The Post’s Niraj Chokshi has the scoop on an interesting new report that the Center for American Progress is releasing today that rates all the states in terms of how well their voting systems are faring.

The report divides the question of how to rate the health of our democracies in the states into three categories: Accessibility of the ballot; how representative government is; and whether undue influence is being sufficiently curbed.

I have not read the whole report yet, and there will be a lot to chew on in it. But for now I wanted to focus on its findings in terms of accessibility of the ballot, partly because there are indications that this will be a key issue in the 2016 campaign.

One interesting factoid from the report is that the states that rate worst on ballot accessibility — with an “F” rating — are overwhelmingly concentrated in the south:

The “ballot accessibility” ratings were determined by looking at a range of factors, such as the impact of voter ID laws, voter wait time, and the availability of easy voter registration and early voting. And this category really matters, because, as the report puts it: “states that rank better on accessibility of the ballot have significantly higher voter turnout.”

As you can see, some of the states that are rated the worst in terms of ballot accessibility — with “F” ratings — will also be key in 2016: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina. Other swing states, such as Wisconsin, Nevada, and New Mexico, get “C” ratings.

Hillary Clinton has called for major reforms designed to maximize voter participation nationally, and there will be court battles over state-level voting measures that could impact turnout in key battleground states. One of the major arguments for reform is that the lack of uniform standards has led to deep geographic disparities when it comes to basic assess to the franchise. The new report appears to illustrate the continued prevalence of this problem rather vividly.


* MASSIVE TRADE DEAL NEARS COMPLETION: The New York Times reports that U.S. trade representatives are increasingly confident that negotiators will complete talks on the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership by late July, though many sticking points remain.

While Obama did secure “Fast Track,” the publicizing of the deal’s specifics will give opponents a new set of focal points to rally opposition. And Hillary Clinton will presumably have to take a stand on the deal, just as the Dem primaries are heating up.

* IRAN TALKS BLOW THROUGH DEADLINE: The Post reports that negotiations towards a deal curbing Iran’s nuclear program will continue past today’s deadline:

Iranian officials have said they considered Tuesday an “artificial deadline,” set last week by the United States to meet congressional demands in Washington. They suggested that Thursday was a more realistic estimate for ending talks with the United States and five other world powers on seeking ways to rein in Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for easing international sanctions.

All indications remain that both sides badly want a deal, however.

* THE OUTSTANDING ISSUES IN IRAN TALKS: The Wall Street Journal has a useful rundown of the remaining outstanding issues. The two key ones appear to be how much access inspectors will have to Iran’s nuclear sites, and how quickly Iran would be able to reactivate its nuclear program between year 10 and 15, with western officials pushing to keep the time span above six months.

One thing that is not an outstanding question: Republicans — and perhaps some Senate Democrats — already know the deal is woefully inadequate, even though they haven’t seen the details yet.

* RUBIO TO PUSH GENERATIONAL ARGUMENT: White House hopeful Marco Rubio will deliver a speech today proclaiming we “need a new president for a new age,” adding: “New opportunities cannot be seized by old ideas, and the future must be embraced with enthusiasm and vision.”

This message, which seems aimed equally at Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton, is a reminder that a younger GOP nominee will argue that the likely Dem nominee is a politician of the past.  But can Republicans credibly make that case while arguing for undoing all of Obama’s efforts at international engagement and holding out against immigration reform and gay marriage?

* GOP COURTS DANGER ON IMMIGRATION: Michael Gerson explains the deeper dilemma Republicans face as they seek o calibrate their immigration rhetoric: Should they try to pump up the white Rust Belt vote to win, or try to broaden their appeal? Answer:

A political appeal that encourages division would worsen the GOP’s main political problem: a durable impression that it does not care for the country as a whole. As the old Southern strategy fades, it would be a terrible mistake to replace it with a different form of fear and exclusion.

* REPUBLICANS STRUGGLE TO DISARM TRUMP: The Washington Examiner reports that Republicans are urgently pondering how to prevent “suicide bomber” Donald Trump’s immigration comments from hurting the GOP’s appeal to Latinos. The story notes that one conservative thinks Trump’s comments “are likely to be perceived by Hispanics as broadly anti-immigrant,” but the GOP nominee will “have to show appreciation for immigrants’ contributions to American society.”

Ya think? Okay, and what happens if Trump’s comments get cheered at a GOP debate?