National: New EAC tool offers unprecedented access to U.S. election data | GCN

Every two years after a November mid-term or presidential election, the Election Assistance Commission surveys states about their election practices, compiles that data and submits a report to Congress.  The 226-page 2016 Election Administration and Voting Survey includes data on voter registration, turnout, absentee and pre-election voting, precinct and polling places and military and overseas voting. While the report contains charts and downloadable datasets, the EAC recognized that election officials at the county and municipal level might need help manipulating the data for their own analysis.  On Dec. 13, EAC released the EAVS Data Interactive, a new data visualization tool that lets election officials, academics, activists and others examine specific data at the state and local level, as well as compare jurisdictions side by side.

Alabama: Secretary of State still sowing confusion over Jones win | The Daily Democracy

Alabama Sec. of State John Merrill is claiming Roy Moore can request a recount in Tuesday’s U.S. Senate race, which Moore lost by 21,000 votes. But state law appears to say otherwise. Merrill’s stance could help the GOP delay seating Democrat Doug Jones in the U.S. Senate. It’s just the latest example of the secretary of state, a Republican and Moore backer, creating serious doubts about his ability to administer the crucial race fairly. Alabama law is clear that an automatic recount must be held at the state’s expense if the margin of victory is less than 0.5 percent. Jones’s margin in his upset win was 1.5 percent. But as of Wednesday afternoon, Moore had not yet conceded the race. Despite Jones’s victory, voting advocates reported numerous problems at the polls Tuesday. They included long lines in black areas, and voters who had been placed on the “inactive” list improperly being forced to provide additional documentation.

Florida: New bill aims to give felons in Florida another chance to own vote | WSVN

A new bill in the Florida Legislature aims to make it easier to restore a felon’s rights to vote and own guns after they have served time for their crimes. Felons in the Sunshine State are currently prohibited from owning firearms or voting. In order for a felon to earn back his or her right to vote and own a firearm, the person must be pardoned or have the Office of Executive Clemency restore their rights, WJXT reports.

Kentucky: Greene County Election Commission Weighs Paper Ballots | Greeneville Sun

Paper ballots could be in the future for Greene County residents, should the county not have the money to afford new, electronic equipment. It was a matter members of the Greene County Election Commission had to consider when listening to a sales pitch made by HARP Enterprises/HART Intercivic election equipment during their regular monthly meeting Tuesday. HART manufactures election equipment while HARP is the service provider once a sale is completed. The election commission is exploring the possibility of replacing the county’s voting machines. New voting equipment was last purchased in 2006. Commissioners heard from the company MicroVote last month.

Maryland: Governor to Push Redistricting Reform Bill Again | Associated Press

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Wednesday that he will try again for the fourth consecutive year to make congressional redistricting a nonpartisan process. Hogan, a Republican, said he will submit legislation in the next session to create an independent commission to draw congressional and state legislative districts. Now, the governor and lawmakers craft them. Hogan has made the reform proposal in each of his three years as governor, but it has not advanced. The governor said reforming the process for drawing the districts for members of Congress and the state legislature is widely supported, by citizens as well as interest groups that care about free and fair elections on both sides of the political aisle.

New Hampshire: Sununu opposition to new GOP voting bill unchanged after meeting with sponsor | WMUR

Gov. Chris Sununu remained opposed to a new Republican voting reform bill Wednesday following a meeting with the leading proponent of the controversial measure, a spokesman told WMUR. Sununu met with state Sen. Regina Birdsell, R-Hampstead, who chairs the Senate Election Law and Internal Affairs Committee, to discuss Birdsell’s amendment to House Bill 372, which would essentially require someone to be a resident of the state, as opposed to someone who is merely domiciled in the state, in order to vote or run for office. The bill makes the change by changing definitions to make the terms “resident,” “inhabitant” and “domicile” consistent. The bill would change the eligibility requirements for voting and running for office in the state and would mean that students and others who claim New Hampshire as a domicile but are residents of other states could no longer vote in New Hampshire.

North Carolina: Republicans canceled an election. Now Democrats are going to court | News & Observer

North Carolina Democrats have asked the federal courts to block a law that does away with primaries next year in partisan judicial races. The state Democratic Party and several county parties, including those in Wake, Durham and Orange counties, sued on Tuesday claiming that the law adopted in October by the Republican-led General Assembly is unconstitutional because it prohibits the political party from the “special protection” afforded to it in the First and Fourteenth amendments to select candidates who best represent the party’s philosophies and policies. The Democrats involved with the lawsuit have asked the court to take action before February, when candidate filing for the 2018 elections opens in North Carolina.

