The Voting News Daily: Super PACs, candidates blur lines ahead of Nov. 6, Undermining State Campaign Laws

National: Super PACs, candidates blur lines ahead of Nov. 6 | Presidential candidates and the super PACs accepting unlimited donations to help their campaigns cannot coordinate their activity, yet they are sharing consultants, donors and even advertising footage, raising new questions about the independence of outside groups. Campaign-finance experts say there’s little federal regulators can…

National: Super PACs, candidates blur lines ahead of Nov. 6 |

Presidential candidates and the super PACs accepting unlimited donations to help their campaigns cannot coordinate their activity, yet they are sharing consultants, donors and even advertising footage, raising new questions about the independence of outside groups. Campaign-finance experts say there’s little federal regulators can or will do to curb the activity ahead of November’s election.

Some recent examples:
•Restore Our Future, a super PAC backing Republican Mitt Romney, came under fire from a campaign-watchdog group this week for running the same commercial Romney aired in 2007 during his earlier presidential campaign. The super PAC, run by former Romney aides, also shares a direct-mail and polling consultant with the campaign, new federal disclosures show.

Editorials: Undermining State Campaign Laws |

On Friday, a federal district judge granted a preliminary injunction against a Montana law, the Corrupt Practices Act of 1912, that bans corporations from making independent expenditures in political campaigns. Earlier this month, the United States Supreme Court, in a separate case from the state courts, issued a temporary order preventing Montana from enforcing that law. These cases and others in the country show how the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision has upended important state campaign spending laws. As the Montana Supreme Court has said on this question, “Clearly the impact of unlimited corporate donations creates a dominating impact on the political process and inevitably minimizes the impact of individual citizens.”

Indiana: State Supreme Court hears election challenge to Charlie White | The Indianapolis Star

The Indiana Supreme Court raised several questions about voter registration laws during a hearing Wednesday to determine if Charlie White was eligible to run for secretary of state in 2010. But those questions might not be enough for the state’s highest court to order White’s removal from the office. The Indiana Supreme Court has never ousted an elected official because of an election challenge. Supreme Court justices typically defer to voters, said Joel Schumm, a professor at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. It seems likely they will do so in this case, Schumm said, especially since White’s voting issues were well-publicized before the election, and he won by a large margin anyway. If the Supreme Court rules against White, the Democrat who lost to him by more than 300,000 votes in November 2010 could take office.

Maine: Snowe Storm Implications: The Art Of The Possible | Pine Tree Politics

I’ve been on the phone for the last six hours.  My phone is dead, and so I write. The news is still shocking, and that shock hasn’t worn off.  I’m not alone, though – I received a call this evening from a staffer who was in the room when Governor LePage learned of Snowe’s decision.  “Oh… shit” the governor said, flabbergasted, before shaking it off and returning to his work.  [pardon my French] Dozens of people from both parties have been waiting to run for Olympia Snowe‘s seat for years, and operatives will be on the phone much later than I this evening, talking about who will be doing what in the next 48 hours. And that’s the important part:  decisions are going to need to be made by everyone in the next couple of days at the latest.  Expect some decisions made by tomorrow. Why?  The deadline to get on the primary ballot for Republican and Democratic candidates is March 15.  Any interested candidate will need to get 2,000 certified signatures by that date (which means well above 2,000 total if you figure in the names that will be thrown out), or they won’t be on the ballot.

Michigan: Romney, Santorum to split Michigan’s delegates | Detroit Free Press

The Michigan presidential primary vote was close and so will be the distribution of delegates based on the results in Michigan’s 14 congressional districts. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won the popular vote by a 41-38% margin as well as the tally in seven of 14 congressional districts, most of them in southern Michigan. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum won six congressional districts, including the 1st district, which includes the Upper Peninsula an a portion of northern Lower Michigan by just two votes. All of Santorum’s wins came in the northern and western portions of the state. The only district that hadn’t been determined as of 11:30 p.m. Tuesday was the 13th district, which encompasses Detroit and portions of western Wayne County.

Michigan: Question added to Michigan ballot: Are you a citizen? | Detroit Free Press

Michigan voters got a surprise when they voted on today. When filling out an application for a ballot, a new question was added: Are you a United States citizen? Yes or no. Gisgie Gendreau, of the Secretary of State’s office, said it the question was added as part of Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s continuing efforts to “ensure secure and fair elections.” Although there is a bill in the state legislature requiring such a declaration, it has not been passed.

New Hampshire: Senate reconsiders voter ID bill | The Portland Press Herald

New Hampshire’s Senate is voting next week on whether voters must show photo identification at the polls before casting ballots, but unlike a bill vetoed last year, the latest measure does not contain a provision that would delay the counting of some votes. The New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union says the bill is unnecessary but is not opposing it, and Senate Republican Leader Jeb Bradley expects the Senate to pass it to the House. “There is no need for this bill, but since something is going to pass, this is the most responsible and we believe it is constitutional,” said Claire Ebel of the civil liberties union.

