National: Trump Says Voter Fraud Is a Huge Problem. A Top Republican Election Official Disagrees | Time

As voters began selecting their next president, Donald Trump repeatedly warned that Election 2016 was “rigged.” Millions of people, Trump said, are registered in two states and may therefore vote twice. Others would steal identities from the dead. Voting machines would malfunction. In January, less than a week into his presidency, Trump told lawmakers that between 3 million and 5 million illegal votes caused him to lose the popular vote — though not the election itself — to Democrat Hillary Clinton. He told senators a tale about ineligible voters being bussed into New Hampshire from Massachusetts. Trump then tapped Vice President Mike Pence to lead an investigation into voter fraud. … That’s not how Matthew Masterson sees it. Masterson, the newly minted Republican chairman of the bipartisan U.S. Election Assistance Commission, ranks Election 2016 among the most trouble-free elections ever.

Alabama: Gov. Kay Ivey ‘evaluating’ earlier special election for Senate seat held by Luther Strange |

Gov. Kay Ivey is considering setting a special election for Alabama’s U.S. Senate seat that former Gov. Robert Bentley had delayed until late next year. The vacancy, currently filled by Bentley-appointee Luther Strange, came when the Senate confirmed Jeff Sessions as U.S. attorney general. As governor, Bentley had sole discretion on when to schedule the special election and he chose to include it in the next general election in November 2018. With Ivey ascending to governor, there has been a new call for the special election to be set sooner. Ivey’s office said Wednesday she is “still evaluating” the idea and has not made a decision yet.

Arizona: Dispute arises from state query about election system | Tucson News Now

At present, 13 of the state’s 15 counties are linked into the state system, but the two counties each maintain their own voter systems and databases. Pima County recently spent $4 million upgrading and implementing its system. The Secretary of State is exploring the possibility of replacing the statewide system with a more modern platform. The Arizona system was one of two systems nationwide that was hacked last summer. Following an FBI investigation, it was thought to be by Russian hackers. During the investigation, the state system, as well as the 13 counties on the system, were shut down for a week. “Maricopa and Pima Counties were able to keep working, processing voter requests, processing whatever we needed to do,” said Pima County Recorder F. Ann Rodriquez.

Arizona: Senate advances another initiative-limiting bill | The Arizona Republic

The state Senate on Wednesday approved a bill to curb the citizen-initiative process, following another controversial initiative measure that passed last month. House Bill 2244 imposes a “strict compliance” legal standard on measures that citizen groups want to bring to the ballot. What that ultimately could mean would be up to the courts. But in a lengthy debate, senators sketched scenarios in which it could head off potential problems, or could go as far as disqualifying a voter’s signature if he used a shortened version of his name instead of how it appears on his voter registration. The bill is part of an effort this year by Republican lawmakers, backed by the chambers of commerce, including the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, to put further limits on the process by which citizens can make law.

California: Secretary of State wants primary election right after Iowa, New Hampshire | The Sacramento Bee

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla moved Tuesday to the forefront of a recurring effort to give statewide voters more influence in the presidential primary. Padilla, a Democrat from Los Angeles who is widely seen as a potential candidate for U.S. Senate, said he wants the state’s June 2020 presidential primary moved up to at least the third Tuesday in March, immediately behind Iowa and New Hampshire. Padilla is supporting state legislation, Senate Bill 568 by Sen. Ricardo Lara, that also would authorize the governor to bump up the primary even earlier if other states move up their primary elections.

Illinois: Voter registration bill sent to governor’s desk | Tribune Star

A measure sponsored by state Rep. Clyde Kersey aimed at improving voter turnout cleared the Indiana House on Wednesday and now awaits the signature of Gov. Eric Holcomb. House members concurred with Senate changes to House Bill 1178. The measure is the only piece of election reform that appears likely to pass this session, according to Kersey, D-Terre Haute. House Bill 1178 requires Bureau of Motor Vehicles employees to ask each person conducting business at the local license branch if they would like to register to vote. If the answer is yes, the employee must provide the proper forms to register, then provide additional information on how to file the paperwork with the county voter registration office.

