The Voting News Daily: Super PACs’ $500,000-Plus Donors Account For Majority Of Money, AFL-CIO Takes On Voter ID Laws

National: Super PACs’ $500,000-Plus Donors Account For Majority Of Money | Huffington Post Tales of super PAC spending in the Republican presidential race talk about the millions of dollars pouring into their coffers. A few specific donors are mentioned. There’s Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate whose contributions have kept Newt Gingrich in the contest far longer…

National: Super PACs’ $500,000-Plus Donors Account For Majority Of Money | Huffington Post

Tales of super PAC spending in the Republican presidential race talk about the millions of dollars pouring into their coffers. A few specific donors are mentioned. There’s Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate whose contributions have kept Newt Gingrich in the contest far longer than his own meager fundraising would normally have allowed. And hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin, who recently told the Chicago Tribune that he thinks the wealthy “actually have an insufficient influence” in the political system. But Griffin has given only $400,000 to super PACs in the 2012 cycle, which puts him on the lower end of the scale of leading super PAC donors.

National: A.F.L.-C.I.O. Takes On Voter ID Laws |

A.F.L.-C.I.O. officials on Wednesday denounced the voter identification laws enacted in a dozen states and vowed to mount their biggest voter registration and protection efforts ever to counter these laws, which they said could disenfranchise millions of voters. Union leaders, gathered here for their annual winter meeting, held a news conference to attack the laws, saying that Republican governors and Republican-dominated legislatures had enacted them to make voting harder for numerous Democratic-leaning groups, including students, minorities, elderly and the poor. “Although they’re called voter ID laws, they are in fact voter suppression laws,” said Arlene Holt Baker, the A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s executive vice president. “If you are able to suppress the voice and vote of these groups of people, you have in fact been able to destroy democracy.”

National: UN Rights Council Delves Into US Voter I.D. Laws | Fox News

The controversy over requiring voters to provide photo IDs has reached the world stage. The United Nations Human Rights Council is investigating the issue of American election laws at its gathering on minority rights in Geneva, Switzerland.. This, despite the fact that some members of the council have only in the past several years allowed women to vote, and one member, Saudi Arabia, still bars women from the voting booth completely. Officials from the NAACP are presenting their case against U.S. voter ID laws, arguing to the international diplomats that the requirements disenfranchise voters and suppress the minority vote. Eight states have passed voter ID laws in the past year, voter ID proposals are pending in 32 states and the Obama administration has recently moved to block South Carolina and Texas from enacting their voter ID measures. “This really is a tactic that undercuts the growth of your democracy,” said Hillary Shelton, the NAACP’s senior vice president for advocacy, about voter photo ID requirements.

Alabama: 11 precincts experience issues with ballot scanners in Mobile County |

Eleven voting centers in Mobile County reported issues with electronic ballot scanners during Tuesday’s primary election. Most of those voting centers were in the south or west parts of the county, according to Roxann Dyess, county election coordinator. Generally, the precincts reported issues with some of the ballots fed into the scanners, although 1 — the Odd Fellows Lodge in Irvington — was unable to scan any of the ballots cast, she said late Tuesday. The ballots that weren’t electronically scanned were placed into secure emergency bins, to be collected by deputies and Probate Court staff, Dyess said. She described the issue as being one where the machines accepted the ballots as they were physically fed into them by poll workers, but then displayed error messages that prohibited the ballots from being counted.

Colorado: Lawmakers weigh ballot privacy against public recount inspection | The Denver Post

With Colorado considered a key battleground state in November, the last thing anyone wants is a Florida-style fiasco, supporters of an elections recount bill testified today. Senate Bill 155 sets procedures for public inspection of voted ballots, while attempting to ensure that how Coloradans voted remains confidential. Under the proposal, anyone filing an open-records request to inspect ballots would not be able to do so 45 days prior to an election or 17 days after so that clerks can concentrate on their election duties. Outside that time period, the ballots would be available for inspection. “It is not a stretch to imagine that Colorado could find itself with a very close result in the upcoming election,” said Donetta Davidson, executive director of the Colorado County Clerks Association. “Should that happen, this bill will give Coloradans a road map to inspect the election results without compromising voter privacy. And it is our hope this bill will make us much less likely to see legal battles and inconsistent court rulings.”

