National: The rise of the machines: Many states, localities get new voting equipment for 2016 | electionlineWeekly

While issues like early voting, voter registration and voter ID have certainly grabbed the headlines of late, another elections issue will literally be in front thousands of voters in 2016 — new voting systems. Nationwide many states and counties are moving to new voting systems for the first time in more than a decade in advance of the 2016 election cycle. For some jurisdictions the switch to a new voting system was mandated by state legislatures that wanted to move to paper-based systems. For others, it’s a matter of age. Many states and counties replaced their voting machines following the 2002 election and in a world where people replace their phones every two years and personal computers almost as frequently, 10+-year old voting machines are, well, old. Although budgeting and procurement are certainly taking center stage now, soon enough it will be training and voter education. It’s a lot to get done with an election calendar that grows shorter as more and more states jockey for position with their elections calendars.

National: Cicilline unveils automatic voter registration bill | The Hill

Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) has proposed a bill to automatically register Americans to vote, fresh off of similar calls by Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton. “Today, too many politicians are trying to make it harder than ever for citizens to make their voices heard at the ballot box,” Cicilline said in a statement on Wednesday. “The Automatic Voter Registration Act will protect the right to vote and expand access for eligible voters across the United States. I thank my colleagues who have co-sponsored this important legislation that helps to expand one of our most essential rights as Americans.”

National: With boost from Clinton, efforts to expand voting access advance | MSNBC

States from Rhode Island to Louisiana took steps this week toward making voting easier. In Washington, a new bill that would automatically register citizens to vote when they turn 18 is gaining traction among Democrats. And Ohio’s top voting official blocked a Democratic lawmaker on Twitter amid a spat over efforts to increase access to the ballot in the nation’s most pivotal swing state. It’s more evidence that Hillary Clinton’s major speech on voting last Thursday helped move along a conversation – already underway, to be sure – about how to to expand access to the ballot, especially by modernizing voter registration systems. It’s a conversation that threatens to put Republicans on the defensive after years of playing offense on the issue with a wave of restrictive voting laws.

National: Two FEC officials implore agency to curb 2016 election abuse | USA Today

Two Democratic members of the Federal Election Commission, who say they are frustrated by the agency’s failure to rein in campaign-finance abuses ahead of the 2016 presidential race, are making what amounts to a drastic move Monday in the staid world of federal election law. Commissioners Ann Ravel, who is the agency’s chairwoman, and Ellen Weintraub are filing a formal petition, urging their own agency to write rules to clamp down on unfettered political spending and unmask the anonymous money flooding U.S. elections.

National: Citizens United is making local TV rich. Here’s why. | Slate

Remember the outrage over Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission? The 2010 Supreme Court decision allowed corporations and other entities to expend unlimited funds on electoral influence, inspiring feverish protests and calls for constitutional reform. Jeremiads about the devolution of political discourse from an active citizenry engaged in public debate to a Machiavellian nightmare of corporate manipulation proliferated. Coupled with the growing awareness of economic inequality, Citizens United helped incite the Occupy movement and has already become a byword for corruption in the American political process. Like plenty of Americans, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg detests the ruling. “If there was one decision I would overrule, it would be Citizens United,” she told Jeffrey Rosen of the New Republic. “I think the notion that we have all the democracy that money can buy strays so far from what our democracy is supposed to be.” While it’s easy to locate those who defend Citizens United on constitutional grounds, finding support for the decision’s real-world effects on public discourse, debate, and democratic participation is a tougher task. But there’s one party that ought to be cheering the ruling’s positive impact on its livelihood: local TV.

