National: Rules of the Game: Bad News for Nation’s Nonprofits | Roll Call

In an election that until lately has been dominated by super PACs, politically active nonprofits are the new bad guys, drawing ethics complaints, letters to the IRS and legislative action. That is bad news for the nation’s 1.6 million nonprofits, which have much to lose as their sector gets dragged into political money controversies. For reform advocates, the problem with big-spending, secretive nonprofits is that they answer to no one and keep voters in the dark. But the worst damage inflicted by unrestricted, undisclosed campaign money could be on nonprofits themselves. “Charitable organizations depend on the confidence and trust of the public for support,” said Diana Aviv, president and CEO of Independent Sector, which represents the nonprofit and philanthropic community. Campaign spending by nonprofits, she added, could pose “a serious reputational risk” to the sector.

Voting Blogs: Big Money in Politics Makes U.S. Economy “Fundamentally Unsound” | PolicyShop

The International Monetary Fund’s former chief economist recently described one of the world’s leading economies as fundamentally unsound because the political process is captured by financial firms. But he wasn’t talking about just any banana republic. He was talking about the U.S.A. In the article “Why Some Countries Go Bust”, Adam Davidson discusses a new book in which economist Daron Acemoglu argues that “the wealth of a country is most closely correlated with the degree to which the average person shares in the overall growth of its economy”. In other words, economic inequality is itself predictive of economic decline. The book includes historical studies showing how “fairly open and prosperous societies can revert to closed and impoverished autocracies.”

National: ‘Super PACs’ Supply Millions as G.O.P. Race Drains Field |

The Republican presidential candidates are running low on campaign cash as expensive primaries in states like Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania loom, leaving them increasingly reliant on a small group of supporters funneling millions of dollars in unlimited contributions into “super PACs.” Mitt Romney raised $11.5 million in February but spent $12.4 million, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday. He began March with $7.3 million in cash, slightly less than in January. Rick Santorum raised more than $9 million in his best month yet, but spent $7.9 million; he ended with $2.6 million in cash, along with close to $1 million in debts, mostly associated with television and Internet advertising. Newt Gingrich raised $2.6 million, spent $2.9 million and had about $1.5 million in the bank, barely enough to keep his campaign going. He also began March with myriad debts totaling over $1.5 million for expenses like media placement, security services, salaries and airfare.

Editorials: Americans Elect could prove a disastrous spoiler |

Are political centrists in America without a political home? Do we need a third-party presidential candidate to represent those socially progressive, fiscally austere voters who find our two parties too extreme? There’s no disputing that the Republican Party continues to move rightward at warp speed. Virtually every GOP elected official who’s been in office for more than a couple of years has had to repudiate previously mainstream Republican positions (such as creating a health insurance system with an individual mandate, an idea cooked up by a right-wing think tank) to keep today’s more rabid Republican activists from challenging them in party primaries or caucuses. Such longtime conservative stalwarts as Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah and Richard Lugar of Indiana could lose their party’s renomination this spring from just such challenges. In this year’s GOP presidential primaries, each of the four candidates has attacked the others only from the right. Logic suggests that every GOP candidate cannot be to the right of every other GOP candidate, but if that’s what this year’s Republican base demands — and it is — then logic be damned: Everyone is running to the right.

Illinois: Big ballots cause primary problems across Illinois |

A slight blade misalignment in a ballot printing machine stirred up an election day problem Tuesday for a smattering of officials throughout Illinois who reported that as many as several thousand ballots were slightly too wide to fit in the counting machines. Both ballot companies and election supervisors in 25 affected counties worked throughout the morning to fix the problem. By midafternoon they had figured out that ballots from the bottom of the shrink-wrapped stacks were the right size, and that trimming a sliver off thick ballots already filled out was the quickest remedy. State and county election officials expected only minor delays in tabulation after the polls closed, only because of a small number of ballots that were cast and placed in locked auxiliary ballot boxes until the polls closed.