Iowa: Democrats question GOP’s spending on voter ID | The Gazette

After debating a voter ID bill for more than five hours Monday, Rep. Bruce Hunter wasn’t about to ignore its $700,000 cost. Hunter, D-Des Moines, challenged the line item in the Secretary of State’s budget during a meeting Tuesday of the Administration and Regulation Appropriations Subcommittee. He challenged any committee member to explain why the money was needed to implement House File 516, which is awaiting final approval in the Senate. Hunter and fellow Democrats repeatedly asked majority Republicans what problem they were trying to solve. There have been few problems with voter fraud and impersonation, “but we give them $700,000 to chase Don Quixote,” Hunter said. “Given the cuts in other departments, it is unconscionable to put in $700,000 for a problem that doesn’t exist,” he said.

Kentucky: Early Voting Provisions Grimes Championed Become Law | WMKY

A new law to strengthen Kentucky’s early voting statutes took effect late Tuesday, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes announced Wednesday. Gov. Matt Bevin signed House Bill 319 into law just before the 10-day veto period expired after the General Assembly adjourned. “I am extremely proud to see part of the early voting reforms we have pushed for years finally take effect,” Grimes said. “This new law will give thousands of voters who struggle with age, a disability or illness a path to have their voices heard by voting early via mail or in person.”

Montana: Clerks association chief wants ballot issue on House floor | Great Falls Tribune

The Montana Association of Clerks and Recorders and Election Administrators president sent a letter Wednesday to House Speaker Austin Knudsen, asking him to bring an amendment to the House floor as soon as possible that would allow mail-in ballots for the May 25 special election. It’s a proposal that the speaker and other top Republicans oppose, saying such an election process favors Democrats. Voters will cast ballots to fill the seat vacated by Ryan Zinke who was named U.S. secretary of the interior under President Donald Trump. Earlier attempts to get lawmakers to support a mail-in ballot have failed. On Friday, Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock used his amendatory veto powers and rewrote House Bill 83, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Bryce Bennett of Missoula. He specified that the special election to fill the vacancy for U.S. representative be conducted by mail.

New Hampshire: Another plan to deal with elections moved by the blizzard | Concord Monitor

Another option has been added to the ongoing puzzle about how to cope with town meeting elections that were moved due to the March 14 blizzard: a proposal to allow local elected officials to decide whether the election was legal. The proposal, which describes itself as “the least detrimental of two unfortunate options,” was put forward in an amendment added to House Bill 329, a bill created to study how municipalities do their billing. The plan would ratify all elections for offices held by the roughly 73 communities that postponed town meeting voting due to the snowstorm that hit March 14. It would then give the local governing body, such as the select board or the school board, authority to ratify or not ratify everything else that was done by voters, which includes zoning ordinances and, for SB 2 communities, all other town business, including budgets and bonded warrant articles.

Oregon: Richardson unveils plan to reinstate inactive voters | The Oregonian

Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson on Tuesday announced plans to reinstate thousands of Oregon voters on the inactive list and keep thousands more from lapsing into inactive status. Under current law, Oregon voters are given inactive status and are no longer mailed a ballot if they haven’t voted in at least five years. Richardson is proposing an administrative rule change to keep voters from landing on the inactive list until ten years of not voting. In his first press conference since being elected secretary of state, Richardson, a Republican, said the rule change would reinstate at least 30,000 voters and keep another 30,000 from going inactive.

Texas: Analysis: A law that lets political majorities cheat — and win | The Texas Tribune

Holy cow — now there’s another ruling against Texas election law. Once again, a federal judge has found that the state’s lawmakers intentionally discriminated on the basis of race when they were changing voting rules. If this happens enough times, the state might actually be forced to change its ways. In last month’s redistricting ruling from a three-judge federal panel in San Antonio, and in this week’s ruling on Voter ID, Texas was called out for intentional racial discrimination. The state seems to be doing everything in its power to prove that it cannot be trusted with voting rights. Maybe that’s no surprise. You know what political people are like: They’re the kind of people who bend and stretch the rules to make sure they’ll win. They cut corners when they think nobody is looking. They do every single thing they think they can get away with. The winners get to run the government.

