South Carolina: Colbert offering $500K to pay for GOP primary | CBS News

Comedian Stephen Colbert is offering to pay half a million dollars to help subsidize South Carolina’s first-in-the-South GOP presidential primary, as state officials struggle to pay for it, but there’s doubt whether it would even be legal.

The Charleston native wrote in an op-ed Thursday in The State newspaper in Columbia that Colbert Super PAC — a type of political action committee that allows him to raise unlimited amounts of money from corporations, unions and individuals — will bridge the gap after state Republicans refused to contribute anything above $180,000 collected in candidates’ filing fees.

The state Election Commission, which administers South Carolina’s voting, has said it has $1 million on hand for the primary but is short of the total $1.5 million price tag. Spokesman Chris Whitmire says the Commission has notified budget officials the state may need to seek permission to run a deficit to fund the primary.

Tennessee: Longtime state employee may be blocked from voting – 93-year-old woman who cleaned the Capitol for 30 years says she can’t get voter ID | WSMV

One woman who has been voting for more than eight decades in this state was told this week she may no longer be eligible to vote. She’s worked for years at the Tennessee State Capitol and has her old state ID, but that’s not good enough under the new voter ID law.

Thelma Mitchell cleaned this governor’s office for his entire term. She has been a fixture at the State Capitol for more than 30 years, yet this year she was told “you’re no longer allowed to vote.”

“I ain’t missed a governor’s election since (Frank) Clement got to be the governor,” said Mitchell. The 93-year-old Mitchell voted for the first time in 1931, soon after women gained the right to vote in the United States. “It meant a lot to me,” said Mitchell.

Virginia: Bachmann, Huntsman, Santorum not on Virginia primary ballot | Richmond Times-Dispatch

Four Republican presidential candidates – Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry and Ron Paul — submitted paper work in time to qualify for Virginia’s March 6 primary ballot.

No other GOP contender will be on the Virginia ballot. Rep. Michele Bachmann, former Sen. Rick Santorum and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman did not submit signatures with Virginia’s State Board of Elections by today’s 5 p.m. deadline. Those who submitted the required signatures must clear another hurdle. The Republican Party of Virginia has until Tuesday to certify which candidates qualify.

Virginia: Gingrich, Perry disqualified from primary ballot | The Washington Post

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Gov. Rick Perry failed to submit enough valid signatures to qualify for the Virginia primary ballot, state GOP officials said Friday evening and early Saturday. The Republican Party of Virginia announced early Saturday that Gingrich and Perry failed to submit 10,000 signatures of registered voters required to get their names on the ballot for the March 6 primary.

“After verification, RPV has determined that Newt Gingrich did not submit required 10k signatures and has not qualified for the VA primary,” the party announced on Twitter.

The rejection is a significant setback for the Gingrich campaign since he is leading the polls in Virginia among likely Republican voters and is seen as a strong contender for the nomination.

Myanmar: Myanmar opposition leader Suu Kyi’s party registers to re-enter mainstream politics | The Washington Post

Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi formally registered her party Friday for any upcoming elections, returning the Nobel laureate to the political arena and winning plaudits from her political rivals in Myanmar’s military-dominated parliament.

Suu Kyi decided last month to formally rejoin politics after recent reforms by the nominally civilian administration that took power this year. Suu Kyi, National League for Democracy leader Tin Oo and other party members registered the party at the Union Election Commission in the capital, Naypyitaw.

The party boycotted last year’s general elections because of restrictive rules that among other things prevented Suu Kyi from being a candidate. The government has since lifted many of those restrictions. The government had taken the NLD off the list of legally recognized political parties because of the boycott.

India: No donkey, monkey in poll campaign: Election Commission | Mumbai DNA

The State Election Commission (SEC) has issued an order banning the use of animals by political parties during election campaigns. In a letter to all political parties, the SEC said donkeys, bulls, elephants and cows cannot be used for politics. Often donkey with blackened face are paraded on streets to highlight the failure of the government or portrayed as rivals.

