National: Santorum suggests Romney rigged CPAC straw poll victory | The Hill

Rick Santorum suggested on Sunday that Mitt Romney’s campaign may have rigged a straw poll of conservative activists by paying the entrance fee for supporters. Romney beat Santorum by 7 points Saturday in a straw poll of almost 3,500 attendees at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Santorum pointed out that Ron Paul had won the poll in both of the past two years “because he just trucks in a lot of people pays for their ticket, they come in and vote and then leave.” “I don’t try to rig straw polls,” Santorum said on CNN’s State of the Union.

National: Caucus system under fire |

The presidential caucus system is under attack after embarrassing contests in Iowa and Nevada put on national display missing ballots, endless counting delays and lots of confusion. The result is Republican activists calling for big change to the antiquated system, particularly to the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses. “All the candidates are out there slogging around at Christmastime and New Year’s, and then they produce a non-result result and they can’t even get the count right,” said David Norcross, a former Republican National Committee general counsel and New Jersey GOP committeeman. Norcross told POLITICO that Iowa’s Jan. 3 caucuses were “numbingly stupid.” “How foolish is it for everyone to go to Iowa the first week in January when there are no delegates selected and they can’t even get the vote right? It’s just a joke, it’s Iowa’s joke on you and all of us.”

Kentucky: Lawmakers approve congressional redistricting | San Antonio Express-News

Lawmakers approved a congressional redistricting plan for Kentucky on Friday, a day after an attorney went to court to ask a judge to take over the issue. The House voted 58-26 for the plan, two hours after the Senate passed it 29-7. The heavily debated measure, which also reopens the congressional filing deadline for five days, was signed into law by Gov. Steve Beshear. Despite protests from the GOP, the plan bolsters the Democrats’ hold on the 6th Congressional District represented by Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler. State Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr, R-Lexington, called the proposal the “Ben Chandler Lifetime Employment Act.” “We’re making this a completely Democratic district,” Kerr said.

Maine: Paul backers, campaign cry foul over GOP caucus tally | The Kennebec Journal

The campaign of GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul and his supporters say the libertarian-leaning Texan was robbed of victory Saturday night when Mitt Romney was declared the winner of the Maine Republican Party’s presidential caucuses. Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul tosses balloons to supporters Saturday night at the Seasons Event and Conference Center in Portland. His supporters and the Paul campaign say the cancellation of a local caucus meeting in Washington County robbed Paul of a victory over Mitt Romney. The Paul campaign says a local caucus meeting in Washington County that was canceled Saturday afternoon because of a snowstorm would have provided the margin of victory over Romney. But Maine GOP Chairman Charlie Webster is standing behind the results showing that Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, won the nonbinding presidential straw poll by 194 votes.

Editorials: Assessing the Minnesota Caucuses – Final Thoughts On Why It is Times to Scrap Them | Schultz’s Take

Minnesota’s February 7, political caucuses meant something this year…sort of. This year they were part of a trifecta of non-binding events that included the Colorado caucus and the Missouri primary that awarded no delegates but nonetheless had a significant media impact in rendering Rick Santorum a viable challenger to Mitt Romney.  In winning these three states the political world heralded that the party activists had again repudiated Romney.  Thus, Minnesota’s caucuses had a signal effect even if no delegates were awarded. But there are real problems with the caucus process in Minnesota and across the country.  Criticism of the Iowa caucus is growing as arguments are again mounted that it should not be first int nation since no delegates are awarded and its demographics are not representative of the country.

Minnesota: Two fears drive fight on photo ID |

A high-stakes political struggle over requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls is erupting in Minnesota, conjuring up emotional precedents from the notorious Jim Crow poll taxes to the old Chicago admonition to “vote early and often.” The determined Republican drive to pass a photo ID constitutional amendment as a needed deterrent to fraud — and the equally strong DFL effort to oppose it as a partisan ploy to suppress votes — has turned the ordinary driver’s license into a symbol of our national divide. “It’s like we’re back in slavery, only it’s all of us this time,” said Antoinette Oloko, an African-American woman at one of several protests against photo ID and news conferences at the Capitol in recent days. “We’ve had cases of ineligible voters, convicted felons, voting when they shouldn’t be,” said Dan McGrath of the pro-ID group Minnesota Majority, who has collected pictures of voters’ given “addresses” that turn out to be empty lots.

Missouri: Voter ID at center of Missouri Secretary of State election |

On Nov. 7, 2000, hundreds of St. Louis voters were unable to practice that most cherished of constitutional sacraments. They were turned away from the ballot box, told their names had been placed on the city’s list of inactive voters.
House Speaker Pro Tem Shane Schoeller, R-Willard, calls that incident pivotal in two of his recent decisions — his introduction of legislation to require voter identification and to run for Missouri Secretary of State. “I think that’s when I began to understand the importance of having a secretary of state who truly wants to make sure your elections are fair and honest,” Schoeller said Friday during a stop in Cape Girardeau.

New Mexico: GOP will appeal state New Mexico Supreme Court redistricting to federal court on Monday | New Mexico Watchdog

Capitol Report New Mexico has learned that Republicans allied with the administration of Gov. Susana Martinez will formally file an appeal in federal court on Monday (Feb. 13) over the New Mexico Supreme Court’s reversal of a House of Representatives redistricting map OK’d back on Jan. 3 by a retired judge the high court itself assigned to tackle the hydra-headed problem of re-apportioning districts for the next 10 years across the state. Democrats embraced the 4-1 ruling by the state Supreme Court to kick the House redistricting decision back to Judge Jim Hall, who adopted a map that was sponsored by attorneys for the Republican governor after hearing from attorneys from the Democratically-controlled legislature as well as a number of other lawyers representing various other political interests in New Mexico.

