National: Mike Conaway Emerges From Relative Obscurity to Lead House Russia Inquiry | The New York Times

President Trump does not know Mike Conaway. A Republican congressman from a long brush stroke of West Texas, Mr. Conaway recalled meeting with him at the White House with other House Republicans. And he has shaken hands with Mr. Trump, a “standard, 500-people-on-a-rope-line, shaken-hand kind of thing.” “He wouldn’t know me from third base,” Mr. Conaway said. Whether he has exchanged pleasantries with the president may not have mattered before, but it does now. Mr. Conaway is taking over the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election. He is replacing Representative Devin Nunes, the California Republican whose suspiciously cozy relationship with Mr. Trump derailed the inquiry before he was ultimately forced to step aside.

National: How will Big Data change gerrymandering? Both parties are eager to know what you do online | Salon

When you exit the Pennsylvania Turnpike just north of Pennsylvania, on Main Street in working-class Norristown, you’re in the overwhelmingly Democratic 13th congressional district — at least for a couple of miles. The help-wanted signs are in Spanish; people walk past the Premier Barber Institute, bail bondsmen, and the 99-cent stores wearing branded short-sleeve shirts from their chain-store jobs. But come around a corner and up and hill and suddenly the neighborhoods turn leafy and green. Suburban-looking dads walk large dogs with flowing tresses. The houses are lovely and set back from the road. This three-quarter-mile stretch is in one of the nation’s most infamously gerrymandered districts, Pennsylvania’s reliably Republican seventh, a one-time swing district so wildly drawn that it resembles Donald Duck kicking Goofy. Signs warn drivers not to tailgate.

National: The mathematician who’s using geometry to fight gerrymandering | PRI

After every new US census, states have to redraw their congressional districts to divide up their populations fairly. But in practice, these districts don’t always end up equal: Federal judges recently ordered Wisconsin lawmakers to redraw maps of the state’s legislative districts, after finding the districts had been shaped to favor Republican candidates. Allegations of gerrymandering are also playing out in states like Texas and North Carolina. So what does a gerrymandered district even look like on a map? More like a carved-out jigsaw piece than a rounded blot, as it turns out. But as Tufts University mathematician Moon Duchin explains, gerrymandering can be difficult to prove, even when something about a district’s shape seems fishy. “We’ve had justices saying that, ‘We know a bizarre, irrational shape when we see it, but we don’t know what precisely should the threshold be which makes a shape too tortured, or irregular, or unreasonable,’” she says. (Take a closer look at district shapes across the US.)

Arizona: Restrictions on citizen initiatives came after years-long effort | The Arizona Republic

Four years ago, Arizona lawmakers passed an ambitious plan to curb citizen initiatives and make other substantial changes to elections. They said new rules were needed to reduce voter fraud and streamline elections. That didn’t sell with a coalition of citizen groups. They called the bill voter suppression, and set out to block it. They scrambled, circulated petitions and got the bill referred to the 2014 ballot, where the state’s voters could decide whether to keep it on the books or toss it. Coalition members were confident voters would kill it. So were lawmakers. When they returned to the Capitol for work in early 2014, they repealed the measure and thus removed the issue from the ballot.

California: Lawmakers look to lower voting age | Associated Press

Donald Trump’s characterization of Mexican immigrants as criminals and rapists during his presidential campaign angered Heidi Sainz, whose family is from Mexico and who has close friends who are immigrants. She was also upset that she couldn’t do anything about it at the ballot box because she was a year shy of being able to vote. Sainz favors a bill in the California Legislature that would lower the voting age to 17, which she thinks would give a voice to more people affected by the outcome of elections. “Looking at all the protests throughout this year throughout all the high schools across the nation, we could see a lot of the minors were protesting because they felt as if they didn’t have a voice,” said Sainz, a senior at Inderkum High School in Sacramento.

Florida: Activists Push For Ex-Felon Voter Rights Restoration | WUFT

Desmond Meade is still waiting for the Florida Supreme Court to call him back after more than a month. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the Voting Restoration Amendment sometime in April. Meade, director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, argued in favor of the amendment and challenged the current re-enfranchisement process on March 6. The Voting Restoration Amendment is a citizens’ initiative amendment proposed by Floridians for a Fair Democracy that would restore voting rights to nonviolent felons upon completion of their sentences, including parole and probation. The Supreme Court will decide whether the amendment will be on the ballot in the 2018 election.

Editorials: Kris Kobach’s hollow victory | The Topeka Capital-Journal

It has been almost two years since the Legislature gave Secretary of State Kris Kobach the power to prosecute voter fraud in Kansas, and he just secured his first conviction of a former non-citizen who voted in the state. Although Victor David Garcia Bebek became a naturalized U.S. citizen two months ago, he voted twice in 2012 and once in 2014. After his office announced Bebek’s guilty plea, a triumphant Kobach immediately started attacking his political rivals: “No matter how many cases we prosecute the political left will always whine that there’s not enough cases to justify protecting our elections in this way. That’s absurd.” Kobach makes it sound as if the “political left” is ignoring the overwhelming preponderance of evidence that non-citizen voting is a rampant crisis in our state. But the record doesn’t agree with this assertion – between 1995 and 2013, there were only three documented cases of non-citizens voting in federal elections in Kansas. While Kobach argues that county prosecutors haven’t been pursuing voter fraud cases vigorously enough (one of his reasons for demanding prosecutorial authority in the first place), his single non-citizen conviction in 22 months doesn’t provide much support for that claim.

