Nigeria: Huge fees for Nigerian election hopefuls under fire | AFP

Nigeria’s two main political parties are asking election hopefuls to pay huge fees for the chance to stand at next year’s general election, in a move criticised as favouring the rich and well-connected. At the last nationwide vote in 2015, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of then-president Goodluck Jonathan charged 22 million naira per nomination form. The All Progressives Congress (APC) of the eventual winner Muhammadu Buhari asked for 27.5 million naira just to stand in the party’s presidential primary. Now, as both parties prepare for polling in February next year, the APC wants an eye-watering 45 million naira ($125 500) per presidential primary candidate, according to newspaper adverts on Wednesday.

North Carolina: Republican legislators violated a candidate’s constitutional rights, judge rules | News & Observer

A judge threw out a new state law Monday, ruling that it violated the constitutional rights of at least two politicians whose 2018 campaigns the law had targeted. Chris Anglin, a Republican candidate for a seat on the North Carolina Supreme Court, had sued the legislature along with Rebecca Edwards, a Democrat who is running to become a district court judge in Wake County. Earlier this summer, the legislature passed a new law that would have prevented Anglin or Edwards from being able to have their party affiliations on the ballot. They argued that the law unfairly targeted them because their competitors in this November’s elections would still have their own parties listed on the ballot. Anglin, who is believed to have been the main target of the new law, is one of two Republicans running for the Supreme Court seat against a single Democratic candidate.

Zimbabwe: EU mission urges Zimbabwe to improve ballot access to boost vote credibility | Reuters

A European Union election observer mission on Friday urged Zimbabwe’s election agency to be more open about the printing and storage of ballot papers to enhance the credibility of a July 30 presidential and parliamentary vote. The southern African nation will hold its first election since a November army coup ended Robert Mugabe’s near four-decades rule and paved the way for his longtime ally Emmerson Mnangagwa to become president. For the first time since 2002, foreign observers are monitoring the vote. If they give it a seal of approval it will allow Harare to repair ties with the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to access the large-scale funding it needs to rebuild the economy.

China: Hong Kong lawyers condemn ‘unlawful’ disqualification of candidate | Reuters

A group of Hong Kong lawyers yesterday condemned a ban on a democracy activist by the territory’s government to stop her from contesting a by-election, describing it as the suppression of free expression and a curb on voting. The weekend ban on Agnes Chow, a close ally of high-profile activist Joshua Wong, fuels wider fears of tightening political “red lines” by Beijing that could deny Hong Kong’s restive young people any political outlet beyond street protest. The 21-year-old Chow becomes the 13th politician barred from standing for office or disqualified from the legislature in recent years.

Texas: Dallas Democrats strike back at GOP lawsuit to remove 128 candidates from primary ballot | Dallas Morning News

Lawyers for 14 of the 128 Democratic candidates whom the Dallas County GOP is trying to have removed from the March primary ballot have asked a court to dismiss the case. According to a document filed late Monday on behalf of 14 candidates threatened with removal, the Dallas County Republican Party and its chairwoman, Missy Shorey, have no standing to bring the suit, since they are not candidates in the election. “The DCRP is clearly not a candidate and Shorey does not allege that she is a candidate for any office,” according to the filing from the lawyers. “As such, neither the DCRP nor Shorey have the necessary personal interest to have standing to seek the removal of any candidate from the ballot.”

North Carolina: Legislature opens ballots to third parties in veto override | The North State Journal

The state legislature voted Tuesday for the 10th veto override since Gov. Roy Cooper has been in the Executive Mansion, well more than half of his 13 total vetoes. The lawmakers needed a three-fifths vote to override, voting in the Senate Monday night 26-15 along party lines and in the House Tuesday morning, 72-40. Two Democrats voted in favor of overriding the governor’s veto: Reps. William Brisson (D-Bladen) and Elmer Floyd (D-Cumberland). This time the override is on an election bill aimed at making it easier to get third-party candidates on the state’s election ballots, but also canceling the 2018 judicial primaries. Lawmakers say they want to allow newly eligible candidates to be able to get a closer look at planned new judicial district maps. The effort to update judicial district lines was launched over the summer by Rep. Justin Burr (R- Stanly), but some members of both parties say its overdue.

