The question of whether to require voters to produce photo identifications is in the hands of Minnesota senators. The Senate rules committee Wednesday advanced to the full Senate a bill similar to one the House passed earlier in the day. The Senate is to begin debate on the measure Friday afternoon. If the Republican-controlled Senate agrees with the House, which approved the measure 72-62, Minnesota voters will decide on Nov. 6 whether to amend the state Constitution to include the photo ID requirement. The House vote was partisan, with Republicans supporting the proposal. In the Senate committee, Sen. Richard Cohen, DFL-St. Paul, asked bill sponsor Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, if he could point out any voter fraud his photo ID bill would have fixed in recent elections. “No, I cannot,” Newman said, adding that he will try to find some examples before the Senate takes up the bill.
The Voting News Daily: Negative ads: Is it the campaigns, or the super PACs?, Foreign Corporations, Non-profits and the Holding of Citizens United
National: Negative ads: Is it the campaigns, or the super PACs? | The Washington Post Obama campaign senior adviser David Axelrod this week blamed Illinois’ low primary turnout on the barrage of negative ads the GOP candidates have unleashed on each other. He was correct about the negativity of the 2012 campaign – but the candidates’…
Obama campaign senior adviser David Axelrod this week blamed Illinois’ low primary turnout on the barrage of negative ads the GOP candidates have unleashed on each other. He was correct about the negativity of the 2012 campaign – but the candidates’ ads are only part of the picture. According to The Post’s Mad Money campaign ad tracker, the ads being aired by the super PACs supporting the GOP presidential candidates are far more negative than the ones being aired by the White House hopefuls themselves. All in all, an average of 77 percent of the ads run by the super PACs supporting the four GOP candidates have been negative. By comparison, an average of 54 percent of all ads aired by the four candidates’ campaigns have been negative ones.
Voting Blogs: Foreign Corporations, Non-profits and the Holding of Citizens United | Money, Politics and the Law
Days after Citizens United v. FEC was decided, President Obama famously said at his 2010 State of the Union address that he believed the decision would “open the floodgates for special interests – including foreign corporations – to spend without limits in our elections.” There may be loopholes which allow foreign corporations to donate through American entities, but not only arecorporations generally not funding super PACs, the ban on money accepted directly from foreign corporations appears to be being followed. Last month, Rick Santorum’s super PAC returned a $50,000 donation from such a corporation. The Internal Revenue Service has also said non-profit organizations under 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (which applies to charitable organizations) are banned from contributing to super PACs. (In contrast, non-profit social welfare organizations organized under Section 501(c)(4) of the Code may donate to political causes as long as that is not their main activity. Professor Rick Hasen has more on 501(c) non-profit donations after Citizens United) This ban from the IRS led to Mitt Romney’s super PACrefunding a $100,000 check from a 501(c)(3) charity. But here’s the important question from a legal standpoint: under the holding of Citizens United, should either of these bans be constitutional?
Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney has survived the heated GOP nominating contest so far without attracting significant attention to what may become a general election issue: allegations that he committed voter fraud in 2010. In January 2010 the former Massachusetts governor proudly cast a ballot for Republican Scott Brown in the special election to replace the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. He didn’t own property in the state at the time, and had registered to vote listing his son’s unfinished basement as his residence. Massachusetts law defines a residence for voter registration purposes as “where a person dwells and which is the center of his domestic, social, and civil life.” Anyone found guilty of committing voter fraud faces up to five years behind bars and a fine of $10,000.
California: San Francisco Supervisors tangle over whether to kill or change ranked-choice elections this year | SF Public Press
Earlier this year, the Board of Supervisors wrestled with changing the way the city elects mayors, district representatives and other officials. Two proposals would give San Francisco voters a choice: expand the instant – runoff voting system, in use since 2004, or return to a general election with a possible later top two runoff. On Feb. 14, the Board of Supervisors tabled Supervisor Mark Farrell’s proposal to repeal ranked-choice voting on a 6-5 vote. At the same meeting, Supervisor David Campos’ measure to amend the system was sent back to the Rules Committee on a unanimous vote. On March 6, Farrell introduced a modified proposal that would abolish ranked-choice voting in all citywide races, except for district supervisors. Both measures could see a vote on the November 2012 ballot. Why does this matter? Opponents of ranked-choice say the relatively novel approach still confuses voters. Opponents of the two-election approach say it wastes money.