Ohio: GOP leaders say bipartisan deal close for congressional redistricting reform | Cleveland Plain Dealer

Republican Ohio House and Senate leaders said Wednesday that bipartisan approval could come by the end of January for a plan to reform the way congressional districts are drawn in Ohio. The proposal would then go to the ballot for voter approval and could be in place by the next time congressional district lines are drawn, following the 2020 census. Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger of Clarksville and Senate President Larry Obhof of Medina, however, did not provide details of what reform might involve. Advocates of a separate petition drive to change the Ohio Constitution in an effort to end political gerrymandering have said they would wait for details of any legislative plan before considering an end to their effort.

Pennsylvania: Debate over ‘wasted’ votes dominates third day of state redistricting trial | WHYY

The plaintiffs’ argument in the state lawsuit over Pennsylvania’s congressional district map hinges on whether they can prove the state legislature designed a map meant to dilute Democratic votes. Much of the trial’s third day was spent by plaintiffs trying to quantify the map’s alleged partisan advantages by looking at decades of data, spurring a debate about how many votes are “wasted” because of the way congressional boundary lines were drawn. Say you have five congressional districts each with 100 voters. Democrats win two by wide margins, and Republicans win three in tight races. That’s what redistricting experts would call a map with an “efficiency gap” designed to advantage Republicans by wasting votes for Democrats.

Virginia: Guide to how Virginia recounts work as four House races remain contested | The Washington Post

The first of four recounts in legislative races — which could change political control of the Virginia House of Delegates — began Wednesday in a courthouse in Fairfax County. That’s where Republican Del. Timothy D. Hugo holds a 106-vote edge over Democrat Donte Tanner in the 40th House District, which straddles Fairfax and Prince William counties. Republicans are holding onto their majority in the Virginia House of Delegates by a hair — they have just a two-seat advantage over Democrats in the lower chamber. Any one of the four contests under the microscope could tip the balance — including the contest with the slimmest margin, where Republican Del. David E. Yancey beat Democratic challenger Shelly Simonds by just 10 votes.

Washington: Seattle’s Creative Campaign Finance Reform | Democracy Journal

During the 2017 election cycle, which included races for City Council, school board, and the Mayor, the City of Seattle sent every registered voter—442,316 people in total—four pieces of paper. The papers, called Democracy Vouchers, were each worth $25, paid for by the taxpayers, and were to be used for the sole purpose of making contributions to that year’s active campaigns. This was the trial run for the Democracy Voucher program, born out of a 2015 citizen-led initiative called Honest Elections, which included a suite of other campaign finance reforms policies, including lower contribution caps and new rules about paid signature gathering. The vouchers are paid for by a property tax (Washington state has no income tax and uses property taxes and levies to fund most of its new programs) “amounting to a total of $3 million per year to fund the program for the next 10 years,” according to the city.

Germany: Partial power-share can end German political dilemma, some in SPD say | Reuters

Wary of renewing a coalition with conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel, Germany’s Social Democrats are instead contemplating a so-called “cooperation” arrangement that would see them agree on a minimal program but leave contested matters up for debate. With talks on a new government starting on Wednesday, the “cooperation” suggestion is seen by some in the party as an answer to the dilemma of a centre-left party that fears sharing power with conservatives blurs its identity in voters’ minds. Social Democrat leader Martin Schulz said he would lead the SPD into opposition after a disastrous showing in September’s national election, but was forced to reconsider after Merkel’s attempts at forming a three-way government collapsed, leaving Europe’s economic powerhouse without a new government.

Honduras: U.S. at a Crossroad as It Confronts Turmoil in Honduras | The New York Times

Protests snaking through city streets, nighttime curfews, a raucous political battle over a president’s re-election: Honduras has been seized by a crisis since a disputed vote last month. The country has lived through a version of this turmoil before. Eight years ago, a leftist president was ousted by a coup in a fight over what his opponents said was a plan to overturn the constitutional ban on a second presidential term. The resistance movement that sprang up to support him has endured, and the discord that split Honduran society then still defines today’s divisions. Both in 2009 and now, the return of stability in Honduras is important to the United States, which seeks a president there who can be counted on to support American policies to stem the flow of drugs and migrants from reaching the Texas border. The question is whether the United States is willing to overlook a possibly fraudulent election to ensure that outcome.

Liberia: Run-off vote set for December 26 | Al Jazeera

Liberia will hold a delayed presidential run-off vote on December 26, electoral officials have said. Tthe National Elections Commission (NEC) made the announcement in a press briefing on Tuesday, saying official campaigning must end by December 24. “We call on the two political parties in the run-off election … to go about their campaign in a peaceful manner,” said Jerome Korkoya, NEC chairman. A run-off was originally scheduled for last month between George Weah, an international football star-turned-politician, and Vice President Joseph Boakai.

United Kingdom: Make Facebook liable for content, says report on UK election intimidation | The Guardian

Theresa May should consider the introduction of two new laws to deter the intimidation of MPs during elections and force social media firms to monitor illegal content, an influential committee has said. The independent Committee on Standards in Public Life, which advises the prime minister on ethics, has called for the introduction within a year of a new specific offence in electoral law to halt widespread abuse when voters go to the polls.