Indiana: Dead-voter bill passes Indiana Senate, moves on to House | Indianapolis Star

A measure that would allow the votes of certain dead people to count is a major step closer to becoming law in Indiana. The Senate on Tuesday passed the measure 45-2. It now heads to the House.  Under the proposal by Senate Elections Committee Chairman Sen. Greg Walker, if someone casts an absentee ballot in Indiana but then dies before Election Day, the dead voter’s ballot would be counted.

Kansas: Kobach’s office will delay data uploads for Crosscheck voter system to accommodate security review | The Topeka Capital-Journal

Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office will postpone the initial uploading of voter registration data from other states to the Kansas-based Interstate Crosscheck System while it reviews the program’s cybersecurity, a state official said Wednesday. Bryan Caskey, director of elections in Kobach’s office, told members of the House Elections Committee the Kansas secretary of state’s office began reviewing security protocols for all its election processes in October 2016 due to national concerns over cybersecurity in voting systems. The Crosscheck program, which compares registrations across states to identify duplicate registrants and voters, has come under scrutiny for what critics claim are possible vulnerabilities of its data. Each year, states participating in Crosscheck upload data from their voter rolls for Kansas to compare with other member states and identify duplicates. Caskey said that process typically begins around Jan. 15 and takes a few weeks, but the window isn’t open yet.

Nebraska: Voter ID, electronic poll books, alien verification all proposed | Lincoln Journal Star

Promising a “basket of options” for lawmakers to consider, Sen. John Murante on Wednesday introduced a trio of bills he said ensure future integrity in Nebraska’s elections without suppressing votes. As he promised in December, Murante once again introduced a voter ID bill (LB1066) that would require voters to present a current form of identification before they could vote. According to the bill, appropriate forms of ID include driver’s licenses, state, college or university-issued ID cards, passports or military IDs — which 97 percent of Nebraskans already carry, Murante said. Voters could apply to the Secretary of State’s office for a free photo ID that would comply with the state law, which would come at some cost to the state’s general fund, Murante said, particularly during a budget squeeze.

New Hampshire: Meet Bud Fitch, New Hampshire’s new vote fraud czar. | Slate

From the beginning of its brief, nonillustrious existence, Donald Trump’s voter fraud commission had a special connection to New Hampshire. Trump launched the commission to justify his claim that millions of illegal votes were cast in the 2016 election, many of them in the Granite State. He placed New Hampshire’s Democratic Secretary of State Bill Gardner on the panel to give the group a phony patina of bipartisanship. The commission also traveled to the state for its second and last meeting, an acrimonious affair during which co-chairman Kris Kobach defended his false allegation that thousands of illegal votes swung the vote in New Hampshire in 2016.

New Hampshire: Bill wants math to guide New Hampshire’s political redistricting | Concord Monitor

The idea of using mathematical algorithms to determine whether electoral districts are fair has gained notable traction in the past year, including a Jan. 9 federal court ruling that used math to call North Carolina congressional districts biased. Now a lawmaker wants to bring the process to New Hampshire. Under a proposed bill, House Bill 1666, a process known as efficiency gap analysis would be applied to statewide districts in New Hampshire after the next redistricting in 2021. If the analysis finds problems, “the redistricting for that elected body shall be deemed to be gerrymandered and therefore not valid” and the districts redrawn before the next election. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Jerry Knirk, D-Freedom, who argues that the method would help all elected officials.

New York: Cuomo includes early voting in budget proposal | Auburnpub

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is backing up his plan to institute early voting in New York by including it in his budget proposal. The governor’s 2018-19 executive budget, which was released Tuesday, would allow early voting and same-day voter registration. Before same-day voter registration is adopted, a constitutional amendment is required. It’s the second time Cuomo’s budget included the early voting proposal. Early voting was in the 2017-18 executive budget, but was not included in the final state budget agreement. 

