The Voting News Daily: Did Citizens United Lead to Super PACs? Setting the Record Straight, Is Citizens United just misunderstood?

National: Did Citizens United Lead to Super PACs? Setting the Record Straight | Election Law Blog Salon is out with an interview today with Floyd Abrams (noted First Amendment lawyer and campaign finance law opponent).  Abrams took the NY Times to task for blaming the $5 million Adelson contribution to Super PACs on Citizens United.  Abrams says it is Buckley v. Valeo, recognizing an…

National: Did Citizens United Lead to Super PACs? Setting the Record Straight | Election Law Blog

Salon is out with an interview today with Floyd Abrams (noted First Amendment lawyer and campaign finance law opponent).  Abrams took the NY Times to task for blaming the $5 million Adelson contribution to Super PACs on Citizens United.  Abrams says it is Buckley v. Valeo, recognizing an individual’s right to spend money on elections, not Citizens United, which is responsible for the emergence of Super PACs. That’s not the whole story, and misses the relevance of Citizens United.

National: Is Citizens United just misunderstood? |

This week marks the two-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s ruling in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which struck down part of the 2002 McCain-Feingold election law. Never has the ruling been as salient as it is now in the national political discussion. The Occupy movement has taken aim at the decision, blaming it for allowing the “1 percent” to exercise unprecedented control over the political process. Meanwhile, the decision has been widely cited as paving the road for the super PACs that are dominating the Republican primary, now evenoutspending candidates’ official campaigns in South Carolina. All of which contributed to my interest in a letter sent to the New York Times this week by Floyd Abrams, a longtime First Amendment lawyer who represented Sen. Mitch McConnell in the Citizens United case and argued that part of the McCain-Feingold law was unconstitutional. Abrams has been involved in many landmark cases, notably representing the Times in the Pentagon Papers case in the early 1970s.

National: Super PACs: GOP rivals reap benefits of groups they claim to disdain | The Washington Post

To hear the Republican presidential candidates tell it, they’ve already lost control of their campaigns to outsiders. Mitt Romney and other hopefuls vying for the GOP nomination are complaining in unison about the dominant role being played by super PACs, new independent groups that are shifting the landscape of the 2012 elections with a torrent of negative and often inaccurate attack ads. Then again, this could all be so much bluster. Even as they complain about super PAC ads, the candidates seem happy to repeat the attacks that the ads contain — aiming to reap the political benefits from groups with no direct accountability to the public.

Editorials: Counting Voters Fairly |

A Federal District Court late last month wisely upheld a 2010 Maryland law that counts prison inmates as residents in their home communities for purposes of redistricting, rather than at the prisons where they are incarcerated. The practice of counting inmates as local “residents” — even though they lack the right to vote — has been used to inflate the power of mainly rural areas where prisons tend to placed. It undercuts the power of the urban districts where the inmates actually live and where they generally return when they are released.

Editorials: Mitt Romney’s flawed plan to ‘fix’ campaign financing | The Washington Post

Mitt Romney has a prescription for the super PAC problem: Allow political candidates to collect unlimited donations, instead of having the funds funneled to supposedly independent groups. “Let campaigns then take responsibility for their own words,” Mr. Romney said at Monday’s debate. He raises an intriguing question: Given the Supreme Court’s flawed interpretation of the First Amendment — that campaign spending equals speech; that independent expenditures on behalf of candidates, even by corporations, therefore cannot be limited — would the campaign finance system be better off with a regime of no limits plus full and timely disclosure of donations? In other words, a world where the $5 million check can go directly to the candidate? As Mr. Romney put it, “Wouldn’t it nice to have people give what they would like to to campaigns, and campaigns could run their own ads and take responsibility for them?”