“The political parties found misusing the animals to highlight any issues during the local bodies elections will be dealt firmly. The candidates have no business to inflict atrocities against animals to highlight the public cause. The politicians have been urged to show restrain in abusing each other taking animal names. Several instances of politicians calling each other donkeys or dogs have been brought to the election commission’s notice,” state election commissioner Neela Satyanarayan said on Friday.

Russia: Kremlin nervous as protesters return to streets | The Guardian

Tens of thousands of Russians are expected to take to the streets on Saturday despite Kremlin efforts to ease tensions over disputed elections and Vladimir Putin’s expected return to the presidency. More than 50,000 people have indicated their intention to attend a protest on Moscow’s Sakharov Prospect, named after the late leading Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov. Thousands more have signed up via social networking sites for protests in more than 80 Russian cities.

The protesters are hoping to capitalise on the momentum launched earlier this month, when up to 50,000 people turned out in Moscow alone demanding the Kremlin overturn parliamentary election results that saw Putin’s United Russia take a majority in the Duma despite widespread accusations of fraud.

The former Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev, the novelist Boris Akunin, the anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny and Ksenia Sobchak, the Russian “It Girl” and daughter of Putin’s mentor, are among those expected to address the crowd. Protesters will don white ribbons to symbolise their opposition to the election results, which they say are a sign of their country’s lack of democracy. The oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov, who is running against Putin, also said he would address the rally.

Virginia: Perry fails to qualify for Virginia’s presidential primary | Richmond Times-Dispatch

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has failed to qualify for Virginia’s March 6 Republican presidential primary, according to the Republican Party of Virginia. Volunteers at state GOP headquarters are continuing to assess whether former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has amassed the required 10,000 signatures of registered voters.

Earlier today the state GOP certified that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Rep. Ron Paul will be on the ballot for the state’s Republican primary.

The Voting News Daily: Judge rules Indiana secretary of state was ineligible to run, Stephen Colbert on Naming rights, state mottoes and the South Carolina GOP primary

Indiana: Judge says White ineligible to serve as Secretary of State | Evansville Courier & Press Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White’s two-front fight for his political life could be on its way to the state Supreme Court. A Marion County judge on Thursday ruled that White was not legally qualified as a candidate for the…

Indiana: Judge says White ineligible to serve as Secretary of State | Evansville Courier & Press

Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White’s two-front fight for his political life could be on its way to the state Supreme Court. A Marion County judge on Thursday ruled that White was not legally qualified as a candidate for the office he holds, and ordered that Democrat Vop Osili, the second-place finisher in the 2010 election, be installed in his place.

The ruling by Marion Circuit Judge Louis Rosenberg overturns a decision made by the three-member Indiana Recount Commission. That panel had ruled that despite controversy over his legal residence, White, a Republican, was eligible for the ballot.

Now, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s office, which represents the Recount Commission, will ask the Indiana Court of Appeals to consider the case, and also place a hold on the ruling that would keep White in office while the legal process plays out. That court is the last step before the case would reach Indiana’s highest court.

Indiana: Judge rules Indiana secretary of state was ineligible to run | 13 WTHR

A Marion County Circuit Court judge has ruled that Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White was not eligible to be a candidate for the office, and that White’s Democratic challenger Vop Osili should be certified as the secretary of state. The matter now goes back to the Indiana Recount Commission.

The ruling by Judge Louis Rosenberg stems from a civil lawsuit by the Indiana Democratic Party. It sets aside the previous decision of the Indiana Recount Commission to allow White to remain in office.

Pennsylvania: NAACP mobilizes against Pennsylvania voter ID bill | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

The NAACP’s Pittsburgh branch is mobilizing to oppose a bill that would require Pennsylvanians to show identification before voting. The organization on Wednesday likened the importance of the effort to ones that resulted in the abolishment of poll taxes. Members called on city residents to sign and help circulate petitions. They called on ministers to shout it down from their pulpits.

