The Voting News Daily: Not Set in Granite, The power of super PACs

Editorials: Not Set in Granite | Right now, while we indulge New Hampshire’s childish insistence on its presidential primary being “first in the nation,” Americans should decide to bury this tradition. Nearly a century is enough: the Granite State has somehow turned a fluke into an entitlement. Worse, its obsession with primacy prolongs, complicates…

Editorials: Not Set in Granite |

Right now, while we indulge New Hampshire’s childish insistence on its presidential primary being “first in the nation,” Americans should decide to bury this tradition. Nearly a century is enough: the Granite State has somehow turned a fluke into an entitlement. Worse, its obsession with primacy prolongs, complicates and distorts the presidential nominating process. In a democracy, no state should be first forever. People have been grumbling about this and other undemocratic anomalies for years. But the standoff between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in 2008 gave the nominating process the equivalent of a stress test, which it failed.

Editorials: The power of super PACs | The Washington Post

“Well, of course, it’s former staff of mine. And, of course they’re people who supportme. They wouldn’t be putting money into a PAC that supports me if they weren’t people who support me.” That was former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney in Sunday’s “Meet the Press” debate on NBC, asked about millions of dollars’ worth of ads being run on his behalf by a super PAC called “Restore Our Future.” Mr. Romney, with his casual “of course it’s former staff of mine,” offered about as succinct an illustration as we’ve seen of the flimsiness of the fiction that separates these candidate-specific super PACs from the candidates and of the danger that this development poses to a campaign finance system premised on limited contributions and full disclosure.

Voting Blogs: Small Isn’t Always Beautiful: New Data Suggests Lack of Scale Affects Election Costs in Smaller Jurisdictions | Doug Chapin/PEEA

In case you missed it over the holidays – I know I did – on December 27 Pew’s Election Data Dispatches looked at some new research on election costs in California and Colorado. Both studies found – as similar research had in North Dakota – that less-populous counties had a higher cost per registered voter. More specifically (from the Dispatch):

In California, the study examined election expenditures between 1992 and 2008 and found a 1 percent increase in county population correlated with a 0.05 percent decrease in expenditures per registered voter. For example, San Diego County had an average cost of $6.57 per voter, while Modoc County, the third-smallest county in the state, spent $18.07 per voter. Similarly, the Colorado report found the average cost per voter in 2010 for small counties was $10.21 versus $4.95 for medium counties and $4.92 for large counties.

National: GOP: Corporate donation ban unconstitutional |

The century-old ban on corporate donations to federal political campaigns should be junked as unconstitutional, the Republican National Committee argued in a legal brief filed Tuesday that could lead to new attacks on the GOP as beholden to corporate money. The GOP brief filed with a federal appeals court contends that the ban which became law back in 1908 violates the First Amendment in light of recent Supreme Court rulings, including the 2010 Citizens United decision which allowed unlimited donations to independent-expenditure groups.

National: McCain: Super PACs will result in scandal, corruption |

Republican Sen. John McCain on Monday blasted the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling that eventually paved the way for the rise of super PACs, blaming it for the election cycle’s increasing ad wars. “Now it’s the system under which we operate, which leads to this kind of campaigning and will lead to corruption and scandals. I guarantee it.” McCain said on CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.”

Voting Blogs: Issacharoff: Clarity About Super PACs, Independent Money and Citizens United | Election Law Blog

It is almost two years since the Supreme Court handed down Citizens United.  In that time, the opinion has come to serve as a popular shorthand for all that is wrong with the campaign finance system.  With the emergence of Super PACs as the latest vehicle for sidestepping contribution limitations, the overwhelming temptation is to attribute this latest money pit to the Supreme Court’s contributions to this woeful area of law.  For example, just today, the New York Times intones, “A $5 million check from Sheldon Adelson underscores how a Supreme Court ruling has made it possible for a wealthy individual to influence an election.”

Arizona: Huntsman misses Arizona ballot after paperwork error | The Hill

Forms submitted without Jon Huntsman’s notarized signature could mean that the former Utah governor will not be able to get on the ballot in neighboring Arizona, spelling more trouble for an already long-shot candidacy. A spokesman for the Arizona secretary of state told The Associated Press that while Huntsman filed his paperwork on time, it was rejected because it was missing a notarized signature from the candidate. Huntsman does not currently appear on the state’s list of Republican candidates for the coming primary. The Huntsman campaign says it plans to appeal the decision and believes it will be able to get back onto the ballot.

Florida: Court to tackle redistricting suit | Thomson Reuters

A day after the Supreme Court heard arguments in a Texas redistricting battle, another redistricting case with potential national implications takes center stage, this time in Florida. On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit will hear a challenge in a racially-charged lawsuit over an amendment to Florida’s constitution. Lawmakers have sued to try to block the amendment — passed by voter ballot in 2010 — which they say violates the U.S. Constitution because it strips the legislature of its right to regulate elections.

Indiana: Attorney General asks state’s high court to review Charlie White case | The Indianapolis Star

The Indiana Attorney General’s Office is asking the Indiana Supreme Court to review the case of Secretary of State Charlie White. A Marion County judge ruled in December that White is ineligible to hold office because he was improperly registered to vote at his ex-wife’s house in 2010 when he was a candidate. His ruling overturned a June decision by the Indiana Recount Commission that White could stay in office.

New Hampshire: Ballot order not a boon to Romney | The Washington Post

Mitt Romney may be favored in the New Hampshire primary, but the state’s ballot may hurt the former Massachusetts governor’s bid to meet the lofty expectations that he carries into the contest. Romney appears third from the bottom of the list of 30 candidates in the state’s Republican presidential primary. It’s a position likely to drag down Romney’s numbers, according to research by Stanford professor Jon Krosnick.

