The Voting News Daily: Activist groups want to undo ruling that led to ‘super PAC’ frenzy, More voters casting ballots early – early voting benefits campaigns with money, manpower

National: The Influence Industry: Activist groups want to undo ruling that led to ‘super PAC’ frenzy | The Washington Post Two years ago this week, the Supreme Court set the political world on its head by ruling that corporations could spend unlimited money on elections, rolling back decades of legal restrictions. An array of liberal-leaning activist…

Editorials: Actual Winner Unclear in Supreme Court’s Ruling on Texas Redistricting | ProPublica

The Supreme Court ruled this morning that federal judges in Texas overstepped their bounds in drawing a minority-friendly set of interim maps for the state to use in the 2012 elections. The Court ruled unanimously that the judges should have given more deference to the new district maps drawn by the Republican-controlled Texas legislature even though parts of these maps may discriminate against Latinos. The Department of Justice has argued that the state legislature’s plans would harm minorities and violate the Voting Rights Act.  A panel of federal judges in Washington, D.C., is in the process of determining whether those plans did, in fact, break the law. Because that decision may not be made in time for the next elections, federal judges in San Antonio were tasked with drawing interim maps for the state to use. The maps used in Texas’ next elections could impact the balance of power in Congress. They will likely determine whether the four new congressional seats awarded Texas via the census will be held by Democrats or Republicans.  The Supreme Court’s decision leaves the fate of those seats in limbo.

National: The Influence Industry: Activist groups want to undo ruling that led to ‘super PAC’ frenzy | The Washington Post

Two years ago this week, the Supreme Court set the political world on its head by ruling that corporations could spend unlimited money on elections, rolling back decades of legal restrictions. An array of liberal-leaning activist groups are marking the anniversary by launching new efforts to overturn the decision, including calls for a potential constitutional amendment. The 5 to 4 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission effectively laid the groundwork for super PACs, the new independent groups that have overwhelmed the Republican presidential race with millions of dollars in negative advertising over the past few weeks.

National: More voters casting ballots early – early voting benefits campaigns with money, manpower |

When South Carolina voters cast their ballots in the Republican presidential primary Saturday, they’ll have company. That same day, Florida Republicans can begin in-person voting for the state’s Jan. 31 primary, joining more than 100,000 state residents who already have cast absentee ballots. As the votes are counted in Florida on Jan. 31, voters in Ohio and other states with primaries on March 6 — Super Tuesday because of its 10 GOP primaries and caucuses — will begin absentee voting. That week, voters can vote early in Arizona for its Feb. 28 primary. Later in February, polls will open for early voting in the March 6 Georgia and Tennessee primaries.

Editorials: Super PACs wreak havoc | Fred Wertheimer/

The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, issued two years ago this week, is wreaking havoc on the 2012 elections. When the Roberts Court decided to strike down the ban on corporate expenditures in campaigns, the five justices who issued the opinion surely had no idea their misguided decision would cause such enormous damage to our political system. Meanwhile, the rest of us are living with the destructive consequences of their ruling.

Editorials: ‘Super PACs’ dominate the political landscape |

Trevor Potter is an unlikely repeat guest for a late-night comedy show. As the former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, the courtly Washington lawyer is a leading expert on campaign finance law — not the kind of material that generates a lot of laughs. So the fact that he’s appeared seven times on “The Colbert Report” in the last year, helping host Stephen Colbert set up his own “super PAC” as part of a mischievous political parody, underscores an unexpected development in the 2012 presidential race: Super PACs have seized the zeitgeist.

Editorials: Election e-voting has its advantages and disadvantages | Star Phoenix

Like a lot of terrible ideas, voting over the Internet in federal elections is not without superficial appeal. That would explain why Elections Canada reportedly is moving us towards electronic or e-voting. E-voting certainly would make it easier to participate in the democratic process. Instead of schlepping to the polls, we could vote from the comfort of our homes simply by clicking a computer mouse or swiping a smart phone. We could vote while travelling anywhere outside the country with Internet access. Canadian astronauts could even vote from space if they happened to be in orbit on election day. … So what’s not to like about e-voting? Security, for starters.

