The Voting News Daily: Big-bucks donations to super PACs keep the GOP race going, The GOP Assault on the Voting Rights Act

National: Big-bucks donations to super PACs keep the GOP race going | More than two-thirds of the money to super PACs aligned with presidential candidates came from megadonors who each contributed $500,000 or more, demonstrating how a handful of wealthy interests have helped turn the GOP presidential primary into the longest-running nomination fight in…

National: Big-bucks donations to super PACs keep the GOP race going |

More than two-thirds of the money to super PACs aligned with presidential candidates came from megadonors who each contributed $500,000 or more, demonstrating how a handful of wealthy interests have helped turn the GOP presidential primary into the longest-running nomination fight in a generation. No group relied more heavily on a few super donors than the political committee backing former House speaker Newt Gingrich: 96% of contributions to the pro-Gingrich Winning Our Future came from this elite group, a USA TODAY analysis shows. More than $16 million flowed from a single source: Las Vegas casino titan Sheldon Adelson and his relatives. Restore Our Future, a super PAC aiding former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, relied on nearly 52% of its contributions from corporations or individuals who gave $500,000 or more, the lowest share of super donors among the candidate-aligned super PACs analyzed by USA TODAY.

Editorials: The GOP Assault on the Voting Rights Act | Ben Adler/The Nation

Last week the Department of Justice denied preclearance to Texas’s law requiring voters to present photo identification under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Section 5 requires states and jurisdictions with a demonstrated history of passing discriminatory election laws to get approval from the DOJ for any change to laws governing the time, place or manner in which an election is conducted. Within days Texas filed a challenge in federal court arguing that Section 5 is unconstitutional. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott maintains that the federal government exceeded its authority and violated the Tenth Amendment when it passed the measure. Conservative opponents of civil rights are eager to see that challenge succeed. Writing in National Review—which opposed the civil rights movement—vice chairman of the US Commission on Civil Rights and conservative scholar Abigail Thernstrom argues that Section 5 is outdated. National Review’s evolution on the subject is the standard conservative slither on civil rights. First you oppose it. Then, when society has evolved and you look like a bigot, you accept it. Then, as soon as humanly possible, you argue it was necessary at the time but no longer is.

Voting Blogs: New Florida Data Suggests HAVA’s Approach to Disabled Voters Isn’t Working | Election Academy

The latest Election Data Dispatch from Pew finds that in the recent GOP primary in Florida, only 49 voters (or 0.03%) used the disabled-accessible voting machines in Miami-Dade and Orange counties, two of the state’s largest. Accessible machines for disabled voters – one per polling place – were one of the federal mandates on state and local election offices included in the Help America Vote Act. Inclusion of this provision was widely seen a victory for the advocates for disabled voters, given the perceived failure of previous efforts to make voting more accessible such as the Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act (VAEHA). Post-HAVA, however, the preferred technology for this mandate – direct recording electronic (DRE) machines, known popularly as touchscreen machines – became the focus of a fierce debate about the security and transparency of electronic voting. Indeed, in the early years of the debate advocates for the disabled and advocates for verifiable voting often found themselves on opposite sides of the argument or even opposing sides in a courtroom.

Florida: Wellington election results tossed out, but legal ground uncertain | Palm Beach Post

In Palm Beach County’s latest voting embarrassment, Wellington decided Tuesday to toss out its tainted March 13 election results while Secretary of State Ken Detzner pledged to find answers and County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher continued to blame a computer software glitch for the tabulating turmoil. After a Monday recount showed the elections office had declared the wrong winners in two of three races, Wellington’s canvassing board voted to scrap the results and scheduled a decision for Tuesday on whether to instead accept the revised vote tallies. That would allow John Greene in Council Seat 1 and Matt Willhite in Seat 4 to be sworn in after it appeared they lost their races last week. But the decision to consider the recount numbers did little to clear confusion surrounding the race and how to resolve it.

Illinois: Ballots too wide send election officials scrambling for scissors |

Paper ballots too wide to fit in counting machines sent election officials in 25 counties scrambling for scissors Tuesday, but authorities said the problem likely affected only a few thousand ballots. There were no reports of anyone unable to vote, but counting was slower in some areas because of the problem, local and state officials said. The problem was blamed on a slight blade misalignment in a ballot printing machine, and it affected only those 25 central and northern Illinois counties — from Macoupin County near St. Louis to Winnebago County on the Wisconsin border — that used ballots printed by ABS Graphics Inc., of Addison, a company that has successfully printed ballots for three decades, according to Dianne Felts, director of voting systems and standards for the Illinois State Board Of Elections.

Maryland: Bill would prevent noncitizens from voting in Maryland municipal elections | Gazette.Net

Half a dozen Montgomery County municipalities could wind up in court this summer, according to a Baltimore County politician whose bill would disenfranchise some local residents. Sponsored by Del. Patrick McDonough (R-Dist. 7) of Middle River, House Bill 473 targets municipalities in Montgomery, the only region in Maryland where local provisions enfranchise noncitizens. The bill would prohibit noncitizen from voting in the state and nullify provisions that allow the practice, including in Barnesville, Garrett Park, Glen Echo, Martin’s Additions, Somerset and Takoma Park. “I feel it’s unconstitutional, and un-American, to allow people who are not citizens to vote,” McDonough said.

