The Voting News Daily: Study: SuperPACs Behind Nearly Half Of 2012 Ads, Matt Strawn resigns as Iowa GOP chair – resignation letter does not mention Iowa caucus results

National: Study: SuperPACs Behind Nearly Half Of 2012 Ads | NPR A new analysis shows that in the deluge of TV ads in the early voting states for the Republican presidential primaries, nearly half of the ads are coming not from the candidates but from superPACs — the new breed of political committees that raise…

National: Study: SuperPACs Behind Nearly Half Of 2012 Ads | NPR

A new analysis shows that in the deluge of TV ads in the early voting states for the Republican presidential primaries, nearly half of the ads are coming not from the candidates but from superPACs — the new breed of political committees that raise unregulated money. Political scientists at Wesleyan University in Connecticut found that so far, there have been about the same number of GOP primary ads as there were four years ago. An analysis by the Wesleyan Media Group shows that while the overall number of ads in the 2012 Republican presidential primary is similar to four years ago, the source of the ads has changed. What’s different — and different in a big way — is the role of outside money groups, mostly superPACs, says Erika Franklin Fowler, a director of the Wesleyan Media Project. “They went from about 3 percent of total ad airings in the 2008 race to almost half, about 44 percent, in 2012,” she says.

Iowa: Matt Strawn resigns as Iowa GOP chair – resignation letter does not mention Iowa caucus results |

Matt Strawn, the Iowa GOP chairman who has been embroiled in controversy since the Jan. 3 Iowa caucus results, is resigning, he announced Tuesday. “It is only because the Iowa GOP has returned as a strong and relevant voice in Iowa politics that I am now able to evaluate all the competing priorities in my personal, business and political life. The party is strong and has the resources in place for victory in November,” Strawn said in a statement. “Now is the time to transition to new leadership.” Strawn, who has chaired the state party since 2009, left his post after the Iowa GOP fumbled the results of the caucuses, initially declaring Mitt Romney the 8-vote winner. Two weeks later, on the eve of the South Carolina primary, the party reversed that decision and certified Rick Santorum the winner by 34 votes. The state GOP statement declaring Santorum the winner was released “in order to clarify conflicting reports.”

National: Super PAC takeover? Not so fast, campaigns say |

The big money outside groups best known for airing ruthless ads in the early state GOP primaries are elbowing their way onto the turf of presidential campaigns and parties — and some campaigns aren’t happy. In the last few weeks, super PACs and other outside groups supporting Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and President Barack Obama launched activities in Florida, other key states, and nationally — including phone banking, field organizing, direct mail, polling, state-of-the-race memos and even surrogate operations — that were once left mostly to the campaigns and parties.

Florida: Appeals court upholds Florida redistricting amendment |

A federal appeals court on Tuesday rejected a challenge to Florida’s Amendment 6, added to the state constitution by voters to curb so-called gerrymandering of congressional districts that historically protected incumbents or gave advantage to the political party in power. The three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rebuffed claims by U.S. Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Miami Republican, and Corrine Brown, a Jacksonville Democrat, that the power to change congressional redistricting rules resides solely with the Legislature and not the voters through a referendum.

Editorials: Florida’s voting fairness problem | Tampa Bay Times

As Republican primary voters go to the polls today, there is a cloud over the state’s voting process. Florida law imposes undue burdens on African-American, Hispanic and younger voters, according to witnesses at a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing in Tampa on Friday. The testimony adds to the mounting evidence that the election law changes Florida Republicans passed last spring to ostensibly address voter fraud — a nonexistent problem in this state — are designed to interfere with the voting rights of Democratic-leaning constituencies.

Illinois: Does Gerrymandering Violate Free Speech? The League of Women Voters of Illinois is taking their case to the Supreme Court | American Prospect

State parties across the country have already taken out knives to hack up political maps in the bloody process of redistricting. Now, many states are going to the mat to defend the highly partisan maps that, in most cases, got passed by the dominant political party in the state to the detriment of the minority party. The legal battles—particularly the ongoing Texas saga—are usually based largely around whether or not maps violate the Voting Rights Act. But in Illinois, the bipartisan League of Women Voters is challenging gerrymandered districts based on a new legal claim: that it violates free speech. While a district court already dismissed its claim, the League of Women Voters can—and has—appealed to the Supreme Court. Because it’s a redistricting case, the court will have to rule on the matter.

Indiana: Prosecutor: Indiana top election official accused of voter fraud, obsessed with political success | The Washington Post

Indiana’s top elections official committed voter fraud to preserve his political clout and protect his finances, a special prosecutor said Tuesday during opening arguments of a trial that will determine if Secretary of State Charlie White keeps his office — and his freedom. “This case is about deceit and cheating,” special prosecutor Dan Sigler Sr. told jurors at the Hamilton County Courthouse in the Noblesville, about 20 miles north of Indianapolis. “Somebody tried to get away with something … somebody got caught.”… Sigler portrayed White as a man “obsessed with politics, with success in politics.”

Iowa: Voter ID bill back with a twist | Quad-City Times

Secretary of State Matt Schultz jumped into one of the most partisan issues in electoral politics last week when he introduced a new voter photo identification bill, but he did so with a key change. Unique to his proposal is the idea that one voter can vouch for another in place of photo identification, something Schultz hopes will blunt criticism of his plan. Indeed, Schultz used the word “bipartisan” no fewer than 14 times during his Statehouse news conference and in answering questions from the media. When pressed, however, he acknowledged that he had bipartisan input, and not necessarily bipartisan support, for his plan.