National: U.S. authorities unlikely to stop 2016 election fundraising free-for-all | Reuters

White House hopefuls raking in record amounts of money in the 2016 U.S. presidential race are already being accused by watchdog groups of breaking campaign fundraising laws. But the U.S. Department of Justice is unlikely to prosecute possible violations and halt the funding free-for-all, say current and former department officials. With deadlock in the campaign finance regulator, the Federal Election Commission, watchdog groups are calling on the Justice Department to investigate contenders such as Republican Jeb Bush, who they say has conducted a charade of “non candidacy” to skirt federal election fundraising laws. Bush’s campaign said on Thursday he would announce his White House bid on June 15. Interviews with 11 current and former Justice Department officials indicate the department is unlikely to enforce rules before the November 2016 election, or even after. That means the election could unfold with record money – predictions are for overall campaign chests of more than $5 billion, double the cost of the 2012 election – but little regulation, they said.

National: Hillary Clinton Says G.O.P. Rivals Try to Stop Young and Minority Voters | New York Times

Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday accused Republicans including her potential rivals Jeb Bush, Scott Walker and Rick Perry of “deliberately trying to stop” young people and minorities — both vital Democratic constituencies — from exercising their right to vote, as she presented an ambitious agenda to make it easier for those groups and other Americans to participate in elections. Speaking at Texas Southern University here in front of her largest crowd yet as a candidate for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, Mrs. Clinton accused Republicans generally of enacting state voting laws based on what she called “a phantom epidemic of election fraud” because they are “scared of letting citizens have their say.”

National: Hillary Clinton Pushes for Voter Registration Overhaul | Bloomberg

Hillary Clinton called Thursday for sweeping changes to elections and voting laws, arguing that measures including universal voter registration and national early voting are necessary to counteract a tide of laws aimed at making it more difficult for some people to vote. Speaking at Houston’s Texas State University, at a ceremony honoring the late civil rights leader and Democratic Representative Barbara Jordan, Clinton set her sights squarely on some of her potential Republican opponents, who she said are “systematically and deliberately trying to stop millions of American citizens from voting.” In one of her most powerful and passionate appearances of her campaign thus far, the former secretary of state singled out four current and former governors, whose actions “have undercut [the] fundamental American principle” of the right to vote in their “crusade against voting rights.” Instead of continuing along the same path, she said, “they should stop fear-mongering about a phantom epidemic of election fraud” and work to make it easier for Americans who want to vote to go to the polls.

National: How Jeb Bush’s Presidential Announcement Will Change His Money Game | National Journal

The former Florida governor and scion of the modern Republican Party’s most prominent political family revealed on Thursday that he will formally announce his long-expected presidential candidacy on June 15 in Miami. The event comes almost six months to the day after Bush said last December that he was “actively exploring” a campaign and months after it has become clear Bush would, in fact, run. His dodging of that reality had begun to wear thin in recent weeks. On Sunday, pressured about his candidacy by CBS’s Bob Schieffer on his final day hosting Face the Nation, Bush offered up a tepid: “I hope so. I hope, I hope I’m a candidate in the near future.”

National: Attempts To Limit Voting Rights Stunted As Efforts To Enhance Voting Access Prevail | Huffington Post

A number of state legislatures are adjourning, and supporters of expanded access to the ballot box may be sighing in relief as they see some of the major efforts to restrict voting access were stymied during this legislative session. Then again, they may be disappointed that bills to restore voting rights to felons were squashed, or that courts haven’t yet shut down strict new voter identification requirements in Arizona, North Carolina and Texas. At the federal level, congressional Republicans haven’t been rushing to update the Voting Rights Act, which the Supreme Court gutted in 2013, even as they celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Selma, Alabama, civil rights march that helped bring about the landmark law.

National: Clinton to call for at least 20 days of early voting nationwide | The Washington Post

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton plans to call for an early voting period of at least 20 days in every state. Clinton will call for that standard in remarks Thursday in Texas about voting rights, her campaign said. She will also criticize what her campaign calls deliberate restrictions on voting in several states, including Texas. The former secretary of state’s address at historically-black Texas Southern University in Houston comes as Democrats pursue legal challenges to voting rule changes approved by Republican legislatures in several states.

