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.

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.”