North Carolina: Don’t ‘reward gamesmanship and obstinacy,’ North Carolina gerrymander challengers say | News & Observer

Attorneys representing voters who successfully challenged North Carolina’s congressional districts as unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders are protesting lawmakers’ attempt to use the election maps again this year. U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Roberts had given attorneys until noon Wednesday to offer response to a request last week from Republican legislative leaders for the country’s high court to get involved in another gerrymandering case in North Carolina. “In the 2016 election, Republican congressional candidates received slightly more than 50 percent of the statewide vote in North Carolina,” attorneys for the League of Women Voters wrote in opposition to lawmakers’ request for an emergency stay that would put a lower court’s ruling on hold. “With this slim majority, they won ten of North Carolina’s congressional seats. The resulting partisan asymmetry was the largest in the country in the 2016 election, and the fourth-largest, on net, of all congressional plans nationwide since 1972.”

North Dakota: Warning of ‘thousands of unverifiable votes,’ State asks judge to lift order on voter ID law | Bismarck Tribune

The state of North Dakota asked a federal judge this week to lift a 2016 order preventing it from implementing its voter identification law without a “fail-safe” option previously available to voters. The Republican-controlled Legislature in 2013 eliminated the affidavit option that allowed voters who didn’t provide an ID to swear their eligibility. That change, along with others made in 2015, were challenged in court by seven members of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa who argued the laws were unconstitutional and discriminatory. A federal judge granted a preliminary injunction in August 2016, just a few months before the election, and later ordered North Dakota to offer the affidavits.

Ohio: Senator forges ahead with redistricting plan, still no bi-partisan support | WKBN

Several dozen people marched down the hall this week toward Ohio State Senator Matt Huffman’s office. One of them carried petitions signed by people who want a fair congressional district map free of political gerrymandering. As they poured into his office, only to find that he was not in, they shared their concerns over his current redistricting plan Senate Joint Resolution 5 with his legislative aide. They are not the only people to dislike what he is proposing. Janetta King, the president of Innovation Ohio says Ohioans want a process where there is bi-partisan drawing of congressional districts. “Quite frankly, this is not [that] process,” said King.

Pennsylvania: Supreme Court considers ordering new congressional map before 2018 elections | Philadelphia Inquirer

Pennsylvania Supreme Court justices on Wednesday interrogated lawyers defending the way the state’s congressional districts were drawn, a map opponents have challenged as illegally shaped to benefit Republicans, who hold a majority of its seats in the U.S. House. Based on the tenor of their questions, a majority of the court, which has five Democrats and two Republicans, appeared open to the argument that Pennsylvania’s congressional districts are illegally gerrymandered. A group of Democratic voters has asked the court to overturn the map and order a new one drawn before the 2018 elections, in one of several such lawsuits nationwide. The justices, while acknowledging that politics played a role in the boundary-drawing, must decide whether those political concerns crossed the line and deprived Democratic voters of their constitutional rights.

Virginia: Democrats Roll Out Voting Rights Agenda | Associated Press

Democratic legislators are pushing for a package of bills to make it easier for Virginians to vote, including proposals to let people register on Election Day and to cast an absentee ballot for any reason. Del. Debra Rodman of Henrico County has introduced a bill to would repeal the deadline for registering to vote before an election. Instead, eligible voters could register at any time, including the day of the election. “I am critically proud for this opportunity, all of these opportunities, that will allow Virginians true access to the ballot,” Rodman said. “Knowledge and access are imperative to the evolution of our democracy.”

West Virginia: Election redistricting bill goes to House subcommittee | Charleston Gazette Mail

West Virginia House of Delegates Judiciary Committee Chairman John Shott, R-Mercer, established a subcommittee Wednesday to rework a bill that would create an independent commission to draw voter redistricting lines following the decennial census. In previous years, legislators have used updated information from the census to redraw their own district lines. House Bill 2383, sponsored by Delegate John Overington, R-Berkeley, puts together an independent redistricting commission, to bar politicians from picking and choosing their voters. However, the text of the bill does not spell out any specifics regarding who would serve on this commission, how they would be appointed or who — if anyone — would pay for it.