Editorials: The Problem With Citizens United Is Not Corporate Personhood | Truthout

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Florida Rep. Ted Deutch introduced aconstitutional amendmentin December to overturnCitizens United, one of five decisions since 2006 by which a closely divided Supreme Court vastly increased the amount of corrupting corporate money in elections. In an opinion piece critical of the decision in Citizens United, Senator Sanders wrote:

When the Supreme Court says that for purposes of the First Amendment, corporations are people, that writing checks from the company’s bank account is constitutionally-protected speech and that attempts by the federal government and states to impose reasonable restrictions on campaign ads are unconstitutional, when that occurs, our democracy is in grave danger.

The joint Sanders-Deutch Resolution proposes an amendment to the constitution “to expressly exclude for-profit corporations from the rights given to natural persons.”

Florida: Scott hires Ken Detzner as new Florida secretary of state | Post on Politics

Gov. Rick Scott has tapped long-time beer lobbyist and Tallahassee insider Ken Detzner to replace retiring Secretary of State Kurt Browning. It’s the second time Scott’s hired a former secretary of state to head the department that oversees elections and cultural affairs. Detzner briefly served as interim secretary of state under former Gov. Jeb Bush as well as chief of staff for former Secretary of State Jim Smith. He also spent six years working for Smith when Smith was the attorney general. Detzner recently helped the attorney general’s office handle claims related to the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.

Iowa: Did Rick Santorum Win the Iowa Caucuses, Not Mitt Romney? | The Daily Beast

Did Rick Santorum win the Iowa caucus? That’s what it looks like if numbers from a caucus in the town of Moulton, Appanoose County, are correctly counted when the official certification begins Wednesday night. This not only would rewrite the election history of 2012 to date—it would invalidate the oft-repeated line that Mitt Romney is the only candidate to win both Iowa and New Hampshire. It would stop the inevitability narrative in its tracks. This possibility has the Iowa state GOP under new scrutiny as they begin the official certification process, which they have promised to complete by the end of the week. The national media to date has largely dismissed this story—which was first reported by local Des Moines station KCCI—apparently choosing to trust the state GOP’s initial off-the-record assurances that the story had zero credibility.

Iowa: Recount may boost Santorum | Washington Times

This could change the narrative a bit: A recount of the Iowa caucus vote could give the former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum the victory over front-runner Mitt Romney, who eked out an eight-vote win in the initial count. The Iowa Republican Party is in the process of certifying the results of the opening round of the GOP nomination fight, which could end up tweaking the initial storyline and erasing Mr. Romney’s place in the history books as the first non-incumbent to score back-to-back wins in Iowa’s caucuses and New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary.

New Hampshire: Second Place in New Hampshire Democratic Primary Goes to…Ron Paul?! | Huffington Post

We all know that President Obama won his party’s primary in New Hampshire. What you may not know is that Obama only won 79.5% of the vote. Second place in the New Hampshire Democratic primary went to Ron Paul, with 3.7%, Mitt Romney was third with 2.9% of the vote, and Jon Huntsman was fourth with 2.0%. Yes, you heard me right, Ron Paul came in second in the New Hampshire Democratic primary. And in case you are wondering, Barack Obama received 0.1% of the vote in the Republican primary.

Ohio: Voting machine battery replacements add costs | The Chillicothe Gazette

The Ross County Board of Elections is facing an unexpected $18,525 cost because of a state requirement to change batteries in all its voting machines. Director Nora Madru delivered news of the directive, which was issued by Secretary of State Jon Husted, to Ross County commissioners at their Tuesday meeting. The life of the batteries, which are soldered into the machines, is supposed to be five to seven years, Madru said. Machines in Ross County and across the state are approaching the life expectancy of the batteries. “With a presidential election coming up, you don’t want to take a chance,” Madru said, adding that officials don’t have a choice in the matter anyway.

