After the Supreme Court effectively struck down Section 5 in 2013 in Shelby County v. Holder, an Alabama case, Texas officials announced that they would start enforcing the ID law.

Editorials: Time to revamp Virginia redistricting | The Virginian-Pilot

Much like Sisyphus pushing his boulder up a mountainside, advocates for redistricting reform will spend today lobbying lawmakers in Richmond to support changes to the way that all-important process is conducted. Perhaps, this time, they’ll have better results than the mythological figure of Greek lore. The nonpartisan One Virginia 2021 group wants the General Assembly to amend the state constitution to clarify the legal obligations for representative districts. They are also seeking serious consideration of bills that would explore alternatives to the rigged process of drawing those lines. Theirs is a straightforward case to make: Fair and equitable representation in the General Assembly and in Congress demands nonpartisan, independent redistricting based on federal guidelines and common-sense parameters.

Europe: Elections Could Undermine The Euro And German Automakers | Forbes

U.S. President Donald Trump has said the European Union is really a vehicle for Germany, but this advantage might run off a cliff if elections this year favor Brexit-style politicians who could destroy the euro and severely damage the German auto industry, at least in the short-term. In an interview with The Times of London before the inauguration, Trump dismissed the E.U. as a “vehicle for Germany.” German industry in general and the automotive industry in particular benefited hugely from the adoption of the euro single currency in 2002. Before the euro, Germany’s auto industry was forced to price its products in ever stronger deutschmarks. But the adoption of the euro gave it a huge competitive boost as the currency is weakened by much less efficient competitors within the eurozone. This would come to an end if the euro currency system collapsed.

Canada: Report suggests big changes for Vancouver’s local elections | The Globe and Mail

Vancouver should move to a proportional-representation system for its civic elections, allow immigrants who aren’t yet citizens to vote and place tighter controls on campaign finance, including asking councillors to excuse themselves from decisions that involve their donors, says an independent report commissioned by the city. The report, which will be considered by council on Tuesday, proposes widespread changes to local elections, which have suffered from poor turnout in recent years as the amount of money spent by campaigns skyrocketed. Politicians in the city have also faced increasing scrutiny over council approvals of projects whose developers are among the largest donors to the city’s political parties. However, the city could not implement any of those changes without the support of the provincial government, which has previously been reluctant to tighten campaign-finance rules, either at the local or provincial levels.

France: With French Socialists in Crisis, Manuel Valls and Benoît Hamon Head to Runoff | The New York Times

A furious Jean-Marc Ducourtioux shouted with his fellow union members as they banged on the plexiglass window of a meeting hall in small-town France. Inside was Manuel Valls, the former Socialist prime minister, who was campaigning for president in this bastion of the French left. A member of France’s oldest trade union, Mr. Ducourtioux, 52, was a stalwart Socialist Party voter who once might have been inside, cheering. But no longer. His hands callused by three decades as a metalworker, Mr. Ducourtioux is angry that the Socialist government has failed to stop French automakers from moving factories outside the country, as manufacturing declines in this decaying region. He said he was at risk of losing his job at an automotive subcontractor. “Mr. Valls knew the situation here,” Mr. Ducourtioux said. “He did nothing.” France’s presidential election this year is being closely watched as a barometer of European public disaffection, and no party is more visibly out of favor than the governing Socialists. President François Hollande, a Socialist, is so deeply unpopular that he is not running for re-election.

Iran: Electronic Voting Machines Pass Security Tests | Financial Tribune

Domestically-designed machines built to replace ballot boxes in the upcoming city council elections have been successfully tested, removing doubts over the implementation of electronic voting in Iranian elections. Abolfazl Aboutorabi, a member of Majlis Councils and Internal Affairs Commission, made the announcement in a talk with ICANA on Saturday. The elections will be held on May 19, concurrent with the presidential polls. A special parliamentary board, comprising three members of Majlis Councils and Internal Affairs Commission and two from Majlis Article 90 Commission, is tasked with vetting candidates and overseeing the city council elections.

Editorials: Turkey′s crucial referendum on the horizon | Deutsche Welle

While the world was focused on the United States and the new president taking office, on the other side of the Atlantic, big changes were underway in an allied country. The Turkish parliament managed to pass controversial constitutional amendments. The two-round voting on the changes agreed to by the ruling AKP and nationalist MHP parties earned enough votes to carry the decision to the final stage: a vote by the people. The second round of voting lasted until after midnight and into the early hours of the morning. Even though the government refuses to say this vote will change Turkey, it will. The amendments give all the power to one person, with almost no accountability. The Turkish-style presidency, as the AKP likes to market it, would be a malfunctioning structure that is going to remove whatever is left of the instruments of democracy. The two-round voting took less than two weeks. The extremely technical and radical changes were barely mentioned in public. Besides some populist statements, citizens had little insight into what was being discussed in parliament and how this would influence their lives in the long run. The fact that the constitutional change has been brought before parliament during a state of emergency also raises questions as to why the government is so eager to make such quick changes. Should it not focus all its energy and attention on lifting the state of emergency and eliminating the instability and terror in the country? Instead, the AKP and MHP are busy changing structures that require thorough discussion and examination.