National: The Voting Wars Could Get Bloody | TPM

The key electoral battle in 2012 might be less about who you cast a ballot for, than about whether you get to cast a ballot at all. Yes, the voting wars are heating up just in time for the 2012 elections. And between the Justice Department’s opposition to voter ID laws in two states and several other state and federal cases brought against such laws by various civil rights organizations, the battles are only just beginning. The Justice Department has already blocked restrictive voting laws in South Carolina, Florida and Texas, and state suits in response may see the Supreme Court take up a direct challenge to the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act this year.

National: Could Corporations Take Tax Breaks on Political ‘Dark Money’? | ProPublica

The Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision opened the way for unlimited corporate spending on politics and has led to the proliferation of nonprofit political groups that do not have to disclose the identities of their donors. But corporations may be getting another benefit from anonymous donations to these groups: a break on their taxes. It all starts with the so-called social welfare groups that have become bigger players in the political world in the wake of Citizens United, which knocked down restrictions on campaign activity by such groups. Tax experts say it’s possible that businesses are using an aggressive interpretation of the law to wring a tax advantage out of their donations to these groups. It’s almost impossible to know whether that’s happening, partly because the groups — also known by their IRS designation as 501(c)(4)s — aren’t required to disclose their donors. (That’s why the contributions have been dubbed “dark money.”)

Editorials: Redistricting Not a Big Story in 2012 | Michael Barone/National Review

The 2012 congressional-redistricting cycle following the 2010 census is just about over and done with. And it seems likely to make much less difference than many of us expected. Redistricting is when state legislatures, governors, and commissions draw new lines for congressional districts, after the 435 seats in the U.S. House are reapportioned according to a statutory formula into which are plugged the figures from the 2010 census. I predicted that this cycle, like the 2002 cycle, would produce significant gains for Republicans. Their success in electing governors and legislators in 2010 gave them control in big states like Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Georgia, and North Carolina. And voters in Democratic California approved a ballot measure turning redistricting over to a nonpartisan commission. But the Republican gain turns out to be modest to nonexistent. Charlie Cook’s Cook Political Report estimates the net Republican gain from redistricting at exactly one state. My own estimates track with Cook’s in just about every state and come up with a one-seat Republican gain.

National: Behind the brewing voter ID war | The Washington Post

Every election cycle, voter ID laws cause controversy. But the 2010 Republican wave in state government and aggressive pushback from the Justice Department have combined to create a clash that could end at the Supreme Court. The fight over voter ID is almost entirely along party lines. Republicans argue that voter ID is a necessary protection against voter fraud while Democrats counter that fraud is used as an excuse to suppress turnout among elderly, poor and minority voters who may have more difficulty obtaining proper ID. (Evidence of widespread fraud is scant.) Here’s an update on where it stands, across the country.

Illinois: Ballot deal saved Romney |

Mitt Romney’s vaunted organization nearly failed him in Illinois, where he only remained eligible for delegates on the ballot after a negotiated truce between his campaign and Rick Santorum’s people. The problems stem from the campaign relying on Illinois state Treasurer Dan Rutherford. He struggled to acquire enough signatures to qualify for Romney’s delegates and then had the statement of candidacy notarized out of state, which the Santorum campaign challenged despite having its own statement of candidacy notarized in Iowa. Had Santorum’s campaign been successful with its challenge to Romney, the error could have led to disqualifying Romney from winning any of the state’s delegates.

Kansas: Voter ID law being blocked by lawmakers | KSN TV

A key lawmaker in Topeka appears to be blocking a vote on a controversial Kansas voter I-D law. Secretary of State Kris Kobach has been pushing to fast-track the voter I-D law in Kansas to get it in place for the November elections. “The Senate Ethics and Elections Standing Committee will not be meeting again this year,” wrote State Senator Terrie Huntington of Fairway. Huntington’s committee listened to arguments this week regarding the fast-track of voter I-D. The committee has questions about the state being ready to administer voter I-D at this time.

Minnesota: Full House to take up voter ID amendment | Minnesota Public Radio News

A Republican-backed constitutional amendment to require Minnesotans show photo identification when they vote has moved closer to a spot on the statewide ballot. Many unanswered questions remain about the looming changes in state election law. A debate by the House Rules Committee today highlighted the deep and sometimes bitter partisan divide over the issue. The rules committee was the last stop for the voter ID bill before a yet-to-be-scheduled House floor vote. Its focus was supposed to be limited to the form and structure of the proposed ballot question, but the discussion quickly expanded to the broader merits of the bill. State Rep. Kim Norton, DFL-Rochester, urged Republicans to hold off on changing the state constitution. Norton suggested that they instead consider a legislative proposal from Secretary of State Mark Ritchie to make use of electronic poll book technology to determine voter eligibility.