Canada: Robocall vote suppression vies to be Canada’s own Watergate | Straight Goods

Canada appear to be on the verge of a major political upheaval thanks to the investigative work of two enterprising reporters working for news outlets that are generally considered Conservative-friendly. The story broke last week after a nine-month investigation by reporters Stephen Maher (Postmedia News) and Glen McGregor (Ottawa Citizen). They were curious about reports of strange phone calls voters were getting across Canada during the federal election campaign. Some of the calls were purportedly from parties they supported by the voters being called but came at annoying times or had offensive content. Some came, supposedly, from elections officials and had false information about where to vote. Maher and McGregor compiled a massive database of these calls and, last week, they broke what has become known as the Robocall scandal. “It has become quite clear that the Conservatives have no decent line of defence, here. They’re flying blind.”

Iran: What’s at stake in Iran’s elections | Asia Times

Parliamentary elections this Friday in Iran are far from being free and fair. Well, at least that’s a step beyond those paragons of democracy – the election-free Persian Gulf monarchies. In Iran, this time the problem is there’s no opposition; it’s cons (conservatives) against neo-cons. The Green Movement leaders, Mir Hossein Mousavi and his wife, Dr Zahra Rahnavard, as well as Mehdi Karroubi, have been under house arrest for over a year now; echoing Myanmar’s Aung Suu Kyi, but more vocally, they have repeatedly stressed they will not “repent”. Virtually all key opposition leaders, including university activists, almost 1,000 people, are in jail; not because they’re criminals but because they’re very canny organizers of popular anger.

Kenya: Boundaries row might derail poll date, warn Kenyan MPs |

A row over boundaries for the new constituencies and county wards may derail the election calendar and make it impossible to have elections in December. A House committee and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission have both rejected the push for new wards and constituencies from most of the 500 petitioners, who had qualms with the commission’s proposals for the 290 constituencies and 1,450 wards. (READ: Did MPs create wards for themselves?) This failure to yield to the demands, according to acting chairman of the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee, Mr Njoroge Baiya, will expose the process to mass litigation and open doors for a constitutional challenge on the time limit within which the Judiciary should determine petitions over delimitation. The worry over litigation arises out of an inconsistency in law, Mr Baiya told the Nation on Sunday.

Philippines: Cost of electoral reform in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao: P850M | Inquirer News

It would cost nearly a billion pesos to nullify the entire list of voters in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and replace it with a new one, the chair of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said. The expense, however, was necessary to end decades of electoral fraud in the region, said Comelec Chief Sixto Brillantes, a former election lawyer. Brillantes said it would cost P450 million if Comelec proceeded with regular registration of voters in the ARMM and at least P850 million if Comelec did away with the old registration process and instead nullified the region’s voters’ list and put in place a registration system using modern technology. He said, however, that trashing the existing voters’ list was a necessary first step toward electoral reform in the ARMM. Comelec, he said, would use a process of registration using biometrics, or technology that would keep track of voter identity through fingerprints or other unalterable marks.

Russia: Fathers And Children: Russia’s Election Exposes Generation Gap | RFE

Fifty-six-year-old Aleksandr Avanesov says he will vote for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin because Russians have never had it so good. Eighteen-year-old Tatyana Kim says she will spoil her ballot because she sees Russian politics as a sham. Avanesov says the younger generation just doesn’t understand how bad the chaos and deprivation was in the 1990s before Putin came to power. Kim says she can’t abide Putin’s authoritarian system, adding that his so-called opponents on the March 4 ballot are little more than Kremlin puppets.

Russia: Putin Warns Opposition, Talks Of Conspiracy Theory Ahead Of Vote | Huffington Post

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin strongly warned his opponents against unsactioned protests after Sunday’s presidential election, in which he is all but certain to regain the presidency. In a statement reflecting heightening tensions four days before the vote, he also alleged Wednesday that his foes may kill a prominent opposition figure in order to fuel public outrage against the government. “They are looking among well-known people for a sacrificial victim,” he said, according to Russian news reports. “They could, I’m sorry, knock someone off and then blame the authorities for that.” Putin criticized the opposition plans for rallies over what it fears will be a fraudulent election, saying Wednesday it is “unacceptable” to prejudge the vote. “We will respect any viewpoint but are calling on everyone to act within the framework of law and use only legitimate means,” he said at a meeting with his campaign activists.

New Mexico: Dog In Voter Fraud Stunt Belonged To Heather Wilson Senate Campaign Staffer | TPM

The husband of a campaign staffer for a Republican candidate for Senate in New Mexico is under investigation for allegedly committing a felony by registering the couple’s dog to vote as part of a stunt to show how easy it could be to commit voter registration fraud. The anonymous man in the sweatshirt and hat playing with his Labrador Buddy in a local television piece? That’s Thomas Tolbert. He’s married to Heather Wade, a staffer for former Rep. Heather Wilson’s senate campaign, as first revealed by the liberal group ProgressNow NM. The Smoking Gun got a hold of the voter registration card belonging to “Buddy” and said the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office was focusing on Tolbert. Bryce Dustman, Wilson’s campaign manager, said in a statement to TPM that they learned about the allegations from the media.