Kentucky: Early voting provisions become law | Harlan Daily Enterprise

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.” Prior to the enactment of House Bill 319, voters who could not vote in person on Election Day due to age, disability, or illness could only cast absentee ballots by mail. Those voters may now visit their county clerk’s office to cast ballots in-person during the absentee voting window.

Indiana: Rolls purged of inactive voters to meet state law | Tribune Star

While it’s a non-election year in Indiana, counties across the state have taken action to clean up voter registration lists. The Indiana Election Commission set a deadline of March 10 to remove inactive voters, who have not voted since 2014. Vigo County purged inactive voters on March 7. The county cut its voter registration list 10.5 percent — 7,960 voters — resulting in the county’s voter registration dipping to 71,558 from 79,518. “We knew we had a lot of voters who no longer live here,” said Robert Lawson Jr., co-director of the Vigo County Voter Registration department.

Nevada: Secretary of state alleges voter fraud, blames DMV | Associated Press

Nevada’s secretary of state has launched a voter fraud investigation, claiming the Department of Motor Vehicles may have inadvertently added a number of people to the voter rolls who were not citizens in the last presidential election. Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske made the announcement in a letter Friday evening to the state DMV director, Terri Albertson. Albertson hit back Saturday, in a response letter back to Cegavske that read in part: “Your letter comes as a complete surprise as you and your office have reviewed, contributed to, and approved the processes you are expressing concerns about.”

Ecuador: 10% of Ecuador presidential election votes to be recounted | The Guardian

Ecuador election officials will recount nearly 1.3m votes cast in the Andean nation’s presidential election, though opposition leader Guillermo Lasso on Friday dismissed the gesture as a farce that would do nothing to quell accusations of fraud. The National Electoral Council announced late on Thursday it would recount all ballots contested by both parties, about 10% of the total vote. Official results from the 2 April election showed conservative former banker Lasso lost by less than three percentage points to President Rafael Correa’s handpicked successor, Lenín Moreno. International observers including the Organization of American States (OAS) have said they found no irregularities, though Lasso claims his campaign found numerous inconsistencies and has refused to accept the official results.

France: Facebook targets 30,000 fake France accounts before election | Associated Press

Facebook says it has targeted 30,000 fake accounts linked to France ahead of the country’s presidential election, as part of a worldwide effort against misinformation. The company said Thursday it’s trying to “reduce the spread of material generated through inauthentic activity, including spam, misinformation, or other deceptive content that is often shared by creators of fake accounts.” It said its efforts “enabled us to take action” against the French accounts and that it is removing sites with the highest traffic. Facebook and French media are also running fact-checking programs in France to combat misleading information, especially around the campaign for the two-round April 23-May 7 presidential election.

India: Election Commission wants more funds to buy VVPAT machines that generate paper trail of votes | Hindustan Times

The Election Commission has again knocked on the government’s door for immediate release of funds to procure voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines, following the Opposition parties raising their pitch for abandoning electronic voting machines (EVMs) for paper ballots. In a terse letter to the law ministry, the election commission has made an oblique reference to the skepticism over the use of EVMs by the Opposition parties. “It is felt that the process of procurement of VVPATs cannot be delayed any longer given prevailing environment,” the commission said in its letter on March 22. Sources said this is the 11th reminder to the government, though EC officials did not confirm this.

Malta: Electronic vote counting for all elections from 2019 | The Malta Independent

The Electoral Commission has taken the plunge and issued a tender for an electronic vote counting system for use in all elections from 2019 onward. The advent of electronic voting will substantially trim down the time it takes to count votes, particularly given Malta’s laborious Single Transferable Voting system, which takes days on end to produce the full results of electoral polling. The new system is expected to produce election results in a matter of a few hours. In its tender announcement issued this week, the Electoral Commission has made it clear that the system will certainly not be employed in the next general election, whether that is to be held this year or next, and specifies that it will be first used for tallying the results of the 2019 European Parliament and Local Council Elections.

Turkey: Erdogan declares referendum victory, opponents plan challenge | Reuters

President Tayyip Erdogan declared victory in a referendum on Sunday to grant him sweeping powers in the biggest overhaul of modern Turkish politics, but opponents said the vote was marred by irregularities and they would challenge its result. Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast and its three main cities, including the capital Ankara and the largest city Istanbul, looked set to vote “No” after a bitter and divisive campaign. Erdogan said 25 million people had supported the proposal, which will replace Turkey’s parliamentary system with an all-powerful presidency and abolish the office of prime minister, giving the “Yes” camp 51.5 percent of the vote. That appeared short of the decisive victory for which he and the ruling AK Party had aggressively campaigned. Nevertheless, thousands of flag-waving supporters rallied in Ankara and Istanbul in celebration.

North Dakota: Legislature attempting to fix voter ID rules after lawsuit | Associated Press

After altering voter identification laws in previous legislative sessions, North Dakota’s Republican-led Legislature now is attempting to fix them after a group of American Indians sued in federal court, alleging the state requirements are unconstitutional and disenfranchised tribal members. The House passed a bill Monday that allows those who don’t have proper ID to cast a ballot that’s set aside until the voter’s eligibility is confirmed. The Senate still must agree to the measure before it goes to GOP Gov. Doug Burgum for his signature. Before 2013, a voter could sign an affidavit attesting to his or her eligibility to vote in the precinct but the Legislature removed that provision. Some members of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa sued last year, alleging the reworked state requirements are unconstitutional and robbed tribal members of their right to vote.