“The African-American community across the country fought long and hard to be able to vote,” said NAACP President M. Gayle Moss. “This is a tactic to reduce the number of senior citizen voters, African-American voters, who do not have cars or drive, and young voters.”

South Carolina: DMV reports flawed South Carolina voter ID list | Charlotte Observer

South Carolina election officials are using flawed data that include dead people as they deal with implementing a new state law requiring that people have photo identification when they cast ballots in person, according to an analysis by the Department of Motor Vehicles. The South Carolina State Election Commission and the DMV had matched data on licenses, ID cards and voter records as part of the new law, now under review by the U.S. Justice Department.

The election agency reported in October that nearly 240,000 active and inactive voters lacked South Carolina driver’s licenses or ID cards. The DMV’s analysis shows that more than 207,000 of those voters live in other states, allowed their ID cards to expire, probably have licenses with names that didn’t match voter records or were dead.

South Carolina: Naming rights, state mottoes and the GOP primary | Stephen Colbert/

As a proud son of South Carolina I must address recent unsubstantiated rumors published in The State that I, Stephen Colbert, tried to buy the naming rights to the 2012 Republican primary. First, never trust anything in a newspaper — except this column, and possibly “Mallard Filmore.” And second, these outrageous and scurrilous rumors border on libel, even if they are, technically, true. I don’t want to talk about it. Here’s what happened:

I have what’s called a super PAC — a political action committee that can receive unlimited funds to spend on political speech in unlimited quantities. About three months ago, I heard that local officials in South Carolina were suing the state political parties over who would pay for the upcoming presidential primary. The GOP said they would pay a big chunk of the cost, but insisted the taxpayers pick up the bulk. State and local officials said this private primary should be paid for entirely with party funds. And Gov. Nikki Haley said, “It’s a great day in South Carolina!”

South Carolina: No decision made in Atlantic Beach’s voting machines case | SCNOW

A judge did not make a decision Wednesday regarding what to with county-owned voting machines Atlantic Beach wants back in order to conduct an investigation. Horry County Magistrate Brad Mayers decided to take the whole case under advisement, asking both parties come to an agreement. If an agreement can’t be reached, they will go to court again.

Horry County sheriff’s deputies served a court order on Atlantic Beach Dec. 13 and seized the voting machines from the town’s evidence room. Town leaders were holding them there as evidence of fraud and irregularities that they say occurred on the Nov. 1 municipal election. Those leaders now argue that the seizure of the machines has caused an unnecessary delay in their investigation.

Town council member Carolyn Cole suggested after the hearing Wednesday that Atlantic Beach’s voting machine incident may play a bigger role. “There are problems with these machines,” Cole said. “We’re coming up on presidential elections and primaries and voters in this state and this county deserve to know where we stand with these machines.”

Voting Blogs: Election Results Websites Heading to the Cloud | GovTech

As more people go online to see polling results on Election Day, the increased traffic can wreak havoc on IT infrastructure not designed for huge spikes in demand. But experts agree that the cloud is starting to gain momentum for hosting those sites, due to the belief that the cloud is more reliable and can upscale quickly to avoid crashes.

Andy Pitman, industry solutions manager for Microsoft, said in addition to the technical benefits of the cloud, by not maintaining expensive infrastructure for a capability that’s only used sporadically each year, using cloud technology for elections reporting and results can also save governments money.

Australia: Let voters dump bad government, experts decide | Sydney Morning Herald

Voters should be given the power to force early elections in NSW with a view to dumping unpopular governments, a majority of experts has advised the Premier, Barry O’Farrell. But an early election could only be called with the support of 35 per cent of eligible voters, including at least 5 per cent from half the state’s electorates, under the model for ”recall” elections preferred by a panel commissioned by the government in June.

The panel’s report

The possibility of introducing a recall system emerged during the lead-up to this year’s election amid demands for an early poll due to the soaring unpopularity of the Labor government. Under the present system of fixed four-year terms, an early election could only have happened if the government effectively sacked itself with a vote in the Parliament.

