The Voting News

Pennsylvania: Controversial 197th District special election heading to federal court? | Philadelphia Inquirer

Tuesday’s controversial special election to fill the state House’s 197th District seat may be moving from the polling place to federal court, as Philadelphia’s City Commissioners prepare to start tallying the votes Friday morning. Lawyers for Republican nominee Lucinda Little, the only candidate who was listed on the ballot, and Green Party nominee Cheri Honkala, who waged a write-in campaign, sent letters to the Commissioners Thursday, demanding that they seal and preserve the ballots. Both camps alleged widespread voter fraud in the North Philadelphia district. Little won just 198 votes, which was 7.4 percent of the 2,681 ballots cast.  In an unusual development, 2,483 write-in votes were cast. Read More

Texas: Court asked to block Texas congressional map for 2018 election | Austin American-Statesman

Texas should be blocked from using a map of congressional districts that was found to have been drawn in violation of the U.S. Voting Rights Act, a federal court was told Thursday. The motion, filed with a three-judge panel in U.S. District Court in San Antonio, follows a March 10 ruling that invalidated three districts, including one in Travis County, that the court said were drawn by Republicans to intentionally discriminate against Latino and black voters. That ruling, however, did not mandate or discuss any remedies to correct the problems. Attorney General Ken Paxton has argued that there is no need to redraw the congressional map because the court invalidated districts that were drawn in 2011, while Texans have been electing members of Congress according to a map that the Legislature adopted in 2013. But according to the motion filed Friday, the three districts invalidated in the 2011 map were little changed in the 2013 version. Read More

West Virginia: House committee sends watered-down voter ID bill to floor | Charleston Gazette-Mail

The House Judiciary Committee sent a bare-bones, edited version of a new voter-identification law to the chamber floor Thursday for consideration by the full West Virginia House of Delegates. The original bill would have required state-issued photo identification to vote, making West Virginia one of the strictest states, in terms of voting standards. However, the new version of the bill only delays last year’s voter identification law — which has not yet been enacted — until July 1, 2019. The new bill also stops a requirement that the Division of Motor Vehicles forward to the Secretary of State’s Office information from anyone who opts out of registering to vote. Read More

Europe: Who rules the rulers?: Safeguarding democratic rule within the EU | The Economist

As the European project grew from six reasonably cohesive members to 28 more diverse and less controllable ones, it was faced with two big questions. One was what to do if a country decided to leave. The response of the United States to South Carolina’s secession in 1860 seemed excessive, so instead the treaty was amended to include Article 50, which sets out the procedure for exit. The hope was that it would never be used, but now Britain is invoking it. Untried though the procedure is, one thing seems certain: it will be long-drawn-out and painful for everyone. The second question was what to do if a country started to trample on the democratic standards that are a condition of membership. Europe has had to consider this issue before, in 2000, when Austria brought Jörg Haider, a far-right politician, into a coalition government. The EU tried to isolate Austria by freezing contacts, but when that failed to oust Mr Haider it gradually thawed, and has since tacitly accepted governments sustained by extremist parties. In the 2000s several commentators suggested that Italy under Silvio Berlusconi would have failed the Copenhagen criteria for membership because he wielded such enormous power over the Italian media, but at the time nothing was done about it. Read More

Bulgaria: The Under-the-Radar EU Vote That Opens the Door for Russia | Bloomberg

With eyes fixed on populist threats in other European Union elections, one vote has escaped the glare. And this one promises to strengthen Russia’s foothold in the region. While affirming their commitment to the EU, Bulgaria’s two biggest parties say they’ll revive economic ties with Russia to benefit voters who feel let down by the bloc a decade after membership. The Socialists, neck and neck with Gerb before Sunday’s snap parliamentary ballot, vow to go further, by sinking sanctions against President Vladimir Putin’s government. A Russian-friendly Socialist won the presidency in 2016. Read More

China: Hong Kong faces ‘selection not election’ of China’s favoured candidate | The Guardian

Every newly elected leader of Hong Kong takes the oath of office in front of China’s president, below a giant red national flag of China, and the slightly smaller banner of the city. It is a tightly scripted event designed to shield Chinese officials from the embarrassment of dissenting voices. In Hong Kong politics, formality is everything, and many say the election for the city’s next leader which happens on Sunday will indeed be a formality. Most expect Beijing’s preferred candidate to be anointed despite her rival being by far the more popular choice. … However, only 1,194 people are able to cast a ballot, far less than the city’s 3.8 million registered voters. Those who have a say include all 70 members of the city’s legislature and some district politicians, business groups, professional unions, pop stars, priests and professors. Read More

France: Le Pen visits Russia ahead of French presidential election | AFP

French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen was due in Moscow on Friday for meetings with lawmakers less than a month before a presidential election clouded by allegations of Russian interference. The leader of the National Front, an anti-immigrant and anti-European Union party, is seeking to bolster her international credentials ahead of the two-round French election on April 23 and May 7. Her visit comes on the heels of a trip this week to Chad, base of a French military operation that’s aimed at rooting out Islamic extremists from a swath of Africa. The head of the Russian Duma’s international affairs committee, Leonid Slutsky, was quoted by the Tass news agency as saying Le Pen would hold meetings on the “international agenda such as the war on terrorism”. Read More

India: Election Commission served notice by top court on efficacy of Electronic Voting Machines | Times of India

The Supreme Court today served a notice to the Election Commission on a complaint filed seeking an investigation into the efficacy and accuracy of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) that some politicians recently said can be “easily manipulated.”
The top court however refused to grant the petitioner’s request to issue a notice to the CBI on the same issue. ML Sharma, the petitioner, had filed the petition after BSP leader Mayawati and then AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal raised questions about EVMs, saying their parties suffered big defeats in UP and Punjab, respectively, because of these machines that had been “tampered with”. Read More

Zimbabwe: Opposition Parties Demand Internationally-run 2018 Elections | VoA News

Opposition parties in Zimbabwe say they have no confidence in the country’s electoral commission and are calling for an international body to run the 2018 elections. Opposition parties led by former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai held a rally of about 500 people Wednesday in Harare at which they said the next election is heading for a dispute unless the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, or ZEC, steps aside. The rally follows the electoral commission’s request to President Robert Mugabe’s government to buy biometric voter registration equipment in preparation for Zimbabwe’s 2018 elections. The opposition says the move is unconstitutional. Opposition supporters marched to the commission’s offices to present a petition, singing on their way. Read More

National: US Officials: Info suggests Trump associates may have coordinated with Russians | CNN

The FBI has information that indicates associates of President Donald Trump communicated with suspected Russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, US officials told CNN. This is partly what FBI Director James Comey was referring to when he made a bombshell announcement Monday before Congress that the FBI is investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, according to one source. The FBI is now reviewing that information, which includes human intelligence, travel, business and phone records and accounts of in-person meetings, according to those U.S. officials. The information is raising the suspicions of FBI counterintelligence investigators that the coordination may have taken place, though officials cautioned that the information was not conclusive and that the investigation is ongoing. Read More