Alabama: Appeals Court Hears Challenge To Voting Rights Act | Fox News

Appeals court judges expressed concern Thursday about whether to overrule Congress’ determination that some southern states and other jurisdictions still must have federal election monitoring to protect minority voting rights. Alabama’s Shelby County is challenging a requirement under the Voting Rights Act that governments with a history of discrimination obtain federal approval to change even minor election procedures. An attorney for the county argued in federal appeals court in Washington that the South has changed and that extraordinary oversight is no longer needed. But two of three judges on the panel hearing the case pointed out Congress renewed the provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act in 2006 after finding that discrimination still exists. A lower court endorsed that finding.

Delaware: Delaware Senate committee tables National Popular Vote legislation | The News Journal

An effort to award Delaware’s three Electoral College votes in presidential elections to the winner of the national popular vote stalled Wednesday in a Senate committee. The National Popular Vote legislation, House Bill 55, is part of a nationwide movement to change the Electoral College’s perceived flaws from the 2000 presidential contest in which Vice President Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the electoral vote to then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush.

Indiana: Tempers flare at White hearing | WISH-TV

Fireworks flew in a Hamilton County courtroom as lawyers prepared for the Charlie White criminal trial. White, Indiana’s secretary of state, faces seven felony charges, including voter fraud, perjury and theft. His lead defense lawyer, Carl Brizzi, sees the upcoming criminal trial as an tough task. “Any time someone is charged by the state or federal government for a crime, it’s an uphill battle,” he said. “We talk about a legal presumption of innocence, but i don’t think that really exists out in society.”

Iowa: Santorum Didn’t Win Iowa By 34 Votes — He Won By 69 | TPM

The Iowa state GOP says their certified results show Rick Santorum winning by a 34-vote margin over Mitt Romney, a reversal of Romney’s reported caucus night lead of 8 votes — but the party has nevertheless called the result a “split decision,” citing the matter of 8 missing precincts. But those precincts aren’treally missing. “I can’t speculate without documentation from the missing eight,” Iowa GOP chairman Matt Strawn told the Des Moines Register. “The comments I made at 1:30 a.m. Jan. 4 congratulating both Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum still apply. I don’t think the certified vote totals take anything away from either Governor Romney or Senator Santorum.”

Iowa: Recount gives Santorum edge in Iowa caucuses | Washington Times

In a stunning turn of events, Rick Santorum now appears to have won the Iowa caucuses, though the state’s Republican Party says there are too many holes in the results for them to ever be able to say for certain. The party, which runs the caucuses, has done a recount since the Jan. 3 voting, and told the Des Moines Register the tally now shows Mr. Santorum up by 34 votes. On caucus night the party said Mitt Romney had won by eight votes. The news dents Mr. Romney’s air of inevitability — he had claimed he’d gone two-for-two in the first nominating contests, and was poised to try to land a knockout punch with a victory in South Carolina’s primary on Saturday. Still, he was claiming a victory of sorts Thursday morning.

Iowa: Recount shows Santorum won in Iowa, but officials call it a tie | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum wound up with a 34-vote lead in the Iowa caucuses, reversing the 8-point margin for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney that had been reported in the small hours of the morning of Jan. 4. But Iowa Republican officials are still calling the results a tie, in that the official tallies from eight precincts are still missing from the certified count completed two weeks after the 1,774 precincts reported. Mr. Santorum claimed victory on Twitter. “Thank you Iowa for the win!” read a tweet from the official @RickSantorum account. “I encourage enveryone to join our fight in South Carolina! Game on!”

Iowa: Iowa caucus count unresolved – Santorum finished ahead by 34 votes but 8 precincts’ numbers will never be certified | Des Moines Register

It’s a tie for the ages. There are too many holes in the certified totals from the Iowa caucuses to know for certain who won, but Rick Santorum wound up with a 34-vote advantage. Results from eight precincts are missing — any of which could hold an advantage for Mitt Romney — and will never be recovered and certified, Republican Party of Iowa officials told The Des Moines Register on Wednesday.

