A recount of nearly 1.3 million votes cast in Ecuador’s presidential election Tuesday showed no significant differences over previous results handing a narrow victory to Rafael Correa’s handpicked successor. Lenin Moreno defeated former banker Guillermo Lasso by a slightly larger margin than previously revealed but still less than 3 percentage points, according to the recount of about 10 percent of the votes. “The recount is over and it has ratified the results,” National Electoral Council president Juan Pablo Pozo announced.
National: Former Obama homeland security adviser: Election-style hacks ‘bound’ to happen again | The Hill
A former adviser to President Obama predicts that nation-states and others will try to use cyber intrusions to disrupt future election processes and “weaponize” data as Russia did during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The hacks targeting high-level Democratic Party officials marked a “new threshold” in cyber activity, Lisa Monaco, who advised Obama on homeland security and counterterrorism, told CNN commentator David Axelrod on his podcast “The Axe Files.” “We in the United States have entered a new threshold and crossed into a new threshold where we have state actors and others trying to use these cyber tools in new ways to intrude in our election process, to weaponize information,” Monaco said.
Editorials: Voter ID bills across the nation undermine faith in our democracy | Danielle Lang/The Hill
The Iowa legislature sent a strict voter ID bill to the governor’s desk last week. If the governor signs the bill, which he is widely expected to do, Iowa will be the first state in 2017 to pass a new law that burdens the right to vote. But it likely won’t be the last. Thus far, 29 states have introduced 87 bills that would restrict access to the ballot. These bills align with a troubling trend toward state laws that make it harder rather than easier to vote. But while the restrictions are familiar, the rationale employed is new and startlingly cynical. Lawmakers for years have tried and failed to prove in court that these laws can be justified by the need to prevent nearly non-existent in-person impersonation voter fraud. Now, they argue that this strict voter ID law is necessary to address the “perception” of fraud. Iowa state representative Ken Rizer told the New York Times, “It is true that there isn’t widespread voter fraud … but there is a perception that the system can be cheated. That’s one of the reasons for doing this.”
Florida: Bipartisan Effort To Help Restore Ex-Felons’ Rights Faster Could Be In The Works For 2018 | WFSU
Sen. Perry Thurston (D-Fort Lauderdale) and Sen. Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg) are both carrying bills making it easier for ex-felons to have their civil rights restored to allow holding certain state licenses or voting. Thurston says the current process is flawed. Today, ex-offenders have to go before Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet—as the Executive Clemency Board—and ask that their rights be restored. “Under the previous administration’s attempt to reform restitution of rights, we had some 155,315 individuals who actually got their rights re-instated,” said Thurston. “Under the current administration, since 2011, we’ve only had 2,340. Basically what we’re saying is that it really shouldn’t be subjective to who’s in power in the Governor’s office.”
Georgia: Poll theft discussed in private by Cobb commissioners and secretary of state’s office officials | Marietta Daily Journal
In the wake of Saturday’s theft of polling equipment out of a poll manager’s parked truck, the Cobb Board of Commissioners met with officials from the secretary of state’s office Monday to discuss how to handle the matter in what may have been a violation of Georgia’s open meetings laws. The unannounced meeting occurred at about noon Monday in a conference room in the basement of Cobb County State Court on East Park Square in downtown Marietta. Commissioners typically hold meetings in the Cobb Government Building on Cherokee Street, either in the second-floor commission chamber that can hold members of the public, or the third-floor commissioners’ boardroom, which is much smaller.
Already, nearly half of people who vote in the state do so by mail. “This bill would change the way we vote in Hawaii in an attempt to increase voter participation and reduce costs,” Rep. Chris Todd, D-Hilo, wrote in a Facebook post. “HB 1401 would mean every registered voter receives a ballot in the mail and mails it back in — this process is already available by request, but this bill would make it the norm.” The bill passed third reading and House conferees were appointed to iron out wrinkles. Voters could still cast ballots in person if they prefer. But long lines at polling stations would presumably become a thing of the past. Each eligible voter would be mailed a ballot prior to an election and asked to mail it back.
