National: Judge Sends Voter Registration Case Back to Election Assistance Commission | Courthouse News Service

A federal judge says it’s up to the Election Assistance Commission to decide whether its executive director exceeded his authority when he allowed three states to change a national mail voter registration form to include a requirement of proof of U.S. citizenship. U.S. District Judge Richard Leon, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, held the case must be remanded to the commission “for the limited purpose of providing an interpretation of its internal directive which is necessary for resolution of the threshold issue of whether [Executive Director Brian] Newby acted within his subdelegated authority.” The dispute over the form involves Newby’s 2016 decision to allow Alabama, Georgia and Kansas to change the voter registration form. The three states had previously requested the modifications to reflect their respective state laws. Newby said that he considered their approval to be “ministerial.”

National: Democrats try new tactic to get Trump’s tax returns | The Hill

State legislators across the country are debating new measures that would require candidates running for president to publicly disclose their tax returns to qualify for the ballot. The measures are aimed at President Trump, who became the first White House candidate in recent times refuse to release his tax documents to the public. Democrats, incensed by Trump’s false claims of being prevented from releasing the documents because of an IRS audit, see the legislation on the state level as a way to force the president’s hand when he seeks reelection in 2020. “Tax return information would provide some transparency there to give voters the assurance that they need that the president is acting on behalf of us,” said Kathleen Clyde, an Ohio state representative who recently introduced a version of the bill. “It is problematic that he is the only candidate in 30 or 40 years not to provide that information.”

Editorials: The Justice Department to black voters: Don’t bother | The Washington Post

Texas is suffering the first consequence of the Trump administration’s indifference to voting rights, which is a polite way of characterizing the ongoing Republican campaign to disenfranchise young and minority voters who tend to support Democrats. In one of his first significant moves since taking office, Attorney General Jeff Sessions threw cold water on long-standing efforts by the Justice Department to clean up a blatantly discriminatory Texas law clearly designed to suppress African American and other Democratic-leaning votes. The move was in keeping with Mr. Sessions’s long-standing hostility to civil and voting rights, and with a widespread view within the GOP that nothing short of blatant hate speech should be considered as racism. However, by pulling back from the lawsuit seeking changes in the Texas statute, the administration threw in the towel on four years of efforts by civil rights lawyers in the Justice Department, which had so far been successful in the federal courts.

Editorials: Elections: State Progress, Federal Train Wreck | Miles Rapoport/The American Prospect

The National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) met February 16 and 17 on Pennsylvania Avenue, two blocks from the White House. Ironically, despite irresponsible claims of massive voter fraud and legitimate worries about voter suppression, participants in the NASS Conference and its sister group, the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED), had a fair amount to feel pretty good about. They could reflect upon an Election Day in November that in a procedural sense went fairly smoothly—not a description often applied to the 2016 election. The chaos and conflict at the polls that was feared by many did not materialize. The incidence of long lines and polling place problems was significantly reduced from 2012, and the gaps between the experiences of voters in white precincts and precincts in communities of color narrowed as well, according to MIT Professor Charles Stewart, based on the Survey on the Performance of American Elections conducted immediately after the elections. Two issues, however, were too fraught with partisan conflict to achieve any consensus on the part of the assembled secretaries of state: Russian hacking and calculated interference in the election, and the president’s claim of massive voter fraud.

Alabama: NAACP Legal Defense Fund: More than 100,000 Alabama registered voters can’t cast a ballot |

More than 100,000 registered voters in Alabama can’t vote because they don’t have the photo identification required by the state, an attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund said Friday. And most of those who don’t have the photo identifications are poor, black or Latino, the lawyer says. A federal lawsuit challenging Alabama’s requirement that voters present photo identification before they can cast a ballot was filed in 2015 on behalf of the Alabama NAACP and Greater Birmingham Ministries. The lawsuit alleges the 2011 photo ID law is racially discriminatory, violating the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. A trial has been set for December in the case.