Minnesota: State may bypass governor on voter ID law | Reuters

Minnesota’s Republican-led legislature on Wednesday advanced plans to bypass Democratic Governor Mark Dayton and let voters decide if the state should adopt a controversial voter photo ID requirement that he rejected last year. The state House early on Wednesday approved a proposed constitutional amendment that would require photo IDs at the polls and a Senate committee voted on Wednesday afternoon to advance a proposed amendment to the full Senate. The votes, both on party lines, put Minnesota and its closely divided electorate squarely within a national movement by Republican-controlled state legislatures to enact more restrictive voter ID laws. Democrats contend that the laws are aimed at keeping their supporters such as minorities and the elderly from the polls.

Editorials: Bet on the feds to throttle the Mississippi’s new voter ID law | The Clarion-Ledger

Set aside for a moment your actual opinion of whether Mississippi’s new voter ID laws are a necessary safeguard against voter fraud and consider only the fact that 2012 is year in which an incumbent Democrat is seeking re-election to the White House. Consider, too, that Democratic President Barack Obama appointed U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to lead the U.S. Justice Department, which continues to hold tremendous sway over election law in Mississippi through our state’s undeniable status as a “covered jurisdiction” under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. “Covered jurisdiction” states, counties and municipalities cannot implement voting law changes without federal “preclearance” by the Justice Department.

Voting Blogs: Montana Supreme Court leading the charge against Citizens United | State of Elections

Last month the Supreme Court issued a stay on Montana’s Supreme Court decision upholding corporate spending limits in state elections. It seems that the Court may be ready to reexamine Citizens United. What they’ll find is what many states have been saying all along: Citizens United is out of sync with the values of many states. Montana was the first of many states to express disdain for unlimited corporate funding. Early last week 55 towns in Vermont passed resolutions proposing a constitutional amendment that would limit the rights of corporations. The Alabama legislature has also been seeking to stop PAC-to-PAC fund transfers that mask donors. Even some members of the Court seem eager to reexamine the effects of Citizens United.

Montana: Secretary of State Won’t Let Libertarians Choose a U.S. Senate Nominee | Ballot Access News

Montana’s primary in 2012 is on June 5. Parties entitled to nominate by primary are the Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, and Americans Elect Parties. When filing closed for this year’s primary, two Libertarians had filed to run for U.S. Senate in the Libertarian Party. On March 20, Montana Secretary of State Linda McCulloch ruled that the Libertarian Party may not have a primary this year, and that she will print the names of both Libertarians on the November ballot. She made this decision, based on section 13-10-209(2). Before 2005, that section said, “It is not necessary to print a primary ballot for a political party which does not have candidates for more than half of the offices on the ballot in even-year elections if no more than one candidate files for nomination by that party for any of the offices on the ballot.”

Editorials: Pennsylvania voter ID law will make voting difficult for many seniors | Rep. Bob Freeman/

Paul Carpenter‘s column of March 14 supporting the new photo voter identification law failed to recognize the hardship this new requirement will place on many voters, particularly senior citizens who don’t have a valid driver’s license. Carpenter stated that under the new legislation “there is no way a legitimate voter can be prevented from obtaining identification or from otherwise verifying that he or she is qualified to vote.” Not true. According to the SeniorLAW Center, 18 percent of senior citizens in Pennsylvania do not have a valid photo ID. Although a free one can now be obtained from a state Transportation Department photo center, many centers are either not served or are poorly served by public transportation. In addition to overcoming the hurdle of not being able to drive to the photo center, these senior citizens will have to present a Social Security card, birth certificate and two documents with their current address to get a photo ID. If they show up at their polling place but do not have a valid, unexpired photo ID, they will not be permitted to vote, despite the fact that they are legitimately registered voters and are known to election workers on sight. They will be offered a provisional ballot but must then obtain the photo ID and present it to the county elections office within six days for their vote to be counted. Doing all of this without a car will be difficult. If they don’t have a copy of their birth certificate or can’t find it, they won’t be able to get the photo ID, in which case their vote won’t be counted. It takes two to four months to process a birth certificate application.

Wisconsin: Government Accountability Board concerned about last-minute rule change on Voter ID | WSAU

With a statewide election coming up in just a few weeks, the state’s top election official says immediate appeals of court injunctions blocking Wisconsin’s Voter ID requirement could cause too much confusion. The injunctions were issued by two Dane County judges who, in rulings tied to separate lawsuits, found there is enough evidence to show the Voter ID law approved by lawmakers last year could be unconstitutional. The Department of Justice has appealed both decisions, although state Government Accountability Board director Kevin Kennedy says they advised the Attorney General that a quick reversal could cause problems during next month’s election. Kennedy says it would be better if nothing changed between now and April 3rd, when local elections and the state’s presidential primary are scheduled to take place.

