Editorials: Citizens United: How Did it Happen? | John Wellington Ennis/Huffington Post

Though the manifold problems of money pouring into our campaigns have become a source of daily news and mounting public backlash, the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United vs. Federal Elections Commission is an opportunity to review how this transformative decision was reached — the perfect storm of politicized jurisprudence, corporate entitlement, and a narrowly tilted bench. As Chief Justice John Roberts has expressed such concern over corporate rights, one might think he was found as a boy abandoned, taken in, and raised by some corporations. It was Roberts who directed the narrow issue of FEC penalties over ads for Hillary: The Movie to be rewritten and re-argued as a much broader debate over the right for corporations to spend money freely on third party advertisements.

Editorials: Science of elections: The problem with turnout | BBC

For veteran election-watcher Curtis Gans, who runs the Center for the Study of the American Electorate, this disenfranchisement is a major problem. “There are 50 million American citizens who aren’t registered to vote,” he says. “And there are 20 million names on registration lists that ought not to be there.” Alaska, Illinois, and South Dakota have more voters on their lists than there are citizens eligible to vote living there, Mr Gans has told Congress. And of 172 recognised democracies, the US is ranked 139th in voter participation, he says.

Arizona: Gabby Giffords’ Resignation Prompts Race For Congressional Seat | Huffington Post

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ decision to step down from her congressional seat sets up a wide-open race to fill her spot in a conservative-leaning Arizona district that has a history of electing moderates from both parties. The congresswoman’s decision announced Sunday also will trigger not one but two entire election cycles before the end of the year, with different district lines in each thanks to congressional redistricting.

Kansas: Kobach touts Kansas voter ID law; Democrats say it will deprive legitimate votes | LJWorld.com

Democratic legislators on Monday said the voter ID law that Secretary of State Kris Kobach pushed will deny more votes of legitimate voters than it will catch in fraudulent votes. “I’d be willing to put a $5 bill on it,” said state Rep. Ann Mah, D-Topeka. But Kobach, a Republican, said showing a photo ID to vote isn’t onerous. He said a photo ID is required in many aspects of everyday life, and he noted that Illinois was considering a law to require a photo ID to purchase Drano.

Massachusetts: Brown, Warren agree to anti-super-PAC pledge, other candidates could follow | The Hill

Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R) and his Democratic rival, Elizabeth Warren, have reached a groundbreaking agreement to deter super-PACs and outside groups from dominating their Senate race with millions of dollars of ads, Brown said Monday. The agreement marks the first attempt by candidates to wrest control of their races back from groups over whom they have no direct control, and could set a precedent for other races. It also comes almost two years to the day after the Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case that unleashed the flood of outside spending.

Editorials: Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown deserve major props for campaign finance truce | The Washington Post

This morning, Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown announced that they had hammered out an agreement to put up a dam against the flood of outside cash that’s expected to gush into their Senate race. Even if the dam ends up springing a few leaks, they deserve credit for trying. Good for them. The deal wasn’t easy to hammer out, because campaigns don’t have any power to restrict third-party-group spending. But the arrangement deals with this problem in an artful way:

Under the terms of the deal, each campaign would agree to donate half the cost of any third-party ad to charity if that ad either supports their candidacy or attacks their opponent by name.

Texas: Attorney General Abbott sues DOJ over voter ID law | Statesman.com

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed suit against the Department of Justice today in an effort to speed enforcement of the state’s new voter ID law.
The Justice Department, which must conclude that the voter ID law does not unfairly disadvantage minority voters, has been reviewing the law for the past six months and has twice asked state officials to supply additional information on the racial breakdown of Texas voters. Fearing further delays, particularly after justice officials rejected South Carolina’s similar voter ID law last month, Abbott today asked a federal court to intervene and approve the Texas law. “The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that voter identification laws are constitutional,” Abbott said. “Texas should be allowed the same authority other states have to protect the integrity of elections. The Texas law, approved by the Legislature last year, requires most voters to show government-issued photo identification before voting.

Virginia: Governor McDonnell leads way in restoring ex-cons’ rights | Washington Times

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, in the first two years of his term, has restored the voting rights of more than 2,500 ex-convicts — putting the former prosecutor and state attorney general on pace to eclipse both of his Democratic predecessors. Mr. McDonnell, who on the campaign trail promised to enact the “fastest and fairest” rights-restoration process in Virginia history, has been living up to his pledge. His office makes decisions on applications within 60 days and fully briefs prisoners on the requirements to apply.

