North Carolina: Literacy requirement for voter registration could be removed from state constitution | News & Observer

Decades have passed since any North Carolina voters have been forced to take a literacy test to vote, but the requirement is still in the state constitution today. “Every person presenting himself for registration shall be able to read and write any section of the Constitution in the English language,” Article VI, Section 4 says. The N.C. House voted unanimously Tuesday night to start the process to repeal that line, which was often used to prevent African-American residents from registering to vote.

Full Article: NC literacy requirement for voter registration could be removed from state constitution | News & Observer.

Editorials: Texas’ redistricting methods discriminate against minorities while politicians shrug | Dallas Morning News

Three times in a matter of weeks, federal courts have found that Texas is intentionally discriminating against minority voters. Yet fixing problems with its voter identification law and its congressional and statehouse district maps isn’t on the Legislature’s front burner. In fact, it isn’t anywhere near the stove. This could come back to burn Texas. In the absence of legislative courage, the state could face a court-ordered redistricting or even a return to a requirement that it gain federal approval before changing any voting regulations.

Full Article: Texas' redistricting methods discriminate against minorities while politicians shrug | Editorials | Dallas News.

France: This Is the Evidence Linking Russian Hackers to the French Election | Motherboard

As France braces for the second round of its election, security researchers try to figure out if Russia was really behind the alleged hacking attempts against frontrunner Emmanuel Macron. After months of speculation on whether dreaded Russian hackers would try to meddle with the French elections the same way they did last year in America, cybersecurity researchers finally pointed the finger earlier this week.

Full Article: This Is the Evidence Linking Russian Hackers to the French Election - Motherboard.

Germany: Russian hackers are conducting cyber attacks on German think-tanks ahead of national elections | Tech2

Two foundations tied to Germany’s ruling coalition parties were attacked by the same cyberspy group that targeted the campaign of French presidential favourite Emmanuel Macron, a leading cyber security expert said on Tuesday. The group, dubbed “Pawn Storm” by security firm Trend Micro, used email phishing tricks and attempted to install malware at think tanks tied to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party and coalition partner, the Social Democratic Party (SPD), Feike Hacquebord said. Hacquebord and other experts said the attacks, which took place in March and April, suggest Pawn Storm is seeking to influence the national elections in the two European Union powerhouses. “I am not sure whether those foundations are the actual target. It could be that they used it as a stepping stone to target, for example, the CDU or the SPD,” Hacquebord said.

Full Article: Russian hackers are conducting cyber attacks on German think-tanks ahead of national elections – Tech2.

Iraq: Electoral Commission faces no confidence vote amidst fraud scandals | Middle East Monitor

Iraqi lawmakers voted yesterday to express their lack of acceptance in the answers provided by the Iraqi High Electoral Commission, who were being accused of helping some candidates to gain an unfair advantage over others seeking election. The chief executive of the Electoral Commission, Miqdad Al-Sharifi, now faces a no confidence vote that could see him lose his job, paving the way for a new commissioner. 119 lawmakers voted to express their dissatisfaction in the commissioner’s answers to the charges that the Commission was responsible for technical failures, counterfeit votes and fraud as well as corruption whilst administering previous elections, Al Jazeera reported.

Full Article: Iraq Electoral Commission faces no confidence vote amidst fraud scandals – Middle East Monitor.

Paraguay: Lower house rejects presidential re-election amendment | Reuters

Paraguay’s lower house of Congress on Wednesday rejected a constitutional amendment that would have allowed for presidential re-election, ending a month-long political crisis that aroused violent protests. Under the measure, center-right President Horacio Cartes could have sought re-election in 2018. But last week, the former soft drinks and tobacco mogul who took office in 2013 said he would not run regardless of whether the amendment was approved.

Full Article: Paraguay's lower house rejects presidential re-election amendment | Reuters.

North Carolina: Republicans override gov’s veto in latest partisan clash | Associated Press

Republican lawmakers have voted to override new Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of a bill that reduces his authority over state elections, the latest partisan clash in North Carolina over laws that chip away at executive branch power. The House completed the override Tuesday, a day after the Senate cast a similar vote that exceeded the three-fifths majorities required to enact the law despite Cooper’s objections. The governor has threatened a legal challenge over the law, which takes effect early next week. “Time and again their attempts to rig elections have been found unconstitutional. This bill simply repackages similar legislation that has already been struck down by the court,” Cooper spokesman Ford Porter said in a release, adding the governor “will continue to protect the right to vote and fight for fair elections.”

Full Article: NC Republicans override gov's veto in latest partisan clash.

