During a lull between elections, the Supreme Court is taking on a hot-button political issue that could change the way legislative lines are drawn across the country. It’s called gerrymandering — a term that arises from a district shaped like a salamander that was drawn during the 1810 term of Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry. Two hundred years later, legal experts are still divided on the racial and partisan considerations at issue. Earlier this month, Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the majority of the Supreme Court, tore up two congressional district maps in North Carolina, holding that they amounted to an unconstitutional racial gerrymander. “A state may not use race as the predominant factor in drawing district lines,” she wrote, referencing a 1993 court standard, “unless it has a compelling reason.”Full Article: Supreme Court grapples with partisan gerrymandering - CNNPolitics.com.
National: Rep. Adam Schiff says alleged Russian meddling in election was an effort to destroy American democracy | Los Angeles Times
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) said Tuesday that the alleged Russian meddling in last year’s presidential election was about far more than favoring one candidate over another. He said it was an effort to undermine the foundation of American democracy in order to prop up an authoritarian regime in Moscow. “Now if you look at this as just a one-off intervention, you might be inclined to dismiss the greater significance of it, or if you listen to the president, you might be inclined to dismiss this as simply efforts to relitigate a lost election,” Schiff told several hundred people at UC Irvine. “But the significance is really far greater. Quite separate and apart from the desire of the Russians to help Donald Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton was a more fundamental objective, and that was really to tear down at our democracy.”Full Article: Rep. Adam Schiff says alleged Russian meddling in election was an effort to destroy American democracy - LA Times.
Editorials: Kobach ‘Voter Fraud’ Commission Gets Fast Thumbs Down | Miles Rapoport/The American Prospect
The Kobach Commission (sometimes referred to as the Pence Commission) on voter fraud was created in the way so many things have been in the Trump administration. It started with an angry and completely unsubstantiated tweet, echoing a campaign trope, followed by public statements doubling down on the message, followed by a half-baked executive order. The Commission was created to investigate the allegations of Trump’s alternative universe, where massive voter fraud cost the president millions of votes. The true voter fraud—creating obstacles to the right to vote—is not part of its mandate. Kris Kobach is of course the perfect choice. As Kansas secretary of state, he has made his reputation seeking to make it as difficult as possible for people in Kansas to vote, and by fanning the fantasy of massive voter fraud.Full Article: Kobach ‘Voter Fraud’ Commission Gets Fast Thumbs Down.
Last week, more than 100 years late, Alabama took an important step toward excising a toxic slice of white supremacy from its Constitution and restoring voting rights to perhaps thousands of people, disproportionately black, with criminal records. At the state’s constitutional convention in 1901, lawmakers amended the Constitution to bar from voting anyone convicted of a crime involving “moral turpitude.” They didn’t define the phrase, but they were crystal clear about its intent: to preserve “white supremacy in this state” and fight the “menace of Negro domination” at the ballot box, as the convention’s president said.Full Article: A Meaningful Move on Voting Rights in Alabama - The New York Times.
Georgia: Who gets to vote in 6th District? Politicians already decided | Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Who gets to vote and who doesn’t in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District is more than an accident of geography. It’s also the result of decades of political shenanigans by Democrats and Republicans alike. State legislators have dramatically redrawn the 6th District’s boundaries to gain political advantage, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found. For decades, the district covered several counties west and southwest of Atlanta, all the way to the Alabama line. It never elected a Republican until 1978, when Newt Gingrich was elected to an open seat. But in 1991, Democrats tried to draw Gingrich out of his own district. They gave the 6th an entirely new footprint, centered on Cobb County.Full Article: The political shenanigans that created Georgia's 6th District.
Republicans and Democrats are ramping up their lobbying and public outreach efforts ahead of a pivotal New Hampshire House vote Thursday on a much-debated GOP voter identification reform bill. Republicans say it closes a “domicile loophole,” while Democrats say it’s an attempt to legislate “voter suppression.” House Majority Leader Richard Hinch, R-Merrimack, told WMUR he is confident the bill will “narrowly” pass the House, but a key conservative Republican lawmaker is not so sure.Full Article: NH House majority leader predicts narrow passage of GOP election reform bill.