Minnesota: Voting rights for released felons debated in Minnesota |

The remedy for keeping released felons from voting illegally in Minnesota may include speeding up the restoration of their voting rights. Currently those individuals aren’t permitted to vote until they have finished their supervised release period, which is Minnesota’s term for parole.  But Governor Dayton’s Election Integrity Task Force is exploring the idea of switching to the system used in North Dakota, where voting rights are restored upon release from incarceration. “It’s amazing how complex this all is,” Joe Nunez, the co-chair of the task force, said. “Some felons are under jurisdiction of the Dept of Corrections, some report to county probation officers, still others report directly to the courts.”

Virginia: Voter ID proposal passes Virginia House | The Cavalier Daily

A bill introduced by Del. Mark Cole, R-Fredericksburg, which would require people to show a photo ID in order to vote, passed the House of Delegates yesterday and now awaits approval by the Senate. Cole hopes House Bill 9 will discourage voter fraud by “[improving] the integrity of elections without denying anyone their lawful right to vote,” he said in an email. Voters without a form of identification would still be able to cast a provisional ballot said Justin Riemer, a deputy secretary at the State Board of Elections. Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Albemarle, however, said he opposes the legislation because voter fraud does not significantly impact the election process. “Voter fraud is a boogieman,” Deeds said. “There [are] so few cases of it. This legislation is like killing a gnat with a sledgehammer.”

Wisconsin: Recall Spending Could Hit $100 Million | TPM

In the upcoming recall election against Republican Gov. Scott Walker, Wisconsin faces the first ever gubernatorial recall in the state, and only the third gubernatorial recall in the country’s history. Next to the presidential campaign it will likely be the biggest, most expensive race in the country, costing $100 million or more — and that’s just for one state, compared to the whole country. In last year’s state Senate recalls, when six Republicans and three Democratic incumbents were put on the ballot — with control of the 33-seat chamber officially up for grabs — nearly $44 million was spent on those nine races, between the candidates, their political parties, and the various third-party ad groups on both sides. So how much will it be worth everyone’s while, with the whole governorship itself, plus four additional Republican state Senate seats, all on the line?

Cambodia: Senate Voting Along Party Lines, as Expected: Analysts | VoA News

The Senate elections held over the weekend produced results as expected, analysts said Monday. But the polls, open only to already chosen members of local commune councils, don’t reflect the will of the people, election observers said. The ruling Cambodian People’s Party received about 78 percent of the votes, with the opposition Sam Rainsy Party taking the remainder, increasing from two to 11 seats.

Ecuador: In Ecuador, reforms restrict election coverage for media | Committee to Protect Journalists

Reforms to Ecuador’s electoral law that will take effect on February 4 could hamper the ability of the country’s journalists to cover political campaigns and elections, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The government of President Rafael Correa, who is expected to seek re-election next year, promoted the legislation, which was passed on January 10, to reform the country’s electoral law. However, press freedom groups told CPJ that the new legislation included broadly worded provisions that could result in vast censorship. Under the reforms, “almost any reporting that is published or transmitted during an electoral campaign” could be considered illegal, the Quito-based media group the Ecuadoran Journalists Forum, said in a communiqué.

Russia: Vladimir Putin rejects poll review | BBC

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has dismissed calls for a review of disputed parliamentary election results and has accused protesters of lacking clear aims. He was speaking to his supporters in the All Russia People’s Front. His comments follow the latest mass protests on Saturday over the 4 December poll, which his opponents say was rigged. Mr Putin is the front runner in presidential elections due in March.

Senegal: More Protests Over Senegal’s Election Process Draw Police Response | VoA News

Police fired teargas as thousands of people protest in one of Dakar’s central squares, Place de L’Obelisque. They are calling for President Abdoulaye Wade’s to drop his plan to run for a third term as president of Senegal on February 26. The demonstrators – most of them young – are voicing their opposition to the Friday decision of the Constitutional Court to allow the incumbent president to stand for a third term. Police responded as dark fell and youths began throwing stones. Police also are firing cannons of hot water on the crowd. All the leaders of the opposition are attending the rally, as well as invalidated candidate Youssou N’Dour, who made a speech to the passionate crowd encouraging peace – and telling the crowd that Senegal is “our nation” and that they should not spoil it.

Senegal: The Pop Star and the President | Tim Judah/Foreign Policy

There are multiple levels to politics in Senegal, one of the oldest — and until recently, most successful — African democracies. There are the power plays and massive government projects reported on by the international media, but also a parallel system of religious affiliations, cultural networks, and tribal ties, little seen by outsiders. To understand the headlines, you need to delve into the latter. The big news this week is that Abdoulaye Wade, Senegal’s geriatric president, is breathing a sigh of relief. The constitution says he can only run for two consecutive terms, but on Friday the constitutional court of this West African country ruled that this did not apply to him. It also decided that Youssou N’Dour, the global pop superstar and the country’s greatest export, who had thrown his hat into the ring, was not eligible to run. Violent protests have flared, in Dakar and elsewhere, in response to the decision and at least three people have been reported dead. Once regarded as one of the most progressive and democratic of African countries, Senegal’s stability is under threat with opposition leaders calling for “popular resistance.”