Virginia: Court rejects Perry’s ballot appeal |

In a 22-page order, a three-judge panel of a federal appeals court today rejected Rick Perry’s appeal to appear on the Virginia ballot. Perry initially challenged the state’s stringent ballot laws on Dec. 27, after he and Newt Gingrich failed to qualify with the required 10,000 signatures. Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman all joined the suit. U.S. district judge John Gibney ruled against the challenge last Friday, saying Perry and the other candidates had waited too long to file their suit. Perry and Gingrich both appealed the decision, but today’s ruling means their only path forward would be to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Wisconsin: Officials Must Verify 1.9 Million Recall Signatures | Bloomberg

Wisconsin election officials will examine more than 1.9 million petition signatures aimed at forcing recalls of Governor Scott Walker, his lieutenant governor and four state senators, all Republicans. The Government Accountability Board, a nonpartisan panel of former judges, for two months will focus on the validity of names turned in yesterday in Madison, the state capital, said Director Kevin Kennedy. The timing of any recall election is unknown, he said, because there are “so many variables” in a verification process that will be webcast and subject to legal challenges. Two sets of eyes will examine every name, he said. “We have no dog in this fight,” Kennedy said yesterday at a news conference in Madison, referring to the board’s neutrality. “We just have a job to do.”

Wisconsin: Opponents of Wisconsin Governor file petitions to spur recall election, face turning that to votes | The Washington Post

Opponents of Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker submitted nearly twice as many signatures Tuesday as required to force a recall election, but still face the challenge of transforming public outrage over his moves against unions into actual votes to oust him from office. If Walker is worried, he’s not showing it: As the petitions were delivered to election officials, Walker was out of state raising money to defend himself and the agenda that has made him a national conservative hero. The 1 million signatures that United Wisconsin, the coalition that spearheaded the effort along with the Democratic Party, said were collected far exceeds the 540,208 needed and amounts to 23 percent of the state’s eligible voters.

Austria: E-Voting Pilot in Austria Cancelled by Constitutional Court |

The Austrian Federal Constitutional Court cancelled the Austrian e-voting pilot conducted in 2009, cf. the Ruling of 13.12.2011 (in German). The pilot had been conducted in the 2009 Elections for the Austrian Student Association, which is an official representative body. Out of more than 230,000 students, only 2,000 had used e-voting.  The pilot was objected to by several student groups as (i) unconstitutional, (ii) using a system that violated basic voting principles and (iii) violating privacy; those student groups then filed a formal complaint after the election. On December 13, 2011, the Court ruled that the e-voting pilot of 2009 was null and void and furthermore canceled those parts of the Electoral Regulations for the Student Elections 2005 (in German) issued by the Ministry of Science and Research that enabled and regulated e-voting. The Austrian e-voting pilot 2009 can hence be considered as failed.

Botswana: Electronic voting may be introduced | The Botswana Gazette

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) is floating the idea of introducing electronic voting system in the next elections. The IEC principal public relations officer, Osupile Maroba, revealed that the commission was exploring the possibility of benchmarking on countries that have the same voting system as Botswana. The IEC has been conducting workshops with relevant stakeholders, gathering views on how to prepare for future general elections and come up with ways of encouraging people to register and vote in large numbers.

Kuwait: Elections offer slim chance for reform | Reuters

Kuwait is preparing to vote for its fourth parliament in six years in an election unlikely to resolve a relentless tug-of-war in the Gulf Arab nation that has paralysed politics and held up reform. It is hard to predict who will “win” the vote, particularly since formal political parties are banned, but one thing analysts agree on is that the new parliament is likely to be just as divided and obstreperous, if not more so, than the last. “It doesn’t really matter who wins and who loses,” said political commentator Ghanem al-Najjar. “What’s important is how we move on from there.”

Yemen: Yemeni Official Suggests Delay in Presidential Vote |

Adding to fears of a worsening political crisis in Yemen, a top government official hinted at a possible delay in presidential elections set for February that would mark the formal end of President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s 33-year rule. During an interview broadcast Tuesday on Al Arabiya, Yemen’s foreign minister, Abu Bakr al-Qirbi, said it would be “difficult” to hold the elections on Feb. 21 as planned because security in the country was deteriorating. The elections are a condition of a power-transfer deal that Mr. Saleh signed in November, and Yemeni officials have called them a critical step toward ending the crisis. Opposition figures quickly criticized his comments, and a spokesman for Yemen’s vice president said there would be no delay, according to CNN.