North Carolina: Redistricting case involving 12th District returns to NC Supreme Court | Greensboro News & Record
The U.S. Supreme Court has told North Carolina’s top court to reconsider a redistricting lawsuit filed by Democrats and allies after the nation’s highest court struck down congressional districts as racial gerrymanders. The justices issued a two-sentence order Tuesday in the redistricting case that challenged 2011 congressional and General Assembly districts.Full Article: Redistricting case involving 12th District returns to NC Supreme Court | Redistricting | greensboro.com.
North Carolina: Hurricane, vote challenges prompt push for changes to North Carolina election rules | WRAL
Events from last fall might wind up being felt for years to come during North Carolina elections. The State Board of Elections has proposed several changes to elections rules following Hurricane Matthew and the contentious gubernatorial election. One proposed change would give the state elections director emergency authority to change election schedules following a natural disaster or a military conflict involving troop deployment.Full Article: Hurricane, vote challenges prompt push for changes to NC election rules :: WRAL.com.
Ohio: Redistricting reform amendment clears Ballot Board, can begin collecting signatures | Cleveland Plain Dealer
Supporters of an Ohio redistricting reform ballot initiative can begin collecting signatures to put the measure before voters next year. The Ohio Ballot Board on Tuesday certified the proposed Bipartisan Congressional Redistricting Reform Amendment as one ballot issue. The measure borrows much of its language from the 2015 ballot issue that made changes to the state legislative redistricting process. The League of Women Voters of Ohio and other supporters, calling themselves Fair Congressional Districts for Ohio, say the measure would rein in partisan gerrymandering when district lines are drawn, which happens every 10 years.Full Article: Ohio redistricting reform amendment clears Ballot Board, can begin collecting signatures | cleveland.com.
German intelligence has informed the United States that it is not looking for help staving off the same kind of election hacking attributed to Russia during the U.S. campaign, NBC News reported Tuesday. The refusal is “a sign of the lack of trust that seems to be growing between Germany and the United States,” NBC said. The German election pitting conservative Prime Minister Angela Merkel against her party’s center-left opposition is seen as a potential target for hacking efforts similar to those Russia used against the U.S. last year. The German opposition party, the Social Democrats, were thought to take a far gentler position against Russia’s annexation of the Crimea in the past, though candidate Martin Schulz has warned against the lifting of sanctions.Full Article: Germany brushes off US help on election cybersecurity: report | TheHill.
Iran’s election watchdog certified President Hassan Rouhani’s reelection as fair on Tuesday, dismissing claims by the defeated hardline candidate who had asked for investigation into alleged widespread fraud. “The Guardian Council confirmed today in a letter the results of the 12th presidential election in Iran,” Salman Samani, the spokesman of the interior ministry, was quoted as saying by the state media. Rouhani easily secured reelection for a second term in the May 19 vote, winning more than 57 percent of the vote. His main challenger, hardline judge Ebrahim Raisi, received 38 percent.Full Article: Iran's vetting body certifies Rouhani's re-election | Reuters.
Former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said Tuesday that Italy’s largest parties agree on the need for a proportional representation electoral system and that a law to adapt it should be enacted in the first week of July. Renzi’s confirmation of the position of the ruling center-left Democratic Party (PD), of which he is head, raised the chances of an early national election before one is due to be held in May 2018, political commentators said. Some commentators said an approval of a new electoral law in early July would raise the chances of an unprecedented autumn parliamentary vote, perhaps as early as September. Italy has never had a parliamentary election later than June.Full Article: Italy's Renzi Says Parties Agree on Proportional Electoral Law.
Britons vote for a new government on June 8 and, until recently, election campaigns have been tightly controlled affairs with limits on how much parties can spend per constituency, the requirement to submit detailed accounts and no political advertising on television. But the rules don’t cover online advertising – allowing Facebook to cash in, having used the Conservative Party’s 2015 victory as a case study. The Electoral Commission, which exists to regulate elections, estimates that in the 2015 general election more than 99 per cent of spending on social media was with Facebook, with the Conservatives splashing out £1.21m, Labour £160,000, Ukip £91,000, the Liberal Democrats £22,245, the Green party £20,000 and the Scottish National party £5,466.Full Article: How the Facebook money funnel is shaping British elections • The Register.
