National: Comey Tried to Shield the F.B.I. From Politics. Then He Shaped an Election. | The New York Times

The day before he upended the 2016 election, James B. Comey, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, summoned agents and lawyers to his conference room. They had been debating all day, and it was time for a decision. Mr. Comey’s plan was to tell Congress that the F.B.I. had received new evidence and was reopening its investigation into Hillary Clinton, the presidential front-runner. The move would violate the policies of an agency that does not reveal its investigations or do anything that may influence an election. But Mr. Comey had declared the case closed, and he believed he was obligated to tell Congress that had changed. “Should you consider what you’re about to do may help elect Donald Trump president?” an adviser asked him, Mr. Comey recalled recently at a closed meeting with F.B.I. agents. He could not let politics affect his decision, he replied. “If we ever start considering who might be affected, and in what way, by what we do, we’re done,” he told the agents.

National: Trump was going to investigate voter fraud. What happened? | CNN

The White House does not have any immediate timeline for President Donald Trump’s voter fraud investigation and the commission he was adamant about creating during his first few weeks in office, even as the administration approaches the end of its 100 days. White House press secretary Sean Spicer told CNN that he expects something on the commission within the “next week or two, but I don’t want to get ahead of that.” Spicer said there would not be an executive order (as the President originally wanted) and in lieu of that there would be a commission headed up by Vice President Mike Pence. Spicer did say that the vice president will still be “very involved” in the investigation.

National: Senate Trump-Russia Probe Has No Full-Time Staff, No Key Witnesses | The Daily Beast

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s probe into Russia’s election interference is supposedly the best hope for getting the public credible answers about whether there was any coordination between the Kremlin and Trump Tower. But there are serious reasons to doubt that it can accomplish this task, as currently configured. More than three months after the committee announced that it had agreed on the scope of the investigation, the panel has not begun substantially investigating possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, three individuals with ties to the committee told The Daily Beast. The investigation does not have a single staffer dedicated to it full-time, and those staff members working on it part-time do not have significant investigative experience. The probe currently appears to be moving at a pace slower than prior Senate Intelligence Committee investigations, such as the CIA torture inquiry, which took years to accomplish.

National: House panel’s Russia hearing with Obama officials is back on | Los Angeles Times

A previously canceled House Intelligence Committee hearing to receive testimony from three former top Obama administration officials about Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 election is back on for next month. The panel said Friday it had invited Sally Yates, the former acting attorney general fired by President Trump, former Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper and former CIA Director John Brennan, to testify sometime after May 2 in an open hearing after their original testimony was abruptly canceled in March by Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Tulare). The announcement indicates that the panel’s Russia investigation, which was thrown into turmoil last month after Nunes stepped aside as head of the probe following allegations he may have improperly disclosed classified information, is getting back on track.

Arkansas: As elections association comes to end, officials look to form replacement | Arkansas Denicrat-Gazette

A group of Northwest Arkansas election commissioners plans to start a new organization to replace the Arkansas County Election Commissions Association, which is set to dissolve this year. “We can really help each other,” said Bill Ackerman, Washington County Election Commission chairman. “The door is open to all the counties who want to be here.” Commissioners from about 11 counties agreed Wednesday to hold an organizational meeting June 28 in Fayetteville. Previously, the local County Boards of Election Commissioners meetings have been attended by representatives from about seven Northwest Arkansas counties. Others, including Marion and Pope counties, were recently invited. Commissioners said they want an organization that will lobby lawmakers, answer questions on how commissioners should implement new laws and provide peer-to-peer support.

Georgia: State Sued Over Alleged Voter Suppression | Law Street

Ever since it was announced that Donald J. Trump was going to be the 45th President of these United States of America, Democrats have been looking to attach themselves to any kind of competition to gain some kind of payback for their defeat (See: Super Bowl LI). Although it didn’t result in an explicit victory, this past Tuesday’s special election for Georgia’s House seat in its Sixth District offered Democrats their first viable taste of victory and vengeance. Wednesday’s special election resulted in Democrat Jon Ossoff narrowly missing out on the 50 percent of the vote that he needed to win the contest outright, thus making a run-off between Ossoff and top GOP vote-getter Karen Handel necessary. The details of the run-off, scheduled for June 20, have already become the subject of controversy and, now, a lawsuit.

Kansas: Kris Kobach wins stay of order to turn over documents from Donald Trump meeting | The Wichita Eagle

A federal magistrate judge has agreed to stay an order requiring Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to hand over documents from a meeting with President Donald Trump pending the results of an appeal. Judge James O’Hara in Kansas City, Kan., ordered Kobach Monday to provide the documents to the American Civil Liberties Union as part of the discovery process for an ongoing federal lawsuit seeking to overturn a Kansas law that requires voters to provide proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate, when they registered to vote.