Europe: Next year’s EU election at risk of Russian meddling | EUObserver

EU elections in 2019 are likely to be the next big target for Russian propaganda, MEPs have warned. “Next year the citizens of Europe will elect a new European Parliament. This raises an uncomfortable question: how many seats will Russia get?”, Danish centre-left MEP Jeppe Kofod said in Strasbourg on Wednesday (17 January). “Let’s not kid ourselves, Russian meddling in democratic elections is no longer the exception, it is becoming the norm,” he added. Kofod spoke at an EU parliament debate on what the assembly described in its press release as a “Kremlin-orchestrated” campaign of “leaks, fake news, disinformation campaigns, and cyberattacks” that stretched back to the UK referendum on leaving the EU in mid-2016 and which also targeted the French and German elections and Catalonia’s independence referendum last year.

Cambodia: Opposition Exile Says Postpone Election to Avoid Violence | VoA News

Exiled Cambodian opposition figure Sam Rainsy on Wednesday raised the prospect of violence if this year’s general election is not postponed, prompting a government accusation of a threat to the state. Cambodian politics has been in turmoil since the dissolution of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) last year, following the arrest of its leader, Kem Sokha, on treason charges he says were politically motivated. Sam Rainsy, a former CNRP leader now living in exile in France, called for a postponement of the July election, at which Prime Minister Hun Sen is now expected to easily extend his 33 years in power.

Czech Republic: Government resigns as prime minister fights corruption allegations | The Guardian

The Czech Republic’s minority government has resigned, plunging the country into deeper political turmoil, as its recently installed prime minister, Andrej Babiš, fights allegations that he abused an EU subsidy programme a decade ago. Wednesday’s resignation – a month after Babiš’ appointment – came a day after the government resoundingly lost a vote of confidence it had to win to stay in office. It will continue as a caretaker administration while the Czech president, Miloš Zeman, decides what to do. Zeman – a populist who has earned notoriety for xenophobic statements – had pledged to reappoint Babiš, a close ally, in the event of Tuesday’s confidence vote defeat, which had been widely anticipated.

Germany: Social Democrat leader sees progress toward coalition talks with Merkel | Reuters

The leader of Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) cited progress on Wednesday in efforts to win support for formal talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, and some colleagues said rejecting a coalition would dent party ratings. SPD members, who will vote on Sunday on whether to back talks, last week agreed to a coalition blueprint, which some however say does not bear enough of the party’s hallmarks and they would be better off in opposition. SPD leader Martin Schulz is criss-crossing the country to persuade delegates to give him a mandate to pursue formal coalition negotiations in the face of a strong backlash from the party’s left and youth wings.

National: New Rubio bill would punish Russian meddling in future U.S. elections | McClatchy

U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Chris Van Hollen have a message for Moscow: Any interference in future U.S. elections will be met with swift punishment if Congress acts. The Florida Republican who ran for president in 2016 and the Maryland Democrat will introduce a bill on Tuesday that sets explicit punishments for the Russian government — and other countries — if they meddle in future federal elections and directs the Director of National Intelligence to issue a report on potential election interference within one month of any federal election. Rubio and Van Hollen’s bill comes as President Donald Trump has characterized two congressional investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election as Democrat-led “witch hunts” and cast doubt on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation that has already indicted four former Trump campaign officials, including former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.

National: Former Trump aide Bannon refuses to comply with House subpoena | Reuters

President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon declined on Tuesday to comply with a subpoena ordering him to answer questions from a U.S. House intelligence panel about his time at the White House as part of its investigation into allegations of Russian interference in the U.S. election. After Bannon initially refused to answer questions about the matter, Devin Nunes, the committee’s Republican party chairman, authorized a subpoena during the meeting to press Bannon to respond. Even then, Bannon refused to answer questions after his lawyer had conferred with the White House and was told again to refuse to answer questions about the transition period immediately after Trump was elected, or Bannon’s time in the administration, according to Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the committee.

