National: Senator asks DHS for plans to treat election infrastructure as critical | The Hill

A Democratic senator is looking for answers on whether the Trump administration will keep in place the designation of election infrastructure as “critical” and, if so, how the new administration plans to implement it. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) directed a number of questions at Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly in a letter this month in order to better understand the designation, which was made by his predecessor Jeh Johnson just weeks before Barack Obama left the White House. The designation was also made in timing with the release of the intelligence community’s report on Russian election interference, which assessed that Russian intelligence accessed elements of state and local electoral boards. In doing so, the Obama administration opened up election infrastructure—including polling places, vote tabulations locations, and technology such as voting machines and registration databases-–to federal protections upon request from state and local governments.

National: Top Election Officials Have No Idea What Trump Is Planning To Do In His Voter Fraud Investigation | The Huffington Post

Despite insistence that widespread voter fraud exists and pledges to investigate the matter fully, it seems the Trump administration has not bothered to contact top state election officials across the country. The Huffington Post asked all 50 secretaries of state and election officials in the District of Columbia if they had been contacted by the White House or Department of Justice regarding the forthcoming investigation. Not a single secretary of state’s office responded to say that it had. Forty-one different secretaries of state and election officials in the District of Columbia said they had not been contacted. Eight states ― Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, Tennessee and Wyoming ― did not respond to repeated requests for comment. The Texas Attorney General’s office, which handles investigations into voter fraud in the state, declined to comment. “Not a peep,” Linda Lamone, the state administrator of elections in Maryland wrote in an email.

Idaho: Senate committee kills bill to restrict early voting dates | The Spokesman-Review

HB 150, the House-passed bill that sought to limit early voting in Idaho counties so that it could occur only from three weeks before an election to one week before, ran into trouble in the Senate State Affairs Committee this morning. Sen. Marv Hagedorn’s motion to pass the bill died for lack of a second. Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise, then moved to send the bill to the Senate’s amending order for changes, to expand it to add another week of possible early voting time for counties; Hagedorn seconded the motion. Sen. Todd Lakey spoke against the motion. “This seems to be more about the convenience for the candidate than for the electorate,” he said. “I don’t like curtailing it. I don’t know if the amending order is the right way to handle this. I prefer to see a more consensus bill come forward if there is one.” Hagedorn’s motion then died on a 4-4 tie, with Sens. Hagedorn, Hill, Winder and Lodge supporting it; and Sens. Lakey, Stennett, Buckner-Webb and Siddoway opposing it.

Illinois: Automatic voter registration moves to Illinois Senate floor | Associated Press

A Senate committee approved a new automatic voter registration plan Wednesday, sending to the floor a proposal that advocates say is tighter than one Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner rejected last year. Democratic Sen. Andy Manar’s plan would allow residents to automatically register to vote when they visit certain state agencies. The Senate committee endorsed Manar’s measure Wednesday with a 10-3 vote. Rauner vetoed similar legislation last year, fearing it did not contain enough safeguards to prevent voter fraud. Rauner’s spokeswoman, Eleni Demertzis, wouldn’t say whether he supports the new plan. The updated version requires residents to confirm their eligibility before information is passed along to election officials or confidentially opt out instead. Its predecessor would have filed applications regardless, leaving election officials to follow up.

Kansas: House members seek to strip Kobach of power to appoint election commissioners | The Topeka Capital-Journal

A fresh effort surfaced Wednesday in the House to transform election commissioners into locally elected positions instead of appointments by the Secretary of State — a change that would affect Shawnee County. Members of the House Elections Committee tacked an amendment onto a Senate bill that proponents say would make election offices in the state’s largest counties accountable to the people they serve. Rep. John Alcala, D-Topeka, said he supports the change and sees it as a matter of local control. “To me, it all falls back on local control,” Alcala said. “And I think that’s where it should be.” The Topeka Capital-Journal contacted Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office seeking comment. Kobach has previously told The Capital-Journal lawmakers should leave the appointing system as it is.

Nebraska: Senator: Nebraska voting equipment needs to be replaced | Associated Press

Lawmakers need to look seriously at replacing Nebraska’s election equipment even though it could cost the state $20 million to $30 million, a leading senator said Wednesday. Sen. John Murante of Gretna said the current equipment is on pace to fail and create major headaches for counties, which are responsible for administering elections. “We simply cannot do nothing,” said Murante, the chairman of the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. “That is not an option.” His comments during a legislative hearing drew support from Secretary of State John Gale, who said the state should continue covering the cost rather than counties.

