Illinois: Automatic voter registration law doesn’t allocate money for implementation | Illinois News Network

Automatically registering voters anytime they register with certain state government agencies was considered a major legislative priority by some at the statehouse, but lawmakers haven’t put the necessary tax dollars behind it to get it started. As it is right now, Illinois residents can opt in to registering to vote when they get or update information for a state ID card or driver’s license. Lawmakers pushed to make that automatic and to include more state agencies. Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed the original automatic voter registration bill in 2016 with suggested changes he said made the bill better. Lawmakers followed his lead in 2017 and passed automatic voter registration.

Massachusetts: Secretary of State Galvin facing conflicts for picking state primary date | State House News Service

It is up to Secretary of State William Galvin to pick a date to hold Massachusetts’ 2018 state primary election and his request for public input hasn’t pointed to an obvious answer. The date of the state primary is usually settled without much discussion or public attention, but this year Galvin is required by law to move the primary to an earlier date in September due to a conflict with a Jewish religious holiday. The target date for the primary – 49 days before Election Day – is Tuesday, Sept. 18, but that date marks the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. One week earlier, Tuesday, Sept. 11, conflicts with the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. State law requires Galvin to schedule the primary within seven days of the second Tuesday of September, this year Sept. 11, leaving the secretary a window from Sept. 4 until Sept. 18 to hold the election.

New York: Push on for early voting in New York State | Press Republican

Despite all the passion and hype that often accompany local and state elections, many New Yorkers still choose not to vote. In fact, New York is near the bottom when it comes to voter participation, placing 41st among the 50 states in the percentage of its citizens who cast ballots in the 2016 general election. And that was a move up from its 44th-place finish from the 2012 election. Now, with the 2018 legislative session slated to open Jan. 3, a coalition of good-government groups and labor unions is pushing to make New York the 38th state to allow early voting.

North Carolina: With no North Carolina elections board, Winterville race decided by 1 vote and a judge | News & Observer

Nearly two months have passed since voters went to the polls in Winterville, the small Pitt County town near Greenville, to select its mayor and two Town Council members. On Tuesday, Wake County Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway decided the victor in one of the council races — a contest that resulted in a one-vote difference. Ridgeway held a hearing on Dec. 29 to determine whether the Pitt County Board of Elections exceeded its power when it decided to decertify the results from the race between John Hill, Ricky Hines and David Hooks. The case was unusual from the start. The election was held in November to fill a seat that became vacant last year after a councilman died. On Nov. 7, Hill was the unofficial winner with 421 votes, eight more than Hines got that night and 47 more votes than Hooks received.

North Dakota: Aging voting machines could pose a challenge for counties | Prairie Public Broadcasting

In 2017, the North Dakota Legislature was asked to fund new voting machines. The Legislature declined. And that means North Dakota is using the same voting system it purchased back in 2004. “That’s a long life span for technology,” said Deputy Secretary of State Jim Silrum. Silrum said the current machines use the Windows 7 operating system. Windows no longer supports that system, and Silrum said the counties have had to cannibalize their existing machines to have some that still work. “You can’t any longer find chips or motherboards that run slow enough, because modern technology has advanced,” Silrum said. “They just say, ‘Why would we want to build something so slow?'”

Oklahoma: Lankford Prioritizing Cybersecurity Ahead of 2018 Elections | Public Radio Tulsa

Another round of federal elections is just months away, and Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford has a bill to guard them against foreign interference. Provisions of the Secure Elections Act would help push out paperless voting systems and encourage all states to audit their elections after they’re finished. Lankford told CNN states will still be running their elections. “But where states are not keeping up their equipment, we need to be able to encourage those states and help provide some grants to those states to say, ‘Go take care of your equipment,'” Lankford said. “We don’t want to have at the end of the next election a guess that the election had fraud in it, that they got into an election system.”

Texas: What to expect in Texas’ voting rights court fights in 2018 | The Texas Tribune

As far as court battles go, 2017 was a busy year on the voting rights front in Texas — and 2018 will likely be no different. After years of litigation, Texas and its legal foes — minority and civil rights groups and voters of color — begin the year waiting on the courts to rule on the fate of the state’s embattled political maps and voter identification requirements. Federal judges are also expected to have the final word on whether lawmakers intentionally discriminated against Texans of color in drawing up both measures. There’s no saying whether the cases will be resolved in 2018. But as the sides await a final resolution years after the measures were first enacted, the attention will ultimately fall on whether Texas will be placed back under federal oversight of its election laws.

