National: New chief named for Justice Department unit probing Trump-Russia ties | Politico

A veteran federal prosecutor from Northern Virginia has been tapped to temporarily oversee the Justice Department division handling the ongoing probe into Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election. Dana Boente’s new assignment as Justice’s acting attorney general for national security comes fast on the heels of his most recent high-profile task: serving as the acting deputy attorney general. Rod Rosenstein was sworn in as Justice’s No. 2 official on Wednesday, freeing Boente of those responsibilities. Boente had also unexpectedly became the acting attorney general for a time earlier this year after the holdover Obama appointee was fired by President Donald Trump.

Alaska: If Senate agrees, new House bill would make voting easier | Juneau Empire

If the Senate agrees with the idea, Alaskans will be able to cast their ballots on the same day they register to vote. On Friday morning, the Alaska House of Representatives voted 22-17 to approve House Bill 1, which allows Alaskans to register to vote on Election Day, then cast a ballot for statewide office. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Chris Tuck, D-Anchorage, who said in a prepared statement that it may improve voter turnout. “The right to vote embodies the spirit of American democracy, casting a vote is the most effective way to have one’s voice heard in the political process,” he said. “When we exercise our right to vote we impact our community far beyond election night, we elect individuals to act on our behalf to manage government services, set policies that shape our state, and invest and develop our resources.”

Voting Blogs: California Leading the Way to Lower Voting Age to 17 | openDemocracy

In an effort to get more young people involved in the democratic process, many states are attempting lowering the voting age to 17 to get young people active. “A lot of young people last year wanted to make their voices heard but were unable to do so because the rules prevented them,” said Jonathan Brater of the Brennan Center for Democracy. Since 1971, the legal voting age in the United States has been 18, lowered from 21. Today like then, the numerous states across the U.S are attempting to lower the voting age in the General Election to 17 tend to have strong Democratic majorities in their State senators and House legislatures. Among them, California, Minnesota, and Nevada are the most prominent states in this effort, with California leading the way. If constitutional amendment 10 passes in California, 17-year old’s, would be allowed to vote in the general election during a Presidential election.

Michigan: How to make every vote count | The Detroit Free Press

… With Michigan’s next general election still more than a year and a half away, handicappers are already speculating which of the familiar faces circling one another are poised to rule the state’s political landscape after 2018. But the future of Michigan politics — and the partisan complexion of future state legislatures and congressional delegations — may depend more on the U.S. Supreme Court, whose nine members will decide in a few weeks whether to take up a voting-rights case with big implications for Michigan’s political destiny. Federal and state laws require that members of the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislative bodies be elected from districts that are approximately equal in population. Each member of the current U.S. House, for instance, represents approximately 700,000 residents.

Montana: Odd election date leads to closed polling places | Billings Gazette

Several regular Montana polling places will be closed to voting as people head to the polls for an unusual Thursday special election May 25. Roughly 50,000 registered voters will be rerouted to other polling places, say Montana’s county elections officials. To put that into perspective, the number of people with closed polling places is equal to Montana’s sixth largest county of voters in 2016. Closed polling places were a big concern among county elections officials as they backed a state bill for a mail-ballot-only election. The bill failed over Republican concerns that people who vote in person, who trend conservative, would be disenfranchised.

Nebraska: Governor rejects restoring felon voting rights | The Hill

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) on Friday vetoed a bipartisan measure that would have granted former felons the right to vote after they had completed their sentences. Supporters of the measure said it would help those who had served their time become members of society once again. In a letter to the Legislature, though, Ricketts said the measure would have circumvented the state constitution. “While the legislature may restore certain privileges, such as driving privileges, to convicted felons, the legislature may not circumvent the Nebraska Constitution to automatically restore a voting right in state law,” Ricketts wrote to legislators, adding that the bill “is attempting to create the equivalent of a legislative pardon.”

North Carolina: Prominent Virginia politician implicated in North Carolina GOP voter fraud deceit | Facing South

An elections watchdog is calling for a criminal investigation into whether the campaign of former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, the N.C. Republican Party and their attorneys falsely accused hundreds of citizens of voter fraud in the wake of last year’s election, which McCrory narrowly lost to Democrat Roy Cooper. At the scandal’s center is Holtzman Vogel Josefiak Torchinsky (HVJT), a prominent Virginia law firm that filed most of the voter challenges. It’s headed by Jill Holtzman Vogel, a three-term Virginia state senator from Fauquier County who’s running for lieutenant governor in the June 13 primary. The firm’s other principals include a former chair of the Federal Election Commission and a former assistant attorney general for the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

Virginia: Charlie Crist applauds Terry McAuliffe for beating his record on restoring voting rights | Florida Politics

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe says he had broken the record for restoring voting rights to convicted felons, calling it his “proudest achievement” as governor. And Charlie Crist is leading the cheers applauding the move. McAuliffe boasted Thursday he had individually restored rights to 156,221 Virginians, surpassing the previous record-holder — Crist — by a nose. As governor of Florida from 2007 to 2011, Crist restored voting rights to 155,315 felons, according to figures that McAuliffe’s office obtained from Florida.