National: Jeb Bush, Taking His Time, Tests the Legal Definition of Candidate | New York Times

Jeb Bush is under growing pressure to acknowledge what seems obvious to some voters and election lawyers: He is running for president. The lawyers say Mr. Bush, a former Florida governor, is stretching the limits of election law by crisscrossing the country, hiring a political team and raising tens of millions of dollars at fund-raisers, all without declaring — except once, by mistake — that he is a candidate. Some election experts say Mr. Bush passed the legal threshold to be considered a candidate months ago, even if he has not formally acknowledged it. Federal law makes anyone who raises or spends $5,000 in an effort to become president a candidate and thus subject to fund-raising, spending and disclosure rules. Greater latitude is allowed for those who, like Mr. Bush, say they are merely “testing the waters” for a possible run.

National: With big field, unsettled primary calendar adds complexity to GOP race | Los Angeles Times

As the number of candidates seeking the Republican nomination nears a dozen, with more to come, the calendar of primaries has drawn increased attention, with party strategists trying to determine which contests will begin to winnow the field. Though the calendar remains unsettled, several Southern states, including Alabama and Arkansas, are looking to have an effect on the race by holding contests on the same date – creating a so-called SEC primary, named after the college sports Southeastern Conference. In Florida, Republicans have rallied around a winner-take-all primary that could be a jackpot in the race for delegates and potentially determine the electoral fate of the state’s former governor, Jeb Bush and its current Republican senator, Marco Rubio.

National: For millennials, Facebook is poised to dominate politics (also everything else) | The Washington Post

The odds are good that you are reading this article because you clicked through a link on Facebook. On Sunday, for example, a day you should be spending time with family/reading Post articles, a third of all traffic to The Fix’s top five posts came through the social networking site. The odds of your having gotten to this article from Facebook are much better the younger you are, given that this article deals with politics. “Among Millennials,” a new report from Pew Research reads, referring to people born between 1981 and 1996, “Facebook is far and away the most common source for news about government and politics.” Far and away meaning that 61 percent of that group got news about politics or government from the site — about the same percentage as that of baby boomers (1946-1964) got from their local news. And vice-versa: Only 37 percent of millennials got political information from local news, compared to 60 percent of boomers.

National: The next political battleground: Your phone | CNN

There’s a new political battleground in 2016: your phone. Next year’s election presents a new opportunity for politicians to harness a slew of technologies — from video to demographic data — that will help them reach voters. The drive toward connecting with potential voters on their smartphones is playing out, in part, because so many people have one this election cycle. About two-thirds of Americans own a smartphone today, compared with just 35% in the spring of 2011, according to the Pew Research Center. For about 10% of Americans, their smartphone is the only form of high-speed Internet they have access to at home.

National: New FCC robocall rules concern pollsters | Politico

For many Americans, the idea of technology that can block automated telephone calls sounds like a solution to all those annoying “robocalls” and interrupted family dinners. But to the nation’s pollsters and campaign professionals, many of whom are gearing up for the 2016 election cycle, a federal government proposal circulated Wednesday to encourage phone companies to embrace the technology feels like an existential threat. As a result, they say, Americans might soon know much less about what they think about everything from which candidates are gaining or losing ground to what issues voters care about most. And political campaigns might be forced to abandon tools they currently use to reach large numbers of voters in a short period of time.

National: Elections Technology: Nine Things Legislators May Want to Know | The Canvass

What makes you lose sleep?” That’s what NCSL staff asked members of the National Association of State Election Directors back in September 2012. The answer wasn’t voter ID, or early voting, or turnout, as we expected. Instead, it was this: “Our equipment is aging, and we aren’t sure we’ll have workable equipment for our citizens to vote on beyond 2016.”That was NCSL’s wake-up call to get busy and learn how elections and technology work together. We’ve spent much of the last two years focusing on that through the Elections Technology Project, funded by the MacArthur Foundation. One thing we learned is that virtually all election policy choices have a technology component. Just two examples: vote centers and all-mail elections. While both can be debated based on such values as their effect on voters, election officials and budgets, neither can be decided without considering technology. Vote centers rely on e-poll books, and all-mail elections depend on optical scan equipment to handle volumes of paper ballots.Below are nine more takeaways we’ve learned recently and that legislators might like to know too.

