National: For King, the right to vote was sacred |

Every third Monday in January we gather as Americans to commemorate the values and beliefs — as well as the ultimate sacrifice — of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. His tireless advocacy for civil rights, equal protection under the law, labor rights, and for the ultimate realization of our essential creed that we are “one nation, endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is taught in every school in America, and is now enshrined in a memorial on the National Mall.
Dr. King believed so strongly not only in these values, but also in the moral imperative to heed the “fierce urgency of now.” He knew that in the face of injustice no moral man or woman can stay silent — and he paid for it with his life.

Iowa: Rick Santorum: I might win Iowa caucuses recount |

Rick Santorum says the Iowa caucuses may not be over yet. Eleven days after he was declared a very narrow second place finisher — behind Mitt Romney by just eight votes — the former Pennsylvania senator predicted Saturday at a town hall meeting in here that a recount could put him on top. After a long count that went deep into the night on Jan. 3, Iowa GOP chairman Matt Strawn announced the results that had Santorum behind Romney. But Santorum says he’s getting the feeling that he may still edge ahead.

South Carolina: A Stephen Colbert Write-In Campaign in South Carolina? Not So Fast | Yahoo! News

As comedian Stephen Colbert’s superPAC preps for his potential run for “President of the United States of South Carolina” by buying up ad time in the Palmetto state, there’s a problem that’s emerged in his plan. South Carolina doesn’t allow write-ins in its presidential primary. As ABC News reported last night, the filing deadline to appear on the ballot in South Carolina’s upcoming Republican primary has come and gone. Candidates who did not pay the $35,000 filing fee by Nov. 1, 2011 will not appear on the state’s ballot. A sample ballot on the State Election Commission’s website shows nine options for voters, and that’s all. For anyone thinking “well, someone could still technically write-in Mr. Colbert’s name on a ballot” – think again. South Carolina uses something called direct recording electronic voting machines in all 46 counties. The South Carolina State Election Commission describes how these machines work on their webpage.

South Carolina: Attorney General to speak on voting rights in South Carolina –

Attorney General Eric Holder plans to deliver a speech on voting rights on Monday at a Martin Luther King holiday rally in South Carolina, a state where just weeks ago his Justice Department blocked a new voter identification law. Holder plans to attend a rally sponsored by the civil rights group National Association for the Advancement of Colored People at the state capitol building in Columbia, S.C., according to a statement from the NAACP.

Utah: Navajo Nation sues Utah county over voting issues | Deseret News

The Navajo Nation filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against San Juan County, claiming its three established voting districts violate the constitutional rights of tribal members living in Utah. The lawsuit filed in Salt Lake City’s U.S. District Court asks a federal judge for an injunction that would force county commission district boundaries to be redrawn ahead of the November election. No hearings have been scheduled in the case.

Virginia: Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich appeal for slots on Virginia ballot |

Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s lawyers filed a motion with a federal appeals court Sunday, seeking to win him a place on the Republican presidential primary ballot in Virginia even though his campaign failed to gather the 10,000 signatures required by state law. The move came after another contender for the Republican presidential nomination, Newt Gingrich, filed a notice of appeal Saturday of U.S. District Court Judge John Gibney’s ruling Friday that Perry, Gingrich and other candidates who failed to make the cut waited too long to pursue their legal challenges, which were brought as ballot printing was getting underway and the mailing of absentee ballots was about to commence. However, Gibney said Perry and the other candidates would like have prevailed on their claim that a Virginia requirement that ballot petition circulators be Virginia residents violates the Constitution.

West Virginia: Leaders Turn to Supreme Court | Roll Call

Top West Virginia legislators have asked the Supreme Court to overturn a lower court’s decision and let them keep a new Congressional map in place. In an emergency appeal filed late Friday, key legislative leaders and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) said that drawing up a new map would cost too much money and take too much time.

Wisconsin: Government Accountability Board explains exceptions to Wisconsin voter ID requirement | Beaver Dam Daily Citizen

“Ninety-nine percent of people will need a photo ID to vote this year,” elections specialist David Buerger told Dodge County Democratic Party members Wednesday night. That likely was not news to the roughly 20 active Democrats assembled at the Dodge County Administration Building to hear Buerger, who works for the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, discuss fine points of the state’s new, voter photo identification law. What may have been news, however, was Buerger’s briefing on the 1 percent of voters who will not need a picture ID to cast a ballot. For every rule, it seems, there is an exception or two.