National: Yates, Clapper To Testify In Open House Hearing On Russian Election Meddling | NPR

Two Obama administration officials will testify in an open hearing before the House Intelligence Committee as part of ongoing investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that Russia attempted to help Donald Trump win the election. Investigations by the House, Senate and FBI are examining what exactly Russia did and whether the Trump campaign was involved, among other questions. Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper are scheduled to appear before the House committee on May 8. It’s a long-delayed hearing. Yates and Clapper, along with former CIA Director John Brennan, were originally scheduled to testify in late March, but those plans were scuttled amid a simmering soap opera of distrust and missteps within the House committee.

Full Article: Yates, Clapper To Testify In Open House Hearing On Russian Election Meddling : The Two-Way : NPR.

Voting Blogs: Social Media in Politics-and The Problem of What (or Not) to Do About Fake News | More Soft Money Hard Law

Nate Persily of Stanford Law is emerging as the leading authority on the effect of the internet and social media on political campaigns.  His recent article in the Journal of Democracy displays Persily’s strengths: deep research, clarity of exposition and a grasp of what is significant in the messy world of facts. He is unmistakably alarmed: indeed, in interviews, he has said so.  Persily fears that a ruthless marriage of technology to “fake news” can destroy the prospects for responsible democratic deliberation. Where does this discussion of fake news go from here, and what are the pitfalls? Professor Persily notes that the dominant Internet platforms are moving toward policies to help readers locate the bona fide news items. Facebook now works with traditional media organizations and fact-checking enterprises to “flag” dubious stories.

Full Article: Social Media in Politics-and The Problem of What (or Not) to Do About Fake News -.

Illinois: Democrats guard district-drawing privileges | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s a sentiment shared by Democratic politicians and liberal pundits: disgust over how Republicans drew up favorable (for them) legislative districts after the 2010 Census. Redistricting is blamed for Congress’ relative lack of legislative production and the rise of stringent partisanship, and has prompted Democrats to fight back in several states. Even former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is getting in on it, leading the National Democratic Redistricting Committee to crusade against gerrymandering (aka the act of drawing legislative districts to benefit a political party). But one place that isn’t a battleground is Illinois, where Democrats could be seen as the bad guy, having drawn legislative boundaries in 2011 that put the GOP at a disadvantage. And that has some wondering whether Democrats’ broader push for “fair” maps is really about politics more than principle.

Full Article: On the Trail: Illinois Democrats guard district-drawing privileges | St. Louis Public Radio.

Maine: Ranked-choice voting coming to Maine unless Legislature says no | Sun Journal

Whatever the state Supreme Court advises about whether ranked-choice voting violates Maine’s Constitution, the new voting method would apparently still apply to primaries and congressional elections. “The majority of the elections should be governed by this in 2018,” said Kate Knox of Bernstein Shur, representing the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting that pushed last year’s successful ballot question that would make Maine the first state in the country to adopt the system. Knox told legislators recently they “still have a large number of elections” that are required to use ranked-choice voting under last year’s initiative regardless of what the Supreme Court says.

Full Article: Ranked-choice voting coming to Maine unless Legislature says no | Sun Journal.

Montana: Election Administrators Deal With Ballot Confusion | KGVO

Ballots are already out for school elections and special districts all over Montana, but by May 2nd, most voters will have yet another ballot to fill out: for the high-profile congressional race to replace Ryan Zinke. In many counties, the ballots don’t have any ‘Due by date’ stamped on the outside and some elections administrators are worried people may miss the May 2nd deadline for school districts. Ravalli County Election Administrator Regina Plettenberg says her office is fielding around 20 calls a day because people are confused.

Full Article: Montana Election Administrators Deal With Ballot Confusion, Missoula Tries New Due By Date Stamp.

Nebraska: Ricketts won’t sign bill restoring felons’ voting rights sooner; governor mum on veto | Omaha World-Herald

Gov. Pete Ricketts announced today that he won’t sign a bill that allows Nebraska felons to vote in elections after completing their sentences. The Legislature voted 27-13 Monday to pass the bill, which ends the two-year waiting period for felons before they can exercise their right to vote. Ricketts declined to say whether he will veto the bill, which would require a vote of 30 senators to override. If the governor simply does not sign the legislation, it will become law after five days.

Full Article: Ricketts won't sign bill restoring felons' voting rights sooner; governor mum on veto, but says current 2-year wait 'not too much to ask' | News |

Utah: Hughes wants a special session immediately to address U.S. House vacancies | Utah Policy

Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes says Gov. Gary Herbert needs to call an immediate legislative special session to pass a law detailing how a U.S. House replacement is picked. Last week in his monthly KUED Channel 7 press conference Herbert declined to do so – only the governor may call a special session, and he sets the agenda. Herbert said the governor’s power to call a special U.S. House election is good enough for now, as there is no opening to fill currently. But Hughes, who himself is looking to run in such a special election for Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s 3rd Congressional District, says no time should be wasted.