Georgia: As many as 7.5 million voter records involved in data breach | Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Millions of Georgia voters may have had their personal information compromised for the second time in as many years, as the Federal Bureau of Investigation opened an investigation Friday at Kennesaw State University’s Center for Election Systems involving an alleged data breach. As many as 7.5 million voter records may be involved, according to a top state official briefed on the information but not authorized to speak on the record. Neither federal officials nor university officials would confirm the scope of the investigation or how many records had potentially been accessed. State officials found out about the breach Thursday evening, after being notified by the university. The governor’s office said it asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to contact the FBI after learning about the scope of the problem. “After learning of this incident at Kennesaw State University, we reached out to law enforcement,” Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp said. “This matter is deeply concerning, but I am confident the FBI working with KSU will track down the perpetrator.”

Georgia: House GOP tweaks district maps as Democrats cry foul | Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia House Republicans made a late bid Friday to change the district boundaries for eight Republicans and one Democrat. The one Democrat, Rep. Sheila Jones, D-Atlanta, is not happy. Jones said she didn’t know about House Bill 515 until it was being presented to the Reapportionment Committee late Wednesday afternoon. The House voted 108-59 on Friday to approve the bill, which allowed it meet the “Crossover Day” deadline for bills to pass from one chamber to another without parliamentary maneuvering. The House vote came just three days after the bill was first introduced; most bills take weeks or months to reach the House floor.

Kansas: Judge hears arguments in voter registration case | The Kansas City Star

Opponents of a Kansas law requiring proof of citizenship before residents can register to vote asked a federal judge Friday to void the requirement. During oral arguments in Kansas City, Kan., attorneys representing voters denied registration asked for summary judgment in their companion cases, rather than going to trial. They argued that evidence already on the record proves that elements of the law were unconstitutional. The law is flawed, the lawyers said, because it doesn’t treat all eligible voters equally. It applies only to new voters, exempting all who registered before Jan. 1, 2013, from having to show proof of citizenship.

Maine: Attorney General, Republicans tell high court they believe ranked-choice voting is unconstitutional | State & Capitol

Maine Attorney General Janet Mills and legislative Republicans told the state’s high court on Friday that the ranked-choice voting system approved by voters in 2016 is unconstitutional, setting up a fight with advocates for the law. Legal briefs were due to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Friday ahead of an April oral argument in a proceeding initiated last month by the Maine Senate asking for an advisory opinion on the new law’s constitutionality. The system would apply in gubernatorial, congressional and legislative races with three or more candidates. A winner would be declared if a majority picks a candidate as their first choice, but if that doesn’t happen, the candidate with the lowest share of first-place votes is eliminated and second-place votes for that candidate are reallocated. That process that would be repeated until a majority is won.

Minnesota: Officials say eBay not the answer for voting machines | Forum News Service

Minnesota’s local government officials say searching the eBay online auction site for voting machine parts is not the best way to keep the foundation of democracy running smoothly. The company that made much of Minnesota’s voting equipment, especially for disabled voters, has moved on to newer technologies and parts for machines used in most Minnesota polling places are hard to find. “The best answer to that is eBay,” Administrative Services Director Deborah Erickson, of Crow Wing County, told a Minnesota House committee Wednesday, before the panel approved a bill providing counties $14 million next year.

Montana: Election administrators struggle to prepare for special election | Ravalli Republic

The decision to set the election date for Montana’s lone congressman on the Thursday just before Memorial Day weekend has sent election administrations scrambling. Ravalli County Clerk and Recorder Regina Plettenberg said the governor selected one of the three worst dates possible for the election to fill the seat vacated by now Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke. “I know the train of thought was to get it done as quickly as possible so the state can have a replacement in Congress,” Plettenberg said. “Election administrators across the state did ask for June 6, but unfortunately that wasn’t the date selected.” Instead, Gov. Steve Bullock selected Thursday, May 25 to hold the special election.

Ohio: Homeless advocates ask U.S. Supreme Court to take up Ohio voter disenfranchisement case | Cleveland Plain Dealer

Advocates for the homeless who have waged a multi-year legal battle to challenge Ohio’s provisional and absentee ballot rules are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take up their case. The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, the Columbus Coalition for the Homeless and the Ohio Democratic Party filed its petition Friday. The groups say large groups of minority voters have been disenfranchised solely because of technical errors and omissions on voter ballot forms for absentee and provisional ballots. The petition says a federal appeals court in Atlanta has ruled differently than the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on whether private citizens can sue to enforce a certain provision of federal law pertaining to voting. The provision prohibits denying the right to vote based on missing or incorrect information on applications that do not prevent election workers from confirming a voter’s eligibility.

