Iowa: Iowa GOP officials say there will be no recount if Iowa caucus vote ends ‘too close to call’ | The Washington Post

If the results of the Iowa caucuses are too close to call, they’ll stay that way. Iowa state GOP official Doug Heye said Tuesday there will be no recount, even if Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney are exceptionally close when the vote count is finished.

Heye said votes were counted under the supervision of campaign representatives, who certified the totals. He said the numbers were double-checked when they were reported to state officials, and there is no reason to check them again.

Iowa: State GOP Says Voter Fraud Won’t be a Problem | Fox News

Despite the presence of Occupy protestors in Iowa, the Iowa Republican Party is confident voter fraud won’t be a concern Tuesday night at the presidential caucuses. The Iowa GOP sets the rules for voting, and has decided to allow Iowans to register on the day of the election. However, Iowa GOP chair Matt Strawn insists reports are incorrect that voters don’t need a photo ID to register on Tuesday.

“You need to make sure you are a registered Iowa voter in the precinct within which you live. And if you are registered Republican, your name will already be on the pre-provided list at your individual precinct. If you’re not a registered Republican, you can register tonight but you have to show a photo ID proving residence in that precinct in order to participant,” Strawn said.

Same-day registration has raised flags for some that unqualified candidates, like protestors, will disrupt the voting process. Strawn said visitors “are welcome to observe if you are from out of town, but we’re not going to give you a ballot.”

Illinois: Bringing ‘elections up to the 21st century’: Group wants to scrap East St. Louis election board |

The East St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners would meet its demise if city voters choose to dissolve it in the March 20 election. Scrapping the 125-year-old election board will save the cash-strapped city almost $400,000 each year, according to Matt Hawkins, the president of the East St. Louis Alliance, a group that aims to reform city politics.

That’s money that could be spent on police officers and firefighters, according to Hawkins, whose group collected nearly 1,200 petition signatures to place the question on the ballot.  Folding the election board into the St. Clair County clerk’s office, which oversees elections for the rest of the county, would lend a tremendous boost to the integrity of local elections, both in East St. Louis and the county overall, Hawkins said.

After a recent canvas that eliminated nearly 3,300 names, the election board has 19,471 voters on its rolls. That number is significant because East St. Louis’ long history of bloc voting has enabled the Democratic Party to dominate countywide offices for more than three decades. Anything affecting Election Day results in this overwhelmingly Democratic city would have a big effect on Democrats and their Republican rivals countywide.

Indiana: Gov. Daniels Embarrassed By White’s, Hardy’s Legal Woes | WRTV Indianapolis

As Gov. Mitch Daniels looks ahead to his last year in office, he said there are some things that he’d rather not remember. In a year-end review, Daniels said Secretary of State Charlie White’s troubles and former Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission chairman David Lott Hardy’s indictment was an embarrassment to him and other Republican leaders, RTV6’s Norman Cox reported.

White is accused of lying about where he lived during the 2010 primary for secretary of state so he could continue collecting his pay from the Fishers Town Council.

Indiana: Charlie White’s tenure may hinge on today’s ruling | The Indianapolis Star

A judge could decide today how long Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White can keep his job. Marion Circuit Judge Louis Rosenberg ruled last month that White is ineligible to hold office. White appealed and asked Rosenberg to delay his removal until a higher court hears the appeal.

Rosenberg agreed to halt proceedings until today, when he will hear arguments over whether White’s removal should be postponed until the appeal process is finished. If Rosenberg rules against White, Vop Osili, the Democrat who ran against White, will take over as secretary of state.

Iowa: Iowa’s Other Peculiar Institution |

The drill begins at the State Fair. First come the vaguely familiar figures in shirt-sleeves, admiring the sculptured butter cow or beaming at the camera from behind a piglet or a corn dog. Then comes the Ames Straw Poll, that curious non-event, whose winners have included Pat Robertson, Phil Gramm and now Michele Bachmann.

Then come the 99-county bus tours, the so-called debates that can only make the Iowa High School Speech Association cringe, the rediscovery of Grant Wood by reporters who don’t realize that “American Gothic” was meant to be funny and at least $12 million worth of TV ads. It’s finally Iowa caucus night again.

Last time there were two open races and a platoon of candidates with what looked like Shakespearean potential. Full disclosure: That year, my neighborhood caucus of some 800 people in a room built for 700 might have gladdened the heart of Pericles.