Russia: How Russians use technology to influence their own elections | TNW

A political sea change is emerging within the Russian Federation, and it’s all thanks to a web app. MunDep (that’s short for “municipal deputy”) is the online interface that gamifies the process of turning someone from Russian citizen into Russian political candidate. The country’s notorious bureaucracy usually keeps citizens away from participating in politics meaningfully, but MunDep presents itself as a convenient central hub for meeting a prospective candidate’s every conceivable need. It guides them through the process of filling out paperwork, collecting signatures, and printing political leaflets for distribution. When candidates face trouble of any sort, they can even chat with the human staff via voice or text. Thoroughly cutting through Russia’s red tape, this platform turns the country’s political registration process into a 15-step “quest” for office. MunDep is the brainchild of Maxim Katz, a former municipal representative currently focused on political technology. He operates it alongside Dmitry Gudkov, former Russian parliament member and current Moscow mayoral candidate, and Vitali Shkliarov, a former operative for Bernie Sanders’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Utah: Governor wishes GOP would drop lawsuit challenging new election law | The Salt Lake Tribune

Gov. Gary Herbert wished aloud Thursday that the Utah Republican Party would drop its lawsuit challenging the state’s new election law, which is driving a wedge between the party’s right wing and moderates. But he concedes that maneuvering by conservatives has probably successfully forced party leaders to proceed against his wishes — and their own. When asked at his monthly KUED news conference if the GOP should drop the lawsuit, Herbert said, “They would be wise to do that.” The suit challenges SB54, which allows candidates to qualify for a primary election by collecting signatures and/or the traditional caucus-convention system.

South Dakota: Proposals could raise the bar for ballot questions | Argus Leader

After out-of-state groups spent millions of dollars on ballot measure and constitutional amendment campaigns last year, a task force is set to consider proposals Wednesday that could make it harder to pass a measure in South Dakota. Lawmakers, elections officials and ballot campaign insiders on the Initiative and Referendum Task Force have met twice this summer and are set to consider 20 draft bills aimed at reforming the state’s ballot initiative and referendum process. They could bump up the number of voters needed to pass a constitutional amendment, cap the number of amendments that voters can take up on each ballot and set up a board to hold hearings on ballot measures before voters take them up. And they’ll also consider requiring uniform font, changing filings deadlines and shifting some of the information that comes out about proposals before they hit the ballot.

Utah: No signature gathering route to special election ballot | Utah Policy

Gov. Gary Herbert said Thursday that he doesn’t see the need now to call a special legislative session this spring to pass a law detailing how his administration would conduct a special U.S. House election. U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who stunned state politicos by announcing Wednesday he won’t seek re-election in 2018, told KSL Radio’s Doug Wright Thursday morning that he “may” resign his seat before his current term ends January 2019. All Utah has currently is the U.S. constitutional requirement that the governor will call a special election to fill a U.S. House vacancy.

Montana: Green Party appeals ballot access decision to the US Supreme Court | MTN News

The Montana Green Party is appealing a decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to deny an emergency motion requesting that Thomas Breck’s name be added to Montana’s special congressional election ballot. Breck of Missoula, along with Independent candidates Steve Kelly and Doug Campbell, said they now plan to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, alleging that they were turned down “on the basis of an unconstitutional state law.”

Montana: Green Party, independents won’t be on Montana’s special election ballot, appeals court rules | Associated Press

An appeals court has denied a request by three minor party and independent candidates to place their names on the ballot for the special election to replace Ryan Zinke, who left Montana’s only U.S. House seat to become Interior secretary. The three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the emergency motion late Monday. Instead, the panel ordered the candidates and the Montana Secretary of State’s Office to file their arguments by mid-June, well after the election set for May 25. Overseas ballots have already been mailed and other preparations are already underway for the election. Absentee ballots are scheduled to be mailed May 1.