Full Article: Hughes wants a special session immediately to address U.S. House vacancies.

Wisconsin: DOJ: Project Veritas tape did not show election law violations | Milwaukee Journal-Serntinel

Covert videos of Democratic activists released in the run-up to last year’s presidential election showed no violations of Wisconsin laws, a review by the attorney general’s office found. The blunt conclusion is at odds with how Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel initially reacted to the videos by conservative provocateur James O’Keefe, who has a track record of mischaracterizing his recordings and was found guilty of a misdemeanor in 2010 over one of his operations. Schimel’s office released a statement in October calling the actions by Democrats on the undercover videos “apparent violations of the law” and saying Schimel was “very concerned” about them.

Full Article: Wisconsin DOJ: James O'Keefe's Project Veritas tape did not show election law violations.

France: Cyberattack on French presidential front-runner bears Russian ‘fingerprints,’ research group says | The Washington Post

A security firm claimed Tuesday that a new cyberattack against the campaign offices of the front-runner in France’s presidential race carried similar digital “fingerprints” to the suspected Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee and others. The report, released by the Trend Micro research group, did not disclose what possible fallout the infiltration had on the campaign of Emmanuel Macron, a centrist who is in a two-person runoff with far-right rival Marine Le Pen in the May 7 election. But if a Russian connection was proved, the hacking would add to mounting allegations of Moscow-backed attempts to influence Western elections in favor of candidates with policies potentially more favorable to the Kremlin. Le Pen has voiced opposition to the powers of the European Union and has called for better ties with Russia, echoing some of the campaign rhetoric of President Trump.

Full Article: Russian hackers suspected in cyberattack on Macron before French election, research group says - The Washington Post.

Malaysia: Group bids to drop voting age to 18 | Malay Mail

A group of youths have started a campaign to lower the eligible voting age from 21 to 18 years old, saying young adults were the largest age group in the country. Calling themselves Undi18, the six youths kicked off a signature campaign last Saturday to generate support for their call to give young Malaysians a bigger say in the country’s direction. “As of now, we have several hundred signatories for the petition, but ideally, we are looking at between 5,000 and 10,000 petitioners in the next five months before we submit it to the Prime Minister’s Office,” director of Undi18, Tharmelinggem Pillai told Malay Mail Online. Although conceding it was unlikely that an amendment to Article 119(1) of the Federal Constitution to lower the voting age can be done in time for the next general election, he said the group was hoping for this to occur by the 15th general election.

Full Article: Group bids to drop voting age to 18 | Malaysia | Malay Mail Online.

United Kingdom: Snap election raises concerns for non-party campaigners | BBC

Charities and other campaign groups fear they could be gagged by red tape during the general election campaign.
Groups like Greenpeace like to make their voice heard during elections. But they face strict rules on what they can spend money on for the year before an election. They had been working on the basis that an election would be held in 2020 – but the announcement of a snap election in June has raised concerns they will not be able to comply with the rules. This has meant that they will have to declare their spending retrospectively over the last year if they want to campaign, creating a huge amount of work at short notice.

Full Article: Snap election raises concerns for non-party campaigners - BBC News.

Zimbabwe: Biometrics – Electoral Commission Blocks Opposition Expert |

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has barred the Zimbabwe Political Parties Dialogue Forum (ZPPDF) from partaking in the Biometric Voter Registration kit testing pilot project. ZPPDF is a technical partner of the opposition National Electoral Reform Agenda (NERA) coalition. The forum had written to ZEC, asking to be allowed to participate in the BVR testing pilot project. Last week ZEC engaged political parties and civil society organisations that deal with elections where the electoral body announced that it was going to test the feasibility of the BVR.

Full Article: Zimbabwe: Biometrics - ZEC Blocks Opposition Expert -

Nebraska: Lawmakers pass bill to restore felons’ voting rights sooner, but it’s unclear whether Ricketts will sign or veto it | Omaha World-Herald

Felons would no longer have to wait two years after serving their sentences to exercise their right to vote under a bill that passed Monday in the Nebraska Legislature. It remained unclear, however, whether Gov. Pete Ricketts would allow Legislative Bill 75 to become law or veto it. The Governor’s Office did not respond Monday to questions about the measure. The priority bill of State Sen. Justin Wayne of Omaha would need 30 votes to override a veto. It received 27 “yes” votes Monday.

Full Article: Lawmakers pass bill to restore felons' voting rights sooner, but it's unclear whether Ricketts will sign or veto it | Legislature |