Virginia: Fairfax County registrar to deny voter registrations over concerns with Virginia system | WTOP

Thousands of people who recently moved to Fairfax County from other parts of Virginia are set to receive notice in the next week or so that their voter registration requests have been denied. This move follows concerns about the way a state Department of Elections system handles requests submitted through the Department of Motor Vehicles, the county’s general registrar said. To start with, that means about 5,000 letters to people who submitted some of the most recent address updates. The county’s general registrar is accepting similar voter registration updates through the Department of Elections website.

Egypt: Presidential election commission to announce election timetable Monday | Egypt Independent

The National Elections Commission held a press conference Tuesday, in which it announced its intention to announce the timetable and decisions governing the presidential election process at a conference to be held at the headquarters of the State Information Service on Monday. Mahmoud al-Sherif, the official spokesman of the State Information Service, said that the Commission is keen on clarity, openness and transparency, and welcomes local and international civil society organizations wishing to observe the elections.

Liberia: Carter Center Wants Electoral Laws Reviewed |

The observer mission of Atlanta based US group Carter Center is recommending to national government to carry out proper revision of electoral legislation that will help in addressing election gaps here. “We encourage the government to carry out a full review of electoral legislation through an inclusive process to address gaps and inconsistencies with the goal of bringing the legal framework in line with international standards for democratic elections,” the US group said Thursday, 28 December in Monrovia.

Russia: Putin’s Rival Can’t Run for President, But He’s Still a Threat | Bloomberg

Now that he’s been officially barred from challenging Russian President Vladimir Putin in presidential elections next March, opposition leader Alexey Navalny is counting on becoming an even bigger nuisance for the Kremlin. The 41-year-old Navalny, who is banned from appearing on state television and whose name Putin never even mentions in public, is urging his supporters to protest nationwide on Jan. 28 as part of a campaign to boycott the vote. “Going to vote now just means fixing Putin’s problems by helping him disguise his reappointment as something that looks like an election,” Navalny wrote on his blog after Russia’s Central Election Commission refused to register him as a candidate due to a fraud conviction that Navalny denounces as politically motivated. In a video, he accused Putin of being “afraid of running against me.”

Media Release: Verified Voting Urges Congress to Pass the Secure Elections Act; Bipartisan Legislation Empowers States to Protect Themselves

Marian K. Schneider: “Passing the bipartisan Secure Elections Act will advance our nation’s efforts to protect and ensure trustworthy elections.” The following is a statement from Marian K. Schneider, president of Verified Voting, on the Secure Elections Act, which was introduced by Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) and co-sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sen. Lindsey…

National: Pressure builds to improve election cybersecurity | The Hill

Congressional efforts to secure election systems from cyberattacks are picking up steam with lawmakers under pressure to prevent hacks in the 2018 midterms. After the revelation that Russia tried to probe election systems in 21 states in the 2016 election, security experts, state officials and others demanded federal action to help states upgrade outdated voting machines and bolster security around voter registration databases. Last week, a bipartisan coalition of six senators introduced the Secure Elections Act, which includes a measure authorizing grants for states to upgrade outdated voting technology and shore up their digital security. “It is imperative that we strengthen our election systems and give the states the tools they need to protect themselves and the integrity of voters against the possibility of foreign interference,” Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), a Senate Intelligence Committee member, said when unveiling the bill.

National: Kobach fraud commission, stalled by lawsuits, will meet in January | The Topeka Capital-Journal

President Donald Trump’s controversial commission on election integrity should meet again in January after being delayed for months because of eight lawsuits demanding its staff’s time, the group’s de facto leader, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, said this week. … Eight lawsuits sit in federal court opposing the commission from plaintiffs including one of the commission’s own members and groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “I’m not aware of any presidential commission that has encountered so much litigation from special interest groups,” Kobach said. Kobach said his commission hasn’t met since September, largely because of that litigation.

Voting Blogs: Much ado about nothing in Alabama “fraud” charges | Election Updates

At the risk of being lost down a rabbit hole and subject to endless trolling, I just have to weigh in on the so-called evidence of vote fraud that was contained in Roy Moore’s court filing, in which he tried to get a delay in having the vote certified.  (The reason I decided to plow ahead is that Moore’s filing points out an interesting pattern in the precinct returns — it’s just that it’s not evidence of vote fraud.) There are a lot of claims made in Moore’s filing, and I don’t pretend to have time to take them all on.  The one that has the look of seriousness is based on some number crunching by Philip Evans, an electrical engineer from South Carolina who has taken a look at the precinct-level election returns from Jefferson County (Birmingham) and declared them to be impossibly skewed — or, as Mr. Evans  puts it, based on analyzing more than one hundred elections, “never has there been the level of statistical proof on the scale of Jefferson County” that the results were fabricated.