Montana: Judge won’t halt special election ballots for appeal | The Missoulian

A federal judge on Tuesday denied a request to delay the printing and mailing of ballots for Montana’s special congressional election for three minor party and independent candidates who are suing to be in the race. The request by Thomas Breck of the Green Party and independents Steve Kelly and Doug Campbell was made after U.S. District Judge Brian Morris said he would not unilaterally add them to the ballot in the May 25 election. The three men appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and asked Morris to prevent state election officials from printing and mailing ballots to military and overseas voters while the case is pending. Morris said in his order that he would halt the lawsuit in his court until the appeal is resolved, but he won’t prevent the election from proceeding because the three men haven’t shown that they are likely to win their case.

Montana: Would-be candidates win court case, still won’t be on ballot | Great Falls Tribune

A federal judge sided with three would-be candidates who argued they didn’t have enough time to gather the signatures required to qualify for Montana’s special congressional election — but their names still aren’t going on the ballot. U.S. District Judge Brian Morris on Saturday ordered Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton to reduce the number of voter signatures needed to place minor party and independent candidates on the ballot from 14,268 to 400. But the judge did not extend Stapleton’s March 6 deadline to turn in signatures, which means the three men who sued for ballot access — Thomas Breck of the Green Party and independents Steve Kelly and Doug Campbell — still don’t qualify for the ballot.

Venezuela: Socialists’ election strategy? Block adversaries | Reuters

Venezuela’s move to bar two-time presidential candidate Henrique Capriles from public office for 15 years looked like an unusually brazen blow at the opposition but is just the logical extension of a strategy that has emerged as the last, best hope of President Nicolas Maduro’s Socialists for maintaining power. A nearly identical maneuver was used ten years ago to halt the rise of former mayor Leopoldo Lopez, who in polls remains one of the most influential opposition leaders despite being jailed three years ago for his role in anti-government protests. The situation suggests the Socialists may continue to lean on Comptroller Manuel Galindo, accused by the opposition of being a government puppet, to clear the playing field of potential challengers. The election, still unscheduled, must be held by the end of 2018.

Montana: No decision yet from judge over special election ballot | NBC

Montana elections offices are still eagerly waiting to hear whether U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris will decide to let third-party and independent candidates on the special election ballot. The special election on May 25 is to replace former Rep. Ryan Zinke who was nominated to President Donald Trump’s cabinet as Secretary of the Interior in February. State law requires third-party and independent candidates to collect a certain number of signatures to place their names on the ballot, but those candidates are arguing they didn’t have enough time to collect signatures. Potential candidates Thomas and Danielle Breck and Steve Kelly are suing the Secretary of States Office over those ballot laws.

Montana: Federal court to decide Montana ballot lawsuit | NBC

A federal judge in Great Falls listened to arguments Tuesday for a lawsuit filed against the Secretary of State’s office to get third party names on the May special election ballot. Thomas Breck is the nominee for the Montana Green Party and Steve Kelly is the potential candidate for the Independent Party. The two along with Danielle Breck are challenging Montana’s ballot access laws for independent and minor party candidates. The trio says they didn’t have enough time to collect the required 14,268 signatures to get their names on the ballot under the special election deadlines. The filing fee for the May 25 special election is $1,740.

Montana: Special election process stalled due to pending legislation, lawsuit | NBC

Counties across Montana are trying to figure out how to finance the special election on May 25 to replace former Rep. Ryan Zinke. Zinke was nominated to President Trump’s cabinet as the Secretary of Interior in February. County elections officials proposed Senate Bill 305, which would allow counties to decide if they want to hold an all-vote-by-mail election, but there’s much debate. Missoula County Elections Administrator Rebecca Connors says an all-vote-by-mail election would save Missoula County around $130,000. She says the bill would help smaller counties with tighter budgets and smaller elections staff. Bill opponents argue the bill would make voting less accessible because not everyone has access to a mailing address.