Maryland: Takoma Park stands by non-U.S. citizen voting law | The Washington Post

A state delegate last week challenged Takoma Park’s non-U.S. citizen voting law, 20 years after the city enacted the policy that allows all noncitizens who live in Takoma Park to vote in city elections. Del. Patrick L. McDonough (R-Baltimore County) of Middle River targeted Takoma Park after proposing legislation that would prohibit noncitizens from voting in municipal elections anywhere in the state. Five other municipalities, all in Montgomery County — Barnesville, Garrett Park, Glen Echo, Martin’s Additions and Somerset — allow noncitizens to vote, according to the Maryland Municipal League.

Minnesota: Voter ID constitutional amendment advancing | MinnPost

Voter ID proposals in the Minnesota House and Senate appear to be only one step away from reaching the floor in both chambers. With little discussion Tuesday evening, the House Ways and Means Committee passed Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer’s version on an 18-12 party-line vote. The former secretary of state was one author of last session’s Voter ID bill that Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed. This year, she’s proposing a constitutional amendment, which would require voters to show a photo ID at the poll. The measure, which has been waylaid in Ways and Means since last year, breezed through its first committee hearing of this session last week.

Pennsylvania: Voter ID becomes law in Pennsylvania, opponents vow legal fight |

A requirement that voters show photo identification at the polls became law in Pennsylvania on Wednesday, the latest in a spate of Republican-led efforts to impose stricter controls at the ballot box. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed the act into law, saying it set a “simple and clear standard to protect the integrity of our elections. I am signing this bill because it protects a sacred principle, one shared by every citizen of this nation,” the Republican governor said. “That principle is one person, one vote.” Opponents, who say the measure seeks to suppress voter turnout, vowed to challenge it in court.

Pennsylvania: House passes voter ID bill |

Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives has approved the so-called Voter ID bill, setting the stage for Pennsylvania to become the 16th state to require voters to show photo identification at the polls. The House on Wednesday voted 104-to-88 – and almost strictly along partisan lines — to pass the measure, which would be in effect in time for the fall presidential election. Gov. Corbett has said he will sign it “right away.” Democrats, civil liberties groups, labor unions, the NAACP and others have complained that the bill will disproportionately hurt the elderly, the poor and the disabled, who make up the lion’s share of voters who typically do not have photo IDs. Those groups also tend to vote Democratic. Other states with voter ID laws have been facing legal challenges. In Texas, the U.S. Department of Justice’s civil right division on Monday objected to a photo voter identification law because it found it would have a greater impact on Hispanic voters. As a state with a history of voter discrimination, Texas is required under the Voting Rights Act to get advance approval of voting changes from either the Justice Department or the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

Pennsylvania: Poll workers: Voter ID to cause longer lines, chaos | PA Independent

Marybeth Kuznik, a judge of elections in Penn Township, has a recurring nightmare. “I think about the horror of if my mother, whom I obviously know, comes to vote and I have to turn her away because she doesn’t have the proper identification,” Kuznik said. “I think about my poll workers who may have to turn away their priest, pastor or neighbor whom they’ve known all their lives and how that may affect their relationships.” While Kuznik said those scenarios may not play out exactly, another bad dream she has because of the pending new voter ID bill is expected to occur. “It’s going to be chaos at the polls. The lines will be long, and those who don’t have ID will have to be issued a provisional ballot,” Kuznik said. “Issuing a provisional ballot takes time, because you need the poll worker, the judge of elections and one other person to take the time to confirm the provisional ballot and then the voter must sign affidavits as well.”