A key committee voted Wednesday for a bill that allows same-day voter registration, a controversial issue that for more than a decade has prompted sharp debates about potential voter fraud. The bill passed 11-4 on a largely party-line vote. Republicans charged that registering and then voting on the same day provides too many opportunities for last-minute fraud that might not be detected until after the election. One Republican joined with 10 Democrats to pass the measure. Sen. Gayle Slossberg, a Democrat and the committee co-chairwoman, spoke strongly in favor of the bill, saying it would boost voter turnout at a time when the state needs it. She said there was no evidence of voter fraud in Connecticut, adding that a statewide voter registration database would prevent voters from casting ballots by driving to two different towns on Election Day. “I do think that we take ballot integrity very seriously,” said Slossberg. “One of the great tools at our fingertips and at our registrars’ fingertips is our electronic database.”
It may be back to the drawing board for the Guam Legislature and the Guam Election Commission, as Governor Eddie Calvo says he plans to veto Bill 413. Lawmakers had previously passed the Election Reform Bill 8-6, straight down party lines. In an interview with KUAM News today, the island’s chief executive said the 2010 election is over and implied the bill was orchestrated by his former Democratic opponent , former governor Carl Gutierrez. Gutierrez ran with former Senator Frank Aguon, Jr. The two filed a lawsuit challenging the results and Guam Election Commission’s handling of the election process claiming it was rife with discrepancies.
The Hawaii Attorney General’s Office is requesting $1.2 million to settle a 2008 protest filed over a contract for electronic voting machines. Attorney General David Louie’s office says former Chief Election Officer Kevin Cronin violated state procurement code when he awarded a multi-term contract for voting equipment without conducting the required analysis of the proposals. Cronin abruptly resigned at the end of 2009. Hart InterCivic Inc. was awarded a $43.3 million contract for new electronic voting machines through the 2016 elections, with an option to extend to 2018. Another vendor submitted a competing bid of $18 million.
Illinois: Authorities investigating too-big ballots, hope to avoid repeat of primary problems | abc7chicago.com
Some counties in Illinois were still adding up primary votes Wednesday because the ballots they used were too big to fit into scanning machines. There were no hanging chads, pregnant chads or even dimpled chads this time, but when it comes to Illinois elections, it always seems to be something getting in the way of a having a flawless Illinois election. Wednesday, authorities in a quarter of all the counties in the state are investigating how some of their paper ballot forms ended up a little too big to fit into the machines that scan the votes. “We are indeed in contact with all of the election authorities that were impacted,” said Illinois State Board of Elections’ Ken Menzel. “We are getting ready to do a good review of exactly what the problem was, what factor or factors combined led us to what we saw yesterday, and we are going to look into ways to avoid both at the production end with the ballots and helping the election authorities put into place procedures that would be more likely to catch out of tolerance ballots.”
Voting Blogs: Paper Cuts are the WORST: Illinois Latest State to Find Out There is No Small Stuff | Election Academy
Years ago, I worked for the U.S. Senate Rules Committee – which, in addition to its legislative responsibilities (including elections!), manages office space on the Senate Office Buildings. In many ways, we were like the landlord of the Senate side of Capitol Hill, and with 100 high-profile tenants with strong personalities there was always something that needed attention. Consequently, we often used the following joke to explain our non-legislative duties: “The good news is that we don’t have to sweat the small stuff; the bad news is that there is no small stuff.” I was reminded of those days recently as I read the stories out of Illinois concerning optical scan ballots that were too wide and thus had to be trimmed by scissors in order to be read by scanners. The problem was traceable to a single printing vendor whose cutting blade was misaligned and left ballots at the top of each shrink-wrapped bundle slightly thicker than ones at the bottom. [Anyone who’s ever tried to cut too many sheets in a paper cutter – leaving the top sheets slightly trapezoidal as the blade moves the sheets – has a sense of what went wrong.]
The Minnesota Senate is set to vote on a measure that would ask voters to change the state constitution to require people to show photo identification to vote. The Senate Rules Committee approved the measure Wednesday afternoon, just hours after the Minnesota House passed the bill. Republicans say it will improve the state’s election system but Democrats worry that it could disenfranchise thousands of people. The Senate Rules Committee hearing was less contentious than a nine-hour debate that took place Tuesday in the House. But those making the arguments were just as divided over the issue.
The Senate Rules committee on Wednesday approved a bill proposing a constitutional amendment that would require voters show a photo ID at the polls. “There was a long debate about the fact that it’s going from the legislator directly to being an amendment and going before the voters,” Rep. Jeanne Poppe, DFL-Austin, said. The measure will come up on the Senate floor Friday, said Majority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester. A companion measure was passed 72-62 by the House early Wednesday morning.