Minnesota: Voter ID headed to House floor after committee approval |

A constitutional amendment to require voters to show photo identification at the polls is heading to the Minnesota House floor. The House Rules Committee passed the proposed amendment Monday, March 19, on a 13-9 party-line vote with all Republicans voting for it. If the House and Senate pass the amendment, voters would decide in the November general election whether to add it to the state constitution. Governors cannot veto amendments proposed by a majority of the Legislature, so Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton would be powerless to stop the GOP initiative. He vetoed a Republican photo ID bill last year.

Missouri: Judge considers challenge to voter ID measure | AP

Critics on Friday challenged the ballot summary for a proposed amendment to the Missouri Constitution that would clear the way to require voters to show photo identification at the polls. The Republican-led Legislature passed the constitutional amendment last year and targeted it for this year’s ballot. The measure would permit separate legislation that requires a photo ID and establishes an early voting period. Opponents contend the ballot summary developed by the Legislature is misleading and unfair. “This is the worst one I’ve ever seen, by far the worst one I have ever seen. It fails under any standard,” attorney Heidi Doerhoff Vollet said. “It’s just false and it’s wrong, and it needs to be corrected.”

Missouri: St. Charles County Republicans embarrassed by caucus shutdown | St. Louis Today

St. Charles County Republicans were working to salvage their role in the primary process a day after a frustrating caucus meltdown that many said could have been avoided. St. Charles County was to have been the biggest prize on what was the most important day for Missouri Republicans hoping to help select their party’s nominee for president. Instead, Saturday’s St. Charles County caucus was shut down when tension flared between members of the crowd and the local GOP activists who were running the meeting. The meeting adjourned without awarding delegates — leaving county Republicans with unwelcomed scrutiny, and an uncertain role in the nominating process. Most likely, the caucus will be rescheduled, but when and in what form is unclear. “I don’t know what’s going to happen, because I don’t think this has ever happened before,” said St. Charles County Council member Joe Brazil.

Mississippi: Voter ID law under fire | Hattiesburg American

Mississippi officials, undeterred by the federal government’s rejection of a new voter ID law in Texas, are moving ahead with plans to put a similar law in place by the November election. “We are concentrating our efforts on implementation,” said Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann. “We’re confident we’re going to meet the constitutional standards.” The law requires voters to show a government-issued photo ID before casting a ballot. Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi and a host of civil rights and voting rights groups are urging federal officials to reject the law, saying it could turn away millions of minority voters.

Voting Blogs: Two Voter ID Cases Demonstrate the Need for the Right to Vote in the U.S. Constitution | State of Elections

On March 6th, the Wisconsin Circuit Court in Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP v. Walker, granted a temporary injunction preventing the state from enforcing a voter ID law in the upcoming primary election. Then, on March 13, a second Circuit Court judge struck down the same voter ID law in League of Women Voters v. Walker. The courts proceeded with similar, yet differentiated, analyses of the law in finding that Act 23, Wisconsin’s 2011 voter ID law, was unconstitutional based on the Wisconsin Constitution’s affirmative right to vote – a right unfortunately not found in the U.S. Constitution.

South Sudan: South Sudan: Carter Center Praises Progress On National Election Bill |

The Carter Center a non-profit and non-governmental organization has recommended the progress on legal framework in the National Election bill especially series of Public debates organized by the National Legislative Assembly Committee of Justice. “Following a series of public hearing the South Sudan’s National Legislative Assembly is in final review of stages of the National Elections Bill to establish the framework for political competition in future elections in South Sudan, taking to account that passage of an elections bill is needed to move forward with by-elections for vacant legislative seats at the State and National Level, the Carter Center encourages all stakeholders to continue to contribute a thorough debate on the draft bill” the Carter Center said in a press release obtained by The Citizen. The Center in advance of the third reading of the legislation has raised several key issues contributing to the discussion by Members of the Assembly offered suggestions in the spirit of supporting Parliament to craft a healthy and credible electoral law that helps ensure South Sudan meets International standards and best practices for democratic elections.

Zambia: Court rules for Zambian opposition | News24

Zambia’s main opposition Movement for Multi-Party Democracy said on Saturday it was pleased with a decision by the country’s top court that saved it from being dissolved. The decision by the high court a day earlier was “proof that there is justice in the judiciary,” said Chembe Nyangu, the MMD’s deputy national secretary. “It is good that the high court has granted us the stay of execution and we know that this case will be heard in a fair way,” said Chembe.

Zimbabwe: Tsvangirai : World mustn’t let Mugabe rig election’ | News24

Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Monday urged the world not to allow President Robert Mugabe to steal any future elections, but insisted his country is open for business despite its problems. “My call to the world is, ‘you must insist on the necessary reforms to create a conducive environment for free and fair elections and a lasting solution to the crisis in Zimbabwe’,” Tsvangirai said in Monday’s London Times. Tsvangirai won the first round of the 2008 presidential election only to withdraw after Mugabe’s Zanu-PF unleashed a wave of violence against supporters of his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).