Puerto Rico: Primary Could Pad Romney’s Delegate Lead or Spring Santorum Surprise | ABC News

If Mitt Romney proved anything last weekend with his victories in Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the Virgin Islands, it is that the Republican presidential nomination this year might not be won by high-profile triumphs in states such as Iowa and South Carolina, but rather by diligently and methodically amassing delegates in far-off contests. That makes Sunday’s primary in Puerto Rico more important than you might think. Twenty-three delegates will be up for grabs when voters in the island commonwealth head to the polls this weekend, nearly as many as there were in more publicized battles in Michigan – 30 – and Arizona – 29. It should come as no surprise, then, that Romney and rival Rick Santorum are set to campaign there only days before the primary. Newt Gingrich might soon follow.

Tennessee: House panel advances 1 proposal to change voter ID law, but balks at 2 others | The Republic

A House panel on Wednesday advanced one Democratic proposal to change Tennessee’s new voter ID law, but rejected a second bill and delayed a third. The House State and Local Government Subcommittee voted 4-3 in favor of a measure that would allow people without government-issued identification to vote after being photographed at the polling place. House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, said the bill would eliminate the need for voters who don’t have the proper ID to cast provisional ballots. The favorable vote appeared to surprise Republican leaders on the panel. Absent members and Republican Speaker Beth Harwell were quickly summoned to stop additional measures from advancing.

Texas: State Attorney General Seeking to Challenge Voting Rights Act | ABC News

Texas on Wednesday asked a federal panel weighing its photo ID requirement for voters to allow its attorneys to challenge the constitutionality of a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, taking a direct shot at the statue that has blocked the state from enforcing tightened voter requirements. In a filing to a three-judge panel in Washington, Texas asked to submit a petition charging that Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act “exceeds the enumerated powers of Congress and conflicts with Article IV of the Constitution and the Tenth Amendment.” As a state with a history of voter discrimination, Texas is required under that section of the Voting Rights Act to get advance approval of voting changes from either the Justice Department or the U.S. District Court in Washington. The provision dates from 1965, but was upheld in 2006 after Congress found that discrimination still exists in the areas where it was historically a problem.

Texas: Voting Rights Act is attacked | San Antonio Express-News

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has opened a new front in the state’s war with the federal government over election law, directly challenging the constitutionality of a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. The new argument was voiced Wednesday in a lawsuit that asks a federal court in Washington, D.C., to approve Texas’ controversial Voter ID law, which the U.S. Department of Justice blocked Monday citing concerns that up to a million eligible voters could be harmed. The lawsuit challenges a requirement for states with a history of discriminating against minority voters, including Texas, to submit proposed election law changes to the federal government for approval. Either the Justice Department or a federal court must determine the changes will not disenfranchise minority voters before they can take effect, a process known as preclearance.

Wisconsin: Disenfranchisement already law for some in Wisconsin | Cap Times

Earlier this week, a Dane County judge issued a permanent injunction against the state’s recently passed Voter ID law, arguing the Legislature did not have the authority to pass a law that could prevent certain groups of people, notably low-income and minority voters, from casting ballots. “(Legislative) power … ends at the precise point when it transgresses the fundamental voting rights of Wisconsin citizens,” wrote Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess. And yet, as Niess acknowledges throughout his decision, with or without Voter ID, Wisconsin law routinely prevents thousands of citizens from voting. Some are felons who are still under state supervision. The state constitution also enshrines the disenfranchisement of the developmentally disabled.

Algeria: Islamist Parties in pole position in Algerian parliamentary elections | Newstime Africa

More than 30 political parties and around 100 independent lists with a total of more than 10,000 candidates will compete for the 462 seats in the National People’s Assembly. As the Algerian Parliament that comes out of next legislative elections in May 10 will have 73 additional seats, passing from today’s 389 to 462, what is new in the Algerian political landscape ,it is considered to be a harbinger to constituent assembly demanded by opposition parties. The Algerian government which explains the increasing in number of Parliament’s seats by the will to reinforce women’s presence in parliament is far of being credible among the civil society for its way of ruling the country. This may lead to the possibility of Islamist election victory as was the case in 1991. Concern among some politicians and political experts over the capacity of Islamists to grab the majority of seats in the next assembly are currently mounting in Algeria that could seemingly be contaminated by the Tunisian and Egyptian syndrome. Following in  the footsteps of their fellow Islamists,  in Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco, three Algerian Islamist parties, the Movement of Society for Peace (MSP),  El Islah  and Ennahda, decided to officially form a new coalition called “Alliance of  green Algeria.”

