National: Why the United States Still Needs Paper Ballots | The Atlantic

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.

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.”

Alabama: ‘Crossover Voting’ Banned in Runoffs | Associated Press

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.

Arizona: Pima County judge: Ballot images not subject to public release | Arizona Daily Star

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.”

California: Assemblyman Evan Low Pushes to Lower State Voting Age to 17 | San Jose Inside

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.”

Illinois: Legislature OKs automatic-voter registration | State Journal-Register

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.

Maryland: Everyone in Maryland says they want redistricting reform. Here’s why it won’t happen. | The Washington Post

Maryland’s elected leaders seem unlikely to negotiate a deal this year to end partisan gerrymandering, despite overwhelming public support for redistricting reform, pressure from citizen groups to reach a compromise, and a federal lawsuit that could force the state to overhaul its voting maps for upcoming elections. More than two weeks after Gov. Larry Hogan (R) vetoed plans to pursue a regional redistricting compact and insisted that Maryland should act alone, the state’s top Republican and Democratic officials remain sharply divided on the issue and have made no efforts to merge their proposals. “Pulling these parties together could be the trickiest piece,” said Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, executive director of Common Cause Maryland, which is urging the two sides to meet this summer and hammer out an agreement before next year’s legislative session.

Montana: Most Montanans had voted before Gianforte incident with reporter | Bozeman Daily Chronicle

The majority of Gallatin County voters did not agree with the rest of the state’s decision Thursday to elect Republican candidate Greg Gianforte to the lone congressional seat, according to election results on the secretary of state’s website. Final results show the county was in favor of Cut Bank Democratic candidate Rob Quist, who earned a 14-point win in the Republican candidate’s backyard. Libertarian candidate Mark Wicks had 4 percent of the vote in Gallatin County. In total, Gallatin had 76,633 registered voters, according to the secretary of state’s website. Charlotte Mills, clerk and recorder for Gallatin County, said 35,491 absentee ballots were cast and a little more than 6,000 voters went to the polls.

North Carolina: Battle over voting rights intensifies | The Washington Post

North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature has worked steadily and forcefully during the past seven years to tilt the state’s election system in its favor, using voting restrictions, favorable district maps and a slew of new policies that lawmakers say are aimed at reducing voter fraud. But at every turn, Democrats and voting rights advocates have stymied their plans, dragging them to court and condemning the GOP actions as discriminatory against the state’s minorities. Instead of giving up — even after two major defeats this month in the U.S. Supreme Court — North Carolina’s Republican leaders are working to push the battle over the ballot box into a new phase.

North Carolina: Judges weigh law cutting governor’s elections oversight role | Associated Press

If judges sign off on Republican legislation that curtails the new governor’s control over state and local elections, future balloting could be wracked with confusion, unethical politicians could go unpunished and campaign finance tricks could continue unabated, Democratic lawyers contend. A three-judge panel of state trial judges on Thursday starts hearing arguments about whether it’s constitutional for GOP legislators to end the century-old control governors had of overseeing elections now that a rival, new Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, is in office.

Texas: House, Senate OK compromise on bill to soften voter ID law | The Texas Tribune

The Texas House and Senate have approved a deal to relax the state’s voter identification requirements, meaning the closely watched legislation now only awaits Gov. Greg Abbott’s approval. The Republican is expected to sign Senate Bill 5, capping a flurry of late activity that pushed the legislation to the finish line after some state leaders feared its demise — and legal consequences from inaction. The House approved the compromise bill Sunday in a 92-56 vote — one day after the Senate backed the deal along party lines.Sen. Joan Huffman’s bill, which would soften voter ID requirements once considered strictest in the nation, responds to court findings that the current law discriminated against black and Latino voters.

Texas: Will Abolishing Straight-Ticket Voting Encourage Voter Engagement Or Stifle Turnout? | KUT

A bill was sent to Gov. Greg Abbott last week that would eliminate straight-ticket voting in Texas. But opponents say the legislation could be headed to court. Texas is one of 10 states that provide the option of voting for one party straight down the ballot. Proponents say it makes voting easier and reduces wait times at the polls. Critics say it makes voters less engaged with down-ballot local races. According to a study from Austin Community College’s Center for Public Policy and Political Studies, straight-ticket voting made up nearly two-thirds of votes cast in the 2016 election. … Erin Lunceford, a Republican who also ran unsuccessfully for a judgeship in Harris County, called herself a “poster child for why straight-ticket voting is bad for Texas.” “It results in the election of less qualified, experienced judges,” she told a hearing on House Bill 25.

Australia: Fake news, hacking threat to democracy now on ‘unseen scale’, report says | ABC

The internet and social media pose an unprecedented threat to Australia’s democratic systems and an urgent response is needed to safeguard against attacks, according to a new report. The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) report drew on case studies from the US and found technology had enabled malicious foreign forces to potentially influence elections on a “scale and scope previously unseen”. “Two critical elements of the democratic process are under assault,” said the report’s author, Zoe Hawkins. “The security of our election infrastructure — think hacked voting machines — and the integrity of our public debates — think fake news.

Cambodia: Election Monitor: Sample-Based Observation Most Effective | The Cambodia Daily

Transparency International has pledged a rapid assessment of potential irregularities in Sunday’s commune elections by sending 1,100 observers across Cambodia—including, if needed, by boat and helicopter. At a news conference in Phnom Penh on Monday, Preap Kol, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, said USAID had donated nearly $200,000 to fund the Election Day operations, in which a sample of 410 polling stations out of 22,148 would be observed. The plan was to produce a report more quickly than other organizations carrying out comprehensive assessments, Mr. Kol said.

Somalia: Supreme Court nullifies parliamentary seats, calls for re-election | Garowe

Somalia’s Supreme Court has nullified several seats of the Lower House chamber considered to be rigged during the parliamentary electoral process in the regional states last year, Garowe Online reports. A total of 8 seats were ordered for re-contest for failing to adhere to the rules of the electoral process, ruling in favor of the appellants who filed for complains against the voting results.