The national Constituent Assembly will be made up of 540 members, including representatives of regions and sectors.
Venezuelans hoping to become representatives in the national Constituent Assembly can now register, while nominations of candidates have been scheduled to take place between June 6 and 10, electoral authorities announced Tuesday. Tibisay Lucena, director of the National Electoral Council of Venezuela, known as CNE, detailed the timeline and opened the floor to questions about the new voting process during a press conference in Caracas.
It’s time to fix the voting process. American voting systems have improved in recent years, but they collectively remain a giant mess. Voting is controlled by states, and typically administered by counties and local governments. Voting laws differ depending on where you are. Voting machines vary, too; there’s no standard system for the nation. Accountability is a crapshoot. In some jurisdictions, voters use machines that create electronic tallies with no “paper trail”—that is, no tangible evidence whatsoever that the voter’s choices were honored. A “recount” in such places means asking the machine whether it was right the first time. We need to fix all of this. But state and local governments are perpetually cash-starved, and politicians refuse to spend the money that would be required to do it.Full Article: Why the United States Still Needs Paper Ballots - The Atlantic.
Editorials: Supreme Court strikes a crucial blow against racial gerrymandering — but bigger battles lie ahead | Paul Rosenberg/Salon
In the 2012 House elections, Democratic candidates got 1.4 million more votes than Republicans (roughly 59.6 million to 58.2 million), but won 33 fewer congressional seats, the result of a highly coordinated GOP effort to raise political gerrymandering to a level never seen before. On May 22, the Supreme Court handed down a significant decision, in a case called Cooper v. Harris, that could help chip away at that anti-democratic success. Two even more significant cases could come to fruition in the coming months. Former Attorney General Eric Holder called the Cooper decision “a watershed moment in the fight to end racial gerrymandering.” Holder, who now chairs the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, went on to say, “North Carolina’s maps were among the worst racial gerrymanders in the nation. Today’s ruling sends a stark message to legislatures and governors around the country: Racial gerrymandering is illegal and will be struck down in a court of law.”Full Article: Supreme Court strikes a crucial blow against racial gerrymandering — but bigger battles lie ahead - Salon.com.
Alabama has a new law that prohibits voters from switching their political party allegiance between a primary and subsequent runoff. Alabama does not require primary voters to register with a political party. The crossover voting ban is an attempt to prevent voters of one political party from trying to meddle in another party’s runoff – although there is a dispute about how much that actually happens. “If you vote in one party’s primary, you can’t switch to the other’s runoff,” state Sen. Tom Whatley, the sponsor of the bill.Full Article: Alabama to Ban 'Crossover Voting' in Runoffs | Alabama News | US News.
A Pima County Superior Court judge has ruled that ballot images produced by local voting equipment are “exempt from disclosure by Arizona election law.” In August 2016, county resident Richard Hernandez filed a complaint asking that digital ballot images from the upcoming primary election be preserved. It was then the county election department’s policy to delete those images, which are used to tally votes by the new system. A judge soon granted a temporary injunction mandating that the county cease deleting the images. In his May 24 ruling, Judge Richard Gordon made that injunction permanent, but also — citing the Arizona Constitution’s requirement of “secrecy in voting” and recent legislation — ruled that both ballots and images of them are exempt “from public disclosure.”Full Article: Pima County judge: Ballot images not subject to public release | Local news | tucson.com.
Evan Low knows about getting involved in politics at an early age. Elected to the state Assembly in 2014, he became the youngest Asian-American legislator in California’s history. Now he’s working to challenge another governmental age restriction: lowering the statewide voting age to 17. “I chair the elections committee,” Low (D-Campbell) told San Jose Inside. “My focus has been on the electoral process. As a millennial and a political science teacher, this issue is near and dear to me.”Full Article: Assemblyman Evan Low Pushes to Lower State Voting Age to 17 | San Jose Inside.
A bill that would automatically register Illinoisans to vote when they visit a Secretary of State’s Office passed unanimously in the House of Representatives on Monday. Senate Bill 1933 would allow qualified residents to be registered to vote when they visit driver’s services offices and other state agencies. Residents would have the option to opt out of the registration. Earlier this month, the bill passed without opposition within the Senate.Full Article: Illinois legislature OKs automatic-voter registration.