National: The ‘One Person, One Vote’ Case Relies On Statistics That Nobody Has | FiveThirtyEight

“One person, one vote” is a deceptively simple promise, but a Texas woman wants to clarify which persons count. On Tuesday the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Evenwel v. Abbott, a suit that challenges exactly who should be counted as a person when states draw their district boundaries in pursuit of proportional representation.The plaintiffs are challenging the usual method (counting total number of people living in a district) and are asking that states use the total number of eligible voters instead. The trouble is, we don’t have robust statistics on the number of eligible voters. If the Supreme Court were to set new standards for districting, we would need to overhaul the nation’s statistics and surveys.

National: Supreme Court Agrees to Settle Meaning of ‘One Person One Vote’ | New York Times

The Supreme Court agreed on Tuesday to hear a case that will answer a long-contested question about a bedrock principle of the American political system: the meaning of “one person one vote.” The court’s ruling, expected in 2016, could be immensely consequential. Should the court agree with the two Texas voters who brought the case, its ruling would shift political power from cities to rural areas, a move that would benefit Republicans. The court has never resolved whether voting districts should have the same number of people, or the same number of eligible voters. Counting all people amplifies the voting power of places with large numbers of residents who cannot vote legally, including immigrants who are here legally but are not citizens, illegal immigrants, children and prisoners. Those places tend to be urban and to vote Democratic.

National: Supreme Court to Consider How to Calculate Size of Voting Districts | Wall Street Journal

The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to decide whether the Constitution requires only eligible voters be counted when forming legislative districts, taking up a lawsuit that could shift political power to less populous rural areas from urban centers. If successful, the challenge to the state Senate map the Texas Legislature drew in 2013 could reshape the political dynamic in states with large Hispanic populations. The lawsuit offers the high court a chance to clarify the one-person, one-vote doctrine it established in the 1960s, when the justices swept away legislative maps that gave rural voters disproportionate power over urban areas. Since then, the near-universal practice has been to draw maps based on total population without regard to legal status. Subsequent electoral disputes centered on whether the racial composition of resulting districts complies with the Voting Rights Act.

National: Supreme Court to consider redefining ‘one-person, one-vote’ principle | USAToday

The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to define what it meant by “one person, one vote” a half century ago. The justices will consider a challenge brought by two rural voters in Texas who claim their state Senate ballots carry less weight than those cast in urban areas with large numbers of non-citizens ineligible to vote. Under the current system in nearly all states, state legislative districts are drawn with roughly equal populations. The standard dates back to decisions made by the Supreme Court in the early 1960s.

National: Cheap And Fast, Online Voter Registration Catches On | NPR

Voters in more than half the states will soon be able to register online, rather than filling out a paper form and sending it in. Twenty states have implemented online voter registration so far, almost all in the past few years. Seven other states and the District of Columbia are now in the process of doing so. That includes Florida, where Republican Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill last Friday requiring the state to allow online voter registration by 2017. Online voter registration has become so popular because election officials say it’s more efficient than a paper-based system, and cheaper. Voters like it because they can register any time of day from home, said David Becker, director of election initiatives for the Pew Charitable Trusts. “What election officials are finding, is they’re saving a ton of money, because they’re having to process a lot fewer pieces of paper by hand, right before an election, and get that into the system,” he said.

National: ‘Campaigns’ Aren’t Necessarily Campaigns in the Age of ‘Super PACs’ | New York Times

As the 2016 campaign unfolds, Hillary Rodham Clinton will benefit from one rapid-response team working out of a war room in her Brooklyn headquarters — and another one working out of a “super PAC” in Washington. Jeb Bush has hired a campaign manager, press aides and fund-raisers — yet insists he is not running for president, just exploring the possibility of maybe running. And Senator Marco Rubio’s chance of winning his party’s nomination may hinge on the support of an “independent” group financed by a billionaire who has bankrolled Mr. Rubio’s past campaigns, paid his salary teaching at a university and employed his wife. With striking speed, the 2016 contenders are exploiting loopholes and regulatory gray areas to transform the way presidential campaigns are organized and paid for. Their “campaigns” are in practice intricate constellations of political committees, super PACs and tax-exempt groups, engineered to avoid fund-raising restrictions imposed on candidates and their parties after the Watergate scandal.

