The Voting News Daily: Voting Rights Center Stage At South Carolina Capitol MLK Rally, Super PACs dominate Republican primary spending

National: Voting Rights Center Stage At South Carolina Capitol MLK Rally | WSPA The thousands who flocked to the South Carolina State House Monday to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy received a message that the fight for civil rights and voting equality is not relegated to history books. NAACP leaders said that the state’s…

Wisconsin: Democrats file 1 million signatures for Walker recall | JSOnline

Democrats seeking to recall Gov. Scott Walker filed more than a million signatures Tuesday, virtually guaranteeing a historic recall election against him later this year. It would mark the first gubernatorial recall election in Wisconsin history and only the third one in U.S. history. Organizers Tuesday also handed in 845,000 recall signatures against Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, as well as recall petitions against four GOP state senators, including Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau. The sheer number of signatures being filed against Walker – nearly as many as the total votes cast for the governor in November 2010 and about twice as many as those needed to trigger a recall election – ensure the election will be held, said officials with the state Democratic Party and United Wisconsin, the group that launched the Walker recall.

National: Voting Rights Center Stage At South Carolina Capitol MLK Rally | WSPA

The thousands who flocked to the South Carolina State House Monday to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy received a message that the fight for civil rights and voting equality is not relegated to history books. NAACP leaders said that the state’s new voter I.D. law, which requires all voters to show certain government-issued photo I.D., goes against King’s principles of equality because the state’s registered minority voters are 20 percent more likely to be without the right I.D. and thus unable to cast ballots. NAACP president Benjamin Jealous said the law, and ones like it in other states, are the “greatest attack on voting rights since segregation.”

National: Super PACs dominate Republican primary spending | Washington Post

South Carolina voters are being buried this week under an avalanche of combative and often nasty political commercials from super PACs, funded by a tiny group of super-rich donors with very particular interests in the state’s Republican presidential primary. Hedge-fund king John Paulson, who donated $1 million to a group backing former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, would very much like to see President Obama’s financial reforms repealed. The Marriott brothers, who also gave $1 million to a pro-Romney super PAC, have lobbied Washington for favorable tax and immigration policies through their hotel companies. And casino magnate Sheldon Adelson recently dashed off a $5 million check to a group backing former House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.), marking what may be the largest single political contribution in U.S. history. Adelson is well known for supporting hard-line policies favoring Israel while also advocating measures that would benefit the gambling industry.

Colorado: Former Secretary of State, EAC Commissioner Davidson to Head Colorado County Clerks Association | Colorado Statesman

The Colorado County Clerks Association announced last month that the Honorable Donetta Davidson, a former Colorado Secretary of State and current U.S. Election Assistance Commissioner, will be the organization’s first executive director. Davidson brings the expertise of more than 30 years in the administration of elections at the local, state and federal levels. She served Colorado as the secretary of state, the state’s director of elections, and as a clerk and recorder in both Arapahoe and Bent counties. She is currently a commissioner on the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and served as chair in 2010 and 2007.

Iowa: Did Romney win Iowa’s caucuses? Definitive answer may never come | The Des Moines Register

The waiting game continues for Iowans — and Republican presidential candidates — who want to know if Mitt Romney really won the Iowa caucuses two weeks ago today. Counties have until the close of business Wednesday to get their official paperwork with caucus results to the Republican Party of Iowa, and certification should be wrapped up by the end of this week, party officials said Monday. Even then, it’s possible there will always be a question mark hanging over the race.

Iowa: Final count could show Romney lost Iowa | Washington Examiner

It’s conventional wisdom in Republican circles here in South Carolina that if Mitt Romney wins the state’s primary this Saturday — having already won in Iowa and New Hampshire — he’ll be the GOP presidential nominee. But what if Romney did not actually win Iowa? That could change the calculation considerably. And there is a very real chance that the Republican Party of Iowa will announce this week that Rick Santorum, and not Romney, won the Iowa caucuses. Results released on caucus night — actually, at 2 the next morning — showed Romney won by eight votes, 30,015 to Santorum’s 30,007. Many observers assumed that those results were final, especially when party officials said there would be no recount. But the results were not final.