Oregon: U.S. Postal Service cuts could slow Oregon’s mail voting in November |

Oregon Elections Director Stephen Trout says pending cuts by the U.S. Postal Service won’t affect the state’s May primary, but that it could slow ballot delivery and returns for many Oregonians in the November election. The Postal Service is moving toward closing 252 mail processing facilities around the country, including four in Oregon, as part of its efforts to reduce huge losses. “That very likely would impact the number of days it takes for ballots” to move through the mail, Trout told the Oregon Senate Rules Committee on Tuesday.

Texas: Whither the Texas primary? | Texas Redistricting

With the Supreme Court yet to rule, questions inevitably have turned to whether there is any way it will be possible to keep to an April 3 primary. Senator John Cornyn and many election law lawyers think that chance is becoming increasingly remote.  In fact, many observers aren’t even certain when the primary could be held if it needs to be moved. Consider the logistical challenges. Even if the Supreme Court rules this week or early next week (by no means certain), the San Antonio court will need time to respond to the Supreme Court’s rulings – unless, of course, the Supreme Court simply orders one or the other maps into effect – but that seems unlikely based on last week’s oral argument.

Washington: Ninth Circuit Upholds Washington State Top-Two System | Ballot Access News

On January 19, the 9th circuit upheld the Washington state “top-two” system. Here is the decision. The part of the decision about ballot access is very short. It quotes the dicta from the U.S. Supreme Court decision Munro v Socialist Workers Party that says the burden on minor parties is slight as long as their candidates can run in the primary. But it does not mention the holding in Munro v Socialist Workers Party, that there is no constitutional distinction between a petition for ballot access to the November ballot, and a prior vote test.

Wisconsin: Judge agrees to hear challenge to voter ID law |

A Wisconsin judge agreed on Thursday to hear a challenge to the state’s new voter ID law, passed last year by lawmakers concerned about ballot-box fraud but which critics say suppresses voting by the elderly and poor. The decision clears the way for arguments to be heard on March 9 in the suit, which attempts to overturn the law on the grounds it violates the state constitution.

Canada: Halifax: Not ready for electronic voting | Truro Daily News

Municipal elections are just nine months away and, perhaps not surprisingly, electronic voting has been a recent subject of discussion for local councils.
Truro Town Council received a pitch from a Halifax-based company lauding the virtues of electronic voting and tabled it for further discussion. Colchester County Council, meanwhile, rejected the idea outright. At the risk of sounding ridiculously old-fashioned, we concur with the go-slow or no-go approach to electronic voting. At least for the time being.

India: Election Commission defends move to cover Mayawati & elephants statues, says its not anti-casteist | The Economic Times

The Election Commission has defended its order to cover statues of Mayawati and elephants in UP and lashed out at the chief minister for attributing anti-casteist motives to its January 8 directive. Rejecting BSP leader Satish Chandra Mishra’s plea that EC reconsider its decision as the statues were erected with “party funds,” the poll panel, in a strongly-worded statement, said “the order is in accordance with the law and in keeping with its constitutional mandate for ensuring level playing field during the elections with the objective of ensuring free and fair polls. The commission reminded BSP about a complaint it received in 2009 seeking freezing of the elephant symbol on account of its misuse through erection of elephant statues across the state.

Russia: All Clear For Russian Election Official At Center Of Voter Scandal | Forbes

Vladimir Churov, the head of the Russian Election Commission who was put in the unsavory spot of being labeled the “wizard” of alleged voter fraud in the Dec. 4 Parliamentary elections, looks to be free and clear from impropriety. Churov asked election commission officials to consider a vote to remove himself from his position, but only four out of the 15 commission members voted in favor of even considering the issue in the first place, Ria Novosti reported on Thursday. As a result, without any political pressure from the top at the Kremlin, Churov is safe and sound.

Yemen: Yemen Foreign Minister Says No Delay in Presidential Election – ABC News

Yemen’s presidential elections will be held as scheduled toward the end of February, the foreign minister said on Wednesday, countering his own observation a day earlier. Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi, a veteran of President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s regime, told Al-Arabiya television on Tuesday that it would difficult to have presidential elections if the security situation is not resolved. After a series of meetings with American and U.N diplomats, al-Qirbi backtracked, saying that his government was committed to holding presidential elections on February 21. It appeared, however, that the subject was not closed.