Utah: After unusual Republican Party support, Democrat passes election-reform bill | The Salt Lake Tribune

GOP legislators long had balked at a proposal by Democrat Rebecca Chavez-Houck for “ranked choice voting.” But after the central committee of the Utah Republican Party endorsed the idea last weekend, many lawmakers changed their minds. The House voted 59-12 to pass Chavez-Houck’s bill, HB349, and sent it to the Senate — where it is expected to face tougher sledding. The bill would create an instant runoff system in multi-candidate primary elections. Voters would rank their first-, second-, third-choice, etc. If no one achieves a majority initially, the lowest-vote-receiving candidate would be eliminated. Supporters of that eliminated candidate would have votes shifted to their second-choice. The process would repeat until someone wins a majority.

Virginia: Another redistricting blow for Virginia GOP: Judges award $1.3 million in attorneys fees | Daily Press

A federal court has awarded $1.3 million to the attorneys who successfully sued to redraw Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District, an amount assessed partially against Virginia taxpayers and partly against current and former Republican members of Congress. The case is one of three redistricting lawsuits in Virginia, and the only one that has seen full conclusion with last year’s redrawing of U.S. Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott’s district. Legal fees in these cases have run into the millions, much of it borne by taxpayers, as Republicans and Democrats fight over the district lines so crucial to winning elections.

France: Moscow Behind High-Level Attacks, Emmanuel Macrons Aide Claims | International Business Times

After allegedly targeting the U.S. election, Russia may hack into the French elections with continued “high-level attacks” and its state-sponsored media spreading fake news, presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron’s digital campaign manager told Sky News on Sunday. French voters conduct the first round of balloting for president April 23, followed by a May 7 runoff between the top two candidates. “We are accusing Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik News (of being) the first source of false information shared about our candidate and all the other symbiotic ways of working with all these fascist organizations or extreme right news organizations,” Mounir Mahjoubi said. “At the same time, during the same period, with the same rhythm, we are the victim, the target of hackers on our servers. … We have been the targets of multiple attempts of hacking but we succeeded to stop all of them.”

India: Election Commission plans to replace all pre-2006 EVMs with advanced M3 machines | The Economic Times

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi having advocated simultaneous Lok Sabha and state assembly polls in several of his public speeches and President Pranab Mukherjee lending him support, sufficient background is being created for the roll out of this major election makeover. While the Election Commission of India waits for the government to take more concrete legal action, it is alongside readying the new age EVM to take on the challenge. The latest avatar of the Electronic Voting Machine is called ‘M3’ and the Election Commission is looking to ramp up its production ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The plans are to replace all pre 2006 EVMs with the M3- a more sophisticated machine with built in self diagnostics, minimal chances of machine failure and the ability to clamp shut the moment any tampering effort is made.

Netherlands: Dutch go old school against Russian hacking | Poitico

Better safe than sorry. That’s the Dutch government’s approach to dealing with the fear of Russian election hacking. The tech-savvy country scaled back the use of computers to count votes and opt for an all-paper, all-manual election this month. It is one of the more drastic responses to a threat that France and Germany, which also hold elections this year, have also started to grapple with. The Dutch government has known about some of the vulnerabilities in the voting software since 2006 and banned electronic voting in 2007, but has been publicly — and frequently — reminded ever since by academics and hackers of vulnerabilities in the software used to count the votes. A decade later, the country hasn’t come up with a secure tech system to cast and count votes.

United Kingdom: DUP’s Arlene Foster ‘to stay as Northern Ireland first minister’ | The Guardian

The embattled leader of the Democratic Unionists in Northern Ireland, Arlene Foster, will remain in her post despite her party losing 10 seats in Thursday’s election to the devolved assembly in Belfast, one of her MPs has said. Jeffrey Donaldson insisted that instead of seeking her resignation the focus should be “on Arlene and the party getting a government up and running again at Stormont”. Sinn Féin is now only one seat behind the DUP after a bruising and divisive election caused by Foster’s refusal to temporarily stand down as Northern Ireland’s first minister following a botched green energy scheme scandal which has the potential of costing taxpayers £500,000.