National: US Justice Department eyes voting rights changes for American Indians, Alaska Natives | Associated Press

The U.S. Department of Justice is seeking legislation that would require state and local election officials to work with American Indian tribes to locate at least one polling place on or near each tribe’s land. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the changes are needed because “significant and unnecessary barriers” exist for American Indians and Alaska Natives who want to cast ballots. American Indians sometimes have to travel great distances to vote, face language barriers and, in places like Alaska, do not have the same amount of time to vote as others. The Justice Department outlined its proposal in letters Thursday to House Speaker John Boehner and Vice President Joe Biden, after a year of consultation with tribes on voting access.

National: F.E.C. Member Says System Tilts Against Conservative Groups | New York Times

Political tensions intensified on Thursday at the Federal Election Commission, as a Republican commissioner charged that conservative groups were the focus of agency reviews into possible impropriety far more than liberal ones. On a commission deeply divided already along party lines, Democrats quickly dismissed the charge as baseless. Lee E. Goodman, one of three Republican commissioners, said at a public meeting that he tallied up the political leanings of groups investigated by the agency for possible campaign violations and found what he said was a system tilted to inquiries of conservative groups.

National: Partisanship stalemates Federal Election Commission, says report | TheHill

Partisanship at the Federal Election Commission has hamstrung the agency, as deadlocked investigations have skyrocketed since 2008, according to a new report. Before 2008, the FEC only deadlocked on 1 percent of its votes to trigger punishments for allegations of election law violations, according to the report released Wednesday by the Public Citizen Foundation. Since then, the agency has hit a stalemate on 15 percent. The FEC is made up of three Democratic and three Republican commissioners, and action can only be triggered with a majority vote, which means at least one commissioner must cross party lines before the agency can authorize punishment.

National: Super PACs’ Next Target: Local Elections | National Journal

When Philadelphia’s next mayor delivers his victory speech Tuesday night, he should take a moment to praise a most important ally: his super PAC. Before long, it could become a regular part of any winning mayor’s speech. In this open-seat race in the nation’s fifth-largest city, the disparity in spending between super PACs and the official campaigns has been considerable. Heading into the weekend, the race’s three highest-spending groups on TV all were super PACs, according to a Democratic source tracking the buys. One outside group, funded by out-of-town charter-school advocates, had invested more on TV ads than the other campaigns combined.

National: When is a campaign not a campaign? When it’s a Super Pac | The Guardian

These days, presidential candidates are not just raising money for their own campaigns. They are also raising money for outside groups with generic sounding names like Priorities USA, Right to Rise and Our American Renewal. These are Super Pacs (political action committees), affiliated with each outside campaign but nominally independent. In 2012, they were helpful appendages. This year, heading into 2016, they are becoming fully fledged substitutes for campaigns, taking over functions including opposition research, polling and even knocking on doors. Super Pacs are just five years old. Like most developments in modern campaign finance law, they were created by accident through judicial decisions, not by legislation.

National: How a super PAC plans to coordinate directly with Hillary Clinton’s campaign | The Washington Post

Hillary Clinton’s campaign plans to work in tight conjunction with an independent rapid-response group financed by unlimited donations, another novel form of political outsourcing that has emerged as a dominant practice in the 2016 presidential race. On Tuesday, Correct the Record, a pro-Clinton rapid-response operation, announced it was splitting off from its parent American Bridge and will work in coordination with the Clinton campaign as a stand-alone super PAC. The group’s move was first reported by the New York Times.