Nearly half a million individuals have been deleted from Indiana’s list of registered voters since the Nov. 8, 2016, general election. Republican Secretary of State Connie Lawson said Tuesday that the removals are part of an ongoing effort to clean up the state’s voter records after she determined her predecessors largely ignored the time-consuming task. “I discovered voter list maintenance was not being done statewide and many outdated voter registrations were still on the rolls,” Lawson said. “I made it a priority to ensure our state’s list was accurate and that we followed the federal law.” Across Indiana, 481,235 registered voters were purged, or about 10 percent of the state’s total.
Iowa: Minutemen’s support for Voter ID bill reinforces voter-suppression concerns | Des Moines Register
Of the 54 groups that registered a lobbyist’s opinion on a bill tightening voting requirements in Iowa, only one expressed support: the Iowa Minutemen Civil Defense Corps. The national Minutemen corps has a storied history for its anti-immigrant, and in the view of civil right groups, white-supremacist positions. In earlier times, it took a vigilante approach to patrolling the border and nabbing undocumented immigrants. Lately it has focused on rhetoric and advocacy, and tipping off law enforcement on where to look for the undocumented. Though individual chapters remain, the national corps seems to have disbanded after its president in 2010 called on members to “return to the border locked, loaded and ready to stop each and every individual we encounter along the frontier,” and then she thought better of it.
Republican House Speaker Austin Knudsen is using his parliamentary power to kill a measure allowing counties to hold an all-mail ballot in Montana’s May 25 special congressional election. Knudsen has refused to schedule a floor vote on House Bill 83, which Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock sent back to the House on April 7, with amendments giving counties the option to conduct an all-mail ballot. Without a floor vote, the bill is dead – unless at least 60 House members vote to overrule Knudsen’s decision, which is unlikely. In a statement Tuesday, Bullock said Knudsen is “playing procedural games to prevent this (bill) from reaching the House floor.”
Montana: Green Party, independents won’t be on Montana’s special election ballot, appeals court rules | Associated Press
An appeals court has denied a request by three minor party and independent candidates to place their names on the ballot for the special election to replace Ryan Zinke, who left Montana’s only U.S. House seat to become Interior secretary. The three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the emergency motion late Monday. Instead, the panel ordered the candidates and the Montana Secretary of State’s Office to file their arguments by mid-June, well after the election set for May 25. Overseas ballots have already been mailed and other preparations are already underway for the election. Absentee ballots are scheduled to be mailed May 1.
Supporters of a voting-rights bill said Tuesday that it’s aimed at cutting down on voter fraud, but opponents called it a solution in search of a problem. Senate Bill 3 would change the definition of “domicile” for voting purposes. People living in New Hampshire for 30 days or fewer before an election wouldn’t be able to vote unless they could prove intent to stay longer. Anyone registering within 30 days of an election or on Election Day would have to fill out a form, and if they don’t have proof of residency that meets the bill’s requirements, they would have to present that proof to local officials later.
North Dakota: Lawmakers pass voter ID bill, but attorney says it doesn’t follow court ruling | West Fargo Pioneer
A bill adjusting North Dakota’s voter ID law awaits action from Gov. Doug Burgum after the Legislature approved it this week. The Senate passed House Bill 1369 in a 35-10 vote Tuesday, April 18, after the House approved it Monday. Although proponents said it will help protect the integrity of the state’s elections, an attorney challenging North Dakota’s voter ID laws said the bill doesn’t comply with a federal judge’s 2016 ruling. For those who don’t bring a valid ID to the polls, the bill allows voters to cast a ballot that’s set aside until they produce an ID. If an ID doesn’t include required information or is out of date, a voter could use a current utility bill, bank statement, government-issued check, paycheck or government document to supplement the ID.
