Voting Blogs: The Supreme Court as “Electoral Prize” | More Soft Money Hard Law

It is difficult to follow Linda Greenhouse’s reasoning that the Court has been “broken” because it has been made into an electoral “prize.” Presidential candidates campaign on promises to support the nomination and confirmation of Justices who will move the Court’s jurisprudence in a desired direction. Why should they not? The Court does not decide only abstruse legal issues of interest primarily to learned commentators. If electoral competition necessarily features arguments about–to name a few– reproductive rights, or voting rights, or the role of money in politics, then it will require candidates to take a stand on the Court. And in some elections, the issue will be right in the thick of the fight. Donald Trump made as much as he could of the critical importance to Republicans of a Court molded in the image of the late Justice Scalia. Secretary Clinton told the Democratic Convention that: “We need to appoint Supreme Court justices who will get money out of politics and expand voting rights, not restrict them. And we’ll pass a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.” No one doubted that the election would be consequential for the Court. Voters were entitled to know how much of a priority each party attached to the issue and what the candidates would look for in their nominees. The parties and their candidates obliged–as they should have.

Georgia: Voters’ data at risk after electronic pollbooks stolen in Cobb County | Atlanta Journal Constitution

State officials are investigating the theft last week of equipment from a Cobb County precinct manager’s car that could make every Georgia voters’ personal information vulnerable to theft. The equipment, used to check-in voters at the polls, was stolen Saturday evening, Secretary of State Brian Kemp said Monday. Cobb County elections director Janine Eveler said the stolen machine, known as an ExpressPoll unit, cannot be used to fraudulently vote in Tuesday’s election but that it does contain a copy of Georgia’s statewide voter file.

Kansas: Federal judge orders Kobach to share documents from his meeting with Trump | The Kansas City Star

A federal magistrate judge has ordered Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to disclose documents outlining a strategic plan he presented to then-President-elect Donald Trump in November, a decision that could have ramifications from Topeka to Washington. Kobach, who served on Trump’s transition team, was photographed in November holding a stack of papers labeled as a strategic plan for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. That plan, as revealed by the photograph, included the recommendations that the U.S. block all refugees from Syria and engage in “extreme vetting” of immigrants from countries considered high-risk. It also contained a reference to voter rolls, which was partially obscured by Kobach’s hand in the photograph. The American Civil Liberties Union sought the documents’ disclosure as part of an ongoing lawsuit over a Kansas law that requires voters to provide proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate or passport, when they register to vote. The ACLU argued that if Kobach lobbied Trump on changes to the National Voter Registration Act, commonly called the motor voter law, then the documents may contain material relevant to the case.

Montana: Voters to decide on ‘ballot harvesting’ in 2018 | Daily Inter Lake

Voters in the 2018 general election will decide whether to enact proposed restrictions for individuals that collect and turn in absentee ballots during Montana’s elections, pending an Attorney General’s office review of legislation passed Thursday. By a 51-49 vote, the state House voted passed Senate Bill 352 before taking a four-day break for the Easter holiday last week, sending the referendum to the Department of Justice for a legal review. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Al Olszewski, R-Kalispell, said his proposed referendum was a response to reports of possible ballot tampering associated with the get-out-the-vote practice, sometimes called “ballot harvesting.” No such cases of purported tampering have been confirmed in Montana.

Nevada: Sandoval waiting for details about alleged voter fraud in Nevada | Las Vegas Review-Journal

Gov. Brian Sandoval said Monday that he “expects to hear more” from the secretary of state about allegations of voter fraud, and he expressed confidence in voter registration procedures at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske took state officials, including the governor and the DMV director, by surprise late Friday when she announced that her office had uncovered evidence that noncitizens had voted in last year’s presidential election. Cegavske in a letter blamed the DMV, claiming that the agency’s personnel had given voter registration materials to people they knew or should have known were ineligible to vote. In a letter to DMV Director Terri Albertson, Cegavske said the practice must “cease immediately.” Cegavske is a Republican and former state legislator from Las Vegas.

Nevada: Bill to restore felons’ civil rights passes Nevada Senate | Las Vegas Review-Journal

Felons convicted of some crimes would have their civil rights to vote and serve on juries automatically restored under a bill approved Monday by the Nevada Senate. Senate Bill 125 was approved on a 12-9 party-line vote, with all Republicans voting no. Sen. Patricia Farley, an independent from Las Vegas, joined with Democrats to support the measures. Under the bill sponsored by state Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford and Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson, both Las Vegas Democrats, someone convicted and sentenced to probation would have their civil rights restored upon successfully completing one year. Similarly, a felon on parole would have their rights restored after completing either the full term of parole if it is less than one year; or after one year if the parole requirement is longer.

New Hampshire: Showdown over controversial voting rights bill moves to state House | NH1

Is election law reform the issue that unites Republicans in the state House of Representatives? House Majority Leader Dick Hinch tells NH1 News that he thinks the bill approved by the state Senate will also “pass the House.” Hinch spoke with NH1 News on Monday, the day before the battle over the measure that would tighten New Hampshire’s voting laws by adding new requirements to prove eligibility moves to the House. The House Election Law Committee holds a 10am Tuesday hearing in Representatives Hall on the much-argued about measure. The bill, officially known as SB3, mandates that anyone who registers to vote either prior to or on Election Day itself, thanks to the state’s same-day registration law, present definitive proof that they reside in the Granite State.