East Timor: Race to the top in East Timor | Asia Times

Timorese voters will go to the polls twice this year to elect the nation’s president and parliament for the third time since achieving independence in 2001. The elections, scheduled respectively for March and June, promise to be the most significant to date for Timor Leste, also known as East Timor. The 2002 elections followed the flush of independence from Indonesian rule, while the 2007 polls were overshadowed by the previous year’s political and civil unrest that led to the resignation of then Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri. This year’s elections will define the country’s direction over the next five years during which the United Nations Integrated Mission to Timor Leste and the Australian-led International Stabilization Force (ISF) will both withdraw and national leaders will face critical development issues.

Egypt: Hundreds prepare candidacies as Egypt’s presidential election campaign kicks off | The Washington Post

At least 500 Egyptians have taken the first step to run for president, a sign of the excitement generated by the country’s first presidential elections in which the outcome is in doubt, election officials said on Wednesday. They said the 500 have obtained applications to officially declare their candidacy for the vote, which follows last year’s ouster of longtime authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak. Beside known presidential hopefuls who have been seriously campaigning, the applicants included a wide range of obscure Egyptians in different professions like journalists, judges, lawyers and school teachers, they said. The election is scheduled for May 23-24. Independent applicants must secure the endorsement of 30 lawmakers or 30,000 people in at least 15 of Egypt’s 18 provinces in order to run. Applicants from political parties with at least one member in parliament are exempt from these endorsements. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media

Germany: Most populous state to hold new elections as government stumbles over budget | The Washington Post

Germany’s most populous state will hold early elections after its minority government narrowly failed to get a budget passed Wednesday — a prospect that could boost the country’s center-left opposition. All 181 members of the state legislature in North Rhine-Westphalia voted to dissolve it. That means a new regional election must be held within 60 days, although no date was immediately set. North Rhine-Westphalia, a western region of some 18 million people that includes Cologne and the Ruhr industrial region, is governed by the center-left Social Democrats and Greens. The vote Wednesday came hours after a budget proposal from the state government fell one vote short of a majority. Center-right opponents have accused it of poor financial management and demanded more belt-tightening.

Syria: Assad sets parliamentary poll date | Al Jazeera

Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, has issued a decree stating that parliamentary elections will be held on May 7, even as Kofi Annan, the UN-Arab League envoy to Syria, awaited a response from Damascus on “concrete proposals” he put forward to end the conflict raging in the country. Assad’s move on Tuesday was part of a raft of reforms that he had unveiled to calm a year-long uprising against his rule. His reforms have, however, failed to quell the anti-government protests and not eased in any way the mounting pressure on him to quit. It was unclear whether parliamentary elections were also part of the six-point peace plan presented by Annan during his recent visit to the country.

Uganda: MPs seek signatures to impeach Ugandan President |

Seven opposition lawmakers yesterday set out on what is likely to be an uphill task when they signed onto an unprecedented petition seeking to impeach President Museveni. The lawmakers say the President, who faced a similar though unsuccessful challenge during the 7th Parliament from former MP Aggrey Awori, is guilty of economic crimes. However, pro-ruling party members, who enjoy a commanding majority in the House, were quick to pour cold water on the attempt to unseat the President under Article 107(1)b of the Constitution, describing it as “diversionary, irresponsible and unwarranted.”

Zimbabwe: Tsvangirai Demands New Constitution Before Elections | VoA News

Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has ruled out polls in his country before a new constitution is in place.  Tsvangirai said elections would only be held under conditions which would be accepted by regional leaders. Tsvangirai released a document Thursday outlining the conditions in which his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) would take part in elections. Describing 2012 as a “watershed year,” the prime minister said Zimbabweans do not want more violent elections like the ones that happened three years ago.  In 2008, violence erupted after Mugabe lost the first round of presidential polls to Tsvangirai. Tsvangirai said his party still has memories of those polls, when about 200 supporters of his MDC party were killed while several thousand were displaced or injured.