National: Democrats try new tactic to get Trump’s tax returns | The Hill

State legislators across the country are debating new measures that would require candidates running for president to publicly disclose their tax returns to qualify for the ballot. The measures are aimed at President Trump, who became the first White House candidate in recent times refuse to release his tax documents to the public. Democrats, incensed by Trump’s false claims of being prevented from releasing the documents because of an IRS audit, see the legislation on the state level as a way to force the president’s hand when he seeks reelection in 2020. “Tax return information would provide some transparency there to give voters the assurance that they need that the president is acting on behalf of us,” said Kathleen Clyde, an Ohio state representative who recently introduced a version of the bill. “It is problematic that he is the only candidate in 30 or 40 years not to provide that information.”

Florida: State wipes out Independent Party of Florida | Orlando Sentinel

Lynn Dierksen of Orlando was surprised to get a new voter ID card in the mail this week which revealed she was suddenly without a party. The Independent Party of Florida, founded in 1992, was stripped of its official status because it didn’t use a certified public accountant to audit its finances in 2014. “I really don’t like the change going out without people being informed,” said Dierksen, who had to call the Orange County Supervisor of Elections office to learn why she no longer belonged to the Independent Party. “Right now, with what’s going on with politics, I’m just suspicious of everything.”

New Jersey: Democrats want to push future presidents to do what Trump wouldn’t: Release tax returns | Philadelphia Inquirer

If President Trump, or anyone else, wants to get on the New Jersey ballot to run for president in 2020, he could have to release his tax returns, if some Democratic lawmakers have their way. Whether legislators have that power was an open question Monday, as the Assembly Judiciary Committee advanced a bill that would require candidates for president and vice president to disclose their federal income tax returns in order to appear on the state’s ballot. “Anybody who tells you they know whether it’s constitutional or not is not correct,” Rick Hasen, an election law expert and professor at the University of California, Irvine, said of a state’s ability to require tax-return disclosure to get on the ballot. The bill’s sponsor, Assemblyman John McKeon (D., Morris), acknowledged that the proposal raised constitutional questions, but argued that such laws would likely be upheld “prior to the election four years from now.”

Georgia: Ruling upheld for third-party presidential candidates in Georgia | Atlanta Journal Constitution

The federal appeals court in Atlanta on Wednesday upheld a ruling issued last year that found a portion of Georgia’s ballot access laws violated the U.S. Constitution. The one-sentence ruling, by a unanimous three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, adopted the “well-reasoned opinion” issued last March by U.S. District Judge Richard Story in Atlanta. Story had significantly lowered the number of signatures required for third-party candidates to petition to get on Georgia’s presidential ballot — from tens of thousands to 7,500. The 11th Circuit’s ruling was notable in that it was issued less than a week after it heard arguments on the case – an exceptionally quick turnaround for a ruling by the busy court that oversees cases out of Georgia, Florida and Alabama.

Ohio: Justices turn down appeal from Libertarians tossed from 2014 Ohio ballot | The Columbus Dispatch

Rejecting an appeal from the Ohio Libertarian Party, the U.S. Supreme Court appears to have put an end to a three-year legal battle over whether elected officials in the state conspired to keep two Libertarian candidates off the 2014 statewide ballot. Without comment Monday, the justices upheld a decision last year by both a federal appeals court in Cincinnati and a federal judge in Columbus that Gov. John Kasich and Secretary of State Jon Husted did not violate the U.S. Constitution when they removed Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Charlie Earl and attorney-general candidate Steven Linnabary from the ballot. Joshua Eck, a Husted spokesman, said “once again, the court has clearly stated that the secretary is properly enforcing Ohio law. There is a clear path for establishing a political party in this state, which has been endorsed by the courts multiple times and even successfully utilized by other political groups.”