Voting Blogs: The Demise of North Dakota’s Voter Identification Law | State of Elections

In one sense, North Dakota’s voting laws are lax as North Dakota is the only state without voter registration requirements. In another sense, North Dakota’s voting laws are anything but lax as a federal district court recently found North Dakota’s voter identification law (also referred to as “HB 1332”) to be unduly burdensome. In his opinion in Brakebill v. Jaeger, District Judge Daniel L. Hovland determined HB 1332 to be unduly burdensome to North Dakota’s Native American population, writing that “[t]he public interest in protecting the most cherished right to vote for thousands of Native Americans who currently lack a qualifying ID and cannot obtain one, outweighs the purported interest and arguments of the State.” Judge Hovland granted a motion for a preliminary injunction against the law, barring North Dakota from enforcing the law (but not striking the law down).

Rhode Island: Town leaders raising doubts about early voting proposal | The Valley Breeze

A state proposal to offer early voting during the 20 days before official election dates would cost Cumberland at least an added $20,000, Town Clerk Sandra Giovanelli said this week. Calling it an “unfunded mandate” by state officials, Mayor Bill Murray and a coalition of mayors and administrators are readying opposition to this plan that will require hiring personnel and record-keeping challenges during one of the busiest times in Town Hall. Giovanelli’s $20,000 is based on the current wage paid for election clerks and doesn’t include the cost of renting space or other expenses.

Texas: Effort advances to eliminate straight-party voting in Texas | Community Impact

The push to eliminate one-punch voting in Texas is once again alive. A bill proposed by Rep. Ron Simmons, R-Carollton, was voted out of the House Elections Committee Monday evening, 5-2, and will face debate on the House floor. Texas is one of nine states nationally that currently still offers this option to voters on election days. This style of voting has become a popular topic of contention among statewide officeholders because of its nature to vote out less popular office holders with partisan trends. When Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick served in the state Senate, he was one of the leaders behind this charge.

India: Election Commission should probe into electronic voting machine tampering charges: Congress | The Economic Times

The Congress today said the Election Commission should probe into the EVM tampering charges made by some parties to ensure that voters’ confidence is not shattered and there is no blot on India’s democracy. “If any party has doubts over efficacy of EVMs, it is the Election Commission’s duty to hold a probe. The EC’s first responsibility is the voters should have confidence that the vote cast by them reaches the person they want,” Congress spokesperson Sushmita Dev said. “India is the largest democracy and we take pride in that. We should not allow any blot on it. The Election Commission should hold an investigation and we do not have any objection,” she said. Asked if the Congress is ready for a probe in Punjab too where the AAP is alleging EVM tampering, she said her party has the confidence and does not fear any investigation.

Netherlands: Mass Twitter Hack as Dutch Election Begins | Handelsblatt

Twitter was hacked on a large scale on Wednesday and swastikas and messages supporting Turkish leaders were posted on accounts around the world. The thousands of accounts affected spanned institutions such as the United Kingdom’s health department and Amnesty International, to media including the BBC in the United States and Forbes to celebrities such as singer Justin Bieber and German soccer club Borussia Dortmund.

Netherlands: With 28 parties running, Dutch voters have to use these really huge ballots | The Washington Post

The Dutch are voting, and much of the world is watching to see whether far-right populist Geert Wilders will come out on top. But Wilders and his party, the Party for Freedom (PVV), are far from the only force in the election. A record 28 parties are competing for the 150 seats in the lower house of Dutch parliament, known as the Tweede Kamer. In practical terms, this has a very obvious effect on voting day: The Dutch ballots are enormous. So enormous, in fact, that people can’t stop sharing photos of them.

United Kingdom: Theresa May dismisses calls for a border poll on a united Ireland | Independent

British Prime Minister Theresa May has said it is not the right time for Ireland to hold a border poll on independence.
Ms May said parties in Northern Ireland should instead be focused on reforming the Executive in the country after the collapse of power sharing. The prospect of a united Ireland has risen as a result of Brexit and the decision by Taoiseach Enda Kenny to announce a referendum to extend voting rights to Irish emigrants. But the Democratic Unionist Party has again reiterated its opposition to a referendum on a united Ireland. DUP MP Nigel Dodds accused Sinn Féin of causing further “uncertainty and division” by its fresh calls for a border poll on Irish unity.

Zimbabwe: ‘No e-voting in Zimbabwe’s 2018 elections,’ says Makarau | Bulawayo24

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is not intending to use e-voting in the 2018 harmonised elections although it is intending to procure biometric registration kits to register voters. In an interview, ZEC chairperson Justice Rita Makarau said the biometric kits being acquired by government will only be used to capture the usual identity details plus the finger prints in order to improve the credibility of the voters roll and avoid disputed election results. Biometric voter registration (BVR) is expected to capture voters’ unique biometric features, specifically fingerprints and facial imaging which will be recorded in a database.