Kansas: Fate of elections bill tied to computer issue | KansasCity.com

Progress on modernizing the Kansas computer system for issuing driver’s licenses is six months ahead of schedule and could mean that some potential voters will be required to show proof of their U.S. citizenship during this year’s presidential election, a key legislator said Monday. House Elections Committee Chairman Scott Schwab, an Olathe Republican, said legislators want to be sure the state Division of Vehicles is ready to scan and store electronic copies of documents such as birth certificates and passports before revising a state law that imposes the proof-of-citizenship requirement. The law applies to people registering to vote for the first time in Kansas.

Minnesota: Amendment proposals include voter ID | St. Cloud Times

Gov. Mark Dayton rejected a Republican-backed bill last spring that would have required Minnesotans to show photo identification to vote. In his veto letter, Dayton noted that the measure would have forced local governments to spend money and that it did not have broad bipartisan support. But voter ID supporters insist the measure is needed to prevent election fraud. That’s why they’ve introduced legislation that would bypass Dayton and allow voters to make the change through a constitutional amendment. Governors cannot veto constitutional amendments.

Editorials: Two Years Later: Showdown with Citizens United | The Nation

On December 30, the Montana Supreme Court delivered a New Year’s gift to the nation, upholding a century-old ban on corporate political expenditures in state elections.  The decision has gone underreported amidst the hoopla of the Republican primaries—even as super PAC spending skyrockets and there is an emerging understanding of its corrosive impact—but the Montana case sets up the first direct challenge to the disastrous Citizens United decision as we approach its second anniversary. Free Speech For People—a national non-partisan campaign challenging the fabrication of corporate rights under the US Constitution—filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the Montana case. It led a coalition that included the American Sustainable Business Council, a network of more than 70,000 businesses across the country; the American Independent Business Alliance; and a local supermarket business and non-profit corporation.

New Hampshire: ‘Dead’ Voter Talking: O’Keefe Voter Fraud Stunt Confused 23-Year-Old For Dead 84-Year-Old | TPM

Robert William Beaulieu is 23-years-old, lives in Nashua, New Hampshire, and is a registered Democrat. He’s also very much not dead. But you wouldn’t have known that if you watched the lastest undercover sting video from James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas, which featured a man with an Irish accent attempting to obtain a ballot on behalf of a Robert Beaulieu who lives on Cassandra Lane. That’s the home University of New Hampshire graduate Robert W. Beaulieu, pictured above, shares with his parents. Robert P. Beaulieu, unrelated, died a few months back at the age of 84, and is apparently the man Project Vertitas’ investigator intended to impersonate. By all appearances, they got the wrong guy.

Texas: Judges in DC to decide if Texas redistricting violated federal Voting Rights Act | Chron.com

A three-judge federal court panel will begin hearing two weeks of testimony today to determine whether the Texas Legislature violated the Voting Rights Act and diluted minority voting strength when it redrew political maps for state House, Senate and congressional seats. The District of Columbia panel will review plans drawn by the Legislature under Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which requires the Justice Department to approve beforehand changes to the political process. A finding by the court that the maps discriminate would then shift attention to the Supreme Court and a ruling on whether interim maps by a court in San Antonio could be used.

Virginia: McDonnell and General Assembly lobbied to allow write-ins on presidential ballots | Washington Post

A coalition of tea party leaders and activists are lobbying the General Assembly and Gov. Bob McDonnell to change election law to allow write-in votes on the March 6 presidential primary ballot. Sen. Frank M. Wagner (R-Virginia Beach) introduced a bill last week that would change existing law to allow for write-ins in both primary and general elections. The groups are asking voters to sign petitions supporting the bill. In order for the bill to be effective March 6, it would require four-fifths of legislators to approve, which is unlikely to happen. Legislative leaders in both chambers say it’s not a priority. Only former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) qualified for the Virginia ballot.

Virginia: Voter ID bill begins moving forward in House | HamptonRoads.com

The first in a series of measures aimed at tightening Virginia’s election laws began moving toward passage in the House of Delegates today. Del. Mark Cole’s bill, , provides that voters who are unable to present an approved form of identification at the polls would have to vote a provisional ballot – a ballot that would not be counted unless and until the voter’s identity is verified. The measure was approved 4-2 along party lines by a House subcommittee over the opposition of several interest groups that called it an attempt to suppress voter turnout, especially among minority and low-income Virginians.