Illinois: Ballots too big at Aurora polls; Kane, Kendall sites OK | Aurora Beacon

Mis-sized paper ballots sent out to nearly a quarter of all Illinois counties were creating problems at Aurora polling places Tuesday, forcing some election judges to cut each ballot to size by hand. The problem affected DuPage, Grundy and 22 other counties as well, election officials said. According to Jane Gasperin of the Illinois State Board of Elections, ballots were printed incorrectly by two vendors, and distributed throughout the state. The ballots appear to be about a millimeter too tall, and a millimeter too wide, election judges said. Gasperin said not all precincts in the affected counties have received the mis-sized ballots, but that Tuesday night’s tallying will take longer as a result of the error.

Illinois: New legislation may change Illinois voter identification requirements | Northern Star

Voters in Illinois may be required to show photo identification at the polls on election day, if current legislation is passed. SB2496 was introduced by Illinois State Senator Kyle McCarter in October of 2011 and is co-sponsored by 15 other republican senators. The bill would amend election law to require government issued photo ID be shown to election officials at the polls before voting. Currently, photo identification is only required when voting early. “To register in Illinois currently, you need 2 forms of ID,” said John J. Acardo, DeKalb County Clerk. “Not necessarily photo ID, but documents to confirm your current address.”

Indiana: Governor Picks Co-Author of Strict Voter ID for Secretary of State | ThinkProgress

With the recent felony conviction of then-Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White (R), the task fell upon Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) to select a replacement for the chief elections officer of his state. Friday, he announced his pick: state Senator Connie Lawson. Lawson, who served in the state senate since 1996 and as clerk of the Hendricks County Circuit Court for seven years before that, was one of the two original authors of Senate Bill 483. That law, enacted in 2005 and upheld by a divided U.S. Supreme Court in 2008, was among the nation’s first laws mandating strict photo identification requirements for voters. Lawson’s concern about election integrity was also evident in another key vote — in 2010, she voted against the bill that made it legal for alcohol to be sold on election day in Indiana.

Maine: Senate President Proposes Presidential Primary | MPBN

Maine’s Republican presidential caucuses were laced with controversy this year after candidates and voters charged that the entire process had been rigged to favor former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Many of the complaints stemmed from a decision by the state party’s hierarchy to exclude Washington County Republicans after a storm delayed a scheduled vote. Now a state senator from Washington County is advancing a bill that would give state party committees the option of holding a presidential primary instead of a caucus. Last month, Senate President Kevin Raye, a Republican from the Washington County town of Perry, was flabbergasted to learn state GOP party officials had declared Mitt Romney as the winner of a preferential poll without even considering the caucus votes of Washington County Republicans.

Massachusetts: Clerks want same-day voter registration |

Town and city clerks ask: who better to consult on election laws than the people who work closely with them every election day? That is why they are advocating for bills that they believe will make voting easier. City and town clerks from across the state gathered at the Massachusetts State House Monday to support a bill that creates an Election Laws Task Force. The task force would undertake a study of Election Day registration, and put clerks in a prominent position to comment on how elections are run. Clerks are also supporting a bill that eliminates check out tables at voting centers and allows people to vote without photo ID after voting for the first time at any election.

Minnesota: House lawmakers debate voter ID amendment in marathon floor session | Minnesota Daily

In a heated, six-plus hour session, the full Minnesota House of Representatives debated the bill that would put a voter ID amendment to vote on the November ballot. The amendment would require all voters to present a government-issued photo ID at their polling place and would take effect if a majority of citizens voted in favor of the amendment in November. On the November ballot, voters will be asked, “Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to require all voters to present valid photo identification on election day and that the state provide free identification to eligible voters?” If voters approve the measure in November, the next Legislature would be required to pass legislation explaining how the state would carry out fulfilling the photo identification requirement.