Wisconsin: Attorney General Brad Schimel contradicts self, says voter fraud probe is open | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Under fire from conservatives, Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel said this week an investigation into voter fraud remained open, contradicting comments he made hours earlier that the probe had been closed. Schimel suggested his investigators may yet review more than 100 hours of undercover video shot by Project Veritas Action, a group run by conservative activist James O’Keefe. “It’s not the end of it,” the Republican attorney general said Thursday on “The Mark Belling Show” on WISN-AM (1130). Schimel’s office released a memo this week from an investigator saying he found no violations of Wisconsin laws. Just hours before he claimed the investigation had not been shut down, Schimel told the Wisconsin Radio Network the memo had been released because the investigation was closed.

France: Macron Denies Access to 2 Russian Media Outlets in French Campaign | The New York Times

The campaign of the French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron confirmed on Friday that it had denied the pro-Kremlin media outlets Sputnik and Russia Today accreditations to cover the rest of his campaign. On Sunday, after it became clear that Mr. Macron and Marine Le Pen would face each other in the election runoff on May 7, the news media descended on Macron headquarters. But journalists from RT, Sputnik and Ruptly, a Russian video news agency, were denied access. Other Russian media outlets were accredited for the event, according to a spokeswoman for the campaign, who said RT and Sputnik were considered “alternative media” that produce “propaganda.”

Lithuania: President says online voting wouldn’t ensure secrecy and security | The Baltic Times

Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaite says that online voting in the country would fail to ensure confidentiality and security. “In light of the geopolitical realities and seeing the enormous resources earmarked to cyber attacks against democratic countries, we can conclude that online voting would be short on confidentiality and security. This would possibly violate the requirement of anonymity,” Grybauskaite said in a comment to BNS via her press service. Lithuania’s government has envisaged that the information system for online voting should be worked out in the second quarter of 2018. The Justice Ministry says that Lithuanians should make their first online vote in the 2019 elections to local governments.

Macedonia: Crowd Rallies Against New Governing Coalition, Demands Elections | RFERL

About 2,000 protesters gathered in Skopje on April 28 and demanded new elections one day after a band of protesters stormed Macedonia’s parliament and beat up leaders of an emerging new governing coalition. The latest protests, which were peaceful, were staged outside the mission of the European Union, which had expressed support for the new governing coalition formed by Macedonia’s Social Democrats and ethnic Albanian parties. The organizers of the latest rally insisted they have no political affiliation, and said their activism is aimed at preventing the country from sliding deeper into crisis. They marched under the banner “For a joint Macedonia.”

South Korea: Voters swamped by fake news reports on social media | Korea JoongAng Daily

Ahead of the next month’s presidential election, Korean voters are deluged with fake news on major social media platforms, and the national election watchdog has so far cracked down on more than 30,000 cases of disinformation. The JoongAng Ilbo obtained a report on Wednesday from the National Election Commission’s Electoral Cyber Crime Center regarding its crackdowns on illegal internet postings concerning the 19th presidential election on May 9. The commission so far detected 31,004 fake news postings as of Tuesday. It is already 4.3 times higher than the total number of fake news stories shut down during the 2012 presidential election. Of the 31,004 postings, 20,104 contained fake news and false information, while 9,327 were announcements of illegal surveys. Another 762 contained slander against candidates and 375 were postings containing insults toward specific regions. The National Election Commission deleted the postings after its crackdowns.

Venezuela: Maduro sees local elections later in 2017 | Reuters

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Sunday he expected delayed state polls to be held this year, although opponents have demanded a broader general election to replace him in protests that have sparked 29 deaths. The postponed vote for governors of Venezuela’s 23 states – originally slated for 2016 – is one of a litany of opposition grievances against Maduro whom foes accuse of becoming a dictator and wrecking the economy. During his weekly TV program, “Sundays With Maduro,” the 54-year-old socialist leader said gubernatorial elections would happen later this year although the opposition’s real agenda was to topple him with a U.S.-backed coup.