North Dakota: New voter ID bill heads to the Governor | Prairie Public Broadcasting

The Legislature has passed and sent to Governor Bugrum a new voter ID bill. It replaces the law that was declared unconstitutional by a federal judge in North Dakota. The law – passed in 2013 – got rid of the “voter affidavit.” A person who wanted to vote but did not have proper ID could sign that affidavit – and would be allowed to vote. But Judge Daniel Hovland ruled that because the affidavit was discontinued, there was no “fail safe” mechanism for voters without an ID. Hovland said that would put an undue burden on the Native American population.

Texas: House committee approves bill to make changes to voter ID law | Dallas Morning News

The House Elections Committee on Monday approved a bill that would make court-ordered changes to the state’s controversial voter identification law, moving the proposal to the House floor under the looming specter of federal action.
Senate Bill 5, written by Rep. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, would give more leeway to people who show up to the polls without one of seven state-approved photo IDs. They would be allowed to use other documents that carry their name and address as proof of identity, such as a utility bill, if they sign a “declaration of impediment” stating why they don’t have an approved ID. The bill would make lying on the document a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison. It would also create a voter registration program that sends mobile units to events to issue election identification certificates.

Afghanistan: Election Commission Rejects Technical Team’s Proposal on E-Voting System | TOLOnews

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) on Monday said it had rejected the first proposal of the technical team on the e-voting system, and that it had called for the plan to be reviewed. The IEC said it had raised 38 queries with regards to the proposal and that the plan needs to be reassessed, said IEC spokesman Gulajan Abdulbadi Sayad. This comes a day after the (IEC) said the team tasked with reviewing an e-voting system for Afghanistan would send their results to the commission within the next three days.

Editorials: The Indian Election Commission’s challenge to show hacking of electronic voting machines needs to be backed with an action plan | Poorvi L Vora/

The controversy over electronic voting machines refuses to die down. There continue to be allegations, claims and counter claims about election rigging. Some of the claims, we read, were due to misreporting or do not stand up to scrutiny. Every time a claim about malfunctioning EVMs is found to be false, it hurts public understanding of the real issue: elections that use EVMs are anything but transparent. Sixteen opposition parties have written to the Election Commission asking to revert to the use of paper ballots, In turn, the Election Commission is said to have issued a challenge to political parties, scientists and technical experts to prove that EVMs could be tampered with. This could be a step in the right direction. But it cannot be all.

Let’s not forget that such a so-called challenge was also given in 2009. The examination of EVMs should be treated as an opportunity to make the process more transparent and open. In 2009, however, when the Election Commission allowed the public to examine EVMs, the examination was hugely circumscribed so as to prevent anyone from carrying out any substantive – albeit practical – attack.

Indonesia: Jakarta to vote amid religious tensions | Reuters

Jakarta voters head to the polls on Wednesday to elect a governor for Indonesia’s capital after a campaign that incited political and religious tensions in the world’s most populous Muslim country. The race to lead the city of more than 10 million has been fought by two candidates – an ethnic Chinese Christian and a Muslim. It has triggered mass protests and stirred religious and political tensions in the world’s third largest democracy.

Philippines: Marcos son takes step towards recount of Philippine VP vote | Reuters

The son of former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos on Monday took a step towards securing a recount of votes in an election for vice president last year in which he says he was unfairly robbed of victory. The son, also called Ferdinand Marcos but popularly known as Bongbong, lost the election for vice president last May to social activist and lawyer Leni Robredo by about 260,000 votes. He has objected to the result ever since and the Supreme Court ruled in February that his protest was valid, but he has to pay for a recount of the votes.

Turkey: International Monitors Say Turkey’s Referendum Tainted, Vote Count Marred | RFERL

International election monitors have criticized a Turkish referendum that has brought sweeping new powers to the presidency, saying the campaign was conducted on an “unlevel playing field” and that the vote count was marred by late procedural changes. Observers from the OSCE and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) said in a joint statement on April 17 that the legal framework for the referendum “remained inadequate for the holding of a genuinely democratic referendum.” Turkey’s Central Election Committee (CEC) late on April 16 declared the “yes” camp as the winner with 51.3 percent of votes.

Turkey: Observer says 2.5 million Turkish referendum votes could have been manipulated | Reuters

Up to 2.5 million votes could have been manipulated in Sunday’s Turkish referendum which ended in a tight ‘Yes’ vote for greater presidential powers, Alev Korun, an Austrian member of the Council of Europe observer mission, told ORF radio on Tuesday. The mission of observers from the 47-member Council of Europe, the continent’s leading human rights body, had already said the referendum was an uneven contest. Support for “Yes” dominated campaign coverage, and the arrests of journalists and closure of media outlets silenced other views, the monitors said. But Korun said there were questions about the actual voting as well.

United Kingdom: Theresa May calls UK general election for 8 June | The Guardian

Theresa May has called a snap general election to be held on 8 June, despite repeatedly claiming she was against the idea of an early vote. In a surprise statement outside Downing street, the prime minister said: “After the country voted to leave the EU, Britain needed certainty, stability and strong leadership. Since I became prime minister the government has delivered precisely that.” She claimed Labour and the other opposition parties had opposed her. “The country is coming together but Westminster is not.