Ecuador: Opposition candidate challenges election results | Associated Press

Opposition candidate Guillermo Lasso filed a complaint Wednesday challenging Ecuador election results that show he narrowly lost to President Rafael Correa’s handpicked successor. The former banker is demanding a recount of all votes cast in the election, repeating accusations of fraud and saying if Lenin Moreno takes power he will head an illegitimate government. “It’s necessary to be in the streets,” he told supporters at an event announcing the election challenge. Official results released Monday show Lasso lost to Lenin Moreno by less than three points. The election was closely watched in Latin America as an indicator of whether the region would continue to shift right after recent conservative candidate wins in countries including Peru and Argentina.

France: Presidential election launches with an unprecedented choice of 11 candidates | Los Angeles Times

For voters, it is a case of plus ça change — same-old-same-old — after four months during which the leadership battle has dominated the headlines as it veered from scandal to scandal. France’s presidential election campaign was launched Monday, two weeks before the first round that sees voters faced with an unprecedented choice of 11 candidates. The official opening of the race means all runners, major or minor, must be given the same airtime on television and radio and the same poster space on the municipal billboards. With two weeks to go, two of the front-runners are under investigation for fraud, and the traditional socialist and conservative parties who have governed France for more than 50 years are struggling to remain in the race.

India: Election Commission challenges political parties, experts to hack, tamper their electronic voting machines | News Nation

The Election Commission on Wednesday dared political parties and experts through “open challenge” by inviting them to hack their EVMs and show they can be tampered with. While the Commission is yet to decide on the exact date, it said the challenge would be held in the first week of Mayand could continue for ten days. The last time such an event had taken place was in 2009 when 100 machines from different parts of the country were kept at Vigyan Bhawan. No one, EC claimed, could hack the electronic voting machines. When Delhi Chief Minister and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal had met Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi with a complaint on EVMs last week, he was told that the poll panel is planning such an event. This time, the venue could be Nirvachan Sadan, the ECheadquarters. The specifics would be decided by the Commission’s technical expert committee on EVMs and the details would be made public in the next couple of days.

Ecuador: Opposition Candidate Challenges Election Results | VoA News

Opposition candidate Guillermo Lasso filed a complaint Wednesday challenging Ecuador election results that show he narrowly lost to President Rafael Correa’s handpicked successor. The former banker is demanding a recount of all votes cast in the election, repeating accusations of fraud and saying if Lenin Moreno takes power he will head an illegitimate government. “It’s necessary to be in the streets,” he told supporters at an event announcing the election challenge.

Lebanon: President blocks expected extension of parliament’s term | Reuters

Lebanese President Michel Aoun suspended parliament for a month on Wednesday, temporarily blocking plans to extend the assembly’s term without election for the third time since 2013 to try to push politicians to agree election law reforms. Parliament was expected to vote on Thursday to extend its own mandate again until 2018, officials said. The lawmakers were elected in 2009 for what was meant to be a four-year term. The president’s move eased tensions simmering after activists had called for protests against the planned extension, which they decried as a blow to democracy. The two previous extensions triggered massive protests in central Beirut. … For years, the parties have been unable to agree on a new electoral law – resulting in parliament twice extending its own mandate, moves that critics including the European Union have condemned as unconstitutional.

Montenegro: U.S. says ‘credible reports’ Russia tried to interfere with Montenegro elections | Reuters

The United States said on Wednesday there are credible reports that Russia attempted to interfere in elections last October in Montenegro, which formally became a member of NATO this week. The accusation came as U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met Russian officials in Moscow and as President Donald Trump prepared to meet NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the White House. “We are very concerned about Russian interference in the October elections in Montenegro, including credible reports of Russian support for an attempted election day attack on the government,” a senior White House official told reporters at a briefing ahead of Stoltenberg’s visit.

Turkey: Referendum: millions of voters with myriad views | Reuters

There are only two options on the ballot – “yes” or “no” – but tens of millions of Turks will cast their votes in a referendum on Sunday with a myriad of motives. The referendum could bring about the biggest change to Turkey’s system of governance since the founding of the modern republic almost a century ago, replacing its parliamentary system with an executive presidency. The question on the ballot paper may be about the constitution, but looming large is the figure of President Tayyip Erdogan, who could win sweeping powers and stay in office until 2029 if the changes are approved. Polls show a close race, with a slight lead for “yes”. But the vote may yield surprises. “I’m a patriot,” said Cengiz Topcu, 57, a fisherman in Rize on the Black Sea coast, Erdogan’s ancestral home town where his supporters are among the most fervent. Topcu is voting “no”.