New York: Redistricting Battle Threatens to Leave New York Election Day in Chaos, Critics Say |

The drawn-out redistricting battle in Albany has paved the way for election day chaos in New York City, critics warn. As legislators and the courts finally wrap up the bitter fight over how to carve up the state following the latest census count, the city’s already-strained Board of Elections has been struggling to make preparations while voting districts were still in flux. “I don’t think they will be ready,” said City Councilwoman Gale Brewer, who is planning to outline her concerns about the board’s ability to be adequately prepared for the races in a letter addressed to the state’s Board of Elections later this week. Brewer, who chairs the council’s Committee on Governmental Operations, said she has heard from staffers at the city board concerned about whether they’ll be ready for the petitioning process, which is set to kick off Tuesday, and then the state’s primaries, expected to take place June 26. “Nothing is clear. I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Brewer said.

North Carolina: Controversy surrounds commission’s resolution on voter ID |

A Wake County commissioner has called out the chairman of the board, saying he’s playing politics where he shouldn’t be. The situation all stems from a resolution which commissioners voted 4 to 3 to approve Monday. It supports a now dead bill in the General Assembly that would have forced voters to show identification at the polls. Gov. Bev Perdue vetoed the bill last June. Despite that veto, Republican Wake County Commission Chairman Paul Coble backed the county resolution. He said it sends a message to legislators.

Pennsylvania: Voter ID law may prevent students from voting | The Daily Pennsylvanian

The date at the top right corner of the PennCard will make a difference during the elections in November. PennCards will count as valid photo ID under the new voter ID law, while IDs from Drexel, Pennsylvania State and Point Park universities and LaSalle College will not. The law, which passed on March 14, stipulates that a valid ID must have an expiration date. Currently, those four schools do not have expiration dates on their cards. Other valid IDs include Pennsylvania drivers licenses, and free photo IDs issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Out-of-state drivers licenses are invalid.

Pennsylvania: Voter ID Law a recipe for disaster | Daily Local News

For those who are following the news, Pennsylvania House Bill 934, the bill that requires certain specific photo identification to be provided at the polls to vote, became law last week after three days of debate. This reportedly makes Pennsylvania one of the toughest states in the nation on voter identification.
The law will have a trial run with primary elections this year, but voters who have ID that until now was adequate — but do not have the specified identification listed in the new law — will still be permitted to vote in the primary. The real test will be in the general election for U.S. president in November when voters without photo ID driver’s licenses, state-issued photo identifications or similar IDs listed will be told they can vote “provisionally” but must return within six days with that ID or fax or e-mail it within that time frame. Maybe the first point that should be noted is that the law is intended to deter people from voting.

Texas: Redistricting wrangle hits Romney and Texas Republicans | Yahoo! News

Texas should be playing a role in Republican politics this year as big as, well, Texas. The fast-growing state – the most populous by far in the Republican column – has four new seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, a big U.S. Senate race and more than a 10th of the delegates who will choose the party’s presidential nominee. But a racially tinged dispute over redrawing its congressional districts has delayed the Texas primary by almost three months, complicated the U.S. Senate and House contests and altered the race for the White House. A San Antonio court pushed Texas’ primary back to May 29 from March 6 after complaints that a new electoral map drawn by Republicans violated the federal Voting Rights Act by diluting the voting power of blacks and Latinos. Three of Texas’ four new U.S. House seats were created in areas dominated by whites, even though Hispanics and blacks accounted for 90 percent of Texas’ population growth since 2000.

Wisconsin: Top election official says he did not want immediate appeals of photo ID law | JSOnline

The state’s top election official said Tuesday he told the state Department of Justice he did not want to immediately appeal two decisions blocking the state’s new law requiring photo IDs at the polls because voters should have plenty of advance knowledge of what rules will be in place for the April 3 election. Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen did not heed that request and on Thursday appealed both decisions. “We advised the attorney general’s office that it would be better if nothing changed before April 3,” said Kevin Kennedy, director of the state Government Accountability Board. “We don’t want the public in a yo-yo type situation.” Dana Brueck, a spokeswoman for Van Hollen’s Department of Justice, said in a statement the best way to prevent voter confusion would be for the appeals courts to quickly reinstate the photo ID requirement.