Voting Blogs: No Photo ID Required to Vote in GOP’s Iowa Caucus | BradBlog

For all of their years of claims that massive voter fraud is going on at the polling place, such that Photo ID restrictions are required to ensure the integrity of the vote, you’d think that when Republicans have a chance to run their own elections, they’d be sure to want it to be as “fraud” free as possible.

Nonetheless, despite onerous polling place Photo ID requirements now passed into law in about a dozen states where the GOP controls both the legislative and executive branches, voters will be able to cast their ballot in next Tuesday’s “First-in-the-Nation” Republican Iowa Caucuses without bothering to show a Photo ID — even though the Republican Party itself sets their own rules for voting there.

Unlike most primary elections where an official state election board or agency sets the rules and runs the registration and balloting processes, the Iowa Republican Party runs its own state caucuses, determines the rules, tabulates all the votes and announces the results to the public and media themselves. They have complete control over the entire process, and yet they don’t bother to ask their own voters to show a state-issued Photo ID before casting their ballot. I wonder why that would be?


Kansas: Absentee voting concerns raised under new law |

An election law written by Secretary of State Kris Kobach that requires photo identification to vote and other restrictions is raising new concerns about absentee voting. Under the law, county election officials must decide whether the signature on a request for an advance ballot matches the person’s previous signature that could be on a voter registration form or another type of identification. If it doesn’t, the election official must make an effort to contact that person to give them another attempt at signing the application.

But Rep. Ed Trimmer, D-Winfield, said the law and its accompanying rules and regulations failed to prescribe how much of an effort the county election official must make to track down the potential voter and clear up the dispute. “This gives a lot of leeway to the election officer,” Trimmer said. He said many times, people who request advance ballots will be difficult to reach because they requested an advance ballot knowing they would be elsewhere around the time of the election.

Kentucky: Ex-Cons Want Ballot Box Rights | Public News Service

Voting rights advocates say it’s time to turn the tide for most of the 186,000 Kentuckians who are being denied a voice at the ballot box because they’re former felons who were convicted of nonviolent offenses.

The social justice group Kentuckians for the Commonwealth is one of nearly two dozen organizations backing a bill that calls for a constitutional amendment to restore voting rights automatically to nonviolent felony ex-offenders.

Montana: Double Barrel Blast From Big Sky Country: Montana Rejects Citizens United | Ciara Torres-Spelliscy/Huffington Post

On December 30, 2011, by a vote of 5 to 2 the Montana Supreme Court decided that Montana’s ban on corporate political expenditures dating back to 1912 could stand. In a hard hitting decision, the U.S. Supreme Court’s take on the role of corporate money in politics in 2010’s Citizens United was challenged by both the majority and a dissent. The Montana Court slammed Citizens United from both barrels.

Barrel number one is the majority opinion, which relies on the particular history of Montana to uphold the constitutionality of the Corrupt Practices Act, a voter initiative, which was adopted on the heels of rampant corporate corruption at the behest of out of state mining interests. As the majority wrote: “the Montana law at issue in this case cannot be understood outside the context of the time and place it was enacted, during the early twentieth century.”

Montana’s “Copper Kings” as they were known bought judges, influenced the legislature and nearly monopolized the state’s mass media of the day — its newspapers. The corruption had federal aspects as well as. One U.S. senator from Montana, W. A. Clark, was expelled because the Senate concluded he had won his seat through bribery. The people of Montana chose to protect their democracy from this type of mischief by outlawing corporate spending in Montana’s elections.

Northern Mariana Islands: US citizen sues to be allowed to vote on Mariana Islands Article 12 issues | Saipan Tribune

Marianas High School vice principal John H. Davis Jr. is suing the Commonwealth Election Commission to stop it from denying U.S. citizens who are not of Northern Marianas descent the right to vote on any issue regarding Article 12 of the CNMI Constitution or on any other issue.

Davis, through counsel Jeanne H. Rayphand, also asked the U.S. District Court for the NMI yesterday to declare that Article 18 Section 5(c) of the CNMI Constitution violates the 14th and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and is invalid, null, and void. Article 12 limits landownership in the CNMI only to those of Northern Marianas descent. It is up for voters’ review later this year.