South Carolina: Haley, South Carolina to Sue Federal Government Over Voter ID | Mount Pleasant, SC Patch

S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson on Tuesday said the state will file suit against the U.S. Department of Justice, which last month rejected the state’s new Voter ID law requiring all voters to show a valid state-approved photo ID in order to cast a ballot. Wilson said his office planned to file suit within the next 10 days in the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia, as Patch first reported last week.

South Carolina: Leaders say they’ll fight for new voter ID law | Aiken Standard

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said Tuesday that federal officials are waging war with South Carolina over laws the people want, like new voter ID requirements that she and other leaders pledged to defend from challenges by the U.S. Justice Department. … The bill passed last year with broad support from Republicans, who said it would be a check on voting fraud. But Democrats said it would suppress voter turnout by making it tougher on people who lacked identification, including the poor, elderly and blacks.

Texas: Court pressed for time in redistricting case |

In a closely watched fight over Texas voting districts and the rights of Latinos, Chief Justice John Roberts aptly observed, “We are all under the gun of very strict time limitations.” Monday’s Supreme Court arguments in a case that could affect voting rights nationwide were marked by frustration among the justices. On one side is a looming Texas primary schedule. On the other, separate proceedings in a lower court in Washington could eclipse any action the justices take.

Texas: Supreme Court weighs Texas redistricting case |

The Supreme Court justices waded into an election-year political dispute from Texas, signaling they favor drawing the state’s 36 congressional districts based largely on the plan adopted by its Republican-controlled Legislature. The court’s leading conservatives said they were skeptical of allowing judges in San Antonio to put into effect their own statewide map that creates districts geared to electing Latinos.

Virginia: Federal judge says to wait on Virginia GOP ballot | Richmond Times-Dispatch

A federal judge has ordered Virginia’s 134 local electoral boards not to mail out any ballots for the March 6 Republican primary until after a hearing Friday. U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney Jr. also told the Virginia State Board of Elections to direct the local boards to refrain, to the extent possible, from printing ballots until the hearing on Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s emergency challenge can be held.

West Virginia: Election Officials: Same-Day Voter Registration Increases Participation | State Journal

Same-day voter registration could become a reality in the Mountain State. Representatives from North Carolina joined Steven Carbo of Demos, a nonpartisan organization that focuses on national issues, in testifying before the West Virginia Legislature’s Judiciary Subcommittee C Jan. 9 to talk about same-day voter registration. Nine states, including North Carolina, currently have a same-day voter registration system in place, and Carbo said those states have seen a dramatic increase in voter participation. “We have historically seen voter participation in same-day states 10 to 12 points higher than in non-same-day states,” Carbo said.

Wyoming: Attorney General Wants Secretary of State to Sue Himself | Eyewitness News 9

The Wyoming attorney general’s office wants a district judge to list Secretary of State Max Maxfield as a defendant in Maxfield’s own lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of term limits for him and other statewide elected officials. Maxfield, who’s now in his second four-year term, filed a lawsuit as a private individual in September claiming that the state law that limits statewide elected officials to two four-year terms is unconstitutional. He previously also served two terms as state auditor.

Myanmar: Aung San Suu Kyi confirms run for parliament seat | The Associated Press

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi confirmed that she will run for a seat in parliament, her party said Tuesday, a move that will infuse April by-elections with legitimacy, star power and historic significance. Suu Kyi said last year that she would run for parliament but had appeared to backtrack since then. A victory would give the Nobel Peace Prize winner and longtime political prisoner a voice in parliament for the first time in her decades-long role as the country’s opposition leader.

Egypt: Islamists ahead as Egypt vote enters final leg | Reuters

Islamists aimed to cement control over Egypt’s lower house of parliament as a final phase of voting began on Tuesday, while a secular party’s plan to boycott elections for the upper chamber threatened to weaken the liberal bloc. Banned under Hosni Mubarak, the Muslim Brotherhood has emerged as a major winner from the uprising that toppled him, exploiting a well-organised support base in the first free legislative vote in decades.

Guinea-Bissau: Guinea Bissau president dies in France | Reuters

Guinea Bissau President Malam Bacai Sanha died on Monday in a Paris hospital where he was undergoing treatment, according to a statement from his office read over local radio. Sanha had been in poor health since coming to power in 2009 and left Bissau in late November for treatment abroad, raising worries about a possible military takeover in a West African state that has suffered repeated coups.

Guinea-Bissau: President Malam Bacai Sanha dies, new election planned |

Guinea-Bissau’s President Malam Bacai Sanha died in a hospital in Paris of diabetes complications on Monday as a new presidential election was planned in three months, according to a statement released by Guinea-Bissau’s presidency. The statement said that the 64-year-old president, who has been hospitalized by the French Val de Grace hospital since August 31 last year, died on Monday morning.

Kazakhstan: Nazarbayev grants vote to riot-hit town | Reuters

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev on Tuesday overturned a decision to cancel parliamentary elections in the mutinous oil town where deadly riots have posed the biggest threat to stability in the ex-Soviet republic since independence 20 years ago. By vetoing the Constitutional Council’s decision, Nazarbayev will allow residents of Zhanaozen to participate in a Jan. 15 vote designed to give Kazakhstan a democratic veneer by admitting a second party to the lower house of parliament.

Senegal: Large EU observer mission heads to Senegal as violence fears grow | Africa Review

A “very large” European Union observer delegation is headed for Senegal to monitor the country’s tightly-contested February election, a diplomat has said. Local radio quoted France’s ambassador to Senegal Nicolas Normand as saying that the size of the delegation was a reflection of the political risk seen ahead of the west African country’s February 26 election. “The delegation is very large because there is ‘high risk’ on the political landscape ahead of the polls,” said Mr Normand.