Ghana: Electoral Commission OKs 7 Candidates for Presidential Election | VoA News

Ghana’s electoral commission has qualified seven presidential candidates for the national election on December 7. The successful candidates — six representing political parties and one independent — took part in a drawing late Wednesday in the capital, Accra, to determine their positions on the ballot. They will be listed by party affiliation in this order on voters’ ballots: Convention People’s Party (CPP), National Democratic Party (NDP), National Democratic Congress (NDC), Progressive People’s Party (PPP), New Patriotic Party (NPP), People’s National Convention (PNC) and independent (non-party) candidate Jacob Osei Yeboah. The electoral commission earlier had disqualified several candidates for failing to comply with all registration requirements for the election, but those rulings were challenged in court by the PPP and NDP, among others. A court ruling ordered the commission to allow disqualified candidates time to correct errors in their nomination documents.

Utah: McMullin’s running mate on Utah ballot is not his ‘actual running mate’ | KUTV

When independent candidate for president Evan McMullin filed to run in Utah, he gave a name for his running mate, whom he said was only a “stand-in” until he could choose the person he really wanted for the job. “I designate Nathan Johnson as my Vice Presidential candidate,” said a ‘certificate of nomination’ signed by McMullin, and delivered to the Utah Lt. Governor’s Office in August. The Lt. governor — in charge of elections — certified the Utah ballot weeks ago, and listed Johnson right beneath McMullin; the two are also paired on ballots in ten other states. Sunday, on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, McMullin repeatedly mentioned his actual running mate, Mindy Finn, a woman who began a political career “as a communications and legislative aide on Capitol Hill,” and is said to have worked “with both President George W. Bush and Mitt Romney.”

Ghana: Electoral Body Denies Candidates’ Disqualifications Politically Motivated | VoA News

The Electoral Commission of Ghana sharply rejected accusations that its decision to disqualify presidential candidates from participating in the December 7 general election was politically motivated. The Electoral Commission disqualified 12 presidential candidates, including the former first lady, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, presidential candidate for the opposition National Democratic Party (NDP) – for failing to meet requirements it stipulated ahead of the September 30 deadline to file nomination documents. The electoral body says the presidential candidates who are qualified to participate in the elections include incumbent President John Dramani Mahama, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo from the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Ivor Kobina Greenstreet of the Convention People’s Party (CPP) and Jacob Osei Yeboah, an independent candidate.

Ghana: Opposition Party to Challenge Disqualification of Presidential Candidate | VoA News

Attorneys for the Ghanaian opposition National Democratic Party (NDP) plan to file a petition in court Thursday seeking to challenge the electoral commission’s decision to disqualify former first lady Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, presidential candidate of the party, from the Dec. 7 general election. Mohammed Frimpong, general secretary for the NDP, says the disqualification appears politically motivated, to ensure the former first lady doesn’t pose any threat to incumbent President John Dramani Mahama of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC). “We have credible information around that the ruling government is very uncomfortable with our candidate,” Frimpong said. “And if she stood, it means that she was going to divide a lot of votes with the ruling government. … And for that they hatched several plots against her.” Frimpong contends the electoral commission failed to apply the law requiring that a party be notified of any problems in its nomination documents, and allowed time for issues to be amended.

Palestine: Next month’s Palestinian local elections aren’t happening. Here’s why. | The Washington Post

Voting in the Palestinian territories rarely occurs when it is supposed to, and this year is no exception. One month before local elections were scheduled across the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the Supreme Court in Ramallah postponed the vote until it rules on two complaints regarding the authority of Gaza’s court system to disqualify candidates and the exclusion of voters in East Jerusalem. Though nominally independent, the court’s judges were appointed by President Mahmoud Abbas, and the decision provides a convenient pretext for the ruling party, Fatah, to avoid an embarrassing defeat at the polls. But with an extensive security apparatus — and with Israel, the United States and neighboring Arab states dependent on Fatah’s continued control of the central Palestinian Authority (PA) institutions — what does Abbas have to fear from Palestinians electing their village, town and city councils? A look back at the recent history of municipal elections in the West Bank and Gaza sheds light on why opportunities to elect new leadership at the local level can be so important in this context of frozen conflict.