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A multifaceted proposal to revamp Pennsylvania election law is moving ahead in the state House in the form of a bill backers say will make needed improvements and standardize procedures. Democrats on the State Government Committee were dead-set against it Tuesday. They insist that many of its purported upgrades are unworkable or would, in practice, make voting more difficult. The vote to advance it to the House floor was on party lines. The bill's prime sponsor sees it as a way to ensure security around elections and rebuild trust, along with modernizing procedures. His proposal would change deadlines, adopt new rules for early voting, alter mail-in ballot procedures and mandate IDs for in-person voters.

Georgia’s secretary of state says his office is reviewing the handling of paperwork related to ballot drop boxes in the state’s most populous county during last year’s election. County election workers were required to fill out a transfer form each time they collected absentee ballots from the drop boxes. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger's office says it's doing a review of Fulton County's handling of that paperwork. The investigation follows a report on a conservative website that says some drop box transfer forms were missing when Fulton County produced forms in response to an open records request. A county spokeswoman says the county followed all the rules.

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has appeared in court, denying wrongdoing and showing anger at accusations, during a trial over the allegedly illegal financing of his unsuccessful 2012 re-election bid. Sarkozy, 66, is facing allegations that he spent almost twice the maximum legal amount of 22.5 million euros ($27.5 million) on the presidential race he lost to Socialist Francois Hollande. Sarkozy made his first appearance Tuesday at the trial which started last month. The Paris court seeks to determine whether he was informed of the system of false invoices that was meant to cover up the overspending. An angry Sarkozy said he had the political leadership of the campaign, but was not involved into organization and logistical details. 

The Southern Baptist Convention is electing a new president Tuesday amid a push by ultraconservatives to wrest control of the denomination. They claim some current leaders are too liberal on issues that include race and the role of women in ministry. The annual meeting of the nation's largest Protestant denomination is shaping up to be the biggest in 25 years, with more than 17,000 voting delegates pre-registered. It could also be the most contentious. Issues include an effort to repudiate critical race theory and allegations that key leaders tried to slow-walk efforts to combat sexual abuse. 

A prominent contender in Iran’s presidential election has appealed for better economic and political relations with the West. Tuesday's appeal is his most extensive attempt yet to attract reformist voters just days ahead of the poll. Former Iranian Central Bank chief Abdolnasser Hemmati is among the seven candidates allowed on the ballot for Friday’s vote. He has no official ties to any political faction but is positioning himself as the likely candidate for moderate and reform-minded voters. Polling and analysts indicate that Hemmati lags in the race behind the country’s hard-line judiciary chief, Ebrahim Raisi, the clear front-runner cultivated by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Weeks after announcing that United States aid to El Salvador would be steered away from government institutions because of “deep concerns” over the ousting of judges and the attorney general, the director of the U.S. development agency delivered in El Salvador a message about the fragility of democracy. Even the site of U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power’s speech Monday was packed with symbolism. Power spoke on the campus of Central American University, the country’s premier institution of higher learning led by Rector Andreu Oliva, an outspoken critic of President Nayib Bukele’s government.

Hundreds of demonstrators outraged with Sen. Joe Manchin’s opposition to a sweeping overhaul of U.S. election law marched through the state’s capital city on Monday evening. Rev. William Barber, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, denounced the influential moderate Democratic senator. He called for a diverse coalition of working people to apply pressure on Manchin, who recently opposed a $15 minimum wage and the price tag of President Joe Biden’s initial $2 trillion infrastructure plan. Unable to meet with the senator, leaders of the demonstration affixed a poster-sized protest letter to the front doors of his office's building. Rally-goers took turns signing their names on it.

A Republican-led hand recount of ballots cast in Arizona’s most populous county hit a major milestone Monday when counters finished a tally of all the regular ballots cast in November’s general election. Ken Bennett is the Arizona Senate's liaison to the recount contractors and says all that remains are a small number of boxes filled with Braille, large-type, overseas military and duplicated ballots. That means almost all the 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County have been recounted. The GOP-led Senate ordered the audit after backers of President Donald Trump claimed without evidence that fraud led to his loss in Arizona and other battleground states.

More groups are challenging Florida’s new elections laws. The Fair Elections Center and the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal lawsuit Monday on behalf of Head Count and the Harriet Tubman Freedom Fighters. The suit asserts that the new law foments distrust against civic organizations that work to register voters. At the core of the complaint is state-mandated language that third-party voter registration groups must warn groups that they might not submit a voter’s application documents in a timely fashion.

The new U.N. special envoy for crisis-wracked Mali is warning that further insecurity, especially in the country’s center and north, will have “drastic consequences” for the immediate region and beyond. El-Ghassim Wane urged the military-led transitional government to prepare for elections next February. He the U.N. Security Council that the West African nation “is at a critical juncture,” calling the situation “challenging, desperate and frustrating.”  Wane said: “The encroachment of violent extremism on many Malian communities presents a serious setback.” Mali has been in turmoil since a 2012 uprising that led to an Islamic insurgency and a French-led war.

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