Congo: Counting halted in parliamentary vote | BBC

Vote counting in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s parliamentary elections has been halted, the election commission has said. It said it needed international help to complete counting following allegations of rigging in the 28 November polls. More than 18,000 candidates contested 500 parliamentary seats.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi plans to inaugurate himself as president on Friday after rejecting the incumbent Joseph Kabila’s victory. These were the first elections organised by the election commission since the end of the war in 2003 – the first poll in 2006 was held under the auspices of the UN.

Egypt: Egyptians turn out in fresh poll round | The Australian

Egyptians trickled into polling stations in the run-off of a staggered election marred by clashes between protesters and security forces that have left 15 people dead in five days. Polling took place in a third of the country’s 27 provinces, with a visibly lower turnout than in previous rounds, AFP reporters said.

The run-off in the second phase of legislative polls, taking place over two days, will see the two largest Islamist parties go head to head for 59 seats in the lower house. The ruling military has decided on a complex election system in which voters cast ballots for party lists, which will comprise two-thirds of parliament, and also for individual candidates for the remaining third of the lower house.

Russia: Who is Calling the Shots at the Duma? |

The Russian elections this month held some unwelcome surprises for the nation’s ruling party, “United Russia”. Administered in tandem by current president Dmitri Medvedev and prime minister Vladimir Putin (soon to be president once again), United Russia found itself receiving significantly lower-than-normal parliamentary results. This, combined with the protests that ensued quickly thereafter, seems to have sparked the corporate media’s hopes for a “colour revolution”.

The situation echoes the Serbian, Georgian and Ukrainian models; in these and several other countries, the governments had to step down after mass protests were organised with the support of US think tanks including the National Endowment for Democracy. These actions, led by the US and several EU countries, were geared toward the installation of leaderships that were more in line with Western agendas than their predecessors, and not necessarily in the interest of the Russian population. Certainly no effort is being spared to work towards a change of government in Russia.

However, these suggestions of a “colour revolution” do not correspond to Russian realities at all. American and West European media love to project their perceptions of a pro-Western civil society onto the protesters in Russia. Without a doubt, the archetype of the young academic activist who blames the government for being “undemocratic” and who advertises his West-friendly ideas on his internet blog certainly does exist in Russia. And the way the various neoliberal-oriented groups are being financed by the usual suspects is well documented[1]. But even in Western media one can read between the lines and notice that the majority of those expressing their dissatisfaction do not fit this scheme.

First of all it should be mentioned that the composition of the Russian Duma following the election results does in fact represent the will of Russia’s majority as much as it is possible in a system of representative democracy, which mirrors the framework of most Eastern and Western European countries. In the end, the ruling party received 238 of altogether 450 seats, which means a loss of 77 seats and its (up to now) two-thirds majority rule. The strongest opposition party, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF), gained 35 seats and raised its total number to 92.[2] Furthermore, the Liberal Democrats, led by the nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, and a party called “A Just Russia”, which is supposed to be government-friendly and focuses on social issues, are also represented in the new parliament. [3]

The Voting News Daily: Americans Elect Seeks Third-Party Contender, Federal is the latest challenge to Florida’s politically motivated voting law

National: Americans Elect Seeks Third-Party Contender | In a city that thrives on power, being attacked is often a sign that you have some. So in mid-December, when President Obama’s advisers took aim at Americans Elect, a bipartisan clutch of political elites planning to bankroll a third candidate in the 2012 presidential election, the…

National: Americans Elect Seeks Third-Party Contender |

In a city that thrives on power, being attacked is often a sign that you have some. So in mid-December, when President Obama’s advisers took aim at Americans Elect, a bipartisan clutch of political elites planning to bankroll a third candidate in the 2012 presidential election, the group’s members reacted with dramatized indignation that couldn’t quite disguise their glee. “On the left, the Democrats are worried,” says Doug Schoen, Bill Clinton’s former pollster and a frequent Obama critic. “On the right, the Republicans are worried. That tells us we are doing something right.”