Nebraska: Resolution to require voter ID at Nebraska’s polls advances but is expected to stir debate among lawmakers | Omaha World-Herald

A skirmish over voter identification flared Thursday in the Nebraska Legislature, portending the battle that’s about to come. The Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee voted 6-2 to advance to the floor Legislative Resolution 1CA, which asks Nebraskans whether they want to put a photo ID requirement in the state constitution. If adopted by the full Legislature, ballot language on the constitutional amendment would appear before voters in November 2018. If voters approve the amendment it will be left to state lawmakers to pass legislation spelling out what constitutes an acceptable ID and whether the state will pay for IDs for those who cannot afford them.

Nevada: State flirts with primaries while maligned caucus system prevails | Las Vegas Sun News

Long lines and frustrated voters that accompanied Nevada caucuses in 2016 were not enough to sway lawmakers toward a primary system. Legislative efforts from both parties to return to presidential primaries have failed to gain traction over the years, with the most recent failed push marked by concerns that Nevada would lose political prominence nationally. UNLV political science professor Michael W. Bowers, who took part in the 2016 caucuses, says it was a confused atmosphere for everyone. Volunteers struggled to handle the heavy turnout brought on by supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., he said. Bowers said the primary system would give more people the opportunity to participate and increase voter turnout. State elections officials would likely be better trained to run the primary, and the process would give more voting time to people who work or have religious obligations, such as Sabbath on Saturday.

New Hampshire: Sununu to sign into law bill allowing ratification of snowstorm-delayed local election results | WMUR

Gov. Chris Sununu will sign into law legislation allowing officials of towns and school districts that postponed their elections due to the March 14 snowstorm to take action to ratify the results of those elections, his spokesman said Thursday. In rapid fire action, the House and Senate suspended their rules and established a committee of conference, which quickly reached agreement on a minor change to the bill. They then suspended their respective rules to consider the committee of conference report, which was adopted by the Senate on voice vote and by the House on a roll call of 294-42. Those votes sent the bill to Sununu’s desk, and spokesman Michael Todd told WMUR he will sign it.

North Carolina: Governor Cooper vetoes appeals court and elections bills | News & Observer

Gov. Roy Cooper has vetoed bills that would cut the state appeals court by three judges and deny the governor’s political party control of the state elections board. The legislature is likely to vote to override the vetoes. House Bill 239 would reduce the state Court of Appeals from 15 to 12 members, which would prevent replacement of three Republican judges approaching mandatory retirement age. Senate Bill 68 would consolidate the state elections and ethics boards. The new board would have eight members, four from each major political party, with a Republican chairman in presidential-election years and a Democratic chairman in midterm-election years. Local elections boards would also be split. A three-judge panel struck down an earlier attempt by Republicans to merge the boards.

North Carolina: Republican Party makes nominations for new overhauled elections board | News & Observer

Republicans’ latest attempt to overhaul the state’s elections and ethics board is still awaiting Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto stamp, but the N.C. Republican Party is already nominating members for the new board. Cooper has said he’ll veto Senate Bill 68, and he has until Friday to do so. It would combine the current State Ethics Commission and State Board of Elections into a single eight-member board, evenly split between the two major political parties. Currently, the state elections board has five members, three of whom are from the governor’s party. The governor would select the members from lists provided by the parties.

Texas: Court: Texas House map intentionally diluted minority votes | The Texas Tribune

Texas lawmakers intentionally diluted the political clout of minority voters in drawing the state’s House districts, a panel of federal judges ruled Thursday. In a long-awaited ruling, the San Antonio-based panel found that lawmakers in 2011 either violated the U.S. Constitution or the Voting Rights Act by intentionally diluting the strength of minority voters statewide and specifically in a litany of House districts across Texas. Those districts encompass areas including El Paso, Bexar, Nueces, Harris, Dallas and Bell counties. “The impact of the plan was certainly to reduce minority voting opportunity statewide, resulting in even less proportional representation for minority voters,” U.S. District Judges Orlando Garcia and Xavier Rodriguez wrote in a majority opinion, adding that map-drawers’ discussions “demonstrated a hostility” toward creating minority-controlled districts despite their massive population growth. In some instances, the judges ruled, map-drawers’ use of race to configure some districts to comply with the Voting Rights Act instead “turned the VRA on its head.”