Tennessee: Voter ID law may face court fight |

Civil rights attorneys in Nashville and Washington, D.C., appear to be laying the groundwork for legal challenges to Tennessee’s new voter identification law. A top official says the U.S. Department of Justice is reviewing recent laws that require voters to show photo identification at the polls, and Nashville attorneys are putting together a lawsuit that could challenge the law unless legislators reconsider when they convene Jan. 10.

But the state’s top election official and the law’s main backer in the legislature say they do not expect any changes to the measure. They say they are more worried that the lawsuits will confuse voters about the status of the law, which officially went into effect Sunday and will be noticed the first time by most Tennesseans when they go to the polls in March to vote in the Republican presidential primary.

Editorials: Solving the problem of Virginia’s restrictive primary rules by allowing for write-in candidates | Slate Magazine

Intelligent life exists beyond Iowa, and even beyond New Hampshire. Before the Republican Party crowns its nominee, voters from other states should and will be heard. Or will they? According to Virginia law, many a lawful voter will not be allowed to vote for the candidate she truly favors on the day of the Virginia primary—March 6, to be precise. So far, no one seems to have highlighted this gaping flaw in the Virginia election code.

Virginia’s ultra-strict ballot-access laws, whose obstacle course kept every Republican presidential candidate off the ballot except Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, were challenged last week by Rick Perry’s legal team and supporters of Newt Gingrich. Last Friday four other GOP candidates signed onto Perry’s legal challenge as well.

Virginia’s ballot-access rules are indeed extreme, but it’s hard to say, as Perry’s lawyers are contending, that these rules are unconstitutional. Governments are allowed to print official ballots, and as long as they are in this business, surely they may choose to list only the names of the major candidates. Short lists plausibly promote democracy by making it easy for the ordinary voter to find and vote for his preferred candidate.

Virginia: State to print, mail ballots despite Perry suit | Reuters

Texas Governor Perry sued Virginia election officials after state Republican officials ruled he did not get the required number of verified voter signatures, arguing the state’s qualification process limits voters’ access to the candidates of their choosing. U.S. District Judge John Gibney set a January 13 hearing on the matter.

To comply with laws that protect overseas absentee voters, the state must send ballots to them at least 45 days before the March 6 primary contest, meaning they will have to be mailed by January 21. It takes about two weeks to prepare and mail ballots, a state official said.

Former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich also failed to get the 10,000 verifiable signatures, including at least 400 qualified voters from each congressional district, that are necessary to be included in Virginia’s primary.

Editorials: Virginia’s primary failure | The Washington Post

If the aim of Virginia was to host a presidential primary that no one cared about, it seems to have succeeded. Only two candidates — former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) — qualified to appear on the ballot, and many voters may be discouraged by a foolish loyalty oath requirement by the Republican Party. It’s too late to change the requirements for access to the 2012 ballot, but a priority of the returning General Assembly should be to review a primary system that has so little regard for the interests of voters.

The failure of former House speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Gov. Rick Perry to qualify for the March 6 primary has renewed scrutiny of the state’s cumbersome laws governing ballot access. Seen as among the nation’s most stringent, the Virginia rules demand that a candidate collect 10,000 voter signatures, an unusually high number, with additional requirements on how they can be collected, where and by whom. Clearly, Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Perry, who has gone to court in a bid to get his name on the ballot, must accept responsibility for not gathering the requisite number of names; the rules are well known and have been in place for years.

West Virginia: Three-judge federal panel says Congressional redistricting is not constitutional | Charleston Daily Mail

West Virginia lawmakers must redraw the state’s three congressional districts by Jan. 17 or a federal court will do it for them, a three-judge federal panel said Tuesday. The bombshell ruling could shakeup the 2012 election by forcing a reconfiguration of the political terrain held by Reps. Shelley Moore Capito and David McKinley, both R-W.Va, and Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va. All three are up for election this year.

The panel said in a 2-1 ruling that West Virginia’s current House districts violate the U.S. Constitution. Jefferson County Commission filed a lawsuit over the current district plans. The county said state lawmakers unconstitutionally placed several thousand more people into the 2nd Congressional District than the 1st and 3rd districts. The county also argued the 2nd covers an unnecessarily large geographic area.

Capito represents the 2nd. Mckinley represents the 1st. Rahall represents the 3rd. Spokespeople for the Capito and McKinley did not immediately comment. Unless the ruling is appealed and overturned — something that would have to be done by the U.S. Supreme Court — West Virginia lawmakers now have until Jan. 17 to propose a new plan, or the court will adopt a plan of its own, likely one based on plans rejected earlier this year by state Senate lawmakers.