What Americans Elect has done is fashion a new twist to the quadrennial quest for a credible third-party contender. Instead of an outside party, it has crafted a parallel nominating process: a nonpartisan online convention. Anyone with a valid ID and an Internet hookup is eligible to become a “delegate,” and candidates can either register by completing a questionnaire or be drafted by popular support. Through a series of online ballots, the slate of contenders will be whittled down to six in April, and then to a single winner in June. In keeping with the group’s shibboleths, the nominee must tap a member of a different party as a running mate, forming a “unity ticket” that will occupy the chasm in the political center.

Editorials: Americans Elect needs to identify its donors | Sacramento Bee

Americans Elect certainly is stirring up 2012 presidential politics as it seeks a path for a centrist alternative to challenge President Barack Obama and whoever the Republican nominee might be. The upstart organization has successfully obtained a place for an as-yet unnamed candidate on California’s 2012 presidential ballot. By year’s end, Americans Elect hopes to have gained access to ballots in 30 states, toward a goal of having ballot space in all 50 states.

To the extent that competition for the two-party system is good, this nonprofit group offers value. But there are serious questions about an organization whose logo includes a question mark. The biggest one: Who are all the funders of Americans Elect? To finance the ballot access drive, Americans Elect’s leaders say donors have given $30 million. The money pays for signature-gathering efforts in some states and legal fees to help meet requirements in other states.

But other than saying that its founder, investor Peter Ackerman, has donated $5.5 million, Americans Elect hasn’t identified its contributors. The reason, according Ackerman’s son and Americans Elect’s chief operating officer Elliot Ackerman, is that donors worry about consequences if they’re identified.

Editorials: Federal is the latest challenge to Florida’s politically motivated voting law |

The venerable Florida League of Women Voters has decided to make a federal case out of a restrictive, punitive and politically motivated voting law approved this year by the state Legislature. Good for the league, and its co-plaintiffs.

The league is one of three groups that filed a lawsuit last week in a Tallahassee federal court, challenging the law. The suit asserts that the state law violates the plaintiffs’ rights to free speech and conflicts with the National Voter Registration Act. Joining the league were Rock the Vote — a national organization that engages young Americans in voting — and the Florida Public Interest Group Education Fund. This lawsuit is one of two federal cases involving the Florida voting law.

Editorials: Gail Kerr: Haslam should use new boldness to fix voter ID bill | The Tennessean

The new, improved Gov. Bill Haslam — willing to weigh in on issues — should use his new leadership to urge solutions to what is a messed-up voter photo ID law. He’s dropping hints that he might intervene, saying the state’s driver’s license stations were not ready for the lines of voters seeking a photo ID so they can vote. Haslam is not asking lawmakers to postpone the law. But he used an interesting little word: “yet.”

“We haven’t made that recommendation to them yet,” Haslam said. The driver’s license centers need to be “a little more customer friendly,” the governor told reporters, and “they’re not where they need to be yet.” Haslam could do this and offer political cover to both parties. He could, for example, ask that the legislature push back the start date by a year to make more improvements to reduce driver’s license station wait times.

He could float an amended bill, allowing college students to use their student IDs at the polls and exempt seniors. He could push lawmakers to grandfather all existing registered voters in, and begin requiring a photo on voter registration cards from here on out. He could create a new system in which you get a new registration card with a picture taken at the time you go vote. That would phase in a new system nicely over time. Even some supporters concede that, as is, this has the potential to be a complete mess on Election Day.

Florida: Florida Citizens Groups Take Voting Rights Battle to Court |

The GOP’s efforts to narrow voting rights in Florida have now engendered legal resistance. The League of Women Voters and other civic groups, claiming that a new state law unconstitutionally “burdens their efforts” to simply register voters, filed suit in state court last week seeking to dismantle the new legislation.