Myanmar: Asean observers invited for April elections | BBC News

Burma has invited foreign election observers for the first time to witness polls, officials from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) say. Asean said that it had been asked to send a total of 23 delegates including two MPs from each member state and media representatives. Analysts say it is a small but symbolic step as the military-backed civilian government introduces cautious reforms. Forty-eight seats in parliament are being contested in the 1 April vote. Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is standing for the first time since 1990, when Burma’s military leaders refused to recognise her National League for Democracy (NLD) party’s election victory.

Georgia (Sakartvelo): Elections in Georgia—Degrees of control |

Can voters be trusted with democracy? Not in Russia: Vladimir Putin barred plausible alternative candidates from standing and rigged votes to ensure his victory in the recent presidential election. If Mr Putin thought more highly of voters in Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia, he miscalculated. In November they voted for Alla Dzhioyeva over Anatoly Bibilov, the Russia-backed candidate. But the Supreme Court in Tskhinvali, the South Ossetian capital, annulled Ms Dzhioyeva’s victory, citing unconvincing allegations of fraud. The electorate has been given a second chance to get it right this Sunday, and the authorities have ensured Ms Dzhioyeva is no longer on the ballot. Voters in Georgia’s other breakaway region, Abkhazia, were given more leeway in last summer’s presidential vote when they chose Alexander Ankvab over Sergei Shamba, Russia’s preferred candidate. Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s president, even congratulated Mr Ankvab by telephone. Parliamentary elections in the region, on March 10th, were similar.

Ghana: Electoral Commission uncertain about proxy, transfer voting | Ghana Business News

Alhaji Amadu Sule, Director of Research, Monitoring and Evaluation at the Electoral Commission (EC), has said the EC had not yet taken a decision on voting by proxy or transfer of voting. He said the new voters’ registration system had not made any provision for such voting systems. Alhaji Sule explained that both the proxy and transfer voting requires another voter to vote on behalf of the individual and that “with the biometric system, the person who had registered must be present and vote by person, a situation which makes it quite difficult for proxy and transfer voting.”

Russia: Presidential elections: How easy is it to commit electoral fraud? |

Two questions were asked after the recent Russian elections. Firstly, were Vladimir Putin’s tears real? And secondly, was the election rigged? According to the  experts, there are several ways of cheating to win an election. ‘It all depends on how you define electoral fraud,’ said Dr Sarah Birch, reader in politics at Essex University. ‘There are so many rules and regulations that to violate one of those is fairly easy, whether it’s a candidate in a local election overspending on their campaign by £5, or someone going to the polling station and saying they’re someone else. ‘It can also be the manipulation of voters – such as media campaigns that are overtly biased in favour of one contestant, as we found in Russia, where the media gave much more attention to Putin than to the other candidates. Alternatively, there’s manipulation of the vote, such as vote buying or intimidation.’

eSwatini: Trade Union Demands Democratic Reforms | VoA News

The newly formed Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) has demanded the registration and participation of political parties in next year’s parliamentary election, despite strong government opposition. “Now is the time for the country to allow political parties in terms of the elections,” said TUCOSWA president Barnes Dlamini.  “There should be democratic processes in terms of electing parliamentarians and allowing political parties, first, to register and, secondly, to be given enough time to garner support from the various citizens of the country, in terms of their political ideology.”
Swaziland’s constitution bars the formation and participation of all political parties in the tiny, southern African kingdom.

Florida: Palm Beach Elections Chief Bucher: ‘This is not a human error’ | Post on Politics

Palm Beach County’s elections office appears to have figured out the correct results for three Wellington elections after declaring two wrong winners last week and certifying the results to the state. But in the home of the 2000 “butterfly ballot,” does the fact that erroneous results went undetected for nearly six days in an election with fewer than 6,000 voters carry implications for the November presidential election? Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher characterized the problem as an isolated and unprecedented software glitch that was detected and corrected using routine audit procedures. She said no one in her office is to blame — and she took exception to questions about whether voters might question her office’s ability to deliver accurate results in the future. “This is not a human error. This is a computer-generated error, one that is on a computer system that is tested and certified by the state of Florida,” Bucher told reporters.