Wisconsin: Democrats to file 1 million signatures for Walker recall | JSOnline

Democrats and organizers will file petitions with more than a million signatures Tuesday afternoon as they seek to force a recall election against Gov. Scott Walker, a massive number that seems to cement a historic recall election against him for later this year. It would mark the first such gubernatorial recall in state history – in all of U.S. history there have been only two successful recalls of a governor. Organizers at 3 p.m. will the signatures against Walker, as well as ones against Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and three GOP state senators. Already, they have filed petitions to recall Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau).

Canada: Halifax Regional Municipality supports internet voting decision | Enfield Weekly Press

Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) was only being financially prudent in deciding to go with a Spanish company over a Dartmouth-based company to provide internet voting options for the 2012 municipal election, the councillor for Eastern Shore-Musquodoboit Valley said. Steve Streatch was reacting to Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) regional council’s decision to award Scytl the contract for telephone and internet voting services for the October 20, 2012 municipal election over a company that had done the same task in the 2008 municipal election.

Editorials: China eyes Taiwan’s election freedoms | BBC News

Gazing out of my window trying to make out the skyscrapers of central Beijing today is a bit like trying to divine the thoughts of China’s leaders. Not easy. A thick smog has settled on China’s capital (yet again), and through the murk it is hard to see much beyond the few buildings just across the way. The atmospheric conditions are grim. The US embassy pollution reading on Twitter is well over 300, indicating highly hazardous air quality. Beijing is choking on pollution. As we begin a year when major leadership changes will happen in China, the thoughts of its rising leaders are pretty opaque. It’s hard to know what Xi Jinping, the man expected to become China’s next president, one of the most powerful positions in the world, thinks about many subjects.

India: No evidence of tampering of Electronic Voting Machines: Delhi HC on Subramanian Swamy’s plea | ibnlive

The Delhi High Court has said that there is no evidence to back petitioner and Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy’s plea that Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) can be tampered with. The High Court has called for wider consultations before a decision is taken and said that it is difficult to issue any directions to the Election Commission (EC) on EVMs as of now. In his plea, Swamy had demanded that receipts be given for ballots cast on EVMs claiming that the EVM system was not transparent.

India: Elephant symbols of empowerment are too powerful for India’s Election Commission | The Independent

These giant stone elephants sitting on their pedestals in a huge park outside Delhi are a symbol of India’s political development. Built here and in Uttar Pradesh’s capital city of Lucknow, along with other massive stone and bronze monuments, stupas, and domes at a reported cost of Rs4,500 crore ($1bn), they are designed to glorify Kumari Mayawati, the state’s controversial chief minister and be a symbol of empowerment for her Dalit low caste. India’s Election Commission ordered last week that all the elephants, and statues of Mayawati, should be covered for the duration of the state’s current assembly elections – polling takes place next month. The chief election commissioner, S.Y.Qureshi, said this was done to stop Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) gaining “political mileage” from the displays – just, he said, as pictures of political leaders are removed from government offices during polls.

India: Court Refuses to Direct Election Commission on Paper Records on electronic voting machines | PCWorld

A court in Delhi on Tuesday declined to direct India’s Election Commission to have paper receipts of votes recorded on electronic voting machines (EVMs), or go back to ballot paper. The High Court of Delhi said that there may be security issues with EVMs, as pointed out by petitioner Subramanian Swamy, a prominent politician, and asked India’s Election Commission to resolve the issues in consultation with stakeholders including the country’s Parliament. Swamy had earlier argued that EVMs could be tampered with, a view he shares with a number of researchers and activists in the country. He said in a telephone interview that the Election Commission will now have to have to get into consultations with all concerned parties, including him, to resolve the security issues. “You can say that, de facto, I have won the case,” he added.

Lesotho: 9 more parties deregistered in Lesotho | Public Eye Daily

The Independent Electoral Commission this week deregistered nine more political parties ahead of the general election, which reports suggest could take place in May this year. This makes it a total 12 parties the Commission has struck-off its roll in a space of one month for failing to comply with the country’s electoral laws, following the deregistration of the Christian Democratic Party, Lesotho Labour Party and United Democratic Party in December 2011.

Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka To Amend Election Law To Introduce Electronic Voting | Bernama

Sri Lanka is planning to amend its elections law so as to enable electronic voting, according to China’s Xinhua news agency citing Election Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya on Monday. Speaking to media, the official said said that the government is considering to amend the current election law so that it would be possible to initiate electronic voting instead of the laborious hand counting system that is in practice now. “Large amounts of public money are spent on elections as they are done manually with the entire process needing many people and resources,” said Deshapriya.