Maine: Critics vow to keep signature gatherers at Maine polls | Associated Press

A bill that includes a provision making signature gathering at Maine polling places a crime is not meant to kill the citizen initiative process as critics have claimed, Secretary of State Matt Dunlap said Friday. The bill, which includes a variety of unrelated provisions, is set for a Wednesday public hearing. One provision would prohibit exit polling, signature gathering, electioneering and charitable activities within 50 feet of the entrance to polling places. Dunlap, a Democrat, said some voters and municipal clerks have complained to his office about aggressive signature gatherers. “It gets pretty uncomfortable for the voter, I’ve seen it,” he said. “Situations where people are leaving the polls, and they’ll have people signing petitions, and they’ll yell, ‘Excuse me, excuse me, don’t leave!’ People will stop, startled.”

Michigan: Candidate says he’ll sue Gov. Snyder to move up election for Conyers’ seat | Detroit Metro News

A candidate for the U.S. House seat vacated by former U.S. Rep John Conyers filed a lawsuit against Gov. Rick Snyder demanding that the election be moved up to an earlier date. On Dec. 8, Gov. Snyder had announced that Conyers’ congressional seat would remain empty until the regularly scheduled November election, leaving it vacant for nearly a year. What’s more, political observers have pointed out that since the post will be listed twice — once in the August primary and again in the November general election ballots — the office could be held by two different people before January is out. In short, the move would leave Detroiters without effective representation for 11 months — and perhaps even longer.

New Jersey: Here’s what Sean Spicer said in New Jersey voter intimidation case |

Former White House spokesman Sean Spicer testified there were no signs keeping Republican National Committee staff members away from Donald Trump’s vote-counting operations on Election Night, but party officials knew to keep their distance. “It had been abundantly clear for the six years that I worked at the RNC that the RNC and its employees were prohibited from engaging in Election Day activities, including poll watching, so I intentionally stayed away from all of that,” said Spicer, then a top Republican National Committee official. Spicer’s testimony came as the Republican National Committee sought to end limits on its voter activities imposed 35 years ago as a result of GOP activities in the 1981 New Jersey gubernatorial election narrowly won by Thomas H. Kean. That consent decree expired Dec. 1, but Democrats are seeking to extend it.

New York: Groups push for early voting in New York | The Daily Star

Despite all the passion and hype that often accompany local and state elections, many New Yorkers choose not to vote. In fact, New York is near the bottom when it comes to voter participation, placing 41st among the 50 states in the percentage of its citizens who cast ballots in the 2016 general election. And that was a move up from its 44th-place finish from the 2012 election. Now, with the 2018 legislative session set to open Wednesday, a coalition of good-government groups and labor unions is pushing to make New York the 38th state to allow early voting. They contend that expanded opportunities for voters to make their choices will pump up participation.

North Carolina: How far into 2018 before North Carolina knows shape of election districts in gerrymander case? | News & Observer

As 2017 drew to a close, an often repeated phrase among observers of North Carolina politics was the only thing certain about the 2018 elections was uncertainty. With the filing period for candidates seeking state House and Senate seats set to open in mid-February, the lines for the election districts remain unclear. North Carolina lawmakers have canceled primaries for all judicial races and continue to weigh new options for how judges at all levels of state court get to the bench. Answers to some of the lingering questions might emerge early in January as federal judges hold hearings on a case that will determine the shape of election district maps for state legislative races.

Ohio: State’s move to toss inactive voters from rolls goes to court | Associated Press

Joseph Helle was expecting a different sort of reception when he returned home from Army tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and showed up to vote in his small Ohio town near Lake Erie. His name was missing from the voting rolls in 2011, even though Helle had registered to vote before leaving home at 18 and hadn’t changed his address during his military service. Helle, now the mayor of Oak Harbor, Ohio, is among thousands of state residents with tales of being removed from Ohio’s rolls because they didn’t vote in some elections. The Supreme Court will hear arguments Jan. 10 in the disputed practice, which generally pits Democrats against Republicans.

Pennsylvania: Judge Says Pennsylvania Election Districts Give Republicans an Edge, but Are Not Illegal | The New York Times

A Pennsylvania judge said Friday the state’s Congressional districts were drawn to give Republicans an advantage, but they did not violate the state Constitution, ruling in a high-profile gerrymandering case with the potential to have major consequences on the 2018 midterm elections. Judge P. Kevin Brobson of Commonwealth Court in Harrisburg noted that Republicans hold 13 out of 18 Congressional seats in Pennsylvania, a perennial swing state that has one of the most extensively gerrymandered maps in the country. Nonetheless, the judge said that Democrats who brought suit had failed to articulate a legal “standard” for creating nonpartisan maps.