Texas: Judge looks at issues with Houston area’s disabled voter access | Associated Press

A federal judge has told officials he is considering an independent review of the Houston area’s polling locations to ensure they are accessible to disabled voters. The possible action by U.S. District Judge Alfred Bennett is part of an ongoing lawsuit the U.S. Department of Justice filed last year, the Houston Chronicle reported. The lawsuit accuses Harris County, where Houston is located, of violating the constitutional mandate that voting sites comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. At a court hearing Friday, Bennett discussed the possibility of appointing a special master to oversee the review. No decision has yet been made.

Wisconsin: Late absentee ballots more than doubled after deadline moved up | Wisconsin State Journal

The number of late absentee ballots that weren’t counted in last fall’s presidential election more than doubled from 2012 after lawmakers moved up their return deadline by three days, according to the Wisconsin Elections Commission. The increase — from 498 in the 2012 presidential election to 1,208 last fall — isn’t surprising given the change in law, and the number of ballots that weren’t counted is still “extremely small” given the more than 813,000 absentee ballots and nearly 3 million total ballots cast, WEC spokesman Reid Magney said. The State Journal reported on the little-known change in law in October. As recently as the August primary the law allowed absentee ballots to be counted if they were postmarked by Election Day and received by the next Friday.

France: Right-wing Le Pen claims victory alongside centrist Macron for French presidential runoff, with EU future at stake | The Washington Post

An anti-immigrant firebrand and an unconventional centrist were set Sunday to advance to a runoff in a tight race for France’s president, according to exit polls released immediately after balloting closed. If confirmed, the results set up a sharp confrontation between those who embrace globalization and those who want to roll it back. Centrist Emmanuel Macron placed first and far-right leader Marine Le Pen placed second in initial exit polls in the first round of France’s presidential election, advancing them to a head-to-head showdown in the runoff on May 7. It was poised to be a historic wipeout for the two political parties that have traded power in post-World War II France, with neither the Socialists nor the center-right descendants of Charles de Gaulle having a shot at the presidency. Center-right candidate Francois Fillon, a former front-runner, conceded defeat shortly after the exit polls were released, calling for patriotic French citizens to unite behind Macron to defeat Le Pen, whose party he said was known for “violence and intolerance.” The victor could determine whether the international alliances that formed the backbone of the post-World War II West strengthen or are shattered by the force of nationalism.

France: ‘We don’t need a third shock’: French expats flock to vote in UK and US | The Guardian

After more than two hours in a queue that snaked for more than a mile round the cosseted streets of South Kensington, Jérémy, 36, was finally nearing the voting booth – and still was not sure for which candidate he would cast his ballot. Who are the leading candidates in the French presidential election? With his two-year-old son Ernest in a pushchair, the engineer from Guildford said he had followed the campaign closely on French media but was still hesitating. Would it be the independent centrist Emmanuel Macron, or the hard-left veteran Jean-Luc Mélenchon? “It all feels new this time around,” he said. “Elections used to be all about left and right. This is between the centre and the extremes, continuity or change, Europe or not Europe. There are good elements in both programmes … I just don’t know. Angel, or demon?”

India: Election Commission to buy VVPAT machines in 2 years, issues letter of intent to manufacturers | India TV

The Election Commission has issued a letter of intent for purchase of 16,15,000 Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail ( VVPAT) machines in the next two years to be used in all polling stations in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The Commission issued letter of intent to ECIL and BEL — both PSUs — on Friday, two days after the Union Cabinet cleared its proposal to buy 16,15000 voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) units at an estimated cost of Rs 3,173.47 crore. The poll panel has informed them that the machines would be bought during 2017-18 and 2018-19. The Commission will buy 8,07,500 VVPAT units each from the two manufacturers by September, 2018.

Turkey: Justice minister: Time to contest vote results over | Associated Press

Turkey’s ruling party and the main opposition party kept up their fight Saturday over the results of the referendum on expanding the president’s powers. In a series of tweets Saturday, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag slammed the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) for continuing to object to the results of the April 16 referendum due to voting irregularities, saying that judicial paths to reverse the ruling are shut. The CHP fired back, saying he was threatening the judiciary in order to get them to rule against the party’s case. Unofficial results show the “yes” campaign for transforming Turkey’s parliamentary government system into a presidential one garnered 51.4 percent of the vote. Official results by the electoral board are expected next week.

Venezuela: Nicolas Maduro says yes to Venezuela elections, but not for president | AFP

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has called for local elections in Venezuela — but not at the presidential level, which millions in his strife-torn nation are demanding. Maduro in his weekly television address yesterday endorsed voting planned for later this year at the mayoral and gubernatorial level. “Elections — yes, I want elections now,” he said. “That is what I say as the head of state, and as the head of government,” Maduro declared during his broadcast, which aired after three weeks of street protests that have claimed the lives of 20 Venezuelans.