Attorneys for the League of Women Voters of FloridaRock the Vote and the Florida Public Interest Research Group argue that Florida’s new law 40 requires so-called “third party voter registration” organizations such as theirs to pre-register with the state and satisfy a number of cumbersome disclosure requirements before engaging in any voter registration activities. Under the law, they are now also required to continually submit updates about their organization’s status, an act the groups call “burdensome.”

“There is no indication that Florida’s existing law was inadequate in addressing the state’s interest in preventing voter registration fraud and ensuring the integrity of the registration process,” the complaint reads. “Furthermore, even if the state had discovered shortcomings in the existing law, the new law burdens far more speech and associated activity than is necessary to accomplish any legitimate government interest.”

Iowa: Election officials take steps to protect primary from hackers | The Hill’s Ballot Box

South Carolina has taken steps to protect the security of the electronic systems it will use in its presidential primary following reports that an alleged “hacktivist” group might try to shut down the Iowa caucuses.

The alleged threat comes as attention focuses on the Republican presidential primary’s early nominating states, many of which use online or electronic systems to compile vote counts reported by local elections officials. “Any time you are dealing with an Internet site, you have something that could be compromised,” said Chris Whitmire, a public information officer with the South Carolina Election Commission.

South Carolina employs an online system that logs vote counts entered by elections officials and posts them to the Internet. It has asked for extra vigilance from the Web providers that host the database. “But even in the worst-case scenario, if the site is compromised, we will know it. The actual results on Jan. 21 won’t be touched,” Whitmire said.

Egypt: Islamists claim sweep of second round vote | Reuters

Egypt’s two leading Islamist parties said on Sunday their separate party lists secured about three-quarters of votes cast in the second round of a parliamentary election, extending their lead in the three-stage vote.

A source from the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party said it was on track to win about 40 percent of votes for party lists, based on results from most districts. A spokesman for the ultra-conservative Salafi al-Nour Party said its list received about 35 percent of votes. In the first round of the six-week poll, the FJP won about 37 percent of votes for lists and Nour secured about 24 percent.

The poll is the first since President Hosni Mubarak was ousted in February. The West long looked to strongmen in the region like Mubarak to keep a lid on Islamists, and has watched warily as they have come top in votes in Tunisia, Morocco and now Egypt.

Jamaica: Reform of electoral system one of Jamaica’s great achievements |

Chairman of the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) Professor Errol Miller says Jamaica can be proud of its electoral system, which has improved significantly since Universal Adult Suffrage in 1944 and continues to advance through the leadership of the ECJ.

“The reform of the country’s electoral process is one of the great accomplishments of the Jamaican people since Independence,” he told JIS News. “We have reached a stage where our electoral process is recognised around the world, and measures we have developed here are being adopted elsewhere. We are called upon to assist many countries in the Caribbean and outside, and our people serve on various committees and are part of various bodies,” he said.

According to Professor Miller, Jamaica adopted from its colonial masters a “flawed electoral process” and from 1944 until 1979 the electoral process was managed ‘colonial style, on a winner take all’ system. “The party in Government sets the laws, conducts the elections, and Parliament itself sets the boundaries of constituencies all to their advantage,” he said.

India: SGPC to challenge HC verdict on Sehajdhari Sikhs’ voting rights | The Times of India

Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee will be challenging the verdict delivered by Punjab and Haryana high court granting voting rights to Sehajdhari Sikhs, in the Supreme Court.

A day after the Punjab and Haryana high court gave a verdict the SGPC and the SAD went into a huddle to discuss the issue. The matter will also come up for in depth discussion in core committee meeting of SAD scheduled for Thursday evening.

“The SGPC will not take it lying down,” said Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, senior SAD leader. The newly elected SGPC is also likely to appeal to the Sikh Gurdwara Commission not to issue orders of re-election but to challenge the matter in the Supreme Court. On the flip side, on Wednesday, a delegation of Sehajdhari Sikhs met Sikh Gurdwara Commission chief H S Brar, and handed him over a copy of the HC verdict quashing the notification denying voting rights to them.