Ramsey County elections manager Joe Mansky says local officials lack the resources to implement the proposed voter ID amendment. Mansky, who opposes the amendment, said it would complicate the process of counting ballots from voters who register at their polling place on Election Day. “Clearly, we do not currently have the ability to do the on-the-spot verification that … I think would be necessary given the language in this amendment,” Mansky told MPR’s Cathy Wurzer on Thursday. He also said the changes would be costly for local elections officials around the state.
Former Secretary of State Brad Johnson will be allowed to run for his old office after all now that the state’s political practices commissioner reversed an earlier decision Wednesday. Earlier in the day, Johnson’s name was to be stricken from the June primary election ballot for not filing a business disclosure form on time. It was due by 5 p.m. Tuesday. “I’m delighted,” Johnson, a Republican, said after learning from Commissioner Jim Murry on Wednesday that he would be on the June primary ballot. Johnson said he had submitted the form electronically twice on time Tuesday, but it didn’t show up at the commissioner’s office or show up on his own computer.
The drama of a contentious Brooklyn special election for a State Senate seat moved into an unmarked warehouse on Wednesday, and as officials began reviewing votes, uncertainty increased alongside absurdity. Because the longer the contest drags on, the shorter the time the winner will serve the 27th District, which will cease to exist in its current form in 2013. The candidates each held ebullient, and premature, victory parties late Tuesday, but as of Wednesday night, there was still no winner. And there may not be for at least another week, if not two, or three, though each candidate continued to assert he had won. On election night, the upstart Republican candidate, David Storobin, rattled the Democratic establishment by taking a 120-vote lead over Lewis A. Fidler, a three-term city councilman, with more than 21,000 votes cast. On Wednesday night, Mr. Storobin increased his lead to 143 votes, according to the New York City Board of Elections — a number that will continue to change.
An Ohio Senate panel delayed a vote Wednesday to repeal a contentious new election law that shrinks early voting in the presidential battleground state, among other changes. The elections overhaul has been on hold since September, after opponents gathered thousands of signatures from voters to put a repeal question on November ballots. Republican leaders who control the Ohio Legislature say the state can avoid a costly referendum campaign and give opponents what they want by repealing it. But Democrats and other opponents say voters have the right — not state lawmakers — to decide this fall whether the law should be scrapped. The GOP is pushing a measure to get rid of the new law and leave in place the old rules governing Ohio elections. The bill also reaffirms a separate change made last year that cuts off in-person early voting on the Friday evening before Election Day.
Wisconsin: Federal court panel largely upholds Republican-drawn legislative redistricting maps | State Bar of Wisconsin
A three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin today upheld all but two state legislative districts drawn by a Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature. It also upheld a congressional redistricting map. The panel lamented on the secrecy and partisan nature of this cycle’s redistricting process and harkened back to “a time when Wisconsin was famous for its courtesy and its tradition of good government,” but ultimately ruled the maps did not violate the law, save a violation of federal law requiring a change to Assembly districts 8 and 9 in Milwaukee County. Under the panel’s decision, the redistricting maps will not take effect for voting purposes until the November elections – meaning they won’t be in place for any recall elections that take place before November – unless a state court rules otherwise.
The organisers of a mock poll for Hong Kong’s chief executive say their online system “is under cyber attack” to prevent voting. Residents can vote online or by mobile phone in the publicly funded poll organised by Hong Kong University. The actual vote on Sunday is to limited 1,200 election committee members, but the desire for universal suffrage is strong. Henry Tang, CY Leung and Albert Ho are standing for chief executive.
Malian soldiers angered over the government’s mishandling of the two-month-old Tuareg rebellion in the North say they have overthrown President Amadou Toumani Toure – just weeks before the election that would have marked an end to his mandate. The president’s location is unknown. Frustration had long been brewing in the military in what had been one of the region’s few stable democracies. Residents told VOA that sporadic gunfire continued in Bamako Thursday just hours after renegade soldiers – calling themselves the National Committee for the Restoration of Democracy and State – or CNRDR, seized control of the state.
Voters in Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia will go to the polls on Sunday to try to choose a president for the third time in less than five months. Two rounds of voting in November delivered victory to Alla Dzhioyeva, a long-time opponent of the outgoing president Eduard Kokoity in the Russia-backed self-proclaimed republic. The region’s supreme court, chaired by a Kokoity ally, overturned the result, leading to protests by Ms Dzhioyeva’s supporters and clashes with police. This time the field is less clear, with all candidates distancing themselves from Mr Kokoity and Russia not expressing any preference. Pro-Kremlin Mr Kokoity had been president of the region since 2001, but faced accusations from the opposition and former aides of cronyism and mismanagement of Russian aid after the 2008 Russo-Georgian war. He quit in December, but his allies still wield significant influence in parliament and the judiciary.