US Virgin Islands: Efforts to recall Elections board members progressing – claims initially stemmed from a decision banning the use of paper ballots in 2010 | Virgin Islands Daily News

Half a dozen concerned residents gathered Thursday outside the V.I. Elections Office in Crystal Gade where they officially turned in petitions to recall five members of the St. Thomas-St. John Board of Elections. Coupled with a similar move on St. Croix recently, only three members out of the 14 elected to the V.I. Joint Board of Elections have been the targets of recall petitions: Those members are Adelbert Bryan, Lawrence Boschulte and Wilma Marsh Monsanto. The rest – St. Thomas-St. John board members Alecia Wells, Lorna Thomas, Colette White-Amaro, Claudette Georges and Harry Daniel, along with St. Croix board members Rupert Ross Jr., Lisa Moorhead, Dodson James, Raymond Williams, Carmen Golden and Ana Davila – have had individual recall petitions filed against them.

Wisconsin: Software for recall petition database needs human assistance | JSOnline

In their effort to review 1.9 million recall signatures, state election officials are embarking on a project unlike any they have done before, relying on newly purchased software that can convert handwritten names into entries in six searchable databases. Experts say that the type of software the state is using can produce databases in a short time, but that officials must be ready to address numerous errors because computers sometimes misread handwritten letters. “Handwriting recognition software is not great,” said Daniel Lopresti, a computer science professor at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. “A lot of the names are going to have errors in them.”

Finland: Conservative wins Finland election, runoff needed | Muscatine Journal

The conservative favorite easily won the first round of Finland’s presidential election Sunday, setting up a runoff against an environmentalist leader who is the first openly gay candidate to run for head of state in the Nordic country.
Sauli Niinisto, a former finance minister, won 37 percent of the vote, well ahead of the other candidates but short of the majority needed to avoid a second round, official preliminary results showed. With all votes counted, Pekka Haavisto, of the Greens party, was second with 18.8 percent, securing his place in the Feb. 5 runoff.

Finland: Pro-Europeans to face-off in Finnish poll – FT.com

Two pro-European candidates will face-off in the second round of the Finnish presidential election in two weeks’ time, quelling fears of the political establishment that the next stage would become an informal referendum on Europe. Sauli Niinistö, a pro-European former finance minister from the ruling National Coalition party, won 37 per cent of the vote on Sunday, as was widely expected. He is now the most likely candidate to become Finland’s 12th president since independence from Russia in 1917. Many in the pro-European coalition government had feared that Mr Niinistö could end up in a run-off against the eurosceptic Paavo Väyrynen from the Centre party, turning the second round into a straight fight between the county’s pro- and anti-Europe camps.

Palestine: Palestinian elections could be cancelled | gulfnews

The Palestinian National Authority is mulling whether to chance presidential and parliamentary elections slated for May 4, after they say that Hamas is failing to adhere to reconciliation commitments “If the status quo remains between Fatah and Hamas regarding the reconciliation standstill, the PNA will cancel the elections,” an official in the authority has told Gulf News.

Russia: Putin foe could be barred from Russian election | Reuters

Russian liberal opposition leader Grigory Yavlinsky could be barred from running against Vladimir Putin in a presidential election after officials said Monday there were problems with his registration as a candidate. Opinion polls show Yavlinsky has no chance of winning the March 4 election but the refusal to let him run would be a slap in the face for leaders of protests by tens of thousands of demonstrators demanding fair elections and political reform. Central Election Commission officials told Russian news agencies there were errors in about a quarter of the 2 million signatures of support Yavlinsky had submitted as a requirement to enter the election, much higher than the permitted amount.

Russia: Electoral commission may ban presidential candidate | M&C

Russian opposition politician Grigory Yavlinsky may be banned from running for president in the country’s upcoming elections, officials from the country’s Central Election Commission (CEC) said on Monday. As much as 23 per cent of signatures on petitions supporting a presidential run by by Yavlinsky, leader of the anti-government party Yabloko (‘Apple’), were invalid and possible grounds to prevent his name from being on the March 4 ballot, the Interfax new agency reported, quoting CEC spokeswoman Yelena Dubrovina.

Yemen: Foreign minister says presidential election will be held on schedule in February | The Washington Post

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.