Alabama: Groups appeal dismissal of Alabama voter ID challenge | Associated Press

Advocacy groups are appealing a federal judge’s dismissal of a lawsuit challenging Alabama’ voter ID law. U.S. District Judge L. Scott Coogler on Wednesday ruled in favor of the state, saying the provision does not discriminate against minorities and is not an undue infringement on the right to vote since the state makes free IDs available for voting purposes. “In Alabama, the law has no discriminatory impact because it does not prevent anyone from voting, not when free IDs are issued in every county, or at home, under conditions that any registered voter can meet,” Coogler wrote.

Florida: Felon voter restoration initiative close to making 2018 ballot, supporters say | Florida Politics

The committee hoping to put a constitutional amendment on the 2018 ballot that would automatically restore voting rights to nonviolent Florida felons is inching closer to the signature quota required to place an amendment on the ballot. Floridians for a Fair Democracy says it submitted more than 1.1 million signatures to various supervisors of elections during the week between Christmas and New Years. The minimum number of signatures required to qualify for the ballot is 766,200. According to the Division of Elections website, 745,461 signatures have been verified. That means the state needs to verify just 21,000 more signatures over the next two weeks before the Feb. 1 deadline. Organizers are confident they will reach that objective.

Illinois: State delays sending voter data to multi-state program | Associated Press

Illinois will postpone submitting fresh voter information to a controversial multi-state voter registration database because the Kansas-based program has not offered updated security plans, election officials confirmed Tuesday. The move comes as several states debate ending their participation in the free and voluntary Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program. It was designed in 2005 as a way to help four neighboring states share information and clean voter rolls by making sure voters weren’t registered in more than one state. The program has grown to include about two dozen states, including Illinois, which began submitting information in 2011.

New Hampshire: Senate Democrats push for New Hampshire withdrawal from voter database program | Concord Monitor

Senate Democrats are taking aim at New Hampshire’s participation in the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program, pressing for the state to pull out of a system they say is deeply flawed. At a Senate election law committee hearing Tuesday on a withdrawal bill, Democrats and voting advocacy groups argued that the program – in which about 30 states share voter information to prevent double-voting across state lines – is inaccurate and insecure. First initiated by the Kansas secretary of state in 2005, Crosscheck requires participating states to send voter registration data to the Kansas office, which then collates the names in a database. Any records sent to the office that match the first name, last name and birthday of a registered voter in another state are then sent back to both states, allowing them to examine the records and determine whether the voter is still a resident there.

North Carolina: Federal judges won’t delay requiring North Carolina remap | Associated Press

The judges who struck down North Carolina’s congressional map for excessive partisanship that favored Republicans refused Tuesday to delay their order telling GOP state lawmakers to draw new lines by next week.
The denial by the three-judge federal panel was expected, given that the judges wrote 200-plus pages last week explaining why the boundaries approved two years ago were marked by “invidious partisanship” and are illegal political gerrymanders, violating several parts of the U.S. Constitution. Barring a delay by the U.S. Supreme Court – which Republican legislators also have sought and their request is pending – the legislature will be required to redraw its map for North Carolina’s 13 congressional districts by Jan. 24.

Pennsylvania: Supreme Court to decide if state congressional district map is a partisan gerrymander | WHYY

Pennsylvania’s congressional district map is often considered one of the most gerrymandered in the United States, but is it unconstitutional? And if so, how do you fix it? Those are the central questions the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will weigh when hearing oral arguments on Wednesday in a lawsuit that has the potential to change the state’s political landscape. The case was initiated by 18 voters, all Democrats, and the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania. Plaintiffs claim Republican lawmakers, who drew the congressional map, violated their state constitutional rights, and are requesting the court to order the state legislature to draw a new map before the primary elections in May. Each of Pennsylvania’s 18 congressional seats are up for grabs in the 2018-midterm elections.