China: Taiwan elections will ‘shock’ China into changing: scholar | CNA

Taiwan’s democratic elections, widely watched in China, will spur the Chinese people to demand reforms and Chinese authorities will be “shocked” into changing their current practices, a mainland Chinese scholar said Saturday. Wang Weinan, a research fellow at Shanghai Academy of SocialScience, said mainland Chinese people are “envious” of Taiwan people’s right to choose their national leaders andparliamentarians. Given the increasing exchanges between the people across the Taiwan Strait and the multiple channels through which the Chinese people can obtain information about Taiwan, more and more Chinese are viewing Taiwan in a favorable light, Wang said.

Egypt: Egypt’s ElBaradei Ends Bid for Presidency, Citing Continued Autocracy |

Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei on Saturday withdrew his candidacy from Egypt’s coming presidential race in protest over the autocratic governance that has persisted under Egypt’s post-revolutionary military leadership. Though Mr. ElBaradei wasn’t considered among the top contenders for presidential elections scheduled for this spring, his global stature makes his pullout a symbolic blow to the military leadership and its often faltering stewardship of the country’s transition to democracy.

India: Mayawati describes Election Commission officials as anti-dalits | The Times of India

Finally breaking her silence on the controversy over covering of her statues and that of elephants in dalit memorials on the order of the Election Commission (EC), UP chief minister Mayawati on Sunday devoted much of her birthday speech to hit out at EC officials. She said that EC’s decision to cover statutes in dalit memorial built by her government was one-sided and unfair. Unlike the grand celebrations on her birthdays in previous years, this time the event was a low-key affair because of election code of conduct. However, Mayawati used the opportunity to launch her election campaign by declaring the list of candidates for the elections to be held in February.

Italy: Court rules out referendum on Italy election law | BBC News

Italy’s top court has rejected a call for a referendum on the electoral law, which would seek to reverse changes enacted under Silvio Berlusconi. It gave no immediate explanation for rejecting the petition, which had attracted more than double the signatures needed for a plebiscite. Judges have 20 days to explain why they are not allowing the vote on a law which is deeply unpopular. The law obliges voters to pick parties rather than individual candidates.

Kazakhstan: Oil-rich Kazakhstan votes in polls aimed at giving democratic air to rubber-stamp parliament | The Washington Post

Voters headed to polling stations in large numbers Sunday in the oil-rich Central Asian nation of Kazakhstan in elections that look to have slightly broadened democratic representation in parliament’s rubber-stamp lower house. The high turnout, which reached 75 percent, is perhaps more an outcome of habit than hope, however, since the legislature will likely only undergo cosmetic changes.

Mexico: 7 million Mexicans may not be able to vote on July 1 | Guadalajara Reporter

With a large chunk of Mexico’s democracy at stake, Congress asked the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) on Wednesday to make a one-off exception allowing seven million voters whose credentials have expired to cast their ballots in the July 1 elections. The IFE responded on Thursday saying it does not have the authority to make such a decision, and must comply with the Federal Code for Electoral Procedures and Institutions (COFIPE) that was approved by Congress.

Russia: Report on Russian Duma elections says contest ‘slanted in favour of the ruling party’ | OSCE/ODIHR

A report released by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) on 12 January 2012 said that, although December’s Russian State Duma elections were technically well-administered, the contest was marked by the convergence of the state and the governing party. Citing concerns over the roles played by state authorities and the media, as well as the narrowing of political competition resulting from the denial of registration to certain political parties, the final report of the ODIHR Election Observation Mission describes the contest as “slanted in favour of the ruling party.”

Sri Lanka: Elections Commissioner suggests introducing an electronic voting system | ColomboPage

Elections Commissioner of Sri Lanka Mahinda Deshapriya says that en electronic voting system needs to be introduced to the country. Speaking during a workshop at the BMICH, Deshapriya has observed that a large sum of money and human resources had to be invested under the current voting system. He has called on all political parties to make the necessary amendments to the Elections Act in order to enable the introduction of an electronic voting system.

Taiwan: Ma Wins Second Term in Taiwan Election | Bloomberg

President Ma Ying-jeou was elected to a second four-year term as Taiwan’s president, giving him a renewed mandate to press for closer ties with China that have eased decades-old tensions across the Taiwan Strait. Ma, the 61-year-old leader of the ruling Kuomintang Party, defeated challenger Tsai Ing-wen, the Democratic Progressive Party chairwoman, by 51.6 percent to 45.6 percent, with all the votes tallied, the Central Election Commission reported on its website. The commission said 74.4 percent of Taiwan’s 18 million eligible voters cast ballots.

Taiwan: Taiwan polls ‘partly unfair’ say observers |

Taiwan’s elections were “mostly free but partly unfair,” according to a preliminary report released on Sunday by a group of international observers. Saturday’s election saw incumbent President Ma Ying-jeou defeat opposition candidate Tsai Ing-wen by six percentage points. In the report compiled by the International Committee for Free Elections in Taiwan, the observers cited several factors that could have helped Ma gain more votes than the opposition.