Virginia: Department of Elections knew of issues with voting in wrong House districts before 2017 election | WTOP

Leaders of Virginia’s Department of Elections, House Speaker Bill Howell and Fredericksburg’s Electoral Board knew there were problems with voters assigned to the wrong House districts in the Fredericksburg area since at least early 2015, documents and interviews show. That is more than two years before the Nov. 7 election to replace Howell that is now mired in a federal lawsuit that could help decide which party controls the Virginia House of Delegates. “There were some issues raised in 2015 that we believed to have been resolved, and apparently, there were additional issues that were … still impacting voters,” Virginia Department of Elections Commissioner Edgardo Cortes said in an interview.

Virginia: In race critical to House control, GOP urges judges to stick by disputed ballot ruling | The Washington Post

Republicans on Friday asked a three-judge panel in Virginia to stick by its decision to count a disputed ballot in a squeaker legislative race, a ruling that threw the contest — and control of the House of Delegates — into limbo. House Republicans were responding to a motion Democrats had filed Wednesday, asking a recount court to reverse itself and declare Democratic challenger Shelly Simonds the winner over Del. David E. Yancey (Newport News) by a margin of one vote. A win by Simonds would split the 100-seat House down the middle, forcing a rare power-sharing arrangement on a chamber that Republicans have controlled for 17 years.

Utah: Once again, Utah lawmakers try to eliminate straight ticket voting | KSTU

Rep. Bruce Cutler proudly describes himself as a Republican and a fiscal conservative. But he believes that’s not necessarily why you should vote for him. “I hate labels. I’m not one to like labels,” the state representative from Murray told FOX 13 recently. It’s partly why he’s proposing a bill in the 2018 legislative session that would eliminate straight ticket voting in Utah. “I just think that people need to vote for the person rather than the party. We’ve seen this on the national level,” he said, referring to the recent Alabama senate race involving Roy Moore, who faced accusations of sexual misconduct involving girls. (Rep. Cutler added he would not support Moore.)

China: Thousands sign petition against government bid to shorten voting hours | Hong Kong Free Press

The Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau (CMAB) reasoned that the shortening of polling hours could reduce fatigue and neighbourhood disturbances, as well as allow results to be announced earlier. Currently, polls are open for 15 hours from 7:30am to 10:30pm. However, a study suggested this week that – if the government shortens voting time at the end of the day – pro-democracy voters would likely be affected the most. The bureau launched a public consultation for the proposal on November 13. The deadline for accepting views came on Friday.

Germany: Germany ends 2017 without a government for Angela Merkel | Deutsche Welle

It was just before midnight on November 19 that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s dream of a so-called “Jamaica coalition” collapsed. The political constellation consisting of the conservative union parties (CDU/CSU), the business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP) and the pro-environment Greens — whose colors together reflect those of the Caribbean country’s flag — was to not be. Christian Lindner, the FDP leader, stood up from the negotiating table in the Parliamentary Association building and declared that his party had had enough. The FDP could not support policies they didn’t believe in, he said. Outside, Lindner said a few words into the microphones, then vanished into the night.

Honduras: US silent as Honduras protesters killed in post-election violence | The Guardian

Tinsel and colored lights still adorn many houses in Choloma, a gritty manufacturing town near the Caribbean coast of Honduras, but at the home of David Ramos there are no signs of the festive season. “Christmas no longer exists for us: not this year, not any year,” said Ramos as he leafed through freshly printed pictures of his oldest son. José Ramos, 22, was killed by military police officers last month, at a protest over alleged fraud in the country’s presidential election. The contested results triggered the country’s worst political crisis in a decade and have led to the deaths of at least 30 people, according to the Committee for the Families of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras (Cofadeh), a human rights group. Most of the victims were opponents of President Juan Orlando Hernández, who they say rigged the vote to beat the opposition candidate, Salvador Nasralla.

Russia: Supreme court rules Kremlin critic cannot run for president | The Guardian

Russia’s supreme court has upheld a ban on the government critic Alexei Navalny from running for president, a decision he has vowed to respond to with nationwide protests. “We don’t recognise elections without competition,” Navalny wrote on Twitter after the ruling on Saturday. He did not attend the hearing, which his lawyers say they will appeal against at the European court of human rights. The ruling was widely expected and came after Russia’s central election committee said on 25 December that Navalny, 41, was not allowed to stand for public office until at least 2028 because of a previous fraud conviction.