Months ago, new Texas congressional maps for the 2018 election seemed like a pie-in-the-sky idea. The federal court looking at a lawsuit against the state’s 2011 map had sat on a ruling for years, and the case had gone unresolved for several election cycles. But thanks to a down-to-the-wire decision last month, attorneys representing plaintiffs in this case say, there’s hope for new districts in time for the next election. Just last year, Gerry Hebert, one of the plaintiff attorneys, said he couldn’t figure out why the U.S. District Court hearing the case was taking so long to reach a decision. “We really have left a lot of the lawyers scratching their heads about what the court is actually doing – if anything – to get this case moving,” he said at the time.
Extremism concerns shook France’s presidential campaign Tuesday as authorities announced arrests in what they said was a thwarted attack and candidates urged tougher counterterrorism efforts for a country already under a state of emergency. While national security previously has been a strong theme in the campaign, far-right candidate Marine Le Pen hardened her tone on foreign extremists and border controls in the wake of the arrests that came days before the first round of voting. Centrist Emmanuel Macron called for national unity and stronger intelligence. Le Pen and Macron are among four leading candidates seen as most likely to progress from Sunday’s first round and to reach the May 7 runoff between the top two. As the government prepared to flood streets with more than 50,000 police and soldiers to safeguard the ballot, Interior Minister Matthias Fekl said police thwarted an imminent “terror attack,” arresting two French men in the southern port city of Marseille.
India: Cabinet clears Election Commission’s proposal to buy new paper trail machines | The Indian Express
The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, cleared the Election Commission’s proposal to buy new Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines on Wednesday. Ahead of the 2019 General Elections, the EC has been given the go ahead to procure 16,15,000 units, at an estimated base price of Rs. 3,173.47 crore. Since June 2014, the EC has reportedly given at least 11 reminders to the Centre seeking funds for VVPAT machines. “Amount of Rs. 3173 crores have been approved to acquire 16.15 lakh VVPAT machines,” confirmed Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday, reported news agency ANI.
Kenya’s top opposition coalition is wrapping up primary voting this week ahead of August general elections as the ruling Jubilee coalition gears up to start its primaries on Friday. The voting is seen as a key test of cohesion for both coalitions. Confusion and accusations abound in Nakuru County after the names of some opposition Orange Democratic Movement Party candidates were missing from paper ballots. ODM Party election officials called off the vote and rescheduled it. Some results were canceled because of allegations of rigging and some constituency elections were postponed because of logistical issues. The party has held elections in at least 10 counties. “The exercise is very big, and therefore in an exercise like this there will be mistakes here and there, but they are being corrected as they occur,” said Robert Arunga, a party election board member.
A village leader shoves four voting slips into a ballot box. An unknown arm marks three slips with a “yes” vote. An unknown hand adds five more. An election official validates a pile of voting slips — hours after they were meant to be validated. These are four of the scenes captured in unverified videos that have helped stoke accusations of voting fraud in polling stations across Turkey during Sunday’s referendum to expand the powers of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Mr. Erdogan’s “yes” campaign has claimed victory by a small margin — 51.4 percent to 48.6 — in a vote that further insulates the president from scrutiny and tightens his grip on one of the most influential countries in the region. But while Mr. Erdogan has turned his claimed victory into a political reality, the legitimacy of his win is still in question.
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May called for an early election on June 8, seeking a personal mandate and parliamentary backing to take her through Brexit talks. The pound surged. The Conservatives have a 21-point poll lead and May — who became prime minister without an election — is betting she can extend the slim parliamentary majority her predecessor won in 2015. May said the existing schedule for an election in 2020, just after the deadline for an exit deal with the European Union, posed a threat to a successful Brexit. The pound strengthened to the highest this year on the expectation that May will be able to extend her majority and silence critics on both wings of her party. An election victory may also make it easier for the government to make concessions in EU talks, and could reduce the risk of the U.K. leaving without a deal, according to Eurasia Group.