Wisconsin: Judge Won’t Stay Ruling to Invalidate Voter ID Law | Businessweek

A Wisconsin judge refused to halt enforcement of his ruling that the state’s voter identification law is unconstitutional. Wisconsin Circuit Judge Richard G. Niess in Madison today denied a request by Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen and the state agency that administers elections to enforce the ID law while they appeal his March 12 decision that it burdened otherwise qualified voters with a statutory requirement not found in the state’s constitution. “An unconstitutional law is void ab initio,” Niess wrote, using a Latin phrase meaning from the inception. “It is as if it never existed. Therefore there can be no justification for enforcement.”

Egypt: In U-turn, Egypt’s Brotherhood may bid for president | Reuters

The Muslim Brotherhood might make a policy U-turn and contest May’s presidential election, senior members said on Wednesday, as the group had yet to see a name among the declared candidates it was prepared to back. The Brotherhood, which dominated the first parliamentary vote after Hosni Mubarak’s ouster last year, had said it would not run in what is billed as Egypt’s first free and fair presidential race. The first round of voting is on May 23-24. The group instead said it would endorse one of the other candidates running. Analysts said the Brotherhood did not want to run to avoid alienating those in the electorate who are wary about Islamists sweeping the new political scene. But the Brotherhood has yet to declare support for any of the candidates who have lined up so far and who include Amr Moussa, a former Arab League chief who describes himself as a liberal nationalist, and Abdel Moneim Abol Fotoh, who was expelled from the Brotherhood when he defied the ban on running.

Iran: Election of Kurdish MPs in Iran Raises Questions | Rudaw

Kurdish candidates in the western Iranian provinces of Urumiya and Naghada secured most of the votes in the parliamentary elections held earlier this month. This came despite some Kurdish candidates boycotting the elections and Kurdish dissident groups condemning them. Rostam Jahangiri, a politburo member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party-Iran (KDPI), believes Iranian authorities deliberately let the Kurdish candidates win the elections in those areas. “Most of the Kurds in Urumiya boycotted the elections, but the Iranian authorities changed the results, allowing the Kurdish nominees to win,” he told Rudaw.

Jordan: Government might adopt mixed electoral system | The Jordan Times

The government has not worked out an electoral system but is leaning towards a mixed formula featuring the proportional list and the majority system, Prime Minister Awn Khasawneh told union leaders on Tuesday. The meeting with the heads of the country’s 14 professional associations was one of a series of meetings the premier initiated on Monday to arrive at consensus over the new elections law, under which national polls are expected to be held this year. The government is expected to submit the bill to Parliament before April, according to a time schedule it has committed itself to.

Philippines: Comelec to reuse Precinct Count Optical Scan machines for 2013 Philippines polls | Inquirer News

The Commission on Elections will reuse Smartmatic’s automated voting machines for the 2013 midterm elections despite strong opposition from various election watchdogs and reform advocates. Voting 5-2, the Comelec on Thursday decided to exercise the “option to purchase” over 80,000 precinct count optical scan machines (PCOS), saying that Smartmatic, its technology provider during the May 2010 elections, has already corrected glitches in the system. “We decided, 5-2, in the (commission) en banc that we just go with exercising the option to purchase these Smartmatic machines,” Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. told reporters in a phone interview Friday.

Uganda: Kamya to sue Uganda Electoral Commission over denying Diaspora rights |

The Uganda Federal Alliance has threatened to sue the Electoral Commission for failing to ensure Ugandans living in the Diaspora vote. Addressing journalists in Kampala on Tuesday, UFA president Beti Kamya said it is a constitutional right of every national to participate in the elections of the country despite living outside its borders. “Article 62 of our Constitution states that the Electoral Commission is independent and there is no way it can base its adamancy on policy. People in the Diaspora contribute greatly to our economy and we can’t just undermine them like that,” she said. Ms Kamya said her party had established a five-member steering committee to oversee the court process.

Florida: Lawsuits brewing as all four candidates in Wellington recount stand their ground | Palm Beach Post

The Wellington council candidates wrongly named winners during last week’s election aren’t convinced Monday’s vote retabulation was accurate, nor will they give up their seats to the apparent winners. But the winners, whom Palm Beach County Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher said were denied victory because of a software glitch, have no doubt Monday’s count was correct, and one has taken legal action. “It’s my responsibility to make sure the village of Wellington voters are heard. I’m filing it on their behalf,” said Vice Mayor Matt Willhite, who filed a complaint Tuesday in Palm Beach County Circuit Court against Wellington’s canvassing board and whose campaign declared him a “decisive” winner. The county elections office mistakenly named candidates Al Paglia and Shauna Hostetler winners in two council races and certified the March 13 results to the state on Friday. But a routine audit on Monday revealed that Willhite had easily defeated Paglia, while John Greene had edged past Hostetler. On Tuesday, the Wellington canvassing board that oversees election results tossed out the March 13 numbers and scheduled a meeting March 27 to decide whether to certify Monday’s retabulated numbers instead. But confusion and emotion were running high on Tuesday.