New Mexico: Supreme Court rejects House redistricting plan | The Marshfield News-Herald |

The New Mexico Supreme Court on Friday overturned a plan for new districts for the state House of Representatives and ordered a judge to draw a new map. The court issued a 4-1 split decision that was a victory for Democrats and the Legislature, which had challenged a redistricting plan ordered last month by retired District Court Judge James Hall. The justices said the judge should try to develop a new redistricting plan by Feb. 27. The traditional filing deadline for House candidates is next month, but the uncertainty of the redistricting case has cast doubts over that schedule.

Ohio: How to make every vote count – As we approach Nov. 6, provisional ballots still threaten trouble |

The problems that Ohio elections officials have with provisional ballots got worse in 2011. An Enquirer analysis of provisional voting across Ohio and in Southwest Ohio shows that more provisional ballots were cast statewide and in the region in the 2011 election than in 2009, the last “off year” election. Yet a smaller proportion of provisional ballots was counted, the analysis shows. Butler, Hamilton and Warren counties bucked that trend. The analysis shows lackluster results from efforts to curb provisional voting. It also raises questions as Ohio heads toward a presidential election where it may hold crucial electoral votes – and where the outcome is expected to be tight. That’s because provisional ballots, handed out when there’s a question about whether a voter is eligible or qualified, sometimes cause controversy in close races.

Virginia: Virginia’s would-be folly: A voter ID law | Jeremy Epstein/The Washington Post

As a security- and risk-assessment professional who is also a Virginia poll worker, I am disappointed by pending state legislation to tighten voter eligibility [“Voter ID fight heats up in Va.,” Metro, Feb. 4]. The proposed changes won’t have the claimed effect. Poll workers receive minimal training; in Virginia, they typically get two hours. Given the complexity of running a polling place, there isn’t time to teach how to check properly for fake IDs. Unlike police officers or supermarket clerks, who use such a skill every day, poll workers would use the skill at most a few days a year, so they won’t have enough practice for proficiency. Because of this, requiring an ID will not prevent voter fraud.

Wisconsin: Voter ID law limits ability of volunteers to register voters | Capitol Report

Becoming a U.S. citizen and registering to vote in Wisconsin used to go hand in hand. But thanks to the state’s new voter ID law, that’s no longer the case.
“It was done intentionally,” says Dorothy Sherman, a Milwaukee County resident and Wisconsin League of Women Voters member who helps new citizens register to vote after their naturalization ceremony. “This administration doesn’t want to be helpful, in terms of helping people register to vote. What they’ve actually done is make the process very difficult.”
Tucked inside the state’s controversial voter ID law, which was signed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker last May, is a provision that no longer allows the state’s non-partisan election agency to train and certify what are known as special registration deputies.

India: Possibility of tampering with electronic voting machines cannot be ruled out: Lagoo | Indian Express

fter some electronic voting machines (EVMs) were found defective in Sangli, Kolhapur and Beed districts during the zilla parishad elections, activists are now raising serious doubts about the accuracy of the machines. Pune-based civil engineer and social activist Mukund Lagoo, who is also an accused in the EVM theft case registered with Mumbai Police, said EVMs can be tampered with in a span of two-and-a-half minutes or it could have technical errors and in such a condition if you press any button the vote could be directed to a particular candidate. Speaking to The Indian Express, Lagoo said there have been several cases in different parts of the country where EVMs had problems, hampering the election process.

Libya: Election commission sworn in | PressTV

Members of the newly-established Libyan election commission have been sworn in during a ceremony in the capital Tripoli. Senior Libyan officials, including the chairman of the National Transitional Council (NTC), Mustafa Abdel Jalil, attended the event on Sunday. The commission will help put in place a process for an election in June, which is expected to determine the members of Libya’s new National Assembly. The elections are to mark the country’s first free polls.

New Zealand: New Zealand Electoral Commission seeks input on mixed member proportional system |

The Electoral Commission today launches a review of the MMP voting system, and seeks input from the public on possible changes to the way MMP works. “This is a chance for all New Zealanders to have their say on how the MMP voting system might be improved,” says the Electoral Commission’s Robert Peden. “Look for more information from the Commission, about the review and how to make a submission, in Thursday’s newspapers.”

Turkmenistan: Turkmen Central Election Commission announces “day of silence” before presidential elections – Trend

The Central Election Commission (CEC) of Turkmenistan announced Feb.11 “the day of silence” before the presidential elections, the CEC said on Saturday. As many as eight candidates compete for the highest office. These include incumbent President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, deputy head of Dashoguz province Recep Bazarov, head of one of departments of Turkmengaz Kakageldy Abdyllayev, employee of Turkmenoil Gurbanmammad Mollnyazov, minister of water economy Annageldy Yazmyradov, employee of the Ministry of construction Esenkuli Gayipov, director of cotton mill Saparmyrat Batyrov and minister of energy and industry Yarmuhammet Orazgulyev. According to the law “On elections of president of Turkmenistan”, election campaign comes to an end one day before the elections. Thus, it was decided to declare February 11 “day of silence”, the CEC said in a statement.