Texas: The Supreme Court takes on two redistricting cases from Texas | The Economist

The Supreme Court rejects about 99% of the 7,000 to 8,000 petitions that reach it each year. But when it comes to cases involving reapportionment—challenges to how states draw lines for congressional or state legislative elections—the justices can’t be quite so choosy. Congress has chipped away at the cases subject to mandatory review by the Supreme Court, but it has kept it for redistricting cases where an election looms and time is of the essence. If skewed electoral maps may need to be redrawn, a special three-judge federal court is convened to hear the case; an appeal goes right to the Supreme Court, bypassing America’s 13 circuit courts. 

Utah: Expanding the right to vote past heads of households was a ‘grave mistake,’ writes Davis County Republican precinct chairman | The Salt Lake Tribune

Expanding voting rights to those who aren’t heads of households was a “grave mistake,” a GOP precinct chairman from Davis County wrote in a Sunday morning Facebook post. “The more I study history the more I think giving voting rights to others not head of household has been a grave mistake!” Casey Fisher posted on Facebook Sunday morning. Fisher did not respond to a request for comment Monday evening.

Virginia: Proposals seek to end gerrymandering in Virginia | Capital News Service

An assortment of bills to revise standards for drawing Virginia’s electoral districts could be the beginning of the end for gerrymandering in the commonwealth, according to redistricting reform proponents. Gerrymandering, the practice of politicians redrawing electoral districts to gain an advantage, has drawn attention and disdain in recent years. North Carolina’s congressional map was declared unconstitutional last week by a panel of federal judges, who ruled legislators had drawn it with “invidious partisan intent.” House Bill 276, proposed by Democratic Del. Sam Rasoul of Roanoke, would create a Virginia Redistricting Commission. The commission would determine the criteria for remedial redistricting plans if a court declares any congressional or legislative district unlawful. Under the current system, the legislators themselves determine the criteria for redrawing these lines.

Czech Republic: Government loses confidence vote in parliament | Deutsche Welle

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis has lost a vote of confidence in parliament on Tuesday. Originally scheduled for January 10, the vote was delayed after an eight-hour debate last week. Babis, the country’s second wealthiest man, is fighting corruption allegations related to suspicious EU subsidies that benefitted his business a decade ago. Since his ANO (Yes) party won last October’s election by a large margin, it will certainly stay in power. The only question is whether Babis will remain at the helm. Parliamentarians voted 117-78 against the prime minister. Although he and his cabinet will now be forced to resign, they will nevertheless remain during the transition until a new government can be formed.

Egypt: Elections authority sets cap of EGP 20 million for campaign financing in presidential elections | Ahram Online

Egypt’s National Elections Authority has set a cap of EGP 20 million (1.3 million) on campaign financing for each candidate running in the country’s upcoming presidential elections, which are set for 26-28 March. The ceiling for campaign financing during the run-off period – if one were to take place – is set at EGP 5 million ($282,000), the authority said on Tuesday. Candidates must mostly finance their campaigns with their own private funds, and are allowed to receive donations of no more that 2 percent of the funding limit.

Honduras: OAS Observers Say Nasralla Won Honduras Election | teleSUR

A Honduran Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) employee has said that the director of the Organization of American States (OAS) observation team concluded that Salvador Nasralla was the legitimate winner days after voters went to the polls Nov. 26. Marco Ramiro Lobo, a magistrate within the TSE says that Jorge Quiroga – head of the OAS observation mission for the Honduran elections and former president of Bolivia – told TSE directors that Nasralla had won only days after the election was held. Lobo says the statement was made in the presence of Guatemala’s former president, Alvaro Colom, also an OAS election observer. “Ex-president Quiroga told the TSE that Salvador Nasralla had won the election” just days after polls closed. “Quiroga took a pencil and paper and calculated some numbers and concluded that Salvador Nasralla was the winner,” says Lobo.