National: Impact of South Carolina voter ID law rejection limited |

The Justice Department’s rejection of South Carolina’s voter ID law probably won’t prevent other states from adopting similar measures, analysts say. “Unfortunately, I don’t think this is going to have a significant chilling effect,” said Wendy Weiser, a voter ID opponent and lawyer at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University law school.

The South Carolina law would have required voters to show one of five government-issued IDs — such as a drivers license or passport — before casting a ballot. Justice officials said the state didn’t show the law complied with the 1965 Voter Rights Act and didn’t justify the need for the law or prove widespread voter impersonation, which tougher ID laws are designed to prevent. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has promised to appeal.

Editorials: Why vote on Tuesdays? No good reason |

Today, Iowans will kick off the Republican nominating process for president of the United States with the first-in-the-nation caucuses. But why a Tuesday?
The short answer: We vote on Tuesday for absolutely no good reason. This is true especially when you consider the United States, arguably the world’s most famous democracy, has ranked near the bottom of all nations in voter participation for more than half a century. And that’s not because, as Mitt Romney suggested to me last month, we need great candidates to increase voter turnout. Heard of JFK? Reagan?

The little-bit-longer answer: We vote on Tuesday because of a law passed in 1845 meant to make voting convenient for Americans traveling by horse and buggy. Seriously. When Congress set out to pick a day for Americans to vote, ultimately settling on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November, voting could take two days: a day to get to the county seat to vote and a day to get back for market day on Wednesday. They couldn’t travel on the Christian sabbath, so by process of elimination, Tuesday, the first convenient day of the week, was chosen. It was as simple as that.

Egypt: Egyptians Vote in Final Round of Parliamentary Elections |

The Muslim Brotherhood worked to stretch its lead Tuesday as Egyptians returned to the polls in the final phase of the first parliamentary elections since the ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak and prosecutors asked a court to deliver “the harshest penalty” against him. As the polls opened, some analysts suggested that the party founded by the Brotherhood, Egypt’s mainstream Islamist group and best-organized political force, could come away with a clean majority of the seats in the full Parliament instead of the plurality indicated by previous results.

Some estimates indicated that the Brotherhood’s party, Freedom and Justice, started the day with nearly 50 percent of the seats awarded in the first two rounds of the vote. It won roughly 40 percent of the seats allocated by party voting, and a higher percentage of the seats contested by individual candidates. And the final nine governorates voting on Tuesday included the historic Brotherhood strongholds of Gharbiya and Daqahliyya in the Delta, where a number of the group’s best known candidates are running, including the former member of Parliament Mohamed Beltaggi.

Jamaica: Organisation of American States gives election a thumbs up |

The conduct of the general election last Thursday has earned the approval of the Organisation of American States (OAS), even as two other observer groups, including the Caricom Observer Mission, rated the poll among the best the island has experienced. According to the OAS, the way the polls were held was testament to the “maturity” of Jamaica’s democracy, giving them a passing grade.

The third organisation to give the process the ‘thumbs up’ is the local Citizens’ Action for Free and Fair Elections (CAFFE), whose only criticisms were that the slow casting of ballots where the Electronic Voter Identification and Ballot Issuing System (EVIBIS) was in use and that some polling stations were inaccessible to the elderly and the disabled. Despite the low voter turnout, CAFFE director Dr Lloyd Barnett rated Thursday’s proceedings “fairly highly”.

“…In relation to the actual conduct, the absence of open voting, the absence of intimidation, the observance of the rules – I think this must be rated as probably one of the best, if not the best [election],” Barnett told the Sunday Observer on Friday.

Malaysia: Absent Malaysian voters’ status: Decision on Jan 6 | Free Malaysia Today

The Election Commission (EC) has failed to state any reason or basis to justify the exclusion of six Malaysians residing and working abroad from being registered as absent voters for the next general election, the High Court was told today.

Counsel Edmund Bon, representing the six, said the EC rejected their requests on the grounds that they did not qualify for registration as absent voters under the definition of “absent voter” pursuant to the Elections (Registration of Electors) Regulations 2002. “But the EC did not justify its decision or the objective of the regulation, which allows some citizens and some not,” he submitted in the judicial review application filed by six Malaysians residing and working in the United Kingdom to compel the EC to register them as absent voters.